Missile Defense Expert Warns of Growing Strategic Threat - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's enemies are arming themselves with precision-guided heavy rockets and will inevitably come to possess GPS-guided ballistic missiles, Dr. Uzi Rubin, an architect of the Israeli missile defense program, warned the Institute for National Security Studies
"Iran possesses over 400 ballistic missiles that can reach Israel, with warheads of 750 kilograms. Syria possesses 200 to 300" such missiles, having used up part of its arsenal in its civil war.
Syria and Hizbullah have thousands of heavy rockets, and tens of thousands of light rockets. "These rockets are being turned into smart rockets. The Iranians took the Zilzal 2 and turned it into a guided rocket. The third generation of it contains a homing sensor and a GPS."
"The Syrians can have this capability too, to create a fully guided M-600 rocket with GPS. Hizbullah probably has these."
In the next five to 10 years, Israel's enemies will inevitably arm themselves with GPS-guided ballistic missiles, he said.
Loss of the Jordan Valley Equals Loss of Israel's Security - Oded Tyrah (Jerusalem Post)
Surrendering our hold on the Jordan Valley will destroy one of the longitudinal axes that are essential to the State of Israel.
This will preclude Israel's ability to enforce a future demilitarized state of Palestine and expose Jordan to a Palestinian coup, as well as expose Israel to possible danger on its eastern front.
The writer is a retired IDF brigadier general.
Shots Fired at Israeli Vehicle in West Bank - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
An Israeli vehicle traveling southwest of Nablus in the West Bank came under fire on Wednesday evening.
Bullet holes were found in the vehicle, but no one was injured.
Apartheid in Israel? Hardly - Seth M. Siegel (Los Angeles Times)
In the discussion that surrounds the call for a boycott of Israeli universities, South African apartheid is almost invariably invoked. Here are some answers to a quiz that examines the intellectual integrity of the apartheid allegation.
The valedictorian of the most recent graduating class at the medical school at Israel's MIT, the Technion, was a Muslim woman.
Israel is the only country in the region in which the Christian population isn't falling precipitously.
Israel's Arab Christians make up about a third of Israel's pharmacists and have a higher rate of success on their graduation exams than Israeli Jewish students.
The Golani Brigade, an elite Israeli army unit, recently appointed Col. Rassan Alian, a Druze, as its commander.
Salim Joubran is an Israeli Arab who serves on Israel's Supreme Court.
Israel's 2013 Miss Israel beauty queen was Yityish Aynaw, a black Ethiopian immigrant to Israel.
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News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Netanyahu Meets with King Abdullah in Jordan
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit to Jordan on Thursday for talks with King Abdullah II, the Royal Palace said in a statement.
They discussed "developments in the peace process" and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations sponsored by the U.S. Netanyahu made at least three similar visits to Jordan last year, which maintains cordial relations with Israel under a peace treaty signed in 1994.
- Hariri Murder Trial Opens in The Hague - Thomas Escritt and Anthony Deutsch
The trial of four Hizbullah members accused of killing former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri opened in The Hague on Thursday. Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra remain at large and are being tried in absentia. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was set up with the support of the UN. (Reuters)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinian Rocket Barrage on Ashkelon Blocked by Israeli Missile Defenses - Yoel Goldman
Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system shot down five rockets that were fired by Palestinians in Gaza at Ashkelon overnight Wednesday. Three additional rockets landed in open areas.
In response to the late-night barrage, the Israeli Air Force conducted airstrikes on four sites in Gaza, including a hidden rocket launcher, a weapons storage site and a weapons manufacturing facility.
(Times of Israel)
- Israel Thwarts Terror Kidnapping Plot - Marissa Newman
The Israel Security Agency thwarted efforts by Palestinian prisoners held in Israel to coordinate the kidnapping of Israelis in the West Bank last month, the agency announced on Wednesday.
In December, three prisoners planned to carry out a kidnapping with the assistance of the Holy Warriors Brigade, a Hamas affiliate based in Gaza.
One of the prisoners, Mahmoud Bel, enlisted the help of Ali Harub, 21, from a village near Hebron, and Rajab Salah Al-Din, 53, from Hizme, both in the West Bank.
"The latest counter-terrorism [efforts] and investigations have revealed, once again, the efforts of the Holy Warriors Brigade organization to extend the area of its activity to the West Bank," the agency said.
(Times of Israel)
- Australian Foreign Minister: Don't Call Settlements Illegal under International Law - Raphael Ahren
The international community should refrain from calling Israeli settlements illegal under international law, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told The Times of Israel in an interview. She said that, contrary to conventional diplomatic wisdom, the settlements may not be illegal under international law. "I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal."
"I don't think it's helpful to prejudge the settlement issue if you're trying to get a negotiated solution," said Bishop, who came to Israel on Monday to attend the funeral of former prime minister Ariel Sharon.
Bishop also condemned excessive pressure on Israel by Western states and civil society, including the threat of boycotts. While private organizations were free to boycott whomever they wanted, any Australian body that received state funding should be barred from calling for boycotts, she said. (Times of Israel)
- Ya'alon Is Telling the Painful Truth - Shimon Shiffer
Secretary of State John Kerry has almost completely adopted the Palestinian stance, and that is the background for the harsh statements made by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in private conversations with sources in the U.S. The outline of the agreement the U.S. is suggesting may end in a security disaster for Israel, but if we insist on our vital interests they will see us as responsible for the talks' failure.
The defense minister argues that in practice there are no negotiations taking place right now, because Abbas refuses to recognize Israel as the Jewish nation state, refuses to give up on the right of return, and refuses to sign an agreement which will bring all claims to an end. This truth may be painful, but someone has to say it - and that's what Ya'alon did.
Like the late Ariel Sharon, Ya'alon also belongs to the group of officers who fought courageously and risked their lives for our continued existence here, and he does not need anyone to defend his statements regarding security issues. If he asserts that technological means will not stop terrorist cells from crossing the Jordan River or getting organized in Nablus, it's difficult to doubt him.
See also Ya'alon's Frustration - Ron Ben-Yishai
Moshe Ya'alon, the State of Israel's professional and determined defense minister, believes that if Israel accepts Kerry and General Allen's security plan, it will throw us into an unreasonable security situation in the Jordan Valley and the West Bank, which eventually will turn into a second Gaza.
Ya'alon, and many in Israel, really don't understand the motive behind Kerry's intensive campaign aimed at reaching a permanent Israeli-Palestinian agreement. Ya'alon and quite a few Israeli government ministers believe that the conditions for such an agreement have not matured. The turmoil in the Arab world, the growing tsunami of al-Qaeda activists on our border and the refugees filling Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, are all causing Abbas to be concerned and avoid reaching an agreement with Israel, which might even cost him his life.
Ya'alon has been marked by Kerry and his team as the main obstacle to the framework agreement they are asking both sides to agree to. They are presenting Ya'alon as the chief party pooper in briefings they are giving. The brawl broke out after bubbling for quite a long time in utmost discretion.
- PA State-Sponsored Hate Speech Must Stop, Human Rights Expert Says - Elhanan Miller
Former Canadian justice minister and attorney general Irwin Cotler told The Times of Israel that "pervasive" Palestinian hate speech is particularly severe because it is state-sanctioned, emanating from official media, television and religious discourse in mosques. "In Israel there's hate speech as well," he acknowledged, "but it doesn't emanate from the state, nor sanctioned by it. There are laws against incitement."
In his meetings with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Cotler said, "I told Abbas: 'You should do away with hate speech because it is not only a threat to Israeli-Palestinian peace but it's a threat to your own society. You want to bring up children not in a culture of hate but in a culture of respect for the other, for the inherent dignity of all people.'"
"If it's a non-democracy where there's no opportunity for democratic free speech, then the state has a particular responsibility to ensure that hate speech does not fester. What's happening in the Palestinian Authority is exactly the opposite; that hate speech is not only being permitted, it's being encouraged." (Times of Israel)
Can Iran Become a Cooperative Partner in Regional Security? - Michael Doran and Max Boot (New York Times)
- President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are quietly pursuing a strategic realignment that, they believe, will end decades of semi-open warfare between Iran and the U.S.
In our view, the Obama administration wants to see a "concert" of great powers - Russia, America, the European nations and Iran - working together to stabilize the Middle East.
- There are two main reasons for this attempted shift. One is simply the desire of the president to extricate the U.S. from the Middle East. The other is fear of al-Qaeda: The White House undoubtedly sees Iran and its Shiite allies as potential partners in the fight against Sunni jihadism.
- However, this strategy is destined to fail.
Iran does not share a common enemy that would force it to unite with America. Though Iran's proxies are fighting Sunni extremists in a number of theaters, Iran itself has cooperated with al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremists, such as Hamas and the Taliban, when it has served its interests to do so.
- Iran's rulers simply do not regard al-Qaeda as an existential threat on a par with the "Great Satan" (as they see the U.S.).
- The second major problem is that Iran has always harbored dreams of regional hegemony. There is no sign that the election of the "moderate" cleric Hassan Rouhani as president has changed anything.
On the contrary, Iran is stepping up its support for militants in the region.
Michael Doran is a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
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