Palestinians in West Bank Demonstrate Against Negotiating with Israel (Maan News-PA)
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Ramallah on Tuesday calling on the Palestinian Authority not to negotiate with Israel.
Protesters in Manara square chanted, "The people want to bring down Oslo."
Demonstrators headed to President Mahmoud Abbas' headquarters, carrying Palestinian flags and denouncing planned talks with Israeli vice premier Shaul Mofaz, which were canceled.
Activists also called on the PA to end its security coordination with Israel.
Beirut Banks Funneling Illicit Funds for Iran, Hizbullah - Joanna Paraszczuk (Jerusalem Post)
Hizbullah is using Lebanon's banks in a large-scale money-laundering scheme that is also helping Iran evade banking sanctions,
New York-based United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) reported after a three-month, confidential investigation.
The group says Lebanon's financial system - including Banque du Liban, the country's central bank - is being used to funnel massive amounts of illicit cash from Hizbullah and its state sponsor, Iran.
In a recent letter to Banque du Liban's governor, Riad T. Salame, UANI CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace said Lebanon had become a "sovereign money-laundering jurisdiction that receives massive inflows of illicit deposits from Hizbullah terror and criminal activities."
Presbyterian Committee Approves Israel Divestment (JTA)
The Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly's Middle East Committee voted 36 to 11 with one abstention in favoring of divesting its portfolio from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions.
The committee said the companies helped "Israel's use of their products in violations of Palestinian human rights."
The Church's full convention will vote on the measure this week.
Radical Islam Spreading in Spain - Soeren Kern (Gatestone Institute)
Two Islamists have been arrested in Spain on charges of torturing and murdering two fellow Muslims for "abandoning radical Islam."
Spain's National Intelligence Center, the CNI, in a leaked secret report, points to the accelerating spread in the country of radical Salafi Islam as increasingly posing the greatest threat to national security.
The Madrid-based El Pais reported that jihadists from Ceuta, a Spanish exclave in northern Morocco, have been traveling to Syria to help overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.
The writer is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Strategic Studies Group.
Celebrating July 4th in the Holy Land 100 Years Ago (Israel Daily Picture)
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- Major Powers, Iran to Restart Nuclear Talks - Roy Gutman
After expert-level talks in Istanbul Tuesday, the U.S. and other world powers agreed with Iran on Wednesday to move toward a resumption of full negotiations to ensure that Iran's nuclear fuel enrichment does not turn into a weapons program, a European participant at the talks said. On Sunday, the EU and U.S. introduced new sanctions against Iran, including a cutoff of European oil purchases and U.S. sanctions against the Iranian central bank.
See also PowerPoint Presentation by Iranian Negotiators in Moscow - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
- Iran Takes Defiant Steps over New Sanctions - Rick Gladstone
Iran took defiant steps on Monday in response to intensified Western sanctions, announcing legislation intended to disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, and testing missiles as a warning to Israel and the U.S. The legislation calls for Iran's military to block any oil tanker heading through the strait en route to countries no longer buying Iranian crude because of the EU embargo.
It was unclear how Iran would enforce the legislation, given that the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet patrols the strait.
(New York Times)
- Top Syrian TV Reporter Defects - Martin Chulov
Ghatan Sleiba, a presenter from the Syrian regime's main television channel, al-Dunya, has defected to the opposition and revealed he has been secretly providing intelligence to rebels for the past seven months.
Sleiba, 33, who arrived in Turkey last Wednesday, claimed opposition guerillas are now in control of much of eastern Syria, especially the countryside surrounding main towns and cities.
Sleiba said that before interviews he regularly gave people answers to questions he was about to ask them. "Those answers and the subjects of things to talk about were given to us by the head of the Ba'ath party in the area, or by the political security division." (Guardian-UK)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Seeks to Block New Unilateral Palestinian UN Move - Herb Keinon
Israel is actively working to prevent the Palestinians from participating in a UN arms trade treaty conference taking place in New York as a full-fledged state, and not merely as an observer, Western diplomatic officials said Tuesday. Israel has let it be known that it would block the treaty, which must be approved unanimously, if the Palestinians were granted state status. "What this move shows is that the Palestinians have not given up on pursuing UN membership or on the unilateral UN track," one Western official said.
- Israel, China to Build Eilat Railway - Amiram Barkat
Israel and China Tuesday signed historic cooperation agreements in Beijing to build the Eilat railway and future projects, including an inland canal port north of Eilat. The cargo rail line will link Israel's Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa with Eilat. There are also plans to extend the line to Jordan's Aqaba port.
The estimated cost of the line is at least NIS 20 billion. The Chinese proposed financing part of the cost through the government-owned China Development Industrial Bank.
Israel is considering awarding construction of the project to Chinese companies because of their rapid work.
- Britain's Quiet War on Iran - Anshel Pfeffer
The MV Alaed was steaming south from the Russian Baltic port of Kaliningrad headed to Syria, in its hold three refurbished Mi-25 heavy attack helicopters, ammunition, missiles and an air-defense system. Choppers like these have been used to bomb rebel forces and civilians.
The ship passed less than 80 km. from the coast of Britain bearing a load that violated EU sanctions against arms shipments to Syria. Yet the vessel was Russian-owned and any attempt to board would have led to a major diplomatic row with Moscow.
On June 19, the Alaed turned back. What forced the ship to return was the decision by British insurance company Standard Club to notify the vessel's owners, Femco, that it was withdrawing insurance from all its ships. Without firing a shot, the British government succeeded in denying arms to Syria. It also sent a message to Russia and its allies in the region that Britain still has ways to project power across the globe.
It has been using similar methods for over two years against Iran, in what some diplomats are calling "unprecedented British economic warfare." Despite its eclipse as a military and naval power, London retains its position as a global hub for international financial transactions.
There has been deepening cooperation on diplomatic, financial and intelligence levels between the UK and Israel, which has often supplied the necessary information for the British government to inform banks and insurance companies of Iranian activities. Says one former senior Israeli intelligence officer, "We were under strict orders to supply Britain with everything we had on Iran. We gave them the crown jewels of intelligence." (Ha'aretz)
- Should the U.S. Consider Cutting Military Aid to Egypt? - Shadi Hamid
In June, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and its allies dissolved parliament, reinstated martial law, and decreed a constitutional addendum stripping the presidency of many of its powers.
After protesters brought down President Hosni Mubarak, the U.S. wagered that a military-led transition would facilitate (and manage) the democratization process while safeguarding U.S. interests. SCAF pledged to hand over power by July 1, yet that deadline has come and gone. SCAF continues to undermine Egyptian democracy, apparently confident that there will be few, if any, real consequences to its relationship with the U.S.
There is a widespread perception in Egypt and the broader Middle East that American demands can be ignored if they fall outside of the core U.S. interests: the peace treaty with Israel, over-flight rights (in case there is military action against Iran), access to the Suez Canal, and counter-terrorism. Anything else is seen as just rhetoric.
The writer is director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
- Egypt Doesn't Seek War - Herb Keinon
Former Israeli envoy to Cairo Yitzhak Levanon said Monday that not only were the Egyptian masses not interested in returning to confrontation with Israel, but neither were the Egyptian elite, nor even the Islamists. Nevertheless, he said Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will likely want to reopen the peace treaty with Israel, including the military annex that regulates the number and quality of troops Egypt can have in Sinai. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Will Egypt's Morsi Change? - Zvi Mazel
Since its inception in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood's only goal has been to take control over Egypt and turn it into an Islamist state. Democracy, and with it the values of freedom of expression, equality for minorities and women, have always been viewed by the movement as barriers on the way to enforcing sharia law.
All radical Islamist movements, including al-Qaeda, were established on the basis of the Brotherhood's doctrine. In all likelihood, it will only be a few weeks before the Brotherhood seizes control of Egypt's parliament, and with Morsi as president, what can prevent the movement from forcing the Supreme Military Council generals into retirement? The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. (Ynet News)
Thank You, America - Independence Day Greetings from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
- I wanted to express my appreciation to President Obama and to the American people as you celebrate Independence Day.
As Israel's Prime Minister, I appreciate deeply all that America has done for Israel.
- America's revolution was founded on two very powerful ideas.
First, that people should have the right to elect their own leaders and be sovereign over their own destiny.
And second, that the power of those leaders, the power of governments, must be checked so that individual rights will be protected.
These two powerful ideas made America a beacon of liberty for all humanity.
- To be a real democracy, it is not enough to have a government that represents the majority of the people.
Real democracy also means having a government that respects the rights of each and every individual in it.
Real democracy is not merely about holding popular elections.
It is about what happens between elections.
- It means ensuring that no one is above the law.
It means protecting free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion.
It means upholding the rights of women, minorities, gays, children, everyone.
By ensuring both popular sovereignty and individual rights, the nations of the region can join America and Israel in being genuine democracies.
- Now, will this happen in the Middle East?
In the near term, I think we'll all agree, there's ample reason for skepticism.
But in the long term I believe there's reason for hope.
Ultimately, the power of freedom is bound to prevail.
Ultimately, people throughout the region will enjoy the rights that we in free societies too often take for granted.
- July 4th is a time to not take freedom for granted.
It's a time to be thankful that history granted America the power to match its ideals with action.
It's a time for free people everywhere to send their best wishes to the United States of America, to the country that has done so much to make the world a safer, freer and more peaceful place.
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