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October 28, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Rocket Fired at Ashkelon Intercepted - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system intercepted a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza toward the city of Ashkelon on Monday, the IDF said. A second Palestinian rocket struck an uninhabited area in the region.
    See also Israel Strikes Underground Rocket Launchers in Gaza Following Rocket Attacks - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Air Force struck two underground rocket launchers in Gaza belonging to Hamas' Kassam Brigades on Monday in response to earlier rocket fire on the Ashkelon region.

Ex-Air Force Chief: Israel Capable of Setting Back Iran's Nuclear Program - Yifa Yaakov (Times of Israel)
    Sanctions alone are not sufficient to pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear program, former Israeli Air Force commander Ido Nehushtan said on Saturday.
    "Nobody's happy about the idea of a military strike. It is carried out when the alternative is worse," he said.
    "It is possible to delay the Iranian nuclear program by hitting its facilities," he said. "I wouldn't underestimate the capacity of the Israeli Air Force to fulfill the missions it is ordered to carry out."

Report: 15 Hizbullah Soldiers Killed near Damascus - Ruth Sherlock (Al Arabiya)
    At least 15 Hizbullah fighters were killed on Saturday by Syrian rebels in Damascus' Ghouta district, Al Arabiya television reported, citing opposition sources.
    A video posted on the Internet showed dead soldiers with Hizbullah patches on their uniforms.
    Six wounded Hizbullah fighters were transferred to Lebanon for medical treatment.

8 Israelis, 1 Palestinian Hurt in West Bank Rock Attack (Times of Israel)
    Eight Israelis and a Palestinian child were injured Saturday night when Palestinian youths hurled large rocks at vehicles south of Hebron. The Israelis were in a bus, while the Palestinian girl was in a car.
    Elsewhere in the West Bank, near the town of Dayr Qadis, west of Ramallah, a car driven by an Israeli was hit by gunfire.

Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline May Extend to China - Ronen Solomon (Israel Defense)
    Pakistan announced at the start of the year that it will begin constructing the Pakistani section of a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan. The agreement will bypass the sanctions imposed on Iran's energy industry, and is expected to provide Iran with nearly $7 billion.
    According to a Pakistani source, the agreement includes a secret appendix that allows for continuing the pipeline to China.
    Washington has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Pakistan if it approves the deal.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel to Release 2nd Group of Palestinian Prisoners
    An Israeli ministerial committee voted Sunday to release 26 Palestinians jailed for killing Israelis before the 1993 interim peace deal with the Palestinian Authority. The government of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has promised to free 104 long-held Palestinian prisoners in four stages as peace talks proceed. Most Israelis regard the prisoners as terrorists for targeting civilians. (VOA News)
        See also Israel Announces Names of Palestinians to Be Freed
    The Israel Prison Service publicized the names Sunday of the 26 Palestinians to be released from Israeli jails. They include Damouni Saad Mohammed Ahmed, who was convicted of involvement in the brutal lynch of IDF reservist Amnon Pomerantz in Gaza in 1990. Another is Massoud Issa Rajib Amer, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who in 1993 was convicted of brutally hacking to death Ian Feinberg, a lawyer who spent time in Gaza cultivating ties to the local Palestinian community while promoting economic projects.
        Tukeman Yusef Suleiman Mahmed, Abu Hanana Zakariya Udia Usama, and Abdel-Aziz Said Kassam Ahmed were involved in the 1992 shooting death of Moshe Biton. Samarin Mustafa Kalib Asrar and Kra'an Azat Musa Musa are two Fatah terrorists who abducted and murdered Israeli soldier Tzvi Klein in the West Bank in 1992. Abu-Dahila Hasan Atik Sharif, a Fatah operative, murdered Avi Osher, his Israeli employer in the Jordan Valley, in 1991.
        Gnimat Amar Mahmad Mustafa and Gnimat Mahmoud Mahmad Ziad murdered Meir Ben-Yair and Michal Cohen while they sat in a car in the Judean foothills in 1985. Yosef Mahmad Haza Haza and Beni-Hasan Abdalla Mahmud Otman murdered Yoself Eliyahu and Leah Elmakayes who were trekking across a forest in the Gilboa Mountains. Asor Masbach Khalil Mahmad murdered Israeli taxi driver David Kaspi in 1985. Abed al Raba Nimr Jabril Issa killed Revital Seri and Ron Levy while they were hiking in 1984. Sabbag Ahmed Mahmud Mahmed, a Fatah operative, tortured and murdered three Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel in 1990. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Netanyahu on Palestinian Prisoner Release: Promises Must Be Kept (Jerusalem Post)
  • Syrian Rebels Reject Plans for Geneva Peace Conference - Ruth Sherlock
    19 of the most powerful rebel fighting groups in Syria have rejected a planned peace conference in Geneva, accusing the country's political opposition of "treason" if they take part. The document, signed by 19 Islamist rebel groups, including the four strongest fighting forces in the country, called Geneva a "betrayal."  (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: Palestinians Make Stiff Demands for Peace Deal - Ilan Ben Zion
    The PA demands that any land swap with Israel as part of a peace deal not exceed 1.9% of the West Bank, according to details leaked to Israel TV Channel 2 by a Palestinian official on Sunday. The Palestinians are also insisting that they gain control over water, and control at the Dead Sea and border crossings; that a Palestinian state be able to sign agreements with other states; that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners; and that all Palestinian refugees and their descendants be granted the right to choose to live in Israel or the Palestinian territories as part of a final agreement.
        According to the report, Israel has demanded that any peace deal provide Israel with territorial contiguity, that there be an IDF presence in the Jordan Valley for a prescribed period of time, and that, in addition to border adjustments covered by the land swaps, further land be annexed by Israel to cover the major settlement blocs in return for financial compensation to the Palestinians. (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinian Terms Leave Little to Talk About - Jonathan S. Tobin
    While Israelis and Palestinians managed to keep their mouths shut about what's been discussed since they agreed to start meeting again in July, the scoop by Israel's Channel 2 gives us a lot more insight as to where the parties stand. The Palestinians are not prepared to compromise on their ability to militarize their state or join in offensive alliances against Israel. They are also insisting that the millions of descendants of the Arab refugees of the 1948 War of Independence be allowed to "return" to Israel and effectively end the existence of the Jewish state.
        Without discarding the right of return, what the Palestinians are demanding is a Jew-free Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza alongside an "Israel" inside the 1949 armistice lines with what would potentially be an Arab majority. (Commentary)
  • Ending Boycott, Israel to Attend UN Human Rights Hearing
    Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday decided that Israel would end its boycott of the UN Human Rights Council begun in March 2012 and attend a hearing scheduled for Tuesday. Israel has repeatedly contended that the UNHRC exhibits anti-Israel bias, and the U.S. has called on the Council to cease said bias. Israel's decision followed European, American and Canadian pressure. (Times of Israel)
        See also Discrimination Against Israel at UN Human Rights Council - Anne Bayefsky
    The UN is gearing up for yet another attack upon Israel - the so-called "Universal Periodic Review" (UPR) in Geneva on October 29, 2013, under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council. The Council's regular agenda for every session contains one item for censuring Israel alone, and one general item for all other 192 UN countries combined. 35% of all the resolutions the Council has passed that are critical of specific states have been directed at Israel - compared to nothing about Russia, China, or Saudi Arabia. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • What Price for Peace with Iran? - Walter Russell Mead
    The U.S. attempt to reconcile moderate Arab opinion by withdrawing from Iraq, pressing Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians and aligning the Americans with moderate Islamist forces like the AK party government in Turkey and the Morsi government in Egypt was well intentioned but unrealistic.
        The prospect of a "grand bargain" with Iran - an arrangement that would stop the nuclear drive, integrate Iran into some kind of regional system and end the chronic instability and crisis that has dogged America's regional policy since the old alliance with Iran collapsed in 1979 - is irresistibly attractive in theory; it is hard to reach in practice.
        While economic sanctions have taken a serious toll, the regional picture is looking bright from Tehran's point of view. The U.S. will soon be leaving Afghanistan, it has given up any hope of influencing Iraq, and Assad is still holding out in Syria.
        Whatever outcome Iran's Supreme Leader seeks, he is not looking for a "win-win" deal with the U.S. He does not believe that our core interests are aligned. He wants his power to grow and ours to diminish.
        The Israelis worry most of all that the U.S. will accept a nuclear agreement that leaves Iran closer to a bomb than the Israelis would like to see. The Israelis also worry about the rise of Iranian power in their neighborhood, especially as it involves Hizbullah's access to arms and support. (American Interest)
  • Has the U.S. Opted Out of the Regional Power Struggle with Iran? - Jackson Diehl
    Al-Qaeda's new base in eastern Syria, Hizbullah's deployment of tens of thousands of missiles in Lebanon, and the crumbling of the U.S.-fostered Iraqi political system leaves U.S. allies in the region - Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey - marooned in a scary new world where their vital interests are no longer under U.S. protection. Israel and Saudi Arabia worry that Obama will strike a deal with Iran that frees it from sanctions without entirely extirpating its capacity to enrich uranium - leaving it with the potential to produce nuclear weapons. But more fundamentally, the U.S. appears to have opted out of the regional power struggle between Iran and its proxies and Israel and the Arab states aligned with the U.S.
        Virtually no one outside the State Department takes seriously the possibility that Kerry's plan for a Geneva conference to settle the Syrian war can work in the foreseeable future, or that Israelis and Palestinians can agree on a two-state settlement. They play along with the process to please Washington, or Moscow, while complaining to journalists like me that Kerry's diplomacy is based on fantasy. (Washington Post)

Iran Has No Right to Enrich Uranium - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday:

  • "Regarding Iran, we are not impressed by the discussion surrounding the issue of 20% enrichment....Its importance is superfluous as a result of the improvements the Iranians have made in the past year which allow them to jump over the barrier of 20% enrichment and proceed directly from 3.5% enrichment to 90% within weeks."
  • "Iran, which has violated all Security Council decisions on preventing it from enrichment at any level, has no right to enrich. This enrichment has only one purpose, not for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but producing nuclear weapons."
  • "Iran must dismantle its enrichment ability and its heavy water reactor as part of the process of preventing it from achieving nuclear weapons....Pressure must be increased because it is continuing to enrich during the negotiations. And because it is continuing to enrich, sanctions must be increased."
  • "I have been asked if I am concerned about standing alone in an isolated position against the world. First of all, the answer is no. This is vital and important for the security of Israel and, in my view, the peace of the world. Then certainly we are willing to stand alone in the face of world opinion or changing fashion. But in fact we are not alone because most, if not all, leaders, those with whom I have spoken, agree with us."

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