U.S. to Lift Ban on Iran Exile Group - Jay Solomon and Evan Perez (Wall Street Journal)
The Obama administration is moving to remove the Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK) from the State Department's terrorism list.
The exile group was originally named as a terrorist entity 15 years ago for its alleged role in assassinating U.S. citizens in the years before the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and for allying with Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein against Tehran.
The MeK has engaged in an aggressive legal and lobbying campaign in Washington over the past two years to win its removal from the State Department's list.
See also Unshackling the Iranian Opposition Is What It Takes to Rattle the Tehran Mullahs - Alex Carlile, British House of Lords (The Hill)
Arabic Media Mum on Nakba Day Events - Oren Kessler (Jerusalem Post)
Arabic media were uncharacteristically reticent ahead of this year's "Nakba Day" on Tuesday, compared to last year when more than a dozen people were killed trying to rush Israel's northern border.
Lebanese news outlets reported that no protests are expected to be held this year at the country's frontier with Israel.
Poll: 61% of Egyptians Want to Annul Peace Treaty with Israel - (Pew Research Center)
Opposition among Egyptians to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel is increasing: 61% prefer to annul the treaty, up from 54% a year ago, according to a poll conducted in Egypt by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project between March 19 and April 10, 2012.
U.S.: Syrian Military Violating Ceasefire, Attacking Aid Workers - Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy)
USAID reported in detail at the end of April on the extensive attacks perpetrated by Syrian government troops (SARG) in direct violation of the "cease-fire" there.
UN "observers report that SARG forces have not withdrawn heavy weapons from urban centers - a condition of the UN and Arab League-supported ceasefire and peace plan that went into effect on April 12."
USAID reported that government forces attacked a Syrian Arab Red Crescent vehicle on April 24 that was evacuating wounded civilians in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, killing one aid volunteer and injuring three.
Israel to Return Bodies of 100 Palestinian Terrorists - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on Monday to return 100 bodies of Palestinian terrorists buried in Israel to the Palestinian Authority.
"We are hoping that this step will increase faith and help foster a renewal of the political process with the Palestinians," said an Israeli official.
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- Iran Sees Success in Stalling on Nuclear Issue - Thomas Erdbrink
As Iran starts a critical round of talks over its nuclear program, its negotiating team may be less interested in reaching a comprehensive settlement than in buying time and establishing the legitimacy of its enrichment program, Iranian officials and analysts said. Iranians say their carefully crafted policy has helped move the goal posts in their favor by making enrichment a reality that the West has been unable to stop - and may now be willing to accept.
"We have managed to bypass the red lines the West created for us," said Hamidreza Taraghi, an adviser to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The West had said no to any enrichment, "but here we are, enriching as much as we need for our nuclear energy program," Taraghi said with a smile.
(New York Times)
- UN Nuclear Agency to Push Iran on Military Site Access - Fredrik Dahl
The UN nuclear watchdog signaled on Monday it would press Iran for access to a military installation where it suspects Iran has built a chamber for high-explosive tests that could serve to develop atomic bombs. Iran has so far resisted requests by the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the Parchin complex southeast of Tehran. The issue was expected to be raised during a May 14-15 meeting in Vienna between Iran and the IAEA.
An IAEA report last November found that Iran had built a large containment vessel in 2000 at the Parchin site in which to conduct tests that the UN agency said were "strong indicators of possible (nuclear) weapon development."
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Abbas Rejects Netanyahu's Proposal to Renew Peace Talks - Daniel Siryoti and Edna Adatto
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer to resume negotiations without preconditions, prolonging the long-standing impasse in the peace process. Netanyahu's proposal, as well as Israel's demands for security arrangements that would need to be part of any final peace deal, were presented in an official letter delivered to Abbas on Sunday by the prime minister's special envoy for peace talks, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, in response to one he received last month from Abbas.
- Palestinian Prisoners End Hunger Strike - Elior Levy
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails agreed on Monday to end a mass hunger strike after winning concessions from Israel to improve their conditions, the Israel Security Agency announced. According to the deal, which was brokered by Egyptian mediators, Israel agreed to allow prisoners from both the West Bank and Gaza to receive family visits. The visits from Gaza were halted in 2006 after Hamas-linked terrorists in Gaza captured Gilad Shalit.
See also Text: Agreement between Israel and Palestinian Security Prisoners (IMRA-Israel Security Agency)
See also Administrative Detention in the West Bank
Administrative detention is a lawful security measure allowing the deprivation of a person's liberty for a limited time. Administrative detention orders are used as a preventative measure against persons posing grave threats to the security of the West Bank or its population, such as persons directly involved in terrorism, whose detention is considered to be absolutely necessary for imperative reasons of security.
International law authorizes the use of administrative detention in the territories.
Administrative detention may be ordered for a period of no more than six months. Following this period, a renewed detention order may only be issued on the basis of an updated assessment of the threat posed by the person, which establishes that continued detention is required to confront the threat posed by that person. Detainees wishing to challenge detention orders may file a petition with Israel's Supreme Court. Detainees have the right to legal counsel of their choice throughout this process.
(IDF Military Advocate General)
- Ross: Iran Must "Stop Clock" to Show It's Serious - Hilary Leila Krieger
Former White House Iran adviser Dennis Ross said Monday that for Tehran to prove its seriousness in new talks over its nuclear program, it must take a step that "stops the clock" on its uranium enrichment. Ross said that Iran would need to agree to steps such as a "significant shipout" of both its 20%-enriched uranium and its stockpile of low-enriched uranium as well.
He stressed that he did not expect a breakthrough at the next round of talks on May 23 in Baghdad, adding that the talks needed to be held regularly and frequently if they were expected to make progress. "This is not a serious process if it meets once a month," he said.
- EU Documents Repeat False NGO Claims
Since 2010, six documents from the offices of EU representatives in Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been leaked to the Israeli and international media. The documents repeat many of the false, inaccurate or misleading allegations made by a select group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive much of their funding from the EU and member states.
European officials failed to exercise due diligence in verifying many of the factual and legal claims made by these NGOs, nor did they consult a broader range of sources from a wide spectrum of political positions and with different forms of expertise. Relying on these distorted and one-sided reports, the EU documents make policy recommendations that, if implemented, may jeopardize Israeli security and lead to more conflict in the region.
Through Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, funded in non-transparent processes, the EU is attempting to force major changes in Israeli policy by circumventing democratic structures and diplomatic channels, while NGOs are marshalling foreign backing for positions repeatedly rejected by the majority of Israeli citizens.
- Creating Syria Safe Zones Is Dangerous - Aaron David Miller
If President Obama determines that toppling the regime of Bashar al-Assad by force is a vital U.S. national interest (though it isn't), he should create a coalition to act quickly, decisively and effectively to do it. Otherwise, he should avoid half-baked measures, such as the safe-zones scheme, that can lead to an open-ended military commitment without accomplishing the intended results.
Protecting these areas from the air might not be possible and would thus require boots on the ground. Declaring safe zones without having the means and will to protect them could lead to a repeat of the 1995 tragedy in Bosnia where UN peacekeepers couldn't protect civilians in UN-designated safe zones from Bosnian Serb massacres.
If we do make Syria our priority, we have to accept the costs: To maintain the pressure against Iran's nuclear program, we'll need the Russians and the Chinese on board, but we won't get them to support both our policies on Iran and Syria.
The BBC and "The Jews" - Walter Russell Mead (American Interest)
- On last week's BBC HARDtalk program, the host's opening line was: "American Presidents have long been criticized for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. The American Jews influence U.S. foreign policy and that explains Washington's unwavering support for Israel." This vicious garbage isn't "sort of" or "almost" anti-Semitic; it is the real thing: vivid, unapologetic, odious and wrong.
- To speak of "the Jews" in the aggregate, as though they form a monolithic super-entity with a single view and agenda, is exactly the kind of thinking that gutter anti-Semitism embraces in every age. To talk of an all-powerful "Jewish lobby" which controls American foreign policy is to embrace the paranoid fantasies of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Facts live in one place and narratives live in another; there is no need for them ever to meet when you are broadcasting for the BBC.
- When these dangerous assumptions about Jews are allowed to fester, they soon create an atmosphere which is dangerous for Jews and where violence against them becomes increasingly commonplace - as we are seeing today across Europe. If evils aren't fought, they will grow.
- Jew hatred isn't more stupid or more wicked than other forms of racial and religious hatred. But Jew hatred is more disempowering and self-defeating than most other kinds of hate because it involves not only negative emotions about a group of people but a deeply false set of ideas about how the world works. Anti-Semitism is not just a moral obscenity; it is the road to intellectual and political ruin.
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