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September 22, 2010

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Hamas Action to Catch Spies Spreads Panic in Gaza - Ibrahim Barzak and Diaa Hadid (AP)
    A secretive Hamas campaign to catch Palestinians spying for Israel has ensnared some prominent Gaza residents, drawn unusual criticism and highlighted the Islamic militant group's deep fears about being penetrated by agents of the Jewish state.
    There is widespread shock at some of the well-respected names among those thought to be detained - including two prominent physicians and an engineer, alongside members of Hamas itself.
    "Everybody in Gaza is under suspicion," said Mukheimar Abu Sada, a Gaza-based political scientist, describing an atmosphere of fear in the territory.
    Hamas feels "the government has been completely infiltrated, that Israel knows more about Hamas than what they know of themselves," Abu Sada said.
    Human rights workers estimate that more than 20 low-level Hamas operatives were rounded up as suspected collaborators in September. Detainees have been denied access to lawyers or family visits.
    "Rumors...have touched people and families and organizations that are respected in Gaza, and this has led to confusion and the shredding of our social fabric," Gaza writer Mustafa Sawaf wrote in the pro-Hamas daily Felesteen, in a rare display of public criticism.

Czech Foreign Minister Expresses Support for Israel (CTK-Czech Republic)
    Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg expressed support for Israel and its effort to solve the Middle East crisis at a meeting with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday.
    Schwarzenberg told reporters that the Czech Republic does not conceal that "it was, is and will be an ally of Israel in international politics and in Europe."
    Premysl Sobotka, chairman of the Czech Senate, said the EU should formulate a political stance on Israel on the basis of reality and not its media image.
    Former Czech president Vaclav Havel announced last week that he would get involved in the international campaign in support of Israel.

Radical Islam on Rise in Balkans - Konstantin Testorides (AP-Washington Post)
    An online music video praising Osama bin Laden by a group of Macedonian men sing in Albanian has driven home a troubling new reality: A radical brand of Islam is gaining a foothold in the Balkans.
    At the center of the issue is the Wahhabi sect, an austere brand of Islam most prevalent in Saudi Arabia and practiced by bin Laden and the Taliban.
    "Wahhabism in Macedonia, the Balkans and in Europe has become more aggressive in the last 10 years," said Jakub Selimovski, head of religious education in Macedonia's Islamic community.
    He said Wahhabis were establishing a permanent presence in Macedonia where none existed before, and that "they are in Bosnia, here, Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia and lately they have appeared in Bulgaria."

Co-op in Washington State Rejects Boycott of Israeli Products - Charlie Bermant (Peninsula Daily News [Wash.])
    The Port Townsend Co-op board rejected a proposal to boycott Israeli products Tuesday in a 4-2 vote.
    Many speakers at the meeting said that such a board should not be involved in deciding a political issue and that the decision to buy or boycott a specific product should be left to the individual.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Anti-Nuclear Deal Seen Against Israel's Interests
    It is against Israel's interests to join a global anti-nuclear arms treaty and the UN atomic watchdog is overstepping its mandate in demanding it do so, Israel's Atomic Energy Commission chief Shaul Horev told the International Atomic Energy Agency annual conference in Vienna on Tuesday. "Israel is not the only member state...that has exercised its sovereign right not to accede to the NPT due to its national security considerations, yet Israel is the only state that has been singled out, and is called upon to take a decision which is against its best national interests," he said. "Indeed, the advancement of states' accessions to international treaties does not fall within the mandate of the (IAEA)."
        Horev said a resolution tabled by the Arab states calling on Israel to foreswear nuclear weapons and sign up to the NPT was part of a "political campaign to defame the State of Israel." "Moreover, this resolution...ignores the adverse reality in the Middle East." "The serious threat to the NPT and the non-proliferation regime is posed from within by those states that pursue nuclear weapons under the cover of their NPT membership."  (AFP)
        See also Israel Seeking to Block Arab-Backed Anti-Israel Resolution at IAEA - Yossi Melman
    Israel is seeking to block a resolution by Egypt and the Arab states at the IAEA General Assembly calling on it to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open the Dimona nuclear complex to inspection. Dr. Shaul Horev, head of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, told the IAEA that four countries in the Middle East have already violated their commitment to the NPT - a reference to Iran, Syria, Iraq and Libya. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iran's Leader Warns U.S. as He Rebuts Criticism - Neil MacFarquhar
    At his annual gathering with American journalists on Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran denied that dissidents languished in jail or that economic sanctions were biting, and rejected the idea that Tehran deserved anything less than a gold star for its nuclear inspection record. (New York Times)
        See also Peres: Ahmadinejad "a Living Declaration Against the UN" - Jordana Horn
    President Shimon Peres on Monday said Iranian President "Ahmadinejad is trying to use Israel as a tool in order to distract from Iran's problems" and called him "a living declaration against the charter of the UN." "The UN charter forbids a member state to threaten another UN member state, and the international community must condemn a state that calls to destroy another state," Peres said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Clinton Presses Arab Nations to Bolster Aid to Palestinians - Glenn Kessler
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Arab officials Tuesday to bolster their financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority and to support the nascent peace talks more visibly. The PA has received much of its budget support from the EU and the U.S., with oil-rich Arab countries lagging in supplying the amounts they had pledged, and the situation has become even more acute this year. Arab diplomats have said there is little trust that the PA will use the contributions wisely. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA's Fayyad Walks Out of Meeting, Refuses to Endorse "Two States for Two Peoples" - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad angrily left a meeting in New York on Tuesday after Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon insisted the meeting summary refer to "two states for two peoples" rather than just "two states." "If the Palestinians are not willing to talk about two states for two peoples, let alone a Jewish state for Israel, then there's nothing to talk about," Ayalon said. "And also, I said if the Palestinians mean, at the end of the process, to have one Palestinian state and one bi-national state, this will not happen." "I was very surprised that there was apparently no acceptance of the idea of two states for two peoples."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Is Committed to Obama's Vision of "Two States for Two Peoples"
    Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon on Tuesday told a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which coordinates financial aid for Palestinians: "Israel remains committed to a comprehensive Middle East peace based upon the principle of two states for two peoples, one Jewish, and one Palestinian. President Obama reaffirmed this vision at the White House ceremony marking the re-launching of negotiations on September 1st. In those remarks, the President reiterated his commitment to, and I quote: "The emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish state of Israel and its other neighbors."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Netanyahu: There Must Be Symmetry in Any Peace Agreement
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Tuesday during a visit to Sderot: "We say that the Palestinian people have a right to a national state of its own. And we also say that the Palestinians must recognize the right of the Jewish people to a national state of its own. They need to recognize the Jewish state. The fact that they do not recognize it, that they are trying to avoid such a simple statement, raises doubts."
        "When the Palestinians refuse to say something so simple, the question is - why? You want to flood the State of Israel with refugees so that it will no longer have a Jewish majority? You want to tear off parts of the Galilee and the Negev into mini-states?...In a peace agreement, there will be the simplest symmetry: Israel recognizes the Palestinian state - and the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state. This is so simple. It is so just, so correct and so urgent. I say to Abu Mazen [Abbas]: Recognize the Jewish state."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Questions for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - Karim Sadjadpour
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is visiting the UN General Assembly in New York this week. Here are some questions that journalists should ask him: Executions have increased four-fold since you became president in 2005, and Iran now executes more people per capita than any other country in the world. And according to Reporters Without Borders, Iran is now the world's "biggest prison for journalists." Do you take pride in your record?
        On June 15, 2009, nearly three million people, according to the mayor of Tehran, took to the streets to protest the election results. Given your confidence in your popular support, would you grant the opposition a permit to protest, and would you guarantee their safety? Would you agree to a UN-monitored referendum among Iranians to determine their political future? How did you react when your longtime ally Fidel Castro recently implored you to stop slandering the Jews? The writer is an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Wall Street Journal)
  • WW2 Britain Blew Up Jewish Refugee Ships - Andrew Roberts
    A new book entitled MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949, by British historian Keith Jeffery, reveals the existence of Operation Embarrass, a plan to try to prevent Jews getting into Palestine in 1946-'48 using disinformation and propaganda but also explosive devices placed on ships. A team of former Special Operations Executive agents was sent to France and Italy with limpet bombs and timers. During the summer of 1947 and early 1948, five attacks were undertaken on ships in Italian ports, of which one was rendered "a total loss" and two others were damaged. Two other British-made limpet mines were discovered before they went off. Great Britain, which used explosives to try to stop truly humanitarian flotillas after the Holocaust, now condemns embattled Israel for halting entirely politically-inspired flotillas to Gaza. The writer, an historian, is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts. (Daily Beast)
  • Observations:

    Iranian Daily: Iran Has Triumphed, and Has Overtaken the U.S. in the Middle East (MEMRI)

    In a September 19, 2010, editorial, the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, stated:

    • In Iraq, the American strategy was based on preventing [outgoing prime minister] Nouri Al-Maliki from becoming prime minister [again] at any cost. Nevertheless, it is now clear that the White House must ultimately agree to the option that Iran supports for prime minister [that is, Al-Maliki]. What apparently will hasten the process [of his appointment as prime minister] is the exit of most U.S. Army battle units from Iraq - which will have a serious impact on [the U.S.'] bargaining power in the matter of the political balance within Iraq.
    • In Afghanistan, the Americans have for some time been emphasizing that they agree that the only strategy that will work will be a regional one - one that will set Iran at its center - in order to resolve the chaos there. At the same time, the reason that America has so far refrained from officially asking Iran for help [in Afghanistan] was its desire not to give the impression that it had removed the Iranian nuclear issue from the top of its agenda. The Americans are gradually beginning to recognize that they are being forced to move towards Iran, and to begin to ask it for help.
    • Iran is now increasing the quantity of low-level enriched material at Natanz, according to plan; it is now examining more advanced technology for centrifuges. More importantly under the current conditions, Iran has fully mastered techniques to enrich [uranium] to 20%, and this is of great strategic value.
    • Of course, as has already been announced officially, Iran does not intend to bring its entire stock of low-level enriched material to 20% enrichment. However, its solution of the engineering and technical problems involved in enriching to 20%, and the fact that it has already stockpiled 20 kg of such material, will cause serious difficulties for the West in any sort of future negotiations.
    • If the U.S. adds up the Iran strategy [that it has implemented] for the past two years, it will arrive at a final assessment: Iran has overtaken it. Besides the question of its next move [i.e., the U.S. decision regarding contacts with Iran], this assessment [i.e., that Iran is the premier superpower in the region] will have ramifications that cannot be ignored in future relations between Iran and the West.

    Corrected Link: Just Say Yes to a Jewish State - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)

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