Monday, December 30, 2013

Obama's MidEast 2013




Misreading the Direction of History - Shimon Shamir

Last year, when Mohamed Morsi assumed the presidency of Egypt, the White House warmly embraced the Muslim Brotherhood regime, a policy decision that meant abandoning Washington's veteran allies in Egypt and arousing concern among its allies in the Arab world. It also meant ignoring the anti-Western essence of the Brotherhood.

President Obama explained that "you have to be on the right side of history."

His argument was that everywhere in the region Islamic movements are on the rise, they express the will of the masses and therefore democratization means Islamization; the U.S. must compromise with this change because it reflects a one-way historical process.

It took only one year for the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt to collapse when confronted by a broad popular movement that won the support of the army. Islamic forces have been checked in other countries as well, such as Jordan and Tunisia.

It is definitely right to aspire "to be on the right side of history," but only if you are aware of its complexity and acknowledge the limitations of reading it.
The writer is a professor emeritus of Middle East history, and a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and Jordan.
(Ha'aretz)



How the Middle East Map Changed in 2013 - Jacques Neriah

Since the beginning of the "Arab Spring," a number of striking changes have occurred in the Arab world. First and foremost, the Arab Spring represents the end of pan-Islamism championed by Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the beginning of an open war between Sunnis and Shias.

The civil war in Syria triggered a negative reaction towards Iran, which became the enemy of the Sunni world and has been treated as such ever since.

In Arab eyes, the U.S. administration committed a major error when it "betrayed" a 30-year ally - Mubarak - and favored instead the Muslim Brotherhood.

Another U.S. mistake in Arab eyes was to refrain from punishing Syria for its use of chemical weapons. The Arabs suspect that the U.S. did not attack because it wanted to mend fences with Iran. In the Arab perception, the old alliance between Iran from the time of the Shah's regime and the U.S. was resurrected at the expense of the traditional alliance with the moderates of the Arab world.
Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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UPDATES:


Ya'alon: Better a Boycott than Rocket Fire on Ben-Gurion Airport
- Stuart Winer

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon issued a scathing rebuke against pressure for Israel to pull out of the West Bank without adequate security arrangements. "If the alternative to a European boycott is rockets from Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah on our cities, on our strategic home front, on Ben-Gurion Airport, then...I prefer the European boycott."

Ya'alon also castigated Western policies towards the Middle East, which he said were based on "ignorance and unfamiliarity with the Middle East, its demographics and its mentality, its culture...naivete, wishful thinking, patronization and other conceptual mistakes."
(Times of Israel)
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Is Abbas Being Asked to Sign His Death Warrant? - Ali Salim

Mahmoud Abbas undoubtedly knows that the instant he signs an agreement with Israel, the Palestinian terrorist organizations will assassinate him. No Palestinian leader will agree to the final, definite end of the conflict.

If elections were held today in the West Bank, Hamas and other Salafist-jihadi organizations would win.
(Gatestone Institute)
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US Administration Hypocritical on Palestinian Release

 


U.S.: Don't Release Palestinian Who Murdered American - Nadav Shragai

As Washington pressured Israel to release terrorists who murdered dozens of Israelis before the signing of the Oslo Accords, it expressed reservations about the release of one man - Othman Amar Mustafa.
    

While the U.S. has no qualms about lobbying for the release of those who have murdered dozens of Israelis, it has a hard time accepting the release of a terrorist who killed an American citizen. In 1989, Mustafa killed Steven Rosenfeld, a native-born New Yorker.   

Nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists whom Israel has released since 1985 resumed terrorist activities either as planners of attacks, executors of attacks, or accessories.
     

The Americans don't need the Israeli precedent to understand that of the 603 prisoners who have been released from Guantanamo Bay, 100 resumed their careers in terrorism, while another 74 are suspected of going back to terrorism.
It's not hard to understand why the rate of terrorist recidivism is so high among the Palestinians. The terrorists are welcomed back into an atmosphere that exalts and lionizes acts of terrorism and jihad.

(Israel Hayom)


List of Palestinian Terrorists Freed by Israel

26 Palestinian prisoners are to be released on Monday night in the third phase of a four-stage series of releases agreed on when peace talks with the Palestinians were resumed. Most of the prisoners were convicted of murdering Israeli civilians, soldiers or Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel.

They include:
Yakoub Muhammad Ouda Ramadan, Afana Mustafa Ahmad Muhammad, and Da'agna Nufal Mahmad Mahmoud, convicted of stabbing to death Sara Sharon, 37, in Holon.


Kamil Awad Ali Ahmad, convicted of kidnapping, torturing and murdering 15 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. 

Othman Amar Mustafa, convicted of murdering Steven Rosenfeld, 48, a U.S.-born immigrant to Israel.
     

Abu Mohsin Khaled Ibrahim Jamal, convicted of stabbing to death Shlomo Yahya, 76, a gardener in a public park in Moshav Kadima.

Sawafta Sudqi Abdel Razeq Mouhlas, who stabbed Yosef Malka to death during an attempt to rob his home in Haifa.

Barham Fawzi Mustafa Nasser, who stabbed his former employer Moshe Edri in the back. He said he had carried out the murder to prove that he was worthy of joining Hamas.
   

Mahmud Muhammad Salman, who strangled Shai Shoker to death.

Mahmoud Ibrahim Abu-Ali Faiz, convicted of murdering Ronny Levy.
Zaki Rami Barbakh Jawdat, convicted of murdering Yosef Zandani.
    

Abu Hadir Muhammad Yassin Yassin, who shot Yigal Shahaf, 24, in the head while Shahaf and his wife were walking through Jerusalem's Old City.

Muammar Ata Mahmoud Mahmoud and Salah Khalil Ahmad Ibrahim, convicted of murdering Menahem Stern, 64, an Israel Prize-winning history professor at Hebrew University. 
(Times of Israel)


Senior Palestinian Official: No Peace Deal Will Emerge

Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath told Ma'an that no peace deal would emerge after the nine-month time limit "because of what Israel and the United States are proposing." He said he expects 2014 to be dedicated to reactivating Palestinian resistance, "as negotiations have failed to make a single step forward."
(Ma'an News-PA)
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Palestinians Demand a Free Ride

Palestinian youth riot over being charged for electricity

Refugee Camps Seethe under Weakening PA Control - Avi Issacharoff 

Dozens of Palestinian youths took to the streets and burned tires in Tulkarm in the West Bank over the weekend, blocking roads for hours in protest over plans by the PA and the municipality to put electric meters in the homes of the residents in order to charge them for electricity usage.
(Times of Israel)
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Palestinians Play Fast & Loose with Christmas



Abbas Rewriting History: Jesus Was Not a Palestinian
- Raphael Ahren

PA President Mahmoud Abbas published a lengthy Christmas greeting, calling Jesus "a Palestinian" and accusing Israel of being responsible for the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.
    

Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor called Abbas' statement an "outrageous rewriting of Christian history." 

An Israeli government official added: "The exodus of Christians from Bethlehem turned into a flood the moment the PA took control."   
(Times of Israel)



Christians Abandoning Bethlehem - Anne-Marie O'Connor

There's been something missing in the birthplace of Christianity: Christians. For years, Palestinian Christians have been quietly abandoning the place where Jesus is said to have been born, packing their bags for Latin America, Europe and the U.S.

During the Ottoman era, a century ago, Bethlehem was 90% Christian. Today the city of 22,000 is more than two-thirds Muslim.
(Washington Post)
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UPDATE:

Israel's Christian Awakening - Adi Schwartz

This year has seen the rise of an independent voice for Israel's Christian community, which is increasingly trying to assert its separate identity. An informal grass-roots movement, prompted in part by the persecution of Christians elsewhere in the region since the Arab Spring, wants to cooperate more closely with Israeli Jewish society - which could mean a historic change in attitude toward the Jewish state. "Israel is my country, and I want to defend it," says Henry Zaher, an 18-year-old Christian from the village of Reineh. "The Jewish state is good for us."
    

Of Israel's 8 million citizens, about 130,000 are Arabic-speaking Christians (mostly Greek Catholic and Greek Orthodox), and 1.3 million are Arab Muslims. Fear of being considered traitors often drove Christians in Israel to proclaim their full support for the Palestinian cause.  [I]n mixed Muslim-Christian cities such as Nazareth, many Christians say they feel outnumbered and insecure.
   

Rev. Gabriel Naddaf, 40, a former spokesman of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, backs greater Christian integration into the Jewish state and increasing the number of Christians joining the Israel Defense Forces. "Israel takes care of us, and if not Israel, who will defend us? We love this country, and we see the army as a first step in becoming more integrated with the state." 
(Wall Street Journal)
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Letting Assad Help?



Don't Get in Bed with Assad - Emile Hokayem

The rise of extremists in Syria is generating dangerous thinking in Western capitals. High-level advisers and former officials have recently started to talk about Bashar al-Assad as a lesser evil than whatever comes next; some even see him as a potential partner in fighting jihadi terrorists.
   

Renewed intelligence cooperation is exactly how Assad hopes to lure back Western support. He reportedly offered such assistance to Obama through Iraqi prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who recently visited Washington. Offering information about Western hostages and Western jihadis, Assad calculates, will bolster him just as the chemical weapons deal did. Engagement will shore up his legitimacy and further demoralize his internal foes.
    

Ultimately, Assad expects that the fear of future jihadi terrorism will make the world forget his massacres. That he may succeed after killing tens of thousands of his own people would be a damning indictment of Western policy.
   

Beyond being morally bankrupt, restoring counterterrorism cooperation with the Assad regime will only exacerbate the jihadi problem. It will validate Sunni suspicions that the West was always in cahoots with Assad; it will drive more Syrians into jihadi hands; and it will make it more difficult to cultivate local partners to counter extremists.  
The writer is a Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
(New York Times)
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Prince Charles Breaks Silence on Christian Persecution

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25426155



Christians persecuted by Islamists, says Prince Charles -John McManus

Christians in parts of the Middle East are being deliberately targeted by Islamist militants in a campaign of persecution, Prince Charles has said.

The Prince of Wales made his comments after visiting the British branches of churches based in the region. The prince heard accounts of Christians being murdered and families forced from their homes. The upheavals of the Arab Spring have left many religious minorities vulnerable to accusation and attack.

Charles visited the Egyptian Coptic Church centre in Stevenage and the Syriac Orthodox cathedral in west London. The royals met church members who had either suffered intimidation or family members whose safety they feared for.

Later at a reception at Clarence House, attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of Westminster and the Chief Rabbi, Prince Charles said he felt deeply troubled by the plight of Christians.

Minority Muslims, such as Sufis, have also frequently been attacked by Islamists in South Asia as well as Arab countries.

The falling Christian population in the Middle East has led to concerns over the religion's survival in the region of its birth.

British Christians have urged the government and church leaders to do more to help their co-religionists.
[BBC News]
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Forced Exodus: Christians in the Middle East - Roland Flamini  

The Christian population in the Middle East is shrinking at a faster rate than ever before, through emigration and wholesale killings, as well as a lower birthrate than its Muslim counterparts.
   

63% of Arab Americans are descended from Christian immigrants.
(World Affairs)


Christians Are Fair Game - Zvi Bar'el 

According to Western estimates, about 45,000 Christians out of a total Christian population of about 2 million have fled Syria, and the pace is increasing.
   

In Iraq, out of a population that numbered about 1.2 million in the 1990s, only between 200,000 and 500,000 Christians remain in the country.    
(Ha'aretz)
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Saudi Arabia Breaks Code of Silence: Slams US on Iran

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud 


Saudi Arabia Will Go It Alone - Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud

We believe that many of the West's policies on both Iran and Syria risk the stability and security of the Middle East. This is a dangerous gamble, about which we cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by.

While international efforts have been taken to remove the weapons of mass destruction used by the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad, surely the West must see that the regime itself remains the greatest weapon of mass destruction of all.
   

The Assad regime is bolstered by the presence of Iranian forces in Syria. They are there to support an evil regime that is harming the Syrian people. It is a familiar pattern for Iran, which has financed and trained militias in Iraq, Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon and militants in Yemen and Bahrain. Moreover, the West has allowed the Iranian government to continue its program for uranium enrichment, with all the consequent dangers of weaponization.
   

Saudi Arabia has enormous responsibilities within the region, as the cradle of Islam and one of the Arab world’s most significant political powers. We have global responsibilities — economic and political — as the world’s de facto central banker for energy. 

We will act to fulfill these responsibilities, with or without the support of our Western partners. Nothing is ruled out in our pursuit of sustainable peace and stability in the Arab World...

Saudi Arabia will continue on this new track for as long as proves necessary. We expected to be standing shoulder to shoulder with our friends and partners who have previously talked so much about the importance of moral values in foreign policy. But this year, for all their talk of "red lines," when it counted, our partners have seemed all too ready to concede our safety and risk our region's stability.
The writer is Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain.
(New York Times)
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Elusive MidEast Peace


Kerry's Peace Framework - Jonathan S. Tobin

Secretary of State Kerry is back in Israel and demanding that both the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority accept the security provisions he has envisioned for the aftermath of a peace deal. Even more, reports say he is telling both the Netanyahu government and Mahmoud Abbas' PA regime he expects them both to accept a framework for an accord by the end of January.

A common desire for a deal simply isn't present between Israel and the Palestinians and no amount of U.S. pressure can manufacture it. Kerry's belief that Israel needs peace and would benefit from a two-state solution in which the Palestinians renounce the conflict for all time is largely correct. But unfortunately his assumption that Abbas has made such a decision to give up the conflict is not based in fact.

The PA continues to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. It also won't or can't give up its demand for the "right of return" for the descendants of the 1948 refugees. Both show that while Abbas would accept more territory, he won't pay for it with genuine peace.

Israel desires peace as much as Kerry. It has already taken many risks for the sake of an accord. But Palestinian political culture regards Israel as an illegitimate intrusion into the region. Until a sea change in that culture occurs, it will remain the real obstacle to peace. And no amount of pressure on Israel can change that.
(Commentary)



The Neo-Mandate Solution -Barry Rubin, PhD

If the current Obama-Kerry plan for an Israel-Palestinian deal is implemented, scores of Americans would likely die.

The Obama Administration plan is very simple, assuming that everything goes smoothly–which of course it will not.

According to the plan, the United States would gradually create and maintain the agreement by policing an independent Palestinian state. Israel would be protected by the U.S. forces, and Palestine would be protected from Israel by them.  [W]hat the wrong-headed people in the Obama Administration do not understand is that they would be under constant challenge.
 
In other words, if Americans are on the ground, they will be targeted. Now the question is what will they do?
 
What about a large stream of cross-border attacks? Will Americans attack Palestinians if they violate the agreement?
 
Are we to believe that American helicopters, airplanes, and ground soldiers would attack when the whole effort of this exercise had been to avoid military commitments?
 
The United States may suffer a great number of casualties over time. Note the 3,400 deaths of Western coalition soldiers in Afghanistan so far. Are Western forces willing to sacrifice more than 300 soldiers a year?
 
And of course Americans are going to accidently kill Palestinians, both fighters and unarmed civilians. This then would create a blood-feud.
 
How long will the American people accept photos of dead Palestinians, much less dead Israelis? And sooner or later, the United States would leave the new state and leave Israel with a mess.
 
It is no accident that Israel has never been willing to trust its security to a third party. This is a roadmap for increased conflict.
 
The United States will have two choices:
  1. The U.S. helps Israel, albeit with constant opposition, and alienates the Arab and Iranian and Turkish world.
  2. The United States will gradually get tired of the burden and walk away from it.
[Rubin Reports]
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A Real Arab Spring - Norman Lebrecht

Coming out of a movie last month at an Israeli mall, I ran into a conga line of men, women and children shuffling their way into a McDonald's. The men wore T-shirts and jeans, the women flowery headscarves and varied outfits. It was someone's birthday. It took a second look to realize that the celebrants were a family of Israeli Arabs. Today there are 1.6 million Israeli Arabs, some 20% of the population. They enjoy full civic rights and a high level of prosperity.

As I drove through the Arab heartlands in Galilee, I passed a noisy town with three-storey houses and an exclusive European car dealership. On Friday night, there are as many Israeli Arabs strolling along the promenade along the Tel Aviv seafront as there are Israeli Jews. Over the past 25 years, normalization has set in. Learning Hebrew at school, Israeli Arabs have made careers in most parts of the economy and in academic life. One of the most popular comedy series on commercial Israeli television is entitled "Arab Labor." It makes merry with the tensions raised by a middle-class Arab family who move into an urban Israeli apartment block. One of the Arab actors, Mira Awad, has represented Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Economic progress and social participation are positive indicators of how the country and the region might function if and when a peace agreement is reached. The Israeli Arabs serve, in this respect, as role models for a postwar utopia. They also refute hostile cliches such as the perpetual accusation that Israel is somehow an "apartheid state." The apartheid libel denies the blatant reality that Israel is an evolving society with more tolerance for minorities than any of its neighbors. The casual confidence of its Arab citizens is testimony to a healthy society.
(Standpoint-UK)
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Monday, December 09, 2013

Boosting Iran's Economy


Iran's President: Nuclear Deal Has Helped Economy

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said that last month's nuclear deal with world powers has already boosted the country's economy. Rouhani told parliament, "Economic activities have been shifted to the stock exchange from gold, hard currency and real estate."
(AP-Washington Post)


U.S. and Iran See Nuclear Deal Differently - Jonathan Schanzer

After initially celebrating a diplomatic success, Iran is now reportedly lashing out at the U.S. for releasing a modified version of the Geneva agreement that does not reflect its interpretation.

As it stands now, the Geneva agreement looks less solid than previously believed. Rather large gaps remain on core issues. Both sides have at least a month to iron out the details; the agreement will not be implemented before late December or early January.
The writer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(CNN)
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UPDATES:

Poll: Americans Disapprove of U.S.-Iran Nuclear Deal    

43% of Americans disapprove of the agreement between the U.S. and Iran over its nuclear program, while 32% approve of the deal, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center conducted Dec. 3-8.
    

By roughly two-to-one (62% to 29%), those who have heard about the agreement say Iran's leaders are not serious about addressing international concerns over the country's nuclear program.  
(Pew Research Center)
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Iran Building Terror Infrastructure to Strike U.S. - Mitch Ginsburg

Iran has built an infrastructure of terror in Central and South America in order to target Israelis and Jews there and have a base from which to attack the U.S., Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said.

"They built this infrastructure for the eventuality that they will have to act against Jews, Israelis or Israeli interests, but it is important to them as an infrastructure that enables them to act within the United States."
(Times of Israel)
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Containment, Not Prevention, Is the Real U.S. Policy
- Bret Stephens

The Obama administration's policy on Iran's nuclearization is containment, not prevention.

"There's nothing in this agreement or document that grants Iran a right to enrich," Mr. Obama said. The reality is that the Geneva deal allows Iran to continue to enrich uranium, and it specifies that a final accord "would involve a mutually defined enrichment program." So Geneva doesn't "grant" Iran a right to enrich. It merely accepts it de facto and envisions it de jure.

The argument is now being made that a containment policy beats the unforeseen risks associated with stopping Iran by force.

People who dine in Washington eateries that only recently Tehran made plans to blow up should not concede this point so cavalierly. If Iran was prepared to aggress that way without the benefit of a nuclear umbrella, just imagine how it will behave with one.
(Wall Street Journal)
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Deciphering Iran's New Foreign Policy - Mardo Soghom
 
Regime survival is an overriding factor. How much can Khamenei give up or change in Iranian policies without endangering the regime's survival?

If Khamenei makes a drastic change in relations with the U.S., other things will follow: Ordinary people will yearn for openness, social freedoms, and a better economy. Reformist activists will feel empowered and emboldened to ask for more.

Gradually, more openness will bring a larger foreign - Western - footprint into the country. Khamenei, most clerics, and Revolutionary Guards think of this as a nightmare.
(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
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ANOTHER IMPORTANT UPDATE:


U.S. Admits Iran Will Get $20B from Sanctions Relief - Amos Harel

Senior officials in the Obama administration have conceded in conversations with Israeli colleagues that the value of the economic sanctions relief to Iran could be much higher than originally thought in Washington, security sources in Israel told Ha'aretz.

Official U.S. statements said the economic relief would be $6-7 billion. Israeli assessments were $20 billion.

The Americans now concede in their talks with Israel that the sanctions relief is worth much more.
(Ha'aretz)
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Israel Assists Philippines Following Mega-Storm


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
 
A short video featuring Israel's role in provideing medical assistance following the mega-storm

Friday, December 06, 2013

The Ground Shifts in the Middle East

 


Are Sunni Arabs More Afraid of Israel than Iran?
-Barry Rubin, PhD

In an absolutely remarkable historical event, President Shimon Peres delivered a speech to 29 representatives from Arab and Islamic states via satellite.
Do not kid yourself; this would not have happened if the Egyptians, Saudis, and others hadn't thought that the U.S. had sold out the Sunni Arabs.
"Everybody understood that this was something historic: the president of the Jewish state sitting in his office in Jerusalem with an Israeli flag and the foreign ministers sitting in the Persian Gulf discussing security, the war on terror and peace," said one of the Arab organizing officials.

There are three themes to Peres' speech. The threat of Iranian nuclear weapons on all the region's nations, the dangers of radical Islamism, and the usefulness of making peace with Israel.
 
[A] point that might be missed is the implication that Israel will share nuclear intelligence with other Arab-Muslim nations.
 
Finally, note that since Egypt is angry with Hamas–and Egypt and Israel are keeping peace in the Sinai–Hamas has more limited wartime capabilities. And Hizballah–because of its participation in the Syrian civil war–wants to avoid armed conflict with Israel. This situation seems to be the best that can be achieved in the region.
[RubinReports]
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- Jim Acosta

The Obama administration is "prepared to negotiate a strictly limited enrichment program" with Iran, national security spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
(CNN)
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- Eli Bardenstein and Ariel Kahane
 
The Jordanians are pressing the U.S. to accept Israel's position that the presence of the Israel Defense Forces along the Jordan River is essential for the security of the region. A senior Israeli official said: "There is no technical solution that the Americans have proposed that can replace the presence of the IDF on the Jordan."

A senior political official said that Netanyahu is planning to speed construction of a security fence along the river and that the Jordanians are pressing Washington to accept Israel's security requests since they will also defend Jordan.
(Maariv-5 Dec 2013)
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Iran Deal Another Russian Victory over the U.S.
- Shlomo Avineri

While the interim agreement may not be a replay of the Munich Agreement in 1938, it may have set the stage for an even more combustible future. President Obama may not be in office when the fire ignites, but if things do go terribly wrong, he may be remembered as another statesman who was blind to the consequences of his peaceful intentions.

For the Kremlin, Iran's nuclear program is only one chapter in a campaign to reassert Russia's role as a great power. Indeed, the interim agreement should be viewed as another in a string of recent Russian diplomatic victories over the U.S.

These include Ukraine's decision to reject an association agreement with the EU, President Assad remaining in power despite Obama's insistence that he leave, and Western-oriented groups in Egypt turning to Russia as a source of future military supplies.
The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(Project Syndicate)
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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Two State Delusion? Is Oslo Dead?

One of the most intractable issues that the Oslo accord was supposed to resolve revolved around the status of Jerusalem. Despite a number of good-faith efforts to share the city proposed by Israeli negotiators, the Palestinians have spurned all offers. In fact, lines have hardened as evidenced by the confrontation seen here between Palestinians and Israeli police over the presence of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

The Two-State Delusion/Oslo's Unaddressed Fallacies
-Mordechai Nisan


Two decades after the signing of the declaration of principles (DOP) by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on the White House lawn, there is something unreasonable in the world's continued adherence to the Oslo paradigm, tattered and battered as it is by years of a bloody fiasco.

At the heart of the failed Oslo paradigm are a core group of fallacies that have been promoted as truths: that the land can sustain two opposing population groups; that the Arab goal of destroying Israel can be appeased through "painful concessions" (rather than defeated by an Israeli victory); and that this is not a conflict based on something as elemental and incendiary as religion.

Not one can withstand close scrutiny.

Geopolitical conflict is frequently a function of a dearth of resources and cannot be resolved by a mere wish for human harmony. In this case, both land and water are scarce, and the less than 40-mile width of the land from the Mediterranean coast to the Jordan River is insufficient to accommodate two rival states with expanding populations and vibrant national ambitions. While there are a few small states living cheek by jowl like the Netherlands and Luxembourg that are not at each others throats, they do not face the other factors that have contributed to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.

There is, moreover, a great likelihood that a Palestinian state ensconced in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would evoke a powerful zeal for further land concessions, not only from the Arabs of Ramallah or Nablus, but also among many Israeli Arabs in the Galilee, for example, of whom opinion surveys indicate their belief that Jews are foreigners in the Middle East.[15] Such a state could easily foment an insurgency within Israel, bringing along further disruptions and destruction in its wake. Indeed, the Palestinian belief that Tiberias, Haifa, and Tel Aviv-Jaffa are lost cities of Arab Palestine fuels a deep-seated rejectionism, which is manifested in the leadership's adamant refusal to recognize Israel's very right to exist as a Jewish state.[16]

Finally, the war against Israel is little more than a modern application of Qur'anic hostility toward Jews, expressing the ethos of jihad and the religious definition of Palestine as a sacred waqf (Islamic religious endowment). Buoyed with this faith and ideology, Iran and Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Muslim elements dedicate themselves to destroying Israel once and for all. In this, they are only more obvious than the so-called moderate Fatah leadership, which makes use of religious imagery and imperatives whenever it suits its purpose. A two-state solution is, in essence, a betrayal of Islam although a Palestinian state could become the springboard for the ongoing campaign to undermine, overrun, and eradicate the Jewish state—fi Sabil Allah (in the path of God). All this is so because, as article 15 of the Hamas covenant declares, "the Palestinian problem is a religious problem."[17]

The irrefutable conclusion is that the Oslo process brought no discernible change in the Palestinian attitude toward Israel. It remains a state that has to be eliminated. In May 2013, Mahmoud Abbas repeated the PLO's position that the Palestinians would refuse, as they indeed have, to recognize Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state.[18]

As such, the two-state paradigm trumpeted by Oslo has been invalidated with the growth of the magnitude of dissonance. There is just no sound political basis for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. All basic final status issues escape resolution.

Yet, there has never been an admission of error, let alone an apology by Peres or Bill Clinton, Bush, Sharon, Olmert, Obama, or Netanyahu in their advocacy of a two-state solution.
Mordechai Nisan is a retired lecturer in Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at other academic institutions in Israel. His most recent book is Only Israel West of the River.
[Middle East Quarterly]
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UPDATE: 

Palestinians Want a Geneva Accord Against Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh

The Geneva agreement between Iran and the six big powers appears to have had a negative impact on the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Palestinian commentator Adel Abdel Rahman, who is affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, urged the PA leadership to take advantage of the Geneva accord to call for an international conference to discuss ways of imposing a solution on Israel.

The Palestinians are now convinced that the U.S. role in the region is continually receding. That is why they do not believe that the U.S.-sponsored peace talks with Israel will produce any results. The Geneva accord and Washington's policies in Egypt and other Muslim countries have taught the Palestinians that it would be better to wait until the U.S. completely loses its influence, so that other players such as Russia, China and the EU will step in to impose a solution on Israel.
(Gatestone Institute)

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Monday, December 02, 2013

Nuclear Fiddling




Israel, the Pilgrims and the Maccabees –Caroline Glick

In the haze of accusations and counteraccusations by opponents and supporters of Obama’s new pact with the mullahs of Tehran, it bears recalling that the problem with the Munich pact was not the agreement in and of itself. If Adolf Hitler had been a credible actor, then the agreement might have made sense.

But Hitler was not a credible actor.

The problem with the Munich pact was that it empowered Hitler and so paved the way for the German invasion of Poland a year later.

That invasion, in turn paved the way for the Holocaust, and for the death of 60 million people in World War II.

Those, like Winston Churchill and Zev Jabotinsky who foresaw these events, were castigated as extremists and warmongers. Those who ignored their warning were celebrated as peacemakers who boldly chose peace over war.

So too today, Israel is castigated by Obama and his supporters in Washington, Europe and the media as a warmonger for realistically foreseeing the consequences of last weekend’s nuclear deal with Iran. Even worse, they are portraying Israel as a rogue state that will be subject to punishment if it dares to militarily strike Iran’s nuclear installations.

In other words, rather than threatening Iran – the leading state sponsor of terrorism, led by a regime that is pursuing an illicit nuclear weapons program while threatening Israel with annihilation – with military strikes if it refuses to cease and desist from building nuclear weapons, the world powers are threatening Israel.
[Jerusalem Post]


U.S. Freed Top Iranian Scientist - Mitch Ginsburg 

The U.S. in April released a top Iranian scientist, Mojtaba Atarodi, who had been arrested in 2011 for attempting to acquire equipment that could be used for Iran's military-nuclear programs, the Times of Israel has been told.
(Times of Israel)


Implications of the Iran Deal

A Wall Street Journal panel discussed the Iran deal on Saturday on Fox News:
Bret Stephens:


The Israelis for a long time were biding their time, thinking when the chips are really down, this president is not going to allow Iran to become a nuclear-weapons state. After the capitulation in Syria, the Israelis are looking at this in a whole new way. I've been having conversations with Israelis. They simply don't think that America is a credible security guarantor.
(Wall Street Journal)
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UPDATE:

Six Reasons to Worry About the Nuclear Deal - Jeffrey Goldberg

The text of the interim agreement states that the permanent deal will "involve a mutually defined enrichment program with mutually agreed parameters." Essentially, the U.S. has already conceded that Iran is going to end up with the right to enrich.

There is no promise by Iran in this interim deal to abstain from pursuing work on ballistic missiles or on weaponization. Iran is free to do whatever it pleases on missiles and warhead development.
(Bloomberg)
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Nuclear Dust Settles

Iran, North Korea Developing Rocket Booster - Bill Gertz

Iranian missile technicians secretly visited North Korea as part of joint development of a new rocket booster for long-range missiles or space launchers, at the same time nuclear talks took place in Geneva, according to U.S. officials. The booster is believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to be intended for a new long-range missile or space launch vehicle that could be used to carry nuclear warheads, and could be exported to Iran in the future.

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have said that both North Korea and Iran are expected to have missiles capable of hitting the U.S. with a nuclear warhead in the next two years.
(Washington Free Beacon)



Agreement Must Not Become Permanent - Amos Yadlin

It is not at all clear that a final agreement can be reached with the Iranians - especially if the economic and military threats are not maintained. Israel must therefore prepare a Plan B to include a guarantee from the Americans that there will be no extension of the preliminary agreement and that it will not evolve into a permanent arrangement. 
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies.
(Institute for National Security Studies)


Analysis - Michael Herzog

Israel is now fixing its sights on the end of the six months and will start a dialogue with the U.S. on the desired endgame. A very likely scenario is that there will be no deal and talks will continue beyond the six months. Facing a strung out process will put Israel in a dilemma of deciding if and when to intervene.

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog served as head of the Strategic Planning Division of the IDF and worked with four ministers of defense as senior military aide and advisor, and chief of staff. 
(BICOM)


Iran Wins on Points - Aaron David Miller

Does Iran want a deliverable nuclear weapon? Sure it does. The idea that the mullahs have abandoned permanently their quest to acquire a nuclear weapons capacity or that any agreement - interim or final - will provide ironclad assurances that they have done so is an illusion. Unless Iran crosses the President's redline of actually acquiring a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration is going to go to extreme lengths to avoid attacking Iran.

When Kerry is congratulating Javad Zarif, Iran's top negotiator, on a Geneva agreement and there's little to celebrate with Bibi, you know the Iranians have scored more than a few points. Let's hope the U.S. and the other members of the P5+1 can do better the next time around.
The writer, a vice president at the Wilson Center, is a former adviser to U.S. secretaries of state on the Middle East.
(New York Daily News)



Let the War of Interpretations Begin - Emily B. Landau
  • In negotiations for a comprehensive deal, the Iranians can be expected to challenge what was agreed and continue to haggle over the terms, while pressing the P5+1 to agree to further sanctions relief. Already there are two texts of the agreement, one released by the White House and one by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, and they are not identical.
  • Many accuse Netanyahu of being contrary, not willing to join the celebrations. But why are the international negotiators not voicing similar concerns as Netanyahu on the technical questions? Netanyahu's positions on these issues are actually in line with the long-held positions of the international community - even codified in a string of UN Security Council resolutions.
(Ha'aretz)
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UPDATES: 

No Agreement on Starting Date for Iran Deal
   

Officials involved in negotiating the Geneva deal say there is still no start date. They say the IAEA must verify that Iran is keeping its end of the deal before the clock starts ticking down on the agreement's six-month time frame and the start of sanctions relief. 

IAEA head Yukiya Amano may not submit a plan on verification until January because of the upcoming holiday period.

(AP-Washington Post)


U.S. Backs Iran Claim that Some Work OK at Arak Site

The U.S. says Iran can undertake some construction work at the Arak nuclear facility as long as fuel isn't produced and advances aren't made on a planned heavy water reactor.
(AP-Washington Post)


Iran: We Have Emerged Victorious over the West

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security, told Al-Alam TV on Nov. 25: "After ten years, we have emerged victorious over the West. They wanted to prevent us from acquiring nuclear technology, but we have reached that point....Now we have emerged victorious heroes. It was in our best interest to sign this agreement."
   

"We have now entered a new stage. We expect good results. The nuclear dossier will be removed from the agenda of the UN Security Council, and...they have acknowledged Iran's uranium enrichment. In addition, the economic siege on the Islamic Republic will be lifted."
   

"They said that they did not recognize our right to enrich uranium, but at the same time, they say that Iran agreed not to enrich above 5%. This constitutes an official acknowledgement of that percentage. They officially recognized that. We consider this to be a great victory for Iran." 
(MEMRI)


How to Think about Obama's Deal with Iran - Dennis Ross

One urgent order of business for the Obama administration is to address the concerns of those who lament the deal instead of dismissing them. The Israelis fear that the sanctions will fray as countries and companies begin to position themselves for a post-sanctions future. This is not fanciful but it is also not a given. Similarly, the Israelis worry that the first step will be the last, and essentially leave Iran poised with a breakout capability.
The writer, counselor of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as special assistant to President Barack Obama from 2009-11.
(Politico)



Iran Deal Risks Creating Another North Korea
- Michael Rubin


Rather than preventing Iran's nuclear breakout, historians may mark the Geneva deal as the step that most legitimized Iran's path to nuclear weapons capability.
The writer, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is a former Pentagon official (2002-2004).
(CNN)


A Most Dangerous Deal - Yaakov Amidror

  • Just after the signing ceremony in Geneva on Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran declared that the world had recognized his country's "nuclear rights." He was right. Iran made only cosmetic concessions to preserve its primary goal, which is to continue enriching uranium.
  • With North Korea, too, there were talks and ceremonies and agreements - but then there was the bomb. This is not an outcome Israel could accept with Iran.
  • The deal will only lead Iran to be more stubborn. Anyone who has conducted business or diplomatic negotiations knows that you don't reduce the pressure on your opponent on the eve of negotiations. Yet that is essentially what happened in Geneva.
  • And while the Obama administration maintains that the military option is still on the table in case Iran does not comply with the new agreement, that threat is becoming less and less credible.
  • Supporters of the agreement emphasize that future inspections in Iran will be frequent and strict. But if the Iranians decide to deceive the inspectors, they will succeed; they have in the past.
  • The West has surrendered its most effective diplomatic tool in exchange for baseless promises of goodwill. The Geneva agreement has made the world a more dangerous place. It did not have to be this way.

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror was the head of the Israeli National Security Council from March 2011 until November 2013.
(New York Times)
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Israel Made Geneva Deal Possible - Anshel Pfeffer
   

The Geneva deal is far from perfect, but it is very hard to see how any agreement would ever have been reached if for the last decade and a half Israel had not been engaged simultaneously in an intensive diplomatic campaign, one of the largest joint intelligence operations in history, and, for at least the last four years since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to the Prime Minister's Office, a public relations offensive - all aimed at building pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.
(Ha'aretz)


Major Foreign Companies Eye Trade with Iran - Zvi Bar'el

Foreign conglomerates are lining up to do big business with Iran, now that the country has won limited sanctions relief in the Geneva nuclear accord signed Sunday.
(Ha'aretz)



U.S. Now Indicates Iran Deal Wasn't Finalized - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

Iran is currently enjoying a "window" of time before the six-month deal signed in Geneva on Sunday goes into effect, during which it is not bound to take any credible steps toward disabling its ability to produce a nuclear weapon, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki acknowledged Tuesday. "The next step here is a continuation of technical discussions at a working level so that we can essentially tee up the implementation of the agreement," Psaki said Tuesday. "Obviously, once those technical discussions are worked through, I guess the clock would start."
(Times of Israel)



How U.S. Diplomacy Is Empowering Iran - Avi Issacharoff

Not only has the six-month interim agreement not yet come into effect, but also Iran is free to proceed with its military program at full speed until the deal's final "technical" details have been worked out. Experts have also said the agreement leaves the Iranians the ability to manufacture crucial components for their nuclear program outside the Arak facility and install them if the site is reopened.
   

According to Prof. Asher Susser of the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University: "An important historical shift is now reaching its climax. The Middle East's center has shifted from the Arab countries to the Persian Gulf. And when the U.S. permits Iranian hegemony, it projects onto the situation in Syria, Iraq and other places."
    

According to Susser, if these processes continue, the Arab countries will have no choice but to tighten bonds with Iran. "They won't like it but they may not have any other alternative." 
(Times of Israel)


A Saudi-Israeli Alliance? - James Zumwalt

In Shiite-dominated Iran, the mullahs remain committed to developing nuclear weapons with which to threaten Sunnis and the West. This has created a once unthinkable alliance in the region of states truly committed to denying Tehran nuclear weapons.
    

Saudi Arabia fully understands Iran's threat is real. It understands why Iran pursues a nuclear weapon - to trigger its end-of-world belief of the 12th Imam's return. It also understands Iran's plan involves wrestling Islam's two most religious sites - Mecca and Medina - from the Saudis as "Guardians" of same - a role Iran believes destiny demands it play.
    

There are signs Saudi Arabia recognizes Israel has the commitment to prevent Iran from going nuclear and that an Israeli attack may well represent Riyadh's last best hope to stop Iran as Israel steps into the void left by Washington. 
A retired U.S. Marine, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt served in the Vietnam War, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf War. 
(UPI)


U.S. Blindspot Shows on the Iran Nuclear Deal - Jonathan Spyer

The newly announced deal on the Iranian nuclear program appears to be the outcome of a long, unseen, bilateral negotiation between the U.S. and Iran. The present U.S. administration is simply unconvinced that Iran's regional ambitions represent a dangerous destabilizing force.
     

This blindspot is strange. The evidence is plain to see: Iran is an active participant in the Syrian civil war. It dominates Lebanon through Hizbullah. It is closely allied with the government in Iraq. It is engaged in subversion in Bahrain, north Yemen, Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia. It actively sponsors Palestinian terror groups engaged in violence against Israel - most importantly Islamic Jihad and Hamas, but also elements within Fatah. The nuclear program is intended to render Iran invulnerable to any serious action to resist or turn back its push for regional domination.
    

Iran has engaged in falsehood and prevarication ever since the discovery of its nuclear program a decade ago. Its intentions are plain and its fingerprints are all over the region. Yet when confronted by ambitious and ideological forces, determined to transform the region in their own image, this administration behaves as though it is dealing with reasonable and amicable partners.   
The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
(Tablet)
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The Dead's Envy for the Living -David P. Goldman

Many commentators, most eloquently Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal, draw a parallel between the appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 and the appeasement of Iran at Geneva. There is another, more chilling parallel: Iran's motive for proposing to annihilate the Jewish State is the same as Hitler's, and the world's indifference to the prospect of another Holocaust is no different today than it was in 1938. It is the dead's envy for the living.

Dying civilizations are the most dangerous, and Iran is dying. Its total fertility rate probably stands at just 1.6 children per female, a catastrophic decline from 7 children per female in the early 1980s. Iran's present youth bulge will turn into an elderly dependent problem worse than Europe's in the next generation and the country will collapse. That is why war is likely, if not entirely inevitable.
[Middle East Forum]
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