Outspoken Israel Critic Likely to Replace Falk as Palestinian Rights Monitor (Times of Israel)
Pressure from Arab states has caused the UN Human Rights Council president to reject the candidacy of an American academic to replace outgoing Palestinian rights monitor Richard Falk, according to diplomats cited in a report on Wednesday by UN Watch.
The Arab League objected to Georgetown Law lecturer Christina Cerna, who was recommended by the agency's vetting committee, because she did not have a prior record of statements on Palestinian issues.
The position will instead go to Indonesia's former UN envoy Makarim Wibisono, who has a long history of one-sided remarks regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli Drones to Provide Security for World Cup in Brazil (Ha'aretz)
The Brazilian Air Force will help protect the June FIFA World Cup games with a Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft system supplied by Israel's Elbit Systems, the defense electronics company said Wednesday.
Brazil "is the eighth customer to be equipped with this leading platform," said Elad Aharonson of Elbit Systems.
4,000 African Migrants Leave Israel Voluntarily Since Start of Year - Gideon Allon (Israel Hayom)
Some 4,000 illegal migrants from African countries left Israel voluntarily in the first quarter of 2014, compared to 825 in the first quarter last year.
In all of 2013, a total of 2,612 African migrants returned to their home countries voluntarily.
Young and Zionist: Israeli Teens Want to Enlist in IDF - Yori Yalon (Israel Hayom)
76% of Israeli Jews ages 15-18 - including 92% of males and 60% of females - intend to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, a Midgam Research Institute poll found.
70% self-identified as Zionists, and 85% said they were unwilling to give up parts of Jerusalem.
World's First Self-Cleaning Solar Park Is in Israel - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
This week the Kibbutz Ketura solar park, jointly owned by Siemens AG and Israel's Arava Power, became the world's first self-cleaning solar energy production facility.
Each night, the 20-acre facility is cleaned by 100 Israeli-made robots, which brush and clean the hundreds of solar panels.
Besides sun, deserts have lots of dust, and that dust can reduce a solar panel's efficiency by as much as 35%.
The robots use microfibers and air to push the accumulated dirt off the panels without using scarce water.
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- Iran Heads for 5th Month of Oil Exports Above Sanctions Limit - Jonathan Saul and Alex Lawler
Iran's oil exports have stayed above levels allowed under Western sanctions for a fifth month, in a further sign that a deal to ease some restrictions is helping Tehran sell more crude.
Under the interim agreement with world powers, Iran's exports are supposed to be held at an average 1 million bpd for the six months to July 20. But shipments to Asia have topped that level at least since November.
Iranian crude exports, excluding to Japan, reached 1.28 million bpd in March and included sales to China, India, South Korea, Turkey and Syria. The emerging data has showed Iran was getting more relief than Washington had said it would. (Reuters)
- Egypt's Military Chief Sisi Quits to Run for Presidency
Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, 59, resigned Wednesday as Egypt's military chief in order to stand for the presidency. Sisi led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July after mass opposition protests.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Kerry Appeals to Abbas to Extend Peace Talks - Jack Khoury
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and PA President Mahmoud Abbas met Wednesday in Amman in a bid to continue the stalled peace negotiations with Israel. According to American diplomats in Jordan, Kerry has secured assurances from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel will release 26 Palestinian prisoners as previously scheduled if Abbas agrees to extend the time limit for the talks.
After Abbas addressed the Arab League summit in Kuwait on Tuesday, a senior Israeli official accused Abbas of parading "rejectionism as a virtue."
"By reiterating his adversarial maximalist position, Abbas is undermining President Obama's vision of peace and torpedoing Secretary Kerry's efforts to move the process forward." (Ha'aretz)
- Mahmoud Abbas Rejects Even Discussing the Rights of the Jewish People to a State - Pinhas Inbari
Since his return from Washington, where he met with President Barack Obama, Mahmoud Abbas has demonstrated on successive occasions that he is only willing to harden his position on peace with Israel. At the Arab League summit in Kuwait on March 25, Abbas said he opposed "even holding a discussion" on recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
To make matters worse, Abbas repeated the canard of Israeli conspiracies against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, making the baseless charge that Israel was seeking to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
See also Israel: Abbas Refusal to Discuss "Jewish State" Torpedoing Talks - Raphael Ahren
By refusing to even discuss recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, PA President Mahmoud Abbas is destroying any chances of reaching a peace agreement, a senior Israeli official said Wednesday.
"President Abbas' stubborn refusal to discuss mutual recognition between two nation-states stands in stark contrast with Prime Minister Netanyahu's willingness to recognize a Palestinian state and his agreement that all of the core issues can be raised in the talks," the official said.
(Times of Israel)
- Shots Fired at Border Police Post near Jerusalem
Shots were fired at a border police guard post in Atarot, north of Jerusalem, on Thursday.
There were no injuries, but the guard post was damaged. 13 bullets from an M-16 rifle were found. (Jerusalem Post)
- Egypt to Build Anti-Terror Fence around El-Arish in Sinai - Ariel Ben Solomon
Egypt began constructing a security barrier around the city of El-Arish in Sinai in order to prevent terrorism, Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Wednesday. Security sources said the fence would encircle the city, allowing access through 10 entrances. The gates will be equipped with surveillance cameras and electronic devices to detect explosives.
- How Vladimir Putin Sees the Middle East - Michael Doran
When Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stepped forward last September with an offer to strip Syria's Bashar al-Assad of his chemical weapons, President Obama saw the move as a breakthrough. Secretary of State John Kerry and Lavrov also conspired to launch Geneva II, a peace conference designed to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war.
In the dawning new era, Syria was seen by the White House as a prototype: a model for stabilizing the Middle East. If successful, it could be applied to other problems in the region, including the Iranian nuclear program.
Just six months later, the new model is collapsing. In fact, it never had a chance. In Putin's view, all accommodations with the U.S. are tactical maneuvers in a struggle for the upper hand.
The Kremlin sees itself as the great-power patron not just of the Assad regime but also of Iran and Hizbullah - the entire Resistance Alliance.
In the end, Putin will never sell out Tehran and Damascus in order to win compliments in Washington; if forced to choose, he will always side with the former against the latter, and will certainly leave them in no doubt that Russia is their most dependable friend in the UN Security Council.
It is this fact that makes Russia a revisionist power in the Middle East and the permanent adversary of the U.S.
The writer, a senior fellow of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the U.S. National Security Council.
- Hamas in Gaza Takes War Against Israel Underground Via Tunnels - Aaron J. Klein and Karl Vick
Israel has discovered yet another tunnel reaching almost half a mile into the country from Hamas' territory in Gaza. Lined with concrete and outfitted with electric lights and ventilators, the passage was tall enough to allow dozens of fighters to emerge inside Israel in a matter of minutes.
"The possibility of a multi-pronged attack is the nightmare of every commander along the Gaza fence," said a senior officer in the IDF Southern Command. In
2006, Gilad Shalit was seized by militants who emerged from a tunnel that came out behind the tank where Shalit and two others soldiers (both killed in the encounter) were stationed. (TIME)
Verification in Iran: No Substitute for Prevention - Ephraim Asculai and Emily B. Landau (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)
- U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman has said the key element in ensuring that the Iranian nuclear program is and remains completely peaceful is "verification." The U.S. insists it will be able to detect and deal in a timely manner with an Iranian breakout to nuclear weapons and that it will be in total control of any ominous development in the Iranian nuclear project.
- Placing so much weight on successful verification is a dangerous proposition.
The true key to a successful deal with Iran is not verification; it is, rather, clear indication that Iran has opted to abandon its military nuclear ambitions.
- Moreover, verification is not guaranteed to stop Iran in time. The history of intelligence in general, and of verification in particular, is replete with instances of failure.
- For decades, Iran has been working on a military nuclear program while cheating on its NPT commitment. Clarifying what is known as the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of Iran's nuclear program must be an integral part of any comprehensive deal.
- Iran did not declare concealed facilities until it was forced to admit their existence, and Iran has been consistent in not revealing any details of its military-related nuclear project, even after evidence to this effect was disclosed by the IAEA in a report in 2011. There can be no doubt that this kind of behavior will continue even if a permanent agreement is signed.
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