Friday, November 21, 2008
On backdrop of IAEA report pointing to possibility that Tehran has already obtained enough enriched uranium to make one atomic bomb...chances of Jewish state taking preemptive military action against Islamic republic's nuclear facilities appear to have become significantly higher in recent weeks
...A report published this week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) points to the possibility that Tehran has already obtained enough enriched uranium to make one atomic bomb.
According to the report, the IAEA believes that Iran has amassed 630kg of low enriched uranium, up from 480kg in late August. Nuclear experts believe this is enough to produce the weapons-grade material needed for a crude nuclear device similar in size to that which America used to destroy the city of Nagasaki at the end of World War II....
...'You don’t want Iran to get close'
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack addressed the IAEA report on Thursday...Asked if Tehran now had sufficient material to build a bomb, he suggested that .... “Some said it was enough; others said it was not enough, but close,” said McCormack. “In any case, you don’t want Iran to get close.” ...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
In an effort by Jordan to prevent a large-scale IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, King Abdullah II met Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak at his palace in Amman, according to reports Thursday morning.
...during Tuesday's meeting, Abdullah urged Olmert and Barak not to embark on such an operation, saying it would have serious repercussions for Jordan. Despite the king's plea, Olmert and Barak stressed that if rocket attacks on Gaza periphery communities do not stop, Israel would be forced to respond.
... during the secret meeting, the two sides also discussed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations... Olmert briefed Abdullah on the ongoing peace talks and the results of his recent meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
...Abdullah stressed the need for continued peace negotiations and progress towards a two-state solution, which he said was the only option for achieving peace in the region. He also reportedly emphasized that Jordan had a strategic interest in the establishment of a Palestinian state....
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Britain re-established high-level intelligence links with the Syrian authorities as David Miliband made his landmark visit to Damascus yesterday, according to senior Syrian officials.
The move, first raised earlier this year at a meeting in New York between the Foreign Secretary and his Syrian counterpart, Walid Moualem, was a key objective of the Syrian visit. The newly revived intelligence relationship could be hugely beneficial to Britain. Syria is known to have one of the best intelligence-gathering systems in the Middle East, in particular in tracking the movements of Islamic extremists into Iraq and around the region. [ha ha ha...of course they can track terrorist movements...they SEND the terrorists - SL]
“Miliband asked Moualem in New York whether he could re-establish intelligence links at a senior level” after lower level contacts, a Syrian official said. Mr Moualem invited Mr Miliband to take intelligence officials with him on the trip to Damascus.
Mr Miliband's visit, the first by a British foreign secretary for seven years, was touted as an opportunity to test Syria's willingness to engage with the West...
...Washington has long insisted on isolating Syria but with a change of administration - and attitude - looming, Britain and France are leading efforts to lure Damascus out of the solitude it has found itself in since it was implicated in the murder of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri, three years ago.
Mr Miliband urged Syria yesterday to take a more active role in the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians by first reaching its own peace deal with the Jewish state....
...Mr Miliband met President Assad for the first time during his visit, which, it was hoped, would draw the attention of Barack Obama, the President-elect...towards the Middle East.
In their first phone call since the US election, Gordon Brown emphasised that Mr Obama's foreign policy priority should be the Arab-Israeli conflict, which he sees as the key to other concerns in the region, including the threat of a nuclear Iran.
Joshua Landis, an American expert on Syria, said the visit was “a message from the British to Obama. Like the French, they want the US to push Syrian-Israeli peace. Negotiations between Syria and Israel began last May, but the Bush Administration was unhappy about the dialogue and refused to support them.”
Syria has long supported Hamas, which does not recognise Israel's right to exist and opposes the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's peace talks with it. Along with hosting exiled Hamas leaders, Syria also aids the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah. One of Israel's conditions for peace is that Damascus severs these links.
I asked the Foreign Office for the legal basis of its opinion that the settlements were illegal. It replied that it was the Geneva Convention, which forbade the movement of a population into occupied territory..... Oh, everyone accepts this is what the Geneva Convention means...
First, Article 2 of the Geneva Convention provides that the agreement applies ‘to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a high contracting party’, or sovereign territory. Thus the Convention cannot apply to the West Bank, nor to East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip for that matter, because these have never been recognized as sovereign territory. As part of Mandatory Palestine, they never belonged to any sovereign state but were occupied and administered illegally by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967 after the Arab war of aggression against Israel in 1948.
Second, Article 49 of the Geneva Convention provides that an occupying power ‘shall not deport or transfer part of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’ This was designed to prohibit inhumane practices such as by the Nazis and the Soviets before and during the Second World War in forcibly transferring or deporting people into or out of occupied territories. But the Israeli settlers in the West Bank went there voluntarily. They have not been ‘deported’ or ‘transferred’ by the government of Israel. The only force Israel has used is in getting them out of Gaza. So clearly the Geneva Convention does not apply in any sense to the West Bank settlements.
Third, Israel is ‘occupying’ the West Bank (which on a day-to-day basis is not ‘occupied’ but ruled by the Palestinians) entirely within its rights under international law, which recognises the right of a country that has been attacked to occupy and retain land that continues to be used for belligerent purposes against it. Which is why the UN’s famous Resolution 242 was deliberately drafted to refer to Israel withdrawing from ‘territories’ rather than all the territories – and then only when the Arabs end their war against Israel.
Fourth, the West Bank is not Palestinian land in any sense. As said before, it was originally part of the British Mandate and then illegally occupied by Jordan. Nor have the settlers occupied individual Palestinians’ land, but have mainly built on empty space. I do not condone the actions of some of these settlers against their Arab neighbours, nor their attitudes; and I would like them to leave most of these territories, in Israel’s own interests. But the claim that Israel has ‘stolen’ Palestinian land is simply a lie.
Fifth and most important of all is something that is almost totally overlooked. It is generally assumed that Israel’s claim to the West Bank originated in 1967. Not so. Jews lived in many parts of it for centuries – some of these places amongst the holiest of Jewish sites – and were ethnically cleansed from it in the last century by Arab pogroms in places like Hebron. It was in recognition of this, the historic and inalienable connection of the Jews to this land, that the original Mandate for Palestine – which included what is now the West Bank and Gaza – instructed Britain to facilitate ‘close settlement’ by the Jews in the whole of Mandate Palestine – a commitment which the British proceeded systematically to betray – because of
the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.
As the late Eugene Rostow, the former US Under -Secretary of State for Political Affairs who played a leading role in drafting Resolution 242, repeatedly said, that legal undertaking has never been rescinded. It is still legally binding. The UN charter explicitly stated that nothing in that charter should abrogate any pre-existing international instruments. Far from being illegally settled in the disputed territories, the Jews have every right to be there under international law -- which says specifically they should settle in the West Bank. As Rostow wrote:
...the Jews have the same right to settle there as they have to settle in Haifa. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip were never parts of Jordan, and Jordan's attempt to annex the West Bank was not generally recognized and has now been abandoned. The two parcels of land are parts of the Mandate that have not yet been allocated to Jordan, to Israel, or to any other state, and are a legitimate subject for discussion.
The Foreign Office’s apparent ignorance of international law derives from its own innate political hostility to Israel and its wholesale endorsement -- along with virtually the entire British intelligentsia -- of the mendacious propaganda of the enemies of Israel and the west.
Miliband’s remarks have nothing to do with international law, history or the truth, which he has misrepresented and repudiated, but with dirty and shameful politics. It appears that the British government has now decided openly to side with the enemies of Israel – those enemies who really have been thwarting international law for six decades in their war of extermination. Thus [Her Majesty's Government] is now marching in lockstep with its joyfully welcomed comrade across the pond -- who will shortly enter the White House and leave Israel abandoned, undermined, and under pressure to cut its own throat.
The United Nations on Tuesday will unveil a multi-million dollar ceiling decoration, ...The Socialist government of [Spain's] Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero contributed almost $14 million of taxpayers’ money to the project, including nearly $1 million earmarked for African aid.
...Miquel Barcelo, a world-renowned Spanish abstract artist, has been working with a team of 20 assistants for more than a year on the 15,000-square-foot ceiling of a conference hall in Geneva, which will become the permanent home of the often-controversial Human Rights Council.
Zapatero will join U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Spain’s King Juan Carlos and 750 guests for the unveiling of the ceiling....
...The Spanish government calls it one of the U.N.’s most significant artworks – some are even calling it “the Sistine Chapel for the 21st century” – but at home, debate has erupted over what critics view as inappropriate use of development aid. Gonzalo Robles, a member of the conservative opposition Popular Party responsible for development, called the use of the funds “immoral” and possibly illegal, asking how many wells could have been dug, vaccines provided or African children helped with the money....
The renovated conference room will be known as the Chamber for Human Rights and the Alliance of Civilizations ...
...the Human Rights Council...has ...been dogged by criticism about a disproportionate focus on Israel, while other situations get scant attention.The council also includes countries with poor human rights records, including Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, Cuba and Pakistan.
...Instead of meeting for self-congratulatory ceremonies, the council should do its job and stop ignoring human rights violations around the world,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based non-governmental organization U.N. Watch, said Tuesday.
Neuer said the council had, in its two years of existence, systematically undermined the cause of human rights.
It had also “eviscerated the U.N.’s few existing tools that work,” he said, citing the council’s gradual elimination of human rights monitoring in Belarus, Cuba, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sudan’s Darfur.
Not only had genocide in Sudan been ignored, Neuer said, but the monitor of the atrocities in that country was also “on the chopping block,” with the mandate set to expire next March.
Noting that 80 percent of country censures by the council had targeted Israel, he said “repressive regimes support these Arab-sponsored and one-sided texts to deflect attention from their own abuses.”
“Never in the history of international human rights has one of its own institutions inflicted so much damage.”
In a letter Tuesday to Ban and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, Neuer and Paula Schriefer of the Washington-based human rights watchdog Freedom House urged them to call on the council to convene a special session immediately...
...“As you gather today with world leaders to celebrate the new chamber of the U.N. Human Rights Council, we urge you to take advantage of this moment to turn the international spotlight toward the human rights catastrophe in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” they wrote.“Mass displacement, killings and sexual violence – involving hundreds of thousands of victims, if not more – require an urgent response by the U.N. Human Rights Council.”
"We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us" in order to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, IAF commander Maj. -Gen. Ido Nehushtan told German magazine Der Spiegel in an interview published Tuesday...[it] is a political question and not an issue of Israel's military capabilities.
A strike against Iran's nuclear facilities "is a political decision," the IAF commander said, "but if I understand it correctly, all options are on the table… The Air Force is a very robust and flexible force. We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us."
When asked by the paper whether the Israeli military was able to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, which are spread around the country and partly located underground, Nehushtan said, "Please understand that I do not want to get into details. I can only say this: It is not a technical or logistical question."
Nehushtan said the cutting edge capabilities of the IDF in the region were not only a derivative of the advanced technologies it uses. "Modern technology is one thing, but the biggest advantage we have is our soldiers and officers. Israel is a small country. We neither have a big population nor natural resources. Our biggest asset is our human resources. And it is the Air Force that makes best use of it," he said.
Nehushtan then addressed the new reality in Lebanon since the integration of Hizbullah into the government in Beirut several months ago. "Hizbullah has been part of the Lebanese government since this spring. It is not a fringe terror organization - it is supported by the state. Militarily, Hizbullah is stronger than the regular Lebanese army. If they attack us, we might react differently [to how we did in the 2006 Second Lebanon War]," he said....
...[Adelson Institute Distinguished Fellow Gen. Moshe] Yaalon has just announced that he is leaving the Shalem Center to enter the political arena, confirming his commitment to the future of the Jewish state, and the leadership it requires...
[Perhaps we will see him as Israel's next Minister of Defence - SL]
Click here to read an advance preview of Ya’alon’s “Israel and the Palestinians: A new Strategy” from the Shalem Center's Azure magazine.
In it Ya'alon proposes a "radical" new, two-pronged strategy for peace (as an alternative to the on-going Oslo/Annapolis fiasco):
- to build a viable, democratic Palestinian society
- to rebuild Israel's military deterrence of radical terrorism
Follow the link to the full article.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
On Thursday 13th November 2008, a delegation [from ECAJ, ZFA and AIJAC] met with the Hon Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs...
...The delegation advised the Minster that the Jewish community was disappointed and concerned that the Australian Government last weekend changed its vote at the UN on two Fourth Committee resolutions relating to Settlements and the Geneva Convention. The Minister was told that the reasons that have been advanced by the Government for the changed vote seemed less than persuasive. The terms of the two resolutions in question have not been altered from those of previous years and Australia’s former objections to them remain valid.
The delegation expressed the view that the changed vote encourages elements within the UN and EU that are openly hostile to Israel to continue their one-sided, out-of-context criticisms of the Israeli Government. The resolution therefore also makes it more difficult to secure public support among Israelis and Palestinians for the painful concessions that peace will ultimately require from both sides.
The delegation also pointed out that while both resolutions ostensibly seek to promote the international rule of law, because their terms are unmistakably polemical and one-sided, the effect is the opposite. Neither resolution does anything to advance or enhance the prospects of peace based on a two-state solution. The delegation expressed the belief that in time Australia will have cause to regret its changed vote in support of those resolutions.
The delegation then dealt with the 11 further resolutions of various Committees of the UN which will be voted on in the near future and stated that although a case could be made in support of Australia changing 3 of its votes from abstentions to opposition, the Jewish community merely sought the Minister’s assurance that Australia would not change its vote in respect of each of the 11 resolutions, from that recorded in 2007.
In response the Minister assured the delegation that in voting on each resolution Australia would follow the same principles that it had followed in voting on the Fourth Committee resolutions but declined to give any assurance that Australia’s vote would be unchanged.
However, as the delegation pointed out, the underlying principles at stake are the same in respect of each resolution. The one-sidedness of the text and the failure to demand reciprocity from the Palestinian side undermine both the rule of law and the cause of peace...
...In the circumstances, the delegation urged the Minister not to again change Australia’s recent proud and principled voting record on resolutions found unacceptable and inappropriate by successive Australian Governments....
With Iran less than two years away from acquiring nuclear capability, a combined strategy of political isolation, increased economic sanctions and the threat of military action as a last resort is the best way to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons, former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon said Monday.
He said warily that President-elect Barack Obama's readiness for tough diplomacy could be constructive, provided it advanced that three-pronged strategy.
"It's a matter of a couple [of] years, one to two years, not more than that, until Iran is capable of coming out with nuclear capability," Ya'alon told a gathering of North American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.
...In his remarks, Ya'alon said that the West, which had been holding on-again, off-again negotiations with Iran for the past five years, had been split by disagreements and economic interests, emboldening Iran and reducing the efficacy of economic sanctions. "The problem in the West is a lack of unification and determination," he said to a delegation of North American Jews at the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities.
He spelled out a three-pronged strategy of diplomatic isolation, increased economic sanctions and the threat of military action as the best way of dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat - creating "internal change without direct involvement." He noted that economic sanctions to date had already made an impact, and that in the past the Islamic Republic had been influenced by the prospect of an imminent attack.
At the same time, Ya'alon said that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a nightmare for both Israel and the West. "We can deter them, but we cannot be reconciled with them," he said.
In his address, Ya'alon conceded that even a military option - similar to Israel's bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981- wouldn't be "the end of the game" with Iran, as the Osirak attack had been with Iraq, and would necessarily require follow-up operations, in addition to political and diplomatic moves.
Asked what carrots could be offered to Teheran in an effort to coax the Islamic Republic to stop enriching uranium, Ya'alon said that "the main carrot regarding Iran is avoiding the sticks."
...Emily Landau, a senior research associate at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, said in an address entitled "Iran's ticking time bomb" before the same panel that "the international community, which has been deadlocked on Iran, is more and more paralyzed, even amid increasing signs that Iran is pressing ahead with its nuclear capabilities."
In contrast to Ya'alon, Landau said that Israel might have to reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran. She stressed, however, that she hoped that would not be the case, and that it would not be in Israel's interest.
She said neither sanctions nor military action would solve the problem, and predicted that US-Iranian negotiations were likely to begin soon under the new Obama administration.
"These [negotiations] have to be [conducted] when Iran is under pressure," she concluded.
...World powers this week failed to come up with a unified strategy to press Iran on halting controversial elements of its nuclear program, as a report emerged suggesting the country had made progress in advancing a little-examined feature of its atomic infrastructure.
....Moscow's Interfax news agency quoted Russian diplomat Sergei Ryabkov, who attended the meeting, as saying the parties had struck no deal on sanctions. "The Western countries are for the sanctions," he was quoted as saying. "China, like Russia, did not back it."
Meanwhile, a report released this week says Iran has made significant progress at another facility: a heavy-water research reactor being built near the city of Arak, which could eventually produce plutonium that might be used in a nuclear weapon.
According to satellite images published by the Institute for Science and International Security, construction at the Arak plant progressed significantly between February and October."It's slipped everyone's notice," said David Albright, a former arms inspector and president of the Washington-based institute. "If you look at the satellite image, it's really making progress. In a year and a half, it's gone from building frames to largely finished."...
... hopes of imposing another set of U.N. Security Council sanctions before the end of President Bush's term are fading.
Russia and China, which hold veto power on the Security Council, have resisted new sanctions. Unlike Washington, Moscow and Beijing have close political and business ties with Iran and feel no domestic pressure to act against the Islamic Republic.
Amid the diplomatic maneuvering, Tehran continues to edge forward in nuclear and missile skills.
Some Israeli officials have voiced alarm about Iran's test-firing this week of a solid-fuel, two-stage rocket with a range of 1,200 miles. Tel Aviv is about 650 miles from Iran."This is a whole new missile," Uzi Rubin, an Israeli missile expert, told Jane's, the British-based defense and military publication."It demonstrates a significant leap in Iran's missile capabilities," Rubin said.
IAEA inspectors predict the heavy-water reactor near Arak won't be completed until 2011. Such plants produce relatively large quantities of weapons-grade plutonium that can be extracted from spent uranium fuel through a type of reprocessing plant that Iran neither has nor says it wants.
But in its Nov. 13 report ... the Institute for Science and International Security cites evidence gathered by IAEA inspectors that suggests Iran could be planning such a facility, which is relatively easy to build. ...the Arak plant could potentially produce about 20 pounds of plutonium a year, enough for two nuclear weapons. Physicists say it is easier to design and build a nuclear weapon using plutonium than one using enriched uranium.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a volley of Kassam rockets at the Eshkol region in the western Negev Monday morning, Israel Radio reported. There were no initial reports of wounded or damage.
...Thirty trucks bearing humanitarian supplies including food and medicine will be permitted to enter the Gaza Strip on Monday via the Kerem Shalom crossing. The decision to allow the shipment was made during a late night consultation by the defense establishment. The transfer of fuel and other supplies will not be permitted as a result of continued rocket fire on the western Negev.
Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket at Sderot on Sunday evening, lightly wounding one man and sending two people into shock. The man suffered shrapnel wounds to his head and hands. Seconds before the rocket landed, the Color Red rocket alert system sent residents fleeing for cover.
Earlier on Sunday, two rockets landed in the Eshkol Regional Council near a kibbutz. Shortly after that attack, the air force launched an air strike on a Palestinian mortar launching crew in northern Gaza.
Palestinian sources said four gunmen were killed in the air strike and six were wounded, adding that the crew belonged to the Salah a-Din Brigades of the Popular Resistance Committees.
The ongoing rocket fire from Gaza came after a series of Israeli warnings to Hamas of firm military action if the South continued to be targeted.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to restore calm on the Gaza border Sunday, but stopped short of promising a military solution.
Mark Leibler (National Chairman) and Colin Rubenstein (Executive Director) of AIJAC wrote to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith last week to call for no further changes to Australia's voting on forthcoming Middle East-related UN resolutions.
After again expressing their displeasure with Australia's reversal earlier this month against Israel on two key resolutions, Leibler and Rubenstein argued that "each of [the] forthcoming resolutions are of compelling significance, andŠ we believe the voting pattern of recent years should be re-affirmed ".
"Any untoward changes will be met with our genuine disappointment, as well as that of the overwhelming majority of the Australian Jewish community. In short, the resolutions are largely so one-sided that they do not by any stretch of the imagination further the Government's entirely laudable objective of enhancing the prospects of a two-state resolution," they concluded.
Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe "Bogey" Ya'alon is expected to hold a joint news conference with Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu and announce that he is joining the party's ranks, according to a report in Ma'ariv/NRG Sunday.
Ya'alon is one of the only potential MKs who enjoys a relatively high degree of popularity in Israel. Netanyahu is said to be very interested in him as a member of his list, but Ya'alon has been wavering until now, saying that he is not sure that he wants to enter politics at all....
Ya'alon was appointed Chief of Staff at the height of the Oslo Terror War and stepped down in 2004 when then-Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz refused to extend his term of service by a year, because of Ya'alon's opposition to the Disengagement from Gaza.
In a book he published recently, Ya'alon was extremely critical of the Disengagement and said that then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon carried it out because he wished to evade a criminal investigation.
National Union/National Religious Party representatives also contacted Ya'alon and asked him to head the new united nationalist Knesset list, without the need for primaries. Israel National News has learned that Ya'alon has not given an answer to the offer until now.
Another contender for the Likud list is Attorney Ehud Danoch, the former Consul-General in Los Angeles. During the Second Lebanon War, Danoch spearheaded a high-profile campaign of public support which included more than 80 Hollywood stars, including current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Adam Sandler.