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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 25,677

Journal Archives

Israel Asked Jordan For Approval to Bomb Syrian WMD Sites

Anxiety is increasing about the prospect of a desperate Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against his rapidly proliferating enemies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Assad that such chemical weapons use would cross a U.S. red line: "I'm not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people. But suffice to say we are certainly planning to take action."

This new level of anxiety was prompted by reports that Assad's forces have been moving chemical weapons, according to David Sanger and Eric Schmitt in The Times. They report that one American official told them that "the activity we are seeing suggests some potential chemical weapon preparation," though the official "declined to offer more specifics of what those preparations entailed."

The U.S. is not the only country worried about the possible use of chemical weapons. Intelligence officials in two countries told me recently that the Israeli government has twice come to the Jordanian government with a plan to take out many of Syria's chemical weapons sites. According to these two officials, Israel has been seeking Jordan's "permission" to bomb these sites, but the Jordanians have so far declined to grant such permission.

Of course, Israel can attack these sites without Jordanian approval (in 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor), but one official told me that the Israelis are concerned about the possible repercussions of such an attack on Jordan. "A number of sites are not far from the border," he said, further explaining: "The Jordanians have to be very careful about provoking the regime and they assume the Syrians would suspect Jordanian complicity in an Israeli attack." Intelligence sources told me that Israeli drones are patrolling the skies over the Jordan-Syria border, and that both American and Israeli drones are keeping watch over suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites.



Israel Bids Adieu To Joe Lieberman, A staunch Ally In U.S. Senate

The Palestinian Authority's demand that Israel freeze settlements is "an excuse" not to return to the negotiating table, said Senator Joe Lieberman in a wide-ranging interview with Haaretz ahead of his retirement next month.

Lieberman also called the PA's move to upgrade its United Nations status a "mistake." "The real answer here is for them to go back to negotiations without preconditions. The whole business of settlement freeze is really an excuse. I don't mean it doesn't sincerely agitate them, but it wasn't a condition before. And now when Prime Minister Netanyahu is clear about his support of the two-state solution, and there is an overwhelming support among the Israeli people for negotiations, it only complicates the process going to the UN, and I think reduces the confidence of the government of Israel in the Palestinian Authority," said the veteran Connecticut senator, a longtime Democrat who is currently an independent, in the interview held late last week.

"The best thing that could happen except for the PA government sitting down without preconditions is to be real elections in all Palestinian areas, because part of the problem for Israel is negotiating with only part of the Palestinians."

On the walls of Lieberman's senate office - he has served as a senator for 24 years - are a number of photographs, some with President Barack Obama, others with past presidents and a prominently displayed picture with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.



Watchdog: Israel Must Explain ‘Targeting’ Journalists

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, December 2, 2012 15:43 EST

JERUSALEM — Israel must provide an “immediate and detailed explanation” for its targeting of journalists and media buildings during last month’s Gaza conflict, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Sunday.

In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the watchdog said it was “gravely concerned that Israeli airstrikes targeted individual journalists and media facilities in the Gaza Strip between November 18 and 20.”

The New-York based CPJ noted that two cameramen for Hamas’s Al-Aqsa television station and the director of the private Al-Quds Educational Radio were killed by Israel during its eight-day military campaign to halt rocket fire from Gaza.

At least three media buildings, including one housing AFP’s Gaza office, were hit during the conflict.



Hillary Clinton criticizes Iran, Palestine, Israel

(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Iranian and Palestinian leaders, and didn’t spare Israel, either, in her address at the Saban Forum, continuing her trend of increased frankness as her time in the Obama administration winds down.

Clinton gave the 30-minute keynote address, focusing on the Middle East and Israel, but it was during the question and answer period when the secretary was most animated and blunt. Clinton named Iran as “the hardest of the hard boards because of the dangers its behavior already poses and the geometrically greater danger that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose.”

“It is an issue that has consumed a significant part of my time as secretary of state,” Clinton told the audience of diplomats and lawmakers at the annual U.S.-Israeli forum.
Clinton described the lack of an international response to Iran’s recent history of extremism as “totally unacceptable.”

“It is an incredibly dangerous aggressive behavior that is going on every single day,” Clinton said.



Middle Eastern Diplomats Condemn Israeli Settlement Plans

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, December 1, 2012 20:30 EST

Arab and Turkish foreign ministers on Saturday condemned Israel’s plans to build 3,000 settler homes in east Jerusalem after the Palestinians won non-member observer status at the United Nations.

The ministers “condemned the Israeli decision to establish 3,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” according to a joint statement released at the end of the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum in Istanbul.

They called on the international community to exert all efforts to halt the Israeli settlement activities which they said “are illegal and contrary to (UN) Security Council decisions resolutions and international law.”

Israel revealed plans to build the 3,000 new homes a day after the Palestinians’ historic success at the United Nations on Thursday.



More Than 100 Gaza Civilians Killed During Latest Conflict: Report

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, December 2, 2012 10:34 EST

The phone rang at 3:00 am: “You have five minutes to evacuate the house,” an Israeli officer said in flawless Arabic. Within minutes, an Israeli drone fired a warning shot.

The Israeli military employed a range of warnings to civilians during its November 14-21 bombardment to halt rocket fire into Israel by Gaza militants, but nevertheless civilian deaths were high.

During the offensive, 174 Palestinians were killed — including more than 100 civilians, among them at least 37 children and 14 women — and six Israelis, two soldiers and four civilians including a woman, according to both sides.

“The Israeli army called on the cell phone and gave us five minutes to get out,” said Ayman al-Ahmad Khouli, who was living with his brothers and their families, 45 people in all, in a three-storey house in Zeitun, a neighborhood of Gaza City near the border with Israel.


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