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October 26, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

WikiLeaks and the Gaza War - Evelyn Gordon (Commentary)
    The New York Times tucked a remarkable statistic into an article on WikiLeaks' latest document dump, one with ramifications for the ongoing delegitimization campaign against Israel: for most of the last century, the normal civilian-to-combatant wartime fatality ratio has been 10:1.
    If civilians routinely account for 90% of all casualties in modern warfare, why is the world up in arms about the civilian casualty rate in last year's Israel-Hamas war in Gaza - which was markedly lower (39%, according to the IDF)?
    Judged against the global norm, the IDF has actually been unusually successful at minimizing civilian casualties.
    See also Why Israel Sees Double Standard in Response to WikiLeaks' Iraq Files - Joshua Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)
    The WikiLeaks release of U.S. military field reports from Iraq that detail tens of thousands of civilian casualties in seven years of fighting is being used by some Israelis to argue that their country is a victim of an international double standard on human rights.
    They say that the world's likely response - or non-response - to the WikiLeaks revelations will demonstrate that Israel is held to a higher standard than other nations.

Report Reveals Alleged Hizbullah Arms Supply Route (NOW Lebanon)
    The French Defense Ministry has information about Hizbullah's arms supply route to Lebanon through Syria, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Tuesday.
    Hizbullah has three logistics units that specialize in weapons transport: Unit 108, based in Damascus, is responsible for transporting arms and ammunition within Syria to arms storage units in Halab, Homs and Tartous.
    Unit 112 delivers arms to Hizbullah caches in Lebanon and supplies ammunition to Hizbullah in the Bekaa Valley.
    Unit 100 transports Hizbullah fighters and Iranian experts between Lebanon, Syria and Iran through Damascus airport.

PA Security Forces Flourish with U.S.-Supplied Vehicles - Jonathan Ferziger (Bloomberg)
    Palestinian Brig.-Gen. Radi Assidi, commander of the Palestinian Security Forces in the West Bank city of Jenin, stood on a balcony overlooking a compound filled with U.S.-donated Chevrolet police vehicles.
    "We had eight vehicles for our security forces in Jenin before [U.S. security coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith] Dayton came and now we have 100," Assidi said.

Tony Blair's Sister-in-Law Converts to Islam - Helen Carter (Guardian-UK)
    Tony Blair's sister-in-law has converted to Islam after having what she describes as a "holy experience" during a visit to Iran.
    Journalist and broadcaster Lauren Booth, 43 - Cherie Blair's sister - who works for Press TV, the English-language Iranian news channel, now wears a hijab whenever she leaves her home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque whenever she can.
    She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S.: "Iran Prefers Defiance and Secrecy to Transparency and Peace"
    Special Assistant to the President Dennis Ross told the AIPAC National Summit on Monday: "Iran's own behavior over the past two years, however, has demonstrated that it prefers defiance and secrecy to transparency and peace....The Iranian government's continued repression and intimidation of its own people following the presidential election last year demonstrated the lack of respect it shows even to its own citizens. And in the Middle East, Iran continues to rely on tactics of intimidation and coercion to gain influence, a pattern clearly on display during President Ahmadinejad's provocative recent visit to Lebanon and through Iran's ongoing support for Hizbullah."
        "Should Iran continue its defiance, despite its growing isolation and the damage to its economy, its leaders should listen carefully to President Obama who has said many times, 'we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.'"  (Politico)
  • Iran Injects Fuel into First Nuclear Reactor
    Iran began loading fuel into the core of its first nuclear power plant at Bushehr on Tuesday. (AP-New York Times)
  • Iran Admits Funding Afghan Government
    Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday that he has received millions of dollars in cash from Iran. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday that Iran has supplied assistance for reconstruction. (AP-Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Livni: Gaza Flotilla Was "Turkish Provocation" - Barak Ravid
    Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni testified Monday before a commission probing Israel's raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla in May, telling the panel that Turkey had exploited the event as a provocation against Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Turkish "Peace Activists" Visit Islamic Jihad Gunmen - Ali Waked
    The Viva Palestina 5 ship which recently docked at the Egyptian port of al-Arish brought along Turkish "peace activists" who visited Islamic Jihad members in Gaza. Pictures show the Turks holding weapons and rocket launchers, while two are seen wearing the uniform of the al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing. (Ynet News)
  • PA to "Resist" Jerusalem National Priority Bill
    The Palestinian Authority cabinet has condemned Israel's decision to approve a draft law classifying Jerusalem as a national priority area. The PA would "resist this decision with all political and diplomatic means in accordance with international law, and take the necessary actions to defend the Arab character of the Holy City," a statement issued in Ramallah said. (Maan News-PA)
  • Conference to Showcase Israeli Homeland Security Capabilities - Yuval Azulai
    Generations of experience in fighting terrorism in a violent Middle Eastern neighborhood is the inspiration for the first Homeland Security International Conference next week in Tel Aviv, organized by the Israel Export Institute. Defense News ranked Israel in third place last year for arms exports, after the U.S. and Russia. In homeland security-related exports, Israel is among the 10 leading countries, and the annual sales of Israeli defense companies are estimated at $1.5 billion.
        About 40 Israeli companies engaged in developing and manufacturing components related to homeland security areas will attend the conference. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is adapting one of its flagship products, the Heron drone aircraft, for border patrol and surveillance and for protection of sensitive installations. (Globes)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Negotiating Process - Where Do We Go from Here? - Alan Baker
    One way of enabling all sides to climb down from their respective trees would be to determine an agreed-upon "Code of Conduct" for the negotiating process that would bind all concerned, satisfy their requirements in general terms and hence obviate the need to impose individual and partisan preconditions. The principles of such a Code of Conduct should include: acknowledging the continued validity of previous agreements; refraining from dictating preconditions for entry into, continuation, or completion of negotiations; and refraining from derogatory statements regarding other parties to the negotiation. The writer served as the legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry and as ambassador to Canada. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Are Settlements Really the Major Obstacle to Peace? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    For nearly two decades, the Palestinian Authority conducted peace talks with Israel while construction in the Jewish settlements was continuing. Until two years ago, Abbas was negotiating with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, while the settlements were being expanded. Some Palestinians say that the settlements became a major issue only when the U.S. and other Western governments started demanding a freeze of settlement construction. Palestinian leaders can't afford a situation where Presidents Obama and Sarkozy appear to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians.
        If the settlements were really the major obstacle to peace, how come peace did not prevail when Israel destroyed all the settlements in Gaza and evicted more than 8,000 Jews from there? The major obstacle to peace is Iran and radical Muslims who want to destroy Israel, and not make peace with it. They are also threatening to kill any moderate Arab or Muslim who seeks to make peace with Israel. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • Lebanon's Laws Pay Only Lip Service to Palestinians' Plight - Jason Koutsoukis
    Until recently, the 250,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon have been legally barred from working in all but the most menial of jobs. In August, after years of heated debate, the Lebanese parliament finally passed new laws formally lifting the work restrictions on Palestinians, but Leila El-Ali, executive director of Najdeh, a Palestinian advocacy group, says the new laws will have no impact on the ground. ''All of the professions - doctors, lawyers, engineers, pharmacists, academia - will remain closed to Palestinians,'' she says.
        In addition, she noted, "We see political parties such as Hizbullah use the plight of Palestinians as a way to attract supporters. But when the law granting us working rights came before the parliament, Hizbullah could not bring themselves to vote in favor of the bill.''  (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • Observations:

    How the Changing Nature of Threats to Israel Affects Vital Security Arrangements - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • In 1999-2000 Israel held fairly detailed and advanced negotiations with the Syrians and the Palestinians simultaneously. It was clear that Israel would have to give up land in both cases - the Golan Heights in order to reach an agreement with Syria, and a large area, perhaps even most, of the West Bank in favor of the Palestinians, while security arrangements were supposed to compensate Israel for the loss of territory. This approach was partially correct for the time on both tracks, but it was also very short-sighted.
    • Today's threats come from rockets, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-tank missiles. The common denominator among all of these is the ease of smuggling and clandestine manufacture. The term "demilitarized state" is an almost meaningless concept, if not accompanied by a monitoring system. The only way to monitor the prevention of smuggling of such types of weapons into the West Bank, or prevent their manufacture within it, is control. Accordingly, only effective control of the Jordan Valley along the Israeli-Jordanian border can prevent the smuggling of these types of weapons.
    • If Israel were to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines, then the area to the east of the Israel-Palestine border would be home not only to the Palestinian Authority, but to other potential enemies too, including Hizbullah and Syria.
    • "Line of visibility" offers a significant tactical advantage to an enemy's firing ability. Flat-trajectory weapons are simpler, more efficient, and available in larger quantities. For that reason it is vital to prevent the enemy from having control of the line of visibility by moving the border several kilometers further to the east so that, for example, the Palestinians will not be able to control Israel's major highways with flat-trajectory weapons.
    • In order to deploy Israel's anti-missile defense systems effectively, a minimum range is needed. These systems need a range of several kilometers in order to detect firing and deal with it. Hence, Israel must maintain a tactical distance that will permit this. Finally, a minimum distance is needed in order to deploy Israel's land and air forces. Such a minimum requisite distance does not exist in Israel's narrow, 9-mile-wide "waistline" along the 1949 cease-fire lines.

      Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland chaired Israel's National Security Council from 2004 to 2006. Prior to that he served as head of the IDF's Operations Branch and its Planning Directorate.

          See also Defensible Borders on the Golan Heights - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) .

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