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Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Excerpts: Netanyahu would attack Iran alone if required. US visits American troops in Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to visit Holy Land. Turkish flotilla show trial. History lesson: 2 year ago halted Iran attack 6 November 201

Excerpts: Netanyahu would attack Iran alone if required.US visits American
troops in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to
visit Holy Land. Turkey's flotilla 'show trial'. History lesson: 2 year ago
halted Iran attack 6 November 2012

+++New York Times 6 Nov. ’12:”Netanyahu Says He’d Go It Alone on Striking
Iran
By JODI RUDOREN

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reiterated his
willingness to attack the Iranian nuclear program without support from
Washington or the world, returning to an aggressive posture that he had
largely abandoned since his United Nations speech in September.

Michael Appleton for The New York Times

FULL TEXT:“When David Ben-Gurion declared the foundation of the state of
Israel, was it done with American approval?” Mr. Netanyahu asked in an
interview broadcast on Israel’s Channel 2 on Monday night. “When Levi Eshkol
was forced to act in order to loosen the siege before 1967, was it done with
the Americans’ support?

“If someone sits here as the prime minister of Israel and he can’t take
action on matters that are cardinal to the existence of this country, its
future and its security, and he is totally dependent on receiving approval
from others, then he is not worthy of leading,” Mr. Netanyahu added. “I can
make these decisions.”

Though American officials, including President Obama, have always
acknowledged that Israel ultimately has the right to decide how to defend
itself, Mr. Netanyahu’s tough tone and timing — on the eve of the American
presidential election — are sure to reignite rifts with Washington over how
best to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.

As has been the case over the past two years, however, it is impossible to
know whether his hawkish words are harbingers of deeds or part of a
strategic campaign to scare nations into increasing economic and diplomatic
pressure on Iran.

“I am not eager to go to war,” Mr. Netanyahu said in the seven-minute
interview. “I have been creating very heavy pressure, and part of this
pressure comes from the knowledge some of the most powerful nations in the
world have that we are serious. This isn’t a show, this is not false.”

Besides the creation of diplomatic tensions if Israel were to act alone
against Washington’s wishes, there is a more practical concern: the Israeli
military lacks the capacity to penetrate all of Iran’s underground nuclear
facilities, and thus could most likely only delay the potential development
of a nuclear weapon by a few years. The United States has bunker-busting
bombs that could do far more damage.

The interview was broadcast on “Fact,” a program often compared to “60
Minutes,” at the end of an hourlong documentary on Israeli decision making
regarding Iran over the past decade. The program highlighted the opposition
of Israel’s own security establishment to a unilateral strike, saying that
Mr. Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, ordered the Israel
Defense Forces to prepare for an imminent operation in 2010 but were
rebuffed by the chiefs of their military and international intelligence
service.

Among those interviewed was Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister currently
contemplating a political comeback. He accused Mr. Netanyahu of “spitting in
the face” of Mr. Obama and “doing anything possible to stop him from being
elected president of the United States,” a harsh critique in a country that
regards safeguarding its special relationship with Washington as a sacred
priority.

“What’s all this talk, that we will decide alone on our fate and that we won’t
take anybody else into consideration?” said Mr. Olmert, who is expected to
make Mr. Netanyahu’s relationship with Mr. Obama a mainstay of his campaign
if he runs. “Can someone please explain to me with which airplanes we will
attack if we decide to attack alone, against the opinion of others —
airplanes that we built here in Israel? With which bombs will we bomb, bombs
that we made by ourselves? With which special technologies will we do it,
those that we made by ourselves or those that we received from other
sources?”

But when shown a video of Mr. Olmert’s retort, Mr. Netanyahu was not cowed.
“If what I just heard is that on this matter which threatens our very
existence, we should just say, we should just hand the keys over to the
Americans and tell them, ‘You decide whether or not to destroy this project,
which threatens our very existence,’ well, that’s one possible approach, but
it’s not my approach,” he said. “My approach is that if we can have others
take care of it, or if we can get to a point where no one has to, that’s
fine; but if we have no choice and we find ourselves with our backs against
the wall, then we will do what we have to do in order to defend ourselves.”

After years in which Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Barak pursued the Iranian threat
in close partnership, the prime minister now seems virtually alone in his
defiant stance, as other leaders attempt to distinguish their positions
ahead of Israeli elections on Jan. 22. While Mr. Netanyahu said in his Sept.
27 speech at the United Nations that the critical moment for preventing Iran
from developing a weapon would most likely come next spring, Mr. Barak last
week pushed the timetable back further, and offered a new explanation of
Israel’s reduced sense of urgency.

The crux of Mr. Barak’s argument, made in an interview with Britain’s Daily
Telegraph, was based on reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency,
the most recent in August, showing that Iran had 189 kilograms, about 416
pounds, of uranium enriched to the 20 percent level — from which it could
relatively easily be further enriched to weapons grade. Roughly half of that
was diverted to civilian use in a form that could not be easily turned into
bomb fuel. But Iran has continued production and by most estimates, at
current rates, would have roughly a bomb’s worth by next summer.

That “allows contemplating delaying the moment of truth by 8 to 10 months,”
Mr. Barak said.

But several high-ranking Israeli officials and analysts said that Mr. Barak’s
explanation was overly simplistic. While the diversion was clearly a factor,
they said, it was not a new development: the nuclear agency had reported a
similar transfer of enriched uranium in May, and that had hardly cooled the
rhetoric of either Mr. Barak or Mr. Netanyahu through the summer. And both
men have long warned of secret centrifuges that could be spinning without
outside knowledge, enabling rapid replenishment of the enriched stockpile.

“Netanyahu backed away because he was getting the message that he was going
too far and this could do damage, this was not helpful either to Israel or
to stopping Iran,” said Emily Landau, an Iran expert at the Institute for
National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. “It might be easier for
Barak to now say that it’s because of the technical issue, but it’s not a
real issue. Relations with the United States is a much more substantial,
real issue, but it’s more difficult to give that as your explanation.”

Graham Allison, a Harvard professor of government who specializes in
international security, called Mr. Barak’s statement “kind of a convenient
excuse,” adding that “the reason they really blinked” was that the prime
minister was unable to convince a majority of his cabinet of the wisdom of
acting alone.

“The big phenomenon here is what I’ve called the revolt of the Israeli
security barons,” Mr. Allison said. “I can’t think of a prior Israeli
government or an analogous case anywhere where there’s such a clear gap
between a prime minister on one hand and his security establishment on the
other

+++SOURCE: The Syria Report 5 Nov.’12”Syria Alludes to Running the Printing
Press”
SUBJECT: Financing surging Syrian deficit
TEXT:The Syrian minister of finance has said that his government was
studying three options to finance its surging fiscal deficit, including
borrowing from Russia and printing money.

+++SOURCE: The Syria Report 5 Nov.’12:”Syria to Resume Electricity Imports
from Turkey”
SUBJECT: Syria seeks electricity from Turkey
TEXT:The Turkish minister of energy said last week that the Syrian
government is seeking again to purchase electricity from his country.

+++SOURCE:ABC News in Egypt Daily News:”US Military Delegation Visits Egypt’s
Sinai”,by Ashraf Sweilam , Associated Press
SUBJECT: US visits American troops in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula
QUOTE:” “ ‘routine’ visit to an area crucial to security in the region”

FULL TEXT:The deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command paid a visit
Monday[5 Nov.] to American troops stationed in Egypt's troubled Sinai
Peninsula, which has been plagued by lawlessness and a series of militant
attacks on local troops and cross-border strikes into Israel.

A U.S. official said the trip by Vice Adm. Robert Harward to U.S troops who
are stationed in Sinai as part of the 12-nation Multinational Force and
Observers mission was a "routine" visit to an area crucial to security in
the region. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not
authorized to brief the media.

Egyptian security officials said Harward met with the U.S. forces as well as
a senior Egyptian official in charge of the MFO file. No details of the
meetings were immediately available. The American contingent is the largest
of the 1,650-strong MFO mission in Sinai, which is part of the peace treaty
signed by Egypt and Israel in 1979.

The accord is the bedrock of U.S. policy in the Middle East, and although it
established a cool peace between Israel and Egypt, many in Israel were
concerned that with the rise of Islamists to power in Cairo, coupled with
rise of militancy in Sinai, the treaty might be in danger.

An Egyptian military spokesman said on his Facebook page that Harward's
visit was not related to the security situation in Sinai, a vast mountainous
and desert area that borders the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Tensions are running particularly high in northern Sinai, which has seen
security evaporate since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak last year.
Militant attacks on police checkpoints have become a regular occurrence, and
extremists also have staged strikes across the frontier into Israel.

In the most recent violence in Sinai, suspected Islamist militants on
Saturday ambushed a police patrol, killing three policemen. The militants
raised black flags associated with jihadi groups and chanted "God is great"
before speeding off, local security officials said.

The killings triggered an unprecedented protest from policemen in the area,
who expressed their increasing frustration with the violence, the near daily
low-level attacks and what they perceive as the government's inadequate
response to combat the threat.

Over the weekend, hundreds of low-ranking policemen held a protest outside
the municipal government building, refusing to work and blocking traffic to
the city center to press their demands for reinforcements, better weapons
and a firmer crackdown on militants.

The military— largely responsible for guarding the border with Israel— has
also been sucked into the mix. It launched an operation in Sinai in August
after a militant ambush on an army outpost killed 16 soldiers, in the
deadliest attack on Egyptian troops in peace time. The military campaign has
yielded few tangible results, although military officials defend the
operation and say it is still underway.

Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, promised after winning June
elections to restore security to the lawless peninsula and hunt down those
behind the attack on the military outpost. So far, no one has been charged
in the ambush.

Rattled by the rare police protest, Egypt's defense and interior ministers
visited the peninsula in an attempt to defuse some of the anger.

At the same time, Interior Minister Gen. Ahmed Gamal Eddin, fired the
security chief of Northern Sinai after holding a tense meeting with the
low-ranking policemen. The security chief was replaced by his longtime
deputy.

Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, meanwhile, visited troops stationed
in Sinai. The daily al-Masry al-Youm reported Monday that powerful local
tribesmen held an angry protest because the two ministers failed to show up
to a planned meeting with them, calling the failure to attend a deliberate
snub.

The governor of northern Sinai, who had arranged the meeting, told a private
TV station el-Sissi was called back to Cairo unexpectedly. Maj. Gen. Sayed
Abdel-Fattah Harhour, the governor, also said he expected new weapons to
arrive for the police force and a more intense crackdown on wanted
militants.

+++SOURCE: Naharnet(Lebanon) 6 Nov.’12:”Russian Church Confirms Patriarch
visit to Holy Land”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to visit Holy Land
QUOTE: “ ‘The visit does not have and cannot have any political aspect’ the
spokesman said.”
FULL TEXT:Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill will this week embark on his
first visit to the Holy Land since becoming head of the powerful church in
2009, a church official confirmed on Tuesday[6 Nov.].

Kirill, who became patriarch in February 2009 after the death of his
predecessor Alexy, will visit Christian sites in Israel and the Palestinian
territories from November 9-14, Orthodox church spokesman Alexander Volkov
told Agence France Presse.

Volkov said the visit would include a joint service with the Greek Orthodox
Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III as well as meetings with Israeli and
Palestinian leaders.

"The visit does not have and cannot have any political aspect," the
spokesman said.

Israel's foreign ministry has described the trip as the most important
religious visit to the Jewish state since Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and said
Kirill will also visit the Yad Vashem memorial to the Jewish victims of the
Holocaust.

Kirill is expected on November 13 to cross the River Jordan for a visit to
Jordan where he will meet King Abdullah II, before returning to Moscow the
following day.

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 6 Nov.’12:”Israel Slams Turkey over Flotilla
‘Show Trial’ , Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Turkey’s flotilla ‘show trial’
QUOTE:” ‘This is not a trial but a show trial and has nothing to do with law
and justice’ foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor”

FULL TEXT:The Israeli foreign ministry on Tuesday[6 Nov.] slammed Turkey for
carrying out what it called a "show trial" of four top former Israeli
commanders over a deadly 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

"This is not a trial but a show trial and has nothing to do with law and
justice," foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Agence France Presse.

"The so-called accused have not been notified or informed in any way that
they are going to face charges or what the nature of the charges is. They
haven't been given even a symbolic chance to have legal representation," he
added.

"It's a propaganda showcase. The government of Turkey, if it really wanted
to do something about this issue, would engage with Israel."

Prosecutors at the Istanbul trial are seeking life sentences for four
Israeli commanders over a deadly maritime assault in the Mediterranean Sea
that severely damaged ties between Israel and Turkey.

Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the largest ship
in a flotilla dispatched by Turkish relief agency IHH to break Israel's
blockade of the Gaza Strip, on May 31, 2010, leaving nine Turkish activists
dead.

The defendants being tried in absentia are former military chief of staff
Gaby Ashkenazi, former navy chief Eliezer Marom, former military
intelligence head Amos Yadlin and former air force intelligence chief
Avishai Levy.

Last year, an Israeli probe ruled that the raid did not violate
international law, in a finding that Turkey said lacked credibility.

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 6 Nov.’12:”Israel security heads halted an attack
alert –TV”,Associated P ress]
SUBJECT: History lesson:2 year ago halted Iran attack

FULL TEXT:OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister and defence minister
ordered the military to go on alert to prepare to attack Iran’s nuclear
programme two years ago, but backed off following opposition from top
security officials, an Israeli news show claims in a report to be aired
Monday[5 Nov. night.

A pre-broadcast news release from Channel 2’s Uvda (Fact) show did not say
whether a final decision to attack was made.

However, it says the alert order quickly met opposition from then-military
chief Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who warned that Israel’s enemies would notice
the measure and that in itself might touch off a war.

“This accordion produces music when you play it,” the statement quotes him
as saying. “This is not something you do if you are not sure you want to end
up with a military operation.”

The statement also said Meir Dagan, then heading the Mossad spy agency,
accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak of
acting illegally by not seeking formal approval from the Cabinet of
ministers.

Netanyahu and Barak “simply tried to steal a decision to go to war”, Uvda
quotes him as saying.

Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said the government wouldn’t comment until
the full show airs. An excerpt broadcast Sunday[5 Nov. night showed Barak
saying Ashkenazi told him the military wasn’t able to carry out the attack.

Ashkenazi denies that, saying he instead told Barak that an attack at that
time “would be a strategic mistake”, the statement said.

The two former security officials could not be reached for comment.

Israel does not believe Tehran’s claims that its nuclear programme is
peaceful and designed to produce energy and medical isotopes. It considers a
nuclear-armed Iran to be a threat to its survival because of its nuclear
programme, arsenal of weapons capable of striking Israel, support for
anti-Israel militants groups and frequent calls for Israel’s destruction
==========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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