Largest Anti-American Rally in Tehran in Years (AP-Washington Post)
Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed the streets Monday outside the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran in the biggest anti-American rally in years.
See also Iran's Parliament Erupts in "Death to America" Chants - Ilan Ben Zion (Times of Israel)
The Iranian parliament on Sunday rang out with chants of "Death to America" after Vice Parliamentary Speaker Mohammad Hossein Aboutorabifard delivered an impassioned speech commending the Nov. 4, 1979, attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
The Iranian Defense Ministry also vowed that there would be massive rallies nationwide, emphasizing the Iranian people's commitment to the motto "Death to America."
See also Iran Guards Want to Keep "Death to America" Chant (AFP)
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Saturday that "Death to America" will remain their slogan, regardless of signs of detente between the Islamic republic and Washington.
Iran Negotiating with China to Unblock Billions of Assets - Ali M. Pedram (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Iran and China have reached an agreement to unblock up to 22 billion euros of Iranian assets, mainly from oil export revenues.
Hassan Sobhani-Nia, an MP and member of the administrative board of Iran's parliament, announced on Saturday that "Chinese officials have agreed to finance some $20 billion in Iran in lieu of the blocked assets in China which belong to the Islamic Republic."
China has imported 16 million tons of Iranian oil during the first nine months of 2013, an 18% increase over the same period last year.
Sobhani-Nia also announced that $100 billion of Iran's money is frozen in foreign banks because of the sanctions.
Syrian Opposition: No Talks that Leave Assad in Power - Yasmine Saleh and Ayman Samir (Reuters)
Syrian National Coalition President Ahmad Jarba said Sunday that the opposition would not attend peace talks unless there was a clear timeframe for President Assad to leave power. He also said they could not accept the presence of Iran at the negotiating table.
A senior State Department official said Iran would not be welcome to attend the Syria peace talks unless it endorsed a past agreement that would see Assad give up power.
Tunisia Banned from Davis Cup after Refusal to Play Israel - Ori Lewis (Reuters)
Tunisia has been suspended from the 2014 Davis Cup competition after the country's tennis federation ordered its number one player not to play against an Israeli.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) "Board of Directors found that the Tunisian Tennis Federation was in breach of the ITF Constitution by interfering with international sporting practice and ordering Tunisian player Malek Jaziri not to compete against Israeli player Amir Weintraub at the 2013 Tashkent Challenger in October," the ITF said Saturday.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti added: "There is no room for prejudice of any kind in sport or in society.... This kind of action will not be tolerated."
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- Ayatollah Khamenei: "Nobody Should Consider Our Negotiators as Compromise-Seekers"
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Sunday against undermining negotiators engaged in talks with the West.
Diplomats "are on a difficult mission and nobody should weaken those who are on assignment," he said. "Nobody should consider our negotiators as compromise-seekers," he added.
Khamenei reiterated that he isn't optimistic about nuclear talks, but they won't damage Iran. He also praised Iranian militant students who stormed the U.S. Embassy in 1979. (Wall Street Journal)
See also Khamenei Calls Israel "Illegitimate" - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel to Build Security Barrier between West Bank and Jordan - Robert Tait
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to build a security barrier between the West Bank and Jordan in a move aimed at asserting Israel's control over the borders of a future Palestinian state.
The fence would reinforce Israel's determination to maintain a presence in the strategic Jordan Valley.
Addressing Sunday's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said a continued military presence in the Jordan Valley was "first and foremost" among Israel's security needs "in case the peace frays."
"The security border of the State of Israel will remain along the Jordan River," he said. (Telegraph-UK)
See also Video: Why Israel Opposes International Forces in the Jordan Valley (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- No Deal by U.S. Jewish Leadership on Iran Sanctions Freeze - Jennifer Rubin
A story in Ha'aretz that suggested that Jewish groups brought to the White House for a meeting had agreed to hold off lobbying for additional sanctions against Iran may have backfired on the Iran-friendly crowd. The story was categorically denied on the record by American Jewish Committee President David Harris. Democratic senators prominent in the pro-Israel community are firmly in favor of keeping Iran's feet to the fire. (Washington Post)
See also AIPAC: "Absolute No Delay" in Sanctions Lobbying
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Saturday denied reports that top pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC, had agreed in a White House meeting to suspend for 60 days lobbying for increased sanctions on Iran.
"AIPAC continues to support congressional action to adopt legislation to further strengthen sanctions and there will absolutely be no pause, delay or moratorium in our efforts," said AIPAC President Michael Kassen. Congressional proponents of the sanctions have said that sanctions forced Iran to the negotiating table and should be upheld to extract meaningful concessions. (JTA)
- Report: U.S. National Security Agency Spied on Israel, Shared Intelligence - Reem Makhoul
Documents released by Edward J. Snowden describe collaboration with the Israel Sigint National Unit, which gets raw N.S.A. eavesdropping material and provides it in return, but they also mention the agency's tracking of "high priority Israeli military targets," including drone aircraft and the Black Sparrow missile system.
(New York Times)
- Ousted Egyptian Leader Morsi's Trial Begins
The trial of Egypt's deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi and 14 others charged with inciting murder adjourned soon after it started on Monday because the defendants' chants were disrupting the proceedings.
There was a two-hour delay in the start of the proceedings caused by Morsi's insistence not to change into the prison uniform customarily worn by defendants, part of his refusal to recognize the trial's legitimacy. It was Morsi's first public appearance since his ouster on July 3.
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- Palestinian Negotiating Team Hasn't Quit - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon
PA officials denied over the weekend that members of its negotiating team in talks with Israel had resigned. (See "Palestinians in Peace Talks with Israel Offer Resignations," New York Times, Oct. 31, 2013.)
Israeli officials, meanwhile, took the reports in stride.
"To be frank," one official said, "this has for too long been the standard operating procedure for the Palestinians: 'Unless we get what we want, we will jump off the cliff, dismantle the PA, renounce the Oslo Accords, resign.' This is the way they conduct brinkmanship negotiations."
Instead of "playing games," the official said, "they should negotiate seriously."
Secretary of State John Kerry is expected in Israel on Tuesday for talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem and President Abbas in Bethlehem.
- New Gaza Textbooks Focus on Resistance
The Hamas-run government in Gaza has introduced amended textbooks for grades 8, 9 and 10, adding lessons about various methods of Palestinian resistance.
In the new 8th grade textbook, a chapter focuses on details about rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. Grade 9's textbook covers Gaza's militant response to Israel's Operation Cast Lead (2008-09) and Operation Pillar of Defense (2012).
Another chapter is dedicated to the cross-border military operation by three Palestinian groups in 2006 as a result of which Israel agreed to release 1,024 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit. The textbook also includes a chapter on non-negotiable Palestinian principles such as the right of return and the importance of Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. (Maan News-PA)
See also To Shape Young Palestinians, Hamas Creates Its Own Textbooks - Fares Akram and Jodi Rudoren (New York Times)
- Pressure Iran with Tighter Sanctions - Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
While the administration has been quick to hail the latest round of talks with Iran as breaking new ground, the tortuous decade-long history of U.S. and European diplomatic engagement with the country is littered with Iranian feints and the promise of concessions that never occur. (In fall 2009 talks in Geneva, Iran actually agreed in principle to take steps to transfer most of its stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country.)
The last time we were told to be cautiously optimistic, Iran barely had one weapon's worth of enriched uranium. Now it has a stockpile of uranium that is the equivalent of several weapons worth, according to the Institute for Science and International Security. For the past 10 years, world powers have been talking to Iran. Meanwhile, Iran has been creating facts on the ground by building the elements of a nuclear weapons program and the long-range missiles needed to deliver a nuclear warhead.
Tightening sanctions as we engage diplomatically affords us the opportunity to apply further pressure and force Iran's leaders to choose between regime survival and a nuclear weapon.
So yes, we should take this opportunity to meet with Iran, but our patience must be limited. It is far too premature to let up the pressure.
- U.S. Intelligence Leaks a Growing Concern for Israel - Karl Vick
Israel's determination to strike discreetly in Syria was undone by leaks, the most credible of which, on CNN, was attributed to U.S. officials. That report infuriated the Israeli security establishment. "What on earth are the Americans thinking when they finger Israel as responsible for the strikes in Syria?" Alex Fishmen asked in a Yediot Ahronot commentary. "Past experience suggests that we shared information with them on our operational activity so as to prevent embarrassment and surprise, but Washington is selling our secrets on the cheap."
Though Israel clearly wants the freedom to prevent Syria's government from sharing advanced weapons with Hizbullah, the Jewish state tries to do it without being drawn into Syria's civil war. In the hours after the explosions, neither Assad nor Israel even acknowledged that things had blown up.
If either government spoke publicly of the strikes, Assad would be obliged to strike back. (TIME)
See also Is the U.S. Spilling Its Allies' Secrets? - Elliott Abrams
The U.S. seems to be aggressive in ignoring the interests of allies by conveying intelligence information to the press. The continuing leaks about what Israel has been doing are dangerous and damaging. We act as a poor ally if we repeatedly and indeed recklessly increase the risk to Israel by treating sensitive information as fodder for the press.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
See also White House Source Confirms Israeli Strike in Syria - Dan Lavie (Israel Hayom)
Amidror: A Credible Israeli Military Threat and Tough Sanctions Are Key to Deterring Iran - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
- Israeli National Security Adviser Ya'akov Amidror presented his final security assessment to the Cabinet on Sunday before ending his term.
He discussed the peace process with the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear program, the civil war in Syria, the instability in Egypt and the U.S.' global standing.
- He described the decision by the EU to restrict funding to entities operating in or linked to east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights as a "conscious decision" to attack Israel politically and economically.
- Amidror said that maintaining an Israeli military threat and tough sanctions are crucial to stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. He said there has been a change in Iran's willingness to negotiate with the West, but this was due primarily to the pressure imposed by the international sanctions. Still, the Iranians have not changed their policy on enriching uranium. He stressed that if it is "clear to the world that we have a real ability to carry out a military operation in Iran," the international community will not be able to ignore Israel's concerns.
- Regarding Syria, Amidror said the Assad regime has developed an extreme dependence on Hizbullah, which leads Syria to transfer more advanced and lethal weapons to Hizbullah.
- On Egypt, he said the Egyptian military had succeeded in curbing the "might of the Islamic wave," thus sending a message to other countries in the region. He added that developments in Egypt have significantly weakened Hamas in Gaza.
- Amidror said the world looks at Israel as an extension of the U.S., so if America's standing in the world weakens, this would have an immediate negative impact on Israel's international position.
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