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June 29, 2010

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Egypt Blames Bedouin for Gas Line Explosion (Maan News-PA)
    Egyptian security sources accused Bedouin of vandalizing an Egypt-Jordan-Israel gas pipeline south of Al-Arish on Sunday.
    Officials said the vandals detonated explosives beneath the line, destroying a large section.
    See also Sinai Bedouin Threaten to Sabotage Gas Pipeline to Israel (AFP)
    Egyptian police beefed up security around a Sinai peninsula pipeline that supplies Israel with natural gas after a group of wanted Bedouin threatened to sabotage it, security officials said on Monday.

British Security Firm to Train Palestinian Guards in East Jerusalem - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)
    Saladin Security, set up by veterans of Britain's elite SAS unit, will provide instruction to 80 Palestinian security guards to be deployed at EU facilities in east Jerusalem.

Hizbullah Not Interested in Dialogue with U.S. - Bassem Mroue (AP-Washington Post)
    Hizbullah's deputy chief Sheik Naim Kassem said Monday his group is not interested in a dialogue with Washington until the U.S. changes its Mideast policy, which he said is biased in favor of Israel.

Hamas Warns Palestinians Against Collaborating with Israel - Harriet Sherwood (Guardian-UK)
    Hamas has launched a campaign warning Palestinians in Gaza against collaborating with Israel following the execution of two alleged informants in April.
    Posters and murals have appeared across Gaza City, graphically depicting the consequences of providing information to Israeli intelligence.
    The Campaign Against Collaborating with the Enemy, which also includes speeches by religious clerics, radio programs and advertisements and newspaper articles, is running alongside an amnesty for informants which ends on 10 July.

Thousands of Egyptians Protest Police Torture (AP-New York Times)
    Several thousand Egyptians, joined by prominent opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, protested Friday what they said was the government's systematic use of torture, in response to the June 6 death of a young man in which the police are suspected.

Bedouin IDF Battalion Sees 50% Increase in Volunteers - Amir Buchbut (Maariv-Hebrew-IMRA)
    In March there was a 50% increase in the number of Bedouin volunteers for combat service in the IDF's desert reconnaissance battalion.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Foreign Companies Stepping Away from Iran
    The French oil group Total said it had suspended sales of refined products to Iran. Spain's largest oil company Repsol has pulled out of a contract it won with Royal Dutch Shell to develop part of the South Pars gas field in Iran, a spokesman said on Monday. Italy's oil and gas major ENI is handing the operation of the Darkhovin oilfield in Iran to local partners to avoid U.S. sanctions, ENI told U.S. authorities on April 29. Russian oil major LUKOIL will cease gasoline sales to Iran, industry sources said on April 7, following a similar decision by Royal Dutch Shell in March. (Reuters)
        See also UAE Freezes 41 Iran-Linked Bank Accounts (Reuters)
  • Mullen: "No Reason to Trust" Iran's Assurances on Nukes - Kimberly Dozier
    Adm. Mike Mullen said Monday he believes Iran will continue to pursue nuclear weapons, even if sanctions against the country are increased. Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said it would be "incredibly dangerous" for Iran to achieve nuclear weapons, and that there's "no reason to trust" Iran's assurances that it is only pursuing a peaceful nuclear program, especially after the discovery of the secret nuclear facility in Qom. Mullen added that he believes the U.S. and Israel are "in synch" with their current policies on Iran. (AP)
  • Thousands Protest for Palestinian Rights in Lebanon
    Several thousand Palestinians and Lebanese civil activists converged on central Beirut on Sunday, demanding more rights for Palestinians. Dozens of buses transported demonstrators waving Palestinian flags from refugee camps across the country, where some 425,000 Palestinians are registered as refugees. Palestinians in Lebanon are barred from working in dozens of professions and are generally paid lower wages than their Lebanese counterparts when they do find jobs. They are not allowed to benefit from public social or medical services. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Leader: More Israelis Will Be Kidnapped If Demands Not Met - Tovah Lazaroff, Gil Hoffman and Yaakov Lappin
    Hamas plans to kidnap more IDF soldiers and the price for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will increase if Israel doesn't meet its demands for a prisoner swap, Damascus-based Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal warned on Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Arabs "Inspired by Global Jihad" Murdered Jewish Taxi Driver - Eli Ashkenazi
    Israel Police said Monday that three Israeli Arabs inspired by global jihad have been indicted for the 2009 murder of taxi driver Yefim Weinstein, 54. According to police, they were part of a seven-man cell that regularly watched al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's speeches online and wanted to join the fight against Jewish and Christian "infidels." The suspects were also involved in several other attacks against Jewish and Christian targets. The group was exposed after two of its members were arrested in Somalia, where they planned to fight against U.S. soldiers, and extradited to Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Tony Blair: Israel's Experience of the Last Ten Years Changed Its Outlook on Peace - David Horovitz
    In an interview published on Friday, Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair said: "It was only when I came back to this after leaving office [as British prime minister] that I understood the impact of the [second] intifada and the disengagement from Gaza on the Israeli mindset. The combination of those two things fundamentally changed the way Israelis look at this situation. Their position now is to say, 'Show us that if we make peace, it's a genuine, lasting peace with a Palestinian state that we can predict, that is stable, and that is a secure partner for us. Show us that, and we'll give it a go. But if you can't show us that, the experience of the last ten years makes us very doubtful.'"  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Killed After Firing Anti-Tank Missile at IDF Soldiers
    The Israel Air Force targeted a Palestinian militant who fired an anti-tank missile at IDF soldiers near the Nahal Oz crossing on Monday. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Is a Threat to the Palestinian Cause - Richard Cohen
    Israel could insist on a deal with the activists once again steaming its way: You can proceed to Gaza if, once you get there, you demand that Hamas cease the persecution of women, institute freedom of religion, halt the continuing rocketing of Israel, release an Israeli hostage, ban torture and rescind an official charter that could have made soothing bedtime reading for Adolf Hitler. In fact, these demands would never be met. Gaza is a mean and brutal place with a totalitarian government steeped in a cult of violence and death.
        Paul Berman, in his new book The Flight of the Intellectuals, traces Hamas' intellectual pedigree to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, whose founder, Hassan al-Banna, greatly admired Hitler, and to Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who spent much of World War II in Germany cozying up to Hitler, organizing a Muslim SS unit and, on occasion, remonstrating with the Nazis for not killing enough Jews. (Washington Post)
  • Middle East Proximity Talks: Questions for Washington - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Even if Israel and the Palestinian Authority were to reach a peace agreement in the near future, it is certain that the PA would not be able to implement it or sell it to a majority of Palestinians. Therefore, decision-makers in Washington need to ask themselves: Is there a majority of Palestinians who are prepared to make far-reaching concessions in the context of a peace treaty with Israel? Is there a Palestinian leader who is willing to make compromises on explosive issues such as Jerusalem, settlements and the "right of return?"
        Some Palestinians are convinced that if a free and democratic election were held tomorrow in the West Bank, Hamas would emerge victorious because most Palestinians still do not regard Abbas' Fatah faction as a better alternative to the Islamic fundamentalist movement. So what is the point of "proximity talks" if the partner in Ramallah would not be able to deliver his side of an agreement?
        Perhaps before we search for ways to make peace between Jews and Palestinians, we first need to find a way to achieve peace between the two Palestinian states - one in Gaza under Hamas and the second in the West Bank under Fatah. (Hudson Institute-New York)
  • Progressive? Then Don't Boycott Israel - Ben S. Cohen
    Unlike, say, the African-American boycott of segregated buses, which aimed to change a racist policy and did not apply to whites in general, the boycott of Israel reaches much wider. Any Israeli who does not explicitly disavow his or her country is fair game - and those who declare their solidarity with Israelis are, as a consequence, equally suspect.
        A recent issue of The Nation included a piece by Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss endorsing BDS - a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel - with zealot-like enthusiasm. Crucially, the "United Call for BDS," which Horowitz and Weiss approvingly link to, dates the Israeli occupation as beginning not in 1967, following the Six-Day War, but in 1948, when Israel was created. This is no accident, for the aim of the BDS movement is not to effect a change in Israeli policy, but to dismantle the state which makes those policies. The writer is associate director of communications of the American Jewish Committee. (Huffington Post)
  • Observations:

    Turkey's Islamic Revolution Paid for by Wealthy Islamists - Michael Rubin (Commentary)

    • Turkey has changed. Gone permanently is secular Turkey, a unique Muslim country that straddled East and West and that even maintained a cooperative relationship with Israel. Today Turkey is an Islamic republic whose government saw fit to facilitate the May 31 flotilla raid on Israel's blockade of Gaza. Turkey is now more aligned to Iran than to the democracies of Europe.
    • Outside of public view, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abdullah Gul, now his foreign minister, presided over an influx of so-called Green Money - capital from Saudi Arabia and the oil-rich Persian Gulf emirates, much of which ended up in AKP party coffers rather than in the public treasury.
    • Between 2002 and 2003, money appeared in Turkey's financial system for which government reporting cannot account - an amount that increased from approximately $200 million to more than $4 billion. By 2006, Turkish economists estimated the Green Money infusion into the Turkish economy to be between $6 billion and $12 billion. Some Turkish intelligence officials privately suggest that Qatar is today the source of most subsidies for the AKP and its projects. Thus, Turkey's Islamic revolution was bought and paid for by wealthy Islamists.
    • Erdogan equated degrees issued by Turkish madrassas - Islamic religious schools - with ordinary high school degrees. This bureaucratic sleight of hand enabled madrassa students to enter the university and qualify for government jobs without ever mastering or, in some cases, even being exposed to Western fundamentals. When such students still fumbled university entrance exams, the AKP provided them with a comparative bonus on their scores, justifying the move as affirmative action.
    • As a NATO member, Turkey is privy to U.S. weaponry, tactics, and intelligence. Any provision of assistance to Turkey today, however, could be akin to transferring it to Hamas, Sudan, or Iran. Does President Obama really want to deliver the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to a hostile Turkey, as promised, in 2014?
    • As mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan quipped, "Democracy is like a streetcar. When you come to your stop, you get off."

      The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

          See also Staying Friends with Turkey - Lee Hamilton
      The U.S. and Turkey must urgently work harder to avoid confrontation; keep lines of communication far more open than they have been in recent months; sustain the bilateral relationship; and ensure strategic cooperation in areas of shared interest. The writer, director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, served as a U.S. representative from Indiana from 1965 to 1999. (Indianapolis Star)

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