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July 26, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Ex-CIA Chief: Strike on Iran More Likely (AP-Washington Post)
    Former CIA director Michael Hayden says military action against Iran now seems more likely because no matter what the U.S. does diplomatically, Tehran keeps pushing ahead with its suspected nuclear program.
    Hayden said that during his tenure as CIA chief under President George W. Bush, a strike was "way down the list" of options. But he told CNN's "State of the Union" that such action now "seems inexorable."
    He predicted Iran will build its program to the point where it's just below having an actual weapon, and said that would be as destabilizing to the region as the real thing.

Turkey Throws an Economic Lifeline to Iran - Roula Khalaf and Delphine Strauss (Financial Times-UK)
    Turkey could emerge as a new safety net for Iranian business as the government insists that it will abide by UN sanctions but not the more sweeping restrictions imposed on Tehran by the U.S. and EU.
    Mehmet Simsek, the finance minister, told the Financial Times that Turkey would not shy away from promoting closer trade links with Iran. If a trade deal needs to be financed, added Simsek, "we will have to find a way to pay for it."
    The state-owned Turkish refiner, Tupras, has stepped in to supply Iran after several international companies stopped selling the country refined petroleum.
    EU foreign ministers were due to meet on Monday to agree on new economic sanctions on Iran, going well beyond the measures approved by a UN resolution last month.

Poll: Israel 8th Happiest Country, Ahead of U.S. - Francesca Levy (Forbes)
    Israel tied for 8th place with Australia, Switzerland, and Canada in a Gallup World Poll survey of 155 countries that measures well-being.
    Denmark, Finland and Norway led the list, the U.S. tied with Austria for 14th place, while the highest ranking Arab country, the United Arab Emirates, was 20th.
    Israel's neighbors ranked as follows: Egypt (115 tied), Syria (115 tied), Jordan (52), and Lebanon (73).

Upgrade What? - Jennifer Rubin (Commentary)
    After a recent headline reported, "U.S. Upgrades PA Diplomatic Recognition," a knowledgeable Israel hand e-mailed:
    The news stories that say the U.S. has upgraded the Palestinian Authority office in Washington are wrong, for there is no PA office. There is a PLO office, one that requires a waiver twice each year to exist because of the PLO's past links to terrorism.
    The PLO is, according to the UN, the "sole legitimate voice of the Palestinian people," but everyone knows that's false; the PLO represents the ghost of Yasser Arafat, plus a whole bunch of his cronies.
    It would be far better to end the farce of having a PLO office - after all, who elected them? - and to try to establish a PA office, for any current and future Palestinian political development will take place through the PA.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Rejects UN Probe of Gaza Flotilla Raid - Robert Berger
    Israel has rejected a decision by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the Israeli raid on a Gaza aid flotilla two months ago. "I definitely suggest that we don't give in on any demands that would demand creating something like a Goldstone II [commission], or anything of the kind, because we already have bitter experience," said Cabinet Minister Yuli Edelstein. "We have an Israeli committee investigating, checking what exactly happened, and international observers joining the committee, watching the work of the committee. So the truth will not only be obvious to us but later to the whole world."  (VOA News)
        See also Palestinians Welcomes UN Flotilla Probe - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
        See also New Goldstone Committee Head Charged with Bias - Benjamin Weinthal
    German jurist Christian Tomuschat, chairman of the UN committee responsible for following up on the findings of the Goldstone Report on Israel's 2009 Gaza operation, helped prepare a brief for PLO leader Yasser Arafat in 1996 concerning the international law aspects of the peace process, which suggested that Arafat should bring his case to the UN General Assembly, which could then refer it to the International Court of Justice. The fact that Tomuschat had worked directly for one of the relevant parties should have been disclosed when his appointment to the Goldstone follow-up committee was made. The panel was appointed last month by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, and is expected to publish a report in October.
        Furthermore, Tomuschat has already made plain his conviction that states are incapable of effectively conducting investigations into alleged excesses by their military forces. Tomuschat, in a 2007 interview in which he discussed Israel's killing of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 2004, said, "Targeted killings are as ruthless as the attacks of terrorists."
        Israel is acutely concerned about the Goldstone follow-up committee, whose mandate includes examining the efficiency, independence and professionalism of Israel's court system and its adherence to internationally accepted standards. Critics of the UN panel have asserted that it is incapable of performing its work fairly because all three of its members are affiliated with the International Commission of Jurists, which has a long history of anti-Israel bias. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Defense Chief Warns on Iran and Lebanon - Janine Zacharia
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is due to arrive in Washington on Monday bearing two warnings for American policymakers: Sanctions won't thwart Iran's push for nuclear weapons, and Israel will strike directly at Lebanese government institutions if Hizbullah launches rockets at Israeli towns. In an interview, Barak said Israel and the U.S. share the same "diagnosis" that Iran is "determined to reach nuclear military capability," but "there are differences about what could be done about it, how it should be done, and what [is] the timeframe within which certain steps could be taken." "It's still time for sanctions," Barak said, but "probably, at a certain point, we should realize that sanctions cannot work."
        Barak warned that the next time violence breaks out in Lebanon, Israel would strike directly at the Lebanese government, which he said allowed Hizbullah to rearm and build an arsenal of 40,000 missiles and rockets. If Hizbullah fires a rocket into Tel Aviv, "we will not run after each Hizbullah terrorist or launcher....We will see it as legitimate to hit any target that belongs to the Lebanese state, not just to Hizbullah."  (Washington Post )
  • UN Says Aid to Gaza Should Be Delivered by Land
    The United Nations said Friday that groups seeking to deliver aid to Gaza should do so by land. "There are established routes for supplies to enter by land. That is the way aid should be delivered to the people of Gaza," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky. "Our stated preference has been and remains that aid should be delivered by established routes."  (AFP)
        See also Hamas Denounces UN Call to Stop Future Flotillas - Ali Waked
    Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum on Saturday criticized the UN's call to refrain from initiating future flotillas to Gaza and transfer aid via land. "This call favors the occupation," Barhoum said. "This is unacceptable to us."  (Ynet News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S., Israel Sign Deal to Tackle Iran's Long-Range Missiles
    Israel and the U.S. have signed an agreement to make the Arrow II ballistic shield capable of shooting down missiles at a higher altitude, the Israeli Defense Ministry said on Sunday. The Arrow III will allow Israel "to deal with the threat of ballistic missiles with long range" and will give it "the ability to shoot down weapons of mass destruction outside the atmosphere," the ministry said. Israel, which describes its Arrow system as a defense against Iran, says the upgraded version will cap off its multi-tier air defenses.
        The IDF plans to operate three anti-missile systems: Iron Dome, to tackle rockets with a shorter range of up to 60 km.; David's Sling, which has a range of hundreds of kilometers; and the Arrow III, designed to shoot down missiles outside the earth's atmosphere. (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Thwarts Palestinian Attack in West Bank - Chaim Levinson
    An Israeli army unit thwarted an attempted shooting attack near the West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday, arresting five armed Palestinians and confiscating two handguns and several fire bombs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Watching for Ripple Effects as Sanctions Nip at Iran - Gerald F. Seib
    It's still hard to know how much difference sanctions can make in the long run. The range of potential effects is exceptionally broad, from simply annoying the regime, to creating real costs and difficulties in keeping Iran's economy running, to creating enough pain to spark domestic unrest, to the ideal goal of prompting Tehran to alter its nuclear program. Still, the sanctions may at least be illustrating that there is an economic penalty for Iran's continued enrichment of uranium.
        More important, they have the potential to directly slow Iran's nuclear program by shutting off the flow of international financing and technology needed to keep elements of it moving ahead. "What we're trying to do is make it clear to the Iranians that there's a cost to continuing down this road," said one Obama administration aide deeply involved in the sanctions effort. "It sharpens the choice for these guys. One way to relieve the pressure is to make a different [nuclear] policy choice."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • The "Unraveling Relationship" between Russia and Iran - Pavel Felgenhauer
    Russia and Iran seemed to be good friends, but in recent weeks the relationship has unraveled. Last month, Moscow supported UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Last week, President Dmitry Medvedev even publicly questioned the Iranian program which is moving into a position that may allow Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. Previously, Russian officials maintained that there was no proof that Iran was developing nuclear weapons.
        In December 2005, Russia agreed to sell Iran long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles - 40 to 60 launchers with four missile tubes each, radars, and control stations, worth some $1 billion. Last month, Moscow announced that the S-300 deal is forbidden by the new UN sanctions. An additional factor that may further influence the decision-making in Moscow is Saudi Arabia's offer to buy more than $2 billion worth of Russian weapons (helicopters, armor, anti-aircraft missiles) on condition that Russia does not sell Iran S-300 missiles, and stops supporting it in the UN. (BBC News)
        See also Ahmadinejad Warns Medvedev of Joining "U.S. Plot" Against Iran
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday warned Russian President Dmitry Medvedev against joining a "plot" by the U.S. against Iran, ISNA news agency reported. "Our enemies have started a new propaganda war against Iran, which is written and directed by the U.S. and staged by the Russian president," Ahmadinejad said. Russia joined the U.S. and its Western allies last month in imposing a fourth UN Security Council resolution and additional sanctions against Iran. (DPA)
  • Observations:

    For Israel, a Two-State Proposal Starts with Security - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (U.S. News)

    • The world remained silent as Israel endured hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombers, stabbings, drive-by shootings, and kidnappings. No censure or demands for a cease-fire impeded Hizbullah in the north and Hamas from the south as they rained thousands of missiles on almost 40% of the Israeli population. Yet every Israeli effort at self-defense is treated as aggression.
    • Israelis have observed that every effort to make peace breeds new aggression. They have realized, with understandable bitterness, that every defensive military operation that leaves the aggressor still in control of the attack base results only in the enemy being better prepared the next time.
    • If Hamas takes over the West Bank, as it did Gaza, then it and other al-Qaeda-type groups will have access to the overlooks of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
    • The last time Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received control of an area - namely Gaza in 2005 - PLO forces ran away and left it to Hamas.

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