Private Group Sought to Arm Syrian Rebels - Dion Nissenbaum (Wall Street Journal)
Last year, a private group of Americans offered to provide 70,000 Russian-made assault rifles and 21 million rounds of ammunition to the Free Syrian Army.
Behind the initiative was Joseph E. Schmitz, who from 2002 to 2005 served as Pentagon inspector general.
The group set about arranging a weapons shipment from Eastern Europe, to be paid for by a Saudi prince.
Then a Saudi member of the team was approached by a CIA representative in Jordan, who told him to put the brakes on the plan.
Dutch Seize Heroin Worth $23M in Iran Raisin Container (AFP-Daily Star-Lebanon)
Dutch police have found three-quarters of a ton of heroin stashed in a raisin-filled container from Iran, valued at $23 million, public prosecutors said Monday.
See also Iranians Held in Huge Tanzania Heroin Haul (AFP-Dawn-Pakistan)
Tanzanian anti-narcotics police arrested eight Iranians and four Pakistanis found with 440 pounds of heroin in a boat sailing from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam in February 2014.
See also German Customs Find Heroin Hidden in Iranian Carpets (AFP-Times of Oman)
German customs officials found 100 pounds of heroin hidden inside the fabric of Iranian carpets intercepted at Leipzig airport in January 2014.
Hamas Wants to Employ the "Hizbullah Model" to Maintain Separate Military Force - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
A Hamas source has said the model being planned for the new Palestinian unity government is that of Hizbullah in Lebanon, in which it will maintain an independent military force.
"If anyone expects Hamas to hand over its missile network to the PA, he's making a big mistake," the Hamas source said. "Hamas... wants to maintain its power as a popular-resistance group."
UN Decries Rising Violence Against Palestinian Women (Ma'an News)
The UN organization for women on Friday decried rising rates of violence against women in the Palestinian territories after a woman was slain this week, raising the year's total so far to 14.
The "worrying increase in the rate of femicide, from 13 in 2012 to 28 in 2013, demonstrates a widespread sense of impunity in killing women." Femicide refers to violence usually perpetrated by partners or relatives of a woman.
A 2012 survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said that 37% of Palestinian women were subject to violence at the hands of their husbands, with the highest rate in Gaza at 58%.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- China, Israel Pledge to Push Bilateral Cooperation to New High
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong pledged Monday to promote bilateral cooperation in the areas of science, innovation, health, education and people-to-people exchange.
Liu arrived in Israel Sunday for a five-day official visit.
See also Israel, China to Open $300 Million Research Center - David Shamah
Tel Aviv University announced on Monday a partnership with Beijing's Tsinghua University to invest $300 million to establish the XIN Research Center, to focus on technologies in biotech, solar energy, water and the environment. Hundreds of Chinese government and business officials arrived in Israel this week, seeking Israeli technology to help China "upgrade" its society, said Shangyan Fen, head of strategic investment and development at China Everbright Ltd.
(Times of Israel)
See also Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong on Monday:
"China is Israel's largest trading partner in Asia and fast becoming perhaps Israel's largest trading partner period as we move into the future....There's a natural affinity and friendship between the ancient people of China and the ancient people of Israel." (Prime Minister's Office)
- Legacy of Hamas-Fatah Killings Complicates Unity - Fares Akram and Jodi Rudoren
In 2007, fighting between Fatah and Hamas left 260 Fatah activists and 176 from Hamas dead.
After Palestinian leaders signed a pact on April 23 to repair the Fatah-Hamas rift, a committee is now charged with persuading their families to accept compensation rather than pursue the death penalty as outlined in Islamic law.
After the reconciliation, it remains unclear what will become of the 40,000 employees of the Hamas government - and the 70,000 former PA workers in Gaza who for seven years have collected paychecks but sat idle. It is hard to imagine international donors continuing to pay two people for each job.
(New York Times)
- Peace Bust-Up Imperils $2.2 Billion for Aid-Reliant Palestinians - Jonathan Ferziger
The Palestinian Authority stands to lose more than $2 billion a year, or half its budget, following the announcement of its reconciliation pact with Hamas, the Islamist movement considered a terrorist group by the U.S. and Europe. Under U.S. law, there's a risk that the annual $440 million that American taxpayers contribute to Palestinian society will be yanked automatically. Similar terms govern the European grant of 426 million euros ($584 million), said David Kriss, the EU spokesman in Tel Aviv.
"We all know that the PA survives only through foreign donations and without them, it could collapse," said Ahmed Awad, a political scientist at Al-Quds Open University in Gaza City. (Bloomberg)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Video: Palestinians in Gaza May Target Israel Railways - Daniel Siryoti
Video intercepted after the arrest of a top Hamas operative shows close Palestinian surveillance of Israel's passenger train line between Ashkelon and Sderot. The Palestinians are monitoring the train line from a vantage point only several hundred meters from the border, within range of anti-tank missiles fired from Gaza. In 2011, Palestinian terrorists fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus near the Gaza border, killing an Israeli student.
- Israel: UNRWA Fuels "Fiction" of Palestinian "Right of Return" - Maya Shwayder
Israeli envoy Ron Prosor told the UN on Monday: "No one will admit that the real obstacle [to peace] is the so-called "claim to return.'" The right of return, he said, is actually a euphemism for the destruction of Israel. It would "flood Israel with millions of refugees, and drown the Jewish state by sheer numbers."
He noted that UNRWA has "perpetuated the [Palestinian refugee] problem instead of solving it," adding that "85% of UNRWA's funding comes from North American and Western European countries." The Palestinian government doesn't take responsibility for its people, he said, because UNRWA's services are already taking care of them.
- Former ICC Chief Prosecutor: Israel Has Little to Fear from International Criminal Court - Anshel Pfeffer
According to former International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Israel has little to worry about from the ICC in the wake of Palestinian threats to take it to court for war crimes.
During a visit to Israel last week, Moreno-Ocampo was full of praise for Israel's legal system and eager to point out that joining the ICC could backfire for the Palestinians. The ICC's job is to investigate and prosecute only in cases in which the local legal system is not performing.
For the ICC to rule on Israel's activities, he said, "the Palestinians have to prove that the [Israeli court's] decision...wasn't a fair proceeding." Moreno-Ocampo said ICC membership could be a double-edged sword for the Palestinians, since it would also open them up to investigation for war crimes, such as rocket fire and bombings targeting Israeli civilians. (Ha'aretz)
- Can Islamists Transit from Dictatorship to Democracy? - Daniel Pipes
In Turkey, a few key Islamists - notably Fethullah Gulen, leader of the country's most influential Islamist organization, and President Abdullah Gul - seem to be evolving away from aggressive dictatorship.
In Jordan, the Zamzam Initiative has broken away from the Muslim Brotherhood, arguing against its "monopoly on Islamic discourse" and calling for Islam to be "a cultural framework that encompasses the nation while emphasizing religious, sectarian, political and racial pluralism." The writer is president of the Middle East Forum. (Washington Times)
- Iran's Forgotten Prisoners of Conscience - Robert P. George and Katrina Lantos Swett
The Baha'is are Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority, numbering more than 300,000. As of February 2014, at least 135 Baha'is remained jailed for their beliefs. Hundreds more have cases pending.
It is well-known that Baha'is seek peace, not political power, and pose no conceivable security threat. Yet Iran's theocracy persecutes them, revealing a deep aversion to those whose only "crime" is embracing beliefs other than the regime's. Since 1979, the government has since killed more than 200 Baha'i leaders and removed more than 10,000 from government and university positions.
Baha'is are barred from attending colleges and universities, from starting their own schools, and from establishing houses of worship. Authorities won't recognize their marriages, their relatives can't inherit their property, and Iran's media demonize Baha'is. Mr. George serves as chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and is a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University. Ms. Lantos Swett serves as USCIRF vice chair.
(Wall Street Journal Europe)
Israel Will Never Be an Apartheid State - Michael Oren (Los Angeles Times)
- Apartheid imposed strict legal barriers between South African whites and all black people. It was synonymous with undiluted racism.
The word "apartheid" is wielded by Israel's enemies to delegitimize the Jewish state. Yet the situation in Israel does not even remotely resemble apartheid.
- The vast majority of Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank choose to live apart because of cultural and historical differences, not segregation, though thousands of them do work side by side.
- Separate roads were created in response to terrorist attacks - not to segregate Palestinians but to save Jewish lives. And Israeli roads are used by Israeli Jews and Arabs alike.
- The separation of schools is, again, a cultural choice similar to that made by secular and Orthodox Jews and Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Many Palestinians, however, study in Israeli institutions such as Ariel University, located in a settlement. Thousands of Palestinians, many from Hamas-controlled Gaza, are treated at Israeli hospitals.
- The security barrier is no more an apartheid wall than the fence between the United States and Mexico.
Palestinian leaders aspire to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza from which all Jews have been expelled. That is truly apartheid.
- In Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel, Jews and Arabs mix freely and increasingly live in the same neighborhoods. There is no imposed segregation. Go to any Israeli mall, any restaurant or hospital, and you will see Arabs and Jews interacting.
The writer was Israel's ambassador to the U.S. from 2009 to 2013.
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