Netanyahu Calls for Early Elections in Israel - Karin Brulliard (Washington Post)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Tuesday for early parliamentary elections after failing to agree with coalition partners on a national budget for the coming year.
See also Text: Netanyahu's Statement on Elections (Jerusalem Post)
U.S.: Iran Aids Syria in Tracking Opposition - Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post)
Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security is providing crucial equipment and technical help to Syria in its effort to track opposition forces through the Internet and other forms of electronic surveillance, according to U.S. officials. Iran has long experience in tracking dissidents internally.
Iran advises the Syrians on how to gain access to Web forums and chat rooms, where they pose as opposition members to identify and track targets, one intelligence official said. Syrian agents are then dispatched to kill the rebels.
Pro-government hackers have covertly installed spyware on activists' computers by sending them e-mail and Skype messages purporting to be from opposition sympathizers that include attachments containing surveillance tools, said Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet privacy group.
Azerbaijan Jails 22 in Iran-Backed Terror Plot (AP-Washington Post)
A court in Azerbaijan has sentenced 22 people to lengthy jail terms for assisting Iran's Revolutionary Guards in terrorist plots against U.S. and Israeli targets.
Azerbaijani authorities said the Revolutionary Guards recruited Azeri citizen Niyazi Kerimov and gave him the job of assembling a group of other Azerbaijanis to act as spies.
Targets for attacks were to include the U.S. and Israeli embassies as well as Western-linked groups and companies.
Israel on Trial in New York - Sohrab Ahmari (Wall Street Journal)
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, a self-appointed people's court that has met periodically since 2009 to sit in judgment of Israel, held a session on Saturday in New York. The verdict was never in doubt.
Roger Waters, Pink Floyd's chief lyricist, was a member of the jury. He was joined by such luminaries as the novelist Alice Walker, former Black Panther Angela Davis and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
Egypt and Turkey Hold Joint Naval Exercise (Reuters-Zaman-Turkey)
The Egyptian and Turkish navies have begun a week-long joint drill in the eastern Mediterranean, an Egyptian military official said on Monday.
The official said it involved five Egyptian navy units and the Egyptian air force.
IMF Offers Positive Forecast for Israel - Sever Plocker (Ynet News)
The International Monetary Fund on Saturday released a positive estimate regarding the Israeli economy.
According to the IMF forecast, the Israeli economy is expected to expand 2.9% this year and 3.2% next year - faster than most developed Western countries.
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- IMF Forecasts for Iran Show Limited Sanction Impact
Projections from the International Monetary Fund suggest that although sanctions are damaging Iran, they are not likely to cause a collapse of its economy.
However, much of the IMF analysis is based on statistics provided by the Iranian government, which private economists say may not be reliable, and most of the report was prepared before Iran's currency, the rial, plunged by about a third against the dollar in 10 days through October 2.
- U.S. Military Is Sent to Jordan to Help with Crisis in Syria - Michael R. Gordon and Elisabeth Bumiller
The U.S. military has secretly sent a task force of more than 150 planners and other specialists to Jordan to help handle a flood of Syrian refugees, prepare for the possibility that Syria will lose control of its chemical weapons and be positioned should the turmoil in Syria expand into a wider conflict. The task force, led by a senior American officer, is based at a Jordanian military training center north of Amman.
(New York Times)
- Jewish Groups Criticize Christian Leaders' Call to Reevaluate Military Aid to Israel
Leaders of the Lutheran, Methodist, UCC churches, and the National Council of Churches have asked Congress to reevaluate U.S. military aid to Israel in light of "the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories."
The Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement said in a statement: "The letter calling for hearings and reassessment was issued without outreach to longtime partners in public advocacy within the Jewish community. It was released on the eve of Shabbat, just before a long weekend of Jewish and American holidays. And it was distributed at a time when Congress is out of session, in the midst of the general election campaign. We find these tactics to be disrespectful of channels of communication that have been constructed over decades."
Rabbi Noam Marans of the American Jewish Committee said: "When the world currently is focused on the Iranian nuclear threat to the entire Middle East and the world, Christian leaders have chosen to mount another political attack on Israel....When religious liberty and safety of Christians across the Middle East are threatened by the repercussions of the Arab Spring, these Christian leaders have chosen to initiate a polemic against Israel, a country that protects religious freedom and expression for Christians, Muslims and others." (JTA)
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- IAEA: Iran Diverted Half of Its 20-Percent-Enriched Uranium to Scientific Use - Amos Harel
Iran has diverted almost 100 kg. of its 190 kg. of 20%-enriched uranium to scientific research, an aspect in the International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report that Israeli policy-makers are emphasizing.
IAEA's August report, defense sources say, states that on a number of occasions in the recent past, Iran has allocated uranium enriched to 20% for the manufacture of fuel rods for a research reactor in Tehran, where isotopes can be manufactured for cancer treatment. The moment 20%-enriched uranium is allocated for scientific purposes, it is difficult to put it back on a bomb-making track.
Senior Israeli defense officials told Ha'aretz that "Iran has moved the wall back by eight months at least," and Israel's latest position is a consequence of this action. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN last month that Israel was extending its deadline for international action on the Iranian nuclear program until the spring of 2013.
Iran needs 220-250 kg. of uranium enriched to 20% to make one atomic bomb. Every time Iran enriched more than 130 kg. to 20%, it diverted 15 or 20 kg. to scientific use.
- Abbas Ready to Resume Talks with Israel after UN Status Upgrade - Khaled Abu Toameh
The Palestinians are prepared to resume peace talks with Israel after obtaining upgraded membership in the UN General Assembly, PA President Mahmoud Abbas told EU representatives on Tuesday in Ramallah where he tried to persuade them to support his new statehood bid. The statehood bid is designed to transform the Palestinian territories from the status of disputed lands to a state under [Israeli] occupation, Abbas explained.
See also From "Occupied Territories" to "Disputed Territories" - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Israel: Intercepted UAV Failed in Its Missions - Yaakov Lappin
The entity that launched the drone that flew into Israeli air space last week failed to retrieve intelligence or harm Israeli air defenses, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, policy director of the Israel Defense Ministry, told Israel Radio on Tuesday. The craft was spotted from a long way away and, due to operational concerns, was shot down by the IDF over an uninhabited zone in southern Israel.
Defense sources say the unarmed drone was sent to test Israeli responses and gather intelligence. It was likely launched by Hizbullah from Lebanon, with Iranian assistance.
- Should Israel Have a Red Line on Iran? - Michael Oren
Iran's irrational rulers daily pledge to wipe Israel off the map while rapidly producing the nuclear capability to do it. Can they be stopped, and, if so, by whom? Is there still time? Israeli security experts agree that sanctions, though damaging to the Iranian economy, have not slowed Iran's nuclear program. They agree that diplomacy, in spite of increasing flexibility in the international community's bargaining position, has not produced a single Iranian concession.
A nuclear-empowered Iran, Israeli commentators concur, presents not one but several existential threats to the Jewish state.
The most obvious threat is that Iran will mount a nuclear warhead on one of its many long-range missiles and fire it at Tel Aviv. Israelis scarcely believe that the regime that cleared mine fields with Iranian children, championed the suicide bomber, and planned a terrorist attack in Washington can be deterred by a Western nuclear umbrella. When even “moderate” Iranian leaders declare that they can destroy Israel with a single nuclear bomb, Israelis must take the radicals seriously.
When President Obama tells the UN that "a nuclear-armed Iran is a challenge that cannot be contained," Israelis could not agree more. "The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently told the UN. "The relevant question is at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb." That question, Netanyahu explained, can only be answered by drawing a red line across the only observable - and vulnerable - component of Iran's nuclear program: enrichment. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S.
- Civil War Leaves Syrian Economy, Cities in Ruins
In Syria's cities and towns, entire blocks of apartment buildings have been shattered.
Centuries-old markets have been gutted by flames and gunfire in Aleppo and Homs, and many factories, oil pipelines, schools, hospitals, mosques and churches have been systematically destroyed.
Although there are some pockets of Syria that have been relatively shielded from the conflict, the destruction in most of the country's major cities is staggering. "In terms of infrastructure, major parts of Syria have effectively been bombed back to Ottoman times," said Ammar Abdul-Hamid, a Washington-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
See also In Syria's Destruction, There Is Much to Mourn - Andrew Lawler
At the height of the Ottoman Empire, Aleppo was the world's largest metropolis after Istanbul and Cairo. A car bomb last week blew out the windows of the Aleppo Museum, one of the world's best collections of Near Eastern artifacts. Five of Syria's six most important ancient sites reportedly have been damaged, and massive looting of the country's ancient heritage may be underway. (Washington Post)
See also Video: The Destruction of Aleppo (BBC)
- The Iran-Hizbullah Strategic and Terrorist Threat to Africa - Ely Karmon
Iranian and Hizbullah presence and activity in Africa, as in Latin America, goes beyond the legitimate political, economic, social and cultural levels and creeps into the dangerous area of terrorism and subversion, threatening not only outside actors and interests but the very stability of the host countries. The diplomatic and political crisis resulting from Iran's involvement in the clandestine and illegal shipment of weapons to three West African states, Nigeria, Senegal and Gambia, are a clear example of this potential threat. (Institute for Counter-Terrorism-IDC Herzliya)
The Arab Spring and the Israeli Enemy - Abdulateef Al-Mulhim (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present, and future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The hard question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost of not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn't the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and infrastructure instead of wars? But the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.
- I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the underdeveloped Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and destroyed buildings in Libya. The photos and reports were shown on the Al-Arabiya network, which is the most watched and respected news outlet in the Middle East.
The common thing among all that I saw is that the destruction and atrocities were not done by an outside enemy. So, the question now is: who is the real enemy of the Arab world?
- The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel. The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list. The Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.
These dictators' atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.
- Now, with the never-ending Arab Spring, the Arab world has no time for Palestinians refugees or the Palestinian cause, because many Arabs are refugees themselves and under constant attacks from their own forces.
- What happened to the Arabs' sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. The life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab world. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for future Arab generations.
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