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November 3, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Clock Is Ticking as Iran Collects Uranium Feedstock - Peter Grier (Christian Science Monitor)
    Every day, the whirling centrifuges at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment plant produce about 2.75 kg. of low-enriched uranium.
    As of February, Iran had produced enough LEU to serve as the feedstock for fissile material for one bomb, according to David Albright, a former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).
    By February 2010 Iran will have produced enough LEU to serve as feedstock for two bombs.
    To produce weapons material, Iran would have to feed its LEU into centrifuges again.
    "This could be accomplished within three to six months at either the Natanz facility or in a clandestine gas centrifuge facility," noted a recent ISIS analysis.

Iran: Anti-Semite Appointed Deputy Minister of Culture - Dudi Cohen (Ynet News)
    Mohammad-Ali Ramin, a top advisor to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is considered the Islamic regime's most hard-line Holocaust denier and anti-Semite, was appointed Monday as deputy minister of culture.
    In 2006 Ramin served as secretary of an international convention of Holocaust deniers held in Iran.

Saudis Discover Al-Qaeda Weapons Cache (AP/Washington Post)
    Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said Sunday that authorities discovered 281 assault rifles and 51 ammunition boxes belonging to the al-Qaeda terror network in a vacant house in the capital Riyadh.

UK Think Tank Fires Author of Pro-Israel Book - Simon Rocker (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Robin Shepherd, whose new book, A State Beyond the Pale - Europe's Problem with Israel, explores hostility towards the Jewish state, says his pro-Israel position cost him his job at Chatham House, a prestigious UK foreign-affairs think tank.
    Shepherd, who joined another think tank, the Henry Jackson Society, in March, said: "What particularly shocked me about the whole affair is that at an institute with a mission statement of 'independent thinking on international affairs,' I was subjected to such fierce intimidation for honestly-held views about European attitudes to Israel."
    Another former employee of the institute recalled that it basically adopted a "pro-Palestinian" line.

Israel: Top Exporter of Hippos (AFP)
    Israel has become the world's top exporter of hippopotamuses, having successfully sent 14 of the artiodactyls to zoos in Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam in the past few months, said Sagit Horowitz, spokeswoman for the Ramat Gan Safari outside of Tel Aviv.
    With more than 40 hippopotamuses in the zoo and a high birth rate, the zoo had to find a way to scale down their population.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Wants New Nuclear Fuel Talks - Sylvia Westall
    Iran wants more talks on a UN-drafted nuclear deal and to import atomic fuel rather than send its own uranium abroad for processing, Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told Reuters in VIenna on Monday. Iran's requests will add to doubts that a way out of a standoff with big powers will be found soon. Tehran seems to be stalling after having appeared ready to make concessions to the international community. (Reuters)
        See also Iran in No Hurry to Cut Nuclear Deal - Brian Murphy (AP/Washington Post)
  • Clinton Clarifies U.S. Position on Restraining Settlement Activity
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday in Morocco: "The Israelis have responded to the call from the United States, the Palestinians and the Arab world to stop settlement activity by expressing a willingness to restrain settlement activity....This offer falls far short of what we would characterize as our position, or what our preference would be. But if it is acted upon, it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements....In my report to the President last month, I talked about Israeli willingness to restrain settlement activity as a positive step."
        "What we are trying to achieve is a two-state solution with a state that represents the aspirations of the Palestinian people - the sovereignty and to have control over their own future, and provide the security guarantees to Israel for their own future. That is my goal. And when either party takes any steps that looks like it moves us in the right direction - even if it is not what I would like or what I would prefer - I'm going to positively reinforce that."  (State Department)
        See also Clinton Denies Easing Pressure on Israel - Mark Landler (New York Times); Clinton Eases Praise of Israel After Arab Concerns - Robert Burns (AP/Washington Post)
  • UN General Assembly to Debate Gaza "War Crimes" Report - Louis Charbonneau
    A special meeting of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday will debate the UN report on the December-January war in Gaza and vote on an Arab draft resolution that "requests the Secretary-General to transmit the the Security Council." Diplomats said there was little doubt a majority of the General Assembly would vote in favor of the Arab draft, but they also said the five veto-wielding permanent council members - U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China - all agreed that there was no point in bringing the issue to the Security Council. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF: Hamas Has Rocket that Could Reach Tel Aviv - Amnon Meranda
    Head of IDF Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that Hamas has held a successful trial launch of an Iranian-made rocket with a 60-km. range that could reach Tel Aviv from Gaza. During the fighting in Gaza Hamas fired missiles with a 40-km. range that reached Beersheba. (Ynet News)
  • Peace Talks Without Preconditions - Yoel Marcus
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to tell us that the administration welcomes Netanyahu's initiative for a partial, temporary construction freeze in the settlements, and that the freeze issue wasn't a precondition to restarting talks. She said the peace negotiations must be resumed for compromises to be reached, and that the Palestinians' demands were not conducive to peace. Obama realized just in time that removing settlements alone would not solve the conflict. Ariel Sharon uprooted the entire Gush Katif bloc from the Gaza Strip, and instead of receiving a counter-gesture from the Palestinians, the area we gave up became a base for firing Kassam rockets.
        There is no justification for Abbas setting preconditions to opening negotiations. You don't give first, then talk. First you talk and then you give. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Daily Accuses Clinton of Taking Bribes from Israel - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
    The official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, which is controlled by the office of Mahmoud Abbas, on Monday accused Secretary of State Clinton of taking bribes from Israel. "Why, Mrs. Hillary? How much did the Zionists pay you as a bribe?" taunted an article. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida also ran a cartoon reiterating the Palestinian claim that the U.S. is controlled by Jews. It shows an Uncle Sam figure looking into a mirror held by a caricature of a hook-nosed religious Jew, wearing a hat with a Star of David. Instead of seeing his own reflection, the American sees the Jew in the mirror. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Diplomatic Deception: Iran Seeking Fuel for Research Reactor Scheduled to Close Down - Amir Taheri
    The Iranian regime's latest offer is a classic in diplomatic deception. The research reactor for which Iran is supposedly trying to find fuel is scheduled for de-commissioning next year. Located in Amirabad, now a densely populated Tehran neighborhood, the 5-megawatt reactor was built by America in the 1950s, with a lifespan estimated at 38 years. Since the reactor started full operation in 1967, it has already outlived its lifespan.
        America cut off supplies of enriched uranium for Amirabad after 1979. Iran then got fuel for the reactor from Argentina - until 1993, when a terror attack in Buenos Aires carried out by the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah wrecked the relationship. Since then, Iran has been buying enriched uranium on the black market. (New York Post)
  • Palestine's Missing Critics: Where's the Outrage for Ramallah's Atrocities? - Editorial
    Israel's harshest critics claim to champion the rights of Palestinians. So we're curious about the fallout, or lack thereof, from revelations that the Palestinian Authority regularly brutalizes its own in the West Bank while enjoying a steady flow of dollars and euros. A Mail On Sunday report detailed the Authority's regular use of beatings, whippings, attacks with electrical drills, and other methods of torture doled out to anyone seen threatening the authority of Fatah, the party of Mahmoud Abbas. Murder and rape are also commonplace.
        As Middle East analyst Tom Gross points out, the only news here is that a Western newspaper has bothered to write about it. As of Sept. 15, the European Union had delivered €268 million to the Authority this year, and in July the U.S. extended an additional $200 million.
        So here's the state-of-play in the department of moral outrage. When Britain is accused of abetting U.S. interrogations, lawsuits, investigations, and threats to try Tony Blair for war crimes quickly follow. When Israel attacks Hamas in order to end rocket launches on its soil, it risks a session before the International Criminal Court. But when the West funnels billions to a Palestinian government whose abuses are brazen and ongoing, there is mainly silence. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • PA Prime Minister Planning Palestinian State - Ilene R. Prusher
    Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has set his sights on establishing a Palestinian state by 2011. "The idea is unabashedly that two years down the road, we will have something that will look like a Palestinian state," he said in an interview Sunday. Fayyad's plan was recently analyzed in depth by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank. Senior foreign policy analyst Dan Diker says that the plan is potentially dangerous because it doesn't call for working in tandem with Israel on issues that the Jewish state sees as essential to its security. Diker expressed concern over "a Palestinian state that is 3,000 feet above sea level, which is looking down on Ben-Gurion airport [and] most of Israel's infrastructure."  (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's Two-Year Path to Palestinian Statehood: Implications for the Palestinian Authority and Israel - Dan Diker and Pinhas Inbari (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
  • Observations:

    Writing Jews Out of Jerusalem's History - Jeremy Sharon (Guardian-UK)

    • The statements and actions of a number of Muslim clerics based in Israel, Palestinian politicians and even foreign governments are indicative of a fundamental lack of tolerance for the religious beliefs of the Jewish people. While Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told foreign ambassadors that the recent riots in Jerusalem were due to "an assault by extremist religious settlers on the Temple Mount compound," not one shred of evidence has been presented to back up the accusations, the reason being that there simply is none.
    • Inventing wild myths about Jewish designs on Muslim holy places can only harm any prospects for the normalization of ties between Israel and its Arab and Muslim neighbors.
    • The notion that Jews seeking to visit, or even pray at, their holiest place of worship (the Temple Mount) should be seen as a provocation or desecration is disturbing. Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are an indelible part of the Jewish national consciousness.
    • An insidious campaign is afoot, one that rewrites history by arguing that there never was any Jewish temple at the site, thereby seeking to delegitimize any connection that Israel and the Jewish people may have to it and, by extension, to the land as a whole.
    • The failure to acknowledge the connection the Jewish people have to Jerusalem is symptomatic of a problem which goes to the heart of the political conflict; that the Palestinian body politic has never reconciled itself to the fact that the Jewish people have deep-rooted historical ties to the land and are not foreign invaders who wandered in.
    • If there is ever to be any political accommodation between the two sides, Palestinian and Muslim leaders must desist from the incitement against Israel and the delegitimization of the Jewish people's connection to the land.

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