Secret Talks between the U.S. and Iran - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
Valerie Jarrett, an Iranian-born Chicago lawyer and a senior advisor to President Obama, is the key player behind the secret talks between the U.S. and Iran, Yediot Ahronot reported Monday.
Last month, the New York Times reported that the U.S. government is engaged in secret talks with Iran aimed at establishing a direct line of communication once the U.S. presidential elections are over.
Israel was originally surprised to learn of the talks, but state officials now reveal that they were going on for several months.
The talks were initiated and led by Jarrett, and took place in Bahrain.
See also Questions about U.S.-Iran Negotiations - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
The Iranians have made fools of every Western negotiator they've dealt with in the past decade because of their tenacity and willingness to use the charade of talks as a way to run out the clock while their scientists get closer to achieving the country's nuclear ambition.
So long as the Iranian regime believes they can outlast and out-talk the West on this issue, it's doubtful they can be compelled to sign a deal that would eliminate the nuclear threat - or to observe it even if they did.
Strike on Sudan Arms Factory Points to Iran Threat to Israel - Ashish Kumar Sen (Washington Times)
Sudanese officials have accused Israel of bombing the Yarmouk military complex, a Khartoum weapons factory, on Oct. 24.
The target may have been 40 shipping containers that satellite images show were stacked at the site days before the explosion.
A former U.S. official said Israel has bombed targets inside Sudan at least six times in the past two years, including Sudanese ships as well as smuggling routes.
"They have done it without a lot of public outcry, without any accounting," he said. "Israel has really done this very much under the radar."
Andrew Natsios, a former U.S. special envoy to Sudan, said, "Iran's closest ally is not Syria or Russia, but Sudan," noting an enduring alliance based on a shared Islamist ideology.
"They signed a secret agreement between the intelligence services of both countries to cooperate, there are Iranian munition factories around Khartoum, and they signed a treaty many years ago to allow unlimited access of the Iranian navy to Port Sudan."
More Golan Druze Seek Israeli Citizenship - Ruth Eglash (USA Today)
After the Golan Heights was annexed by Israel after the Six-Day War in 1967, its 20,000 Druze residents living in four villages still considered themselves Syrians - but that may be changing.
As they watch the regime of Bashar Assad slaughter 30,000 people to maintain power, there has been a rise in the number of those requesting Israeli citizenship.
Elsewhere in Israel, residents of Druze communities are full Israeli citizens who serve in the Israel Defense Forces.
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- Netanyahu Congratulates Obama on Re-election
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday for winning a second term and said the strategic alliance between their two countries was "stronger than ever."
"I will continue to work with President Obama to ensure the interests that are vital for the security of Israel's citizens," Netanyahu said.
See also Israel-U.S. Ties Will Remain Strong - Editorial
Israel is the only Middle Eastern state to consistently stand alongside the U.S. on strategic issues. Israel is the only stable state on which the U.S. can completely rely. The vast majority of Americans understand this.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was right on Tuesday when he stressed that Israel would continue to enjoy American backing irrespective of who won election. For Israel, he said, "the best American president is the president who will be best for America - the one whom the Americans elect." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Fact Sheet: U.S.-Israel Air-Defense Exercise (U.S. European Command)
- Russia: Syrian Rebels Obtain U.S.-Made Stinger Anti-Aircraft Missiles
Syrian rebels have obtained 50 Stinger shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Amman on Tuesday.
See also Syrian Defector Says Most Bomber Pilots Grounded - Karin Laub
A former Syrian air force general who was also the country's first astronaut said Tuesday that only about one-third of Syria's fighter pilots are carrying out the daily bombing raids of rebel strongholds because the Assad regime cannot count on the loyalty of the rest.
Maj. Gen. Mohammed Fares, who defected in August, also said the regime's combat aircraft are aging and running short of spare parts, but that Assad still has hundreds of planes at his disposal.
In recent months, the regime has increasingly used makeshift bombs consisting of hundreds of kilos of explosives stuffed into barrels. Fares said the inaccurate barrel bombs are meant to terrify the population, but are also being used because the regime is running out of ordinary bombs. (AP-ABC News)
See also Seven More Syrian Generals Defect to Turkey (Zaman-Turkey)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Former IDF Advocate General: Turkey Staging a "Show Trial" - Yoav Zitun
Former Military Advocate General Avichai Mandelblit said Turkey's trial of four former senior IDF officers in absentia for their part in the raid on the Mavi Marmara in 2010 "is more politics than law. It's a show, a fixed game with pre-decided outcomes....What is special is that Turkey, which is considered to have a serious judicial system, has bent the law and Turkish criminal procedure with these charges and this type of trial."
Currently a senior analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies, Mandelblit said the trial poses "an innovation in modern warfare: using the court for political ends. That's what the Goldstone Commission tried to do - to turn the IDF's operational achievement [in the 2009 Gaza war] into a defeat." "Here we have cameras inside the courtroom, hundreds of witnesses as if it's the Eichmann trial, and one goal: Defaming the State of Israel." (Ynet News)
- Israel to UN: Syrian Tanks in Prohibited Zone
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor wrote to the president of the Security Council on Nov. 5 to protest the presence of Syrian tanks in an area prohibited to Syrian security forces under the 1974 Separation of Forces agreement between Israel and Syria. Israel called on the Security Council to address this "alarming development." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Norwegian Diplomat Lashes Out at Israel - Raphael Ahren
At a discussion on Norwegian anti-Semitism at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Monday, Vebjorn Dysvik, the deputy head of mission at the Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv, claimed that some 35,000 Norwegian soldiers served in UNIFIL in southern Lebanon between 1978 and 1999 "to protect Israel."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor rejected Dysvik's comments as a distortion of the actual facts. UNIFIL's mandate has never been to protect Israel but rather to safeguard Lebanon sovereignty, he said. "The [Norwegian] soldiers in south Lebanon were raised to regard Israel as a potential aggressor, not as a partner and even less so as a party to be protected," Palmor said.
(Times of Israel)
- The New U.S. Administration and the Middle East - Robert Satloff
President Obama in his second term is likely early on to focus on a "grand deal" with Iran, testing the Iranians to see if there is a political settlement before he needs to decide on other means to prevent the Iranians from achieving a nuclear weapons capability. He will also increase the lethality and the amount of weaponry going to the opposition in Syria.
A second Obama term is unlikely to follow the pattern of the first and have a missionary approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking. He will lower his sights and lower his horizons toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but ensure that the Palestinian Authority does not collapse.
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- U.S. Ambassador Views Relations with Israel During Obama's Second Term - Elhanan Miller
U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro ruled out the possibility that President Barack Obama will harbor ill will towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the latter's perceived support for Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the U.S. presidential campaign.
Shapiro told the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday: "Anyone who knows the president understands that this is not how he thinks," adding that talk of revenge against Israel was "ridiculous." "The president is a strategic thinker; his policies are not governed by emotion," he said.
Shapiro also said the Palestinians' bid to gain non-member status at the UN is a mistake.
"It will be a mistake to approach the UN at this stage....The way forward is to hold negotiations between the two sides and not through unilateral acts." (Times of Israel)
- Palestinians Take to the Streets at Slightest Hint of a Two-State Solution - Editorial
There were demonstrations in the West Bank over the weekend, and protesters burned pictures of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who was denounced as a traitor.
Why? Because Abbas said in an interview Friday that he wouldn't mind visiting his home town, Safed, in northern Israel, but had no interest in making his home there.
Among Palestinians, those were fighting words because they have claimed an individual right of return to property abandoned in Israel in 1948. Abbas' statement was seen as a repudiation of the belief that Palestinians actually own Israel and it is only a matter of time until they take it back.
Abbas beat an apologetic retreat in the face of a public fervor that reveals nothing so much as the ingrained and implacable opposition harbored by much of the Palestinian people to reaching a two-state solution with Israel.
(New York Daily News)
See also The Palestinian Refugee Issue - Editorial
Mahmoud Abbas' comment that he is unlikely to ever live in Safed, his childhood home, struck many observers as the diplomatic equivalent of waving a white flag. Yet no one has offered a more appropriate label for the comment: realistic.
If the Palestinians' goal is an independent state - a position they will soon be advocating again at the UN - then the only way forward will be through hard, painful compromise. Both realism and openness to calculated compromise are valuable traits, not liabilities, in political leadership.
To Stop Iran, All Options Must (Really) Be on the Table - Emily B. Landau (Fathom Journal-BICOM)
- Since early 2012, the U.S. has adopted a much more determined approach in confronting Iran's nuclear activities than had been the case in previous years. In January the administration finally moved to the biting sanctions that it had threatened for several years. The EU also surprised the world with its decision to put in place an embargo on Iranian oil, which took full effect on 1 July 2012.
- The principal hurdle that has precluded the success of negotiations is that the international community is the only party interested in a deal. Iran, on the other hand, has strong motivations to avoid negotiating a deal because it would mean giving up on its long-term goal, for which it has paid a hefty price.
- The road to redressing the imbalance goes through the application of pressure on Iran. Significant pressure - through harsh economic and diplomatic sanctions and credible threats of military consequences for inaction - must be put in place in order to alter the Iranian regime's calculation.
- Iran came to the table in April 2012 most likely because of the impact of the biting economic sanctions that were put in place several months earlier. However, credible military threats are essential to this dynamic, and are still missing. Without massive economic and military pressure, it is hard to imagine Iran would ever consider a deal.
The writer is Director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
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