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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 25, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

PA Thwarts Hamas Drone Attack on Israel from West Bank - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Palestinian security forces recently uncovered a terror cell in the West Bank plotting to launch an unmanned aerial vehicle laden with explosives at Israel, Palestinian security officials said Friday.
    PA security authorities arrested Hamas activists at Hebron University after uncovering a terrorist network in the advanced stages of planning to launch a UAV into Israel.
    Hamas operatives had already run several test flights on the drone.
    Israeli defense officials confirmed the report.

Iranian Website Publishes More of President Rouhani's Memoirs (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    On Oct. 10, the Asr-e Iran website published extensive excerpts from an interview granted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2004 or 2005, when he served as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and head of Iran's nuclear talks team.
    In 1979, after the revolution, Rouhani became a member of the Majles and set up the army's ideological-political division.
    Rouhani said in the interview that Iran's agreement to suspend its uranium enrichment in 2003 enabled it to make progress in nuclear technology.
    Had it resigned from the NPT, it would not have been able to realize the technological progress that it has achieved thanks to the agreements signed with representatives of the European Union.
    He stressed that the suspension of uranium enrichment should not last long [Iran resumed uranium enrichment in 2005] and that Iran is operating in accordance with a clear strategy.

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IsraAid - Editorial (Intermountain Jewish News-Denver)
    The Israeli aid organization IsraAid has provided almost $100,000 in nutritional and hygienic assistance to refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war.
    The ironic dimension is that the Israeli aid workers and their Jordanian counterparts find it necessary to remove the word "Jewish" from the aid packages. The recipients, after all, are Syrians.
    They are not like the thousands of Haitians, Filipinos, Peruvians, Sri Lankans, Somalians, Japanese and even Americans (victims of Hurricane Sandy, the Oklahoma tornado and Boulder floods) whom IsraAid has helped in recent years.
    They are citizens of an Arab state that has been in a state of war with Israel since it was born.
    In these Syrian refugee camps, no reward - not even a word of thanks - is expected.
    We can think of no nobler example of selflessness, of human compassion, than this latest of IsraAid's operations.

First Druze Commander for the Golani Brigade (Israel Defense)
    IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz announced that Col. Rasan Alian will be appointed the new commander of the Golani Brigade, the first time a member of the Druze community has commanded the brigade.
    Col. Alian, who served until recently as the commander of the Menashe Brigade responsible for the Jenin region, rose from within the ranks of the Golani Brigade, and served in the past as the commander of its reconnaissance battalion and as the brigade's deputy commander.
    According to senior IDF officials, Col. Alian was appointed "because of his capabilities and significant experience in the field as a fighter."

The Magic Israeli Powder that's Paving the Future for Africa and the Pacific - Yoram Gabison (Ha'aretz)
    An Israeli-Canadian company, AnyWay Solid Environmental Solutions, manufactures a powder that stabilizes soil, substantially reducing the time and cost to pave a road.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Report: Iran May Be a Month from Having Enough Weapons-Grade Uranium for a Bomb - Oren Dorell
    Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month, according to a new estimate by one of the USA's top nuclear experts. "Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran," stated the report by the Institute for Science and International Security. David Albright, president of the institute and a former inspector for the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, said the estimate means that Iran would have to eliminate more than half of its 19,000 centrifuges to extend the time it would take to build a bomb to six months.
        If Iran decided to build a covert enrichment plant like it has under a mountain in Fordow, such a facility built with current Iranian technology could produce enough material for a bomb in a week, according to the ISIS report. If Iran moves ahead with installation of its more efficient, second-generation centrifuges, it would be able to produce enough nuclear fuel for a bomb with so few of them, between 2,000 and 3,300 centrifuges, that they could fit in a small warehouse, Albright said. (USA Today)
        Read the Report: Iranian Breakout Estimates, Updated September 2013 - Patrick Migliorini, David Albright, Houston Wood, and Christina Walrond (Institute for Science and International Security)
  • Israel, Arabs Warn Against Allowing Iranian Nuclear Enrichment - Joby Warrick
    "Iran must not have a nuclear weapons capability, which means that they shouldn't have centrifuges for enrichment," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome. "I think a partial deal that leaves Iran with these capabilities is a bad deal."
        U.S. officials say any agreement with Iran must include a combination of strict curbs on its nuclear activities and aggressive monitoring to ensure that Iran cannot use its nuclear facilities to make weapons.
        To Israeli officials, the only fail-safe solution would be to require complete dismantlement of Iran's uranium-enrichment program, which has grown since 2003 to include two enrichment plants containing tens of thousands of fast-spinning centrifuges to make nuclear fuel.
        Iran's current, 11-ton stockpile, with additional processing to enrich it to weapons grade, could provide Iran with enough fuel for 15 nuclear bombs. Proponents of the no-enrichment approach note that Iran has no inherent need to make its own nuclear fuel, which can be easily purchased from other countries. (Washington Post)
  • U.S.: Iran Must Take "Concrete Steps" for Sanctions Relief - Arshad Mohammed
    The U.S. is not looking to ease sanctions on Iran "at the front end of any negotiation or agreement, because it's going to be important to test Iranian intentions," Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser to President Obama, said Thursday. "Before we could pursue sanctions relief, we'd have to see concrete steps by the Iranians to get at the state of their nuclear program."  (Reuters)
        See also White House Presses Senate to Delay New Iran Sanctions - Timothy Gardner and Patricia Zengerle
    The White House hosted a meeting of aides to Senate committee leaders on Thursday seeking to persuade lawmakers to hold off on a package of tough new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. While Congress has sought harsher sanctions on Iran, the administration wants more time to give negotiations a chance. The negotiations are due to resume Nov. 7-8 in Geneva. (Reuters)
        See also Obama Calms Congress on Iran Talks - John Hudson
    On Wednesday, the State Department's chief nuclear negotiator, Wendy Sherman, held a classified briefing with Congress on the U.S. nuclear talks with Iran. Rep. Eliot Engel, ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a prominent critic of Iran's nuclear program, said he remains adamant that the U.S. not relent on pressuring Iran until it dismantles its nuclear program. "We all have the same goal. We don't want Iran to have a nuclear weapon."  (Foreign Policy)
  • Israel Minister: "Small Differences" with U.S. over Iran
    Yuval Steinitz, Israel's international affairs and intelligence minister, on Thursday said there were "small differences" with the U.S. over the Iranian nuclear issue, a week after direct talks between Tehran and world powers. "We generally see eye to eye with the Americans on the final objective, which is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but there are sometimes small differences over the way to do that," he told Israeli public radio.
        Steinitz added that sanctions against Tehran must not be relaxed until there is "an agreement guaranteeing 100 percent that Iran will never be able to have a nuclear weapon." He said Israel does not oppose Iran's right to civilian nuclear energy, but insisted it must not be able to enrich its own uranium, which is required to develop a nuclear warhead. (AFP)
  • Tehran Billboard Campaign Shows U.S. as Aggressor - Saeed Kamali Dehghan
    Tehran's streets are dotted with billboards questioning U.S. honesty in its direct talks with the Iranian government. The billboards show an Iranian negotiator talking to a U.S. negotiator who is half-civilian, half-military, with a shotgun on his lap. Billboards in public places in Iran must be vetted by the authorities, meaning that their distribution has official backing. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: Hizbullah Spearheading Battle in Syria - Henry Rome
    Hizbullah forces are leading the Syrian government's battle against rebels in the country's most violent regions, "fighting in the most dangerous and tough areas in Syria and actually leading the struggle," Maj.-Gen. Noam Tibon, head of the IDF Northern Command, said Thursday. "We must understand that this is not a war in Syria where Syrians are fighting against Syrians anymore." Tibon also said Hizbullah has more than 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ya'alon: Civil War in Lebanon between Hizbullah and Global Jihad
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday: "To those who are not yet aware, there is already a civil war in Lebanon. Global Jihad, which has infiltrated Lebanon and is attacking Hizbullah, is blowing up car bombs in Dahiya [south Beirut] and is firing rockets at Dahiya and the Beka'a Valley." He said the same Global Jihad elements fired four rockets into northern Israel from Lebanon in August. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Bomb Hurled at Israeli School Bus in West Bank
    A bomb was thrown at an Israeli bus transporting students to school on Friday morning in the northern West Bank near the village of Yabud, west of Jenin. No injuries or damage were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel and EU Move Closer on Horizon 2020 Project - Shlomo Cesana
    Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri told the Knesset on Wednesday about negotiations with the EU to allow Israel into the Horizon 2020 European research funding program. Peri said, "There is real willingness and even a desire to bring us on board to this project. It appears there is an effort to find a European political solution" regarding EU directives to prevent funding of Israeli research institutions and companies based in or with branches located beyond the Green Line. Israel is not prepared to sign an agreement as long as the Europeans continue to discriminate against these areas. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Saudi-U.S. Breakup?

  • The U.S.-Saudi Crackup Reaches a Dramatic Tipping Point - David Ignatius
    Last Friday, Saudi Arabia refused to take its seat on the UN Security Council, in what Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief, described as "a message for the U.S., not the UN," according to the Wall Street Journal. Saudi concern about U.S. policy in the Middle East is shared by the four other traditional U.S. allies in the region: Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. They argue (mostly privately) that Obama has shredded U.S. influence by dumping President Mubarak in Egypt, backing the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, opposing the coup that toppled Morsi, vacillating in its Syria policy, and now embarking on negotiations with Iran - all without consulting close Arab allies. (Washington Post)
  • Saudi Move Reflects Fears U.S. Falling for Iranian Charm - Angus McDowall and William Maclean
    Saudi Arabia's warning that it will downgrade its relationship with the U.S. is based on a fear that President Obama lacks both the mettle and the guile to confront mutual adversaries, and is instead handing them a strategic advantage. Riyadh is locked in what it sees as a pivotal battle with its arch-rival Iran, a country it believes is meddling in the affairs of allies and seeking to build a nuclear bomb. (Reuters)
  • The Saudis Know Iran Is Fooling Us - Clifford D. May
    Years ago, the Saudis began pressing Washington to take serious action against Iran, to eliminate the Islamic Republic's nuclear-weapons facilities, to "cut off the head of the snake," as the Saudi ambassador (the one whose assassination would soon thereafter be on the menu) vividly phrased it. The Saudis had a point. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Scripps Howard)
  • Saudi-U.S. Breakup? Where Else Will They Turn? - Karen Elliott House
    In a tribal society like Saudi Arabia's, it is well understood that weakness breeds contempt and invites aggression. Yet for the Saudis, there is no alternative protector. The kingdom has courted Russia and China in recent years, but they won't protect the Saudis from the primary threat of Iran. Indeed, they support the regime in Tehran. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Other Issues

  • Did the Balfour Declaration Launch the Jewish Return to Israel? - Dore Gold
    Last year, former Palestinian minister Nabil Shaath wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph attacking Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration, its famous statement of support for the establishment in the Land of Israel of a national home for the Jewish people. Shaath called the declaration, issued on November 2, 1917, the beginning of "British imperialism" in Palestine. For Shaath, there was no Jewish history in Palestine that needed to be acknowledged. The rise of the Jewish national home, in short, was seen as the product of external manipulations by outside powers, like Britain, and not the result of any authentic yearning of the Jews themselves.
        What became the Balfour Declaration went through a number of drafts. The original language of the declaration that was approved by the British Foreign Office and Prime Minister Lloyd George on September 19, 1917, specifically stated that Britain accepted the principle that "Palestine should be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people." Use of the term "reconstitute" meant that the land was once their homeland before and should now be restored to them. It meant that the Jews had historical rights. This original formula had been approved by President Woodrow Wilson.
        In any case, the Balfour Declaration was basically a statement of British policy; it did not establish legal rights. This first occurred with the meeting of the victorious allied powers at San Remo, Italy, in 1920, where they adopted the Balfour Declaration in an international agreement. Then in 1922, 51 members of the League of Nations approved the document for the Palestine Mandate, which stated: "recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."
        The Balfour Declaration reflected a historical trend that was already underway, but it did not launch the Jewish return to the Land of Israel. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)

A Lawyer in a Region of Thugs - Fouad Ajami (Wall Street Journal)

  • In recent years Iran's theocrats have pushed on with their nuclear program, kept up the proxy war against U.S. forces in Iraq, and pushed deeper into Arab affairs, positioning themselves, through their proxies, as a power of the Mediterranean. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had no interest in a thaw with the Great Satan.
  • Last month at the UN, Mr. Obama hailed Khamenei for issuing a "fatwa" against his country's development of nuclear weapons. Even though there is no evidence that any such fatwa exists, the notion that the Iranian regime is governed by religious edict is naive in the extreme. Muslims know that fatwas can be issued and abandoned at the whim of those who pronounce them.
  • We will ultimately discover that Iran's rulers are hell-bent on pursuing a nuclear-weapons program while trying to rid themselves of economic sanctions. The sanctions haven't stopped Iran from aiding the murderous Assad regime in Syria, or subsidizing Hizbullah in Beirut. And they will not dissuade this regime from its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
  • In Israel, there is the bitter realization that America's strongest ally in the region is now made to look like the final holdout against a blissful era of compromise that will calm a turbulent region.
  • A sound U.S. diplomatic course with Iran would never have run so far ahead of Israel's interests and of the region's moderate anti-Iranian Arab coalition.

    The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.
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