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September 24, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran's Only AWACS Plane Crashes - Thomas Newdick (Defense News)
    Iran's sole Simorgh airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft was lost during a military parade on Tuesday when it collided with an F-5E fighter plane over Tehran. Both aircraft crashed in flames.

Egyptian Minister Blames Jews for UNESCO Loss - Hadeel al-Shalchi (AP)
    Egypt's culture minister Farouk Hosny on Wednesday blamed a conspiracy "cooked up in New York" by the world's Jews for keeping him from becoming the next head of the UN's agency for culture and education.
    "It was clear by the end of the competition that there was a conspiracy against me," Hosny said. "There are a group of the world's Jews who had a major influence in the elections who were a serious threat to Egypt taking this position."
    Last year Hosny threatened to personally burn any Israeli book he found in Egypt's famed Library of Alexandria.
    Hosny's Loss at UNESCO Quietly Pleases Israel - Haviv Rettig Gur (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Egypt's Press Fumes over UNESCO Vote - Haviv Rettig Gur (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas Teaches Kids to Kill Jews - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Hamas TV broadcast a children's program Tuesday in which the bear puppet Nassur explains that all Jews must be "erased from our land," and the young host Saraa then specifies, "They'll be slaughtered."
    Nassur the bear concludes: "If they [the Jews] don't want [to go] peacefully, by words or talking, we'll have to [do it] by slaughter."

Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Ilana Curiel (Ynet News)
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that struck Israel on Thursday morning.
    On Monday, Palestinians in Gaza opened fire at Defense Ministry workers engaged in infrastructure work near the border fence at Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

Report: 30 Shiite Militia Leaders Killed in Syria - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    Over the past few weeks unknown assailants in Damascus have murdered some 30 people belonging to the radical Shiite militia Jaish Al-Mahdi, the Saudi daily Al Watan reported Sunday.
    Jaish Al-Mahdi operates in Iraq under the leadership of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Ritual Bath Used by Temple Pilgrims Found in Jerusalem (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    An impressive ritual bath from the Second Temple period was recently uncovered in archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the Western Wall tunnels.
    The edifice, one of the most magnificent structures from the Second Temple period ever to be uncovered, is built of very delicately dressed stones and the architectural decoration is of the highest quality.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Ahmadinejad's Attack on Israel at UN Hastens Walkout - Ewen MacAskill
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad faced a series of walkouts at the UN General Assembly Wednesday after launching a renewed attack on Israel. Within minutes of his criticism of Israel, delegations from various countries began to rise from their seats and noisily left the chamber. Many other countries had left before he even began, partly in protest over his brutal crackdown on the Iranian opposition after June's election and partly over comments last week again questioning whether the Holocaust had taken place. (Guardian-UK)
        Delegations from Argentina, Australia, Britain, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand and the U.S. left the room as Ahmadinejad began to rail against Israel, a European source said. Israel was not present when the Iranian leader began his address and Canada had said it would heed the boycott call. (AFP)
  • Netanyahu Welcomes Obama UN Call for Talks
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday he welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's call to resume negotiations with the Palestinians "without preconditions." "The president said let's come and resume the peace process without preconditions. As you know, I have been saying that for nearly six months," Netanyahu said. Netanyahu said he also welcomed what he called Obama's "unequivocal support for Israel as the nation of the Jewish people" in his UN speech. (Reuters)
        See also Netanyahu: Obama Sent Message to Arabs that Israel Is a Jewish State - Natasha Mozgovaya (Ha'aretz)
        See also below Observations - Obama to UN: Time to Re-Launch Peace Negotiations Without Preconditions (White House)
  • Libya's Qaddafi Tells UN to Abolish Security Council - Peter S. Green
    Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi told the UN Wednesday to abolish the Security Council, saying the five permanent members had created a "terror council" to punish small nations. During his speech, Qaddafi tried to rip in two a copy of the UN Charter. He said UN headquarters should be moved out of New York to China or India, and called for "Isratine," a single Arab state made up of all Israelis and Palestinians, including refugees. (Bloomberg/CNN)
  • Sarkozy Wants December Deadline on Iran Nuclear Talks - Ben Hall
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday said Iran should be given until December to engage in fruitful talks with leading world powers over its nuclear program or face fresh sanctions. Sarkozy held out little hope that the talks would lead to a serious discussion of Iran's nuclear program. "Iran has the right to nuclear energy, but imagine a nuclear weapon in the hands of the current leaders. It is unacceptable."  (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Technical Glitch Prevented Terror Attack in Sinai
    The National Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Division revealed Wednesday that in July, terrorists caught up with a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Sinai and attempted to fire an explosive at the vehicle near Nuweiba. A technical malfunction with the bomb prevented the explosion. The Counter-Terrorism Division reiterated its warning against traveling to Sinai, citing "concrete" threats of kidnappings or attacks on Israeli targets, as well as a major terror attack believed to be planned by Hizbullah. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Disappointed with New York Summit - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA officials in Ramallah have not hidden their disappointment with the summit in New York between President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA Chairman Abbas. Some even accused Obama of "humiliating" Abbas by forcing him to meet with Netanyahu against his will. The officials said Abbas had "reaffirmed" to U.S. emissary George Mitchell that he remained "strongly opposed" to the idea of meeting with Netanyahu or resuming peace talks with Israel unless all construction in the settlements was halted. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Breaking Stalemates on Iran and Syria at the IAEA - Gregory Schulte
    Earlier this month, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported little or no progress on either the six-year probe of Iran's nuclear activities or the more recent probe of Syria's clandestine cooperation with North Korea. For more than a year, Iran has refused to engage in substantive discussions about "possible military dimensions" to its activities. Tehran refuses to inform the IAEA of the construction of new nuclear facilities and refuses to allow monitoring of workshops where centrifuges for uranium enrichment are assembled.
        Damascus continues to deny the building of a covert nuclear reactor with North Korean assistance. Although Syria's reactor has been reduced to rubble, the IAEA still needs to ensure the absence of undeclared activities elsewhere in the country.
        If the IAEA settles for stalemate, these countries - and others - may conclude that they can violate their safeguards obligations and, if caught, merely refuse cooperation in order to avoid international scrutiny and sanction. If the IAEA cannot successfully investigate the most obvious of safeguards violations, its credibility will collapse. When confronted with emerging proliferation threats, countries at risk may see no real option other than to respond unilaterally. Amb. Schulte was the U.S. permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency from 2005 to 2009. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Mideast Peace Process Must Be Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary - Ari Shavit
    The lesson of Oslo, Camp David and Annapolis is clear-cut: Even the most moderate Palestinian leadership is not prepared to accept Israel's most far-reaching peace proposal. In 16 years of a painstaking and exhausting peace process, the Palestinians never agreed to a single concession on a core issue. Their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, to agree to demilitarize a Palestinian state, or to give up their demand for the return of refugees to Israel has blocked peace in the past, is blocking peace in the present, and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future. As of now, there is no genuine Palestinian partner for the partition of the country.
        The lesson the incumbent president should learn from these resounding flops is there's no room for revolutions in the Middle East. This region must be given evolutionary, and not revolutionary, treatment - a long and thorough chipping away that will gradually change Palestinian society. (Ha'aretz)
  • Biased UN "Finding" on Gaza Could Also Apply to Afghanistan - Editorial
    A new report from a UN "fact-finding mission" about January's war in Gaza marks a new low, employing logic and arguments that will be felt wherever the West confronts terrorism. The argument of the Goldstone report seems to be that Hamas can surround its combatants with civilians, and for Israel to strike back is a war crime. By this logic, FDR and Churchill could have been charged because the bombing of German industries and cities killed civilians in World War II. The UN also holds Israel accountable as Gaza's "occupying power," never mind that former Prime Minister Sharon uprooted all of Gaza's Jewish settlements in 2005.
        The report treats Israel as the aggressor in the conflict, though the Israeli government sat still for more than three years as Hamas transformed Gaza into a terrorist enclave while firing rockets at Israeli towns and cities. At exactly what point, if any, does Mr. Goldstone believe Israel is entitled to self-defense? If it is taken seriously, the Goldstone logic could (and eventually will) be applied to NATO tactics in Afghanistan, where civilians are also sometimes killed in the course of anti-Taliban operations. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Obama: Time to Re-Launch Peace Negotiations Without Preconditions (White House)

    President Barack Obama told the UN on Wednesday:

    • "I will...continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world....We have made some progress. Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians. As a result of these efforts on both sides, the economy in the West Bank has begun to grow. But more progress is needed. We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."
    • "The time has come to re-launch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees, and Jerusalem. And the goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security - a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people."
    • "As we pursue this goal, we will also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and a broader peace between Israel and its many neighbors. In pursuit of that goal, we will develop regional initiatives with multilateral participation, alongside bilateral negotiations."
    • "All of us must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we will only lend it lip service....The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel's legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security."
    • "We must remember that the greatest price of this paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the middle of the night. It's paid for by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own....This is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security. That is a lesson embedded in the three great faiths that call one small slice of Earth the Holy Land. And that is why, even though there will be setbacks and false starts and tough days, I will not waver in my pursuit of peace."

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