Poll: 88 Percent of Palestinians Believe in Armed Struggle to Achieve Independence - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
A poll by the Arab World Research and Development (AWRAD) in Ramallah shows that 88% of Palestinians believe that the results of the latest Hamas-Israel escalation in Gaza last month prove that armed struggle is the best means of achieving Palestinian independence.
42% of West Bank respondents said they preferred the approach of Hamas to that of Fatah.
View Complete Poll Results (IMRA-AWRAD)
Explosion at Hizbullah Weapons Depot in Southern Lebanon (Naharnet-Lebanon)
An explosion at a Hizbullah munitions depot shook the southern Lebanon town of Tairharfa at dawn Monday, causing material damage, media reports said.
The explosion went off only 200 meters away from houses and residential buildings. Hizbullah members cordoned off the area.
A similar explosion went off in the Hizbullah stronghold of Baalbek on Oct. 3.
Turkey Investigating Local Jews for Aiding IDF in Mavi Marmara Affair - Asher Zeiger (Times of Israel)
Turkey's National Intelligence Organization has launched an investigation of at least five Turkish citizens it believes collaborated with Israel in the 2010 takeover of the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara, the Turkish daily Yeni Safak reported on Friday.
During the interrogation of passengers after the boat had been brought to port in Israel, Turkish speakers wearing IDF uniforms were brought in to act as interpreters.
Huseyin Ersoz, the Deputy Chairman of the IHH which organized the flotilla, told a Turkish television station on Saturday that once the names of the interpreters are published, "everyone will know who the Turkish Jews are that served in the Israeli army and killed Turkish civilians."
Rafael Sadi, spokesperson for the Association of Turkish Immigrants in Israel, said the Turkish authorities are trying to send Israel the message that if Turkish demands are not met, the Turkish Jewish community is liable to suffer the consequences.
In November, four senior Israeli military commanders were put on trial in absentia by Turkey.
Israel to Develop Family of New Armored Vehicles - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
Israel's Defense Ministry is developing a new generation of light, lethal and self-protected armored vehicles optimized for urban battles.
The program is known as Rakiya (Horizon), a Hebrew acronym which translates into Future Manned Combat Vehicle (FMCV).
The new vehicles are likely to be wheeled, agile and nearly half the weight of the 65-ton Merkava Mk4.
"We're probably going to need a defended, quick, armored platform that can maneuver decisively in an urban environment and bring sufficient numbers of people and equipment to built-up areas....For that, we may not need a tank in the traditional sense," an Army general said.
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- U.S. Plans for Possibility that Assad Could Lose Control of Chemical Arms Cache - Craig Whitlock and Carol Morello
U.S. officials are increasingly worried that Syria's weapons of mass destruction could fall into the hands of Islamist extremists, rogue generals or other uncontrollable factions. Rebels are closing in on the Safirah base near Aleppo which has served as a major production center for such munitions.
Retired Maj. Gen. Adnan Silou, who once led the army's chemical weapons training program and defected to the opposition in June, said that the main storage sites for mustard gas and nerve agents are supposed to be guarded by thousands of Syrian troops but that they would be easily overrun.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government and some European allies have hired private contractors to train Syrian rebels how to monitor and secure chemical weapons sites.
- Syrian Planes Bomb Palestinian Camp in Damascus - Ruth Sherlock
Syrian fighter jets bombed the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus on Sunday, killing at least eight people.
The attack came hours after Syrian rebel groups made advances into the camp.
- West Bank Welcomes Hamas Back - with Apprehension - Joshua Mitnick
Thursday's demonstration in Nablus signaled just how much Hamas' stature has grown since the November war in Gaza, which lifted Palestinian morale. Yet participants in the Nablus rally seemed limited to Islamists, and the turnout was only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands who attended the celebrations in Gaza.
Few observers believe the conditions have ripened for a true end to the rift between Fatah and Hamas.
An official in the Nablus governorate said the PA's tolerance of the rally is not an indication of a genuine interest in reconciliation, but merely an acknowledgement of the growing public support for Hamas.
"I don't see them moving toward each other on the fundamental issues," added Ghassan Khatib, a professor at Bir Zeit University and a former PA spokesman.
Many Palestinians in Nablus are uneasy about the idea of a return to the armed uprising that turned this city into a den of chaos, violence, and deprivation a decade ago. "Hamas lives in a hole, and sometimes they come out to show their face and go back," says Jamal Tufah, a watch store owner. "Nobody wants to go back to a third intifada. We can't afford to build and then have everything destroyed." (Christian Science Monitor)
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- Prime Minister Netanyahu Sends Condolences to U.S. after Connecticut School Tragedy
Prime Minister Netanyahu sent the following letter to U.S. President Obama on Friday:
"Dear President Obama,
I was shocked and horrified by today's savage massacre of innocent children and adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
We in Israel have experienced such cruel acts of slaughter and we know the shock and agony they bring.
I want to express my profound grief, and that of all the people in Israel, to the families that lost their loved ones.
May you and the American people find the strength to overcome this unspeakable tragedy.
With my deepest condolences." (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
- Hamas Rallies in West Bank Do Not Signal New Intifada - Avi Issacharoff
While on the ground in the West Bank there has been a certain increase in unrest, with active encouragement from Hamas while the PA authorities turn a blind eye, there has been no deterioration into mass incidents, and no loss of control.
Hamas' displays of strength remained in the thousands, not the tens of thousands, and to date, West Bank residents have refused its calls to start another intifada.
The PA is seeking to keep events from spinning out of control into a real intifada. On Friday, Palestinian policemen clashed with Hamas demonstrators who were attempting to approach Israeli checkpoints in the Hebron area.
See also Palestinian Police Clash with Islamists in Hebron - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
- Former Ambassador: Israel-Egypt Ties Unhurt - Hilary Leila Krieger
"Relations between Israel and Egypt have not really suffered with the change of regime in Egypt," former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Shalom Cohen told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Friday. "While Egypt's approach is frosty at the leadership level, it is almost business as usual at the working level."
Cohen pointed to ties between the two militaries and foreign ministries, and that intelligence contacts are continuing unchanged under the new government, with ongoing partnership over border issues, terrorism, smuggling and certain economic issues. (Jerusalem Post)
- Jordan's King Abdullah Warns Against "Extremist" Arab Alliance - Tamer al-Samadi
King Abdullah II of Jordan warned last week against the formation of a new Arab alliance controlled by "extremism."
Regarding Syria, the king said that the regime of President Assad "can hold for two years at the military level, but not more than four months at the economic level." He revealed that Jordan "will host Israeli-Palestinian meetings in February to support the peace process...based on an understanding with the Europeans and the U.S."
The king said that "Jordan was severely damaged as a result of frequent interruptions of Egyptian natural gas, which cost the state treasury about 5 billion Jordanian dinars ($7 billion)," stressing that the interruption of gas ''is the real reason behind the economic crisis plaguing the country."
He said that "Amman has bargaining chips through which it can send messages to Cairo, including the fact that 500,000 Egyptians are working in Jordan. Moreover, the kingdom is the only passageway for Egyptian vegetables being exported to Iraq, and tens of thousands of Egyptians working in the Gulf states are using the Nuweiba-Aqaba waterway in their travels."
The Egyptian president later was reported to have phoned the king with a request to stop the Jordanian government's decision to deport thousands of Egyptian workers for violating residency conditions. (Al-Hayat-Al Monitor)
- Israeli Envoy Calls Settlement Plan a Politically Necessary Reprisal - Howard LaFranchi
Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren last week placed the announcement of plans for settlement construction in the "E1" tract near Jerusalem in the context of the Palestinians' successful bid on Nov. 29 for enhanced UN status. "We felt if the Palestinians were taking unilateral action in the UN, we had to also send the message that we could take unilateral actions," he said. A long line of Israeli leaders has considered retention of control over E1 as critical to Jerusalem's security.
At the same time, he noted that Israel's growing economy, strengthened relations with some of the world's major or emerging powers, including Russia, China, and India, and a vibrant high-tech sector, make for an upbeat assessment of its future. (Christian Science Monitor)
- Where's the Outrage Against Hamas? - Frida Ghitis
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has done us a great service by drawing an incandescent line between those who want peace and coexistence, and those who categorically reject negotiations, seeking only to destroy the enemy.
When Meshaal spoke in Gaza a few days ago, calling for Israel's destruction, the entire world should have spoken out in outrage. But Meshaal's words did not make a lot of waves. The world doesn't really blink when someone calls for Israel's destruction.
Reaction to the horrifying speech was rather muted, particularly in Europe. But nothing could be worse for Palestinians than embracing a position that rejects coexistence with Israel. Anyone who wants to do a small part for peace between Israelis and Palestinians should speak out in support of those who want coexistence, and condemn in the strongest terms those who reject the other one's right to exist.
Israel Is Not a Gun-Toting Utopia - Ezra Klein (Washington Post)
Janet Rosenbaum, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center School, explains that Israel does not have a high level of gun ownership.
You have to have a reason to have a gun. There isn't this idea that you have a right to a gun.
- There are only a few tens of thousands of legal guns in Israel, and the only people allowed to own them legally live in the settlements, do business in the settlements, or are in professions at risk of violence.
And then you need to go back to the permitting authority periodically to assure them the reason is still valid.
- Ten years ago, when Israel had an outbreak of violence (the Second Intifada), there was an expansion of gun ownership, but only to people above a certain rank in the military. There was no sense that having ordinary citizens carry guns would make anything safer.
- Israel rejects 40% of its applications for a gun, the highest rate of rejection of any country in the world. And all guns must have an Interior Ministry permit and identifying mark for tracing.
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