Photos: Masked Palestinian Students at "Moderate" University Parade with Guns, Give Nazi Salute - Tom Gross (Mideast Media Analysis)
Photos taken on Nov. 5 at Al-Quds University in eastern Jerusalem show black-clad, masked, armed Palestinian students giving the Nazi salute.
With a backdrop of huge posters showing armed fighters and martyrs, the students carry flags with maps showing all of Israel as Palestine, not just the West Bank and Gaza.
Al-Quds University, often described as "moderate" by Western journalists, receives grants from European governments and charities, and has partnered with U.S. universities.
Was Yasser Arafat Killed by Polonium Poisoning? - William Booth (Washington Post)
On Wednesday, a team of Swiss experts revealed that tests on PLO chairman Yasser Arafat's exhumed remains "moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210," a highly radioactive substance 250,000 times as toxic as cyanide.
Before his death in a French hospital on Nov. 11, 2004, Arafat was confined to his Ramallah compound by the Israeli military while the Second Intifada was raging.
The head of the Russian Federal Medico-Biological Agency, Vladimir Uiba, whose team also conducted tests on Arafat's remains, was quoted by the Interfax news agency last month as saying that the PLO leader "could not have been poisoned by polonium."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Wednesday that the Swiss findings were "more soap opera than science," calling them part of the ongoing battle between Arafat's widow and the PA.
Israeli officials have repeatedly denied that their government had anything to do with Arafat's death.
Egypt as Hostile as Ever toward U.S. - Michael J. Totten (World Affairs Journal)
General Sisi knows his country and what it takes to appeal to the Egyptian masses. The whole population is as hostile toward the U.S. as it ever was.
Never mind that Americans backed the anti-Mubarak uprising. Never mind that Washington sought good relations with Egypt's first freely elected government in thousands of years.
Never mind that the Obama administration refuses to call the army's coup what it plainly was in order to keep Egypt's aid money flowing.
None of that matters. The U.S. and its Zionist sidekick remain at the molten center of Egypt's phantasmagorical demonology.
Sisi is plenty motivated for his own reasons to keep radical Islamists in check since they're out to destroy him.
And his army is the one Egyptian institution that's not at all interested in armed conflict with Israel because it would suffer more than anything or anyone else.
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- Saudi Nuclear Weapons "on Order" from Pakistan - Mark Urban
Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, BBC Newsnight reported Wednesday. A senior NATO decision-maker said he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.
Gary Samore, until March 2013 President Barack Obama's counter-proliferation adviser, told Newsnight:
"I do think that the Saudis believe that they have some understanding with Pakistan that, in extremis, they would have claim to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan."
Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said: "The Saudis speak about Iran and nuclear matters very seriously. They don't bluff on this issue." (BBC News)
- U.S. Said to Seek Limited Nuclear Deal with Iran - Michael R. Gordon
A senior Obama administration official said Wednesday that the U.S. was prepared to offer Iran limited relief from economic sanctions if Tehran agreed to halt its nuclear program temporarily and reversed part of it. "What we're looking for now is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran's nuclear program from moving forward for the first time in decades and that potentially rolls part of it back....We're looking for ways to put additional time on the clock."
The administration official said such steps would cover the level of enrichment, Iran's stockpiles of nuclear material and the capabilities of Iran's nuclear facilities as well as verification. A six-month suspension is one time-frame that has been discussed. "In response to a first step agreed to by Iran that halts their program from advancing further, we are prepared to offer limited, targeted and reversible sanctions relief." (New York Times)
See also Israel Opposes New Iran Proposal
Israel is urging its Western allies to reject a proposal to limit Iran's nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from economic sanctions. Israel "has learned that a proposal will be brought before the P5+1 in Geneva in which Iran will cease all enrichment at 20% and slow down work on the heavy water reactor in Arak, and will receive in return the easing of sanctions," an Israeli official told AFP Wednesday.
"Israel thinks this is a bad deal and will oppose it strongly."
"Israel's assessment is that the P5+1 is in a position of strength. The sanctions are hurting Iran, Iran is feeling the pressure and the P5+1 has the capability to compel Iran to end all enrichment and to stop construction of the facility in Arak." (AFP-Times of Israel)
- Iran May Be Lowering Expectations for Next Round of Nuclear Talks - Paul Richter and Ramin Mostaghim
Iranian officials appear to be trying to sharply lower expectations for the round of international nuclear negotiations set to begin Thursday in Geneva.
Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said he expects this week's session will focus on the broad outline of negotiations, and that he doesn't foresee the first concrete steps toward a deal for about three months. The prediction suggests a much slower timetable than Iranian officials described six weeks ago at the UN when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke of concluding the entire deal within three or six months.
The U.S. and its Western allies are not likely to be pleased by a long period of preliminary discussions, enabling Tehran to keep making progress toward a nuclear capability while talks drag on. Obama administration officials have insisted they are not about to grant substantial and immediate easing of sanctions.
Iranian officials continue to talk about their "red lines," saying they won't agree to halt all uranium enrichment, ship their current stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country, or close down their existing nuclear facilities.
(Los Angeles Times)
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- Kerry: U.S. Considers Israeli Settlements to Be "Illegitimate" - Khaled Abu Toameh
After discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said: "The position of the United States of America on the settlements is that we consider them...to be illegitimate." (Jerusalem Post)
See also The Legal Basis of Israel's Rights in the Disputed Territories - Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Islamic Movement Leader in Israel Convicted of Incitement to Violence - Aviel Magnezi
Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch in Israel, was convicted on Thursday of incitement to violence in Jerusalem Magistrates' Court.
In a speech he made near the Temple Mount in February 2007,
Salah said: "Our best moments will be when we meet God as martyrs in the al-Aqsa Mosque....The streets of holy Jerusalem will one day be purged of the blood of innocents who took the souls of the Israeli occupation soldiers who are occupying the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque." The speech led to riots.
The judge noted that Salah repeated the words "blood" and "martyrs" throughout his speech and that a state cannot tolerate a call to harm it and its security forces. (Ynet News)
- Expert: Iran Has No Civilian Need for 20 Percent Enriched Uranium - Bijan Farhoodi
Martin Fitzpatrick, director of non-proliferation and disarmament at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in an interview: "I don't understand why Iran is producing 20% enrichment to begin with. They say it's for fuel for Tehran's research reactor, but the amount of 20% enriched products they've already stockpiled would be enough to fuel the reactor for 20 years, so there is no civilian purpose for it at all. By continuing to produce 20% enriched uranium Iran underscores suspicions that there is a military purpose for this kind of enrichment."
Q: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Monday that Iran is capable of enriching to 90% within weeks.
Fitzpatrick: "This statement is based on a mathematical formula, based on how many centrifuges they have and on the amount of 20% enriched uranium they have already stockpiled....It's easy to do a calculation. And you can determine that within a matter of short weeks Iran would theoretically be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon." (Asharq al-Awsat-UK)
- The U.S., Not Iran, Has the Upper Hand in Nuclear Negotiations - Ray Takeyh
President Hassan Rouhani has managed to inculcate the notion that he is under pressure from hard-liners at home and that a failure by the great powers to invest in his presidency would end Iran's moderate interlude. But a more careful examination reveals that the notion that Rouhani will be displaced unless he can quickly obtain concessions from the West is spurious.
The Western powers should not be afraid to suspend negotiations or walk away, should the Iranians prove intransigent. Ironically, stalemated negotiations are likely to pressure Iran into offering more concessions. U.S. sanctions policy has offered its diplomats indispensable leverage. Washington is in a position to demand the most stringent of nuclear accords and should pay scant attention to Iran's oft-proclaimed red lines. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The United States and the Indivisibility of Jerusalem - Shlomo Slonim (Jerusalem Post)
- The U.S. State Department has a favorite mantra: that Washington's policy on Jerusalem has not changed since the status of the city arose as part of the Partition Plan in the Truman era. This is quite inaccurate.
- The Nixon administration's Rogers Plan for settling the Arab-Israeli dispute, while acknowledging a Jordanian interest in Jerusalem, also emphasized that Jerusalem should be "a unified city."
- Each successive administration recognized that Jerusalem was never to be divided again. While various presidents have adopted different attitudes to the question of the status of east Jerusalem - some implying that Israeli sovereignty extended there, and others denying such sovereignty - all adhered firmly to the position that the city must remain united.
- For its part, the U.S. Congress has declared by concurrent resolution that it: "(1) acknowledges that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel;" "(2) strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic religious groups are protected."
- Israel has maintained that under international law Israeli sovereignty extends over Jerusalem in its entirety. The promoter of the Oslo accords, Shimon Peres, declared: "We are very adamant about our position. Jerusalem will not be redivided. It will not be a Berlin."
- Yitzhak Rabin stated categorically to the Knesset: "United Jerusalem will not be open to negotiation. It has been and will forever be the capital of the Jewish people, under Israeli sovereignty."
The writer is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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