Saturday, February 27, 2010

DEBKAfile: Dubai police claim of DNA and fingerprints is not credible

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis February 27, 2010

Mabhouh's shadows remain unidentifiable

Dubai's police chief Dhahi Khalfan said Friday, Feb. 26, that DNA and fingerprint evidence of at least one of the 26 team of assassins had been found in the hotel room where Hamas commander Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh was found dead on Jan. 19. The first arrest warrants have now been issued through Interpol. debkafile's intelligence sources report that the Dubai authorities believe that a persistent stream of "revelations" about the Mabhouh investigation will make Israel and its Mossad intelligence agency slip up and admit responsibility for his death.
According to those sources, it makes no sense for the Dubai police to have found DNA or fingerprints in room 230 of the Al-Bustan Rotana luxury hotel occupied by Mabhouh and in none of the other rooms taken by hit team members. Any fingerprints will not be of much use unless they can be matched with prints of identified persons already on file with the Dubai police, and in any case are probably not genuine.

Our sources disclose that all the suspects arrived in Dubai disguised from head to toe and their fingerprints were most likely faked along with the rest of their appearance. Therefore, the Dubai police's fine collection of video clips and passport photos are of little use to the inquiry.
debkafile sources therefore dismiss the claims by the Dubai police and certain Israeli publications citing "security experts" that the Mossad was caught unawares by the security cameras which tracked the death squad's movements. They missed the fact that the team was not only aware of the cameras but controlled them and used them in support of their mission.
Therefore, when Khalfan comes out with his next round of "revelations," he will most likely produce video depictions of some of the suspects using electronic gadgets to open the door of 230, Mabhouh's hotel room, at 8:24 p.m. Jan. 19, as the victim climbed up from the lobby to his room. The next shot 19 minutes later will show the same suspects leaving room 230, relocking the door and with the same gadget shooting the inside bolt home to concoct the appearance of a locked room mystery.
But the Dubai police are clearly missing the essential 19-minute segment covering the action inside room 230, without which they have no real evidence of a crime.
That did not happen by chance.
According to our sources, the death squad kept the cameras running long enough to exhibit their facility to penetrate any secure site in the Middle East, but switched them off when they wanted to conceal the actions they took in pursuance of their mission..

IDF completes major drill


General Staff Headquarters exercise drilled regional commands, branches and functional directorates in the North and along the border with Gaza.

The IDF announced on Thursday the completion of a major General Staff Headquarters exercise that drilled regional commands, branches and functional directorates in the North and along the border with Gaza. The IDF announced on Thursday the completion of a major General Staff Headquarters exercise that drilled regional commands, branches and functional directorates in the North and along the border with Gaza.

“The exercise simulated various scenarios, in which soldiers and officers in regular service and the reserves tested their operational preparedness,” the army said in a statement.

Management of joint combat methods and cooperation between the air, ground and naval forces were tested under a range of scenarios, the army said.

“Multi-arena combat management was also tested, with the support of logistics, intelligence, communications and home front coordination, as was communication between the IDF and the government.”

The army said the exercise was centered on implementing lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War of 2006 and Operation Cast Lead last winter.

“Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi held continuous status assessments and visited various exercise sites. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak also toured certain locations, receiving briefings and taking part in status assessments,” the army said.

“Exercises and training are part of the IDF’s central foundations to improve its readiness. This is the sixth General Staff Headquartersexercise since the end of the Second Lebanon War. These exercises enable us to prepare for all scenarios,” Ashkenazi said on Thursday.

“Israel has no interest in a deterioration in the region, but we are following what is being done closely, being careful to make sure that the military is prepared, deterring and ready,” he said.

Barak said, “The work being done is comprehensive, systematic and deep.”

The IDF stressed that the exercise was planned in advance as part of the annual training plan.

'Iran moves uranium above ground'


Official: Teheran's strange move is akin to painting bull's-eye on stockpile.

Iran recently moved almost its entire stockpile of low-enriched uranium to an above-ground facility, The New York Times reported on Saturday. According to a recent report by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, roughly 4,300 pounds (1,950kg) of low-enriched nuclear fuel was moved all at once from storage deep underground to a facility where they can be enriched to 20 percent. 80 to 90 percent enrichment is required for nuclear weapons.

Iran’s inexplicable action, which has confused Western officials, exposes the material to an airstrike or even ground-based sabotage. The Times quoted one official as saying the move was tantamount to painting a bull’s-eye on the stockpile.

It is made even stranger by the fact that, when confronted late last year over a new underground nuclear facility in Qom, Teheran insisted that building the base was necessary to protect its uranium stockpile from the threat of an attack by Israel or the US.

Several hypotheses were raised by the paper: Iran may be taunting Israel to attack, as this would rally Iranians in support of the regime and silence voices of dissent which have plagued the streets since last years disputed election; Teheran may be using the move as leverage against the West – a threat to further enrich its entire stockpile should the world not lower the pressure on the Islamic Republic; or – the theory held by many in the Obama administration – Iran may have simply run out of suitable storage containers for the radioactive material and was forced to move it all at once.

Whatever the reason, the paper said, it provides Israel with a very tempting window to attack – something the Obama administration will want to prevent.

Comment: Why is anyone surprised. In anticipation of an air-strike by the West, Iran places its material above ground believing we will not attack due to the incredible fallout after a bombing run.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Syria Welcomes Turkey to the Iran-Led, Anti-American Bloc

Barry Rubin

In its editorial welcoming President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Syria, the Syrian government newspaper al-Ba’th makes an interesting point buried at the end. One should note, of course, that this and just about everything else coming out of Syria also makes ridiculous the U.S. policy of engaging the dictatorship there with some illusion of splitting it away from its patron Iran.

But there’s something else going on here of the greatest importance. The editorial speaks of people in the Middle East who are coming together in an alliance rejecting Westernization, artificial borders, America, Israel, and various conspiracies. What countries are in this new alliance?“Syria, Iran and Turkey, with their great peoples and their lively peoples and their rejectionist [the Syrian term for radical and anti-Israel, anti-American [policies are moving toward brotherhood….Welcome, President Ahmadinejad, in Syria.”

The Syrian regime is thus publicly trumpeting an Iran-Syria-Turkey alliance. The Turkish government's policy, in theory, is one of getting along with everyone. But while one should not exaggerate how far this has gone—and, of course, this is a Syrian, not a Turkish statement—the fact is that Ankara is now politically as well as geographically much closer to Damascus and Tehran than to Washington DC.

Incidentally, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Asad laughed at the United States openly. "We met today to sign an agreement to distance relations between Syria and Iran," he joked laughing at his joint press conference with Ahmadinejad. And to its credit the Washington Post picked up the story.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood.

Aharonovich on Hevron: We're Not Frightened by Threats

Maayana Miskin
A7 News

Interior Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich responded Thursday to the decision to include the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Cave of Machpelah) in a list of national heritage sites. Aharonovich dismissed threats from terrorist groups following the decision, saying “We aren't afraid of anything.”

"Whoever is threatening us – they can keep threatening. I can tell you as a government minister, we have enough strength that those who are threatening us can do nothing but threaten.” The minister added that he supported Netanyahu's decision regarding the Tomb, “and I still support it.” Aharonovich's statements were made in his first-ever press conference with Arab journalists, both foreign and Israeli. A source close to the minister explained that the conference was held in order to fight a trend of disinformation in the Arab media. “There is a vacuum in the Arab media that is filled by political interest groups that consistently give inaccurate information in order to serve their own interests,” he said.

Aharonovich, who oversees the Israel Police, also spoke of his efforts to recruit more Arab police officers. The police force and Prison Services currently employ thousands of non-Jewish officers, but most hail from the Druze sector and not the much larger Arab Muslim sector.

In order to bring Arab officers into the force, the government has funded a preparatory program to help more Arabs pass the test to join police training, he said. The program is already running, and currently has 40 students.

Aharonovich said he is also working with Arab community leaders to help increase the number of Arab policemen.

On Wednesday, the Knesset discussed data gathered in 2009 which revealed that crime had risen by 8.4 percent the Arab sector, while falling in the rest of the country, and that 60% of all murders took place in the Arab sector even though the Arabs are only 22% of the population. Knesset members called on police to do more to fight crime in Arab communities.

The Wasteland: Israel and Iran after Nuclear War

Dr. Louis René Beres

Credo quia absurdum. "I believe because it is absurd." Now, years after the international community first blathered vainly about Iranian intentions, Tehran marches unhindered to full and final nuclear weapons status. Perhaps there will not be a nuclear war between Israel and Iran. Maybe, fortuitously, some system of stable mutual deterrence will evolve in time. Maybe, a kind of protracted "Cold War" will emerge to keep the peace.

Still, there is no reliable way to ascertain the probability of unique events, and an Iranian leadership that slouches enthusiastically toward apocalypse is not out of the question.

What would happen if Tehran were to launch a nuclear Jihad against Israel, whether as an atomic "bolt from the blue," or as a result of escalation – either deliberate or inadvertent?

Thirty years ago, I published the first of 10 books that contained authoritative descriptions of the physical and medical consequences of nuclear war, any nuclear war. These descriptions were drawn largely from a 1975 report by the National Academy of Sciences, and included the following still valid outcomes: large temperature changes; contamination of food and water; disease epidemics in crops, domesticated animals, and humans due to ionizing radiation; shortening of growing seasons; irreversible injuries to aquatic species; widespread and long-term cancers due to inhalation of plutonium particles; radiation-induced abnormalities in persons in utero at the time of detonations; a vast growth in the number of skin cancers, and increasing genetic disease

Overwhelming health problems would afflict the survivors of any Iranian nuclear attack upon Israel. These difficulties would extend beyond prompt burn injuries. Retinal burns would even occur in the eyes of persons very far from the actual explosions.

Tens of thousands of Israelis would be crushed by collapsing buildings and torn to shreds by flying glass. Others would fall victim to raging firestorms. Fallout injuries would include whole-body radiation injury, produced by penetrating, hard gamma radiations; superficial radiation burns produced by soft radiations; and injuries produced by deposits of radioactive substances within the body.

After an Iranian nuclear attack, even a "small" one, those few medical facilities that might still exist in Israel would be taxed beyond capacity. Water supplies would become unusable. Housing and shelter could be unavailable for hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of survivors. Transportation would break down to rudimentary levels. Food shortages would be critical and long-term.

Israel's normally complex network of exchange systems would be shattered. Virtually everyone would be deprived of the most basic means of livelihood. Emergency police and fire services would be decimated. All systems dependent upon electrical power could stop functioning. Severe trauma would occasion widespread disorientation and psychiatric disorders for which there would be no therapeutic services.

Normal human society would cease. The pestilence of unrestrained murder and banditry could soon augment plague and epidemics. Many of the survivors would expect an increase in serious degenerative diseases. They would also expect premature death; impaired vision, and sterility. An increased incidence of leukemia and cancers of the lung, stomach, breast, ovary and uterine cervix would be unavoidable.

Extensive fallout would upset many delicately balanced relationships in nature. Israelis who survive the nuclear attack would still have to deal with enlarged insect populations. Like the locusts of biblical times, mushrooming insect hordes would spread from the radiation-damaged areas in which they arose.

Insects are generally more resistant to radiation than humans. This fact, coupled with the prevalence of unburied corpses, uncontrolled waste and untreated sewage, would generate tens of trillions of flies and mosquitoes. Breeding in the dead bodies, these insects would make it impossible to control typhus, malaria, dengue fever and encephalitis. Throughout Israel, tens or even hundreds of thousands of rotting human corpses would pose the largest health threat.

All of these same effects, possibly more expansive and destructive, would, reciprocally, be visited upon Iran by Israel. Immediate massive retaliation for Iranian aggression would be inevitable. In Iran, therefore, survivors would envy the dead. Here, the expected joys of "martyrdom" would fade quickly before death's other kingdom.

Waste and void. Darkness visible. No lilacs to breed out of the dead land, the cactus land. Before anything could be born in such an Iranian-created necropolis, a gravedigger would need to wield the forceps. Contributing Editor Dr. Louis René Beres lectures and publishes widely on matters of terrorism, strategy and international law. The author of several early books on nuclear war and nuclear terrorism, he is closely involved with Israeli security issues. Professor Beres’ most recent articles have appeared in International Security (Harvard), and in the Policy Paper series of the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel). His opinion columns appear in such major newspapers as The New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, Indianapolis Star, the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz (Israel) and The Jewish Press.

Netanyahu: No Change in Status Quo at Tomb of the Patriarchs

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today referred to the national heritage plan and the inclusion of the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb in it:

"It could be that some elements in the international system mistakenly think that this is a diplomatic decision, a political decision. In fact, it is neither a diplomatic decision nor a political decision. It will not change anything in this sense. It seeks to preserve heritage and this heritage has existed with us for close to 4,000 years. We are not determining anything new. The Patriarchs of the Jewish People, our forefathers, are buried there. This is an existing fact. We will not decide otherwise and it is absurd to think so. Neither are we overlooking the Islamic context there. We are simply seeing to it that there are proper conditions for Jewish and Muslim worshippers alike. This is important. There is an international desire to maintain heritage sites, to preserve them. But our intention is not to change them. Our intention is not to change the existing arrangements at all.

I think that the leading governments around the world will understand this very quickly because we are explaining it to them. I think that this issue needs to come off the agenda. Apparently, there has been a misunderstanding because there is no intention here – and no plan – to alter the status quo, neither at religious sites nor with prayer arrangements. We will maintain freedom of worship and the existing arrangements for Jewish and Muslim worshippers alike. What we will do is maintain and strength existing prayer arrangements.

We did this only now in coordination with the Islamic Waqf. They carried out some repair and maintenance work of the Islamic prayer sites. For example, they installed fans in the main prayer hall. They installed chandeliers. They brought in rugs. They repaired the floor in the entranceway to the prayer room. They repaired the roof and painted a mosque for women. These repairs were appropriate. They were done in coordination with us and we want to do the same maintenance and preservation work for Jewish worshippers.

The Tomb of the patriarchs is a prayer site that maintains an almost 4,000 year old heritage. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Patriarchs of the Jewish People, and Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, the Matriarchs, are buried there. We know that it is also a holy place for Muslims; we honor both. It is fitting that there be appropriate prayer arrangements. We are not changing them. We are not changing the status quo at the site and we will not, in any way, harm freedom of worship for Muslims, just as we will preserve freedom of worship for Jews. Therefore, in the best case, there has been a misunderstanding but I want to state things as clearly as possible: We will maintain the existing status quo."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Watch the Themes, Not the Headlines

Barry Rubin

A basic principle is to look at the underlying interests and perceptions of specific governments and states, not the immediate headlines, if you want to know what countries or mass movements are going to do. Over and over, however, we see stories that prove false in a few days yet probably leave a lasting impression to the contrary on readers.For example we keep seeing phony trend stories can be said about Hamas or Hizballah moderating, Hamas and the PA reconciling, a great new deal offered by Iran over the nuclear issue, and many other such items.

That thought is prompted by a recent flurry of stories that the Palestinian Authority is about to return to negotiations with Israel. In fact, for reasons I’ve outlined repeatedly in this blog (relating mainly to the radical nature of internal Palestinian politics) that isn’t going to happen for a long time.

Another story we keep hearing is about how Russia or China are about to support real sanctions on Iran. Yet every time an official from those countries makes a statement it is to the contrary. Here’s the latest from Oleg Rozhkov, a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official. And note he is very clear:

"We are not got going to work on sanctions or measures which could lead to the political or economic or financial isolation of this country. What relation to non-proliferation is there in forbidding banking activities with Iran? This is a financial blockade. And oil and gas. These sanctions are aimed only at paralyzing the country and paralyzing the regime."

And that’s a regime with which Russia is quite friendly.

I just wrote a piece pointing out that since the Obama administration wants the EU to endorse the sanctions, it needs a unanimous vote there. This means that countries like Luxemburg and Sweden can now block, or water down, sanctions. Yet it doesn't end even there! As Der Spiegel explains, reporting on what EU leaders are saying:

"But the West also wants to secure the backing of countries such as Brazil, Turkey and the Gulf states for sanctions. That would make it harder for Iran's leadership to argue that it's being victimized by a `Western conspiracy' or the `vassals of Israel.'"

This is crazy. Nothing will make it harder for Iran's leadership to make such arguments because they will do so no matter what happens! How long will it take to get all these countries on board? How minimal they will demand sanctions to be! And Turkey is now practically Iran's closest ally.

Here is a serious crisis where the Western states want to avoid Iran getting nuclear weapons or a war erupting to stop that from happening. Yet they are either frozen into near passivity or want to do less than the minimum and throw away the time available for peaceful and effective action. True, they are somewhat affected by a desire not to lose money from trade with Iran, yet Britain, France, and Germany along with others are ready to move forward.

What is lacking? While a number of elements can be cited the number-one item on the list should be: the lack of American leadership. I don't here mean some kind of bullying or ordering, but I do mean a serious type of determination, prodding, and belief that the United States should lead even if not everyone is in the consensus.

This situation reminds me of an old Romanian joke used to explain about corruption. The lights are turned out, a piece of ice is passed around for a while, and then the lights are turned back on. "See," says the host, everyone's hands are wet but there's nothing left.

So what will be left of sanctions and when will there be any? Not much and not soon.

And what is going to be left of American leadership?.Same as above.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood.

Knesset Proposal: Annex All Jewish Towns in Land of Israel

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will consider a bill proposed by MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) on the annexation of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria (Yesha). The bill was supported last year by Prime Minister Netanyahu himselfThe legislation committee is charged with deciding whether or not the government will back proposed legislation – often the critical factor in whether a given bill will be passed or defeated. It will vote on Katz’s new bill at its next weekly meeting, this coming Tuesday (after the Purim holiday).

The bill proposes that the Jewish towns of Judea and Samaria be annexed to Israel, just as eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights have been annexed in the past.

The bill was proposed in the previous Knesset by former MK Benny Elon, whom Katz succeeded, in many respects, in the Knesset. The bill was co-signed at the time by many MKs, among them Binyamin Netanyahu and other current Likud party Cabinet ministers such as Limor Livnat, Silvan Shalom, Yisrael Katz, Gideon Saar, Michael Eitan, Gilad Erdan, Yuval Steinitz, and more. MKs from other parties also signed at the time.

Explaining the proposed law, Katz said, “Following the liberation of parts of our national homeland in the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli law was applied to the areas in which 300,000 Jews live in the liberated neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and to those in which reside 20,000 Jews in the Golan. The time has now come to create a similar situation to the 350,000 Jews of Judea and Samaria. I am sure that the ministers, who co-signed the law last year, will now reaffirm their support and their signatures.”

Only Jewish towns annexed

Some 26 MKs are currently co-signed on the bill. No ministers or deputy ministers are among them, in keeping with the requirement that legislation sponsors not serve in those positions. Among the co-signers are MKs Levine, Hotovely, Elkin, Danon and Shama of the Likud; Rotem, Michaeli and Miller of Israel Our Home; Orbach of the Jewish Home; Ariel, Eldad, and Ben-Ari of the National Union; Moses and Maklev of United Torah Judaism, and Ze’ev, Vaknin, and Amsalem of Shas.

The legislation states: “The law, jurisdiction and administration of the State shall apply in the following cities, regional councils, and local councils, and the communities therein,” followed by a list of the Jewish cities and councils in Judea and Samaria: “Oranit, Alfei Menashe, Elkanah, Efrat, Ariel, Beit El, Beit Aryeh-Ofarim, Beitar Illit, Mateh Binyamin, Jordan Valley, Givat Ze’ev, Gush Etzion, Har Adar, Mt. Hevron, Dead Sea Scrolls, Modiin Illit, Maaleh Adumim, Maaleh Ephraim, Emanuel, Kedumim, Kiryat Arba, Karnei Shomron, and Shomron.”

The proposal emphasizes that it does not call for the annexation of all of Judea and Samaria to the State of Israel, but only of the Jewish towns there and their residents. Acknowledging that most or all of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria are now subject to Palestinian Authority law, it states, “The current situation creates an absurdity, in that the only citizens who are discriminated against are the Israelis – who must pay income tax and various fees, but do not receive all the rights of citizens; they are tried [in certain cases] in military courts, not civilian ones.”“The Knesset has already passed several measures applying parts of Israeli law to the Jewish towns in Yesha [Judea and Samaria]," the proposal continues, "but not in a uniform, systematic manner. As [former Meretz party MK] Prof. Amnon Rubenstein has written in his book entitled Constitutional Law: 'From a logical standpoint, it would be simpler if the Army administration [that officially governs Judea and Samaria] would apply Israel law in totality on all the Jewish local councils, instead of this patch-up job the government currently utilizes.'”

“This legislation is hereby proposed in order to stop the discrimination against the Israeli citizens and in order to create uniformity in the law.”

IDF Commander: “Goldstone Doesn’t Faze Us; We are Ethical”

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

The Commander of the IDF Armored Corps, Brig.-Gen. Agai Yehezkel, gave an uplifting pep talk, in light of the Goldstone Report, to the graduates of the Armored Corps basic combat training and Tank Commanders' courses on Wednesday.

"We have recently witnessed the Goldstone Report,” Yehezkel said at the graduation ceremony, “which questions the ethics and morality of the IDF. I find it important to emphasize that we, the commanders, are not confused by the report. We are not embarrassed.”"We have no problem facing criticism, when it is to the point,” Brig.-Gen. Yehezkel said. “You - the graduates, your parents and you families - will be the unequivocal reply to this report. You graduates testify more than anything to our education towards ethics, a volunteering spirit, and morality."

Ready for Hizbullah

Yehezkel also related to the security situation along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and the Hizbullah strongholds. "Winds of tension are blowing again in the north of the country,” he said. “Though the challenge might be more difficult than during Operation Cast Lead [the anti-terror military operation against Hamas in Gaza a year ago, which lasted for three weeks – ed.], we are prepared for it."

"The State of Israel finds itself in sharp tension between being a developed and advanced country that tries to maintain normalcy,” Yehezkel said, “and the continuous need, ever since its establishment, to struggle for its existence.” He said that Israel can look to the IDF to “face all challenges.”

He praised the Amored Corps' advanced and precise techniques during Operation Cast Lead, and said they constituted a significant part of the operations.

Prayer for Shalit

Brig.-Gen. Yehezkel thanked the graduates and their families, and added a prayer for the safe return of Armored Corps soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Strong Dose of Reality on the Iran Nuclear Weapons Crisis

Barry Rubin

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has made a great speech which shows, as I wrote recently, that the U.S. military seems to have a better understanding of the threat than its political masters.`

Mullen was right when he pointed out that military action against Iran’s nuclear capabilities could have "unintended consequences." He told a press conference: "No strike, however effective, will be in and of itself decisive," The US. military would, however, develop plans for such an action if it was ever ordered. But diplomacy and sanctions should be tried first. It is presumably no accident that he’d just returned from a trip to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Apparently he listened. Here’s the most important sentence:

"It isn't just a nuclear capable Iranian military our friends worry about; it's an Iran with hegemonic ambitions and a desire to dominate its neighbors."

Yes, that’s the primary threat and this is the first time anyone working for the Obama Administration has said so.

Meanwhile, announces the building of new uranium enrichment plants. Here’s the paradox. On one hand, it is far too early for any military operation for two reasons. First, precisely because Iran isn’t far enough along in the weapons-building process to do damage enough to set it back really far. Second, the fact that diplomacy and sanctions have not been fully tried indicates there would not be enough Western support—or at least toleration—of such a strike.

Israel is certainly not going to attack Iran soon.

On the other hand, the dispersion and hardening of Iranian facilities will make it much harder to have a successful attack when the time would be ripe.

My personal opinion of what’s going to happen: Nobody is going to attack Iran to destroy its program. The military option will be kept in reserve for any occasion when Iran seems about to use its capability to attack Israel.

This leaves the problem of doing everything in the mean time to slow or stop Iran’s program and a serious effort to contain Iran for when it does get weapons and missiles to deliver them on target.

But let’s be clear: the probability of failure is no excuse for not doing everything possible right now. And the administration’s efforts have been slow, inadequate, and misdirected.

In addition, “containment” isn’t going to mean just verbal assertions of support for Iran’s potential victims. This is the message that Israel and relatively moderate Arab states keep frantically sending to Washington.

And now, guess what? It isn’t just China and Russia opposing tougher sanctions. Since the Obama Administration wants to win over all of Europe it means that countries like Luxemburg and Sweden are now sabotaging them, too!

The United States is currently pursuing the idea of wooing Syria away from Iran. This is ridiculous as Tony Badran brilliantly explains in Now Lebanon. At the same time, Iran is intimidating and subverting just about every other country away from the United States with more success.

In Mullen’s words, Iran’s “desire to dominate its neighbors" is advancing every day while Washington is still diddling around, wasting its time wooing enemies, apologizing for past toughness, and focusing on smug but useless mini-sanctions.

The “Peace Partners” Who Never Were

Joe Kaufman

On February 14th, all of the major Palestinian terrorist factions met at the offices of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) for peace talks. But this was not about peace with the Israelis. No, this was a meeting to reconcile differences, in order to direct all energies in a violent manner against Israel. While the West has been obsessed with locating a “peace partner” for the Jewish state, none would be found here. The Palestinian people, for the most part, can be divided into two camps: one, a religious terrorist camp and two, a secular/nationalist terrorist camp. Members of Palestinian society usually side with one or the other, whether it’s through politics, community affairs or violence. There is little grey area, in this respect.

The religious terrorist camp is made up of organizations which spawned from the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, a group created in the 1920s that merged fundamentalist Islam with an extremist political agenda. Palestinian organizations that fit into this category include Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). PIJ, while deriving its existence from the Brotherhood, however, was established in 1979 with a greater attachment to the more violent methods of the Iranian Revolution of the same year.

The secular terrorist camp consists of groups that fall under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The two main groups that make up the PLO are the Palestinian National Liberation Movement or Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Unlike Fatah, though, which uses some Islamic imagery, the PFLP operates solely as a Marxist-Leninist organization.

All four of these organizations, in addition to nine others, held a joint meeting this month at the PFLP headquarters. The meeting came at the foot of an Egyptian initiative for reconciliation between the parties and what was being termed a “restoration of national unity.”

But according to the PFLP, this was less about restoring unity among the Palestinian groups and more about fighting Israel as a unified force.

As stated by PFLP leader Rabah Muhana, following the meeting, “An atmosphere of placing national interest ahead of factional interest had prevailed. All of the factions agreed on the urgent need to end division in order to confront the occupation.”

To be sure, there is no love lost between many of the groups, primarily Fatah and Hamas. In June 2007, Hamas launched a bloody coup against Fatah, throwing out the PLO group from the Gaza Strip, whilst brutally executing some 400 individuals associated with Fatah. And as this author writes, the homepage of Fatah’s official website contains a graphic of Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal, Mahmoud al-Zahar and Ismail Haniya with their faces covered in drops of blood.

Now, it appears the two are coming together, as it has been reported that all of the Palestinian terror factions have voiced support for the Egyptian plan.

Of course, this does not bode well for those who have been hell-bent on finding a “peace partner” for Israel. Regarding the United States and the European Union (EU), the only one that fits that bill, at least according to them, is Fatah.

The names of three of the four organizations mentioned previously as representing the Palestinian people, Hamas, PIJ and the PFLP, can be found on terrorism lists compiled by both the US and the EU. Fatah appears to be the only one that has been left off the lists – but that appearance is somewhat deceiving.

Toward the top of both lists is found the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB), the self-described “military wing” of Fatah. It was named to the US list in March 2002 and the EU list in October of the same year. Indeed, the group has a history of targeting civilians via such means as suicide bombings and has, in the past, worked with the likes of Hamas and PIJ.

While government agencies admit to an affiliation between AMB and Fatah, they also act to put distance between the two, in what seems to be an attempt to separate Fatah from the terrorism. But there is no separation between Fatah and AMB, for they are essentially the same organization.

AMB’s website addresses, and, remain active, but the content from them has been entirely removed. That’s not a problem for AMB, because the group shares the official website of Fatah, On any given day, one can see the AMB logo on the Fatah site homepage along with a link to the AMB’s most recent terror communiqué, discussing its latest attack and referring to Israel as the “enemy.”

Atop all of the Fatah website pages, including AMB’s terror communiqués, is a large picture of the head of Fatah and the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas. This is the same Mahmoud Abbas who, less than two months ago, honored three fallen AMB murderers of 45-year-old Israeli Rabbi Meir Avshalom Hai as “Shahids” or holy martyrs. Hai, who was gunned down during a December 24th drive-by attack, left a wife and seven children. Abbas visited and offered condolences to the families of the dead perpetrators of the attack.

When the 13 Palestinian terrorist groups met at the PFLP headquarters, they did so with an understanding – that even though they might have personal differences with each other, they are all united by an intense hatred of Israel.

It is this understanding that drives them to choose violence over peace, and it is this understanding that will always foil those who act to downplay terrorist groups and who push Israel into a treaty with entities, like Fatah, that wish for her destruction.

Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of Young Zionists.

Beila Rabinowitz, the Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.

Rivlin: Israel Pays Price of World's "Double Moral Standard"

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

Meeting with foreign ambassadors in the Knesset on Tuesday, Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin (Likud) said, "If the trend doesn't change, the U.S. and Britain will be next in line" to pay the price for the world's double standards, and for their willingness to fight, in the war against terrorism. "According to the standards laid down by the Goldstone investigation," Rivlin said, "Winston Churchill should have been charged with war crimes, as should the American and British armies in Iraq. In the meanwhile, though, only Israel is paying the price of the double standard that does not differentiate between attacker and victim, or between terrorism and self-defense."

The Goldstone Commisssion, charged by the United Nations with investigating Israel's counter-terrorist Cast Lead offensive against Hamas-run Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, accused Israel of war crimes, attacks upon civilians, and the like.

"If the trend doesn't change," Rivlin continued, "the next in line to be accused will be the members of the militaries of Great Britain, the U.S., and the other countries of the free world."

Some 70 ambassadors and foreign representatives took part in the Knesset event, which dealt with the fight of the democratic countries against terrorism.

New World War?

Rivlin warned of another terrific loss of life such as occurred in World War II: "If these new, corrupt ethics take over international law and institutions, a new era in Western civilization will begin – similar to that which we remember all too well from the Munich agreements, that enabled dictatorships to cause the free world to bleed, and to nearly be defeated."

"Terrorism is trying to paralyze and silence democracies fighting against it," the veteran Jerusalemite Knesset Member said, "exactly as was manifest in the world's reaction to Israel's counter-terrorist offensive Cast Lead in light of the Goldstone Report."

Rivlin called on the nations of the world to stand by Israel in its fight against terrorism – a struggle that he said is "beginning to take on dimensions of World War III."

"The most dangerous threat of international terrorism is the paralysis of the solidarity between democracies," Rivlin declared. "If you do not now, as a collective, take a firm stand against Goldstone; if you do not stand behind the Israeli democracy in its just and moral struggle against expanding terrorism; if you don't prevent this widening witch-hunt, international arrests, indictments in the Hague, the erosion in the UN, and the incitement against Israel; if you sit by quietly with your hands folded – then the legitimacy of your own struggle against terrorism will be undermined…"

The Knesset Speaker expressed the hope that the gathering of ambassadors in the Knesset will become a yearly tradition for the exchange of ideas in a direct manner.

Britain Is New Hamas Hub

Malkah Fleisher Britain Is New Hamas Hub

In the last 10 years, London has become the primary worldwide bastion of Hamas, according to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the memory of fallen Israeli Intelligence Community agents. Britain in recent years has consitituted a legal threat to Israeli officials who are being accused of harming PA Arabs. An arrest warrant issued in December against opposition leader Tzipi Livni is just one instance of an aggressive stance toward the Jewish State.

In 2005, General Doron Almog was informed by Israel's ambassador to Britain that he may be arrested if he exited his plane in London. He chose to stay aboard and return to Israel after having traveled to England to raise money for a charity.

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report shows that these incidents are not accidental, but rather concentrated political activity by the Hamas terror organization. The findings say London has become the epicenter of Hamas' political, legal, and propaganda campaigns in Europe. Hamas operatives note that they have been particularly successful, with the assistance of the Muslim Brotherhood, in controlling the discourse regarding Arabs in Israel, and initiating widespread anti-Zionism throughout the country.

The report estimates that Britain's value in Hamas's eyes stems from a series of advantages that Hamas finds in that country:

A. Political freedom and freedom of speech prevailing in Britain allows Hamas to promote anti-Zionism freely. Hamas takes advantage of British democracy to spread incitement against Israel and lash out against Israel and the Jewish people. This is despite Hamas' distinction as a terrorist organization by the European Union. Though activities by terror groups is technically illegal in Britain, the legal system has shown great tolerance, which has been exploited by radical Islamic elements, including Hamas.

B. A broad infrastructure of activists, supporters, and collaborators consisting of Hamas activists who took refuge in Britain in the 1990s, as well as radical Islamic elements such as prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and radical leftist organizations which are hostile to Israel and the West. This team is enabling Hamas to reach into the political, media and academic arenas in Britain.

C. Britain is one of the world's most important communications hubs, especially when it comes to Arab media such as newspapers, Internet, and television. Hamas exploits Arab media operating in London to spread its messages in the Muslim communities of the world, including Western countries and the Middle East.

D. Hamas is exploiting aspects of the British legal system which enable them to file lawsuits in British courts against senior officers and political figures in Israel for "war crimes." This has created a convenient situation in which Hamas, with the support of the British infrastructure, is leveraging the Goldstone report in order to prosecute Israeli public fiures and de-legitimize Israel.

The report says Hamas works hard to conceal their activities and avoid prosecution, rarely attributing to themselves the disinformation and advocacy of violence they publish and distribute. Because they consider children to be a primary target for their messaging, they spend a lot of effort writing anti-Israel and pro-war propaganda for minors.

Hamas also uses British organizations, politicians, and other channels to garner money and supplies for use in Gaza, according to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

Legislation gives refugee status to Jews who fled Arab lands

23/02/2010 10:15

In future peace negotiations, Palestinian refugees will not be the only ones to demand compensation.

In future peace negotiations Palestinian refugees will not be the only ones to demand compensation after a law passed late Monday in the Knesset, mandating that the rights of Jews who fled Arab lands also be taken into consideration. The legislation, which sponsor MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) said would create “historical justice,” passed its final reading by a wide margin of 34-1. Ze’ev said that the law “created historical justice” for the Jewish refugees who arrived in Israel before and after the establishment of the state due to persecution, humiliation, murder and kidnapping of Jews in several Muslim countries.

In addition to allowing Jews to press claims against Arab countries for property that they were forced to leave behind, Ze’ev argued that parallel refugee status would enable negotiators to retroactively determine that Palestinian and Jewish refugees were part of a “population exchange,” thus negating the basis for Palestinian claims to a right of return.

“When historical justice comes to practical expression through this issue being raised by the Israeli government, the Quartet and the entire world will be able to do justice to both sides by revealing the true narrative of Jewish refugees in the Middle East,” said Ze’ev after the law was passed.

Other Knesset members were not happy with the new legislation.

“The only refugee problem in the Middle East is that of the Palestinian refugees who were expelled by the Jews, who expelled and then demanded compensation,” complained MK Taleb a-Sana (UAL). “The Jews were persecuted by Germany and Spain, and the people who are responsible for the destruction of the Second Temple and the Diaspora itself were the Romans, the ancestors of Berlusconi, who was embraced in the Knesset a few weeks ago.”

A-Sana added that the Zionist movement is responsible for the tragedy that befell the Jews who left North Africa, and still carries out “character assassination and attacks their culture and identity.”

“The goal of the law is to create a fictitious issue of Jewish refugees as a counterbalance to the Palestinian refugees.”

He added, however, that he supports the right of return, both of Palestinians to Israel and of Jews to Arab lands.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Left-Wing US Jews Call ’Law of Return’ Racist

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A7 News

A small group of left-wing Americans, some of whom call themselves Zionists, have launched a “Breaking the Law of Return” campaign, branding as “racist” the Israeli law that guarantees citizenship to Jews. More than 1,000 American Jews have backed the movement. American Jewry traditionally had been pro-Israel until peace movements and Israel military efforts to stop Arab terrorism turned a growing number of Diaspora Jews against modern Zionism. One recent effort to maintain close ties with Israelis living abroad is a proposal to allow them to vote in Israeli elections. The idea also raised the suggestion that all Diaspora Jews be allowed to vote for Israel’s leaders.

However, a group of post-Zionist American Jews opposes even having the automatic right to become Israeli citizens by moving to Israel.

"The Law of Return creates an ethnically exclusive citizenship," Dr. Amy Kaplan, an English professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-founder of the 'Breaking the Law of Return' campaign, told The Media Line. "Anyone who can claim a Jewish grandparent has this automatic right to 'return' to this land while Palestinians who were dispossessed of that land, in 1948 and 1967 and most recently in East Jerusalem, can't have that same right. We see this as unjust and want to repudiate that right."

She said she grew up in a Zionist family but that the Operation Cast Lead operation against Hamas terrorists “personally implicated [me] in the violence that it perpetrates in my name.” She did not explain her remark.

The Law of Return, passed in 1950, carried out the principle of the re-establishment of Israel as a Jewish State. The American Jews campaigning against it cite their drive as part of a public commitment to boycott Israel as part of the growing global opposition to Israeli policies, although many foreign elements also have called for the abolishment of Israel as a Jewish country.

Critics of the campaign include Israeli leftist leader Uri Avnery, founder of the Gush Shalom movement. He told The Media Line, "At this moment I think it's the wrong tactic and the wrong time. It will only turn Israeli public opinion against the peace movement." He said that the Law of Return is discriminatory against Arabs but that trying to abolish it “will mean nothing [and] send a bad signal and do no good whatsoever."

Stronger criticism was expressed by Hebrew University political scientist Dr. Moshe Maor, who told the website, "The Jewish radical left has criticized Israel's policies and undermined Israel's overall legitimacy for years. These kinds of campaigns pose a major threat to Israel as they ignite anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli feelings abroad.”

He pointed out post-Zionist claims that the Law of Return is discriminatory because it favors a Jewish State “is not accepted by the Israeli Zionist center… In 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution for the establishment of a Jewish State. So, the ticket to enter Israel is given to Jews only, but in Israel itself, there is no legal discrimination whatsoever."

Bar-Ilan University political scientist Dr. Gerald Steinberg (pictured), chairman of that NGO Monitor that exposes anti-Israel bias, told The Media Line that the Breaking the Law of Return campaign eventually seeks to make the existence of the State of Israel illegitimate.

"It's always easy to find a group of Jews on the fringes of society who make some noise and who are embraced by pro-Palestinian organizations," he said. "Their entire purpose is to provide more legitimacy to the Palestinian narrative which is focused on repealing the 1947 U.N. resolution which led to the establishment of the State of Israel.

"If there was a French group that denied the right of the French to live in France and demanded that the French language be replaced by a kind of international culture it would get absolutely no publicity," he added. "But because it's Israel it gets attention."

Several American Jews campaigning against the law admit that it is part of a general move against American aid to Israel. "As a Jewish person I oppose what Israel is doing in my name but I also protest that they are doing it with my tax dollars," American Jewish activist Anna Beltzer said.

Monday, February 22, 2010

UN: Israel 'heritage sites' are on Palestinian land

News Agencies

The United Nations is concerned over Israel's recent decision to include two West Bank holy sites in a planned "heritage trail, Robert Serry, the UN's special coordinator for the Middle East said on Monday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday announced the inclusion of the Biblical Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron on the list. The two sites are sacred to Jews and Muslims.

"I'm concerned over the proclamation made over the sites in Bethlehem and Hebron," Serry said, adding that "those sites are in Palestinian territory and bear an importance no only in Judaism but in Islam as well."

The special Mideast coordinator also warned that the de facto "implementation of the government's decision could harm trust between the two sides and hurt the efforts to renew talks."

Serry's comments came as Palestinians accused earlier Monday the plan to include the biblical Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank in a project for rehabilitating Jewish and Zionist heritage sites, an attempt to seize land and holy sites on Israeli-occupied land.

Following an outburst of violence in Hebron, where the tomb is located, Khaled Esseleh, the mayor of Hebron, said: "I'm hoping there won't be more clashes but this is a very sensitive religious issue, and Netanyahu just lit the fire."

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the "unilateral decision to make Palestinian sites in Hebron and Bethlehem part of Israel shows there is no genuine partner for peace, but an occupying power intent on consolidating Palestinian lands."

While major powers worked to restart negotiations, "Netanyahu is actively working to sabotage the two-state solution", Erekat said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Jordanian government accused Israel of derailing peace efforts in the Middle East by adding the West Bank sites to its list of national heritage sites.

"Instead of taking steps to pave the necessary ground for re- launching the peace process, Israel is adopting measures that derail the ongoing peace moves," Minister of State for Media Affairs Nabil Sharif was quoted as saying by the official Petra news agency.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs, or Haram al-Ibrahimi, is regarded as one of Islam's holiest shrines, while Rachel's Tomb is known to Muslims as Bilal Mosque.

"Jordan condemns this and all other unilateral Israeli measures which affect holy places and offend sentiments of Muslims throughout the world," Sharif said.

"We urge Israel to reconsider its new step because it deepens lack of confidence among the concerned parties." He was alluding to the latest attempts by the United States to broker indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel seized East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank from Jordan during the 1967 Middle East War. Under a peace treaty concluded in 1994, Israel acknowledged Jordan's right to look after both Islamic and Christian shrines in the Palestinian-administered territory.

Comment: No surprise from the pro-Palestine, anti-Israel UN. This is to be expected. Interesting how the UN and the reporting newspaper,see above, have revised history! Do they suggest that their own UN resolution 242 is null and void? If yes, when did this occur? Sorry UN and news source, your "facts" are incorrect!

PA Demands: Give Us Land for Highway

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

“We’re building a highway, so give us some Israeli-controlled land.” This is the latest demand made by the PA of Israel, following the start of construction on a new PA city in the heart of southern Shomron (Samaria). The new city - the first planned city in PA-controlled areas - is to be located between the Jewish communities of Shilo and Ateret, just west of the major Highway 60 leading from Nazareth to Be’er Sheva. The name of the new town is Rawabi, meaning Hills, and is designed to house between 25,000 and 40,000 Arab residents in its first stage – and 200,000 when it is completed. It is a private enterprise, with funding from Qater and businessman Bashar Massar of Shechem (Nablus).

The new city is to be located some nine kilometers north of Ramallah, between the Arab villages of Atara and Jiljilya. The closest Jewish community is Ateret, and residents there are duly concerned.

“As of now, there is Arab contiguity from Ramallah to Birzeit,” a leading resident of Ateret told Israel National News, “and this essentially breaks up the Binyamin Regional Council into eastern and western halves. Building an Arab city, of course, deepens this split.”

“The four-lane highway that the PA wishes to build in the direction of Ramallah will have to cross our main artery, Road 465, which is the main highway used by residents of Beit El, Ofrah, and other parts of eastern Binyamin to reach central Israel.”

Ateret is a growing Jewish town, despite the difficulties. It has grown in the past six years from 55 families to 100, and more are scheduled to be moving in this coming summer. The “construction freeze” caught the town as it was about to build a new neighborhood. One of its main attractions is the musical yeshiva high school Kinor David.

Israel Had No Say

In effect, Israel had no say in the construction of the city, as it is being built in what the Olso Accords denote as Areas A (full PA control) and B (PA administrative control, Israeli security control). The planned highway between Rawabi and Ramallah, too, passes almost exclusively in these areas – except for a short stretch around Highway 465.

Israel Not Agreeing to Give Land for Highway - So Far

The PA has asked Israel to grant Area A status to that stretch, but Israel’s defense establishment is not in favor, in order not to detach western Binyamin from eastern Binyamin. However, the paving of the road will apparently receive Israeli permission - though as of now the PA is refusing to pave the highway, or even to request permission to do so, until Israel agrees to place the planned route in Area A.

Whose Land?

Another issue is that of land ownership and use. With the permission of the Civil Administration, and the active cooperation of the Jewish National Fund, forestland has been planted practically up to the borders of Ateret. “And we know that where there is legal building, there is also illegal building,” an Ateret source said, “and we see that this is beginning already. In addition to taking land that could be used for Jewish growth, this is a security danger as well.”

A highly-placed source in Ateret said he has heard that the PA highway will pass under Road 465, and not over, “but this is not official… What is needed, though, is at least that our important highway be improved; it needs better lighting, a new paving, and proper signs. We know that the Road Works Department has put us on its schedule, but work has not yet started.”

“It’s important to know that there are some who view our highway as dangerous, and that was true before Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. But since then, there has been only one shooting incident throughout this time. If people are hesitant to drive on this highway, it’s only a psychological bloc.”

‘S-300 delivery a serious development’

22/02/2010 02:22

Analyst: Russia sends mixed messages on Iran deal to increase ME influence.

Russia is sending mixed messages about its pledge to deliver the advanced S-300 anti-missile system to Iran as part of an effort to increase its own influence over the Middle East, Israeli security analysts said on Sunday. Should Teheran acquire the system, a potential military strike on Iranian nuclear sites could become far more difficult, but it remains far from clear when and if Moscow intends to transfer the military hardware to Iran.

“Russia does not want to see Iran a nuclear state, but short of that, it will be playing both sides – to ridiculous proportions,” said Emily Landau, senior research fellow and director, Arms Control and Regional Security Program, at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INNS).

“Right now, Russia is a little mad at the Iranians, because the Iranians rejected a nuclear fuel enrichment deal which would have seen uranium enriched by 20 percent inRussia,” Landau said.

“Russia has its own sense of strategic interests vis-a-vis the US and the Middle East, and right now it has no interest in being perceived to be on board any US agenda. They are a strategic rival of the US, and want to have a bigger role inthe Middle East,” Landau added.

To that end, last week’s visit by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Russia, aimed at acquiring a guarantee from Moscow that it will not sell Iran the S-300, was seen by Russia as a very positive development. Netanyahu walked away from the meeting expressing confidence in Russia’s desire to maintain regional stability.

Yet just a few days after the visit, the Russian Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying thatRussia would hold up the contract to deliver the anti-missile system to Iran.

“They’re changing their mind on the S-300 every few days, going back and forth. The fact that Netanyahu met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was good forRussia. It was a big meeting. Russia is seeking to gain power and influence from all sides,” Landau added.

The truck-mounted S-300 system can shoot down aircraft from a distance of 150 kilometers away, according to reports.

“If it is sold to Iran, it would mean they have a system many times more powerful than anything they have right now in terms of their defenses. It would seriously complicate Israeli contemplation of an attack, but we can’t know if it will be a game-changer. There is a whole set of considerations that Israel has to consider,” Landau said.

Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the INNS, and a former colonel in the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence, said additional factors that Israel must consider when considering an attack include assessing the level of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program, weighing up operational abilities to strike and looking at the degree to which the nuclear sites can be damaged.

Other factors include assessing Iran’s potential responses and looking at possible American responses.

“The S-300 is just one of many factors Israel has to consider,” Kam said, adding, “The Russians seem to be pushing for more time before delivery.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Irish FM to ask Lieberman for clarifications on Dubai operation

Martin says will 'underline our deep concern' about use of fake Irish passports by al-Mabhouh hit squad during meeting with Israeli counterpart in Brussels; Miliband will also raise issue during talks with Lieberman

Published: 02.20.10, 23:30 / Israel News

During his scheduled visit to Brussels next week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will be asked to explain how the hit squad behind the assassination of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai obtained forged British and Irish passports. Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin said Saturday that he would discuss the matter with Lieberman on Monday. "I intend to meet the Israeli foreign minister in Brussels to underline our deep concern about the fake use of passports in Dubai and to seek reassurance and clarification on this very serious issue," he told BBC News.

Martin said he planned to further discuss the matter at his meeting with 26 other EU foreign ministers next week.

"I also spoke with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates overnight and we remain in close contact with the British government," he told BBC.

Israel's Mossad spy agency has been blamed for the killing. Dubai police have identified 11 suspects who apparently traveled to Dubai on European passports. The list included six people with British passports, three with Irish passports, and one each from France and Germany.

British FM David Miliband also said he would raise the passport issue during his meeting with Lieberman in Brussels.

German weekly Der Spiegel reported Saturday that one of the passports used by the hit squad that killed al-Mabhouh in Dubai was not forged.

According to the report, the German passport belonging to one of the suspected hit squad members was genuine, prompting German authorities to launch an investigation.

The use of European passports in the al-Mabhouh assassination sparked a row between Israel and a number of European Union countries. Israel's ambassadors to London, Dublin, Berlin and Paris were all asked to provide explanations regarding Mossad's alleged involvement in the hit.

However, officials in Jerusalem have estimated that the criticism against Israel will subside due to the fact that western countries support the war on terror.