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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
September 6, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Leak Offers Look at Efforts by U.S. to Spy on Israel - Scott Shane (New York Times)
    While the American government routinely eavesdrops on some embassies inside the U.S., intelligence collection against allies is always politically delicate, especially one as close as Israel.
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation listens in on foreign embassies and officials in the U.S.
    Shamai K. Leibowitz, an FBI translator, was sentenced to 20 months in prison last year for leaking classified information to a blogger.

EU in Damage-Control over Palestinian UN Bid - Claire Rosemberg (AFP)
    EU foreign ministers meeting in Poland on Saturday urged both Israel and the Palestinians to return to direct peace talks while offering to take a lead role in hammering out a solution acceptable to all sides.

Terror Attacks Against Israel Increased in August (Ynet News)
    There were 178 terror attacks against Israel in August, compared to 53 in July, the Israel Security Agency reported Monday. The figures include 134 rocket strikes from Gaza.
    Most attacks in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem (34 out of 36 attacks) involved firebombs.

South Korea to Buy Israeli Rockets to Deter North Korean Aggression (AP-Washington Post)
    South Korea will buy advanced Israeli rockets to protect a front-line area attacked by North Korea last year in a $43 million deal.
    South Korea will deploy 67 Spike NLOS rockets on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands in the Yellow Sea this year, a government arms procurement official said Tuesday.
    Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems says the rockets can fly up to 15 miles and hit hidden targets, such as North Korea's hidden coastal artillery.

Astronomers Query Moon Sighting over Saudi Arabia (Guardian-UK)
    Traditionally Ramadan comes to an end when the new moon is visible with the naked eye. This year, officials in Saudi Arabia announced a sighting on 29 August.
    However, astronomers have presented evidence to show that the moon was not visible at the time, and that the Saudi officials may have actually been looking at Saturn.
    Maged Abou Zahra, president of the Jeddah Astronomical Society, told the Egyptian paper al-Shorouk: "The sighting of a new moon would have simply been impossible."

Angolan Children Travel to Israel for Heart Surgery (Angola Press)
    Five more Angolan children left Luanda on Monday for Israel where they will undergo heart surgery at Wolfson Hospital, under sponsorship of the Israeli NGO Save a Child's Heart.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu Renews Call for Direct Peace Talks
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday renewed his call to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold direct peace talks and drop the Palestinians' bid for UN membership. "He can come to Jerusalem, I could go to Ramallah or we could both go to Brussels," Netanyahu said. He added that "to his regret, the Palestinian leadership had chosen to refrain from direct dialogue, preferring instead to appeal to the UN, a move which will lead to deadlock."  (AFP)
        See also Top U.S. Negotiators Arrive in Israel for Final Push to Start Talks - Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh
    Top U.S. Middle East negotiators Dennis Ross and David Hale are due in Israel on Tuesday for a final push to come up with a formula that would launch Israeli-Palestinian talks and keep the PA from taking its statehood recognition bid to the UN. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Moscow: Dialogue with Israel Only Way to Palestinian State
    The establishment of a viable Palestinian state is only possible through peaceful dialogue with Israel and the UN should not be an alternative to a negotiated solution, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday. Negotiations are the only way of ensuring the creation of a full-fledged Palestinian state "that will live in peace and security with Israel and other countries in the region," Lavrov said. (RIA-Novosti-Russia)
  • Turkey Suspends Trade with Israel - Marc Champion
    Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan said Tuesday that his country was suspending defense trade with Israel completely and that Turkish naval vessels would be seen in the Eastern Mediterranean more often. "Trade relations, military relations, defense industry - these we will suspend. These will be completely frozen and that process will be followed also by very different sanctions." Those measures still to come would be a "Plan C" to the "Plan B" already announced, he said. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel to Protect Passenger Planes Against Rockets
    Israel's security cabinet convened on Sunday to discuss expediting a plan to protect passenger planes against shoulder-launched rockets, Israeli media reported Monday. Israel Radio reported that all Israeli passenger planes will be equipped soon with a system that can divert rockets launched at them. A senior government official told Israel Radio that "no more delays can be tolerated" because of intelligence warnings that militants may be planning attacks on passenger planes. Planes to Eilat will be the first to be equipped with the diversion system because of the resort city's proximity to Egypt. (DPA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Airport Chief: Turks Twist Reality - Yoav Zitun
    Turkish officials are twisting reality by claiming that the detention of Israeli passengers at Istanbul airport is related to the mistreatment of Turkish passengers at Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel's Airport Authority director general Kobi Mor said Monday. "The Airport Authority strongly rejects the attempts to tie security procedures undergone by the passengers at Ben-Gurion Airport to the relationship between the two states," he said. (Ynet News)
        See also No More Stopovers in Istanbul
    Ronen Carasso, VP marketing for Issta Lines, said that since the detention and humiliation of Israeli passengers at the Istanbul airport on Monday, "we have been receiving calls from dozens of people asking to cancel their Turkish Airlines reservations." He noted that "There are even cheaper flights, through Uzbekistan, or with Russian airlines." Yaron Ohana, CEO of the Penguin travel agency, vowed not to offer flights to Turkey "until the relations return to a certain state of normalization. We have to have some Israeli pride and say, 'Enough'."  (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians Fired Advanced Rockets at Israel - Yaakov Katz
    IDF Home Front Commander Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg revealed on Monday that Palestinian terror groups used new, advanced rockets in their attacks against Israel during the recent round of fighting in Gaza. Defense officials said the advanced rockets carried a significantly larger warhead packed with a larger quantity of explosives. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • EU Should Demand Same Peace-Building Measures from Palestinians as It Did Before Recognizing New States in Europe - Amichai Magen
    An EU stance opposing a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence will send a clear message that peace cannot be imposed; it must be built. Since the end of the Cold War, the EU has played a pivotal role in transforming the authoritarian countries of the former Soviet bloc and the Balkans into functioning democratic states. It has done so by taking a cautious, long-term view of peace-building, and by insisting that true peace and security depend on neighbors becoming the kind of states where stable democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and peaceful resolution of disputes are effectively guaranteed.
        Indeed, Europe would only recognize the new states that emerged from the breakdown of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia on condition that they respected democratic principles, tackled corruption, guaranteed human and minority rights, accepted arms control, and committed themselves to good relations with their neighbors. Giving a European hand to a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence at this time would amount to a betrayal of these values. The writer is head of political development at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at IDC Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Has No Margin for Error When It Comes to Iran - Hirsh Goodman
    Iran is maniacally dedicated to Israel's destruction, and says so on every occasion, in every language, and at every opportunity. No other country is existentially threatened by Iran, in a position to suffer irreparable damage if attacked with nuclear weapons. Those imposing sanctions and locked in diplomacy to try to resolve the problem are involved in global power play, not a life-and-death situation.
        For Israel, there is no margin for error. Over 70% of Israel's population, one-third of all the Jews in the world, and its ports, airports, refining capacities and industry are located along the coastal plain, about the size of an average game park in Africa. Imagine the devastation of a nuclear bomb in an area as dense as this one.
        The Iranians know this; hence the temptation, the dream, that it could be done, even knowing that Iran would suffer terribly as a result. But with a population 10 times that of Israel and a country 75 times as large, Iran reckons that no matter how harsh the punishment meted out in return for attacking Israel, it would be mauled, not killed. In this context, none of the symmetry and deterrence that kept the Cold War cold applies. From Israel's point of view, the Iranians must be taken at their word. To do otherwise would be to invite catastrophe. (National Post-Canada)
  • Who Is the Middle East's Biggest Loser from the Arab Revolutions? - Walter Russell Mead
    Iran is joined at the hip to Syria, the most hated regime in the Arab world. Turkey seems to be making a bid to pull Hamas away from its Syrian-Iranian allies; losing its connection to the radically-chic wing of Palestinian resistance will undercut Tehran even more.  The Assad regime is damaged goods now, hated and scorned across the Arab world - but Tehran needs it more than ever.
        The realignments taking place across the region these days suggest that Iran is being pushed toward the fringes of Middle East politics.  With Turkey more of a factor than before, and Saudi Arabia and its allies focused on their Shi'a religious and political archrivals, there is less room for Iranian meddling than the mullahs had hoped.  For now Iran will have to face the critics of its nuclear program with fewer allies and less ability to summon public opinion to its side. (American Interest)

A UN Miracle: Israel Is Vindicated on the Gaza Flotilla, But Turkey Still Pouts - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

  • Here's a story for the man-bites-dog folder: The United Nations has conducted another inquiry into an Israeli military operation - and produced a report that mainly vindicates the Jewish state.
  • Given the UN's track record on Israel, one might have expected this latest report to be a reprise of Richard Goldstone's notorious report alleging Israeli war crimes during its 2009 war with Gaza (charges later retracted by Mr. Goldstone). Instead, the Palmer report offers a point-by-point rebuttal to some of the most preposterous accusations leveled against Israel.
  • One such accusation from the Turks is that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is illegal because blockades can only be legally imposed on another state, and Israel has never recognized Palestine as a state. The Palmer report dismisses that bit of legal legerdemain, noting that "Hamas is the de facto political and administrative authority in Gaza," that "it is Hamas that is firing projectiles into Israel or permitting others to do so," that "law does not operate in a political vacuum" and thus "Israel was entitled to take reasonable steps to prevent the influx of weapons into Gaza."
  • All this might have provoked a bit of soul-searching within the Turkish government, just as its once-warm embrace of Syria's Bashar Assad has. Instead, Prime Minister Erdogan has doubled down on his anti-Israel bets, insisting that Jerusalem apologize to Turkey, compensate the victims and lift its blockade of Gaza as the price for his forgiveness.
  • The Palmer report is a fresh reminder - from the least likely of sources - of why Israel has no honorable choice but to spurn those demands. The Turks will learn in their own time that being Hamas' patron is a loser's game.

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