Members of Assad's Alawite Sect Blamed in Syria Killings - Liam Stack and Hania Mourtada (New York Times)
Rights organizations researching the massacre of 125 to 150 Syrian civilians belonging to President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect on Tuesday in Aqrab said Wednesday that members of the shabiha, a pro-government Alawite militia, were the killers.
In videotaped testimony, survivors say that members of the shabiha gathered civilians inside a building as the Free Syrian Army approached the village.
Survivors said the shabiha turned their weapons on the same civilians they had been professing to defend.
Iran Names Israel as Its Long-Range Missile Target (Fars-Iran)
Brig.-Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, said Monday:
"We don't need missiles with over 2,000 km...[since] Israel is our longest-range target."
U.S. Denies Holding Backchannel Talks with Hamas (U.S. State Department)
State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Wednesday:
"There have been some bizarre claims out there that Hamas has a back channel to the U.S. Government....These assertions are completely untrue."
"Recent remarks by Hamas leaders during Khaled Mashaal's visit to Gaza reinforce the fact that Hamas is not a partner for peace."
Google Launches Tel Aviv Start-Up Incubator - Roy Goldenberg (Globes)
Google Inc. inaugurated a start-up incubator and R&D center in Tel Aviv on Monday.
The incubator, Campus Tel Aviv, will provide access to a wide range of smartphones and tablets for developing and testing mobile apps.
The heart of the program will be the Launch Pad, a two-week boot camp for training new start-ups.
Gaza Kids Play at Firing Rockets at Israel - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
A video shows a group of Palestinian kids in Gaza simulating the firing of rockets at Israeli communities.
Viewers who watched the video posted comments saying: "These will be the future Palestinian leaders."
Canada and Israel to Work Together on Foreign Aid Projects - Kim Mackrael (Globe and Mail-Canada)
Canada and Israel signed an agreement in Ottawa on Tuesday to work together on international development and aid projects.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Says Assad Increasingly Losing Control
Russia's deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Thursday that President Bashar Assad is losing control over Syria and his opponents may win, Russian news agencies reported. "We must look at the facts: there is a trend for the government to progressively lose control over an increasing part of the territory," Bogdanov said.
- Assad Forces Fire Scud Missiles in Syria - Barbara Starr
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have fired at least four Scud missiles inside Syria, presumably at rebel groups, a U.S. official said Wednesday. Earlier this month, a U.S. official said Syrian forces had already fired some 20 rockets with a range of 60 miles. State Department officials point to barrel bombs - incendiary explosives with flammable material similar to napalm - that are being deployed by the Syrian government. (CNN)
- Turkey, Palestine to Coordinate Legal Steps Against Israel - Abdullah Bozkurt
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said his country is coordinating with Turkey to develop a legal strategy for the newly recognized UN-observer state of Palestine to challenge Israel. "We have come to an agreement with the Turkish government...to have Turkish Foreign Ministry experts provide legal counsel to our side," he said in Ankara.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Former Foreign Minister Livni: Keeping Settlement Blocs a Requirement for Peace - Gil Hoffman
Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni told foreign ambassadors Wednesday that Israel keeping settlements was a requirement for achieving peace with the Palestinian Authority. "We have settlement blocs close to the Green Line, and the only way for the conflict with the Palestinians to end is for Israel to keep them.
Any pre-agreement by the international community to a withdrawal to 1967 borders before the talks occur makes it difficult to negotiate. It was clear in the talks I conducted with the Palestinians that there would not be return to 1967 borders."
Livni said she was frustrated as an Israeli when the international community compared casualties caused by the IDF, which acts to defend Israel and target terrorists, to those killed by terrorists who target civilians.
"The message terrorists need to hear is that there are things that the international community considers illegitimate," she said. (Jerusalem Post)
- Four EU States Tried to Foil Condemnation of Hamas Leader's Hate Speech - Ilan Ben Zion
Israel Radio reported Wednesday that Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Ireland opposed an official EU condemnation of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal's incitement-filled speech last weekend, seeking to solely condemn Israel over settlement construction plans at a meeting of European foreign ministers Monday. In the end, the statement included a brief rebuke of Hamas' call for Israel's destruction, after an 11th-hour intervention by Germany and the Czech Republic. (Times of Israel)
- Former Israel Air Force Chief: Time Is on Iran's Side - Yaakov Lappin
Time is on Iran's side as it continues to make progress on its nuclear program, former Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ido Nehushtan said Wednesday. Asking the audience to imagine the implications of a nuclear-armed Iran, Nehushtan cited the 1962 Cuban missile crisis between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. "Can you manage a crisis like this vis-a-vis a radical Islamic regime?"
Nehushtan described Iran's global arms and terrorism network as "an octopus," citing Iranian Fajr rockets in Gaza, Iran's presence in Syria, and subversive activities in Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Thailand. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Iran's Race for Regional Supremacy: Strategic Implications for the Middle East (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Revolution Time Again for Egypt? - Zvi Mazel
Mass demonstrations against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood are intensifying. He is confronted today by a large coalition of non-Islamist parties belonging to all opposition forces. The Left, the Nasserists and the Liberals are now coordinating their action through a common National Salvation Front headed by former UN nuclear watchdog head Mohamed ElBaradei, assisted by a number of important leaders such as former MP Hamdeen Sabahi and former Arab League head Amr Moussa. Independent newspapers, papers belonging to political parties and a number of television channels are now openly opposing the president. The writer, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.
- Muslim Brotherhood Rise in Egypt Brings Little Change to Gaza Border - Nadine Marroushi
Palestinians had hoped that under Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi it would become easier to get people or products into Gaza, but little has changed. Morsi has had to reconcile a strategy of championing Gaza with awareness that his backing may strengthen militants, jeopardize U.S. support and saddle Egypt with responsibility for Gaza's 1.7 million people. "In terms of policy, there's a great deal of continuity from the Mubarak-era in how Egypt approaches [the] Rafah [border crossing],"
said Michael Wahid Hanna, a fellow at the New York-based Century Foundation.
The day after Israel began a campaign aimed at halting rocket attacks from Gaza, Morsi posted on his Twitter account: "Oh people of Gaza: You are from us, we are from you, and we will not abandon you." Yet
movement remains restricted and trade hasn't been formalized as requested by Hamas. (Bloomberg)
- Indicting Israel: New York Times Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict - Ricki Hollander and Gilead Ini
A study of the New York Times for July-Dec. 2011 by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) details how the newspaper treats Israel with a harsher standard, omits context, and shows a clear preference for the Palestinian narrative.
A disproportionate, continuous, embedded indictment of Israel dominates both news and commentary sections. Israeli views are downplayed while Palestinian perspectives, especially criticism of Israel, are amplified and even promoted. The net effect is an overarching message, woven into the fabric of the coverage, of Israeli fault and responsibility for the conflict.
The Times presents criticism of Israel more than twice as often as it does criticism of the Palestinians. It de-emphasizes Palestinian aggression and incitement, while headlining Israeli defensive strikes. When other media outlets emulate the Times, the effect of the distortion is greatly magnified.
Radical and Moderate Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
- When PA President Mahmoud Abbas returned from New York to Ramallah and told the Palestinians that he obtained UN recognition of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines, fewer than 5,000 Palestinians, many of them civil servants who receive their salaries from the PA government, turned out to greet him.
- When Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal came last week to Gaza and told Palestinians that armed struggle and jihad were the only way to liberate all Palestine because the country belonged only to Muslim and Arabs, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians showed up to voice support for his plan to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic state.
- Even many Palestinians in the West Bank expressed support for Mashaal, while the PA's official TV station in the West Bank broadcast Mashaal's speech live.
- The widespread support for Hamas' position is a sign of how much the Palestinians have been radicalized over the past few decades.
- The pro-Hamas rallies in Gaza that called for more rocket attacks against Israel reflect the authentic voice of the Palestinian "street."
The real threat to the two-state solution is Hamas and the unwillingness of many Palestinians to accept Israel's right to exist.
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