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December 2, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Erdogan Threatens to Sue U.S. Diplomats over Leaked Claims (Hurriyet Daily News-Turkey)
    In response to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said Wednesday that he would file legal action against U.S. envoys he accused of making false claims against him.
    "Those who have slandered us will be crushed under these claims, will be finished and will disappear," he said.
    One leaked cable claimed that Erdogan had eight secret accounts in Swiss banks. Other documents accused him of reaping personal gain from a billion-dollar privatization.

A Nuclear Standoff with Libya - Max Fisher (Atlantic Monthly)
    In November 2009, six years after the government of Libya first agreed to disarm its nuclear weapons program, Libyan nuclear workers wheeled the last of their country's highly enriched uranium out in front of the Tajoura nuclear facility, just east of Tripoli, to ship this final batch of weapons-grade nuclear material to Russia, where it would be treated and destroyed.
    On November 20, the day before the plane was to leave for Russia, Libyan officials unexpectedly halted the shipment. For one month and one day, U.S. and Russian diplomats negotiated with Libya for the uranium to be flown out of the country.
    On December 21, Libya finally allowed a Russian plane to remove the casks, ending Libya's low-grade game of nuclear blackmail.
    The month-long crisis, never revealed by the Obama administration or reported in the press, is recorded in U.S. State Department documents obtained by The Atlantic.

Israeli Firms See Global Market for Anti-Terrorism Know-How - Edmund Sanders and Batsheva Sobelman (Los Angeles Times)
    As the threat of terrorism spreads, Israel has turned domestic security technology into one of its biggest exports.
    More than 400 Israeli companies export about $1.5 billion annually in domestic security goods and technology, including biometric devices, tear gas canisters, anti-intrusion systems, airport screening machines, explosives detectors and remote-controlled vehicles.
    Among the offerings at a recent security expo in Tel Aviv was document-scanning software from IntuView that not only translates Arabic text but also searches for key words and phrases, including names, dates and Koranic verses commonly cited by extremists. Software engineer Amit Seker said the U.S. Army has bought the software.
    "The proximity of Israeli culture to Islamic culture produces a better understanding of the issues," said Doron Havazelet, director of the new Homeland Security Institute at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
    See also Israel Discloses Technology to Deal with Rockets - Daniel Estrin (AP-Washington Post)

Israeli Life Expectancy for Men Now Above OECD Average - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Health Ministry reported Wednesday that in 2009, local women lived an average of 83.5 years, and men lived 79.7.
    This marks an increase of 2.6 years and 3 years, respectively, since 2000, and is better than the OECD figures for men.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S.: Sanctions Inflicting Economic Pain on Iran
    Iran is finding it increasingly difficult to access the financial services it needs to run its economy and may lose up to $60 billion in energy investments due to global sanctions, U.S. officials told lawmakers on Wednesday. "With great regularity, major companies are announcing that they have curtailed or completely pulled out of business dealings with Iran," said Stuart Levey, U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Levey said the sanctions were restricting Iran's access to dollars and were the likely cause of a nearly 20% plunge in Iran's rial currency in September. (Reuters)
  • WikiLeaks: Israel, Gulf States Conducted Secret Diplomacy - Eli Lake
    Israel and Persian Gulf states carried out extensive secret diplomacy in recent years to coordinate policy and exchange information on the threat posed by Iran. A March 19, 2009, cable quotes Yacov Hadas, deputy director of Israel's Foreign Ministry, as telling an American diplomat: "The Gulf Arabs believe in Israel's role because of their perception of Israel's close relationship with the U.S., but also due to their sense that they can count on Israel against Iran."
        Aaron David Miller, who has been a senior Middle East adviser to six secretaries of state, said every Arab country with the exception of Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Libya has had some diplomatic channel to Israel. Israeli diplomats told the Washington Times that Israeli officials have looked to coordinate some aspects of Iran policy with Arab states in private meetings in Europe and on the sidelines of international meetings. Israelis have shared information with Gulf states on weapons and high-tech shipments bound for Iran. (Washington Times)
  • After Building Frenzy, Ramallah in West Bank Looks Like a Capital - Ali Sawafta
    A building frenzy is transforming Ramallah's skyline and consolidating its position as the de facto Palestinian capital. Hotels and apartment blocks are rising - Ramallah's first five-star hotel, a Movenpick that dwarfs surrounding buildings, opened for business this month. A new presidential palace is under construction, and the PA is building a complex that will house seven ministries - the work is more than half complete. Work has also started on a new commercial district, the Ersal Center - a $400 million investment envisioned as becoming a center for Palestinian banking and trade.
        This month Abbas opened a new Ramallah headquarters for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). At the Nov. 23 opening ceremony, he said, "All of our sovereign headquarters are temporary. The time will come, God willing, to move all of them to Jerusalem."  (Reuters-MSNBC)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • WikiLeaks: Pakistan Tipped Off Israel on Terror Threats in India - Barak Ravid
    Lt.-Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, told former U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson that "he had been in direct touch with the Israelis on possible threats against Israeli targets in India," according to an Oct. 7, 2009, diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks. Israel's anti-terrorism headquarters publicized a severe travel warning for Israelis in India one week later, on October 15, 2009, announcing that the terror organization that had carried out the lethal attack in Mumbai in November 2008 was planning new attacks throughout India, especially in locations with large concentrations of Western and Israeli tourists. (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
  • PA Removes Western Wall Report from Website - Khaled Abu Toameh and Jordana Horn
    A senior PA official in Ramallah revealed that at the request of the U.S., a PA "study" that rejects Jewish claims to the Western Wall in Jerusalem was removed on Wednesday from the official website of the Palestinian Ministry of Information.
        The Israeli Prime Minister's Office said it was not enough for the PA to pretend this "study" never happened, but it was important that the leadership denounce it publicly. "It is important for confidence-building that the Palestinian Authority publicly prepare people for peace and reconciliation, and that can only be done if Palestinian leaders publicly disassociate themselves from such remarks and condemn all statements that call Israel fundamentally illegitimate," one official in the Prime Minister's Office said. "As long as the Jewish state remains illegitimate in Palestinian eyes, peace will not be real."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Kills Two Palestinian Terrorists Trying to Infiltrate from Gaza - Anshel Pfeffer
    Israel Defense Forces soldiers Thursday killed two armed Palestinians as they were laying explosives at the Gaza border fence near Kibbutz Kfar Aza. There has been a rise in attempts by Palestinian militants to bomb targets along the border recently. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Exposed by WikiLeaks - David Horovitz
    The Obama administration, it is now clear for all to see, was not pressing a reluctant Netanyahu to make settlement-freeze and other concessions to the Palestinians because it truly believed this would be helpful in generating wider support for tackling Iran. The U.S., we now know courtesy of WikiLeaks, was being repeatedly urged by a succession of Arab leaders to smash an Iranian nuclear program they feared would destabilize the entire region and put their regimes at risk. Their priority was, and is, battering Ahmadinejad, not bolstering Abbas.
        Obama, that is, was not the prisoner of a misconception, convinced in absolute good faith that if he could deliver Israeli concessions at the negotiating table he might stand a greater chance of getting the Arabs on board for the battle with the mullahs. No, he had the diplomatic cables to prove that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was no obstacle to wide Arab backing, indeed wide Arab entreaties, for the toughest possible measures against Iran, emphatically including military action.
        What's not fair is to indicate to the Israeli prime minister, when it's patently untrue, that he ought to put aside some of his skepticism and take risks for peace because otherwise Israel might impede the U.S.'s capacity to thwart the genocidal enemy, Iran. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Iran Mocks WikiLeaks Dump, While Israel Claims Vindication
    "It's unfortunate that Israel's assessments on Iran were not taken more seriously," Dore Gold, a former top Israeli diplomat, told CNN. "Certainly, I think ironically, Arab states and Israel had a very similar view - both saw Iran as the primary threat to the Middle East region."  (CNN)
  • A 63-Year Search for Mideast Peace - Michael B. Oren
    63 years ago, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of Resolution 181, dividing what was then known as Palestine into independent Jewish and Arab states. While the Zionist leadership accepted Resolution 181, and Jews throughout the world danced ecstatically in the streets, the Arab states rejected it. Worse, they swore to annihilate the reborn Jewish state and drive its inhabitants - many of them Holocaust survivors - into the sea. Six armies descended on the weakly-armed Israeli defenders. Yet, after a brutal war in which 1% of the Israeli population - the equivalent of 30 million Americans today - were killed, Israel triumphed.
        The Palestinians have spent much of the past six decades striving to defeat Resolution 181. Instead of building viable democratic institutions and investing in their children's education, they instilled hatred and glorified "armed resistance." Our founding fathers and mothers were willing to divide our homeland with another people that also regarded it as their homeland and to live side-by-side in peace, and so are we. Yet the "moderate" leadership in the West Bank still refuses to join Israel at the negotiating table. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Observations:

    Palestinian Revisionism Is the Only Obstacle to Peace - Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Jerusalem Post)

    • The recent Palestinian Authority report stating that the Western Wall has no religious or historical significance to the Jewish people is sadly yet another attempt at political historical revisionism. As the recent UNESCO report on Jewish sites in Judea and Samaria exposed, the Palestinian rejectionist narrative is foisted on the international agenda and is supported by an automatic majority in multilateral forums.
    • The PA Ministry of Information claims on its website that "according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, published in 1917, the Western Wall became part of the Jewish religious tradition around the year 1520 AD, as a result of Jewish immigration from Spain, after the Ottoman conquest the year 1517." In fact, the entry in the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1917 provides historic references to the Western Wall from antiquity and certainly before the Arab invasion, conquest and occupation of the Middle East.
    • The recent UNESCO report that Rachel's Tomb near Jerusalem is the Bilal ibn Rabah Mosque is an even greater scandal. It also disposes of hundreds of years of Muslim tradition. According to an Ottoman document found by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in 1830 the Turks issued a firman (royal decree) that gave legal force to Rachel's Tomb being recognized as a Jewish holy site.
    • In 2000, talks between former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat at Camp David in the presence of U.S. President Bill Clinton broke down over similar historical revisionism. After Barak had made an overly generous offer about splitting sovereignty of the Temple Mount, Arafat claimed that he could not concede an inch of this "Islamic territory" because the Jewish Temple never existed.
    • While the Palestinians claim to be the original residents of our land, history and fact stand in their way. While the majority of the Jewish people had to endure a two millennia exile from our land, the stones of our Temple, the burial sites of our forefathers, our ritual baths, ancient cisterns and synagogues remained. And 2,000 years of foreign occupation and attempted negation of Jewish history could not prevent the return of the aboriginal people to our land.
    • The real obstacle to peace is Palestinian rejection of Israel and the self-determination of the Jewish people. The PA brainwashes its people to disallow Israel's legitimacy and falsifies Jewish, Christian and Muslim history in the process. This rejectionism has been at the heart of every failed peace effort for more than 70 years. Palestinian hate and intolerance, more than all the other issues combined, will doom the region to many more years of conflict.

          See also Rachel's Tomb, a Jewish Holy Place, Was Never a Mosque - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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