Hamas Minister: "Half of the Palestinians Are Egyptians and the Other Half Are Saudis" (MEMRI TV)
Hamas Minister of the Interior and of National Security Fathi Hammad told Egypt's Al-Hekma TV on March 23, 2012:
"Every Palestinian, in Gaza and throughout Palestine, can prove his Arab roots - whether from Saudi Arabia, from Yemen, or anywhere. We have blood ties."
"Personally, half my family is Egyptian. We are all like that. More than 30 families in Gaza are called Al-Masri ["Egyptian"]. Brothers, half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis."
"Who are the Palestinians? We have many families called Al-Masri, whose roots are Egyptian. Egyptian! They may be from Alexandria, from Cairo, from Dumietta, from the North, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians. We are Arabs. We are Muslims. We are a part of you."
Impact of Iran Sanctions Widens - Rick Gladstone (New York Times)
Leading oil companies in South Africa and Greece suspended imports of Iran's crude oil on Tuesday.
Muslim Brotherhood Officials in Washington to Promote Moderate Image - William Wan (Washington Post)
Members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood began a week-long charm offensive in Washington on Tuesday, seeking to counter persistent fears about the group's emergence as the country's most powerful political force.
Suspected French Terrorists Planned to Kidnap Jewish Judge (AFP)
Some of the suspected Islamic militants recently detained in France planned to kidnap a Jewish magistrate from Lyon and other people, a source close to the investigation said on Tuesday.
Iranian Chemicals Intercepted by Turkey En Route to Syria - Aaron Kalman (Times of Israel)
Iranian trucks carrying suspicious chemicals that could be used to create weapons were stopped by Turkey on their way to Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday.
Israeli Geneticist, in Qatar, Wins TV Debate - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
Prof. Ohad Birk, a leading geneticist at Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University, appeared in Qatar on a "Doha Debates" TV program dedicated to consanguinity - inbreeding by first cousins that causes genetic disorders in the Arab population.
Birk, who was presented as an Israeli geneticist, said he was treated very warmly by the production staff and by the live Arab audience.
At the end of the debate, 80% voted in favor of discouraging inbreeding by close relatives.
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- International Court Rebuffs Palestinians' Gaza War Crimes Case Against Israel - Edmund Sanders
The International Criminal Court on Tuesday rejected a Palestinian request to investigate war crimes allegations arising from Israel's military offensive in Gaza three years ago, saying it had no jurisdiction because a Palestinian state has not been recognized by the UN General Assembly.
But ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo appeared to leave the door open for future claims if Palestinians succeed in upgrading their status at the UN from "observer" to "non-member state." (Los Angeles Times)
See also Hague Court Rejects Palestinian Suit Against Israel over Gaza Operation - Shlomo Cesana and Mati Tuchfeld
In a major, and rare, victory for Israel, the ICC in The Hague ruled that it could not judge cases involving the West Bank and Gaza. The ruling was a blow to the Palestinian Authority, which had submitted a lawsuit against Israeli officials in 2009 over alleged "war crimes" committed during the IDF's incursion into Gaza in 2008-9.
The only Israeli to testify before the court was Dr. Dore Gold, Israel's former ambassador to the UN and the head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Israel is not a signatory to the international court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, and cannot provide testimony in the court in an official capacity. Gold noted: “The ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague proves that Israel does not have to surrender in advance every time the Palestinian Authority takes its grievances to an international body. We can defend Israel's vital interests and even gain international support in the process." (Israel Hayom)
See also International Criminal Court Rejects Palestinian Bid - Marlise Simmons
The ICC statement did answer one pending question: Palestinian officials cannot hope to gain implicit recognition of statehood through the court.
(New York Times)
See also Statement by the ICC Prosecutor Regarding the "Situation in Palestine" (International Criminal Court)
- Clinton: Unilateral Israeli Strike on Iran Is in No One's Interest
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the upcoming talks with Iran on ABC News on Sunday:
"We're not entering into these talks for the sake of talks. We are entering into them because we really believe in giving diplomacy a chance, perhaps a last chance to demonstrate a way forward that can satisfy the international community's concerns....They [Iranians] are entitled to civilian nuclear power. They are not entitled to a nuclear weapons program."
"We've worked very hard with Israel on all levels from the military, intelligence, strategic, diplomatic level to make sure we were sharing information, that we knew what each other was assessing. And it's our very strong belief, as President Obama conveyed to the Israelis, that it is not in anyone's interest for them [Israelis] to take unilateral action." (U.S. State Department)
- Syria Forces Launch Fresh Offensive in Defiance of UN Peace Plan - Adrian Blomfield
Government forces mounted a multi-pronged offensive against rebel strongholds across Syria on Tuesday in open defiance of a pledge to begin the immediate implementation of a UN-backed peace plan.
See also Rifaat al-Assad: Bashar al-Assad Cannot Survive for Long
Former Syrian vice president Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, believes it is unlikely that his nephew can hold onto power much longer. "The problems are now general to all parts of Syria - there are no places that have escaped violence - so I don't think he can stay in power," Rifaat told the BBC.
Rifaat had led a 1982 military assault on Hama to suppress an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood, leaving up to 25,000 people dead.
Rifaat al-Assad tried to oust Bashar's father Hafez in a coup while he was recovering from a heart attack and was effectively sent into exile in 1984. When Bashar became president following his father's death in 2000, Rifaat criticized the succession, as he considered himself the legitimate successor. (BBC News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Sanctions Failing to Convince Iran to Back Down from Nuclear Program - Moti Bassok
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a news conference on Tuesday that international sanctions were hurting Iran's economy but not enough to persuade it to curb its nuclear ambitions.
"The Iranian government...is having economic troubles but it has yet to move backward, even a millimeter, in its nuclear program," Netanyahu said. "I know there are difficulties, but there has yet to be a change."
"I will do all I can to fend off this danger," Netanyahu said in reference to Iran's nuclear program, "I hope we will be able to do this together with the leading players in the international community; it is a great danger to them, but first and foremost it is a danger to us." (Ha'aretz)
- PA TV: "Moses Was a Muslim" - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Dr. Omar Ja'ara, a lecturer at Al-Najah University in Nablus, said on PA TV on Feb. 15, 2012, that Moses, a Muslim, brought "the Muslims of the Children of Israel out of Egypt." He refers to the subsequent Israeli conquest of the Land of Israel as the "first Palestinian liberation...of Palestine," led not by Joshua, as the Bible tells, but by Saul (Talut) who is also said to have slayed Goliath. While some of this is retelling of Islamic tradition, some is a distortion of the Koran for political purposes. The Koran never refers to anyone as "Palestinians." (Palestinian Media Watch)
- Jewish Man Attacked by Ax-Wielding Assailant in Jerusalem - Itsik Saban and Yori Yalon
Nahum Weisfish, 69, survived an attack Monday in Jerusalem by a man who repeatedly attempted to strike him in the head with an ax.
"I noticed someone running up behind me and tried to run away. When I turned around, I saw an Arab man wielding an ax. I tried to grab the ax and as we struggled it fell from his hand. At that point, the Arab man fled and I noticed that the ax had cut my wide-rimmed hat, which had partially blocked the strike. My kippah [skullcap] also helped block the blade....I experienced a great miracle." (Israel Hayom)
- Iran's Spymaster Counters U.S. Moves in the Mideast - Jay Solomon and Siobhan Gorman
Iran spymaster Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's overseas forces, is emerging as director of the Islamic Republic's effort to spread its influence abroad and bedevil the West.
Senior U.S. and Arab officials say it was Gen. Soleimani's idea to harass and bleed American forces for years in Iraq by arming Shiite militias there. The general's Qods Force oversees Iran's support for groups fighting Israel, including Hizbullah and Hamas.
Israel publicly blames the Qods Force for a string of assassination attempts on Israeli diplomats. Last October, the U.S. Justice Department indicted Soleimani for his purported role in a bomb plot aimed at killing the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Militant Islam Flourishes in Egyptian Sinai - Tamim Elyan
The group of 50 young men who blocked off access to a small international military base in the Sinai desert, dressed in army fatigues and armed with AK-47s, wore the long beards of the hardline Islamists who are increasingly a law unto themselves in this part of Egypt.
Quietly, they are building a presence in Sinai that might offer a new haven for anti-Western militancy.
The group lifted their eight-day siege of the base that is home to foreign peace observers including Fijians, Americans and Spaniards after they had secured their demands. The government agreed to free those who carried out attacks in 2004 and 2005 that killed 125 people at the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab and Taba.
With Mubarak's removal from power, government authority has collapsed in much of Sinai, leaving a vacuum where Islamist militant groups are flourishing, posing a security risk to Egypt and Israel. "There is genuine potential for this threat to grow and become a much bigger issue than it is now," said Henri Wilkinson, head of intelligence and analysis at the Risk Advisory group.
See also Is the Sinai the New Battlefield Against the West? - Lenny Ben-David (Times of Israel)
Iran Lists War Aims Against Israel - Michael Rubin (Commentary)
In an article in Alef, Ali Reza Forqani, an ally of Iran's Supreme Leader, delves into how Iran should conduct a war against Israel:
- Israel must come under heavy military strikes from the first blows until the last. The first stage must lead to the annihilation of ground zero points in Israel. Iran can use its long-range missiles to accomplish this task. The Israeli targets deep inside Israeli territory are well within the reach of Iran's conventional missiles.
- In a section subtitled "People of Israel Must Be Annihilated," Forqani outlines how to conduct genocide:
- The residents of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa can be targeted even by Shahab-3 missiles. The population there accounts for about 60 percent of Israel's entire population.
The writer, a senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School and a former Pentagon official, is a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
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