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September 3, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Report: U.S. Won't Back Israeli Strike If Iran Doesn't Attack American Assets in Gulf - Shimon Shiffer (Ynet News)
    The U.S. has indirectly informed Iran, via two European nations, that it would not back an Israeli strike against the country's nuclear facilities, as long as Tehran refrains from attacking American assets in the Persian Gulf, such as military bases and aircraft carriers, Yediot Ahronot reported Monday.

Israel to Test High-Altitude Ballistic Missile Defense System - David Fulghum (Aviation Week)
    The first end-to-end test of Israel's new Arrow 3 anti-missile interceptor could occur during the next few weeks. The Arrow 3 can reach farther and higher to destroy improved missiles being designed and tested by Iran.
    An interim radar upgrade for the Arrow system has already been tested. In practice, an Arrow 3 battery is expected to intercept salvos of more than five missiles within 30 seconds.
    Arrow 3 has a "divert" capability in its interceptors. It can be launched even before it is known where the target missile is going. When the target and its course are identified, the Arrow interceptor is redirected to conduct a "hit-to-kill" intercept.

Israel Seeks to Dissuade Germany from Selling Egypt Two Submarines (Al-Masry Al-Youm-Egypt)
    Israel is seeking to persuade Germany not to sell two submarines to Egypt, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday.
    The newspaper also quoted the German defense ministry as saying that the government would not endorse the deal.
    Israeli officials reportedly said that the deal would give a significant edge to the Egyptian navy over its Israeli counterpart.
    See also Egypt Navy: Submarine Deal with Germany "On Schedule" - Zeinab El Gundy (Ahram Online-Egypt)

Egypt Appoints New Ambassador to Israel (AP-Washington Post)
    Egypt has appointed a new ambassador to Israel. Atef Salem el-Ahl, Egypt's consul in Eilat, will replace Yasser Reda, whose four-year term ends this summer.
    The choice of an envoy familiar with Israel counters concerns in Jerusalem that relations with Cairo could be downgraded with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Egyptian TV Anchorwoman Dons Hijab (AFP)
    Egyptian state television anchorwoman Fatma Nabil appeared on Sunday's Channel 1 midday broadcast wearing a scarf or hijab covering the hair and neck.
    Until the revolution that toppled president Mubarak last year and brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power, women in Islamic headscarves had been kept out of the media, although most Muslim women in Egypt wear the hijab.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli Leader Calls for "Clear Red Line" on Iran - Josef Federman
    Israel's prime minister on Sunday urged the international community to get tougher against Iran, saying that without a "clear red line," Tehran will not halt its nuclear program. Israel has warned that the Iranians are quickly approaching weapons capability and that the threat of force must be seriously considered. The U.S. says sanctions and international diplomacy must be given more time to work.
        Netanyahu told his Cabinet that a new report issued by the UN nuclear agency showing progress in the Iranian nuclear program "confirms what I have been saying for a long time - the international sanctions are burdening Iran's economy, but they are not delaying the development of the Iranian nuclear program." "The international community is not drawing a clear red line for Iran, and Iran does not see international determination to stop its nuclear program," Netanyahu said.
        Israel believes a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a mortal threat, citing Iranian calls for Israel's destruction, its development of missiles capable of striking Israel and its support for anti-Israel militant groups. (AP-Washington Post)
  • To Calm Israel, U.S. Offers Ways to Restrain Iran - David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt
    The Obama administration is moving ahead with a range of steps short of war that it hopes will forestall an Israeli attack, while forcing the Iranians to take negotiations more seriously. Already planned are naval exercises and new anti-missile systems in the Persian Gulf, and a more forceful clamping down on Iranian oil revenue. The administration is also considering new declarations by President Obama about what might bring about American military action, as well as covert activities that have been previously considered and rejected.
        Inside the White House, there has been debate about whether Mr. Obama needs to reshape his negotiating strategy around clear "red lines" for Iran - steps beyond which the U.S. would not allow the country to go. Yet according to Graham Allison, a Harvard expert on nuclear conflict, the U.S. has allowed Iran to cross seven previous "red lines" over 18 years with few consequences. (New York Times)
  • Israeli Settlers Evacuated from West Bank Outpost Following Court Order - Joel Greenberg
    Under court order, Israel on Sunday evacuated 50 families from Migron, one of the largest unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank, where the first mobile homes were set up in 2001 after the construction of an Israeli cellular antenna tower at the site. The families traveled to temporary quarters at a neighboring settlement and are to move later this month into prefabricated homes about a mile from the original location of their community.
        "We are committed to the rule of law," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "We are honoring the court's rulings, and we are also strengthening settlement. There is no contradiction between the two."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Official: Israel Increasingly Feels It Has No One to Rely on But Itself - Ilan Ben Zion
    A senior Israeli official said the combination of Iran's progress toward the bomb, the failure of the U.S. to "set red lines" for Iran, and the increasingly critical comments by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff have left Israel with "a sharpened sense that it has no one to rely upon but itself," Israel's Channel 2 TV reported Saturday.
        Gen. Martin Dempsey said on Thursday that he did not want "to be complicit" if Israel were to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities. A source in Jerusalem Friday called Dempsey's comments "strange" and said they characterized the failure of the U.S. to take a determined position against Iran's nuclear drive. "It is strange that next to the oaths and blood libels of [Iran's Ayatollah] Khamenei...and the IAEA report - which states that Iran is speeding up uranium enrichment under its nose - the American chief of staff decides to talk about [an Israeli strike] rather than giving a determined message to the Iranians," the source said. (Times of Israel)
  • Arab Construction Workers Charged with Poisoning Jewish Family - Yaniv Kubovich
    Police on Sunday revealed that three Arab construction workers attempted to kill members of a Ra'anana family in 2011 by breaking into their home and poisoning their food. Police found that large doses of pesticides had been added to food and drinks inside the house.
        In August, police arrested Otman Nas'ara, 47, from Beit Furik in the West Bank. The same pesticides were found during a search of his house. Nas'ara admitted to trying to murder the family, citing nationalistic motives. (Ha'aretz)
  • International Activists Dispersed at Israel Embassy Protest in Jordan - Areej Abuqudairi
    International activists from the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign were dispersed by Jordanian police while demonstrating outside the Israeli embassy in Amman on Thursday, protesting against Israel's decision to deny them entry to the West Bank last week. The police asked the activists to move to a different location but they refused, and when police officers arrived to physically remove them, some sat or lay down on the ground. The demonstrators who refused to move were placed in police vans and driven to the alternate site; none were arrested. Earlier, the activists demonstrated outside the French embassy to denounce France's support for Israel. (Jordan Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Inside Syria's Fracturing Rebellion - Sarah Birke and Katie Paul
    In Serjeh in the mountainous Jebel Zawiya region of Syria's Idleb province, Ahmed Abu Issa, 40, heads 4,000 fighters in Saqour al-Sham (the "Sham Falcons"). His immediate motivations are the same, he tells us, as that of other rebel groups: the ouster of Assad. But in the longer-term he wants an Islamist state.
        Abu Issa's rise to unchallenged leader of a burgeoning mini-state is a motif being repeated across the country. As the authority of Assad's regime recedes, power is passing not into one unified opposition, but into the hands of many local rebel leaders. In Jebel Zawiya alone, there are two major rebel groups, a third emerging, and a smattering of smaller ones tucked under other umbrellas. The real power brokers in Syria are the rebel leaders on the ground. (New Republic)
  • Egypt Kicks Sand in Obama's Face - Barry Rubin
    The U.S. government asked its good buddy Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy to inspect an Iranian ship suspected of carrying arms to Syria while it passed through the Suez Canal. Despite three decades of massive U.S. aid, the Egyptian government refused. Does this mean Egypt is going to ally with Iran? No, Egypt will fight Iran for influence tooth and nail. The two countries will kill each others' surrogates. But it means Morsy feels no friendlier toward America than he does toward Iran.
        Egypt, the Arab world's most important country, has been turned from an ally of America against the Iranian threat into, at best, a neutral that will do nothing to help America. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Strategy for Making Peace with the Palestinians - Max Singer
    Israel will not be able to make peace with the Palestinians until it devises a strategy to encourage the Palestinians to give up their hopes for the destruction of Israel. The Palestinian community will abandon these hopes only when it is convinced that making peace is a better option.
        The most important ways to work towards peace are the resettlement of Palestinian "refugees" outside of Israel; stopping the hate campaign in the Palestinian education system; reducing monetary aid to Palestinian leaders who reject peace; and encouraging open debate in Palestinian society. The writer is a founder of the Hudson Institute and a senior research associate at the BESA Center. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

Decreased U.S. Presence in Missile Defense Drill No Sign of Change in Relations - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)

  • Washington's decision to scale down its involvement in an upcoming joint ballistic missile defense drill with Israel is not a sign of change in bilateral relations, a senior Israeli defense source told the Jerusalem Post on Saturday. Time magazine reported on Friday that initially about 5,000 U.S. troops were to participate, but that the number was being pared back to 1,200-1,500.
  • "All of the commentary on this has been wrong. There is no great significance. Nothing has changed," the defense source said, stressing that the drill is still the largest held by the U.S. and Israel to date.
  • U.S. Air Force Lt.-Col. Jack Miller, a Pentagon spokesman, noted that the exercise was initially planned for May, but Israeli defense officials had requested shifting the date until late autumn. "When the exercise was moved, the United States notified Israel that due to concurrent operations, the United States would provide a smaller number of personnel and equipment than originally planned," Miller said.
    See also U.S. Denies Tension with Israel over Iran - Asher Zeiger (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Israel Channel 2 TV Sunday there was "definitely a narrative in the media right now, I'd say an overheated one, about tension between the United States and Israel over the issue of Iran."
  • "But the truth is they don't reflect the very close coordination and very intense work we've done together to address an issue that we perceive the same way, which is the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
  • "We fully recognize that Israel is a sovereign country and will make its own decisions about its security. Israel is a strong country and has done that throughout its history. We're also trying to remain as coordinated as possible."
    See also White House: U.S., Israel in Agreement on Iran - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)

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