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View Photos of Damage from Iran Military Base Blast - Paul Brannan (Institute for Science and International Security)
A large explosion occurred on Nov. 12, 2011, at an Iranian military compound near Bid Kaneh.
Satellite imagery shows that most of the buildings in the compound appear extensively damaged.
Iran was apparently performing a volatile procedure involving a missile engine at the site when the blast occurred.
See also Mystery Explosion Rocks Iran City - Damien McElroy (Telegraph-UK)
A large explosion was reported Monday in the Iranian city of Isfahan as the regime issued conflicting reports apparently designed to deny any suggestions of a sabotage attack on its nuclear facilities.
Tunisia's New Constitution to Oppose Ties with Israel - Shlomo Cesana (Israel Hayom)
The new Tunisian government is gearing up to ratify a new constitution that includes a section condemning Zionism and ruling out any friendly ties with Israel.
Aviva Raz-Schechter, deputy director-general of the Middle East Division of the Israel Foreign Ministry, said that if the anti-Israel clause was inserted, "It will inevitably affect other Middle Eastern countries as well."
Israeli Teens Get a Lesson in Britain (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
For several years the Friends of Israel Educational Foundation has been bringing young Israelis to the UK, selected with the help of the Israeli Debating Society.
This year, teenagers visiting Britain to promote Israel's cause in schools got more than they bargained for at an East London school with a high Muslim population.
Yishai Binnes, 18, recalls, "The teacher got more and more heated, at one point screaming at us that we murder children. The kids were shocked by a grown man who was yelling at teenagers."
But Ayelet Ekstein, 17, noted, "After the talk, a Muslim girl in a headscarf came up to me and said she had never heard the point of view of the Israeli side to the conflict, and she was glad we came to speak to them."
"Most people don't have a negative opinion about Israel. I divide the people in the UK in two: those who don't know anything about the conflict, and those who are pro-Palestinian," she added.
A Quiz: The Nov. 29 UN Vote to Establish Israel (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Take this quick quiz to test your knowledge about the Nov. 29, 1947, UN vote.
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- UN Report Documents Syria's Crimes Against Protesters - Alice Fordham and Colum Lynch
The UN ratcheted up international pressure on the Syrian government Monday with the release of a report that documents the torture and killing of civilians by state security forces. The Independent International Commission on Syria documents evidence that high-ranking officers issued orders to shoot at civilian residences and unarmed protesters. It also records evidence of systemic torture and the killing of hundreds of children.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said Monday: "The United States has long held the view...that it's past time for the Security Council to take much more decisive action with respect to Syria." (Washington Post)
See also Syria: Security Forces Have Killed 256 Children Since Start of Protests - David Blair (Telegraph-UK)
- EU Agrees to New Financial Sanctions on Syria
EU governments agreed on Monday to impose additional financial sanctions on Syria, an EU diplomat said. The EU will add 12 persons and at least 11 more institutions and companies to a list of those targeted by EU asset freezes and travel bans and ban financial support for trade and loans to the government.
The new measures, to be approved formally by EU foreign ministers on Thursday, will include a ban on exporting equipment for the Syrian oil and gas industry.
- In Egypt, Ultra-Islamists Make Election Debut - Hadeel al-Shalchi
Egypt's parliamentary elections have brought the political debut of the ultraconservative Islamist Salafi movement. On Monday, Salafis packed the lines at voting stations in Alexandria an hour before the polls opened, clearly distinguishable by the moustache-less beards of the men and the blanketing robes and veils of the women that leave nothing visible but their eyes.
After the lifting of Mubarak's autocratic hand, newly created Salafi parties have flooded onto the scene, challenging the Muslim Brotherhood's near monopoly on the religious bloc. Salafis advocate a Saudi-style hard-line interpretation of Islam.
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- Four Rockets Fired from Lebanon Strike Israel
Four Katyusha rockets were fired from Lebanon that landed in the Western Galilee overnight Monday. The rockets landed close to the Lebanese border, causing some damage to a chicken coop and a propane gas tank. The IDF responded with artillery fire in the direction of Aita al-Shaab, from where the rocket fire originated.
- Palestinian Poll: 80 Percent of Gazans Optimistic about the Future
A poll of 1,200 West Bank and Gaza Palestinians on Nov. 17-20, 2011, by the Jerusalem Media & Communications Center in Ramallah, asked: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
80% of Gazans said they were "optimistic" or "very optimistic," while 69% of West Bankers said the same. 20% of Gazans and 30% of West Bankers said they were pessimistic.
How do you feel about the Palestinian-Israeli peace process? 55% in Gaza and 58% in the West Bank say they "strongly support" or "somewhat support" it, while 23% in Gaza and 18% in the West Bank oppose. If Palestinian Legislative Council elections were to take place today, which party would you vote for? 40% in Gaza and 44% in the West Bank would vote for Fatah, while 24% in Gaza and 20% in the West Bank would vote for Hamas.
Do you support the continuation of military operations against Israeli targets? Yes - Gaza 39%, West Bank 24%; No - Gaza 48%, West Bank 61%. Do you think the rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel help or harm Palestinian goals? Help - Gaza 30%, West Bank 26%; Harm - Gaza 44%, West Bank 39%.
- Second Palestinian Convicted for Fogel Murders - Chaim Levinson
An Israel Defense Forces court on Monday convicted Amjad Awad of the murder of Ehud and Ruth Fogel, along with three of their young children, in an attack on their home in Itamar on March 11, 2011.
In October, the Shomron Military Court sentenced his cousin, Hakim Awad, to five consecutive life sentences. (Ha'aretz)
- The Palestinians Resurrect the Partition Plan - Dore Gold
UN General Assembly Resolution 181 - the famous Partition Plan - was approved on Nov. 29, 1947.
In 1999 the Palestinians were to claim that, according to Resolution 181, "both parts of Jerusalem - west and east - are occupied territory." However, Resolution 181 proposed internationalizing Jerusalem only as an interim measure, for ten years, after which there was to be a referendum. Given the Jewish majority in Jerusalem, it was expected that the city would then be annexed to the Jewish state.
It is also important to recall that UN General Assembly resolutions are only recommendations and do not bind member states under international law. Moreover, the Arab states rejected Resolution 181 in its entirety, especially its call for establishing a Jewish state.
Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, understood the moral importance of Resolution 181 because of its recognition of the right of the Jewish people to a state. But on Dec. 3, 1949, at the end of Israel's War of Independence, Ben-Gurion told the Knesset he opposed calls for Jerusalem's internationalization: "We can no longer regard the UN Resolution of 29 November as having any moral force. After the UN failed to implement its own resolution, we regard the resolution of 29 November concerning Jerusalem to be null and void."
Furthermore, it was not the UN that legally created the Jewish state with Resolution 181, but rather Israel's own declaration of independence in 1948. (Israel Hayom)
- Syrians Die While the World Dithers - Irwin Cotler
At the UN World Summit in 2005, more than 150 heads of state and governments unanimously adopted a declaration on the Responsibility to Protect, authorizing international collective action "to protect [a state's] population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity" if that state is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens, or worse, as in the case of Syria, if that state is the author of such criminality. It now appears that all the conditions for invoking the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine exist in Syria, if they have not already been in place for some time.
What is required now is a UN Security Council resolution in order to begin acting on our international legal obligations under the R2P. In particular, what is necessary now is the deployment of an Arab League protective force to stop the killing, the provision of humanitarian assistance and relief, the implementation of no-fly and no-drive zones, and broad-based support for the Syrian National Council. The writer is a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada.
- Egypt and the Fruits of the Pharaohs - Fouad Ajami
On Feb. 11, Egypt's last pharaoh, Hosni Mubarak, bent to the will of his people and relinquished power. What we are witnessing in Egypt today is not the consequence of democracy but rather a half-century of authoritarianism. The chaos and the lawlessness issue out of the lawlessness of the former regime.
(Wall Street Journal)
Egypt Won't Seek War - Giora Eiland (Ynet News)
- The latest events in Egypt raise concerns in Israel, and rightfully so. Egypt is entering a period of uncertainty that will affect us as well. However, the risks are not as great as some predict.
We can divide the risks into two: Tactical-operative and strategic. The tactical threat is high and immediate. It stems from the fact that the Sinai has turned into a wholly uncontrollable region. The vacuum attracts many elements that are hostile to Israel, ranging from Palestinian terrorists from Gaza to various al-Qaeda elements.
- On the other hand, the strategic threat of Egypt turning into an enemy state, or even the risk of a military confrontation, is a matter whose likelihood is low and whose materialization, if at all, is remote.
Even if the worst change takes place in Egypt - a Muslim Brotherhood government - such a regime would clearly seek to avoid military confrontation with Israel.
The political reality in Egypt would require any government to first focus on stabilizing the domestic situation.
- Stabilizing the economic situation depends on four sources: tourism, the movement of ships through the Suez Canal, gas sales to neighboring countries, and Western investments.
All four aspects would be gravely undermined in case of military tensions vis-a-vis Israel, and any future ruler knows this well.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland is a former Israeli National Security Advisor.
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