March 18, 2012
‘Mossad, CIA agree Iran has yet to decide to build nuclear weapon’
New York Times report quotes senior American officials who believe there is little disagreement between Israeli and U.S. intelligence over Iran’s nuclear program, despite calls for a strike by Israeli officials.
Israel’s intelligence services agree with American intelligence assessments that there is not enough proof to determine whether Iran is building a nuclear bomb, according to a report published Sunday in the New York Times.
The newspaper said that senior American officials believe there is little disagreement between the Mossad and U.S. intelligence agencies over Iran’s nuclear program, despite the fact that Israeli political leaders have been pushing for quick action to block Iran from becoming what they describe as an existential threat.
The report further quoted one former senior American intelligence official who states that the Mossad “does not disagree with the U.S. on the weapons program,” adding that there is “not a lot of dispute between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities on the facts.”
According to the New York Times, the extent of the evidence the spy agencies have collected is unclear since most of their findings are classified. However, intelligence officials say they have been throwing everything they have at the Iranian program.
The United States and Israel share intelligence on Iran, American officials said. For its spying efforts, Israel relies in part on an Iranian exile group that is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or M.E.K., which is based in Iraq, says the report.
Furthermore, the report states that the Israelis have also developed close ties in the region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, and they are believed to use Kurdish agents who can move back and forth across the border into Iran.
According to the New York Times, American intelligence officials are wary of relying on information from an opposition group like the M.E.K., especially after their experience in Iraq where they relied on flawed information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group run by Ahmad Chalabi.
The report comes days after top Israeli official congratulated a decision by the world’s largest financial money transfer network to cut off Iranian banks targeted by EU sanctions from the system, saying that the move represented a “mortal blow” to the Iranian regime.
The move was an unprecedented measure that will effectively prevent Iranian institutions from electronically transferring global funds.
An Israeli official indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue of disconnecting the Iranian banks from the SWIFT system during his recent conversations with U.S. President Barack Obama as well as with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
According to the official, Netanyahu told Obama that “we need SWIFT swiftly.”
In response to SWIFT’s Thursday announcement, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement later in the day, saying that “Prime Minister Netanyahu congratulated SWIFT for its decision to cut the Iranian banks from the system.”
The New York Times report also comes on the heels of an interview between U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and NBC’s Brian Williams, in which Cameron reiterated his opposition to an Israeli strike, saying that he didn’t “think as we stand today that military action by Israel would be justified.”
I don’t think the Israelis should take that action now. We told them they shouldn’t and said we wouldn’t support it if they did. We’ve been very clear,” Cameron said.
“It’s very, very important [Israel] knows it has strong allies like America, like the United Kingdom, but I don’t support action now because, frankly, we’ve got more road to run in putting in place sanctions and putting in place tough measures against the regime and saying to them they need to take a different path,” Cameron added.
Cameron added that Iran could retain “civil nuclear power, if they give up the ambition of having military nuclear power, they can have a future as a country that has more normal relations with the rest of the world,” adding: “We need to keep up the pressure to encourage them to make the right choice.”
[Item 2 reveals no less clearly than a statement that for the time being, Iran out, Palestine in. In other words, very likely due to the sanctions and much reaction against an Israeli strike now, Israel’s leaders feel obliged to play the waiting game vis a vis Iran. And so, knowing that governments, now breathing a bit more easily, realizing that Israel will not strike for the present, will once again remember that the Palestinian issue needs to be solved. Thus Israel attacks, the current propaganda line being that Palestine is not ready for a state. Possibly governments will buy it, possibly not. In any event, 2 states there will not be. Israel has already seen to that by its acts on the ground. D]
Israel: Palestinian economy not stable enough for independent state
Government report obtained by Haaretz, to be presented before donor meeting on Palestinian aid in Brussels, rules Palestinians are still dependent on foreign aid.
By Barak Ravid
Tags: Palestinian Authority West Bank Gaza Palestinians
Israel is expected to present a report Wednesday at a donor meeting on Palestinian aid in Brussels claiming that the Palestinian Authority is not sufficiently stable to meet the standards of a well-functioning state.
The 44-page report, written by the Foreign Ministry and several other government ministries, will be presented by the Israeli delegation to the representatives at the donor meeting, including Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store who serves as the chairman of the committee, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and the Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair. A copy of the report was obtained by Haaretz.
The report specifies a long line of actions Israel has taken to aid the Palestinian economy in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but presents data showing that that the recent economic growth in the West Bank has stopped. Much of the data that is found in the Israeli report also appears in the report published last week by the World Bank.
Parts of the report are worded in a way that aims to make clear that the Palestinian economy is unable to support an independent state. This message stands out in light of the World Bank’s report and other reports by international bodies that were published in 2011 in preparation for the Palestinian UN statehood bid last September, that claimed the PA’s institutions are developed enough to support an independent state.
“While the present fiscal crisis was caused by a shortfall in donor aid, there were also deviations in the execution of 2011′s budget,” the report said. “The public finance management system’s role in the current crisis may undermine its track record as a system that meets the requirements of a well-functioning state.”
The report also indicated that the PA’s fiscal management contributed to the current crisis. “This demonstrates the need for further reform in order for the PA to meet the standards of a well-functioning state.”
Israel is expected to emphasize before the donor countries that despite the growth of recent years, the Palestinian Authority still needs foreign aid to survive.
“The fiscal crisis is especially acute because much of the West Bank economy still depends on the public sector and on construction projects, both still heavily financed by foreign aid. It also serves as an alarming warning sign for the stability of the Palestinian economy,” the report said.
“The current fiscal situation raises doubts about whether the PA will be able to reduce its dependency on foreign aid in the coming years.”
Another part of the report deals with the security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and reveals interesting data which shows that during 2011, 764 meetings took place between Israeli military and police officials and their Palestinian counterpart in the West Bank – which is a 5% rise from 2010.
The report notes that IDF commanders in Samaria regularly meet their Palestinian counterparts in Jenin, Nabulus, Tulkarem, and Qalqilya.
3 Saturday, March 17 2012
[The “one state” that Florida’s House has voted on, is a Jewish one. Never mind. It might start that way, but won’t remain that way unless Israel will commit a Holocaust against Palestinians. D]
Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine
Saturday, March 17 2012
On February 29th 2012 Florida’s House of Representatives surprisingly passed a bill supporting the one-state solution. The bill quotes the Bible to prove the Jewish right of the whole land spanning Israel and Palestine, ignores the Palestinians’ historical connection to the land and omits their existence. However, the bill comes as surprise in the sense that it calls for one law for all people who live on the land.
[T]he members of the Florida House of Representatives commend Israel for its cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States and with the State of Florida and support Israel in its legal, historical, moral, and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon the entirety of its own lands, recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others, and that peace can be afforded the region only through a whole and united Israel governed under one law for all people.
The bill’s bottom line is not that different from what many Palestinian activists have been calling for: one law for all people in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. But what is ironic about this resolution is the absence of Pro-Israel groups’ rage against it. When Palestinians advocate for a one-state solution, they are quickly accused of plotting to destroy the state of Israel. Florida’s House and Senate are using Bible references, denying the occupation, and proclaiming Israel’s right over the “unified land to endorse a one-state solution and there’s no backlash.
Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti Defamation league (ADL) said in a recent op-ed condemning Palestinian activists advocating a one-state solution: “Let’s be frank. The term “one-state solution” is a euphemism for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.” However, the ADL and Foxman didn’t give attention or condemn the Florida house resolution.
Perhaps Foxman and other supporters of Israel realized the stakes in clashing with those in support of the bill. After all many Evangelical Christians support for Israel is based on “Biblical interpretations” that sees Jewish control of the whole land as a must and compromising that belief that would be heresy. Also, this wave of support for a one-state solution is not limited to Florida. Last January the Republican National Committee passed a resolution similar of Florida’s bill.
J Street, a Jewish American lobby group advocating for the two-state solution realized that this is a major shift in America and tweeted that the resolution “confirms the decades-long bipartisan consensus on a two-state solution is shattered.”
However the wind of change regarding the one-state solution is also storming Israel itself. There are a growing number of Israelis talking about alternatives to the two-state solution. Some settlers, nationalists and even politicians are now openly talking about the one-state solution. Israeli Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, a leading member of the Likud told my colleague Noam Shezif that he supports one state:
There is a conflict in the Middle East between two entities, and they’re both right, each in their own way. This is our only home, and therefore all kinds of solutions can be found. One could establish a system in one state in which Judea and Samaria are jointly held. The Jews would vote for a Jewish parliament and the Palestinians for an Arab parliament, and we would create a system in which life is shared. But these are things that will take time. Anyone who thinks that there are shortcuts is talking nonsense. As long as Islamic fundamentalism thinks that Jews are forbidden to settle in the Holy Land, we have a problem. It will not be resolved by an agreement, even if we obtain a promise from all the Arab states that it will be fine.
So if people say to me: Decide − one state or division of the Land of Israel, I say that division is the bigger danger.
For the two-state solution supporters, time is not on their side. More Palestinians are losing faith in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas promises of an independent state. They don’t see the 20-year peace process to have brought them any closer to independence. Many Palestinians see the last decade of negotiations to have only worsened their life conditions. Facts on the ground are changing perceptions for Palestinians, Israelis, and foreigners alike. Time is running out and chances of creating a Palestinian state are becoming slimmer day after day. Some doubt that we might have crossed into the no turning point. Others like J Street and the American Task Force on Palestine believe there is still hope for two-state solution. If they are right, they have very little time to make it happen.
Aziz Abu Sarah is a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who divides his time between Jerusalem and Washington D.C.
Aziz is a columnist with Al Quds newspaper and is the co-executive director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. Aziz runs alternative tours to the Middle East with a focus on Israel and the West-Bank through MEJDI a social enterprise he co-founded.
4 From: Vivienne Porzsolt
Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2012 09:32:06 +1100
Subject: Excellent report on ABC Radio in Australia
Hi, the report [on gun control in Israel] this morning on ABC’s Radio National was excellent – congratulations to you, Rela and Anne.
March 18, 2012
A tale of success and darkness in Iran
Even the strongest supporters of an attack – whose numbers, scarily, are increasing – admit there is no chance that Iran will sit idly by, and that an Israeli attack will be countered by a ferocious response.
By Gideon Levy
Let’s not dwell on the possibility of failure. If an attack fails to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, Israel will receive a Yom Kippur War-like blow. Its deterrence will be compromised and it will be revealed as a paper tiger. Iranian revenge will then be particularly painful.
Let’s hope everything will go well. The planes will drop their bombs, all the reactors and the facilities will be razed to their foundations. Even then, there is a danger that some planes will be shot down, God forbid, and then we’ll have another Ron Arad affair (the navigator was lost over Lebanon in 1986 ). But there’s no arguing with (historic ) success: the price is worth it.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Follow Haaretz.com on Facebook and share your views
Even the strongest supporters of an attack – whose numbers, scarily, are increasing – admit there is no chance that Iran will sit idly by, and that an Israeli attack will be countered by a ferocious response. Missiles from the east, the north and perhaps also the south, including against Tel Aviv, will paralyze the country. It could go on for a long time.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised a maximum of 500 dead. Perhaps he underestimated, perhaps not, but it is unlikely that Israel is hardened enough to take such a number of casualties in a short time. Blood, bereavement and a stalled economy, all at once. Israelis will be killed, tourists will stay away, the national mood will be one of despair and fear.
But even that is not enough. The Iranians, a people with the memory of Methuselah, will neither forgive nor forget. An Israeli success will be perceived, of course, as much more serious than all the “Satanic Verses” furor. If Salman Rushdie has been living in fear of Iran for almost 25 years, the terror of the fatwah it will issue against Israelis will be greater and persist for much longer. Once again, Hebrew will not be heard beyond the threshold of Ben-Gurion International Airport. Careful, the Iranian avengers are everywhere.
An Iran that has been bombarded and defeated will be a vengeful Iran, and its revenge will be served both hot and cold. First will come the missiles on Israel, then years of terror attacks worldwide. All of that, we recall, is if Israel scores a dizzying success. A global rise in oil prices, also an immediate and unavoidable outcome of success, will bring one of two things to the White House: a furious Democratic president; or an ignorant, right-wing Republican president, neither of which is good for Israel. Europe will also be angry, as will – it almost goes without saying – Russia and China.
But back to Iran. It will redevelop its nuclear potential quickly. It will need about two years to do so, according to even the most ardent supporters of an attack. Its know-how can never be bombed and its motivation will soar, stronger than death, greater than it is now. The Iranian people will unite even more around its leadership, and its hatred for Israel will burn ever brighter.
Still, we gained two years; two hard years for Israel. And what would happen after that? Another bombardment? Another success? Meanwhile, there will be a few small comforts: “Many things will be destroyed and many will weep, but the demagogues will be silenced,” the poet Aharon Shabtai wrote in an article in the Hebrew edition of Haaretz (March 16 ). Shabtai was referring to the possibility of failure, but also to the one case of true success – the assumption that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak will not survive politically.
Prime ministers and defense ministers do not usually survive mass casualties. That was the case after the failed Yom Kippur War and the successful first Lebanon war. People will not forget the damage of success when it comes to those two, and they will be forced off the stage, even if they are drunk with victory at first.
Perhaps Israeli megalomania will also be reined in. Having learned from the experience of the Six-Day War, maybe more Israelis will understand that even military success can end in tears, weeping that will last for generations. Having learned from wars about which we had a choice, wars that were intended to achieve regional control, perhaps more Israelis will understand that the way to strengthen Israel’s standing in the region is not through bombardment. “And we will sober up, once again be human beings who wield pencils,” as Shabtai put it. Our only comfort then, in the imagined success that could soon be upon us, is that it will be only slightly less arduous than its horrific opposite.
* A personal note: In my article “Living in Bamba Land” (March 15 ), I stated that MK Zahava Gal-On made no mention on her Facebook page of events in the south and in Gaza. I was not aware that Gal-On was in mourning last week following the death of her mother. I extend my condolences and an apology to Gal-On.
March 17, 2012
Safe Haven? [There can be no ‘safe haven’ for ‘the other’ in a state grounded on demography. In fact, Israel is not a ‘safe haven’ even for Jews. But it does not kick them out as it does anyone not Jewish. D]
Saying ‘no’ to deportation Photo: Yaron Brener
Hundreds protest refugees’ deportation in Tel Aviv
Social activists, asylum seekers protest decision to deport South Sudanese citizens while dozens of Tel Aviv residents hold counter protest in support of deportation
Several hundred people demonstrated against the deportation of South Sudanese citizens in Tel Aviv on Saturday. The protesters are demanding that the government stop the deportation until the situation in South Sudan stabilizes.
A counter protest of Tel Aviv residents supporting the deportation was held simultaneously and prompted arguments between the two groups of demonstrators.
Celebrities unite against deportation of refugees
Israel to help Sudan build refugee city
‘Refugees invisible to Israeli law’
Neka Kirba, 15, came to Israel with her family via the southern border five years ago. “We escaped when there was great danger to our lives,” she said. “Our friends from South Sudan who recently joined us in Israel told us of the ongoing threat. Since I learned of the government’s intention I live in constant fear. I ask that the state give us more time until things improve.”
Orit Maron of the ASSAF refugee aid organization said, “The government is sending people where their lives are in danger and should be aware that the price of deportation is their lives.” Earlier this week, some 400 Israeli authors, academics and other public figures signed a petition calling on the government to stop the deportation.
Kids protest deportation in Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Several dozen southern Tel Aviv residents held a counter protest on Saturday in support of the government’s decision. They carried signs which read “Israel isn’t the answer to Africa’s troubles” and “The south is collapsing, stop the infiltrators’ occupation.” Shlomo Maslawi, a Tel Aviv city councilman told Ynet: “The neighborhoods are flooded with infiltrators and crime, the social infrastructure is collapsing and meanwhile the residents suffer.”
There are contradictory figures regarding the number of South Sudanese citizens living in Israel. Aid groups suggest some 700 refugees from South Sudan currently reside in Israel, including 400 children, while the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority’s estimate stands at 3,000.
From South Sudan to south Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Last January, the Immigration Authority announced that all South Sudanese asylum seekers must leave Israel by the end of March, or face deportation. The government maintains that South Sudan’s declaration of independence will enable their return. Meanwhile, members of the community as well as aid groups claim the situation in the country is still very dangerous.
7 Today in Palestine
March 18, 2012