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April 7, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Admits Responsibility for Attack on Israel in March (Jerusalem Post)
    Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah told As-Safir on Monday that his group planted the explosive device on Mt. Dov last month that hit an IDF convoy.
    An armored vehicle was hit by the explosion, but there were no injuries.

U.S. Treasury Approves Sale of Aircraft Parts to Tehran (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    A spokesman for Boeing said Friday that it had received approval to sell aircraft parts to Iran, as part of the partial easing of U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic agreed to in the interim nuclear deal last November.
    The last plane Boeing sold to Iran, a 747-100, was delivered three months before the 1979 hostage crisis that resulted in the first round of U.S. sanctions, and it has not done any acknowledged business with the country since.
    Most commercial aircraft have a service life equal to about 25 years with proper maintenance.

Israeli Iron Beam Laser Air Defense System "Brings Down Mortars Like Flies" - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    A new air defense system being developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which uses lasers to shoot down low-altitude threats, is able to bring down "mortars like flies," Rafael's CEO said Wednesday.
    Vice Admiral (ret.) Yedidia Yaari, former chief of the Israel Navy, said the Iron Beam system will be "very effective" once it becomes operational.
    The system is designed to deal with threats that fly on too small a trajectory to be engaged efficiently by Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries.

Israel Navy Expands Long-Range Operations - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    Last month's capture of an Iranian arms cache in international waters south of the Red Sea's Port Sudan "is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we do.…We are doing thousands of hours in the Mediterranean and Red Seas," said Rear Adm. Yaron Levi, Israel Navy chief of staff and the Navy's second in command.
    "It's one of the few examples we can talk about that reflects our ability to deploy forces effectively over very long ranges on missions that are measured by bottom-line results...that clearly and directly strengthen the security of our state."

IDF Thwart Palestinians Planting Bomb at Gaza Border (Jerusalem Post)
    IDF soldiers on Monday thwarted an attempt by two Palestinians to plant a bomb near the Gaza border fence.
    Soldiers noticed two suspicious men near the border fence and forced them to leave the area. A short time later, there was an explosion.

23 Die in Egyptian Clan Feud - Haggag Salama (AP-Christian Science Monitor)
    A bloody feud in Egypt's Aswan province between the Arab Beni Hilal clan and a Nubian family has killed at least 23 people in two days of fighting, government officials and witnesses said Saturday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu Blames Palestinians for Collapsing Peace Talks - William Booth
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday that just as the parties were nearing an agreement last week to extend the U.S.-brokered negotiations through the end of 2014, Palestinian leaders announced their decision to sign on to 15 treaties and conventions under the auspices of the UN. "The Palestinians' threats to appeal to the UN will not affect us. The Palestinians have much to lose by this unilateral move," Netanyahu said. "These will only push a peace agreement farther away, and unilateral steps on their part will be met with unilateral steps on our part."  (Washington Post)
        See also Netanyahu: Palestinians Will Achieve a State Only by Direct Negotiations
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "To my regret, as we reached the moment before agreeing on the continuation of the talks, the Palestinian leadership hastened to unilaterally request to accede to 15 international treaties. Thus the Palestinians substantially violated the understandings that were reached with American involvement."
        "They will achieve a state only by direct negotiations, not by empty statements and not by unilateral moves....We are ready to continue the talks but not at any price."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Israel Wants Peace Talks But "Not at Any Price" - Michael Schwartz and Marie-Louise Gumuchian (CNN)
  • Third Palestinian Uprising Seen Unlikely - Joshua Mitnick
    Though many worry that a third Palestinian uprising is going to erupt in the wake of peace talks ending - as occurred after the breakdown of the Camp David talks in 2000 - Palestinians and Israelis on the ground believe this is unlikely. Part of the reason is that Palestinians still remember the last uprising, and are loathe to return to the chaos and hardship it brought. At the same time, the current round of negotiations never truly inflated expectations among Palestinians.
        A recent report by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah suggested that Palestinians are opposed to an armed uprising against Israel by 53% to 43% in the case of the failure of talks. Khalil Shikaki, who runs the polling center, said in January that sentiment opposing a return to violence has held steady since 2005.
        In addition, the Palestinian security services are also believed to oppose such a move. Over the last decade these forces have been overhauled into a more professional and disciplined outfit that cooperates closely with Israel to root out militants in the West Bank. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Iran: Europeans Shouldn't Advise Us on Human Rights; Pro-Israel Lobbies Seek to Sabotage Nuclear Talks
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has strongly criticized a recent European Parliament resolution expressing concern over human rights violations in Iran. The EP lacks the legitimacy to advise others on observing human rights, he emphasized.
        Iran has credible information that pro-Israeli lobbies are making great efforts and raising false issues to sabotage "Iran's positive and constructive negotiations with the P5+1 group" on the country's nuclear energy program, he added. (Press-TV-Iran)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Livni: Netanyahu and Abbas Should Talk Directly
    Israel's chief peace negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, said Saturday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas should talk directly. She told Israel's Channel 2 TV: "Part of what happened in the past few months was more negotiations between us and the United States and less with the Palestinians."  "We need to move to more meetings, more direct negotiations, more than we have had so far, and I think the Americans know this," Livni said. "American involvement - yes, but as facilitators of bilateral negotiations."
        Livni defended Israel's decision to postpone the fourth prisoner release. "I made it clear to the Americans and the Palestinians that I will not release the Israeli (Arab) prisoners unless it's in a different context. This is something they knew since day one," she said. "I need to honestly look into the victims families' eyes and tell them - 'yes, we're making that decision for something real.'"
        "We had no intention to free (the prisoners) and find ourselves a month later with (the Palestinians) walking out and turning to the UN." Abbas' decision to sign 15 international conventions, mainly through the UN, "was a blunt violation and a big mistake that is going to make it very hard on us to return to normal," Livni said. (Ynet News)
  • No Progress in Peace Talks Crisis - Attila Somfalvi
    A meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and U.S. envoy Martin Indyk to try to save the peace talks did not lead to any progress Sunday, Palestinian sources said. "Last week's package deal (offered to the Palestinians) is now off the table and Israel is preparing to return to routine dealings with the Palestinians as they were before the negotiations started nine months ago," an Israeli official said. "Coordination on the ground with the different security forces continues, but the peace process is no longer relevant," he added. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Minister Blames Palestinians for "Intentionally" Derailing Peace Talks - Barak Ravid
    Finance Minister Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party, commented on the peace talks Friday: "Resuming negotiations with the Palestinians was one of Yesh Atid's conditions for joining the cabinet, but to hold negotiations, the other side must be interested as well. Abbas' conduct in the last day raises serious doubts as to his willingness to reach an agreement." "Abbas should know that at this point in time, his demands are acting against him."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Palestinians Want a State, But Without an End to the Conflict - Ehud Yaari
    Veteran Middle East commentator Ehud Yaari discussed the peace talks Friday on Channel 2: "We need to tell the truth and look at the reality. Within the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian public there is no serious wish for a small Palestinian state in return for them making historic concessions and compromises on refugees, Jerusalem, and the like. They want a state, but without an end to the conflict."
        "They want more - and they believe the UN channel will enable them to achieve a type of state under occupation, not a real state, in order to continue the conflict."  (Israel Channel 2 TV-Hebrew)
  • Palestinian Defiance of Washington - Pinhas Inbari
    The Palestinians have adopted a policy of defiance of Washington. Upon Abbas' return from Washington, where he met with President Obama and rejected U.S. peace proposals, he was given a "hero's welcome" for standing up to the U.S. Senior Fatah figure Abbas Zaki said the PA's applications to UN bodies were made despite U.S. opposition, and accused U.S. mediator Martin Indyk of being a "Zionist."
        The Palestinians are taking their case to the UN in a bid to free themselves from U.S. "hegemony" over the negotiating process and return to "internationalizing" the conflict. Moreover, the Arab world has been signaling to the Palestinians that the talks are dispensable. At the recent Arab summit in Kuwait, the Arabs omitted support for Kerry's peace efforts from their statements. The writer, a veteran Arab affairs correspondent, is an analyst for the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • A Peace Process in which Process Has Come to Outweigh Peace - Jodi Rudoren
    The crisis that engulfed the ailing Middle East peace process last week was much more about preserving the process than finding a path to peace. The peace process has been churning for more than 20 years now, taking on a life of its own and becoming something of an end in itself.
        Two-thirds of Israeli Jews support negotiations, according to a February survey; though only a quarter believe they will lead to peace. 55% of Palestinians polled in March opposed extending negotiations, though 65% supported it if it would free more prisoners. (New York Times)

International Condemnation of "Occupation" Is Selective - Eugene Kontorovich (Los Angeles Times)

  • A comprehensive study of post-WWII conquest finds that UN condemnation happens in well under half the cases.
  • In 1974, Turkey invaded northern Cyprus, and continues to occupy the northern third of the island under an unrecognized puppet regime. Cyprus is a member of NATO and the EU. This has not prevented the development of close relations, and even solicitude, from the EU toward its own occupier.
  • Morocco snatched the massive and resource-rich Western Sahara in 1975 without firing a shot. The Moroccan invasion was met with a UN Security Council condemnation, which Rabat shrugged off. Although no nation has recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the occupied area, Morocco remains a close ally of the U.S. and the EU.
  • U.S. policy now supports Moroccan proposals to retain the occupied territory under Moroccan sovereignty with local autonomy. Moreover, European companies happily help Morocco exploit Western Sahara's resources, and recent treaties with Europe even acknowledge and engage with Moroccan control.
  • In 1975 North Vietnam wiped South Vietnam off the map and Indonesia seizing East Timor. All nations now recognize Hanoi's sovereignty over all Vietnam. And despite a hostile Security Council resolution, the West quietly supported Indonesia's Timor position for decades.
  • Armenia successfully conquered parts of Azerbaijan in the 1990s, a move condemned by the EU but that seems unlikely to be reversed. And Russia snagged parts of Georgia just five years ago.
  • Israel's 1967 Six-Day War successes are the exception that proves the rule: It is unimaginable that 45 years from now, the EU will be demanding that Russian exports be clearly marked to indicate they did not come from "occupied Ukrainian territory."

    The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, specializing in international and constitutional law.

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