The Top News Stories in the Middle East for This Week
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1. Lieberman orders 'day after' plans for tackling nuclear Iran (Reuters)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has commissioned a report on how to prepare for a nuclear-armed Iran as doubt mounts about the efficacy of preventive action, an Israeli source said on Monday. Publicly, Israel has pledged to deny the Iranians the means to make a bomb but its previous, centrist government also discreetly drew up "day after" contingency plans should Tehran's uranium enrichment pass the military threshold. At the time, rightist opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu called for Israel to consider preemptive strikes against its arch-foe's nuclear sites. Now prime minister, Netanyahu has reined in such rhetoric while not ruling out the use of force. In a sign the government is examining a full range of options, Lieberman, the most hawkish member of Netanyahu's coalition, has ordered ministry strategists to draft a paper on "what to do if we wake up and discover the Iranians have a nuclear weapon", said the senior Israeli political source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
2. IDF Rehearses for the Day Gen. Dayton's Forces Turn On It (Israel National News)
The IDF's Nachshon Battalion's recent training exercises have included simulated battles against Palestinian Authority security forces. The mock battles were intended to prepare the soldiers for the possibility that the PA security forces in Judea and Samaria, that were trained in the past five years by US Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, would one day turn on Israel. Dayton was replaced a few days ago by Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller. The simulation was part of a seminar for Central Command officers held two weeks ago at the Lachish training base, and named "From Routine Security Operations to Escalation."
3. IDF chief tells Gaza flotilla investigators: Commandos had no choice but to shoot (Reuters)
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi once again on Sunday defended Israel's decision to rappel Israeli commandos onto the deck of a Gaza-bound aid ship on May 31, where ensuing clashes resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists. Testifying before an investigations committee probing the deadly events, Ashkenazi said that Israeli commandos had fired 308 live bullets aboard the ship to repel passengers who attacked them with lethal weapons, including a snatched Uzi machine pistol. In a sometimes testy second round of testimony before the state-appointed inquest, the IDF chief insisted the navy's killing of nine Turks on the converted cruise ship Mavi Marmara had been unavoidable. The Mavi Marmara was one of several boats, laden with supplies, aiming to violate Israel's blockade on the Gaza Strip. Israel informed the organizers of the flotilla that the ships would not be allowed to reach the Gaza shores, and soldiers boarded all the ships to compel them to change course.
4. Hamas minister: We'll occupy Haifa, Akko (Ynetnews)
As Israel and the Palestinians attempt to renew direct peace talks launched last week, Hamas continues its declarations of war: The Hamas government's interior minister in Gaza, Fathi Hamad, said Monday that the Palestinians "will reoccupy Haifa and Akko." Speaking during a visit to a university in the town of Khan Younis, Hamad addressed the Israeli operation in Gaza, saying that "the Zionist enemy is still hurting the defeat in the war and preparing for another round in an attempt to destroy the Palestinian resistance." Hamad mentioned the threats to sue Israeli officials worldwide. "The commanders are afraid to travel to many countries," he said. Turning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamad said, "We are coming to occupy Haifa and Akko. We'll have armies from all around the world, and the convoys arriving in Gaza are carrying a message to our people, saying that we must stick to the path of jihad. The enemy is trying to impose a siege on us, but they are the ones under a siege and behind fences."
5. Shin Bet requests extension of order which allows detention of Palestinians without a hearing (Ha'aretz)
A top Shin Bet official on Monday asked the Knesset to extend a temporary order that allows the security service to detain Palestinian prisoners for four days without a hearing. "The security situation in Israel has not changed over the past three years and there is therefore a need to extend the temporary order," the Shin Bet's head of investigations told the Knesset's legislative committee. The investigations chief also asked the committee to restore Section 5 of the temporary legislation, which was struck down by the High Court and had allowed the Shin Bet to hold hearings on prolonging detention without the suspect being present. "If in the past there was a fear that this law would be misused, I am proud to say that the figures show great moderation in its enforcement, and we continue to operate that way," the official said.
6. Hezbollah to Refuse to Handover Suspects to Hariri Tribunal – Sources
According to political sources, all political and legal signs in Lebanon indicate that Hezbollah has recognized that it will almost certainly be indicted by the Hariri tribunal, and that all the pressures that it has exerted domestically and regionally will not succeed in preventing or even delaying the issuance of this indictment. The sources also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hezbollah "is aware that taking to the streets…will not change anything, and in fact may make things worse for Hezbollah." A political source within Hezbollah informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the group will try to "prevent the implementation" of the decision that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is expected to issue "by refusing to surrender any of its [Hezbollah's] members or members of the opposition indicted by the tribunal." The source added that "Hezbollah will continue to work to drain the tribunal of power." However the Hezbollah source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, also stressed that "the decision [to issue] an indictment is not inevitable" and that "Hezbollah and the [political] opposition have numerous ways to confront this decision, utilizing all political and constitutional means via [state] institutions."
7. Daughter of Che Guevara Meets Hizbullah Leaders in Lebanon: 'If We Do Not Conduct Resistance, We Will Disappear from the Face of the Earth' (MEMRI)
Dr. Aleida Guevara, daughter of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, recently met with Hizbullah leaders in Lebanon and expressed support for the resistance. During the visit, which was reported by Al-Manar TV on October 12, 2010, Guevara laid a wreath on the tomb of Hizbullah leader Abbas Al-Musawi and said: "...as long as the memory [of the martyrs] remains within us, we will have more strength." Later, while visiting Baalbek, she said: "If we do not conduct resistance, we will disappear from the face of the earth." Aleida, the eldest daughter of Che Guevara, is, like her father, a Marxist. She has worked as a physician in Angola, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, and now works at a children's hospital in Havana, Cuba.
8. U.S. to Turkey: Israel Won't Get Missile Defense Info (Israel National News)
The United States has promised Turkey that information regarding an American missile defense system to be deployed on its territory will not be revealed to Israel - the Turkish newspaper Zaman reported. According to the report, the Turkish government is afraid that Israel will have access to intelligence system sensors that NATO will place in the region. Turkey is also concerned that deploying the missile defense system will lead to a deterioration in relations with Iran.
9. Saudi prince: Israel is America's sewer in Mideast (Ynetnews)
Prince Turki al- Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador to the US, criticism the Obama Administration's "favoritism" towards Israel, which he dubbed America's "sewer" in the Middle East. Speaking to the annual conference of the National Council for US-Arab Relations on Friday, al-Faisal Washington "has failed to curb the brutal Israeli policy of collective punishment, arbitrary arrests and killings" and criticized American officials "who rationalize, excuse, and condone Israeli intransigence while seeking to put more pressure on the Palestinians to concede even more." "It is these officials who propose that (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's government should be rewarded, rather than sanctioned, for its intransigence," he said. Al-Faisal, ex-director of Saudi intelligence, also addressed the incentives package Obama reportedly offered Netanyahu in exchange for renewing the settlement construction moratorium in the West Bank.