Iran's "Space Monkey" Means Trans-Atlantic Launch Capability - Ben Hartman (Jerusalem Post)
Iran's announcement on Monday that it had successfully launched a monkey into space, IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Asaf Agmon told
the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference in Herzliya on Tuesday:
"[Iran's] space program is connected to their missile program and the science you need to launch a monkey into space is the same that you need to send a warhead over the Atlantic Ocean."
Agmon is CEO of Israel's Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies.
Report: Hamas Seeking to Take Over PLO - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Tuesday that Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal plans to seek the chairmanship of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the near future.
Qatar and Jordan are facilitating the bid. The PLO is currently led by Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.
IAEA Sees No Sign of Explosion at Iranian Nuclear Site (RFE/RL)
The UN's nuclear watchdog IAEA says it has seen no sign of an explosion at Iran's underground Fordo uranium enrichment facility, contradicting press reports.
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer to Step Down after 8 Years - Niv Elis (Jerusalem Post)
Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley Fischer informed Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday that he will step down as Israel's central banker on June 30, two years before the end of his second five-year term.
A former chief economist at the World Bank and MIT professor, Fischer, 69, is widely credited with guiding Israel's economy through the global economic crisis.
A source at the Bank of Israel said that Fischer had never been expected to finish his second term, and was waiting until after the election to announce his decision.
Dr. Yaakov Sheinin, an economics professor at Tel Aviv University, believes Fischer's departure will not hurt the economy.
"I think he did great things, but the State of Israel will be able to find a replacement from among its economists."
Cisco to Buy Israel's Intucell for $475 Million - Nick Turner (Bloomberg)
Cisco Systems Inc., the world's largest maker of networking equipment, agreed to buy Intucell Ltd. for about $475 million, gaining technology that helps wireless carriers manage their networks.
Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have increased congestion, boosting demand for services that help fine-tune networks.
"Carriers like AT&T are deploying Intucell's technology to manage their network in real time to improve the quality of customer experiences," said Kevin Stadtler, president of an investment advisory firm specializing in technology.
Intucell's technology relieves congestion on an overloaded cell tower by automatically instructing nearby towers to help out.
See also Cisco Buys Its Tenth Israeli Start-Up - David Shamah (ZDNet)
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News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- 79 Syrian Men and Boys Found Executed in Aleppo - Ruth Sherlock
At least 79 Syrian men and teenage boys, each with a single bullet hole to the head, have been found dead in a river in Aleppo in the biggest mass execution of the country's civil war. The hands of each had been tied.
- Aide to Egyptian President Morsi Claims Holocaust a U.S. Hoax - Paul Alster
"The myth of the Holocaust is an industry that America invented," claims Fathi Shihab-Eddim, a senior figure close to Egyptian President Morsi who is now responsible for appointing the editors of all state-run Egyptian newspapers.
"U.S. intelligence agencies in cooperation with their counterparts in allied nations during World War II created it [the Holocaust] to destroy the image of their opponents in Germany, and to justify war and massive destruction against military and civilian facilities of the Axis powers, and especially to hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the atomic bomb," Shihab-Eddim said.
Efraim Zuroff, Israel Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said: "The sad truth is that these views are relatively common in the Arab world and are the result of ignorance on one hand and of government-sponsored Holocaust denial on the other hand." (Fox News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Hizbullah Seeks Syrian Missiles to Attack Israeli Bases, Gas Rigs - Yoav Zitun
Israel fears that the balance of power will change dramatically should Hizbullah acquire Syria's weapons.
The transfer of advanced Syrian military equipment, such as radars, to Hizbullah may lead to an Israeli strike.
Syria has purchased advanced Russian surface-to-air missile systems. With North Korea's assistance, Assad's regime developed the Scud-D missile that can hit almost anywhere inside Israel with 1,000 kilos of explosives and, theoretically, can be armed with chemical agents. Syria possesses between 300 and 500 of these missiles.
- UN Avoids Israel Showdown, Delays Rights Review - Tovah Lazaroff
The UN Human Rights Council avoided a showdown with Israel Tuesday when it agreed to delay its Universal Periodic Review until no later than November, after Israel became the first country to boycott its scheduled session on the matter in Geneva. Israel cut its ties with the council last March to protest its establishment of a fact-finding mission on West Bank settlements.
Israel has had a tense relationship with the council since its inception in 2006. The council has censured it more than any other country and has created a special mechanism, Agenda Item 7, that ensures Israel's activity in the West Bank is a subject of debate at every council session.
See also An Anti-Semitic Agenda at the UN - Anne Bayefsky
Just days after the UN put on a show about Holocaust remembrance, it is business as usual in terms of demonizing and encouraging hatred of Jews in the present. In Geneva, the UN's top human rights body, the Human Rights Council, is conducting its "Universal Periodic Review," and Israel was supposed to arrive before the firing squad on Jan. 29 to listen to Iran itemize the failings of "the Zionist entity." The greater tragedy is that the U.S. and almost every other Western government pressured Israel to participate. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel Approves Transfer of Tax Revenues to PA - Barak Ravid
Israel has renewed the transfer of Palestinian tax funds it collects to the Palestinian Authority. The transfer was frozen at the end of November after the Palestinians petitioned the UN General Assembly to upgrade their status to that of nonmember observer state. A source in the Prime Minister's Office said Tuesday that the transfer of $100 million is only a one-time step, in light of the PA's dire financial straits, and that the matter will be reexamined at the end of next month. The PA is finding it difficult to pay its security forces.
- A Senseless Concession to Iran on Uranium Enrichment - John Bolton
Western negotiators have dropped their insistence that Iran halt all uranium enrichment, conceding that the regime could enrich to 4% commercial, "reactor-grade" levels if it stopped enriching to 20%, purportedly to fuel a research reactor.
But nuclear physicists know it takes much more work to enrich U-235 to 4% or 20% than it takes to enrich from either of these levels to weapons-grade (90%+).
Enriching natural U-235 to 4% requires most of the work (70%) needed to enrich to levels over 90%. From 4%, enriching to 20% takes merely 15%-20% more of the work.
The Non-Proliferation Education Center estimates the difference between the two reactor-grade levels to be only about three weeks of further enrichment for enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear device.
The West thus made a senseless concession by allowing enrichment even to 4%. Enrichment to any higher level will require mere baby steps to reach the Tehran regime's nuclear-arms destination. Once Iran is legitimized for enriching to reactor-grade levels - contrary to multiple Security Council resolutions requiring the cessation of all enrichment-related activities - any remaining possibility of stopping it from making nuclear weapons effectively disappears. The writer, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
(Wall Street Journal)
- The Islamist Challenge from the Sahel Region and North Africa - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
France launched a military operation against the Islamists in Mali to prevent a repetition of events in Afghanistan where the Taliban took over the country and provided a safe haven for al-Qaeda. The fall of Mali would directly threaten neighboring Niger, the sixth largest producer of uranium ore in the world. Given that France depends on nuclear reactors for approximately 75 percent of its electricity production and that most of its uranium comes from Niger, the French interest in preventing the fall of Mali is clear.
The states surrounding Mali understood the region-wide Islamist threat and supported France's military intervention. This includes the backing of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led by Nigeria. Moreover, Algeria let French aircraft fly through its airspace in order to engage the jihadists and halt their offensive on the ground in Mali.
The anti-Western jihadi groups will probably try to retaliate, though not necessarily in the Sahel region. Rather, with the human infrastructure they have in Europe, the U.S., South America and West Africa, the choice of possible targets presents a huge challenge for all intelligence services involved in homeland security.
The writer was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
See also In Northern Mali's War, Al-Qaeda Affiliate Is Directing the Fight - Sudarsan Raghavan
Most of the rebels who took over Diabaly in central Mali for five days this month were Malian, but their commanders were foreigners who spoke Arabic. What began as a homegrown, Malian-led rebellion is now a conflict directed by al-Qaeda's West and North Africa wing, mostly foreign fighters from Algeria and Mauritania. (Washington Post)
- Consequences of U.S. Inaction in Syria Are Clear - Editorial
It might seem as though the horrors of Syria, where more than 60,000 people have died violently in the last 22 months, could not grow worse. Yet steadily, week by week, they do.
The Obama administration appears stuck on Syria, unable to decide even on simple measures to help the opposition. Not only does it refuse to provide weapons to moderate rebel fighting units - which complain of shortages even as materiel pours in to jihadist groups - but it claims it is legally barred from giving even non-lethal aid directly to the Syrian National Coalition. U.S. humanitarian aid goes to private groups such as the Red Crescent or, worse, the UN, which passes much of it along to the regime.
The U.S. could do much to shape the course of events in Syria without using American troops. It could begin providing aid directly to Syrian refugee organizations and civilian councils inside the country, as France has done for months. It could provide arms to moderate rebel factions, so that they can compete with the jihadists and so that they will look to the U.S. when the war is over. Continued passivity will ensure that the crisis in Syria continues to worsen - along with the consequences for the U.S.
The Peace Process After the Israeli Election - Shlomo Avineri (Foreign Affairs)
- In the late 2000s, under Ehud Olmert, Israel negotiated with the Palestinian Authority for more than two years. But as soon as negotiators moved from their ritualistic opening positions to the core issues of the conflict - borders, the fate of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugee problem, and Israel's security concerns - it became clear that the gaps between the most moderate Israeli positions and the most moderate Palestinian positions were too wide to be easily bridged. That has not changed.
- Hamas' continued control of Gaza means that even an agreement reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would not mean an end to the conflict.
- The current turmoil in the Arab world bodes ill for the peace process, as an Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood and a Syria embroiled in a bloody civil war do not encourage even moderate Israelis to take risks with the Palestinians.
- This means that Israel's next government should take a fresh look at what is feasible, with an eye toward the lessons from similar conflicts such as those in Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Kashmir. None of these conflicts has been fully settled, but they have been gradually tempered. In each case, a complex set of partial agreements, conflict-management measures, unilateral decisions, and confidence-building strategies has generally kept bloodshed at bay.
- Such an approach would mean moving ahead slowly, step by step, which would make it easier for both sides to sell such piecemeal progress to their constituencies, since they would not have to cross any of their fundamental and ideological redlines. More modest aims are the only realistic way to push Israeli-Palestinian relations away from the dangers of confrontation and toward some modicum of reconciliation. Everything else has already failed.
The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
See also Israel's New Islamist Neighborhood - Reuel Marc Gerecht
Israel may one day be accepted by its Arab neighbors and by its most deadly foe, Iran - but only when Arab and Iranian Muslim identities allow for it. At best, that change is decades away. Modern Islam's great internal tug of war, between the search for authenticity and the love of modernity, must quiet before the Israeli-Palestinian clash can end.
The writer, a former Middle East specialist at the CIA, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Wall Street Journal)
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