Israel Will Not Accept Palestinian "Right of Return" - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Accepting the principle of a Palestinian "right of return" is a complete non-starter, Israeli government officials said Wednesday, in response to a Xinhua report that Secretary of State Kerry had agreed to allow 80,000 Palestinian refugees into Israel as part of a peace agreement.
Government officials said that Prime Minister Netanyahu would not agree to even "a symbolic acceptance of the so-called right of return."
Iran Increases Aid to Palestinian Terror Group - Hazem Balousha (Al-Monitor)
High-level sources in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) revealed to Al-Monitor that Iran has resumed its financial and military support for the group in recent months.
Several meetings have been held between the PFLP leadership abroad and Iranian officials in Beirut, Damascus and Tehran under the auspices of Lebanese Hizbullah.
"Following the resumption of Iranian support, there will soon be a dramatic increase in the strength of the PFLP's military wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades," the sources said.
The PFLP has come out in support of the Syrian regime and Hizbullah's position on the Syrian crisis.
Document Ties Hizbullah to Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri's Murder - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
Next week, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will convene on the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, an outspoken critic of Hizbullah who was killed in February 2005 by a massive bomb in Beirut.
An official court document reveals new details about the main suspect in the murder, Mustafa Badr Aldin - the brother-in-law and heir-apparent of assassinated Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh.
Hamas' Fortunes Slide - Daniella Cheslow
Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki found in December that Hamas enjoyed an approval rating of 33% in Gaza, a slip from an already low 39% in September.
Government Ends Funding for Canadian Arab Federation - Stewart Bell (National Post-Canada)
A government decision to stop funding the Canadian Arab Federation over concerns it appeared to support terrorist organizations and anti-Semitism has been upheld by the Federal Court.
In dismissing an appeal launched by the Toronto-based pro-Palestinian lobby group, Justice Russel Zinn ruled the decision to not renew the $1 million in annual funding was reasonable.
"CAF appears to support organizations that Canada has declared to be terrorist organizations and which are arguably anti-Semitic," the judge wrote.
Jewish organizations applauded the ruling, which was released Monday.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Iran Nuclear Talks Hit Snag on Centrifuge Research - Louis Charbonneau
Negotiations with Iran on implementing the November deal to freeze parts of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for easing some sanctions have run into problems over advanced centrifuge research, diplomats said. "As part of the agreement, Iran is permitted to engage in R&D, but that is tempered by the fact that it is prohibited to install new centrifuges, except as required by wear and tear," said one diplomat. But diplomats now say Iran wants to press ahead with the development of even more advanced centrifuges than the second-generation IR-2m.
"It was clear from the outset that the Iranians would play games," an Israeli official said. "They did it in the past, and now they're up to their old tricks again." (Reuters)
- Iran's Fingerprints in Fallujah - David Ignatius
Last week, al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq captured Fallujah, a city where hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded in the last decade fighting the jihadists. How did this happen?
Iran has waged a brilliant covert-action campaign that turned the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Iraq into virtual clients of Tehran - and in the process alienated Sunnis and pushed them toward extremism. The government reneged on promises to pay the Sunni tribal militia that Gen. David Petraeus mobilized in 2007 and 2008 to battle al-Qaeda in Fallujah and other areas of Anbar province. With Iraqi Shiites pulled toward Iran, Sunnis were drawn back toward the jihadist orbit.
The covert campaign in Iraq was directed by Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). At Iran's covert direction, fighters from Iraqi militias have also been sent to Syria to battle Sunni rebels there.
- Russia Blocks UN Condemnation of Syria Air Raids
Russia on Wednesday blocked a UN Security Council effort to denounce the Syrian government's air strikes on rebels in the city of Aleppo with Scud missiles and barrel bombs that have killed some 700 civilians.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Jordan Concerned Over Possible Israel-PA Deal - Khetam Malkawi and Khaled Neimat
Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour and Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh
heard MPs express fears on Tuesday that the "behind-the-doors" peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis would lead to stripping Jordan of its right to be part of a final agreement, particularly in connection to the refugees issue.
Ensour stressed that Jordan believes that all the refugees who came to Jordan during the period 1948-1949 have the right to return and are entitled to compensation. Judeh stressed that any "security-related arrangement" in the Jordan Valley must take into consideration the kingdom's national security.
See also King Abdullah: Palestinian Refugees in Jordan Must Be Discussed
Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told parliament that King Abdullah II told Secretary of State John Kerry that Amman would refuse to be involved in any framework agreement so long as the issue of Palestinian refugees in the kingdom is not discussed, Israel Channel 10 TV reported. Approximately 70% of Jordan's population is Palestinian. Abdullah explained that Jordan must be involved in an interim agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians because it will also be affected by its consequences.
(Times of Israel)
See also Jordan Fears Getting Stuck with the Palestinian Refugees (Ma'ariv-Hebrew-8 Jan 2014)
- Palestinians in Gaza Fire Mortars at IDF Forces in Israel - Yoav Zitun
Palestinians in Gaza fired three mortar shells on Thursday at an IDF force on the Israeli side of the border. IDF forces responded by striking the cell responsible for the mortar fire. Israeli aircraft also attacked a Palestinian cell in Gaza about to launch rockets toward Israel.
- Turkish Government Uninterested in Reconciliation with Israel - Aaron Magid
As the ongoing corruption scandal rocks Turkey, the pro-government newspaper The Star asserted that Israel's Mossad was behind the plot. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan also blamed Israel for the ouster of President Morsi in Egypt: "Who is behind this? Israel is. We have evidence in our hands."
Turkish sources claim that the reason for the delay in normalization of Israeli-Turkish ties is that Israel has not fulfilled its promises of compensation for the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident. But Arad Nir, foreign editor for Israel's Channel 2 News, contends, "The argument about the financial sum is nothing but a pretext for the Turkish government's unwillingness to end the crisis."
A Turkish diplomatic official stressed that even after a compensation agreement, Israel would need to ease the Gaza blockade in order to meet Turkish demands. Interestingly, Ankara does not make similar demands on Egypt, despite Cairo tightening its siege of Gaza.
- Back New Sanctions on Iran If Negotiations Fail - Editorial
The U.S. and Iran have cut an interim deal on Tehran's rogue nuclear program. But Iran's nuclear program is churning along while Washington and Tehran have dickered for more than a month about how to implement the deal. The six-month clock to reach a final settlement hasn't started to tick yet. Talk about diplomatic slo-mo.
We back the efforts of a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, led by Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), for new, more impactful sanctions on Tehran that would be immediately triggered if negotiations fail.
The legislation would dial up the embargo on Iran's oil exports and blacklist its mining, engineering and construction industries. It would cut Iran's access to billions of dollars in overseas bank funds and allow the U.S. to seize foreign-held assets of key regime officials.
President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation. The Iranians warn that any move that even appears to impose new sanctions could scuttle the talks. That sounds like a bluff, and it should be called.
- The High Price of the U.S. Mideast Peace Push - John Bolton
Diplomacy has costs as well as benefits. The obsessive focus on Israeli-Palestinian issues incurs what economists call "opportunity costs" - the lost opportunity to concentrate on other issues of greater importance or where there are better chances for progress. The most immediate costs fall on the Palestinians themselves, used and abused for decades not by Israel, but by Middle Eastern radicals who've made "Palestine" the point of their attack against Israel's very existence.
With attention diverted from repeated failures to create legitimate, representative institutions of governance, Palestinians have been left with a corrupt, ineffective Palestinian Authority, no functioning economy, few useful economic skills, precious little foreign investment and a dependency existence fostered by UN and other relief programs. As a result, there is simply no Palestinian entity that can make and implement the kinds of commitments necessary to sustain a true peace agreement.
For Israel, every hour spent talking to Secretary Kerry about West Bank apartment construction is an hour not spent addressing more serious issues, notably Iran's nuclear-weapons program, resurgent terrorism and the failure of the Arab Spring. The writer is a former U.S. ambassador to the UN.
(New York Post)
The Jordan Valley: Israel's Security Belt - Efraim Inbar (Israel Hayom)
- The Jordan Valley, the only available defensible border on the eastern front, is indispensable for Israel's national security.
Designing stable defensible borders in accordance with the current, but transient, political circumstances is strategically foolish.
- If Israel wants to maintain a defensible border along the Jordan Valley, it also needs to secure the road from the coast to the valley via an undivided Jerusalem and via Maale Adumim - 15 km. (9 miles) from the river. This is the only safe route via which Israel can mobilize troops from the coast to the Jordan Valley in case of emergency.
- Maale Adumim serves as the linchpin in establishing an effective line of defense along the Jordan Valley against aggression from the east. Building in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim will secure the road to the Jordan Valley and prevent the division of Jerusalem.
The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
See also Israel Determined to Maintain Control of the Jordan Valley - Cyrille Louis
"It's the only relevant site to establish a defensible border, and no one should be surprised that we intend to preserve it," explains Uzi Dayan, former national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert