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September 2, 2011

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Report: Hizbullah Opens Base in Cuba - Menachem Gantz (Ynet News)
    Hizbullah has established a center of operations in Cuba in order to expand its terrorist activity and facilitate an attack on an Israeli target in South America, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported.
    Three Hizbullah members have already arrived in Cuba. The terrorist cell is to include 23 operatives, hand-picked by Talal Hamia, a senior member tasked with heading a covert operation to avenge the death of Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyah in 2008.

Iran Sending Submarine, Warship to Red Sea (AP-Washington Post)
    The official Iranian news agency Press TV, quoting Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, said Tuesday that Iran is sending a submarine and a warship to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

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New Reports Emerge on Ransacking of U.S. Embassy in Tripoli - Simon Denyer (Washington Post)
    Looted, ransacked and burned, the U.S. Embassy complex in Tripoli stands in ruins, a testament to the violence unleashed in the name of Moammar Gaddafi's regime and its disregard of international law.
    Throughout the embassy compound, everything that could have been broken has been. Whole floors were doused in gasoline and burned.
    The embassy was ransacked on May 1, as were those of Britain and Italy, in response to the death of Gaddafi's son Saif in a NATO airstrike.
    Witnesses said 20 people arrived at the U.S. Embassy complex about 2:30 a.m. in the Toyota Tundras favored by the Libyan security forces and that some were in army uniforms. They used a shotgun or heavy machine gun to blast open the compound's steel doors.
    In the subsequent hours, busloads of cheering and chanting Gaddafi supporters showed up in what looked like an organized excursion. By morning, smoke was rising from several buildings in the embassy compound.

An Energy-Producing Window - Desmond Bentley (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israel's Pythagoras Solar beat out nearly 5,000 entrants to win this year's $100,000 GE Ecomagination Challenge, which recognizes the most promising green energy building innovations, for its unique solar window.
    The world's first transparent photovoltaic glass unit (PVGU) "will produce benefits such as power generation and reducing the building's energy needs, while allowing light in," says Pythagoras Solar CEO Gonen Fink.
    Pythagoras' optical design uses direct light to generate energy, while optimizing daylight inside the building.
    "The idea is to maintain the work environment at a comfortable temperature without massive, energy-guzzling, cooling and heating systems.... Imagine a commercial facade. If you could replace the glass with glass that can improve energy efficiency, the advantages are multiple."

Louisiana Companies to Promote Business Opportunities in Israel (Port 2 Port)
    In 2010, Louisiana exported more than $306 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. The total value since 1996 is almost $4 billion.
    Israel now ranks as Louisiana's 17th leading trade partner.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Panel's Report Says Gaza Blockade Was Legal - Louis Charbonneau
    A long-awaited UN report on a May 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound ship that killed nine Turks says that Israel's blockade of Gaza was legal. The report by a panel of investigators headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer also said that Israeli commandos faced "organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers." But it said the amount of force used by the Israelis on board the Mavi Marmara was "excessive and unreasonable."
        The report said Israel's blockade of Hamas-run Gaza "was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law."  (Reuters)
        See also Israel Blockade of Gaza Legal, UN Review Says - Ethan Bronner and Neil MacFarquhar
    The Palmer report said that while the majority of the hundreds of people aboard the six vessels had no violent intention, that could not be said of IHH, the Turkish aid group that primarily organized the flotilla. "There exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature, and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH," it said. It also said that the Turkish government tried to persuade the organizers to avoid an encounter with Israeli forces but that "more could have been done."  (New York Times/Boston Globe)
        See also Text of the Report (New York Times)
        See also Turkey Expels Israeli Ambassador, Suspends Military Ties over Flotilla Raid
    Turkey says it is expelling the Israeli ambassador and cutting military ties with Israel over the country's refusal to apologize for last year's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Friday Turkey is downgrading diplomatic ties to the level of second secretary and that the ambassador will leave Turkey by Wednesday. He also said Turkey was suspending all military agreements signed between the former allies. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Iran Moves to Shelter Its Nuclear Fuel Program - David E. Sanger
    Iran is moving its most critical nuclear fuel production to a heavily defended underground military facility outside Qum, where it is less vulnerable to attack, according to intelligence officials. The head of Iran's atomic energy agency, Fereydoon Abbasi, on Monday boasted that his country would produce the fuel in much larger quantities than it needs for a small research reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes. The fact that Iran is declaring that its production will exceed its needs has reinforced the suspicions of many American and European intelligence officials that Iran plans to use the fuel to build weapons or to train Iranian scientists to produce bomb-grade fuel.
        Abbasi, who narrowly survived an assassination attempt last year, said that a 2009 proposal for the West to supply Iran with new fuel for the small research reactor, in return for an end to Iranian production of the fuel, is dead. (New York Times)
  • Clinton Presses for Sanctions on Syria and Assad - Andrew Quinn
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged European and other countries to impose more sanctions on Syria and President Bashar al-Assad, saying more pressure was needed to force him to step down. "Syria's transition to democracy has already begun. It is time for President Assad to acknowledge that and step aside....Those who have joined us in this call must now translate our rhetoric into concrete actions to escalate the pressure on Assad and those around him, including strong new sanctions targeting Syria's energy sector to deny the regime revenues that fund its campaign of violence," she said in Paris. (Reuters)
        See also EU to Adopt Syria Oil Embargo on Friday
    The European Union will formally adopt a ban on Syrian oil imports Friday, but the embargo will take effect on November 15 for existing contracts after Italy insisted on a delay, according to diplomats. The EU will also expand its list of people targeted by an assets freeze and travel ban. (AFP)
  • Diplomats: Syria Stonewalling IAEA - George Jahn
    Syria has reneged on a promise to quickly cooperate with a UN probe of its nuclear activities, saying it won't be able to provide more information to challenge an assessment that it tried to build a plutonium-producing reactor until October, diplomats said Thursday. The delayed cooperation will likely add to concerns that Damascus was in the early stages of a secret program that could be harnessed to produce nuclear weapons. (AP)
  • Gaddafi in Hiding, Vows No Surrender in Libya
    In a fiery broadcast, Muammar Gaddafi warned Thursday that loyalist tribes in his main strongholds were armed and preparing for battle. Gaddafi was forced into hiding after the rebels swept into Tripoli on Aug. 20 and gained control of most of the capital after days of fierce fighting. "We won't surrender again; we are not women. We will keep fighting," Gaddafi said in a statement broadcast by Syrian-based Al-Rai TV. (AP-Fox News)
  • Anti-Israel Protests Disrupt Israel Philharmonic Concert in London
    Protesters disrupted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's BBC concert at London's Royal Albert Hall on Thursday. BBC Radio 3 interrupted its live broadcast twice "as a result of sustained audience disturbance." Music reviewer Igor Toronyi-Lalic said: "The whole hall was groaning and trying to slow clap them out....It had the atmosphere of a riot."  (BBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: No Apology to Turkey - Attila Somfalvi
    Israel has no intention of apologizing to Turkey over the 2010 flotilla raid despite Ankara's latest ultimatum, a senior official said Thursday. "We cannot conduct ourselves based on ultimatums," the official said. (Ynet News)
        See also Turkish Foreign Minister: Israel Must Apologize or Face "Plan B" - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
  • Virtual Fence to Be Set Up on Israel-Egypt Border - Netanel Rozman and Elina Greenspoon
    In the shadow of recent security incidents in the south, a virtual fence that will aid in the detection and prevention of infiltration attempts will be set up on the Israel-Egypt border in the coming year alongside the physical barrier currently being built along the border. Radars will be positioned on high poles, allowing for the observation of objects from long-distance. The virtual fence can identify objects in a focused and detailed manner and overcome false alarms. (Bamahane-Israel Defense Forces)
  • 2,000 Illegal Infiltrators Crossed Israel-Egypt Border in August - Yaniv Kubovich, Anshel Pfeffer and Zohar Blumenkrantz
    2,000 people crossed the Egypt-Israel border illegally in August, according to the Population Authority. Most came from Africa, while others came from Turkey and China. Those who were caught were taken to Saharonim detention center in the Negev, but an estimated 300 infiltrators managed to elude the IDF and reach various cities in Israel. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Palestinian Statehood Move
    The Palestinian Authority push this month for recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN is a highly complicated and sensitive issue which many Palestinians view with some trepidation. For one thing, the PA's government and economy (which grew at a very satisfactory 9% clip last year; there are snazzy retail-office complexes and condos going up all over Ramallah) are heavily dependent on donor aid from the U.S. and EU. A unilateral declaration of statehood could cut off the flow, either because donors would drop out or because Israel would block financial support. The PA is already months behind on salary payments to its staffers. But because the PA leadership has already committed itself to asking for statehood, walking the idea back or coming up with a squishy enough formulation to avoid donor retaliation would be difficult.
        Second, the push for statehood requires the PA to get people out in the streets this month to show support, in order to generate headlines and focus international attention. But demonstrations could get out of hand, and radical splinter groups or Hamas itself could always decide their own interests are best served by provoking a blowup. Recent terror attacks in southern Israel and subsequent rounds of Israeli retaliatory raids and shelling from Gaza are probably related to Hamas' need to assert itself in the run-up to the statehood bid. (Economist-UK)
  • Palestinian Leaders to Seek UN's Blessing for a Two-Stage Execution - Clifford D. May
    This month, leaders of the Palestinian Authority are expected to issue a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and ask, in the words of PA foreign minister Nabil Shaath, that it receive "the blessing of the UN." For what purpose? Shaath's goal, and that of his boss, PA president Mahmoud Abbas, is not what Obama and other Western leaders favor: a Palestinian state and a Jewish state living side by side in peace. On the contrary, as Shaath said clearly: "The story of 'two states for two peoples' means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this." Last weekend, Abbas added: "Don't order us to recognize a Jewish state. We won't accept it."
        The UDI does not acknowledge Israel's right to exist even on its side of the 1949 lines - not in Tel Aviv or Haifa or Eilat (where terrorists attacked last month, taking advantage of the deteriorating security situation across the border in Egypt). The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (National Review)
  • A State of Palestine Would Backfire on Its Own People - Mehdi Hasan
    The Palestinians are walking into a trap of their own making. Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president whose electoral mandate expired more than two years ago, also happens to be chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO, in its capacity as "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people," has had observer status at the UN since 1974 and been allowed to participate in Security Council debates since 1976. The UN vote is a change in nameplates.
        According to Guy Goodwin-Gill, a professor of international law at Oxford University, the PLO's UN status would be transferred to the new state of Palestine after the vote on 20 September: a state which, lest we forget, does not actually exist. To have a PA-led fantasy state representing only West Bank and Gaza residents replace the PLO - representing all Palestinians, a majority of whom live outside the West Bank and Gaza - as Israel's chief interlocutor would be a disaster. Karma Nabulsi, an Oxford academic and former PLO official, says that by "losing the PLO as the sole legitimate representative at the UN, our people immediately lose our claim as refugees to be part of our official representation." The writer is senior editor (politics) at the New Statesman and a former news and current affairs editor at Channel 4 (UK). (Guardian-UK)
  • Assad Still Winning Where It Counts Most - Walter Russell Mead
    Although Assad's control of Damascus is clearly under stress, the Syrian government continues to hold the line against efforts by protesters to overwhelm regime forces in the capital. The chances of a Libya-style UN resolution and Western intervention appear slim.
        Paradoxically, the intervention in Libya meant more deaths in Syria. The Western intervention and the Gaddafi defeat encouraged Syrian protesters to risk their lives, provided an unmistakable message to Assad and his cronies that their alternatives are victory or jail if not death, and exhausted the West and the Arab League's political will to intervene. (American Interest)
  • Seeing Jerusalem Anew - Menachem Z. Rosensaft
    Of course Jerusalem is sacred to Christians and Muslims as well as to Jews. But the city is central only to Judaism. During close to two decades of Jordanian rule, from 1948 until 1967, Jews were forbidden to set foot in the old city of Jerusalem and much of the Jewish Quarter was destroyed and desecrated. Today, Muslims, Christians and Jews worship here freely. The writer is Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. (Washington Post)

For Yasser Arafat, Crime Certainly Paid - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)

  • Since Yasser Arafat first appeared at the UN in 1974, his gun holster hanging from his belt, the Palestinians have advanced from being an organization (the Palestine Liberation Organization) to an "authority" created by the Oslo Accords, and from there to being an embryonic state. Arafat leveraged Palestinian terror crudely - and directly. The terror attacks he masterminded eventually drove the Americans to offer him diplomatic recognition at the expense of its two veteran partners, Israel and Jordan.
  • On the eve of UN recognition of Palestine, 18 years after the Oslo Accords carried Arafat to the White House and from there to the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. government now confirms that Arafat was responsible for the 1973 murder of American ambassador Cleo Noel and U.S. deputy chief of mission George Curtis Moore in Khartoum, Sudan. The two were taken hostage and killed "with the full knowledge and by the personal authorization" of Arafat, according to a study released last month by the U.S. State Department's Office of the Historian.
  • A day or two before the attack, the U.S. National Security Agency recorded conversations about the terror plans, said former navy officer James Welsh who worked in the NSA between 1970 and 1974. Welsh said he recognized the voice of Arafat telling his aides, Abu Jihad and Abu Iyad, to carry out the attack. The U.S. State Department was warned immediately, so it could pass on the message to the diplomats in Khartoum, but the warning arrived in Khartoum only after the murders.
  • From now on it will be hard for official American visitors to the future Palestinian state to lay a wreath on the grave of the person who orchestrated the Khartoum murders.
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