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March 21, 2011

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U.S. Condemns Naming Square for Palestinian Terrorist (JTA)
    "We are disturbed by reports that a town square in the West Bank has been renamed in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, who was a terrorist responsible for an attack that killed 35 Israelis in 1978," Mark Toner, the State Department's spokesman, said Thursday.
    "We condemn this commemoration of terrorism and have conveyed our deep concern about this incident to senior officials in the Palestinian Authority and have urged them to address it. We underscore that all parties have an obligation to end any form of incitement."

Israel Sends Doctors, Portable Restrooms to Japan - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Two Israeli doctors and a Japanese-speaking IDF liaison officer arrived in Japan Sunday to survey post-disaster needs, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said.
    Replying to Japanese requests, Israel sent 150 portable restrooms, 10,000 winter jackets and 10,000 pairs of gloves.
    Israel is also sending hundreds of Geiger counters to measure the levels of radiation.
    A larger delegation of doctors and nurses is expected to arrive in the coming days.

Is There an Iranian-Chavez Terror Network on America's Doorstep? - Roger Noriega (Washington Post)
    Iran and Venezuela are conspiring to sow Tehran's brand of proxy terrorism in the Western Hemisphere.
    On Aug. 22, 2010, at Iran's suggestion, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hosted senior leaders of Hamas, Hizbullah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in a secret summit at military intelligence headquarters in Caracas.
    Among those present were Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary General Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah, who is on the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists; Hamas leader Khaled Meshal; and Hizbullah's "chief of operations," whose identity is a closely guarded secret.
    That these infamous criminals left their traditional havens demonstrates their confidence in Chavez and their determination to cultivate a terror network on America's doorstep.
    A Venezuelan government source has told me that two Iranian terrorist trainers are on Venezuela's Margarita Island instructing operatives from around the region.
    In addition, radical Muslims from Venezuela and Colombia are dispatched to Qom, Iran, for Islamic studies. The most fervent recruits are given weapons and explosives training and are returned home as "sleeper" agents.
    The writer was ambassador to the Organization of American States from 2001 to 2003 and assistant secretary of state from 2003 to 2005.

Breakthrough Makes It More Possible to Survive Nerve Gas - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel has succeeded in developing an enzyme that breaks down nerve gas agents before damage to nerves and muscles is caused.
    According to results published in Nature Chemical Biology, recent experiments performed in an American military lab have shown that injecting a relatively small amount of this enzyme into animals provides superior protection against certain types of nerve agents than current treatments.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Allies Target Gaddafi's Ground Forces - David D. Kirkpatrick and Elisabeth Bumiller
    American and European militaries intensified their barrage of Col. Gaddafi's forces by air and sea on Sunday, as the mission moved beyond taking away his ability to use Libyan airspace, to obliterating his hold on the ground as well, allied officials said. Allied warplanes destroyed dozens of government armored vehicles near the rebel capital, Benghazi. (New York Times)
        See also Arab League Condemns Western Bombing Campaign in Libya - Edward Cody
    Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa deplored the broad scope of the U.S.-European bombing campaign in Libya and said Sunday that he would call a league meeting to reconsider Arab approval of the Western military intervention. Moussa said the Arab League's approval of a no-fly zone on March 12 was not designed to endorse the intense bombing and missile attacks on Tripoli and on Libyan ground forces, whose images have filled Arab television screens for two days. "What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone," he said. "What we want is the protection of civilians and not the shelling of more civilians."
        A shift away from the Arab League endorsement would constitute a major setback to the U.S.-European campaign. Western leaders brandished the Arab League decision as a justification for their decision to move militarily. Despite Western efforts to enlist Arab military forces, only Qatar has announced that it would participate in the campaign. (Washington Post)
  • Five Killed in Syrian Protests
    Syrian security forces killed at least five protesters in clashes Friday in the city of Daraa. President Bashar Assad sent a delegation to offer his condolences to families of the victims. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Mourners of Syrian Protesters Chant for Freedom
    Thousands of mourners chanted slogans demanding freedom and accusing Syrian authorities of treason at the funeral of two protesters killed by security forces in Deraa, a witness said. (Reuters)
        See also Syrian Protesters Torch Baath Party Headquarters (Reuters-Jerusalem Post)
        See also below Commentary: Israel Eyes Developments in Syria - Ben Lynfield (Scotsman-UK)
  • Egyptian Constitutional Referendum May Boost Muslim Brotherhood - Neil MacFarquhar
    Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum on constitutional changes on Sunday that will usher in rapid elections, with the results underscoring the strength of established political organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, and the weakness of emerging liberal groups. The Muslim Brotherhood and the former ruling National Democratic Party were the main supporters of the referendum, while members of the liberal wing of Egyptian politics mostly opposed the measure, saying that they lacked time to form effective political organizations. They said early elections would benefit the Brotherhood and the old governing party. Presidential candidates Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei had opposed the amendments. (New York Times)
        See also Hundreds of Islamists Stone Egypt's ElBaradei - Mona Salem
    Islamists hurled stones and shoes at Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel Peace laureate and a secular contender for Egypt's presidency, as he tried to vote Saturday in a referendum on constitutional amendments. "He lives in the United States and wants to rule us. It's out of the question," one said. "We don't want an American agent," said another. (AFP)
  • Egypt Seeks to Amend Israel Gas Export Deal
    "There is currently negotiation under way in full force to amend the gas agreements signed with various countries, especially Israel, with the aim of achieving a better return to Egypt," the official MENA news agency quoted Egyptian Petroleum Minister Abdullah Ghorab as saying on Sunday. The Egyptian press has accused the East Mediterranean Gas (EMG) consortium, which supplies 45% of the gas needs of Israel's electric utility, of selling its gas to Israel at below market prices. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire 50 Mortars at Israel, IDF Hits Back - Yanir Yagna and Anshel Pfeffer
    The Israel Defense Forces attacked dozens of targets in Gaza in response to more than 50 mortars fired from Gaza at Israeli civilian communities and IDF bases Saturday, injuring two people and damaging two buildings. Elah Koifman, who lives in a kibbutz in the area, said: "The couple that were hurt are kibbutz residents....We were like ducks in a shooting gallery." The head of the Eshkol Regional Council, Haim Yellin, said, "A sovereign country must not allow its residents to be fired upon."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Appeals to UN Over Gaza Mortar Attacks - Jordana Horn
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben sent letters to the secretary general and the Security Council over the weekend decrying the recent mortar fire into Israel from Gaza by Hamas - his fourth letter to the Security Council about such attacks this year. The recent attacks "represent an unprecedented increase in the projectile fire emanating from Gaza," Reuben wrote. They were launched "with the clear intention of targeting and terrorizing Israeli civilians." "The Security Council and the international community must also devote much more attention to the prevention of smuggling of arms into Gaza, which fuels continuous rocket attacks against Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Grad Rocket Fired from Gaza Hits Ashkelon - Shmulik Hadad (Ynet News)
  • Ex-UN Envoy: "U.S. May Not Veto Palestinian State" - Deborah Danan
    When former Israeli ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev is asked if she believes that come September, the U.S. will once again use its veto against establishing a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, she said there can be no certainty in such an outcome. She noted that the reluctance manifested when the previous veto was given may indicate a negative outcome in the future. Shalev emphasized that such a declaration would present an unprecedented obstacle to the peace process. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Tank Shield Intercepts Another Missile - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Exchanges of fire between IDF soldiers and Palestinians were reported Sunday near Al-Bureij in Gaza. During the fighting, Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli tank which is equipped with the "Trophy" defense system. The system intercepted the missile. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Hamas Attacks Seen as Diversion from Internal Issues - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The mortar attacks on Israel over the weekend were designed to divert attention from Hamas' growing problems inside Gaza. The Hamas leadership has been under heavy pressure as a result of mass demonstrations demanding an end to the Hamas-Fatah dispute. Hamas believes that the demonstrations are being organized by Fatah as part of an attempt to undermine the Islamist movement. Last week dozens of Hamas undercover police officers attacked thousands of demonstrators who were participating in a Facebook-initiated rally to demand Palestinian unity. At least 50 demonstrators were injured, including eight local journalists.
        On Saturday, Hamas raided the offices of CNN, Reuters and a Japanese TV station, confiscating cameras and laptops in an attempt to prevent further coverage of daily protests throughout Gaza. Hamas fears the current wave of popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world. The mortar attacks are aimed at dragging Israel into a military offensive that is needed by Hamas to divert attention from its problems and rally the Palestinian public behind it. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Eyes Developments in Syria - Ben Lynfield
    The unrest sweeping the Arab world has arrived in Syria in the last few days. Thousands of Syrians protested for the third straight day Sunday, demanding an end to 48 years of emergency law imposed when Assad's Baath party took power in a 1963 coup and banned all opposition. Analysts say the protests are for similar reasons as those in Egypt. "Everyone follows Al-Jazeera (television) and people say if the Egyptians deserve democracy, why shouldn't we?'' said Eyal Zisser, a Tel Aviv University specialist on Syria. "No doubt the storm has now arrived in Syria."
        Yet there are significant differences between Syria and Egypt, said analyst Shlomo Brom of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. Syria is ruled by a minority regime of Alawites who hold key positions in the security forces. They will have no choice but to stand with the regime and fight if it is endangered. "In Syria, the army will not be neutral... because of the interest of the Alawites to protect their standing."  (Scotsman-UK)

What If Arabs Had Recognized the State of Israel in 1948? - Abdulateef al-Mulhim (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

  • If Israel was recognized in 1948, then the Palestinians would have been able to free themselves from the hollow promises of some Arab dictators who kept telling them that the refugees would be back in their homes and all Arab lands will be liberated and Israel will be sent to the bottom of the sea.
  • Some Arab leaders used the Palestinians for their own agenda to suppress their own people and to stay in power.
  • Since 1948, if an Arab politician wanted to be the hero and the leader of the Arab world, then he has a very easy way to do it. He just shouts as loud as he can about the intention to destroy Israel, without mobilizing one soldier.
  • Now, the Palestinians are on their own. Each Arab country is busy with its own crisis. For now, the Arab countries have put the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on hold.

    The writer is a commodore (ret.) in the Royal Saudi Navy.

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