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July 7, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Acknowledges Taking a Bigger Role - Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times)
    The top leaders of Iran's Revolutionary Guard publicly acknowledged Sunday that they had taken over the nation's security during the post-election unrest.
    Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Guard, said its takeover of the nation's security had led to "a revival of the revolution."
    He said "the Revolutionary Guard was assigned the task of controlling the situation, [it] took the initiative to quell a spiraling unrest."
    Jafari's comments came the closest yet to publicly acknowledging what critics decry as a "coup d'etat" instigated by military elites loyal to Khamenei.

Hizbullah Slams UN's "Extreme Bias" in Resolution 1701 Report - Dalila Mahdawi (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Hizbullah on Thursday criticized UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over what it called "extreme bias" toward Israel in his latest report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701.
    In his tenth report on the implementation of the resolution, which ended the war in Lebanon of July-August 2006, Ban called for the disarmament of Hizbullah.

Palestinians Detain Rivals to Strengthen Grip - Mohammed Daraghmeh (AP)
    PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' security forces have significantly widened a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank in the past month, doubling the number of detainees.
    In the same period, police in Hamas-ruled Gaza have picked up dozens of Abbas loyalists from the Fatah movement, as the two sides try to negotiate an elusive power-sharing deal.
    A PA security official said Hamas members are often released after they hand over money, weapons and information. The arrests seek to "strip Hamas of its weapons and financial nets, to keep the movement powerless and unable to repeat its military coup in the West Bank."
    Salah Mousa from the West Bank-based Independent Commission for Human Rights said, "Hamas is trying to wipe out Fatah in Gaza and Fatah is trying to wipe out Hamas in the West Bank."

Thought Police - Gaza-Style - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    The Hamas police in Gaza arrested Bader Abed Ael on Sunday, accusing him of inciting against Hamas on Fatah Web forums.
    Hamas' Electronic Security Unit closely monitors websites.
    See also Hamas Detains Palestinian Woman Journalist for Not Wearing Headscarf - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas security forces detained Gaza journalist Asma al-Ghul of the Palestinian daily Al-Ayam over the weekend because she was not wearing a headscarf.
    Hamas security forces accused her of "laughing out loud" and walking on the beach without a male escort.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel: Iran Speeds Up Missile Production
    Iran is driving to produce 1,000 long-range ballistic missiles with a range of 1,550 miles, as well as 500 mobile launchers, over the next six years, according to Israeli military experts. "The Iranians are making great efforts to obtain a significant number of missiles," according to Tal Inbar, head of Israel's Space Research Center. "They already talk of how one of the ways they will overcome (Israel's) missile defense systems is by firing salvoes of missiles." At present, Tehran is believed to have 100-200 Shehab-3 missiles, which have an estimated range of 1,250 miles. (UPI)
  • U.S.: No "Green Light" to Israeli Military Action on Iran
    Asked about Vice President Biden's remarks that it is up to Israel to determine whether or not it's going to strike any targets in Iran, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said Monday: "I certainly would not want to give a green light to any kind of military action. But our policy is that Israel is a sovereign country and we're not going to dictate its actions." (State Department)
        See also Israel Fears U.S. Would Foil Iran Strike - Eli Lake
    Israel has not formally asked for U.S. aid or permission for possible military strikes on Iran's nuclear program, fearing the White House would not approve, two Israeli officials said. Prime Minister Netanyahu has determined that "it made no sense" to press the matter after the negative response President Bush gave his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, when he asked early last year for U.S. aid for possible military strikes on Iran. (Washington Times)
  • Ayatollah Khamenei Attacks "Meddling" Western Leaders - Martin Fletcher
    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei launched a fierce attack on "meddling" Western leaders Monday. In a televised speech he declared: "We warn the leaders of those countries trying to take advantage of the situation: beware. The Iranian nation will react....The leaders of arrogant countries, the nosey meddlers in the affairs of the Islamic Republic, must know that even if the Iranian people have their differences, when your enemies get involved, the people...will become a firm fist against you." Khamenei said that interventionist comments by outside countries would have a "negative impact" on future relations with Iran; a not-so-veiled threat at a time when the West is anxious to resume negotiations to halt Iran's nuclear program. (Times-UK)
        See also Iran's Mousavi Promises to Continue Protests - Thomas Erdbrink
    Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, appearing in public for the first time in nearly three weeks, vowed Monday that protests against the disputed reelection of President Ahmadinejad "will not end" and predicted that the new government would encounter problems because it lacks legitimacy. (Washington Post)
  • Palestinian Prime Minister: Jews Would Be Welcome in Future State - Brent Gardner-Smith
    At the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival on Saturday, former CIA director James Woolsey noted that there are a million Arabs in Israel, accounting for one-sixth of the Israeli population, and that "generally they enjoy the guarantees that Americans look for in the Bill of Rights." He then asked PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad: "If there is to be the rule of law in a Palestinian state, and if Jews want to live in someplace like Hebron, or anyplace else in a Palestinian state, for whatever reasons or historical attachments, why should they not be treated the same way Israeli Arabs are?"
        Fayyad responded: "The kind of state that we want to have, that we aspire to have, is one that would definitely espouse high values of tolerance, co-existence, mutual respect and deference to all cultures, religions. No discrimination whatsoever, on any basis whatsoever. Jews to the extent they choose to stay and live in the state of Palestine will enjoy those rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the State of Israel." (Aspen [Colo.] Daily News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel, U.S. Discuss Settlements - Barak Ravid
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell in London on Monday in an attempt to bridge differences over the issue of West Bank settlement construction. "I think there is progress. There's still a way to go," Barak said after the talks. He said all aspects of the Middle East peace process were discussed including the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese tracks. Mitchell will meet Prime Minister Netanyahu next week in Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also U.S., Israel Looking for a Way to Resolve Settlements Dispute - Joshua Mitnick
    A new round of Israel-U.S. talks in London failed to defuse the standoff over Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank, though analysts and aides say the two sides are looking for a face-saving compromise. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Drop in Terror Attacks Continues - Hanan Greenberg
    Only 38 terror-related incidents - 22 in the West Bank and 16 in Gaza - were recorded in June, the Israel Security Agency reported. In January (the month of the IDF's extensive operation against Hamas in Gaza), there were 580 terror-related attacks. In February and March the numbers dropped to around 120 a month. In April there were 69 incidents, and in May 51, with an average of 10-20 Kassam rocket attacks from Gaza during these months. However, a military official warned, "we must not succumb to complacency because the terror groups are still highly motivated to carry out attacks."  (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • An Iranian Atomic Bomb Is Imminent - Editorial
    The UN's chief nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, stated that he had concluded Iran was seeking nuclear weapons. Recent reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Institute for Science and International Security state that Iran will reach the nuclear threshold this year. Even the December 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate stated that the earliest Iran would have a nuclear capability would be in 2010, which is less than six months away.
        A nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to Israel, Saudi Arabia and other states in the region. The U.S. has chosen a course of action that will not prevent Iran from achieving nuclear capability. Therefore, other countries must take concerted action to stave off the threat. Israel has the best-equipped conventional forces to undertake the mission, though we assume that other regional actors will cooperate on covert operations that no doubt are already taking place. It's a shame the U.S. once again is relying on Israel to be the chief agent for nuclear counterproliferation in the Middle East. (Washington Times)
  • Israel Weighs PR Offensive - Jason Koutsoukis
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's communications chief, Ron Dermer, told The Age that it's time Israel switched its PR strategy from defense to offense. "It is not enough for Israel to say that it wants peace. You must also say that you are not a thief. We did not steal another people's land. That is the core of this conflict," he says. "Once the Palestinians accept that we, the Jews, are here by right, that we are not foreign colonialists and we're not invaders...then we're in real negotiations."
        Israel has to start shaming those countries and organizations that hold Israel to a different standard, Dermer says. "(People) who get together to call for a boycott against Israel, are they also calling for a boycott against North Korea, the world's largest concentration camp? Against Iran, where they hang homosexuals?"  (The Age-Australia)
  • Observations:

    The U.S. and Israel - Jeff Robbins (Wall Street Journal)

    • For over 80 years, as historian Benny Morris notes, Palestinians have "persuasively demonstrated" that they do not want any Jewish state in the region, regardless of the boundaries, and regardless of the settlement policy pursued by this Israeli government or that one.
    • Thus, in the 1930s, the Palestinians rejected a proposed two-state solution that would have created a Jewish state in less than 20% of Palestine. In the 1940s, the Palestinians rejected the UN partition plan which created a Jewish state on less than half of the arable land in Palestine. From 1948 to 1967, the Arabs created no Palestinian state.
    • Palestinians have been proclaiming somewhat indiscreetly that, actually, the trouble with Israel has nothing to do with settlements and everything to do with its existence, which, three generations after Israel's founding, remains unacceptable.
    • The U.S. Administration's purposeful distancing of itself from Israel is likely to empower those who believe that American support for Israel can be degraded, which will inadvertently deal whatever prospects exist for Middle East peace a serious blow.

      The writer served as a U.S. Delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva during the Clinton Administration.

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