IDF Concerned Over Libyan Naval Mines, Egyptian Submarines - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Israel fears that naval mines from Libya will be smuggled into Gaza and used to target navy vessels and civilian cargo ships.
In addition, Israel is keeping a watchful eye on Egyptian naval procurement.
The Egyptian Navy is purchasing two new submarines from Germany of a similar model to the Dolphin-class submarines in the Israel Navy's fleet.
Egypt is also receiving new missile ships from the U.S.
Documents Found on Body of Al-Qaeda's African Leader Detail Plans for Kidnapping, Attacks on London Jews - Michelle Shephard (Toronto Star-Canada)
Documents that detail plots for a kidnapping and attacks on Eton College, Jewish neighborhoods, and the Ritz and Dorchester hotels in London were uncovered last year when senior al-Qaeda leader Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, 38, was shot dead by Somali forces.
"Our objectives are to strike London with low-cost operations that would cause a heavy blow amongst the hierarchy and Jewish communities," begins the document labeled "International Operations."
The next two pages show specific plans for the hotels, for Eton school on opening day, and for London's Stamford Hill and Golders Green neighborhoods, which are populated with "tens of thousands of Jews crammed in a small area."
Fazul, a close ally of Osama bin Laden, was indicted in the U.S. for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224.
Text: Annual Report on Military Power of Iran (U.S. Defense Department)
Italian Military Buys $100M Spy Satellite from Israel in Exchange Deal - Peter B. de Selding (Space News)
The Italian Defense Ministry is buying a high-resolution optical reconnaissance satellite from Israel using a platform built by Israel Aerospace Industries as part of an offset package agreed to in exchange for the Israeli Defense Ministry's purchase of Italian M-346 trainer aircraft built by Alenia Aermacchi, according to industry officials.
Criticism in Israeli Parliament Over German Circumcision Ban - Blake Sobczak (AP)
An Israeli parliamentary committee on Monday denounced a ruling in Germany banning ritual circumcision, saying the decision infringes upon religious freedom and evokes memories of the worst chapter in German history, the Holocaust.
A regional court in Cologne recently ruled that circumcising young boys for religious reasons amounts to bodily harm, even if parents agree to it. Circumcision of baby boys is a fundamental Jewish religious ritual.
The German ambassador, Andreas Michaelis, told Israeli lawmakers his country was working to resolve the issue and that the ruling doesn't apply at the national level.
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- U.S. Aircraft Carrier Stennis Returning to the Middle East - Ed Friedrich
The Bremerton, Washington-based aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis is returning to the Middle East much sooner than expected. The ship came home to Naval Base Kitsap on March 2 after seven months of launching planes into Iraq and Afghanistan. But with Iran making threats, crew members learned Saturday they'll be leaving again in late August for eight months.
Two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups - USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Enterprise - are now in the Middle East. (Kitsap Sun-Washington)
See also Floating Base Gives U.S. New Footing in the Persian Gulf - Thom Shanker (New York Times)
See also U.S. Deploys Sea Drones to Persian Gulf to Clear Iranian Mines - David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times)
- Iranian Diplomats Challenge Support for Syria's Assad - Farnaz Fassihi
Some diplomats are publicly questioning whether Tehran should continue supporting Syria's regime.
"The entire world is against Syria and we are standing here defending Syria, a country accused of crimes against humanity. We are not playing this game very well," Mohamad Ali Sobhani, who has served as Iran's ambassador to Lebanon and Jordan, said in an interview published last week on the semiofficial news website Khabaronline.com. Assad's days are clearly numbered and Iran will lose influence if it doesn't shift course, Sobhani added.
In April, Mohamad Shariatai Dehaghan, former cultural attache in Iran's embassy in Damascus for four years, said Syria's uprising was a legitimate popular movement.
"We will pay the price if we continue to encourage violent crackdowns on people," Dehaghan said in an interview in "Iranian Diplomacy," a foreign-policy website. (Wall Street Journal)
- Syria's Iraq Ambassador Has Defected - Christopher Torchia
Syrian ambassador to Iraq Nawaf Fares, a former provincial governor,
has defected, denouncing President Bashar Assad in a TV statement Wednesday.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel's Haifa Port Facilitating Iraqi Trade - Elhanan Miller
Iraq and Israel do not enjoy diplomatic relations but the Israeli port of Haifa has been secretly
serving as a conduit for trade between Iraq and Europe for a long time, Haifa mayor Yona Yahav told Al-Jazeera. Trucks from Jordan carrying Iraqi merchandise arrive at Haifa port and load it onto ships that travel to Europe. A WikiLeaks document published in October 2010 revealed a conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin in February 2009 in which Netanyahu spoke of "strong but unpublicized trade between Haifa port and Iraq via Jordan."
Yahav said the Israeli government is investing $70.6 million in a train line between Haifa and Beit She'an, on the border with Jordan.
Trade expert Matanis Shahadeh told Al-Jazeera that from Iraq's point of view, the Iraq-Haifa route is much more direct and cost-efficient than the alternative maritime route through the Persian Gulf.
(Times of Israel)
See also Iraq Oil Was Once Exported Via Haifa Port - Lenny Ben-David (Israel Daily Picture)
- IDF Thwarts Anti-Tank Fire from Gaza - Elior Levy
IDF armored forces, accompanied by military aircraft, opened fire Thursday morning at a Hamas terror cell that planned to fire an anti-tank missile from Gaza. (Ynet News)
- Iron Dome Missile Defense System Deployed to Protect Eilat - Yoav Zitun
Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system was deployed in the Eilat area Wednesday after Sinai-based terror groups fired Grad rockets at the Eilat and Ovda areas in recent weeks. (Ynet News)
- Would a U.S. Strike Only Delay Iran's Nuclear Program? - Lee Smith
Over the past several years, U.S. officials including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have said that any military strike would set back Iran's nuclear weapons program only one to three years. But is it true?
Uzi Arad, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former national security adviser, said, "The assessment of one to three years assumes one blow but that is not what the reasonable American option is, which calls for repeated attacks if the Iranians restart the program. It is unreasonable to assume that after the strikes the U.S. would sit pat and Iran would rebuild. It's absolutely imperative that if the U.S. strikes, its posture should be, 'Dear Iranians, please do not proceed to rebuild the program, or we will strike again.'" (Tablet)
- Settlements' Legality Won't Prevent Peace - Jonathan S. Tobin
The release of a report on the legality of Israel's presence in the West Bank commissioned by Prime Minister Netanyahu is being widely dismissed by critics of his government as well as those of the Jewish state. Opposition to the settlements is so deeply entrenched that there is no argument, no matter how grounded in logic or justice, that would persuade those committed to the myth settlements are the only obstacle to peace, that they are not illegal.
But those horrified by the fact that Israel is willing to assert that it has rights in the West Bank that are as worthy of respect as those of the Arabs are not just wrong about the legal arguments. Their assumption that a belief in the settlements' legality makes a peace deal impossible is equally mistaken. The assertion of Jewish rights merely means Israel has a leg to stand on when negotiating the permanent status of the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The Palestinians are unwilling to recognize Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. It is that reluctance to give up their opposition to Jewish sovereignty even inside the Green Line that prevents peace. So long as the Palestinians are encouraged to believe they can uproot all of the Jews, including those living in the Jewish settlement known as Tel Aviv, it won't matter what the legal scholars say. (Commentary)
- Why Abbas Will Never Make Peace with Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
If he wished, Abbas could have reached a deal with the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. But Abbas, like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, turned down a generous offer because such a move would require him to make concessions. Like Arafat, Abbas does not want to go down in history as the first Palestinian leader to make concessions. In 2000, Arafat rejected Prime Minister Ehud Barak's generous offer because he was afraid of being condemned by Arabs and Muslims for having "sold out to the Jews."
Abbas has even gone a step further by mobilizing Palestinian public opinion against Israel to a point where his people are not even ready to see him meeting with Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz. The PA has been denouncing Israel leaders, including Mofaz, as war criminals. So when two weeks ago, Palestinians heard that Mofaz was planning to visit Ramallah to meet with Abbas, hundreds took to the streets to protest. If Abbas is not even able to hold a meeting with a senior representative of the Israeli government, how could he ever reach any peace agreement with Israel?
- The Syrian Government's Support For and Complicity In Terrorism - Andrew Tabler
Al-Qaeda-inspired extremism is fast becoming part
of the internal security threat now facing
Damascus. Al-Qaeda is encouraging
operatives to move into Syria to take advantage of
any security vacuum in the event of the downfall
of the government.
The longer the bloodshed goes on,
the more sectarian the conflict may become,
providing fertile ground not only for extremist
groups such as al-Qaeda to establish a
presence, but Iranian affiliates as well.
The writer is senior fellow in the Program on
Arab Politics at the Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near
Lifestyles of the Rich and Palestinian - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
- PA President Mahmoud Abbas has allegedly deposited nearly $13 million in U.S. taxpayer aid into a secret bank account, according to testimony presented to the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday by several Middle East experts during a hearing on "Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment."
- Abbas has enriched himself during his seven years in office through secret land deals, and helped his two sons earn millions through their stakes in companies that profit from U.S. assistance, the experts said.
Elliott Abrams, a former national security adviser for George W. Bush, recounted, "I can tell you from my own experience, as an American official seeking financial assistance for the PA from Gulf Arab governments, that I was often told, 'Why should we give them money when their officials will just steal it?'"
- "We have not one program dedicated to fighting corruption and to assisting those Palestinians who are doing so," Abrams said. "Why do we not make it a stated and central goal of our aid?"
See also Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment - Jonathan Schanzer
If steps are
not immediately taken to hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for corruption,
Hamas will exploit the problem. Hamas, after all, won the 2006 legislative elections on a
campaign that centered on fighting corruption. If self-governance is their goal,
Palestinians must grapple with corruption. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
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