Israel and the Annapolis Talks
The Consensus Conference - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
Why is it worth Olmert's while to go to Annapolis? First, because Bush invited him, and one doesn't say no to Bush. Second, because Israel is interested in talks with its neighbors and in good behavior in the international arena. Third, because the diplomatic step that will begin after the conference can help reduce friction with the Palestinians. Fourth, because it is too early for Israel to abandon Fatah, and it is worthwhile for Israel to resuscitate Abbas' government in a hope for better days. Fifth, and most important, Israel is interested in consolidating an international front against Iran and its supporters in the region, and in diplomacy there is no free lunch.
See Also: Iran a Driving Force for Mideast Meeting - Anne Gearan (AP/Washington Post
Palestinians and the Annapolis Talks
Will It Be Sadat or Arafat at Annapolis?
- Kenneth J. Bialkin (Wall Street Journal)
Anwar Sadat faced the realities of the Egyptian economic, political and military condition and decided to go to Jerusalem. His message was "No More War" and he was received in Jerusalem in November 1977 by Menachem Begin with an open, fulsome and conciliatory response, leading to the Camp David Agreement in 1979 where the details of Sadat's message were implemented. It is time for the Arab world to engage in the same calculus as did Sadat and recognize that "No More War" is the only message that might give any promise of accomplishment to the Annapolis meeting.
Palestinian Politics and the Annapolis Meeting
- Mohammad Yaghi (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The push for diplomatic progress at Annapolis has already exacerbated the confrontation between Fatah and Hamas. As the meeting approaches and final-status negotiations begin, Palestinian violence may increase and possibly erupt in the West Bank. Moreover, diplomatic prospects have raised the stakes of the debate over who has the political legitimacy to negotiate with Israel. Regardless of what transpires in Annapolis, the PA views implementing the Quartet Roadmap's phase-one security requirements as essential to demonstrating its credibility and authority.
Hamas Seeks to Undermine Annapolis by Claiming Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem Is in Danger (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
Poll: Palestinians in Gaza Support Early Elections, Peace Settlement with Israel (Near East Consulting/IMRA)
According to a survey of Palestinians in Gaza conducted by Near East Consulting on Nov. 12-14: 77% support early legislative elections (Hamas supporters, 23% vs. Fatah supporters, 99%). If legislative elections were held next week, 54% of Gazans would vote for Fatah, 15% would vote for Hamas. 74% of Gazans support a peace settlement with Israel (Hamas supporters, 33% vs. Fatah supporters, 91%). However, 31% of Gazans believe that Hamas should maintain its position on the elimination of Israel.
The Amnesty Plan for Fatah Operatives on Israel's Wanted List - Interim Summary (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
One of Israel's gestures towards the PA was the amnesty plan for 170 Fatah operatives on Israel's wanted list, whose implementation began on July 12, 2007. The amnesty plan makes it possible to take numerous terrorist operatives out of the circle of terrorism using a precise, monitored apparatus. The dynamic created by the plan has a positive influence on the Palestinian street, and might prompt other wanted operatives to abandon the path of terrorism. The implementation of the plan is not dependent upon the progress of the PA buildup, which is still far from demonstrating any enforcement capabilities.
Iran - The Source of Instability
Saudi Columnists Call on Gulf States to Form Anti-Iran Front (MEMRI)
Following recent threats against the Gulf countries by leading Iranian officials, several Saudi columnists have criticized the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries' passivity in the face of the danger posed by Iran. In the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Saudi columnist Abdallah al-Mutairi wrote that the Gulf countries must not remain silent in the face of Iran's threats, but must instead formulate a joint defense plan. "We all remember the editorial by Hossein Shari'atmadari, advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and editor of the Kayhan newspaper, in which he stressed that Bahrain was a region belonging to Iran and that there are documents proving full Iranian sovereignty over the three islands (Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Moussa). We also cannot forget [Shari'atmadari's] comment that among the Gulf states there are illegitimate regimes."
Chavez Jokes He's in Iran to Get an A-Bomb (Oil Week-Canada)
Making his fourth trip to Tehran in two years, Venezuelan President Chavez has built a strong bond with Ahmadinejad that has produced a string of business agreements as well as a torrent of rhetoric presenting their two countries as an example of how smaller countries can stand up to the U.S.
"Here are two brother countries, united like a single fist,'' Chavez said.
When a reporter asked about the aims of his visit, Chavez quipped: "As the imperialist press says, I came to look for an atomic bomb, and I've got it here. If anyone should cross me, I'll fire it."
See Also: UN Atomic Watchdog Says in Dark over Iran's Nuclear Intentions (AFP)
Deepening China-Iran Ties Weaken Bid to Isolate Iran - Robin Wright (Washington Post)
The rapidly growing relationship between Iran and China has begun to undermine international efforts to ensure that Iran cannot convert a peaceful energy program to develop a nuclear arsenal. At the UN, U.S. and European officials now worry more about a Chinese veto than about opposition from Russia. U.S. and European officials charged Friday that Beijing is deliberately stalling to protect its economic interests. China now gets at least 14% of its imported oil from Iran, making it China's largest supplier. Tehran in turn gets major arms systems from Beijing, including ballistic and cruise missiles and technical assistance for Tehran's indigenous missile program.
A Nuclear Iran = A Nuclear Middle East
Russia Agrees to Provide Nuclear Know-How to Egypt
Russia has agreed to provide nuclear know-how and technical expertise to Egypt to help Cairo with plans to build civilian nuclear power stations to meet growing energy needs, Egyptian state media said on Tuesday. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said last month Egypt would build several nuclear power stations. (Reuters)
Iran and the Exportation of Terrorism
Iran's Expanding Influence - Ibrahim Nawar (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
In its modern history Iran has never had such an influential role in the Middle East as now. The removal of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of Iraq fueled Iran's desire to spread its wings across the Gulf and Arab Middle East. The unenthusiastic foreign policies of Saudi Arabia and Egypt have encouraged Tehran's political leadership to build and develop close relations with other key players in the region, especially ruling groups in Syria, Lebanon (Hizbullah) and Palestine (Islamic Jihad and Hamas), and with political groups in the Gulf, Yemen, Sudan, North Africa and even inside Egypt and Saudi Arabia, forcing retreat and a defensive approach on its regional rivals.
See Also: Iraqi Shiites Protest Iranian Takeover of Southern Iraq - Amit R. Paley and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post)
Iran, Syria Stepping Up Support of Terrorists - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
A day after Ido Zoldan, a young father, was gunned down in a Palestinian shooting attack near Kedumim, IDF officers warned Tuesday that Palestinian terrorist groups would continue trying to perpetrate terror attacks in an effort to derail peace talks ahead of the Annapolis meeting. Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigades took responsibility for the West Bank shooting attack, saying it was "a protest against the Annapolis conference." Defense officials said there was growing Iranian and Syrian involvement in motivating Hamas and Islamic Jihad to carry out terrorist attacks, including the transfer of funds and instructions.
U.S. Judge Orders Iran to Pay $2.65 Billion to 1983 Beirut Attack Families (AP/FOX News)
Iran must pay $2.65 billion to the families of the 241 U.S. service members killed in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, a federal judge declared Friday. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth described his ruling as the largest-ever such judgment by an American court against another country.
More News From the Middle East
Something Far More Vicious than a Syrian Nuclear Reactor Targeted by Israel - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
Ten weeks after the Israel Air Force attacked in Syria, the prevailing assumption is that the target was a 5-megawatt nuclear reactor under construction that would have enabled Syria to produce plutonium to manufacture a nuclear bomb.
But Prof. Uzi Even of Tel Aviv University, who until 1968 worked at Israel's Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, is challenging this conclusion. "In my estimation this was something very nasty and vicious, and even more dangerous than a reactor," says Even. "I suspect that it was a plant for processing plutonium, namely a factory for assembling the bomb."
Lebanon Enters a New Crisis - Anthony Shadid (Washington Post)
Lebanon's worst crisis since the 1975-90 civil war builds to a climax at midnight Friday, when the term of President Emile Lahoud ends. Despite weeks of French-led mediation, Lebanon's factions appeared unlikely to reach a consensus on Lahoud's replacement by the deadline, plunging the country into a constitutional limbo. Unlike Lebanon's civil war, often characterized as a Christian-Muslim conflict, this crisis has mobilized the country's Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities against each other, with Christians divided between the two camps.
See Also: Trying to Save Lebanon, Again - Editorial (New York Times)
RAFAEL Signs $25M Deal with US Navy - Naama Sikuler (Ynet News)
Armament Development Authority, BAE Systems land joint contract to supply US navy with advanced naval weapons systems. Contract second of its kind, to be completed by end of 2009.
Israel...A Light Unto the Nations
Israel Offers U.S. Doctors Training in Emergency Response - Matthew Kalman (San Francisco Chronicle)
Raymond Rappaport, a veteran primary care doctor from Redwood City, Cal., is one of 30 American doctors who recently participated in a grueling five-day course in emergency medicine hosted by Israeli civilian hospitals and military medics. The course included a visit to the Israel Center for Medical Simulation, a state-of-the-art training center for emergency medicine at Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv. After each exercise, which was carried out using real equipment on electronic mannequins that breathed and spoke to them, the U.S. doctors watched a video playback and received feedback from Israel's top medical trainers. "A lot of these things are not available in the United States. A lot of the medicine is different," said Rappaport. "They're up on the cutting edge of the latest technology."
Israel Gives Uganda Flood Victims Medicines - Florence Nakaayi (New Vision-Uganda)
The government of Israel has donated 2.5 tons of medicine to flood victims after 13 districts were hit by floods between August and October, leaving 300,000 people displaced.
Israeli Doctors Help Swaziland Battle AIDS - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
In wake of findings that male circumcision decreases chances of HIV infection by 60%, Israeli doctors instruct surgeons in Swaziland how to perform safe circumcisions on thousands of men