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November 3, 2010

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Israeli Airport Gives Rare Glimpse into Security - Daniel Estrin (AP)
    Airport security around the world isn't good enough, an Israeli airport official said Tuesday while showing international experts Israel's near-legendary methods as a possible solution.
    Nahum Liss of the Israel Airports Authority said, "In the U.S., profiling is a bad word," but he defended the practice, saying it is done by "intelligent, motivated" university students who served in Israel's military and can identify passengers who could pose a potential risk.
    Routine security procedures start far away from the terminal. Before even entering the airport, all cars are stopped for a security check by armed guards. Cameras scan license plates to match them with a database of suspicious vehicles.
    The airport's main terminal is equipped with 700 closed-circuit cameras and is fortified against explosions. The large glass wall at the front and even the trash cans inside are bombproof.
    See also Israel Boosts Airport Security in Wake of Al-Qaeda Plots - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Airports Authority has made improvements to its security arrangements at Ben-Gurion Airport since the discovery last weekend of a number of sophisticated bombs aboard planes on their way to the U.S.
    The Israel Security Agency had conducted drills to train airport security in recent months.
    "In general, though, we do not prepare for the attack that happened, but prepare for the next attack that could happen," said a top security official.

PA Weighs Islamic Indoctrination for Undisciplined U.S.-Trained Forces (World Tribune)
    The Palestinian Authority, alarmed by a decline in discipline, has been examining the introduction of Islamic doctrine in the security forces.
    PA sources said security chiefs were discussing the prospect of bringing in Muslim clerics to indoctrinate the 25,000 members of the security forces. The biggest concern was that Western donors would object to the Islamization program.
    The discipline problem was said to stem from the replacement of hundreds of commanders over the last two years. The officers, most of them who had reached retirement age, have been replaced by men in their 30s and 40s, often younger than their troops.
    The model for the Islamization proposal has been the Hamas regime in Gaza, where security forces have undergone extensive Islamic indoctrination to ensure loyalty.
    Sources said the decline in discipline has been exacerbated by poor morale in many units, where PA officers were disappointed with poor salaries and benefits.

IDF Unveils New Systems to Bring Supplies to Troops - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF Logistics and Technology Directorate on Tuesday unveiled a number of new systems including a parachute that can carry several tons of equipment and uses a GPS to accurately arrive at its destination.
    A new cargo container with built-in wings can be carried underneath transport helicopters - attached by metal cables - without slowing down the aircraft.
    Another new technology was an underground breathing system for the IDF Combat Engineer unit Yahalom that is tasked with locating and destroying terror tunnels in Gaza.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • European Diplomat Sees No Sign of Iran Altering Nuclear Goals - Paul Richter
    Western powers' strong new sanctions on Iran have so far failed to push Tehran's leaders toward compromise on their disputed nuclear program, a senior European diplomat said Tuesday. The official said that although the economic punishments clearly have inflicted pain on Iran, there has been no signal from the country's leaders that they are willing to yield ground to relieve the pressure. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Iran Unlikely to Accept Nuclear Deal, Its Envoy Says
    Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear agency in Vienna on Tuesday dismissed a suggestion by the U.S. that Iran should agree to tougher conditions than those it rejected last year for a possible compromise on its nuclear program. Senior Obama administration officials said last week that the U.S. was prepared to revive an offer it made last year to ship Iran's uranium to another country for enrichment, in a complex deal intended to ensure that Iran did not have access to enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb.
        When asked about reports that Iran would be asked to release about two tons of its uranium stockpile under a revised proposal, Iran's envoy indicated that Tehran was unlikely to agree. "I'm afraid there is no logic for these kind of statements," he said. (Reuters-New York Times)
  • Palestinian Prime Minister Stakes Claim to East Jerusalem - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Tuesday staked a claim to Israeli-controlled east Jerusalem, announcing that his government quietly helped fund the renovation of 14 schools in what the Palestinians hope will be their capital. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not relinquish east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 War and annexed. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Palestinian government activity in Jerusalem is not permitted under the interim agreements that helped set up the Palestinian Authority. "They (the Palestinians) did commit not to conduct official Palestinian activities in Jerusalem, and Israel expects them to abide by that commitment."  (AP)
  • U.S. Opposes UN as Venue for Mideast Diplomacy - David Gollust
    The Obama administration Monday said it opposes shifting the venue of Israel-Palestinian peacemaking to the UN. U.S. officials say only direct dialogue and agreement between the parties can produce a two-state settlement of the conflict. The Obama administration is giving a chilly reception to suggestions that recognition of Palestinian statehood by UN or other international bodies might advance prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian accord. (VOA News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • After Midterms, Obama May Now Better Understand Netanyahu's Domestic Political Considerations - Herb Keinon
    As far as the U.S. president's overall Middle East policy is concerned, despite the midterm election results, Israel will see more of the same from Obama. Obama has been very consistent regarding his perception of our conflict, and the way to resolve it. Over the last few months there has been a tactical change regarding his tone toward Israel, but not an overall strategic shift in how he views the conflict or its solution. He will not, justifiably, interpret the election defeat as a vote on his Middle East policies.
        Where there may be some change is in his appreciation of the genuine political constraints facing Prime Minister Netanyahu. Over the last few weeks, numerous stories have been coming out of Washington saying there was a good deal of frustration and anger at Netanyahu inside the administration for using domestic political "excuses" as a reason for not responding positively to Obama's call to extend the settlement moratorium. They do not see this as a legitimate excuse. As a result of the thunderous loss his party took in the elections, the real political choices Obama himself will have to make may give him a better appreciation of the real political challenges Netanyahu is up against. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Halts "Special Strategic Dialogue" with Britain to Protest Arrest Warrants
    Israel has canceled its special strategic dialogue with London to protest a law that enables Britain to arrest visiting Israeli officials for alleged war crimes, officials in Jerusalem said Wednesday during British Foreign Secretary William Hague's visit to the region. "The question of Israeli officials being unable to travel to Britain will be on the top of the agenda as far as we are concerned," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP. Britain is one of the European pioneers of universal jurisdiction, a broad legal concept that empowers judges to issue arrest warrants for nearly any visitor accused of committing war crimes anywhere in the world. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Curbing the Manipulation of Universal Jurisdiction - Justus Reid Weiner and Diane Morrison (Global Law Forum-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinians Sawed Olive Trees in Order to Accuse Settlers - Yair Altman
    Arabs have been documented cutting down Palestinian olive trees using an electric saw in order to falsely accuse Israelis of vandalism, the Tazpit organization said Saturday. Many incidents allegedly targeting Palestinians in the last few weeks were said to be staged by the Palestinians themselves in order to harm the image of Israeli settlers. Tazpit director Amotz Eyal said that "during every olive harvest season, just like this one, there are many cases of Arab farmers cutting down olive branches, later blaming it on the settlers."  (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Nakba Was a Self-Inflicted Tragedy - Moshe Arens
    Are there really two narratives to the history of Israel's War of Independence? Would anyone suggest that in American schools the "Japanese narrative" of World War II be taught alongside the "American narrative"? Is the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor no more than the American version? Or how about teaching in Russian schools the "German narrative" of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941?
        Yes, there is a "Palestinian narrative" of the 1948 war called "Nakba." But as every student of that war and the still-living witnesses know only too well, the Nakba version is no more than a pack of lies. One percent of the Jewish population fell fighting against the Arab attack by local Arab militias and regular armies of the neighboring Arab countries, plus Iraqi forces, which attempted to destroy the Jewish state in a war they started immediately after the UN resolution dividing western Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in November 1947.
        Six thousand Jews - soldiers and civilians - fell in that war fighting against the Arab onslaught. Where the Arabs were successful, the Jewish population was killed or deported, and all Jewish property was destroyed. What happened in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and in the Etzion bloc in May 1948 when they fell to the Jordanian Legion was a portent of the fate that awaited the entire Jewish community had the Arabs won this war.
        It is true that the Arab population of Palestine suffered grievously during that war. But it is also beyond doubt that this tragedy was brought on them by the decisions taken by the Arab leadership. If true peace is ever to reign among Israel and its Arab neighbors, it is important that the Arabs recognize that what they call the Nakba was a self-inflicted tragedy. The writer served as Minister of Defense three times, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and as Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Ha'aretz)
  • What Should Israel and the Palestinians Do Now? - David Harris
    The New York Times editorial "Enough Game-Playing" (Oct. 30) ends with the counterfactual assertion that "Israelis cannot bet on the infinite patience of the Palestinian people." It is the Israelis who have demonstrated "infinite patience," while waiting for the Palestinians to come to terms with a two-state settlement.
        The Palestinian side rejected every opportunity along the way starting in 1947, when the UN proposed a two-state solution for British-controlled Palestine. The Jews accepted the plan; the Arab world rejected it. Until 1967, the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem were in Arab hands, yet no Palestinian state emerged. In 2000, Israel, with American support, offered a two-state proposal at Camp David, only to be rebuffed by the Palestinians. In 2008, Israel again offered a two-state accord, with the same tragic result.
        And now Israel calls on the Palestinians to resume direct talks leading to a two-state deal. The reply is procrastination and preconditions. It is Israel that, for the sake of peace, has shown remarkable patience. It is high time for the Palestinians to reciprocate and move toward a better future for both peoples. The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    IDF Intelligence Chief Warns: Iran Laying Ground for Two New Nuclear Sites - Rebecca Anna Stoil

    • The outgoing head of IDF Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday: "The next conflict, even if it is limited in scale, will be much bigger, much broader, and with many more casualties than we saw in Operation Cast Lead [in Gaza] or the Second Lebanon War."
    • Yadlin warned that the cutting-edge anti-aircraft system that Syria has purchased from Russia could send the Israel Air Force's capabilities "back to their status in the 1970s Suez years." In addition, the Russians are upgrading older Syrian weapons systems to make them far more advanced. He said the Syrians are conducting "intense efforts to acquire extremely advanced weapons - so advanced that everything just off of the production line in Russia ends up in Syria."
    • Yadlin also disclosed that Israel had detected the Iranians laying the groundwork for two new nuclear sites. "Iran is the greatest threat to Israel and to the well-being of the entire region," he said. And Iran already had enough uranium enriched to 20% to make one nuclear bomb. (Jerusalem Post)
    • Yadlin also warned that "Hizbullah could get all the most advanced weapons systems possessed by Syria if it asks for them." He added, "If it wanted to, Hizbullah could take over Lebanon in a matter of hours. This is not very likely, but there is no military force that can stand up to Hizbullah in Lebanon."  (Ynet News)
    • Yadlin said, "If in the past we had the expectation that the Israel Air Force could neutralize Syrian anti-aircraft missiles in 24-48 hours, today the situation has changed." He also noted that Hizbullah had missiles that could reach Tel Aviv.
    • Yadlin said that the chances of Israel signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians were very small. He said, "The Palestinians inflated the settlement freeze issue to the Americans in order to avoid negotiations with Israel and achieve international recognition of a Palestinian state in stages."  (Maariv-Hebrew, 2Nov10)

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