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September 28, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Tehran Declares Intent to Enrich Uranium to 90 Percent - A. Savyon and Y. Carmon (MEMRI)
    In recent months, Iranian regime spokesmen have issued no fewer than 12 statements declaring Iran's intent to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel to power both surface sea craft and submarines.
    Nuclear-powered submarines require enrichment of 90%, the same level needed for the production of a nuclear bomb.

Abbas' UN Rhetoric Offers Taste of the Legal Campaign to Come - Haviv Rettig Gur (Times of Israel)
    PA President Abbas used his speech before the UN to offer a condemnation of Israel and Israeli policies that sounded more like a legal brief before the International Criminal Court.
    In April, the International Criminal Court ruled that the PA did not fall under its jurisdiction as it was not a recognized state.
    However, the ICC's new prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, told the Council on Foreign Relations last week: "If Palestine is able to pass over that hurdle [of statehood] - of course, under the [UN] General Assembly - then we will revisit what the ICC can do."
    Indeed, she suggested that the ICC would not need to wait for another Palestinian request to begin investigating Israel.

Azerbaijan Jails Members of Terrorist Group Linked to Iran (Bloomberg)
    An Azeri court imprisoned three Azeri nationals who were members of an Iran-linked group that plotted to kill the head of a Jewish school in the capital, Baku. The group received weapons and money from Iran.
    Azerbaijan said in March it arrested members of an armed group that collected intelligence about foreign embassies and companies for Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Explosion at Jewish Center in Malmo, Sweden (The Local-Sweden)
    After loud bangs were heard early Friday morning near the Jewish community center in Malmo, Sweden, police at the scene established that there had been some sort of explosion and that someone had tried to smash in the door, which was damaged.

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In the Middle East, a Pro-American Turn - Editorial (Washington Post)
    In the aftermath of the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt, last Friday in Benghazi, tens of thousands of people marched on the base of an Islamist militia suspected of involvement in the attack on the U.S. consulate.
    The militants were forced out of the base, and the demonstrators burned part of it before turning it over to the Libyan army.
    On Sunday, the interim government ordered the dismantlement of all militias not under its authority.
    In Egypt, there has been a chorus of condemnation of the violence, with the country's most prestigious sheiks and other Islamic leaders calling it shameful and contrary to Islam.
    MEMRI has documented numerous commentaries by newspaper columnists warning against incitement by radical groups.
    The appropriate U.S. response is not to write off the region, but to help moderate forces defeat and marginalize the extremists.

How the Arab Spring Killed Hizbullah - Thanassis Cambanis (New Republic)
    Today, Hizbullah dominates Lebanese politics as the majority party, choosing the prime minister; it commands a formidable standing army; its complicity in domestic political assassinations no longer is credibly debated; and it remains comfortable with its deep, compromised embrace of Bashar Al-Assad's criminal regime in Syria.
    However, Hassan Nasrallah's critical patron in Syria is teetering, threatening to vastly curtail Hizbullah's military power, and his source of money and weapons in Iran is distracted by sanctions, a feeble economy and its nuclear showdown with the West.
    The Assad regime has long allowed Syria to serve as Hizbullah's rear staging area.
    Without Syria, Hizbullah could find itself isolated in the tiny confines of Lebanon, where about half the population detests Hizbullah and its project.

Hamas Boycotts Barcelona over Ticket to Former Israeli Prisoner (AP)
    Hamas is launching a media boycott of the Barcelona soccer team after the Spanish league leader gave a complimentary ticket to Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive by Gaza militants for five years, who is now a sports reporter.

PA Newspaper: Israel "More Loathsome" than the Nazis (Commentator)
    The Palestinian Authority's newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, has three times over the course of September insisted that Israel's treatment of Palestinians is worse than anything carried out by Hitler and the Nazis, insisting that Israel's actions have been "more loathsome" than the Holocaust.

Tourism to Israel Continues to Break Records (Ynet News)
    A record number of 2.3 million visitors arrived between January-August 2012, a 7% increase as compared with last year.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Netanyahu: Iran Could Have Bomb by Next Summer If It Does Not Face a "Red Line" - Anne Gearan
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly Thursday that a firm ultimatum to Iran is the only peaceful way to stop the regime in Tehran from getting atomic weapons. Netanyahu made a case for telling Iran explicitly where it must stop to forestall an outside attack and warned that time was running out. Netanyahu said Tehran's progress would be irreversible by next spring or summer.
        In his speech, Netanyahu thanked the U.S. president for ruling out a Cold War-style containment strategy for Iran, saying that the clerical regime in Tehran would not be as responsible as Soviet leaders. And he talked about the U.S. and Israel working together to stop Iran. (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations - Netanyahu on Iran: "Imagine a Nuclear-Armed Al-Qaeda" (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Iran Pushes Ahead in Building Heavy Water Nuclear Reactor - Fredrik Dahl
    Iran is pressing ahead with construction of a heavy-water reactor near the town of Arak, which analysts say could produce plutonium for nuclear arms if the spent fuel is reprocessed. Iran now plans to bring Arak on line in the third quarter of 2013, according to the UN. One Vienna-based diplomat said, "As long as we still don't trust Iran's nuclear intentions, even the elimination of its enrichment capability will not eliminate all the danger."
        If operated optimally, the heavy-water plant would produce about 9 kg. of plutonium annually, enough for about two nuclear bombs each year, said the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security. (Reuters)
  • Hizbullah Increases Support for Syrian Regime - Babak Dehghanpisheh
    Hizbullah has ramped up its support for the Syrian government, sending in military advisers to aid the struggle against the opposition, U.S. and Lebanese government officials say. Helping the Assad regime risks worsening tensions in Lebanon between Hizbullah and Lebanese Sunnis who support the mostly Sunni opposition in Syria.
        Lebanese officials say dozens of Hizbullah fighters have been killed in Syria. They cite quiet burials in Hizbullah-dominated areas of Lebanon, with the families warned not to discuss the circumstances of their sons' deaths. Obituaries for Hizbullah fighters have also started appearing in local newspapers, without the circumstances of the death being explained. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Ambassador: "Necessary Preparations" Made for Use of Force If Needed Against Iran - Raphael Ahren
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said Thursday that the U.S. had made "the necessary preparations" for a resort to force against Iran if that were to prove necessary.
        "We're totally focused on the same goal, which is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We're in the closest possible consultations at the highest levels of our government....We're absolutely focused on achieving that goal together. And we've been very well coordinated until now and I think we will remain very well coordinated."  (Times of Israel)
  • Abbas Condemns Israel at UN - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinians must prepare for another war with Israel. This was the theme of PA President Mahmoud Abbas' speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday. The speech was more of a charge sheet against Israel than a statehood bid. Abbas is trying to convince the international community that the peace process is dead and that the only solution lies in imposing a solution rather than reaching one through negotiations. His message to the world and his people appeared as if it had been taken from a speech delivered by a Hamas leader. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians Shrug Off Abbas Bid for Statehood at UN - Noah Browning and Jihan Abdalla
    Palestinians who were galvanized a year ago by the launch of a campaign for statehood in the UN were left cold on Thursday by a watered-down bid from their leader President Mahmoud Abbas. (Reuters)
  • Israel: PA Claims Poverty But Pays Stipends to Mass Murderers
    Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon told the Palestinian Donors Conference at the UN on Sep. 23: The present fiscal crisis was caused mainly by a shortfall in donor aid. According to the IMF, donations from Arab countries decreased by 49% since 2009. Furthermore, in the first half of 2012, Arab countries forwarded only 42% of their donation commitments to the PA. However, this is hardly the only reason for the economic crisis in the PA. There was also overspending in the implementation of the 2011 budget.
        In the past year and a half, Israel has approved 328 projects in Area C of the West Bank. However, the implementation of 53 projects has been suspended due to lack of donor funding. Israel welcomes the international community's support for approved projects in Area C. However, Israel cannot tolerate illegal construction in Area C, and calls on the international community not to be dragged into Palestinian political and diplomatic machinations against Israel.
        While the Palestinian leadership cries poverty, it is still able to find millions of dollars each and every month to fund convicted terrorists and the families of suicide bombers. As much as 6% of the PA budget is spent paying stipends to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, including those who perpetrated mass murder, and the families of suicide bombers. Surely such stipends, many times the monthly wage of teachers and nurses, incentivizes a new generation of terrorists.
        Almost every day, official Palestinian Authority media glorifies mass murderers and calls on Palestinian children to follow in their footsteps. Israel is asking itself more and more how it can be expected to continue contributing and assisting an economy and a budget which is used to support those who killed our citizens and glorify their murderous activities. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Report: Measures Taken by Israel in Support of Developing the Palestinian Economy (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Prime Minister Netanyahu's Red Line on Iran - Dore Gold
    In his UN address on September 27, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the advances that had transpired in the Iranian nuclear program. He broke down the progress Iran has been making into three stages which mark the extent to which the uranium the Iranians have in stock contains higher percentages of the fissile isotope U-235: a first stage in which they produced low-enriched uranium (3.5% U-235), a second stage in which they produced medium-enriched uranium (20% U-235), and a third stage in which they hope to reach high-enriched or weapons-grade uranium (90% U-235).
        What the prime minister disclosed was that the Iranians have completed the first stage. To make his point, he characterized this first stage as "70% of the way there," because nuclear physicists explain that enriching uranium feedstock to the 3.5% level requires 70% of the total energy needed to manufacture weapons-grade uranium for a bomb.
        Similarly, once Iran reaches the next stage of enrichment - which is 20% U-235 - then it has already used 90% of the energy needed to make a bomb, so one could say that it is 90% of the way there. Unfortunately, despite six UN Security Council resolutions since 2006 which prohibited Iran from enriching uranium even to the low-enriched level, Iran went ahead in 2010 and began to enrich to the 20% level, placing itself in a far better jumping-off point to reach a bomb. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Palestinians

  • Stop Blaming Bibi - Aaron David Miller
    The Palestinian national movement today is in profound crisis. There are two prime ministers, security services, constitutions, foreign patrons, geographic polities, and visions. If anything, these divisions are hardening. Without Palestinian unity that produces one authority and one negotiating position, there won't be a serious dialogue, let alone a Palestinian state.
        Palestinians have to face the inconvenient truth that a state's viability lies in its capacity to maintain a monopoly over violence in its own society. Without it, no state can maintain the respect of its neighbors or its own citizens. Are we going to blame Fatah's dysfunction and Hamas' viability on Bibi?
        On Jerusalem, refugees, security, and even the borders of a prospective Palestinian state, there are wide differences between Israel and the Palestinians. The silly notion that everyone knows generally what the solution will be - and that therefore getting there should be easy - only trivializes how hard it's going to be to reach a conflict-ending accord. The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Foreign Policy)
  • Redesigning the Peace Process - Richard Landes
    We're now approaching two decades of failure of the two-state solution. Every strategy for pulling it off - Oslo, Taba, Geneva, Road Map, Dayton, Obama/Clinton - has, despite sometimes enormous efforts, failed or died stillborn. And yet, with each failure, a new round of hope emerges, with commentators and politicians arguing that this time, if we just tinker with some of the details, we'll get peace right.
        Palestinian "no's" typically get a pass. But the zero-sum logic of Arab attitudes toward Israel represents Islamic religiosity and deep-seated cultural mores. From the Arab perspective, the very existence of Israel represents a stain on Arab honor and a blasphemy to Islam's dominion. The Palestinian Authority may have made a tactical shift in which they will talk with Israelis and even make public agreements. But they have treated such engagement as a Trojan horse, a feint to position for further war.
        Here's my proposal to those who feel we must revive the peace process. Call for the Palestinians to show their good intentions toward their own people. Get those "refugees" out of the prison camps into which they have been so shamefully consigned for most of a century. Begin at home, with the over 100,000 refugees in Area A, under complete PA control. Bring in Habitat for Humanity and Jimmy Carter to help them build decent, affordable, new homes. The writer is a professor of history at Boston University. (Tablet)

  • Arab World

  • Egyptian Foreign Policy under Morsi - Zvi Mazel
    The Egyptian president is hard at work charting a new foreign policy to create a powerful Islamic front in the Middle East to implement the Muslim Brotherhood's goals. As one of his advisers, Dr. Mohammed Asmat Seif Al Dawla, told al-Sharq al-Awsat last week, Egypt's new foreign policy will be grounded in "the new Egypt freeing itself from any hegemony or influence from a foreign country." He said that during the Mubarak years the U.S. was dictating Egypt's policy. "This is no longer possible," he said.
        While the "Arab Spring" made it possible for the Muslim Brotherhood to rise to power in a number of important countries, it also led to the awakening of militant Salafist movements which are likely to hamper the Brotherhood's effort to impose Shari'a rule gradually. The writer, a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Riots, Rage, Videos, and Free Speech - Elliott Abrams
    The U.S. government should not apologize for stupid or offensive comments made by private citizens. The fact is that religions are insulted all the time, in this country and beyond. Defamation of Catholicism is constant. The Broadway show "The Book of Mormon" is, the reviews state, a searing and blasphemous satire of the Mormon religion - yet our Secretary of State happily attended a performance and applauded. Defamation against Judaism is too frequent to require much comment. Every religion is defamed, yet apologies appear to be expected and offered only in one case: Islam. The explanation is clear: only in that case is there fear of violence.
        The State Department spent $70,000 buying time on Pakistani television for an advertisement showing Secretary Clinton and President Obama in essence apologizing for the anti-Muslim video trailer. Did no one consider an advertisement saying that Americans believe in freedom of speech and religion, that millions of Muslims enjoy those rights in the U.S., and that Pakistan has an obligation under international law to protect foreign embassies from violence?
        Our highest officials cannot be put in - nor should they rush to take - the position of apologizing for every stupid or ignorant, much less for every intelligent and artistic, criticism of Islam. Far better to restate and hold firm to our principles; demand that other governments meet their obligations to protect our people and facilities; and give those many millions of citizens of Muslim majority countries seeking to live under the rule of law our firm support. (Council on Foreign Relations)

  • Weekend Feature

  • Women Warriors of the Mossad - The Israeli Secret Service - Vered Ramon-Rivlin
    One of the State of Israel's most important assets are the women serving as senior operatives in Israel's intelligence agency, the Mossad. They disappear from their homes, emerge under various identities, and rub shoulders with the enemy. A spy who is captured in an enemy country can expect tough interrogation, torture, and execution. There are cells in the field in which women make up half the force. There are operational units that have a woman as their commander.
        The Mossad seeks to frustrate by whatever means possible any plotted evil, including terrorist attacks and forbidden deals, the Iranian and other nuclear weapons programs, and the arming of Hizbullah and hostile countries with long-range missiles.
        The women agents live chameleon lives. One day they walk around in sharply tailored clothes like senior businesspeople, and the next they are ragged street sellers. On the streets all the time, all the time changing identities, and all this in enemy countries.
        For the first time, five senior Mossad women agents, with ranks equivalent to colonel and brigadier-general, have been given permission to speak. All of them are mothers, and at the same time command teams of agents. (Globes)

Netanyahu on Iran: "Imagine a Nuclear-Armed Al-Qaeda" (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Thursday:

  • Three thousand years ago, King David reigned over the Jewish state in our eternal capital, Jerusalem. I say that to all those who proclaim that the Jewish state has no roots in our region and that it will soon disappear. Throughout our history, the Jewish people have overcome all the tyrants who have sought our destruction. It's their ideologies that have been discarded by history.
  • Today, a great battle is being waged between the modern and the medieval. Israel stands proudly with the forces of modernity. We protect the rights of all our citizens: men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians - all are equal before the law.
  • The medieval forces of radical Islam, whom you just saw storming the American embassies throughout the Middle East, seek supremacy over all Muslims. They are bent on world conquest. They want to destroy Israel, Europe, America. They want to extinguish freedom. They want to end the modern world. Militant Islam has many branches - from the rulers of Iran with their Revolutionary Guards to al-Qaeda terrorists to the radical cells lurking in every part of the globe. But they are all rooted in the same bitter soil of intolerance.
  • Nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons. To understand what the world would be like with a nuclear-armed Iran, just imagine the world with a nuclear-armed al-Qaeda.
  • For nearly a decade, the international community has tried to stop the Iranian nuclear program with diplomacy. That hasn't worked. Iran uses diplomatic negotiations as a means to buy time to advance its nuclear program. Sanctions have not stopped Iran's nuclear program either.
  • A red line must be drawn first and foremost on Iran's efforts to enrich uranium. The only way that you can credibly prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon is to prevent Iran from amassing enough enriched uranium for a bomb. The red line should be drawn before Iran gets to a point where it's a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.
  • The red line must be drawn on Iran's nuclear enrichment program because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.
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