U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell into Jihadis' Hands - James Risen (New York Times)
The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants.
The weapons and money from Qatar strengthened militant groups in Libya, allowing them to become a destabilizing force since the fall of the Gaddafi government.
The experience in Libya has taken on new urgency as the administration considers whether to play a direct role in arming rebels in Syria.
Syria: Has the Bubble Burst? - Frederic C. Hof (Atlantic Council)
Assad and the Syrian regime kingpins would do well to set aside the notion that they can shoot their way out of their predicament. To employ dirty weapons would alienate Moscow.
A far better course for Assad would be to depart Syria, leaving behind a successor prepared to negotiate a peaceful political transition.
It is perhaps not too late for him to perform two final acts of decency: keep the chemical components under lock and key, and leave.
The writer, a senior fellow of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council, is a former Special Advisor for Transition in Syria at the U.S. Department of State.
Is Hamas Real or a Bad Joke? - Burak Bekdil (Hurriyet-Turkey)
I am not sure if we poor souls can ever understand the jihadists when they say "they love death more than we love life."
Hamas' rhetoric stinks of death, nothing but death - indiscriminate death. Be it "our" death or "the enemy's." And it never metamorphosizes into something more humane, something less nihilist.
Most recently, in an interview with Today's Zaman, Gaza's Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, confidently spoke of "fighting the enemy forever."
According to Haniyeh, the nearly 200 dead Palestinians - including Palestinian children killed by errant Hamas rockets - proved Hamas' "prowess."
The latest war is over. Hamas is happy because the war gave Hamas what it says it loves more than we love life.
PA Radio Praises
Suicide Bombings Against Israelis - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
The official Palestinian Authority radio station Voice of Palestine broadcast a song on Dec. 1 glorifying suicide bombings targeting Israelis, two days after the PA was granted observer status at the UN.
The song says: "We are bombs...the enemies were beheaded....Grieve not, Mother, shed no tears over my torn flesh....We praised the Lord, and set out for Martyrdom. We strapped ourselves with explosives, and trusted in Allah."
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- Syria Loads Chemical Weapons into Bombs; Military Awaits Assad's Order - Jim Miklaszewski and M. Alex Johnson
The Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting final orders from President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday.
The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said. (NBC News)
See also Netanyahu: Syria Must Not Use Chemical Weapons
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday:
"Together with the international community, we are closely monitoring developments in Syria regarding its stores of chemical weapons. I heard President Obama's important remarks on this issue and we are of the same mind, that such weapons must not be used and must not reach terrorist elements." (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
- Egypt Sees Largest Clash Since Revolution - Charles Levinson and Matt Bradley
Tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of Egypt's president clashed Wednesday, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails and brawling in Cairo's streets, in the largest violent battle between Islamists and their foes since the country's revolution. The confrontation started after Islamist protesters marching in support of President Morsi moved to break up a demonstration by the president's non-Islamist opponents outside the presidential palace. A report by state television quoted the Health Ministry as saying five people were killed and 446 people were injured.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Egyptian Presidential Candidates Accused of "Zionist Plot" Against State
Three former Egyptian presidential candidates have been accused of espionage and plotting against the state, according to a complaint referred by Egypt's public prosecutor on Tuesday. Mohammed ElBaradei, Hamdein Sabahy and Amr Moussa are allegedly embroiled in a "Zionist plot" to overthrow the Islamist-led government of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's al-Masry al-Youm reported.
Earlier this week, all three declared their support of the ongoing sit-in in Cairo's Tahrir Square until Morsi's constitutional decree is revoked. The complaint was filed by Hamed Sadek, a lawyer, claiming that the opposition leaders "secretly met Israel's former foreign minister Tzipi Livni to drum up domestic turmoil and bring the country to its knees." (Al Arabiya)
- Netanyahu: "The Palestinians Want a State Without Peace" - Cornelius Tittel and Clemens Wergin
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview: "Every fair minded person knows that Israel is a beleaguered country, under attack. We're the only country threatened with genocide. We vacated territory right next to our cities, territory that has been taken over by the proxies of Iran, territory from which they've fired thousand of rockets on our cities and from which they openly call for our destruction."
"Now we're asked to vacate more territory right next to Jerusalem, right next to Tel Aviv, without any guarantees whatsoever from the other side that they'll recognize the Jewish state, that they'll end the conflict."
"The fact that the Palestinians tore to shreds their commitments under the Oslo Accords and went to the UN unilaterally is somehow dismissed....The Palestinians want a Palestinian state without peace. Many of these European governments voted for this thinking it may advance peace but in fact this pushes peace backwards because it tells the Palestinians you can get international recognition and international legitimacy without making the necessary compromises for peace." (Die Welt-Germany)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Thanks the Czech Republic for Support at UN
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Necas on Wednesday: "Thank you for your country's opposition to the one-sided resolution at the United Nations; thank you for your friendship; thank you for your courage."
"The UN resolution completely ignored Israel's security needs. It didn't require the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state. It didn't even call on it to end the conflict with Israel. And this is why it was unacceptable...to all responsible members of the international community."
(Israel Prime Minister's Office)
- Building in Jerusalem: A Strategic Imperative - Efraim Inbar
Maale Adumim, a city of over 40,000 Jews east of Jerusalem, serves as the
linchpin in establishing an effective line of defense along the Jordan Valley
against aggression from the east. If Israel wants to maintain a defensible border along the Jordan Valley,
it needs to build a Jewish-populated corridor to Maale
Adumim in Area E1 to secure a safe route
via which Israel can send troops to reach the Jordan Valley.
The Palestinians plan to populate Area E1
with Arabs in order to create demographic contiguity between Samaria and east
Jerusalem, thereby facilitating the division of the city.
The writer is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and director of the BESA Center.
(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- ICC Membership May Hurt Palestinians, Hamas More than Israel - Jennifer Trahan and Belinda Cooper
ICC jurisdiction is not limited to one side in a conflict. In other words, Hamas cannot expect a free pass in the future for indiscriminate shelling of Israeli civilians or use of Palestinian non-combatants as human shields.
In fact, ICC status may give the advantage to Israel on future prosecutions, while putting Hamas at a likely disadvantage. Because the ICC is considered a court of last resort that defers to national courts, it will not take on cases that states have made good-faith efforts to investigate or prosecute. Israel has already conducted investigations and undertaken some disciplinary actions regarding its forces' behavior in Gaza. Hamas, by contrast, has made no such efforts to deal with war crime allegations.
ICC membership also brings with it obligations, such as complying with arrest warrants and assisting in investigations. A new Palestinian state might be called upon to provide evidence against, and even surrender, some Palestinian nationals, like Hamas leaders.
Jennifer Trahan is chair of the American Branch of the International Law Association International Criminal Court Committee. Belinda Cooper is an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights. (Christian Science Monitor)
- Europe's Hypocrisy at the UN - Freddy Eytan
Countries in Europe, like Britain and France, still control territories across the ocean that are thousands of miles away from their own capitals. But when the Jewish state builds new apartments in Jerusalem, its capital, or in a "disputed" area, European condemnation is never long to follow.
Why don't the Europeans clearly state the actual truth - they are terrified of the economic crisis, from the waves of Muslim immigration washing over their countries; they are worried about terrorist attacks and they have no choice but to follow the Muslims' dictates and surrender to their blackmail.
The writer, a former Israel Foreign Ministry senior advisor who served in Israel's embassies in Paris, Brussels and Mauritania, is director of the Israel-Europe Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
- From Bushehr to the Bomb - Editorial
For years, U.S. officials have insisted that the Russian-built reactor at Bushehr posed a negligible proliferation risk. Instead, they concentrated nearly all their attention on Iran's efforts to enrich uranium. Now it transpires that Iran removed the fuel rods at Bushehr in October, a mere two months after the reactor became fully operational. The transfer could have been a test run for the Iranians should they decide to reprocess those rods into weapons-grade plutonium for as many as 24 Nagasaki-type bombs.
So much, then, for the notion that the Bushehr reactor is "proliferation resistant," since the IAEA is only permitted to inspect Bushehr once every 90 days. That means Iran could contrive an excuse to move the fuel rods without the agency knowing about it in time.
(Wall Street Journal)
The Palestinian UN Upgrade: Setting Things Straight - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The UN upgrade resolution has neither created a Palestinian state, nor did it grant any kind of statehood to the Palestinians. General Assembly resolutions, including the Palestinian upgrade resolution, can neither determine nor dictate international law or practice.
- The areas of Gaza and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) have never been determined in any legal document or agreement to be sovereign Palestinian areas. Both Israel and the Palestinians entertain claims over the areas in dispute
- After the Palestinian upgrade resolution, neither the status of Israel in the territories, nor that of the Palestinians, has changed in any way. The new claim voiced by the Palestinian leadership that Israel became, overnight, an occupant of Palestinian sovereign territory is without any basis.
- None of the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians contain any limitation on building in the areas under their respective jurisdiction. The attempt by the Palestinian leadership to isolate the settlements issue and to turn it into a precondition for further negotiation undermines any chance of a return to viable negotiations.
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) is not obliged to follow the recommendations of the UN General Assembly. The ICC has attempted, up to the present, to avoid having its independent juridical character politicized or otherwise compromised.
- Futile attempts to initiate criminal charges against Israel and its leaders do not portend any willingness on the Palestinians' part to create the ambience of mutual trust and confidence necessary for a resumption of sincere and genuine negotiations.
Amb. Alan Baker, former Legal Adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry and former Israeli Ambassador to Canada, is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center.
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