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September 14, 2010

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Ahmadinejad to Attend UN Meeting in New York Next Week (Press TV-Iran)
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to visit New York on Sep. 24 to attend a UN General Assembly meeting on disarmament, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

Iranian Diplomat in Finland Resigns in Protest - Alexandra Sandels (Los Angeles Times)
    Hossein Alizadeh, the no. 2 diplomat at the Iranian Embassy in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, has resigned in protest of the hard-line government in Tehran, Finland's national news agency reported Saturday.
    Alizadeh, a diplomat for more than 20 years, said he quit because he believed last year's presidential election in Iran was unfair and marked by cheating. He also declared his support for Iran's opposition "green movement."
    See also Iran Diplomat Quits in Brussels to Join Opposition - Ladane Nasseri (Bloomberg)
    Iranian diplomat Farzad Farhangian has resigned from his post in Belgium to join the opposition, Mohammad Reza Heydari, former consul of the Iranian embassy in Norway who himself quit last year, said in a phone interview from Oslo. Farhangian is now in Oslo under police protection.

Hamas Video Presents the "Liberation of Tel Aviv" - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    A new Hamas video depicts the burning of the High Court of Justice and the Bank of Israel buildings in Jerusalem, cars with Palestinian flags driving on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv, and a Palestinian anchorman on Israel television's Channel 2 news broadcast declaring the "liberation of Tel Aviv and Palestine."
    View Video (YouTube)

Palestinian, Cuban Migrant Arrested in Miami for Plot to Send Weapons to West Bank - Jay Weaver and Diana Moskovitz (Miami Herald)
    Abdalaziz Aziz Hamayel, 23, a Palestinian national, and Yanny Aguila Urbay, 24, a Cuban migrant, were arrested in Miami last week after negotiating with undercover police officers last year to buy 300 high-powered firearms, explosives and remote-control detonators - a deadly weapons cache they said was destined for the West Bank.

Five Muslim Men Planned Attack on Australian Army Base - Norrie Ross (Herald Sun-Australia)
    Five Muslim men planned an armed terrorist attack on the Holsworthy Army Base in Sydney to further the cause of Islam by killing as many people as possible, a Supreme Court jury heard Monday.
    The men took a number of steps in preparation for the attack, including sending one of their number to Somalia to obtain a fatwa or religious decree to permit the plan to go ahead.
    View Video (YouTube)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Clinton Calls Mideast Talks "Moment of Great Opportunity" - David Gollust
    Israeli and Palestinian leaders are in the Egyptian Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh Tuesday for the second round of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who flew in from Washington, calls it a "moment of great opportunity" for the two parties. "Negotiations at least hold out the potential for reaching an agreement that both parties have pledged that they wish to pursue," she said. (VOA News)
  • UN Nuclear Chief Chides Iran - George Jahn
    The UN nuclear agency cannot confirm that all of Iran's atomic activities are peaceful because of Tehran's selective cooperation with nuclear inspectors, Yukiya Amano, the agency's chief, said Monday at the start of an IAEA board meeting in Vienna. Iran has banned more than 40 UN inspectors over the past four years. The Islamic Republic continues to stonewall an IAEA probe into U.S. and other intelligence agency allegations that Tehran conducted secret experiments meant to develop atomic arms.
        An IAEA report noted that Iran continued to enrich uranium in defiance of five UN Security Council resolutions. "This report is the clearest evidence yet that Iran is refusing to address the proliferation concerns of the international community, number one, and number two, much more ominously, that it appears determined to acquire a nuclear weapons capability," said Glyn Davies, the chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA. (AP-Washington Post)
  • U.S. Urges Arabs to Withdraw IAEA Resolution Targeting Israel - Fredrik Dahl
    The U.S. envoy to the UN atomic watchdog urged Arab states on Monday to withdraw a resolution calling on Israel to sign an anti-nuclear arms treaty, warning it would send a negative signal to Middle East peace talks. Arab countries, backed by Iran, narrowly won support at an assembly meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency last year for a non-binding resolution calling on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and are expected to propose a similar text at this year's meeting which starts on Sept. 20.
        Israel condemned last year's resolution, saying it was backed by adversaries that question its right to exist. Israel says full Middle East peace is a condition for it to join the NPT. Glyn Davies, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, said, "We have been working with the Arab League but also other partners to urge them to withdraw the Israeli nuclear capabilities resolution."  (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian "All or Nothing" Strategy Paralyzing Peace Talks, Israeli Officials Warn - Barak Ravid
    The Palestinians' "all or nothing" strategy of insisting on a total freeze on West Bank settlement construction risks paralyzing Middle East peace talks in their infancy, Israeli officials close to the negotiations warned Tuesday. Senior officials in the prime minister's office said they expected the Palestinians to avoid extreme responses that could derail the U.S.-sponsored peace process. "This attitude of all or nothing has over the past year led to a stagnation, with the result that in nine months of construction freeze, there were no negotiations," one high-ranking official told Ha'aretz.
        "The aim of this trip [to Egypt] and the meeting with Abu Mazen [Abbas] is to find a way to continue the talks, not to blow them out of the water," the Israeli official said. "If we can't reach agreement on a small issue like the settlements, what are our chances of striking a deal over borders and refugees?"  (Ha'aretz)
  • Construction Equipment to Upgrade Sewage Treatment Facilities Enters Gaza
    The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories announced Monday the entry into Gaza of 250 tons of construction materials in order to upgrade the Sheikh Ajlin sewage treatment plant in central Gaza under the sponsorship of the German government and the KfW Bankengruppe. Last week, over 80 tons of iron were transferred for the second stage of the northern Gaza sewage treatment plant, which is under the aegis of the World Bank. The transfer of equipment was carried out despite the recent firing of mortar rounds and Kassam rockets by terrorist organizations at Israeli communities. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S. Must Create an Environment Conducive to Arab-Israeli Peace - Robert Satloff
    Historically, the U.S. has made its most significant progress in Middle East peacemaking when it operated from a pre-eminent position in the region. That's what convinced Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to chuck the Soviets. It is also what convinced Arabs and Israelis to start the modern era of peacemaking at the Madrid peace conference, following the U.S.-led liberation of Kuwait. But this iteration of peace talks, which will resume on Sept. 14 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, begins with many in the Middle East questioning American strength, not deferring to it. This change has potentially negative implications for our ability to help Arabs and Israelis forge peace.
        With all its messy implications, U.S. action to prevent Iran's march toward a nuclear weapons capability would buoy America's friends and undermine its adversaries from Morocco through the Persian Gulf. It alone would create a regional environment conducive to historic progress in Arab-Israeli peace. The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)
  • What the White House Has to Do to Keep the Peace Talks Going - Alan M. Dershowitz
    The White House can pressure the Palestinian Authority to make concessions that would show the Israeli public that they are really interested in making a peace deal. These concessions could include ending the incitement against Israelis and Jews that appears daily on official Palestinian television (the PA promised this in earlier peace negotiations but has failed to live up to this promise). It could also include ending Palestinian efforts to delegitimize Israel in international forums such as the UN and the International Criminal Court. Finally it could include a willingness to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The White House could also try to persuade the Saudis to invite Prime Minister Netanyahu to Saudi Arabia, as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has suggested. (Hudson Institute-New York)
  • First, Deal with the Enemies of Peace - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The major threat to the peace process is not a new housing project in a West Bank settlement, but the threats coming from the evil forces in Gaza, Damascus, Beirut and Tehran. No "moderate" Palestinian leader will dare make any concessions for peace as long as Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran are continuing to issue daily threats against "traitors." They are opposed to peace because they believe that Israel has no right to exist and should be wiped off the map. The peace process will never move forward as long as these forces are actively working to destroy Israel and eliminate any Arab or Muslim who talks about compromise. As long as the U.S. and its Western allies continue to turn a blind eye to these real threats, Israel and the PA will never be able to make any progress towards peace.
        Syria continues to play host to several radical Palestinian terror groups whose declared goal is to prevent the signing of any peace agreement between Israel and the PA. These groups have armed cells in the West Bank and Gaza that are ready to launch terror attacks against Israeli targets. The Palestinian "rejectionist" groups are under the control of the Syrians, who use them to advance their own interests the same way they have been using Hizbullah and other terror groups in Lebanon for decades. If Washington wants to ensure any kind of progress in the current peace talks and stop these radical groups, it should put pressure on the Syrian dictator in Damascus to rein them in. (Hudson Institute-New York)
  • Observations:

    Setting the Parameters for Success in Peace Talks - Michael Herzog (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • When inviting the parties to direct negotiations, Washington abstained from issuing terms of reference. The Palestinian Authority demanded that the baseline for talks be the 1967 lines with agreed swaps, which Israel rejected as an unwarranted precondition that would establish a single-issue endgame (i.e., on territory) before negotiations even began.
    • This seemingly technical issue is likely to become a substantive one. The PA has prioritized the territorial endgame as a prerequisite for compromise on other core issues. But security is the first priority for the Israeli government, which will not yield major territorial concessions until it is sure that the resultant Palestinian state would be effectively demilitarized and non-threatening.
    • To bypass such an impasse, past negotiations were based on the principle that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed." This proved to be an obstacle when the parties failed to bridge gaps on all core issues: "all or nothing" resulted in nothing and prevented incremental steps forward. It is time to adopt a less rigid formula that allows for progress even if the parties cannot reach a comprehensive agreement.
    • In statesmanship it is always advisable to contemplate a Plan B in case Plan A is derailed. Currently, only the PA seems to be doing so via its West Bank state-building process, coupled with fostering the idea of seeking UN recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines. While the state-building process should be encouraged by all, the U.S. would do well, at this stage, to dispel Palestinian hopes of adding a unilateral diplomatic layer to the negotiations.

      The writer, a retired brigadier general, is the Washington Institute's Milton Fine International Fellow, based in Israel.

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