Archive for December 3, 2012

What should Israel do?

December 3, 2012

Israel Hayom | What should Israel do?.

Yoram Ettinger

The November 29, 2012 U.N. vote to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to a “nonmember observer state” — in violation of the 1993 Oslo Accords — was an expected derivative of Israel’s policy toward the PA since 1993 — critical concessions, retreats, indecisiveness, submission to pressure and appeasement.

What has Israel done since 1993?

Unprecedented Israeli concessions — such as the legitimization, importation and arming of 60,000 Palestinian terrorists from Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia and the evacuation of the Gaza Strip and 40 percent of Judea and Samaria — resulted in unprecedented Palestinian hate-education and incitement, terrorism and noncompliance.

The flabbier the Israeli policy and the frailer the Israeli response to Palestinian terrorism, the more flagrant is the Palestinian abrogation of agreements. For instance, 270 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists between 1978 and the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords, compared with some 2,000 murdered since Oslo, mostly by PLO terrorists. In 2000, Prime Minister Barak offered to uproot all Jewish settlements; Mahmoud Abbas and Arafat responded with an unparalleled wave of suicide bombings in the pre-1967 area of Israel. Prime Minister Sharon’s 2005 uprooting of 25 Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria and Gaza induced an unprecedented barrage of missiles on pre-1967 Israel. Israel’s inaction in the face of the 2009-2012 amassing of long-range missiles in Gaza triggered a daily barrage of missiles at pre-1967 Israel.

The post-Oslo conduct by Mahmoud Abbas and Arafat — role models of intra-Arab subversion and international terrorism, Holocaust deniers and allies of the Communist Bloc, Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, bin Laden, North Korea and Hugo Chavez — has reaffirmed that the PLO does not change its spots, only its tactics. Mahmoud Abbas is not troubled by the size — but by the existence — of the Jewish state in the Middle East.

The systematic Palestinian effort to leverage terrorism and diplomacy to eliminate the Jewish state, behooves Israel to resurrect the steadfastness and defiance which characterized most Israeli prime ministers from Ben-Gurion through Shamir.

What should Israel do?

Accordingly, Israel should extend Jerusalem’s municipal lines, which is a prerequisite for the transformation of Jerusalem’s steady decline into long-term growth, through a dramatic upgrade of Jerusalem’s infrastructures of transportation, industry and housing. Greater Jerusalem should stretch from Gush Etzion and Nokdim (south) to the Dead Sea (east), Mt. Baal Hazor (northeast) and Kiryat Sefer (northwest).

Israel should embrace the Edmond Levy Report. The July 2012 report reconfirmed that according to international law, Judea and Samaria are not “occupied territory” since no foreign entity was sovereign in the area in 1967. The 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention is not applicable since it prohibits the coerced transfer of people to settlements, while Israeli settlers have settled of their own volition. Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are legal. The Jewish state’s historical and legal rights in Judea and Samaria are based on the 1922 British Mandate. These rights were preserved by Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, which provides continuity of Jewish rights in the Jewish homeland. And, the report calls on Israel to allow construction in the settlements, enabling Israelis to directly purchase land in Judea and Samaria.

The Israeli law should be applied — and transportation infrastructure should be upgraded in Area C, which is controlled exclusively by Israel according to the Oslo Accords.

All VIP benefits, by Israel, to all Palestinian officials should be annulled, pending the elimination of hate-education and incitement from the PA education, divinity and media sectors.

Such steps would trigger international resentment and possibly sanctions. However, pre-1993 Israeli defiance, under harsher circumstances, was initially condemned, but then rewarded with an enhanced posture of deterrence and respect. It demonstrated that Israel would not sacrifice dire national interests on the altar of convenience and wishful thinking. For example, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion defied the 1948-49 U.S. pressure/embargo to refrain from a declaration of independence, to “end occupation of the Negev,” and to avoid the incorporation of — and construction in — Jerusalem and declaring it the capital of Israel. Prime Minister Eshkol dared the 1967 U.S. pressure against pre-empting Egypt and the reunification of — and construction in — Jerusalem. Prime Minister Golda Meir withstood the 1970 U.S. pressure to repartition Jerusalem, authorizing the construction of four more neighborhoods, the home of some 150,000 Israelis. Prime Minister Begin defied the 1981 U.S. threats and punishments, applying Israel’s laws to the Golan Heights. Prime Minister Shamir rebuffed U.S. pressure to freeze settlements, and U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation expanded unprecedentedly.

Will contemporary Israeli leaders follow in the footsteps of the prime ministers from Ben-Gurion to Shamir? Or, will they sustain the self-destructive Oslo state of mind, ignoring the Palestinian reality and the fact that in the Middle East, either you eat from — or become part of — the menu?

Report: Iran suggests Assad’s time is running out

December 3, 2012

Report: Iran suggests Assad’s time is running out – Israel News, Ynetnews.

Iranian parliament speaker offers to host Syrian president when his regime is toppled, Lebanese paper reports

Roi Kais

Published: 12.03.12, 15:36 / Israel News

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has expressed willingness to grant Syrian President Bashar Assad asylum when the latter’s regime is ousted, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal reported Monday. The publication is associated with movements opposing the regime in Damascus.

As the civil war in Syria drags on, it appears that Tehran no longer believes that Assad will be able to hold on to power. Larijani reportedly made the remarks while discussing the Syrian president’s future with officials in Iraq.

“Larijani honestly told senior Iraqi officials that Iran will continue to stand by Assad,” the paper quoted a source familiar with the meeting.

“(…) Larijani emphasized Tehran’s commitment to support Syria until the end, and expressed willingness to host Assad in case matters reach the point of no return,” the paper added.
מחויב להמשיך לתמוך בסוריה. לריג'אני (צילום: EPA)

Larijani (Photo: EPA)

According to report, the Iranian parliament speaker conveyed the same message on behalf of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during his last meeting with the embattled Syrian leader. Assad did not respond to the offer, saying only that he faces two options: Death or victory.

The source told Al-Mustaqbal that Larijani’s tone indicated his visit to Damascus one of farewell.

Meanwhile, the Syrian air force continued to pound rebel bases in suburbs of Damascus. At least 56 were killed in the clashes on Sunday night, including 27 civilians. The Syrian news agency SANA also reported that a car bomb exploded in Homs, killing 15 civilians.

Israel Asked Jordan For Approval to Bomb Syrian WMD Sites – Jeffrey Goldberg – The Atlantic

December 3, 2012

Israel Asked Jordan For Approval to Bomb Syrian WMD Sites – Jeffrey Goldberg – The Atlantic.

Anxiety is increasing about the prospect of a desperate Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against his rapidly proliferating enemies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Assad that such chemical weapons use would cross a U.S. red line: “I’m not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people. But suffice to say we are certainly planning to take action.”

This new level of anxiety was prompted by reports that Assad’s forces have been moving chemical weapons, according to David Sanger and Eric Schmitt in The Times. They report that one American official told them that “the activity we are seeing suggests some potential chemical weapon preparation,” though the official “declined to offer more specifics of what those preparations entailed.”

The U.S. is not the only country worried about the possible use of chemical weapons. Intelligence officials in two countries told me recently that the Israeli government has twice come to the Jordanian government with a plan to take out many of Syria’s chemical weapons sites. According to these two officials, Israel has been seeking Jordan’s “permission” to bomb these sites, but the Jordanians have so far declined to grant such permission.

Of course, Israel can attack these sites without Jordanian approval (in 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor), but one official told me that the Israelis are concerned about the possible repercussions of such an attack on Jordan. “A number of sites are not far from the border,” he said, further explaining: “The Jordanians have to be very careful about provoking the regime and they assume the Syrians would suspect Jordanian complicity in an Israeli attack.” Intelligence sources told me that Israeli drones are patrolling the skies over the Jordan-Syria border, and that both American and Israeli drones are keeping watch over suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites.

He went on to provide context of the Israeli request: “You know the Israelis — sometimes they want to bomb right away. But they were told that from the Jordanian perspective, the time was not right.” The Israeli requests were made in the last two months, communicated by Mossad intermediaries dispatched by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, according to these sources. (I asked the Israeli embassy in Washington for comment on this, but received no answer.)

Jordan and Israel closely cooperate on security matters, and Jordan itself has become a hub of anti-Assad activity. Sources told me that the U.S., Jordan and their Arab Gulf allies have established a “war room” coordinated by the Jordanian General Intelligence Department (GID), which is organizing efforts to screen Syrian militants for jihadist sympathies, and to provide those without jihadist connections or proclivities with training and equipment. The “war room” was established in part to counter the influence of Turkish and Qatari supporters of more religiously militant anti-Assad fighters. Jordanian intelligence is also concerned about the Syrian regime infiltrating sleeper agents into the main Syrian refugee camp in Jordan near Zaatari, and into Jordanian cities, which are already temporary home to tens of thousands of refugees.

Syria denies plans to use chemical weapons

December 3, 2012

Syria denies plans to use chemical weapons – JPost – Middle East.

12/03/2012 16:02
Clinton warns Assad regime of using chemical weapons against its people, saying US would take action against such escalation.

Satellite view of suspect sites in Syria [file] Photo: Reuters / Handout

BEIRUT – Syria said on Monday it would not use chemical weapons against its own people after the United States warned it would take action against any such escalation.

The statements came amid media reports, citing European and US officials, that Syria’s chemical weapons had been moved and could be prepared for use in response to dramatic gains by rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad.

“Syria has stressed repeatedly that it will not use these types of weapons, if they were available, under any circumstances against its people,” the foreign ministry said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had earlier warned that Washington would take action if Syria used the weapons.

“I am not going to telegraph any specifics what we do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people, but suffice to say, we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur,” she said during a visit to Prague on Monday.

The opposition believe that Assad, who has upped his response to rebel gains in the 20-month-old revolt, could turn to heavier weapons and some have suggested he might chemical weapons.

The rebels have begun to advance quickly in recent weeks after months of slow sieges to cut off army routes and supplies.

In the past few weeks, they seized several military bases around the country, and an oil field and hydro-electric dam in the northeast. Rebels are using anti-aircraft weapons to attack the military helicopters and fighter jets that have bombarded their positions with impunity until now.

Damascus suffers heavy bombardment

The main focus for the army in the past five days has been Damascus, where security forces are pushing back hard against the rebels and trying to seal the capital off from rebel-dominated suburbs.

The opposition-linked Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian army was trying to take over Daraya, on the southern outskirts of Damascus, and was attacking rebels with rockets as it advanced into some parts of the town.

A Syrian security source said that the army had blocked three entrances into Daraya and was optimistic it could take the town. Rebels said they would be able to hold their ground.

“There have been several attempts to storm Daraya and each time the army has suffered major losses. This is not new,” said activist Samir al-Shami, of the Syrian Youth Union in Damascus.

Other activists reported heavy bombardment of the towns of Deir al-Asafir and Beit Saham, which are close to the highway leading to Damascus International Airport, the scene of three days of heavy clashes that effectively closed the airport.

EgyptAir said it had resumed flights after a three day suspension, saying the situation around the airport was now stable. All other airlines contacted said their flights were still suspended, citing concerns by local staff that the road was still unsafe.

Rebels had been planning an advance on the capital, Assad’s power base.

The army struck back around the airport last Thursday and since then the suburbs of Damascus have been rocked by fierce clashes and heavy shelling. Activists described continuous shelling that killed more than 56 people around Damascus. More than 200 people died across Syria on Sunday, according to the Observatory.

Neither side has the upper hand in the fighting around Damascus. A previous attempt by rebels last July to hold ground in the city was crushed, but the fighters fell back into the suburbs and nearby countryside.

The Observatory reported air and artillery bombardment in towns across Syria on Monday. An air strike on the northern border town of Ras al-Ain, which it said killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 30, prompted Turkey to scramble fighter jets along the border.

More than 40,000 people have died in the conflict, with hundreds more killed each week.

Salehi: US talks possible if Khamenei approves

December 3, 2012

Salehi: US talks possible if Kha… JPost – Iranian Threat – News.




12/03/2012 15:58
Iranian FM responds to Hillary Clinton’s comments that the US is ready to hold talks if Tehran willing to engage.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi [file] Photo: Andreas Manolis / Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday that direct, comprehensive talks with the US were possible, but only if approved by the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Salehi’s remarks to the official IRNA news agency come in response to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Friday comments that the US would be willing to hold bilateral talks if Tehran were “ready to engage.” She also said that the US was prepared to take reciprocal confidence-building steps alongside “verifiable” moves by Iran.

Clinton told the Saban Forum on Friday that “Should Iran finally be ready to engage in serious negotiations, we are ready.”

“When Iran is prepared to take confidence-building measures that are verifiable, we are prepared to reciprocate,” she added.

But she warned that “what we will not do is talk indefinitely. The window for negotiation will not stay open forever.”

While Salehi repeatedly pointing to the Supreme Leader as the final arbiter of Iranian policy, he also noted the various issues on which the US and Iran have engaged in recent years, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and even the nuclear program in the context of the P5+1 group, which includes England, France, Germany, China and Russia.

US ultimatum averted Iranian-Pakistani warships’ drill in Port Sudan

December 3, 2012

US ultimatum averted Iranian-Pakistani warships’ drill in Port Sudan.

Pakistani warship off Port Sudan

Iranian and Pakistani warships had planned their first ever rendezvous to take place in Port Sudan Friday, Nov. 30. It was rumored in Khartoum that the Pakistani Shashmir had docked Thursday carrying nuclear arms or nuclear-related equipment ready to meet two Iranian warships for joint naval drills on the Red Sea.
The United States put a stop to this plan at the last moment by threatening to call off the direct talks with Tehran that were scheduled to open Saturday, Dec. 1.

The naval exercise would have seen Iran collaborating for the first time in military activity with a nuclear power that would take place, moreover, close to the shores of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Parading the two Muslim powers in military partnership – one a nuclear power and Iran on the threshold of attaining nuclear arms – was an attempt by Tehran to leverage its position as a regional power when facing Washington at the negotiating table.

Responding to persistent reports of nuclear arms aboard the Pakistani vessel, the Port Sudan Director Sheiba Mohamed Babikir issued the following statement on Dec. 1: “There is no risk to the lives of citizens who want to visit the ships as all weapons will be secured.”

According to debkafile’s military and intelligence sources, Riyadh and Jerusalem warned the Obama administration separately last week that unless the Iranian-Pakistani maneuver was called off, action would be taken to prevent it, prompting Washington’s stiff message to Tehran that their nuclear talks were on the line unless it was cancelled.
Our sources disclose that Tehran climbed down and postponed the visit by its two warships to Port Sudan to a later date, Dec. 7. By then, the Pakistani vessel would have departed.

Since the US was not certain until the last minute how Tehran would act to the warning, it was decided to reschedule the first US-Iranian session from Saturday to another date this week.
Both have thrown a dense blanket of secrecy over the talks, their venue and the identities and ranks of their negotiating teams.  The only hint that something of the kind was up was offered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday, Nov. 30, when she sad: “We are working on the G5-1 and making our willingness known that we are ready to have a bilateral discussion if they are ever ready to engage.”

A day earlier, Robert Wood, US delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, set March 1 as the deadline for Iran to deliver positive results, failing which, Washington would turn to the UN Security Council.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly 567 out last Friday, Nov. 30, ran an exclusive review exploring the issues and prospects of the direct talks between the Obama administration and the Islamic regime headed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Extreme Saudi objections to these talks were set out in an article run by the royal mouthpiece, the London-based Ashark al-Awsat Monday, Dec. 3. Referring to Clinton’s remark, the paper’s editorial said:

“The problem with the current US administration is that the carpet merchants, i.e. the Iranians, understand full well that Washington is not trying to change what has already changed; rather it is seeking to coexist with the new status quo… Thus … Iran and the US will negotiate at our expense, i.e. at the expense of all those in the Middle East and of course the Gulf…This is the strategic Iranian goal; either to use a nuclear weapon to impose its influence or to use negotiations as a means to extend that influence, while America’s behavior in this regard is lax.”

The Region: Where is the Middle East going?

December 3, 2012

The Region: Where is the Middle E… JPost – Opinion – Columnists.



12/02/2012 22:48
An attack from Lebanon on Israel is increasingly unlikely because that country is moving toward a civil war of its own.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorists marching with flags Photo: Jamal Saidi/Reuters The most interesting developments in the Middle East aren’t in the news stories, but can be discovered by analyzing those reports. Here are a few developing right now.

• Fifty percent of the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council (SNC) budget came from the Libyan government. Since Libya is very much a US client, it’s reasonable to conclude that the Obama administration encouraged this generosity.

Yet this money was financing a Muslim Brotherhood front. (A lot of arms have been flowing from Libya to Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and to radical forces in Syria. Some claim that the US government was coordinating that traffic, though this has not yet been proven.) If true, this means the Obama administration was using a barely disguised channel to fund a revolutionary Islamist movement seeking to take over Syria. That this group was also anti-American, anti- Semitic and genocidal toward Jews was apparently not significant. The rest of the SNC budget came from Qatar (38%) and Saudi Arabia (12%).

In any case, now the SNC has fallen apart, and US efforts to broker a new Syrian opposition leadership have failed completely.

• Not only is al-Qaida not dead but its sympathizers and those influenced by it have planned a remarkable number of terrorist attacks on American soil – 95 in the past three years, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. It’s interesting to note that the committee lists the Fort Hood attack among them, despite executive branch denials that that attack constituted terrorism.

• As if to ensure strong opposition to making Palestine a non-member state in the UN – the only diplomatic initiative the Palestinian Authority has come up with in the past four years which in no way advances peace with Israel – Abbas Zaki says once this happens the Oslo accords will be void.

One implication of this stance is that a state of Palestine will exist which has denounced any recognition of Israel’s existence. Granted that he is a traditional PLO hardliner Arafat crony, but this really underlines the point that such a step would destroy any basis for a peace process and potentially reopen the conflict fully.

• An attack from Lebanon on Israel is increasingly unlikely because that country is moving toward a civil war of its own. Currently, Lebanon is dominated by Syrian and Iranian clients, Hezbollah, the Shi’ite Islamist group, and pro-Syrian Sunni Muslim politicians. In contrast, the opposition has been led by Sunni moderates.

But Syria’s civil war is shaking this situation.

Hezbollah and its patron Iran have been supporting its other patron, the Syrian dictatorship. The opposition, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist Sunnis, is outraged. If the current Syrian government is overthrown, and this is already on the horizon, the opposition is going to go after the Lebanese regime.

Not only will it support the Sunni Muslims there against the Shi’ites, it is likely to sponsor a transformation of the Sunni side with radical Islamists replacing moderates. A sign of that coming civil war has been several days of fighting in the Lebanese city of Sidon. The Sunni Salafist leader demanded that Hezbollah banners be taken down, then tore down a poster of Hezbollah’s leaders.

Gunfire followed and people were killed. With the home front so insecure – and likely to be more so – Hezbollah isn’t going to have the forces to spare to go after Israel.

The New York Times continues its bizarre coverage of an Egypt in which the Muslim Brotherhood can do no wrong. There is a rather humorous aspect to the newspaper’s reasoning. The issue in question is the new Egyptian constitution, about whose text rumors are leaking, though only seeing the full draft text will be authoritative.

According to the Times, “the principles of Islamic law” would be the main source for Egypt’s legislation but the precise definition of what is or isn’t properly Islamic would be left to the parliament and courts.

David Kirkpatrick says: “Little is expected to change under the current courts and Parliament – dominated by Islamists who mostly favor a relatively flexible or gradual approach to adopting Islamic law…. But if literal-minded ultraconservatives – known as Salafis and who currently hold about a quarter of the seats in Parliament – gain more influence in the legislature and eventually the courts, they could someday use the provisions to try to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law.”

In other words, as long as the Muslim Brotherhood holds most of the power there’s nothing to worry about – as if that movement doesn’t have the imposition of Sharia law as its main principle.

How can having a parliament in which 75% of the seats are held by radical Islamists suggest that they aren’t going to impose Islamic law? And who’s going to be appointing the judges who make such determination in courts? Yes, the wording might be similar to that of the old, pre-revolution constitution. But a Muslim Brotherhood regime is going to interpret things differently from a Western-oriented, anti-Islamist government.

The article goes on to state that “liberal delegates who signed onto the deal noted that the guidelines were broad enough to leave substantial room for debate over just what Islamic law should require in the context of modern Egypt.”

That’s true, but many liberals boycotted the constitution- writing process precisely because they believed no such thing. And, again, who cares if there’s a debate when the debate will be settled by a Muslim Brotherhood president, an Islamist-dominated parliament, and increasingly an Islamist-dominated court system? No sooner had I written this than the Egyptian press reported that the leading secular-oriented representatives in the constitution-writing constituent assembly had resigned, charging the new document would enshrine Sharia law.

The problem was not the statement in Article 2 about Sharia being the main source of Egyptian legislation but other provisions that made it clear Islamist-controlled institutions would interpret precisely what that meant.

Amr Moussa, former foreign minister and Arab League secretary-general, said the new constitution would bring disaster for Egypt. Abdel Meguid called this combination “Taliban-like.” And then President Mursi declared that no court could challenge his decisions.

Here we go again.