Israel to Start Supplying EU with Intelligence on Hizbullah - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Now that the EU has decided to designate Hizbullah's military wing a terrorist organization, Israel will begin providing EU law enforcement officials with intelligence material so they can enforce the decision, Israeli diplomatic officials said Tuesday.
"With countries like Germany, France and Spain, who are new at this, all types of information will have to be shared," an official said.
Report: Hizbullah Burying Hundreds of Its Fighters in Syria - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
Moayyed Ghazlan, a member of the Syrian National Council general secretariat, told CNN Arabic on Wednesday that his organization has discovered a number of mass graves in which Hizbullah buried its fighters following each battle with the rebels in order not to return the bodies for official burial in Lebanon.
Their purpose "is to hide the true extent of casualties from the fighters and rebels in Syria."
An EU decision this week to include Hizbullah's military wing in the European list of terror organizations is widely viewed as a direct consequence of the group's decision to send troops to Syria.
Sinai Car Bomb Explodes Prematurely, Kills Three Militants - Aya Batrawy and Hamza Hendawi (AP-Times of Israel)
A car bomb that may have exploded prematurely near a police training camp close to El-Arish on Wednesday killed three militants, Egyptian media reported.
Islamists also attacked Egyptian security checkpoints in El-Arish and Sheikh Zuweyid.
U.S. and IDF in Joint Air Force Exercise (U.S. European Command)
U.S. European Command and the Israel Defense Forces have begun Juniper Stallion 13, a two-week bilateral aerial exercise held between the U.S. and Israeli air forces in Israel as part of regularly scheduled training between the two nations.
Juniper Stallion 13 is a combined F-15/F-16 air-to-air exercise designed to improve the interoperability and cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli air forces.
West Bank Palestinians Enter Israel through Gaps in Security Barrier (Maan News-PA)
Thousands of Palestinian workers regularly cross through a valley in al-Walaja and climb up a mountain to reach Jerusalem in about an hour, without encountering a single sign that marked a border.
Having no legal work permit, they cross from the West Bank into Israel through one of many large gaps in the security barrier.
According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the separation wall has reduced Palestinian attacks in Israel by 90%, yet after ten years of construction, only 62% of the barrier has been completed.
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- Palestinian, Israeli UN Envoys Differ on Peace Roadmap
Israeli and Palestinian UN envoys laid out very different visions of what a peace deal would look like at a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday.
Palestinian observer Riyad Mansour reiterated the Palestinians' longstanding position that a solution must be based on pre-1967 war lines with Jerusalem as a shared capital, positions rejected by Israel. Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said Israel is willing to take risks to end the conflict and reiterated his country's vision of "two states for two peoples - one Arab and one Jewish - living side-by-side in peace and security." The Palestinians have not accepted that premise.
"Peace requires leaders who will reject terror and embrace partnership; leaders who oppose incitement and promote tolerance; leaders who will raise their people up, rather than tear Israel down," Prosor said.
He pointed to a doubling of Palestinian attacks against Israelis between 2011 and 2012 - with 2,736 attacks last year, including shootings, rockets, improvised explosive devices and firebombs.
See also Peace Talks May Resume Tuesday in Washington
Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom said peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will likely officially resume on Tuesday in Washington, Israel Radio reported on Thursday. Shalom said he does not believe the Palestinians would opt out of the preliminary talks in Washington, as that would be a "slap" to the Americans.
However, on Tuesday Al-Hayat reported that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will not depart for Washington until his government receives assurances regarding Israel's readiness to negotiate a deal based on the 1967 lines and a commitment to release prisoners who have been serving sentences handed down before the signing of the Oslo Accords.
- Turkey: Israel Must Admit to "Wrongful Act" in Marmara Case - Serkan Demirtas
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, who is leading the team negotiating the Mavi Marmara compensation issue with the Israeli government, said Tuesday: "The amount of money is not the problem....There are two problematic areas. The first one is that Israel should accept that it's paying this money as a result of its wrongful act. Nothing less than this will be accepted. And second, we are waiting for them to realize our third condition of cooperating with Turkey in making life conditions easier for Palestinians." (Hurriyet-Turkey)
See also Report: Turkey, Israel Bargaining over Compensation Amount
Turkey and Israel are bargaining over the amount of compensation to be paid to the families of victims killed in a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound ship, the Mavi Marmara, according to the Turkish media. The Haberturk daily reported on Tuesday that Israel has increased the amount of compensation from $3 million to more than $15 million, while Turkey has not taken a step back from the amount it insists on - $50 million. (Zaman-Turkey)
- Egyptian Military's Crackdown Strains Gaza's Economy - Fares Akram
For Hamas, the Egyptian military's stepped up campaign against Islamic militants in Sinai means a looming economic crisis if restrictions continue on the tunnels that run beneath the Egypt-Gaza border. New restrictions at the Rafah border crossing mean that
Hamas officials are unable to leave Gaza, and aid missions are not coming in due to the security situation in Sinai.
Egyptian military officials have told state news media that scores of Hamas fighters and snipers have been making their way into Egypt to battle the anti-Morsi demonstrators, and newspaper columnists have accused Hamas of interfering in Egypt's affairs.
(New York Times)
See also Anti-Morsi Egyptians Blame Palestinians - Debasish Mitra
The Egyptian media has joined the army and the administration in inciting national hatred against Palestinians, especially those who live in Gaza where Hamas rules. During chat shows on Egyptian television, guests are heard saying, "Deposed President Mohamed Morsi is originally Palestinian." Speaker after speaker calls for executing Palestinians living in Egypt, as some Egyptians hold Palestinians responsible for the "misrule" of the Muslim Brotherhood. The new masters in Egypt now say that Palestinians intervened too deeply in Egypt's domestic politics during Morsi's rule and should be taught a lesson. (Times of Oman)
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- Netanyahu: "We've Always Been Ready for Peace Talks"
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday: "I hope that soon we will be able to see the beginning of peace talks. Our team is ready - we've always been ready."
Foreign Minister Kishida noted: "On the occasion of the unprecedented Great East Japan Earthquake which hit Japan two years ago, we received warm words of condolences and swift assistance from Israel. I'd like to express once again appreciation for that. In particular I appreciate the dispatch of the medical assistance unit to Minamisanriku-Cho. This assistance touched the hearts of people and the people of the local community." (Prime Minister's Office)
- IDF Leads the Way in Gender Integration
Representatives of foreign militaries are increasingly seeking guidance from the IDF in facilitating gender equality and preventing sexual harassment, as Israel's military is recognized as one of the world's most advanced in this regard.
The office of the IDF Women's Affairs Advisor explained: "Service for women is required, and therefore we strive to expand equal opportunities for recruitment and placement, and to empower women's [military] service through a variety of roles."
The IDF stands out among the world's militaries for the high representation of women in its ranks. 34% of those serving are women, including 23% of all officers and non-commissioned officers. 92% of the IDF's jobs are open to women.
(Israel Defense Forces)
- No Agreement on Resumption of Israel-Palestinian Negotiations - Shlomo Brom
It is important to recognize that resumption of actual negotiations has not been agreed on, and that this depends on the successful conclusion of the "talks about talks" in Washington. There are still likely to be many obstacles, such as a lack of agreement on the agenda and the order of topics to be discussed; a Palestinian demand that the Arab Peace Initiative serve as the basis for the talks; and possible differing interpretations of the understandings with Kerry, which could thwart the resumption of the negotiations.
Both parties believe that the gaps between their positions are wide, and therefore, from their perspectives, there is no chance that the other party will accept an agreement that suits its minimum conditions. In fact, they were dragged into negotiations in which they have no faith. It is hard to believe that the talks will be concluded successfully when the American mediator wants them to succeed more than the parties themselves.
Brig. Gen. (ret.) Shlomo Brom, a senior research associate at INSS, served as Deputy National Security Advisor.
(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
- Egypt's Islamists Will Rise Again - Reuel Marc Gerecht
Conventional wisdom says that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has immolated itself after just a year of grossly incompetent government. Yet grossly incompetent governance has been the norm in Egypt, and it is highly doubtful that the Islamist critique of Egyptian society has been routed. The vast slums of Cairo are hothouses for Islamism. Only the deluded, the naive and the politically deceitful can believe that Islamism's "moment" in Egypt has passed. More likely, it's just having an interlude. The writer, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former CIA Middle Eastern specialist.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Europe's Moment of Decision on Hizbullah - Matthew Levitt
Hizbullah had resumed terrorist operations in Europe after years of financial and logistical support activities there. If history is any guide, failure to respond in a meaningful way would almost certainly have invited further Hizbullah attacks.
The most significant impact of the EU ban on Hizbullah's military wing will be to enable EU governments to initiate preemptive intelligence investigations into Hizbullah activities. This should make Europe a far less attractive place for Hizbullah operatives.
In addition, the ban communicates to Hizbullah that continuing its current activities will endanger its legitimacy as a political actor.
Seizing significant amounts of Hizbullah funds is unlikely, but the ban will probably still curtail Hizbullah fundraising.
The writer is director of the Washington Institute's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The Value of Mideast "Talks about Talks" - Michael Singh (Washington Post)
- Preparatory negotiations of the sort Kerry has engaged in serve an important purpose.
These arm's-length negotiations allow the two sides to engage with each other and with the U.S. to gauge their counterparts' authority and trustworthiness.
- It is better that lower-level officials prepare the ground and hand things over to their superiors once agreement is close. Failure at the negotiator level may represent a setback; a breakdown in talks at the leadership level can herald catastrophe.
- The ultimate question that preparatory talks are designed to answer is whether both sides are serious about reaching an agreement. Netanyahu has sought to answer that question forcefully, declaring the resumption of negotiations to be in Israel's "vital strategic interest."
- Abbas wears two hats, as head of both a movement and a would-be state. If peace talks are to succeed this time, he must take off the first hat, which he has often seemed to favor, and accept the burden of the second. Palestinians, too, must recognize that their vital interest lies in peace.
The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
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