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April 14, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Egyptian Presidential Contender El-Baradei: Israel Only Understands the Language of Force (IkhwanWeb-Muslim Brotherhood-UK)
    Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a prominent contender for the Egyptian presidential elections in 2011, said Monday that the Palestinian cause is plagued by Israeli violation of holy Islamic shrines, settlement expansion in Jerusalem and building of synagogues.
    He stressed that the Palestinian people has no other option but to adopt resistance.
    El-Baradei said that Israel only understands the language of force, adding that the Arabs should back their negotiations option with force and deterrence.

Spanish Court Shelves Israeli Probe - Ciaran Giles (AP)
    Spain's Supreme Court Tuesday upheld a lower court decision to shelve a probe of an Israeli air force bombing that killed a Hamas militant in Gaza in 2002.
    The National Court ruled in June that Spain lacked jurisdiction because Israel was already investigating the attack. The Supreme Court said that ruling was correct, rejecting an appeal by the Arab Cause Solidarity Committee.
    The probe was begun in 2009 by a National Court investigating magistrate under Spain's practice of universal jurisdiction.

Peace with Israel Brings Dividends to Jordan - Jamal Halaby (AP-Orlando Sentinel)
    The Century Standard Textile plant in Irbid, Jordan, one of several that manufacture clothing for top brands like Calvin Klein, Victoria's Secret, Nike and Reebok, is a sign of the success of a key economic prize from Jordan's peace with Israel.
    The factory is one of dozens in Jordan's Qualified Industrial Zones, where companies that use a percentage of Israeli inputs can export duty-free to the U.S. The QIZs have become the strongest engine for Jordan's economic growth. "Peace with Israel has paid off," says manager Rami Kurdi.
    QIZ firms provided jobs for 9,000 Jordanians so far, and thousands more are being trained, said Elias Farraj, an adviser at the Jordan Investment Board.
    Exports from the Jordanian QIZs to the U.S. have shot up 100-fold, from $15 million in 1997 to peak at $1.5 billion in 2006, or roughly 20% of Jordan's gross domestic product.

UK Ad Authority: Western Wall Not in Israel - Stian Alexander (Independent-UK)
    The Israeli tourist office has been criticized by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for including images of the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock in an advertisement for a holiday in Israel because they were in east Jerusalem.
    It ruled that the advert breached truthfulness guidelines and ordered that it not be used again, adding: "We told the Israeli Tourist Office not to imply that places in the 'occupied territories' were part of the State of Israel."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama: U.S. Can't Force Mideast Peace Deal - Anne Gearan
    President Barack Obama on Tuesday discussed the chances for a U.S.-brokered peace settlement in the Middle East, saying the U.S. can't help if Israel and the Palestinians decide they cannot negotiate. The two sides "may say to themselves, 'We are not prepared to resolve these issues no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear,'" Obama said. He reiterated that peace is a vital goal, but one that may be beyond reach "even if we are applying all of our political capital."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • Gen. Petraeus: Israel Is a Valued Strategic Ally; Never Said Lack of Peace Deal Puts U.S. Soldiers at Risk
    Gen. David Petraeus told the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington on Tuesday he never claimed that inaction toward a Middle East peace deal puts American soldiers at risk, and that he does not blame Israel for the lack of a deal so far. He said a policy statement he submitted to Congress last month was misconstrued and misquoted, and said that in hindsight he wishes his statement had made clear that Israel is a valued strategic ally and will remain one. (AP-MSNBC)
  • 76 Senators Sign on to Israel Letter - Ben Smith
    More than three quarters of the U.S. Senate, including 38 Democrats, have signed on to a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, circulated by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and backed by the pro-Israel group AIPAC, implicitly rebuking the Obama administration for its confrontational stance toward Israel. A similar letter garnered 333 signatures in the House. (Politico)
  • Obama: All Countries Should Sign Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
    At the end of the nuclear summit on Tuesday, President Obama was asked about Israel's refusal to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. "As far as Israel goes, I'm not going to comment about their program," Obama told a news conference. But he said that "whether we are talking about Israel or any other country, we think that becoming part of the NPT is important." That was a long-held U.S. position that preceded the current administration, Obama added. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Peres: Syria Giving Scud Missiles to Hizbullah - Roni Sofer
    Israeli President Shimon Peres told French Prime Minister Francois Fillon Tuesday in Paris: "Syria is playing a double game - on the one hand it talks peace, yet at the same time it hands over accurate Scud missiles to Hizbullah so that it can threaten Israel." "Syria's real face had been exposed by the weapon smuggling," he added.
        Peres also said that the Jewish state, in the wake of the Holocaust, cannot stay indifferent to Iran's wish to develop nuclear weapons, stressing that such weapons in the hands of a fanatical regime will constitute a tangible danger to world peace. "Had Hitler possessed nuclear weapons, we wouldn't be sitting here today," he said. (Ynet News)
  • Urgent Warning Over Kidnap Threat to Israelis in Sinai - Barak Ravid, Jonathan Lis and Shay Fogelman
    The head of the counter-terrorism bureau in the Prime Minister's Office, Nitzan Nuriel, said Tuesday there was intelligence information about immediate plans to abduct an Israeli from one of the coastal resorts in Sinai and bring him or her to Gaza. Hamas is thought to be behind the abduction plan. "We call on all Israelis in Sinai to return to Israel immediately," a statement said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: New West Bank Residency Rules Introduced Out of Concern for Palestinian Human Rights - Dan Izenberg
    Disputing claims of having instituted a new West Bank expulsion policy, Israel launched an information campaign to explain that the new policy had been introduced out of concern for Palestinian human rights. "The purpose of the [amended] orders is to IMPROVE [capital letters in the original] the current situation rather than worsen it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor wrote. "Pursuant to the recommendations of the High Court, a joint judicial committee of Jewish and Arab judges will deliberate on each case of potential repatriation. The committee will make a decision within eight days of having a case brought before it."
        Palmor emphasized that anyone issued a "repatriation order" was entitled to legal representation, and "that there is a minuscule number of individuals to whom the orders are pertinent, since in recent years Israel has, as a concession to the Palestinians, allowed non-West Bank residents to register [their residency] with the Civil Administration."
        Maj. Peter Lerner, IDF Central Command spokesman, said the only change created by the new orders was the establishment of a clear legal procedure that gave the subject of the order the chance to appeal before a tribunal instead of the military commander who issued the order. Lerner said that over the past three years there had been only 30-60 expulsions per year. "There will not be an increase in the volume as a result of the new orders," he added. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Waffling on Muzzling the Mullahs - John Vinocur
    The U.S.' notions of UN sanctions on Iran have devolved over the past months from crippling ones to ones that bite to the currently described smart ones, which although packaged with the words "tough" and "strong" might not be hard-nosed enough to cost the mullahs a half-hour's lost sleep. If you scorn the gasoline sanctions that look to many like the best nonbelligerent shot you've got to spook the mullahs (after all, they came to power after a strike closing gas pumps demonstrated the impotence of the shah's regime), then Iran may well think it has scant reason to believe the U.S.' still-official bottom line: that when it comes to stopping the Iranian nuclear drive, all of America's options remain open. (New York Times)
  • Sorting Real from Phony Nuclear Proliferation Threats - Editorial
    Nuclear material in the hands of well-run democracies that play by international rules isn't likely to fall into the hands of terrorists. However, were Iran to develop an atomic bomb and the means to deliver a warhead, the danger automatically rises that the world's leading sponsor of terrorism might share it with its friends in Hizbullah or Hamas. Or imagine a North Korea hard up for cash and willing to sell a device to al-Qaeda.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled plans to attend the nuclear summit in Washington after Turkey and Egypt declared their intention to turn the spotlight on Israel's presumed nuclear arsenal. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently declared the Jewish state "the principal threat to peace in the region today." But Israel's nukes aren't prompting him or the Saudis or Egyptians to kick-start their atomic programs; an Israeli bomb poses no threat to them. An Iranian bomb would.
        In our view, "the single biggest threat to American security" would be to allow Iran to defy years of effort by the world's leading nations and become a nuclear power. That would unleash a new age of proliferation that would swamp this week's attempts at controlling nuclear materials. Prevent an Iranian breakout, and the risk of an al-Qaeda nuclear attack falls sharply. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Does American Deployment Abroad Help Israel? - Avigdor Haselkorn (Ha'aretz)

    • The deployment of military forces abroad by a foreign power is often intended to defend its local allies and deter its enemies. But in the Middle East, especially since the second Gulf War, a curious strategic paradox is unfolding. Accordingly, the more extensive the U.S. military involvement is in the region, the more Israel's maneuvering space and freedom of action are constrained. At the same time, the impact of the robust American presence vis-a-vis Israel's regional enemies has been negligible.
    • The deterrent effect on radicals like Syria, Iran and their allies of the introduction of over 200,000 U.S. soldiers, backed by the most advanced air and naval assets, into Iraq and Afghanistan, is yet to be felt. At the same time, the re-arming by Tehran and Damascus of another implacable Israeli and U.S. foe - Hizbullah - with ever more lethal, accurate and long-range weapons, has proceeded unhindered since 2006. Instead of Iran and Syria feeling hemmed in by the expanded presence of U.S. forces on their borders, it is Jerusalem that is increasingly fearful of a multi-pronged attack.
    • The setback for Israel is due to U.S. efforts to pacify Iraq and Afghanistan by co-opting local adversaries, coupled by the Obama administration's principal shift toward an "extended hand" policy vis-a-vis its regional enemies. In turn, any Israeli military initiative is viewed in Washington as "unhelpful," if not downright dangerous, as it may cause an Arab/Muslim backlash against America and endanger U.S. regional assets. At the same time, the U.S. is a growing burden on Israel, given the Obama administration's efforts to deny it the strategic initiative that is vital for preserving its national security.

      The writer is a strategic analyst and defense consultant.

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