Flow of Arms to Syria through Iraq Persists, to U.S. Dismay - Michael R. Gordon (New York Times)
The American effort to stem the flow of Iranian arms to Syria has faltered because of Iraq's reluctance to inspect aircraft carrying the weapons through its airspace, American officials say.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton secured a commitment from Iraq's foreign minister in September that Iraq would inspect flights from Iran to Syria. But the Iraqis have inspected only two, most recently on Oct. 27. No weapons were found.
Adding to U.S. frustrations, Iran appears to have been tipped off by Iraqi officials as to when inspections would be conducted.
Israel Thanks Canada for UN Vote on Palestinians (AP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Prime Minister Stephen Harper and "thanked Canada for its friendship and principled position" at the UN, Harper tweeted on Saturday.
See also Israel Thanks Czech Republic for Support at UN (AP)
Netanyahu: Government Okayed E1 Planning, Not Building - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
The Israeli government gave a green light to zoning and planning in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim, but not to actual construction there, Prime Minister Netanyahu clarified Sunday.
Netanyahu seemed to signal to the Palestinians that if they go further with the type of unilateral actions they took at the UN on Thursday, Israel would indeed build in E1.
Netanyahu also said the 3,000 housing units authorized on Friday would be built in communities in the large settlement blocs, as well as in post-1967 neighborhoods in the capital, Jerusalem.
See also Ma'ale Adumim Mayor Hopeful over E1 Expansion - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
Ma'ale Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel was hopeful that after 18 years the Israeli government might be finally ready to authorize construction in an area of his West Bank city known as E1.
Former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin first promised Kashriel that he could build there in 1994, Kashriel said. E1 is located on state land and there are no Palestinian homes on it.
Kashriel added that it would become part of Israel in any final status agreement with the Palestinians.
See also The Logic of E1 - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
Despite claims to the contrary, building in E1 would not necessarily undermine the contiguity of a future Palestinian state. An access road could easily allow Palestinian traffic from the south and north to pass east of Ma'ale Adumim.
See also Protecting the Contiguity of Israel: The E-1 Area and the Link Between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Video: Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The resolution adopted on Nov. 29 on the status of "Palestine" at the UN calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state "on the basis of the pre-1967 borders."
Many who supported the resolution have no idea why this is so threatening to Israel's security.
In any future agreement with the Palestinians, Israel has a critical need for defensible borders.
Text of the "Status of Palestine in the United Nations" Resolution (UN General Assembly)
General Assembly Votes to Accord Palestine "Non-Member Observer State" Status (UN General Assembly)
Summary of the debate and complete voting results
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- White House Opposed to New Iran Sanctions - Josh Rogin
The White House announced its opposition to a new round of Iran sanctions that the Senate unanimously approved Friday, in the latest instance of Congress pushing for more aggressive punitive measures on Iran than the administration deems prudent.
On Thursday, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate passed 94-0.
The new legislative language would blacklist Iran's energy, port, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors, while also placing new restrictions on Iran's ability to get insurance for all these industries. The legislation would also vastly expand U.S. support for human rights inside Iran and impose new sanctions on Iranians who divert humanitarian assistance from its intended purpose.
National Security Spokesman Tommy Vietor explained the White House's official position that the sanctions aren't needed and aren't helpful at this time.
See also U.S. Bears Down on Turkey's Gold Link to Iran - Joe Parkinson and Jay Solomon
Washington and Ankara are on a collision course over Turkey's surging sales of gold to Iran, as the U.S. Congress and Treasury focus on cutting off a trade they believe is emerging as one of Tehran's primary conduits to export natural gas and evade Western sanctions. Data released Friday showed that Turkey still uses gold to pay for Iranian gas and circumvent sanctions.
"The Turkish gold deal is providing Iran a lifeline and the U.S. now seems more eager to stop it," said Atilla Yesilada of the Istanbul-based research consultancy Global Source Partners.
(Wall Street Journal)
- In Gaza, Surge of Support for Hamas Starts to Fade - Scott Wilson
Any power Hamas has derived from its recent confrontation with Israel is fading in Gaza. As older men say Hamas has finally won a fight with Israel and should march on Tel Aviv,
many younger people ask what precisely Hamas accomplished during the eight-day confrontation last month.
"What kind of victory?" asked Um Ram Abu Rokba, covered in traditional Islamic attire as she walked home from afternoon prayer. "They are lying to the people."
Responding to Mahmoud Abbas' UN upgrade resolution, Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas founder and the movement's foreign minister, said in an interview: "Our land is not just the West Bank and Gaza, and that is important. It is all of Palestine." Hamas is also hailing its patrons in Iran, a tactic that appears designed to shame Arab states into providing fresh support.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Rejects the UN General Assembly Decision
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday:
"The response to the attack on Zionism and the State of Israel must reinforce and underscore the implementation of the settlement plan in all areas in which the Government decides regarding settlement.
These are not my words. These are the words of the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and this is the language of the Cabinet's 1975 decision in the wake of the UN decision that equated Zionism with racism. Today we are building and we will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all areas that are on the map of the strategic interests of the State of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority's one-sided step at the UN constitutes a gross violation of the agreements that have been signed with the State of Israel; accordingly, the Government of Israel rejects the UN General Assembly decision." (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
- After UN Vote, Israel Approves New Housing in Jerusalem, West Bank - Itamar Eichner
In response to the Palestinian move at the UN, Israel decided Friday to approve the construction of an additional 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank. In addition, planning will be furthered for the E1 project connecting Ma'ale Adumim with Jerusalem.
See also Israel to Use Tax Transfer Funds to Pay PA's Electricity Bill - Omri Efraim
Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz stated Sunday that the tax payments collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority this month would be used to offset the Palestinian debt to the Israel Electric Corporation.
Steinitz added that the decision to further construction on the E1 segment was made "because it's time to connect Ma'ale Adumim with Jerusalem. It should have happened a long time ago. We made it clear to the Americans that if the Palestinians go to the UN, this will be our response." (Ynet News)
- PA Incitement Against Israel Getting Worse - Herb Keinon
Incitement and inflammatory language against Israel in the Palestinian Authority is at the worst level since Jerusalem began systematically measuring it in 2009 in an "incitement index," Strategic Affairs Ministry director-general Yossi Kuperwasser told the cabinet Sunday.
In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas painted Israel in demonic colors. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed that speech as "dripping with poison."
Commenting after Kuperwasser presented his quarterly findings, Netanyahu said, "This is additional proof that we are not talking about a disagreement over territory, rather about the rejection of Israel's existence." He said the failure of the Palestinians to accept Israel's existence within any border is the "root of the conflict."
"As long as the Palestinian Authority educates the younger generation to hatred, how is it possible to even speak about peace?" Netanyahu said, adding that the Palestinians want to "use the diplomatic process to bring about the end of the State of Israel....Going to the UN [on Thursday] is part of this." (Jerusalem Post)
See also The Culture of Peace and Incitement in the PA Index (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
See also New Book: Changing Forms of Incitement to Terror and Violence: The Need for a New International Response (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)
- The Palestine Mirage: A Futile UN Gesture that Violates the Oslo Accords - Editorial
Palestinian President Abbas on Thursday spoke of the "unprecedented historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people since Al-Nakba [the catastrophe] of 1948." That would not have happened had the Arabs not sought to murder Israel in its crib by invading it.
Accusing Israel of "ethnic cleansing," "an apartheid system of colonial occupation," "the plague of racism," and more, Abbas received a standing ovation. But Israelis who spent recent days in bomb shelters while Iranian-built missiles were fired at them from Gaza probably weren't cheering.
In effect, the General Assembly voted to violate the 1993 Oslo Accords, which are the legal basis for Abbas' Palestinian Authority and require negotiations with Israel to create a state. Somebody needs to send Abbas the message that there's a price to be paid for flouting his agreements with Israel and ignoring the pleas of the Administration.
The tragedy of Thursday's vote is that it will only encourage Palestinians to remain in their make-believe world.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Palestinian UN Vote Was a Calamity - Adam Garfinkle
Embedded in the UN General Assembly resolution on making Palestine an observer–status state are statements about borders and the status of Jerusalem that represent maximalist Palestinian positions. It specifies the borders of Palestine as those of the West Bank and Gaza before the June 1967 war. It also designates east Jerusalem as the capital of this state.
This means that it will be harder for any future Palestinian leader to accept less than the UN resolution text has staked out. The same goes for Jerusalem. If these two issues are essentially taken off the table as items for discussion and compromise, it makes the ultimate prospect of a deal that much more remote.
The simplest way to interpret PA motives here is to conclude that it isn't interested in a final peace settlement with Israel, but would rather pursue incremental tactical advances in a patient overall strategy aimed at first delegitimizing and ultimately destroying Israel. What the Palestinians have done is very likely to persuade ever more Israelis that they are not serious about peace. The writer is the editor of the American Interest.
Palestinian Search for UN Status Will Undermine Hopes of Statehood - Irwin Cotler (National Post-Canada)
See also Legal Implication of the UN Resolution on Palestine - Alan M. Dershowitz
- The Palestinian initiative, bypassing direct negotiations, may well undermine rather than advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, while constituting a standing affront to the UN, international agreements and international law.
- First, such a unilateral Palestinian resolution would undermine existing and accepted international frameworks for peace, such as UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, and 1850; the Roadmap for Peace; and various statements by the Quartet which reject unilateralism.
- Second, it violates existing Israeli-Palestinian bilateral agreements, most notably the Oslo II agreements of September 28, 1995, which state that "neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations" (Article 31).
- Third, the Israeli-Palestinian bilateral Interim Agreement was witnessed by the UN itself together with the EU, the Russian Federation, the U.S., Egypt and Norway. Accordingly, it would be highly inappropriate for such witnesses to now authorize a UN measure that would effectively violate this agreement.
- Fourth, the Palestinian resolution and UN General Assembly vote might well unravel the institutionalized legal and administrative framework that underpins existing Israeli-Palestinian relations.
- Fifth, if UN General Assembly recognition takes place while Hamas is the ongoing authority in Gaza, it would effectively amount to recognition of Hamas itself. Yet Hamas is defined as a terrorist organization by Canada, the U.S. and European countries.
- Sixth, the Palestinian resolution purports to presuppose, and prejudge, the outcome of negotiations on such critical issues as borders and the status of Jerusalem, which were to be decided in direct negotiations between the parties.
The writer is a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada.
The General Assembly vote declaring that Palestine, within the pre-1967 borders, is a "state" would have nasty legal implications if it were ever to be taken seriously by the international community. It would mean that Israel is illegally occupying the Western Wall (Judaism's holiest site), the Jewish Quarter of old Jerusalem (where Jews have lived for thousands of years), the access road to the Hebrew University and other areas necessary to the security of its citizens.
It would also mean that Security Council Resolution 242, whose purpose was to allow Israel to hold onto some of the territories captured during its defensive 1967 war, would be overruled by a General Assembly vote - something the UN Charter explicitly forbids. It would be the first time in history that a nation was required to return all land lawfully captured in a defensive war. The writer is a professor at Harvard Law School.
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