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February 22, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

UK Officer Defends Israeli Forces - John McManus (BBC News)
    Col. Richard Kemp, who was a commander in Afghanistan, has said international media including the BBC are being exploited by "dark forces" who want to harm Israel.
    Col. Kemp said the advice he received from the Israeli armed forces on how to tackle Afghan suicide bombers had been invaluable, and formed the basis of official army guidelines used by soldiers on the ground there.
    He added that UK soldiers did not have to deal with the same amount of criticism from the international community as does the IDF.
    "When we go into battle we do not get the same knee-jerk, almost Pavlovian response from many, many elements of the international media and international groups, humanitarian groups and other international groups such as the United Nations which should know better...of utter automatic condemnation. We don't have to put up with that."

Israel Unveils New Drone Fleet that Can Reach Iran - Tia Goldenberg (AP-ABC News)
    Israel's air force on Sunday introduced a fleet of huge pilotless planes with a wingspan the size of Boeing 737 passenger jets that can fly as far as Iran.
    "The Heron TP is a technological and operational breakthrough," said Brig. Gen. Amikam Norkin, commander of the base that will operate the drones.
    During NATO's aerial onslaught against Serbia in 1999, Serbian forces quickly shot down 42 U.S. drones. "We are aware of the dangers such an aircraft can meet in the battlefield, and we do whatever we can to protect it," said air force Lt. Col. Eyal.
    Israeli companies are considered world leaders in drone technology and now export unmanned aircraft to a number of armies that have used them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

67 Percent of Americans View Israel Favorably - Lydia Saad (Gallup)
    Israel ranks 5th with 67% while the Palestinian Authority ranks 17th with 20% in the Gallup Poll's 2010 country favorability ratings of 20 nations that figure prominently in the news or U.S. foreign policy.
    The survey, released Friday, recorded a rise for the Palestinian Authority, where only 15% viewed it favorably in 2009.
    Looking just at those countries considered as "very favorable," Israel ranks 3rd (22%), behind Canada (39%) and Britain (30%), while only 3% list the Palestinian Authority in this category (along with North Korea and Cuba).

Bomb Hurled at Cairo Synagogue - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    A man hurled a suitcase containing a makeshift bomb at Cairo's main downtown synagogue early Sunday, but there were no injuries or damage, police said.
    The Shaare Shamayim Synagogue is not in everyday use and Egypt's Jewish community numbers only several dozen.

PA Gives Israel Kassam Rocket Seized in West Bank (Ha'aretz)
    Palestinian security forces have handed over to Israel a Kassam rocket manufactured in the West Bank, Army Radio reported Monday.

New Israel Campus Beat Published (Conference of Presidents-Israel on Campus Coalition-Jerusalem Center)
    The Israel Campus Beat reports on what's happening on campuses around the country.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Is Embarked on "Pressure Track" toward Iran - Gen. David Petraeus
    Gen. David Petraeus told "Meet the Press" on Sunday: "We have over the course of the last year pursued the engagement track. I think that no one at the end of this time can say that the United States and the rest of the world have not given Iran every opportunity to resolve the issues diplomatically. That puts us on a solid foundation now to go on what is termed the 'pressure track.' And that's the course in which we're embarked now."  (MSNBC)
  • Syria Dismisses IAEA Call for More Access for Inspectors - Khaled Yacoub Oweis
    Syria dismissed on Saturday an International Atomic Energy Agency recommendation to allow its inspectors unrestrained access, days after the agency said a bombed Syrian complex could have been a nuclear site. The report, by new IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano, prodded Syria to permit unfettered inspections to check out any covert atomic activity. "Syria is not obliged to open its other sites to inspectors," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said. (Reuters-Washington Post)
  • Killed Hamas Official Betrayed by Associate, Says Dubai Police Chief - Ian Black
    Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas official assassinated in Dubai, was betrayed by a close associate, the emirate's police chief claimed. Lt.-Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim described whoever leaked details of Mahbouh's arrival to his assassins as "the real killer," Abu Dhabi's al-Khalij newspaper reported. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Hamas: Assassinated Operative Put Himself at Risk - Rizek Abdel Jawad
    Hamas legislator Salah Bardawil said Saturday in Gaza that Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh unwittingly led his attackers to him by talking about his trip over the phone and making hotel reservations on the Internet. "Al-Mabhouh called his family by phone before he traveled to Dubai and told them of his plan to stay in a specific hotel, and he booked his travel through the Internet. This undoubtedly created a security breach in the movements of al-Mabhouh," Bardawil said. The killing of al-Mabhouh has put Hamas on the defensive over purported security lapses. (AP-Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • EU Initiative: Recognition of Palestinian State by Next Year - Barak Ravid
    French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos are promoting an initiative by which the EU would recognize a Palestinian state in 18 months, even before negotiations for a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are concluded. The initiative is based on a plan by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to establish a Palestinian state in two years, which is the time he estimates is needed for the development of state institutions.
        Israel has expressed to Kouchner and Moratinos its clear opposition to the initiative, noting it was contrary to the principles of the peace process. "An imposed solution will not achieve the goals," Israel stressed. "If the European Union will determine the results of the negotiations in advance and promises the Palestinians recognition of a state, they will have no motivation to resume negotiations," the Israeli message states. (Ha'aretz)
  • Netanyahu: Signs that Palestinians May Resume Negotiations - Ari Shavit
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview: "Both Palestinians and Syrians have adopted a strategy of unwillingness to negotiate. They present us with extremist preconditions that they did not present to earlier Israeli governments. I don't know any other government in the world that would enter negotiations under conditions that determine in advance how they should conclude. The critics expect us to accept the Palestinian and Syrian dictates....It will take time for the Palestinians and Syrians to retreat from the positions they have taken. I think the Palestinians, at least, may be backing down. There are signs that negotiations with them will begin in the foreseeable future."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Preserve 150 Heritage Sites Including Cave of Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb - Hagai Einav
    The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved a comprehensive plan to preserve 150 heritage sites across the country including Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Speaking at the cabinet meeting held in Tel Hai in the Upper Galilee, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "Our existence depends not only on the IDF or our economic resilience - it is anchored in our store of knowledge and the national sentiment that we will bestow upon the coming generations, in our ability to justify our connection to the land."  (Ynet News)
        See also Strengthening Israel's National Heritage Infrastructure - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Force Needed to Contain Iran - James M. Lindsay and Ray Takeyh
    The rationale for the Iranian nuclear program has changed over time. Today, as Iranian hawks consolidate their power and the Revolutionary Guards emerge as a key pillar of the state, Tehran views nuclear weapons as the means to regional preeminence. A nuclear shield would give Iran freedom to project its power in the Middle East. Such an Iran is unlikely to be subtle about brandishing the nuclear card.
        An emboldened Iran would test Washington in several ways. It would probably lend more support to Hizbullah and Hamas and encourage them to act more aggressively against Israel. It might step up subversive activities against the Gulf sheikdoms and demand that they evict U.S. troops from their territory. A nuclear Iran could also be tempted to transfer nuclear materials and technologies to other countries. Or give fissile material to a terrorist group.
        If Tehran remains determined to go nuclear and preventive attacks prove too risky or unworkable to carry out, the U.S. will need to formulate a strategy to contain Iran. In doing so, however, it would be a mistake to assume that containment would save the U.S. from the need to make tough choices about retaliation. If Washington is not prepared to back up a containment strategy with force, the damage created by Iran's going nuclear could become catastrophic. James M. Lindsay is senior vice president and Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
  • The Legality of Killing of Hamas' Mahmoud al-Mabhouh - Amos Guiora
    I was the legal advisor to the officer in command of Gaza from 1994-97, and in that capacity was involved in targeted killing decisions. I believed when I served in the Israel Defense Forces, and I believe now, that targeted killings are lawful, predicated on the following caveats. There must be reliable, valid, viable and corroborated intelligence indicating that the individual intends to commit future terrorist acts. International law does not tolerate revenge-based action. In addition, the decision must meet tests of proportionality, military necessity, alternatives and collateral damage.
        I think there is a fundamental difference between drone attacks as presently conducted [by the U.S.] and targeted killing, for the latter is person-specific whereas the former seems to result in not insignificant collateral damage. I have long advocated person-specific operational counter-terrorism as a means to protect the state and to protect innocent lives. The writer is Professor of Law, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Assassination Heard Around the World - Ian O'Doherty
    One frequently overlooked fact about the killing in Dubai is that there have already been arrests - of two Palestinians in Jordan who have been extradited to Dubai. Even if the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was indeed [done by] those pesky Israelis and not the result of a Hamas power struggle or an assassination carried out by one of the many Arab groups who loathe the Islamist Hamas with as much passion as the Israelis, were they right to do it?
        Frankly, I find it hard to understand anyone who doesn't realize that it's one fewer terrorist planning murderous attacks on civilians. Al-Mabhouh was personally responsible for the murder of IDF soldiers in the '80s and was, by all accounts, in Dubai to arrange an arms deal with the main Hamas sponsor, Iran. Any country has the right to defend itself from attack, and Israel has even more right to do so than any other country on earth for the simple reason that when a country loses a war it faces a few years of rebuilding and recovery. If and when Israel loses a war it will simply cease to exist. (Independent-Ireland)
  • Observations:

    UN Nuclear Watchdog Outlines Suspicions about Iranian Military Nuclear Activities (International Atomic Energy Agency)

    According to a report by the IAEA Director General dated 18 February 2010:

    • Iran has produced a total of 2,065 kg of low-enriched uranium (UF6).
    • On Feb. 14, Iran, in the presence of Agency inspectors, moved approximately 1,950 kg of low-enriched UF6 to the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) located at Natanz. Iran provided the Agency with mass spectrometry results which indicate that enrichment levels of up to 19.8% U-235 were obtained at PFEP between Feb. 9-11.
    • In Resolution 1737 (2006), the Security Council decided that Iran was to suspend "work on all heavy water-related projects, including the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water." On Jan. 17, the Agency counted 756 50-liter drums said by Iran to contain heavy water.
    • The information available to the Agency in connection with these outstanding issues is extensive and has been collected from a variety of sources over time. Altogether, this raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile. The Agency has sought clarification of whether the engineering design and computer modeling studies aimed at producing a new design for the payload chamber of a missile were for a nuclear payload.
    • Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the Agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

          See also Clamping Down on Iran's Nuclear Ambitions - Editorial
      The latest report about Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency contains a lot of bad news: Iran has already produced its first batch of more highly enriched uranium, and it did so without waiting for IAEA inspectors to arrive; it has produced 4,550 pounds of low-enriched uranium - almost enough, if further processed, for two atomic bombs; and it has begun work on manufacturing uranium in metallic form, another key step in bomb production. As the IAEA report makes clear, neither existing sanctions, nor technical problems, nor the Obama administration's offers of engagement have stopped Iran's drive for a weapon. (Washington Post)

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