Hizbullah Boosting UAV Unit - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)
Hizbullah has been bolstering its unmanned aerial vehicle unit, Yediot Ahronot reported Friday.
Hizbullah is equipped with Ababil ("Swallow") drones, which are manufactured by Iran.
"Hizbullah is making a specific effort to acquire such (weapons) as part of its offensive lineup against Israel," a security source said.
During the Second Lebanon War,
Hizbullah sent two UAVs into Israeli airspace, each carrying 40-50 kg. of explosives.
Abbas' Police State - Jonathan Schanzer (Foreign Policy)
On April 26, the White House issued an executive order to stop technology companies from helping Iran and Syria commit human rights abuses.
But the U.S. is missing an opportunity to promote positive change in a government over which it has much more leverage: Mahmoud Abbas' increasingly repressive fiefdom in the West Bank.
As reported by the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency, Palestinian officials have "quietly instructed Internet providers to block access to news websites whose reporting is critical of President Mahmoud Abbas."
In April 2011, Human Rights Watch issued a 35-page report titled "No News is Good News: Abuses Against Journalists by Palestinian Security Forces."
The U.S. has just issued a waiver releasing $192 million in aid for the Palestinians that had been frozen by Congress without first demanding that Abbas take measures to guarantee free speech in the West Bank. This was a lost opportunity.
The writer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Does Pro-Palestinian Have to Mean Anti-Israel? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
Pro-Palestinian groups and individuals in the U.S. and Europe are doing Palestinians an injustice by devoting all their energies only against Israel.
There is a feeling in the West Bank and Gaza that most of these groups and individuals are more interested in campaigning against Israel than helping the Palestinians.
Being pro-Palestinian does not necessarily mean that one also has to be anti-Israel.
The pro-Palestinian camp in the West should raise its voice against violations of human rights and media freedoms under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
The pro-Palestinian activists refuse to see that there are executions, arbitrary arrests, and assaults against women and torture in Hamas prisons.
They also do not seem to care if the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are brainwashing Palestinian children and filling their minds and hearts with hatred.
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- Israeli Defense Minister Keeps All Options Open on Iran - Jodi Rudoren
Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak said Monday that the international talks on the Iranian nuclear program do "not fill me with confidence."
While a military strike would be "complicated by certain risks," he said that a "radical Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons would be far more dangerous both for the region and, indeed, the whole world."
"Israel cannot afford to be duped," he added. "The No. 1 responsibility is to ensure that our fate will remain firmly in our own hands."
Barak said that sanctions had "forced the Iranians to take note, sit down and talk," but that "actions speak louder than words." "It is well understood in Washington, D.C., as well as in Jerusalem that as long as there is a future existential threat to our people, that all options to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons should stay on the table, and they will." (New York Times)
- Syria Attacks Seen as Sign of Extremists' Rise - Nour Malas
Suicide blasts on Monday and a series of other bombings across Syria have renewed concerns that unrest there is giving extremist Islamist groups room to grow. There have been eight suicide attacks reported in Syria since December. Western and Arab officials and some members of the Syrian opposition say the attacks point to the growing activities of al-Qaeda and radical Sunni Islamist groups in operations against the Syrian regime. U.S. officials have said strikes on security and intelligence buildings in Damascus and Aleppo over the past four months have resembled al-Qaeda attacks, and that al-Qaeda insurgents from Iraq may have infiltrated Syrian opposition groups.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Syrian Uprising Shifts toward Suicide Bombings. Al-Qaeda's Handiwork? - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
- South Korea's Iran Crude Oil Imports to Plunge from June - Meeyoung Cho and Florence Tan
South Korea will make sharp cuts in imports of Iranian crude from June as tightening Western sanctions make it impossible to secure insurance cover for tankers to ship the crude, industry sources said. China, Japan and India, the other key consumers who buy most of Tehran's 2.2 million bpd of exports, have all cut purchases this year as sanctions make it impossible to pay, ship and insure the oil. Japan, Iran's third-largest oil consumer, will cut April loadings by almost 80%. Industry watchers expect the marine insurance issue to prove to be the most effective sanction used by Western nations. (Reuters)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Leading Egyptian Presidential Candidate: Camp David Accords "Dead," But Egypt Still Honors Peace with Israel - Ilan Ben Zion
Leading Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa said Sunday, "The Camp David Accord is a historical document whose place is on the memory shelf, since its articles talk about the fact that the aim of the agreement is to establish an independent Palestinian state....This accord is dead and buried." However, Moussa later clarified that Egypt will still honor its overall peace treaty with Israel.
According to a poll conducted by the Al-Ahram Center for Political Studies on Monday, Moussa would receive 41% of the vote in the presidential elections, with former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh receiving 27%. (Times of Israel)
- Israel Builds Protective Wall in North to Block Gunfire on Metulla - Maor Buchnik
Israel began building a 1-km. protective cement wall between the Israeli town of Metulla and the Lebanese village of Kila on Monday "to prevent firing from the Lebanese side into the Israeli side. In the past year and a half there have been a number of incidents," said Col. Amit Fisher. A security fence already runs along the entire northern border.
- Egypt Is Taking U.S. Money and Running - Editorial
It has been five weeks since the Obama administration granted Egypt its full $1.3 billion in annual military aid despite its government's failure to meet conditions set by Congress for advancing democracy. In granting a waiver on national security grounds, administration officials argued that continuing the funding was more likely to encourage cooperation with the U.S. and progress on human rights than a cutoff would.
As it turns out, U.S.-Egyptian relations and the military's treatment of civil society have deteriorated since the waiver was issued March 23. The government has begun pressing a new law on civil society groups that would stop all foreign funding for Egyptian NGOs, prohibit them from engaging in any work related to democratic politics and force many existing organizations to close. In addition,
since the waiver was issued, Egypt's government-owned press, which is controlled by the military's intelligence agency, has continued a toxic campaign of anti-Americanism.
- What Palestinians Are Discussing on the Social Networks - Udi Dekel and Orit Perlov
According to the debate on Palestinian social networking sites, the relatively calm security situation in both Gaza and the West Bank is in part a
function of two insights that are growing increasingly stronger among the Palestinians.
First, past experience proves that it is precisely escalation that serves Israelís interests and
over time harms the Palestinian population. Second, even Egypt and the advocates of
change in the Arab world are not encouraging escalation against Israel. Their focus lies
on the domestic situation, and at the present time there is little tolerance for violence
based on terror and military actions.
The internal Palestinian debate focuses on issues of social justice, political rights, civil
rights, and human rights. National issues and processes of state-building have become of
secondary importance. Criticism is directed toward the current Hamas and Fatah leaders who are out of touch with the needs of the
average citizen and who demonstrate both disinterest and an inability to provide a
solution to current problems.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
1948: Palestine Betrayed - Elliot Jager interviews Efraim Karsh (Jewish Ideas Daily)
- Zionist Jews were not interlopers in Palestine. The tragic flight of the Palestinian refugees was overwhelmingly not the fault of the Zionists. To the contrary, at every junction the Zionists opted for compromise and peace, the Arabs for intransigence and belligerency.
In Palestine Betrayed,
Efraim Karsh, head of the Middle East and Mediterranean Studies Program at King's College, University of London, zeroes in on the 1948-49 war, its background, and its consequences.
- "Palestine was betrayed by its corrupt and extremist Arab leadership, headed by Hajj Amin Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem. From the early 1920s onward, and very much against the wishes of their own constituents, these leaders launched a relentless campaign to obliterate the Jewish national revival, culminating in the violent attempt to abort the UN partition resolution of November 1947."
- The book is dedicated to Elias Katz and Sami Taha. "Katz won two Olympic medals in the 1924 Paris games before immigrating to Mandatory Palestine and becoming coach of the prospective Jewish state's athletic team for the 1948 games. A firm believer in peaceful coexistence, he was murdered in December 1947 by Arab co-workers in a British military base in Gaza. Sami Taha, scion of a distinguished Haifa family, was a prominent Palestinian Arab trade unionist and a foremost proponent of Arab-Jewish coexistence. He was gunned down by a mufti henchman in September 1947."
- After Israel declared independence, "immediately the country was invaded by the regular armies of the neighboring Arab states....It was common knowledge at the time that the pan-Arab invasion was more of a geopolitical scramble for Palestine than an attempt to secure the Palestinians' national rights. After 1948-49, neither Egypt nor Transjordan moved to establish an independent Palestinian entity in Gaza and the West Bank."
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