Israel's Rafael Lifts Lid on Laser Defense - David Donald (AIN Online)
At the 2014 Singapore Air Show, Israeli defense specialist Rafael unveiled a new system to tackle short-range mortar and rocket threats, and close-in air threats such as UAVs. The new Iron Beam system uses a high-energy laser (HEL).
The Iron Beam was devised to defeat short-range threats that require rapid reaction. The detection-to-destruction cycle takes only a few seconds.
Dozens of Palestinians Held in PA Jails for Joining Syrian Rebels - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
40 Palestinians are being held in PA prisons on suspicion of fighting alongside Syrian rebels, senior Palestinian sources said Thursday. The fighters were arrested upon their return to the West Bank.
The prisoners revealed that they had joined a variety of radical Islamic organizations including Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, both affiliated with al-Qaeda.
PA Calls for Israel's Expulsion from International Soccer Association - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, announced Wednesday:
"We will demand the expulsion of Israel from FIFA (the international soccer association) and the International Olympic Committee."
Israel: BDS a "Fringe Group" (AFP)
An Israeli foreign ministry official told AFP on Monday there was a crucial difference between the BDS movement and "European states and institutions that have problems with Israel's actions" in the West Bank.
BDS was a "fringe group" that effectively "seeks to bring an end to Israel," the official said.
Moves by European firms to disengage from Israeli companies with West Bank activities "could not be considered a boycott of Israel" since they continue to invest in the Jewish state, "only choosing in which firms."
LAPD Top Brass in Israel to "Steal" Homeland Security Ideas - Simone Wilson (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
Eight of the Los Angeles Police Department's top brass were in Israel in February on a visit organized by i-HLS, the Israeli homeland-security news site.
Horace Frank, commander of the LAPD Information Technology (IT) Bureau, said:
"Now let's be honest.... We're here to steal some of your great ideas. And a lot of great ideas and technology, indeed, you do have here in Israel."
"As civilized nations, we are all confronted with, in many cases, the same enemy: The ever-growing threat of terrorism and other major criminal elements."
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- Syrian Rebels Seek Peace without Assad's Ouster - Anne Barnard and Nick Cumming-Bruce
The Syrian opposition coalition on Wednesday presented its most detailed vision yet of a political transition to end Syria's conflict, in a 24-point plan that, strikingly, made no mention of President Bashar al-Assad or his ouster, while outlining strong requirements for human rights and justice in a future Syria.
The proposal, presented to the Syrian government's delegation during peace talks in Geneva, marked a shift in tone for the opposition. Opposition members said they wanted to avoid a state collapse as occurred in Iraq in 2003, and allow for warm relations with Russia, the Assad government's strongest backer.
(New York Times)
- Iran's Economy Begins to Improve as Tensions Ease - Bill Spindle
Iran's economy has begun to improve as a new president and a nuclear accord with the West stabilize its currency and raise confidence. The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday projected Iran's economy to grow by up to 2% for fiscal year 2014-2015. That contrasts with a 2% contraction estimated for the current fiscal year.
(Wall Street Journal)
- U.S. Intel Officials Differ with Obama in View of al-Qaeda - John T. Bennett
Senior U.S. intelligence officials on Tuesday offered a more alarming assessment of al-Qaeda than President Obama's declaration that the organization is on the run and headed toward defeat. During testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Director of National Security James Clapper described al-Qaeda as "morphing," with new groups popping up in North Africa.
When asked if al-Qaeda is on a path to defeat and on the run, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn replied, "they are not." (Defense News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu Accuses EU Parliament Chief of "Selective Hearing" over Palestinian Water Claims - Jonathan Lis and Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused European Parliament President Martin Schulz of "selective hearing" on Wednesday for repeating during a visit to the Knesset an unverified claim that Israelis use four times as much water as Palestinians. "The president of the European Parliament visited Ramallah and heard from some Palestinians about water usage....According to the statistics we received from the Palestinian Authority, including in official releases from the Palestinian Water Authority and our data, this number is not true, but is significantly smaller," Netanyahu said.
"The parliament president said frankly, 'I haven't checked.' But that didn't stop him from making repeated [accusations] right away. They hear, they don't check, they hurl [accusations]." Netanyahu said baseless accusations tend to make Israelis ignore all criticism.
See also Israel Refutes Palestinian Water Claims - Lahav Harkov and Sharon Udasin
Schulz stated that the Palestinians received 17 liters of water per person compared with 70 liters per Israeli, implying that Israelis were receiving about 4.1 times more water than Palestinians. However, data from the Israel Water Authority showed Israelis having only about 1.2 times as much fresh water available to them. The Water Authority also maintained that Palestinian water availability was lower due to massive water losses stemming from leaking pipes and water theft, estimating that water losses in the West Bank amounted to 33%.
See also Israel: PA Water Supply Has Increased by 50 Percent Since Oslo - Ariel Kahana and Dalia Mazori
According to the Oslo agreement of 1995, Israel pledged to provide the Palestinians with 28.6 million cubic meters of water a year. In fact, Israel has been providing 60 million cubic meters, a 50% increase.
Moreover, the Israel Water Authority reports that the Palestinians have dug more than 250 pirate wells in the West Bank and over 3,000 in Gaza, causing serious harm to the underground water table.
- Israel Won't Lift Gaza Blockade to Normalize Ties with Turkey - Herb Keinon
Lifting the blockade on Gaza to improve relations with Turkey is not on the agenda, diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said Wednesday, responding to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's condition for ending the Mavi Marmara saga. Erdogan's demand left a feeling in Jerusalem that he was not interested in bringing this issue to closure, knowing full well that Jerusalem would not let a third party dictate to it what was necessary for its security.
In another issue related to Gaza, UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry noted Wednesday:
"During the past two months, we have seen more rockets being fired at Israel, border incidents and Israeli retaliatory operations causing death or injury to civilians. The United Nations condemns the rise in violence."
In response, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said: "There is no symmetry whatsoever between unprovoked Palestinian missile attacks on Israeli civilian centers and legitimate retaliatory measures that Israel - just like any other sovereign country in the world - is forced to adopt." (Jerusalem Post)
- What Is the Real BDS Endgame? The Elimination of Israel - Ehud Rosen
BDS activists are often quite clear about their intentions:
Omar Barghouti: "We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it."
As'ad Abu Khalil: "Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel."
Ahmed Moor: "OK, fine. So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state....BDS is not another step on the way to the final showdown; BDS is The Final Showdown." (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Ten Reasons Why the BDS Movement Is Immoral and Hinders Peace - Alan M. Dershowitz
The BDS movement refuses to acknowledge that on at least three occasions Israel offered to end the occupation and the Palestinian leadership, supported by its people, refused to accept these offers. The BDS movement emboldens the Palestinians to reject compromise solutions to the conflict. At bottom, the leadership of the BDS movement is opposed to Israel's very existence.
The way forward is not by extortionate threats that do more harm than good, but rather by negotiations, compromise and good will.
- Abbas Shuts Down the Peace Process - Tom Wilson
On Wednesday, Abbas' spokespeople in Ramallah announced a set of red lines in any negotiated peace settlement that block just about every concession that the Israelis, and even the U.S., have requested. Abbas demands: a total Israeli withdrawal from all territories that went to Israel in 1967; that the Palestinians not be required to recognize the Jewish state; that east Jerusalem be specified as the capital of a Palestinian state; the release of all Palestinian prisoners; and resolving the refugee issue along the lines of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which in essence means sending those Palestinians claiming to be refugees not to a Palestinian state but to Israel. (Commentary)
See also Abbas' New Red Lines - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
Palestinians Must Recognize the Jewish State - Ari Shavit (Ha'aretz)
- The demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is the most natural and justified demand imaginable.
- The Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not start in 1967 and does not revolve around the occupation and the settlements. In order to end this 100-year war, we must recognize their nationalism and their state, and they must recognize our nationalism and our state.
- Israelis recognize that there is another people in this land. There is no reason that Palestinians cannot open their eyes and see that there is another people in the land.
- Those who believe the Israelis and Palestinians are equal have a moral obligation to demand from the Palestinians exactly what they demand from the Israelis.
- The Palestinians must concede that the Jews are not colonialists but legal neighbors. There will not be peace if Palestinian children grow up not knowing that the country across the border is a legitimate Jewish state of a true Jewish people, whom they are decreed to live with.
- It is those who give up on the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state who are actually giving up on peace.
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