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June 15, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

New Information on the Violent Intentions of the IHH Operatives (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    Information found in files on laptops seized from the Mavi Marmara and other sources proves that the violence employed against the IDF on board the ship was not spontaneous but rather a premeditated operation, organized beforehand and implemented by a hard core of 40 violent operatives who were on board specifically for that purpose.
    The 40 IHH operatives joined the ship in Istanbul without a security check. They were commanded by IHH leader Bulent Yildirim, who instructed them to use violence.
    While most of the passengers boarded in Antalya, the passengers who boarded in Istanbul brought equipment in preparation for the confrontation with the IDF, including gas masks, ceramic vests, wooden clubs, slingshots, ball bearings, and equipment for improvising weapons (metal cutting disks for cutting iron bars and chains).

Turkish Drones Idle After Israeli Staff Leaves - Burak Ege Bekdil and Umit Enginsoy (Defense News)
    The six Israeli-made Heron UAVs stationed at an air base near Turkey's Iraqi and Iranian borders to aid in the fight against Kurdish separatists have ceased flying since Israeli operators left the base amid Turkish-Israeli tensions.
    Turkish personnel were trained in Israel to operate the UAVs, but one military official said that the drones currently were not operational.
    Turkey received the six Herons in April, and another four are scheduled to be delivered in July.

Jordan's Nuclear Ambitions Pose Quandary for the U.S. - Jay Solomon (Wall Street Journal)
    The Kingdom of Jordan is in a sprint to become the Arab world's next nuclear power. And America wants to help it succeed.
    U.S. and Jordanian officials are negotiating a nuclear-cooperation agreement that would allow American firms to export nuclear components and know-how to the Mideast country.
    The U.S. is demanding that Amman not produce its own nuclear fuel, a right Jordan enjoys as a signatory to the UN nonproliferation treaty - and is reluctant to surrender, thanks to its recent discoveries of big deposits of uranium ore.
    But failure to reach consensus on this point could kill the cooperation deal.

Israeli Civil Rights Group Asks YouTube to Repost Flotilla Satire Video - Ben Hartman (Jerusalem Post)
    The Association for Civil Rights in Israel on Monday criticized the decision made Friday by YouTube to remove the satirical video "We Con the World" lampooning the Gaza flotilla, saying that as satire, the video should remain posted.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • EU Signals New Sanctions Against Iran - Stephen Castle
    The European Union is likely to agree on tough new sanctions against Iran that cover further investment in the country's oil and gas industry as well as its financial sector, Foreign Secretary William Hague of Britain said Monday. Britain, France and Germany are advocates "of strong measures," Hague said. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday that the European bloc would adopt supporting measures to reinforce the UN sanctions resolution approved last week. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Senate Leaders: Consider Turkish IHH for Terror List
    Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the minority leader, circulated a letter last Friday among their colleagues that would press President Obama to investigate the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, the group involved in the Gaza flotilla incident. "Israeli forces were able to safely divert five of the six ships challenging the blockade," the letter says. "However, video footage shows that the Israeli commandos who arrived on the sixth ship, which was owned by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (the IHH), were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass."
        "We recommend that your administration consider whether the IHH should be put on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, after an examination by the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Treasury Department." The letter also encourages Obama to continue to support Israel "before international organizations such as the United Nations."  (JTA)
  • UC Irvine Recommends Suspension of Muslim Student Group - Raja Abdulrahim, Christopher Goffard and Larry Gordon
    University of California-Irvine officials have recommended the suspension of the university's Muslim student group whose members disrupted a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on Feb. 8. Oren was shouted down repeatedly by Muslim students, and each time Oren attempted to resume his speech, another student jumped up with another outburst.
        E-mails between members of the Muslim Student Union and detailed minutes from a Feb. 3 meeting described a "game plan" to disrupt Oren's speech, which also instructed students to deny that the Muslim Student Union organized the protest. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine's law school, said the ban was appropriate punishment and stressed it stemmed not from the students' speech but for misrepresenting their role in the incident. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Shin Bet Chief: Lifting Gaza Naval Blockade Dangerous - Amnon Meranda
    "Lifting the naval blockade on Gaza would constitute a very dangerous development for Israel," Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. Diskin said terror organizations in Gaza "continue to arm themselves, both through production and smuggling." He noted that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had some 5,000 rockets with a range of up to 40 km, and also a few rockets capable of reaching the Tel Aviv region. "Even if vessels headed for Gaza will be inspected by foreign security personnel, this [lifting the blockade] will be a major security breach," he said. (Ynet News)
  • Israel to EU: Stop Your Citizens from Joining Flotillas - Roni Sofer
    Israel asked EU countries to prevent flotilla vessels from leaving from their ports and prevent their citizens from taking part, as the security establishment reports on plans for ten more flotillas by October. (Ynet News)
        See also Israeli Navy Braces for Next Flotillas - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Flotilla Probe Considers Turkey Intelligence Needs - Yaakov Katz
    Last week, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi appointed former head of the National Security Council Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland to head an internal military probe into the Navy's operation to stop the flotilla. According to senior officers, one of the issues the probe will focus on is intelligence. "No agency in Israel, including the Mossad, currently collects intelligence on terror organizations in Turkey," a senior defense official said on Sunday. "There is a radical process sweeping throughout Turkey right now," the official said. "It is important to understand where things are heading there and how this will affect Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN Appoints Goldstone Monitoring Committee - Tovah Lazaroff
    A three-person panel to monitor Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the Goldstone Report was appointed Monday by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. In March, a UN Human Rights Council resolution insisted on the formation of a committee to ensure that Israel and the Palestinians conduct independent probes into their alleged human rights violations during the Gaza Operation. Israel has complained that the Goldstone Report was biased and flawed, and has insisted that its military probe of the operation meets the standards held by any democracy for such an investigation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How About a Real Flotilla for Peace? - Stanley M. Chesley and Ronald S. Lauder
    Over two years ago, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) began a diplomatic and philanthropic process to import water from Turkey to help to narrow Israel's significant water deficit and benefit Israel's neighbors as well. A detailed business plan was developed for a private company to purchase five single-hull tankers. Due to new regulations requiring double-hull tankers for oil transport, the price of these ships would have made the plan financially feasible. They would have brought water to provide food and sustenance to Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians as well. Today, Israel annually provides more than 80 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinians and 50 million cubic meters of water to the Jordanians, much more than is required by the Oslo Accords.
        But in May, the Turkish government began demanding that the water be directed toward the Jordanians and Palestinians alone. Then Turkey's deputy foreign minister announced a suspension of all projects with Israel. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Erdogan Fans Anti-Israeli, Anti-American Sentiments for Political Gain - Semih Idiz
    Prime Minister Erdogan appears set to milk the popularity he gained in the streets of Turkey and the Middle East after the Marmara crisis. Turks are easily swayed emotionally even if this means that the bread and butter issues of vital importance to them are pushed to the background. It is clear that there is great public animosity towards Israel today. The almost endemic anti-Americanism among Turks is also adding grist to Erdogan's populist mill.
        Over the weekend he said, "They are asking us...why is Turkey bothered about Gaza? But could they not be asked in return what America is doing in Iraq? What is it doing in Palestine? Could it not be asked what is it doing in Afghanistan?" Erdogan is utilizing the least sophisticated of political tools to increase support for the AKP at home, and totally disregarding what harm he may be doing to Turkey's well established links with the West in general and the U.S. in particular. (Hurriyet-Turkey)
  • Iran's Revolution: Year 2 - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    While the riots of last June did not topple the mullahs, the Islamic Republic is now permanently unstable. Every national holiday has the potential of turning into a day of protest, and the regime must send out hundreds of thousands of security forces. While many in the West casually dismiss the movement because it's been unable to maintain huge street demonstrations, Ayatollah Khamenei has an acute grasp of how numerous his enemies are and how volatile the country remains. Khamenei is far more likely to compromise on nuclear weapons if he feels he's about to be undone by the Green Movement.
        The opposition needs access to satellite-fed Internet connections which are difficult for the government to shut down. Just $50 million per year could open the entire country to the Internet. Millions less would allow the diverse range of pro-democracy groups to communicate with each other and more effectively counter the regime's security forces. The writer, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former Middle Eastern specialist in the CIA's clandestine service. (New York Times)
        See also Deafening Silence from West as Iranians Protest - David Burchell (The Australian)
  • Observations:

    Why Is Fayyad Burning Israeli Products? - Dalia Itzik (Jerusalem Post)

    • Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was photographed tossing Israeli products into a large bonfire, an act that involves more than a small degree of incitement against a country with whom, so he claims, he wishes to establish peaceful and neighborly relations.
    • The PA government has been running an aggressive campaign over recent months against products that originate in industrial areas beyond the "green line." The boycott is a political act, by which the PA wishes to compete with Hamas for public support, and does so using Hamas tools of incitement and provocation.
    • The economies of Israel and the PA are highly interlinked and will remain so even when an arrangement is reached based on the principle of two states for two peoples.
    • Some 25,000 Palestinians employed in Israeli factories beyond the "green line" have no other alternative employment. If their government succeeds in destabilizing their employers, they will be left with no income.
    • Particularly now, as proximity talks develop, one might expect the Palestinians to make efforts to calm things down, to strengthen relations between the two nations and not to be dragged into a campaign of incitement.

      The writer, a former minister and Knesset speaker, is chairperson of the Kadima Knesset faction.

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