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Muslim Brotherhood to Maintain Egypt-Israel Industrial Zones - Stephen Glain (Washington Post)
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the dominant party in a new parliament, announced last week that it would not meddle with the industrial zones jointly managed by Egypt and Israel to promote trade between the two peace partners.
Terror Targets in Azerbaijan Included Israeli Ambassador - Attila Somfalvi (Ynet News)
Three Azerbaijani citizens who were arrested by security forces last week planned to attack Israeli Ambassador Michael Lotem, as well as a rabbi and a teacher at the Habad Jewish Day School in Baku.
The would-be assassins received instructions from Balagardash Dadashov, who was in contact with Iranian intelligence and received a sniper rifle, pistols and explosive devices.
They were to receive $150,000.
Video: Palestinians Open Fire on Israeli Car in West Bank - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
The IDF and the Israel Security Agency have recently arrested 19 Palestinians suspected of orchestrating terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank over the past few months.
Two Palestinians from Azoun are accused of opening fire on an Israeli vehicle as it was heading to Ma'ale Shomron last Saturday. Video footage of the attack released by the IDF Spokesperson's Office shows the two opening fire at the vehicle. No one was injured, but the car was damaged.
U.S. to Grant Three-Year Extension of Loan Guarantees to Israel - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
The U.S. government has informed Israel that it will recommend a three-year extension of loan guarantees to Israel, worth $3.8 billion. The loan guarantees agreement between the U.S. and Israel began in 2003, and Israel last raised money through it in 2004.
According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, the loan guarantees have importance to global credit agencies, who view them as a "safety net" for the Israeli economy.
"We consider the loan guarantees as preparation for a rainy day," he said. "This is a safety net for war, natural disaster and economic crisis, which allows Israel to maintain economic stability in unstable surroundings."
UN Envoys Slam Russia for Selling Weapons to Syria - Louis Charbonneau (Reuters)
Britain, France and the U.S. sharply criticized Russia on Tuesday for supplying weapons to Syria, where government forces have killed thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators over the last 10 months.
Israeli Film Nominated for Academy Award (JTA)
The Israeli film "Footnote" is among the five finalists for an Academy Award in the foreign-language film category, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday.
It tells the story of the rivalry between two Talmudic scholars, who are also father and son.
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- Obama: "America Is Determined to Prevent Iran from Getting a Nuclear Weapon"
In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama said: "Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran's nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations."
"Our ironclad commitment - and I mean ironclad - to Israel's security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history." (White House)
- Israel's First Natural Gas Field to Run Out This Year
Mary-B, Israel's first natural gas field, has been depleted faster than expected and is projected to run out this year, as Israel has been forced to compensate for a lack of Egyptian gas.
The Israeli partners in the consortium - Delek Drilling and Avner Oil - said on Tuesday they were studying the implications of this drop in production as well as what measures they might be able to take to narrow this decline.
"This drop in supply is expected to have a negative effect on the financial results of the partnership until the start of commercial production from the Tamar project, which is expected in the first half of 2013," they said.
The use of gas in Israel has quadrupled since 2004, and is now the primary source for generating electricity. The Israel Electric Corp. has been forced to increase its use of more expensive alternatives such as diesel and fuel oil. A recent cold snap has aggravated the situation.
- Arab States Seek UN Help as Syria Steps Up Violence - Liz Sly
The Arab League sought help from the UN to address the escalating crisis in Syria on Tuesday.
Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby and Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jasim al-Thani wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon requesting a meeting of the Security Council to address ways that it could help implement a transition plan that called for Assad to step aside. Gulf Arab countries including Saudi Arabia pulled out of an Arab League monitoring mission, saying it was ineffectual.
The Local Coordination Committees said 41 people were killed in shelling by security forces in Homs and 19 elsewhere in the country, including five defected soldiers. (Washington Post)
See also Arab League's Peace Mission to Syria on Verge of Collapse - Richard Spencer (Telegraph-UK)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinians Refused to Negotiate with IDF Officer over Security Arrangements - Eli Bordenstein
The talks underway between Israel and the Palestinians in Amman have not lead to any progress. The opposite is true: the Palestinians refused to talk with Israel on the issues related to security arrangements for their future state, even though at issue is one of the central subjects in the conflict. The prime minister's envoy to the negotiations, Adv. Yitzhak Molcho, brought to the meeting between the parties on Saturday night Brig.-Gen. Assaf Orion, the head of the strategic unit of the IDF Planning Branch, in order to present Israel's positions on security in the talks. However, the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat, refused to allow the officer to appear before them.
The Palestinians want to speak about borders and less on the issue of security. According to senior sources in the Israeli security establishment, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is under pressure not to continue the direct talks with Israel after Jan. 26, so that he will "leverage" the failure of negotiations for "PR purposes" and strengthen the legitimacy of the Palestinians in the international community. (Maariv-Hebrew, 25Jan12)
See also Palestinian Negotiator Refuses to Let Israel Present Position on Security Arrangements at Amman Talks - Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury
"The Palestinians are preparing the ground for abandonment [of the talks] and for closing the door," a senior Israeli official said. (Ha'aretz)
See also Palestinians Say Amman Meeting with Israelis Wednesday Will Be the Last
Palestinian and Israeli negotiators are to hold a fifth meeting in Amman on Wednesday. Palestinian sources confirmed Wednesday the meeting in Amman would be the last. They highlighted that the international Quartet placed huge pressure on the Palestinian side after the leadership said it wouldn't join further meetings with the Israelis.
- Sanctions Against Iran Grow Tighter, But What's the Next Step? - Helene Cooper
As the Obama administration and its European allies toughened economic sanctions against Iran on Monday, officials acknowledge that effort has only a limited chance of persuading Tehran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Several American and European officials say privately that the most attainable outcome for the West could be for Iran to maintain the knowledge and technology necessary to build a nuclear weapon while stopping short of doing so. But Iran would first have to demonstrate that it could be trusted and drop its veil of secrecy so that inspectors could verify that its nuclear work was peaceful, steps Iran has resisted.
Japan has the capability to become an atomic power virtually overnight, but has rejected taking the final steps to possessing nuclear weapons. "If you're asking whether we would be satisfied with Iran becoming Japan, then the answer is a qualified yes," a senior European diplomat said. "But it would have to be verifiable, and we are a long ways away from trusting the regime." And settling for an Iranian state that could quickly produce a nuclear weapon would be hard for the United States to embrace. (New York Times)
- Iran: The Syrian Highway in the Fight Against Israel Is Still Open - Michael Segall
The wave of protest in Syria has put to the test the strategic alliance between Iran (and Hizbullah) and Bashar Assad's regime. Syria is the main state component of the "resistance camp" and serves as a logistical hinterland for Hizbullah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran sees its unequivocal backing for Syria as a demonstration of its ability to stay loyal to its allies despite the regional turmoil.
Iran believes that ultimately the "Islamic mantle" will supplant the region's pro-Western regimes as part of the Islamic awakening. This would offset the possible loss of Syria and reconsolidate the resistance camp on a broad basis of Islamic religion and ideological hatred of Israel and the U.S. IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Syria: The Lost Bequest of Hafez Assad - Fouad Ajami
Arabs are firm believers in nasab, inherited merit passed on from father to son, a nobility of the blood. Bashar, son of Hafez Assad, has a son named Hafez. But Bashar needn't worry about training his son for future rulership. The house that Hafez Assad built, some four decades ago, is not destined to last.
The country's first coup d'etat had come in 1949, a mere three years after independence, and the conspiracies would not cease in the years to come. In this republic of conspirators and coup makers, Hafez Assad was to emerge as the supreme practitioner of the art. There were three Baathist coups - in 1963, 1966, and 1970. He was a minor player in the first, a partner in the second, and the victor in the third against his own erstwhile allies.
Assad could never surmount the blame that the Golan Heights were lost to Israel in the Six-Day War on his watch, when he was defense minister. Unable to recover the Golan, he did the next best thing: he all but came into possession of Lebanon. The writer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Israel to UN: You Never Hear Palestinian Leaders Say "Two States for Two Peoples" - Amb. Ron Prosor (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council on Tuesday:
- "Never has it been so clear that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon. This is the single greatest threat to the security of the entire world....The latest IAEA reports prove beyond any doubt that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, which is advancing rapidly. Each and every member of the United Nations - and particularly this Council - should lie awake at night thinking about what would happen if the regime in Tehran gets ahold of the most dangerous weapon on earth."
- "After a year of turmoil in the Middle East...what issue has this Council deemed the most pressing in its monthly debate on the Middle East? Surprise, surprise...the status of municipal building applications in the West Bank....Yet, entire Middle Eastern countries where people are being killed, repressed and tortured daily continue to go without mention."
- "How many times have members of this Council...repeated this statement: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the central conflict in the Middle East. If you solve that conflict, you solve all the other conflicts in the region....It is obvious that Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, and many other conflicts in the Middle East have nothing to do with Israel. The constant repetition of the statement does not make it true."
- "The primary obstacle to peace is not settlements....The major hurdle to peace is the Palestinians' insistence on the so-called 'claim of return.'...You won't hear them say 'two states for two peoples' because today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but insists that its people return to the Jewish state. This would mean the destruction of Israel."
- "The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians will never be accepted. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren't hearing it. In a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion last November, 90% of Palestinians said that they would not give up the 'claim of return.' This gap between their perception and reality is - and will remain - the major obstacle to peace."
- "The Gaza Strip...remains a launching ground for constant rocket attacks targeting Israeli cities and civilians. Last year, some 700 rockets were fired into Israel. That's an average of almost two rockets fired every single day.....Yet, this Council still has not found the time or the will to utter a single syllable of condemnation against these attacks. The silence is deafening."
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