Some Missiles in Syria Eluded Israeli Strike, U.S. Says - Michael R. Gordon (New York Times)
American intelligence analysts have concluded that a recent Israeli airstrike on a warehouse in Syria did not succeed in destroying all of the Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles that were its target, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
While the warehouse was destroyed, American intelligence analysts have concluded that at least some of the missiles had been removed from the warehouse before the attack.
Missile Used by Syrian Rebels Poses Limited Threat to Israel - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
Syrian rebels released a video on Tuesday showing the downing of a government aircraft with a mobile air defense missile.
Israeli security experts said the system could pose a limited threat to Israeli air traffic, but that the Israel Air Force could deal with the threat with relative ease.
Head of Syrian Opposition Rejects Talks with Assad - Ben Hubbard (New York Times)
The president of the Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba, told the Qatar News Agency that the opposition would not negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad and that talks could begin only when the military situation in Syria was positive for rebel forces.
Momentum in the war has shifted in favor of Assad in recent weeks as his forces have retaken territory, and many rebel groups have become bogged down in local turf battles and infighting.
How the Peace Process May Affect Jordan - Lee Smith (Weekly Standard)
Were Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, Hamas would rout the PA in a matter of months and leave Jordan's King Abdullah with an Islamist group on his Western border.
What keeps Abdullah up at night is the recurring nightmare of Kerry getting a deal for a failed Palestinian state.
Hurdles to Overcome in Mideast Talks - Jeffrey Goldberg (Bloomberg)
Will the world's Muslims agree to the continued control over much of the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, by Israel?
Will the Israelis agree to cede permanent control of the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, to Muslim religious authorities?
Will the descendants of the Palestinians who fled during the 1948 Arab attack on the fledgling Jewish state be told that they aren't moving to Israel?
Will the Palestinians agree never to lodge claims against Israel again?
Will Israel remove more than 50,000 Israelis from settlements in the West Bank?
Will Hamas, which controls Gaza, either dissolve itself or be dissolved by force or change its ideology?
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- House Votes for New Tough Sanctions Against Iran - Paul Richter
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 400-20 Wednesday to hit Iran with the toughest sanctions yet over its nuclear program, in a forceful rejection of arguments that Congress should refrain from new penalties pending international negotiations with the new Iranian government.
The new bill would basically block Iran from selling any oil abroad, after a year in which its exports have already been cut in half by international sanctions.
Lawmakers said they wanted to send Tehran a strong signal before the negotiations, and didn't believe statements by Iran's president-elect, Hassan Rowhani, that he wants a better relationship with the West. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "Today the House took a critical step toward crippling this regime to prevent a nuclear Iran and dire security consequences....Iran may have a new president, but its march toward a nuclear program continues." (Los Angeles Times)
- Egypt's Government Orders Break-Up of Pro-Morsi Protests - Abigail Hauslohner and Michael Birnbaum
Egypt's military-backed interim government on Wednesday ordered the security forces to break up protest encampments in Cairo where thousands of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi have held running demonstrations over the past month. "The continuation of the grave situation in Rabaa and Nahda squares and the acts of terrorism, intimidation and cutting off roads is no longer acceptable," Information Minister Dorreya Sharaf said, reading from the cabinet statement.
- Iran Gives Gazans Aid, But Bypasses Hamas - Rushdi Abu Alouf
On Tuesday, Islamic Jihad, Hamas' rival, began distributing Iranian food aid valued at $2 million to Gaza residents during Ramadan.
Dozens of men and women lined up in front of trucks carrying pictures of the Iranian flag.
(Los Angeles Times)
See also In Gaza, Iran Finds an Ally More Agreeable than Hamas - Fares Akram (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Livni: We'll Know Which Way Talks Are Headed in a Month - Adiv Sterman
Israel's chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, told Israel Channel 2 TV on Wednesday that the seriousness of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will be determined well before the nine-month target set by Washington. "If after one month we will see that the talks aren't headed anywhere, we won't pursue them," she said. (Times of Israel)
See also U.S.: Mideast Deal in Nine Months Is Target, Not Deadline
Reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal within nine months is a target, not a deadline, Michael Ratney, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, said Wednesday. "We never set a deadline, but we have clearly set a target," he said.
- Israel Rejects UN Criticism of Bedouin Resettlement Plan - Raphael Ahren and Lazar Berman
Israel on Tuesday slammed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay for criticizing Israel's plan to resettle some unrecognized Bedouin communities in the Negev while recognizing others. The plan would officially recognize and register the vast majority of Bedouin settlements and compensate the residents of 35 unrecognized villages who are to be moved off state-owned land.
The Israel Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "It is strange that [Pillay's] communique demands that Bedouins be entitled to the same rights to property, housing and public services, when this is exactly the declared purpose of the bill....Moreover, the text presents as known facts affirmations which have been examined and invalidated by the Supreme Court." (Times of Israel)
- IDF Legal Adviser: Soldiers Should Stop Child Stone-Throwers - Tovah Lazaroff
The soldiers who detained a five-year-old Palestinian stone-thrower in Hebron earlier this month were justified, IDF West Bank legal adviser Doron Ben-Barak wrote in response to a complaint. While minors under the age of 12 bear no criminal liability, "one can't stand idly by while minors throw stones that endanger bystanders and themselves."
There is a growing phenomenon of minors throwing stones at cars on West Bank roads, at civilians and soldiers, and during riots. Among the measures soldiers can take are removing the minor from the area and handing them over to their parents and/or the PA. "It would be irresponsible for the soldiers to ignore the situation and leave the child to his own devices, so that he could continue his dangerous activity," Ben-Barak wrote.
- Abbas and the "Peace Process" - Ahmed Feteha
PA President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to return to the negotiating table was attacked not only in Hamas-run Gaza, as expected, but also inside his Palestine Liberation Organization. On July 18, the PLO's executive committee, the PA's highest governing body, rejected the Kerry deal. Abbas ignored the executive committee. So much for democratic accountability in the Palestinian Authority.
Defiant Palestinian media called this week's meetings in Washington "Abbas' negotiations." A major faction of the PLO - the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - on Monday formally opposed the resumption of talks. While Abbas says any future peace deal would be put to a popular vote, Hamas rejected the idea outright, saying "the rights of Palestinians" can never be voted on. (Wall Street Journal)
See also Palestinian NGO Network: Resuming Peace Talks Now Is "Dangerous"
The Palestinian NGO Network, a group of 133 Palestinian NGOs in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, said Wednesday that resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks would be "dangerous" at this time, Middle East Monitor reported. "Negotiations are being held in the absence of a cohesive Palestinian and Arab foundation that should act as an element of support for any political process," the group said.
See also Palestinian Analysts: Peace Talks "Doomed" - Shatha Yaish (AFP)
- Egypt's Generals' Dilemma - Amir Taheri
Egypt's military is starting to divide into two camps. Several active and retired officers close to Gen. Sami Annan, a former chief of staff, urge the appointment of a "consensus" prime minister with a program for early elections. They also want Morsi released and invited to negotiations on the timetable for the transition. A second group of officers, close to al-Sissi, believe that only direct military rule can save the situation.
In recent days al-Sissi has appeared with military decorations designating him as a "hero" several times over, although he has never fought in any war. His radio and TV tone has also changed - he no longer reads in a flat voice, but attempts eloquence, the way Arabs like. Al-Sissi won't run for president, his spokesman insists - but his agents are busy distributing his pictures all over Egypt.
(New York Post)
- Demands that Underpin an Israel-Palestine Peace Deal - Damien McElroy
To present a deal to its voters in a referendum, Israel must secure Palestinian agreement for recognition of the Jewish state as an integral part of the Middle East. The history of modern Israel is rooted in the homecoming of a religious community to a land where their faith began. But Arabs and Muslims have never formally reconciled with that historic development.
Israel needs to erase the Palestinian quest for the right of return by refugees from the fighting that accompanied the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948. Slices of land with Jewish settlements will be retained by Israel. In addition, the Palestinian state will be largely demilitarized and obliged to cooperate heavily with Israeli security forces. (Telegraph-UK)
True Democracy Still Out of Reach for Arab Spring States - Shlomi Eldar (Al-Monitor)
In Egypt, Tunisia, the West Bank and Gaza, democracy begins with democratic elections, but what happened after those elections has no connection whatsoever to the values that stand at the core of democracy: liberty, equality, freedom of expression for the individual and the protection of the rights of minorities.
- Hamas won by democratic means, yet Mahmoud Abbas kept searching for excuses to allow him and Fatah to stay in power. Hamas responded with a military coup and the violent expulsion of Fatah in Gaza. Seven years have passed, but there are no new elections on the horizon in Gaza. In Ramallah, too, no one dares mention the idea of new elections to Abbas.
- Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won Egypt's democratic elections in June 2012. A year later Morsi was deposed and arrested. Tunisia pioneered the Arab Spring, but two leaders of the opposition were assassinated within a single year.
- Elections in these countries were intended as a democratic tool, but they have turned into a corrupt means intended to maintain the rule of brutal regimes drunk with power. There is an interminable list of leaders and movements who rode the wave of protest that was the Arab Spring to power, only to toss democratic values into the waste bin immediately afterward.
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