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October 12, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel to UK: Support for Goldstone Report Could Mean London Will "Find Itself in Handcuffs" - Ben Lynfield (Independent-UK)
    After the UK Ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, voiced support for aspects of a UN report that could lead to prosecution of Israeli army officers for alleged war crimes, Israeli officials warned that any British support for the report would boomerang.
    If a precedent is set of Israelis being prosecuted for acts during the Gaza war, Britons could also be placed in the dock for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, they said.
    "London, which is also in the midst of a war against terror, could find itself in handcuffs if it supports the document," they said.

Iran Plans to Execute Three Election Protesters - Michael Slackman (New York Times)
    Iranian officials have sentenced to death by hanging three protesters who participated in demonstrations following the nation's disputed presidential election in June, according to ISNA, Iran's semiofficial news agency.
    Two of the protesters were members of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, a group that wants to restore the monarchy, while the third was a member of People's Mujahedeen of Iran, an exile group.

Nuclear Engineer at Swiss Lab Arrested for Al-Qaeda Links - Adam Sage (Times-UK)
    Fears that al-Qaeda is planning an attack on the nuclear industry in Europe were renewed after French secret agents arrested a physicist working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland.
    The physicist, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, is suspected of providing a list of terrorist targets to members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an Algerian-based terror organization that joined bin Laden's network in 2007.
    "He had expressed a wish or a desire to commit terrorist actions," an intelligence source said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Visiting Kazakhstan (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman left Sunday on an official visit to the moderate Muslim state of Kazakhstan, as well as Austria.
    In January 2010, Kazakhstan will hold the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
    From January 2011, Kazakhstan will hold the chairmanship of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which includes most of the Muslim countries in the world.
    See also Kazakhstan: Israel's Partner in Eurasia - Ariel Cohen (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Israel and post-communist, resource-rich states have similar geopolitical priorities in opposing terrorism and radical Islam.
    By developing closer ties with Kazakhstan - and with Eurasian countries in general - Israel can expand its ties to the secular Muslim Turkic states and its role in the new "great game" of Eurasia: economic development fueled by exports of the region's massive natural resources.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Clinton: World Will Not Wait Indefinitely for Iran
    Secretary of State Clinton met with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Sunday in London and said: "We are speaking with a single voice, and delivering a clear message to Iran: The international community will not wait indefinitely for evidence that Iran is prepared to live up to its international obligations."  (State Department)
        See also Iran Dismisses U.S. Warning Ahead of Nuclear Talks
    Iran dismissed Monday a U.S. warning that major powers would not wait forever for Tehran to prove it was not developing nuclear bombs, saying any threats deadlines would have no impact. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi also reiterated Iran's refusal to discuss its "nuclear rights" with the six world powers. Such comments are likely to fuel Western suspicions that Iran is seeking to win time by engaging for the sake of engaging while further mastering enrichment technologies. (Reuters-Washington Post)
  • Iran: Geneva Talks a "Great Victory"
    In his Oct. 9 Friday sermon in Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami spoke of the Geneva talks between Iran and the 5+1 Western nations: "The meeting was a great victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran to such an extent that even the Western and Zionist media had to admit defeat....Prior to the talks, they (Westerners) used to speak of suspension and sanctions against Iran, but after the talks, there has not been any word of suspension or sanctions, rather, Iran's package of proposals was the axis."  (MEMRI)
        See also Iran: If Vienna Talks Fail, We Will Enrich Uranium to 20%
    Iranian Nuclear Energy Organization spokesman Ali Shirzadian said Saturday that, should the Oct. 19 nuclear talks with the 5+1 in Vienna fail, Iran will inform the IAEA of its intention to produce uranium enriched to a level of 20% for use in its research facility in Tehran. (MEMRI)
  • U.S. Pulls Out of Joint Air Force Exercise After Turkey Disinvites Israel - Amy Teibel
    The U.S. pulled out of an annual multinational air force drill in Turkey after that country decided to exclude Israeli participation. The exercise was to have been the sixth annual maneuver of its kind and was to have included U.S., Italian and NATO forces. Israeli political scientist Amikam Nachmani called the Turkish decision "a warning bell" since Turkey had never before disturbed its military ties with Israel. Israel and Turkey have wide-ranging military, economic and strategic ties, but since Erdogan's government came to power in 2003, Turkey's ties with Israel have cooled. (AP)
        See also Turkey Sliding in the Wrong Direction - Efraim Inbar
    Turkey under the AKP is increasingly succumbing to Islamic impulses, relegating its political and cultural links to the West to a secondary priority. Worrying trends by the current leadership, such as invitations to radical leaders and defense of Hamas, show a possible "loss" of Turkey to Islamism. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies/Bar-Ilan University)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Incitement Over Jerusalem Fails to Ignite West Bank - Avi Issacharoff
    The extraordinary incitement by the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Hamas, various Muslim leaders throughout the Arab world and Al Jazeera failed to rally the Palestinian masses on Friday to "defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque" against the Jews. Clashes with Israeli security forces began, as expected, in the areas around Jerusalem. But sound management of the security forces' response and complete apathy on the part of the Palestinian public brought an end to the demonstrations. Despite calls to engulf the area in flames, there were hardly any injuries and no ripple effect throughout the West Bank. The residents of the West Bank are tired of violent confrontations, no less when their living conditions are improving. In addition, there has been a lack of leadership and no one out there is capable of organizing demonstrations at more than one place at the same time. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Netanyahu to Arabs: Don't Be Deceived by Temple Mount Digging "Lies"
    Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday called on Arabs not to be deceived by "lies" about Israel digging under the Temple Mount. "Extreme elements spread lies, saying we were planning to dig under the Temple Mount. I want to clarify that this is a lie - it is imaginary," he told the cabinet. "I appreciate the fact that an overwhelming majority of Israel's Arab citizens were not dragged along by these provocations and didn't let the extremists use the lies for evil," he continued. "I want to turn this morning to Israel's Arab citizens, the non-Jews, who want to live normal lives here and say to you that you are part of the state of Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu, Mitchell Meet in Jerusalem - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Sunday in Jerusalem with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell to discuss the restart of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. They also met on Friday. Netanyahu's envoy Yitzhak Molcho, as well as Defense Minister Ehud Barak's chief of staff Michael Herzog, will travel to Washington later this week to continue the discussions. The U.S. has so far failed to get the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia, to commit to normalization gestures to Israel as part of a package that would lead to a relaunch of negotiations. Netanyahu has said that any moratorium on settlement construction needed to be met by gestures from the Arab world. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S. Must Loudly Veto Anti-Israel Report at UN - Editorial
    The Goldstone report - accusing Israel of war crimes for daring to defend itself from terrorists hell-bent on its destruction - will be debated in the UN Security Council this week. Those who trumpet its "findings" assert, in effect, that Israel has no right to self-protection. Which is tantamount to declaring that Israel has no right to exist. This shameful charade springs from the UN Human Rights Council, where the document's accusations about the battle Israel waged to halt the rain of rockets from Gaza was cheered by some of the world's worst human rights abusers.
        On Oct. 1, the Palestinian Authority, under pressure from the U.S. and others, had a brief interlude of decency. Its representatives chose to defer further discussion on the Goldstone report in the Human Rights Council. But that decision sparked ridicule by Hamas and anger in the Arab streets toward PA chief Mahmoud Abbas - including posters reading "to the trash heap of history, you traitor." Abbas reversed course. The enemies of Israel are an energetic bunch. So, too, must be its defenders. This means you, veto-wielding Security Council member United States of America. (New York Daily News)
  • Hamas, Abbas, and the Goldstone Report - Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
    The funny thing is that Hamas, which used the dirtiest expressions against Mahmoud Abbas because he agreed to postpone the discussion of the Goldstone report, is itself the party that rejected and attacked the report, considering it a Jewish conspiracy by Jewish Goldstone. Hamas stepped up the campaigns against Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad because it knows very well that the PA's performance in the West Bank is the best in the history of the Palestinian leadership in terms of its fairness and commitments toward its Palestinian citizens.
        The Goldstone report is not worth the ink in which it was written. At best, if the report is discussed, which is unlikely, it will be submitted to the UN Security Council where it will be revoked by a veto. Besides, the report itself incriminates Hamas in the recent war and says it too committed war crimes. Very regrettably, what we see is a serious decline in Palestinian politicians' ethics. The writer is general manager of Al-Arabiya television. (Asharq Alawsat-UK)
  • The Ugly Premise of "Settlement" Opponents - R. James Woolsey
    The Palestinian Authority's first law adopted in 1994: the death penalty for any Palestinian who sells land to Jews. Over 100 Palestinians have died, under sentence or extrajudicially, for such sales in the last 15 years, including one last May. The Fatah [ruling party's] charter foresees a Palestine that is free of Jews - at the same time that Israel is home to over one million Arab citizens.
        The U.S. administration remains committed to stopping growth of any kind in all Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This policy implies acquiescence in the banning of Jews from a future Palestinian state. Why? The administration's fixation on preventing even minor construction internal to a settlement assumes that Jewish settlers are on the verge of taking over the entire West Bank. This is fanciful: The settlers live on about 1.5% of the West Bank, and comprise a very substantial majority in four major settlement blocs. In the two previous administrations, the U.S. had accepted that in any reasonable peace agreement these blocs would remain under Israeli control. The writer is a former director of Central Intelligence under President Clinton. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Palestinian Leadership Double-Crosses U.S. - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • Should the Palestinian Authority be the main advocate pushing acceptance of the bizarre Goldstone report in order to demonize Israel at the UN? When the U.S. government asked the PA not to be the main sponsor in demanding UN sanctions against Israel, the Palestinian leadership agreed for a few hours. But then, unable to resist flaunting its radicalism and obstructionism, it double-crossed the U.S., a step that further sabotaged President Obama's efforts to advance the peace process.
    • The Palestinian leadership is once again shooting itself in the foot, throwing away a real opportunity for a state, and sabotaging its relationship with Western patrons. When it comes down to a choice between continuing the conflict and trying to win a total victory that wipes Israel off the map, or making peace and getting a state, the Palestinian leadership always chooses the former. And when it comes to choosing between being a bit more moderate and gaining Western support, or being demagogically radical and appealing to the most radical forces, the Palestinian leadership chooses the latter.
    • If the UN goes ballistic and now bashes Israel as an evil, illegitimate war criminal - on the basis of Hamas propaganda, no less, which is all the Goldstone commission really purveys - this will not help the cause of peace and will wreck U.S. policy.
    • If the PA cannot even refrain from this kind of behavior because of internal dissension and popular pressure, can anyone expect it to compromise on territory, security measures, an end to the conflict, and the settlement of all Palestinian refugees in Palestine?

      The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

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