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Friday, December 7, 2012
Excerpts: Peres: Abbas serious partner for peace. Israelis might talk to Meshaal. Iran concealed Syria ship movements December 07, 2012

Excerpts: Peres: Abbas "serious partner" for peace. "Israelis might talk to
Meshaal". 'Iran concealed Syria ship movements' December 07, 2012

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 7 Dec.’12:”Israel’s Peres: Abbas still partner for
peace after UN bid”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Peres: Abbas “ serious partner” for peace

QUOTE:”Peres: ‘I think the Quartet should return as a negotiating body’ “

FULL TEXT: OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is still
a “serious partner” for peace despite his successful bid for UN non-state
membership, Israeli President Shimon Peres told AFP in an exclusive
interview on Thursday[6 Dec.].

“I tried to influence him not to do it right now. I told him: look it’s not
the proper time to do it,” Peres said. “But I still believe he’s a serious
partner and a serious man and I have respect for him.”

Abbas, he said, had shown “courage” by seeking the status upgrade at the
United Nations in the face of strong opposition from Israel and the United
States, who say a Palestinian state can only emerge out of bilateral talks.

“He has shown courage not only by going to the United Nations, which I
think —from a point of view of time — was the wrong time, but he stood up
and said ‘I am against terror, I am for peace’,” the Israeli president said.

“Wait, why hurry?” he told Abbas.

“But he felt he was abandoned by us, by America, by Europe by the rest of
the world and he wanted to do something.”

The November 30 vote at the UN drew a furious reaction from the Israeli
government which responded by pledging to build 3,000 new settler homes,
some of them in an extremely sensitive area of the West Bank near Jerusalem.

The move sparked a major diplomatic backlash against the Jewish state,
deepening its isolation on the world stage.

It prompted Peres to call for fresh intervention by the Middle East Quartet,
which comprises diplomats from the United States, the United Nations, Russia
and the European Union.

“We have to ask ourselves what to do now. I think the Quartet should return
as a negotiating body,” he said, indicating the grouping had the
“legitimacy” to mediate.

“They started to do a good job but they were interrupted for different
reasons... now I think they have to return,” he said.

“I think we finished one chapter and we have to return to the other chapter
which is negotiations.” — AFP

SOURCE:Middle East Live viaDaily News 7 Dec.’12:”Egypt braced for protests
after Morsi’s defiant speech –live updates”-
SUBJECT:Dialogue with Morsi
QUOTE:”Egypt’s opposition has confirmed it wont take part in talks”

dialogue with Morsi - official
Egypt's opposition has confirmed it won't take part in talks. After meeting
on the issue, Ahmed Said, one of the leading members of the oppoisiton
coalition, said: "The National Salvation Front is not taking part in the
dialogue, that is the official stance."

Egypt's opposition shuns dialogue with Morsi
More opposition figures in Egypt's have rejected President Morsi's call for

The Liberal Wafd party said it will not take part in talks proposed for
Saturday[8 Dec.].

Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the leaders of the National Salvation Front, has
repeated his reluctance to enter talks. He said he was against dialogue
based on "arm-twisting".

Earlier, Amr Moussa another leader of the front said it would meet later
today to discuss whether to enter talks with Morsi.

But Al-Arabiya said the group had decided to refuse to take part.

US president Barack Obama welcomed Morsi call for dialogue.

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 7 Dec.’12:”Hitmen on hold, Israelis might talk to
Meshaal”, Reuters
SUBJECT:”Israelis might talk to Meshaal”

QUOTE“he might yet prove the man who could open a dialogue”

FULL TEXT: OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israel once tried to kill Hamas leader
Khaled Meshaal in a botched assassination attempt on the streets of the
Jordanian capital, Amman.

Fifteen years later, it is starting to view him in a slightly different
light and Israeli analysts say he might yet prove the man who can open a
dialogue between the Palestinian Islamist movement and the Jewish state.

Meshaal is due to make his first visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday[6 Dec.]
for a two-day stay to join celebrations for Hamas’s 25th anniversary and to
take part in what the militant group says will be a victory rally after its
recent conflict with Israel.

Israeli leaders have an alternative view of the eight-day conflagration,
which ended in a ceasefire. They say they dealt Hamas a sharp blow which
should deter rocket fire out of the small coastal territory for many months
to come.

They also believe the fighting distanced Hamas further from Shi’ite Iran’s
sphere of influence and put it squarely in the camp of Sunni Muslim powers
Qatar and Egypt — with Meshaal, who has lived in exile from his native West
Bank for 45 of his 56 years, the key player in this evolving regional shift.

“From Israel’s point of view, Khaled Meshaal now plays a more positive
role,” said Shlomo Brom, a senior research fellow at the Institute for
National Security Studies (INSS), an independent research institute based in
Tel Aviv.

“Generally speaking, Hamas is divided into two factions, the Gaza faction
and the external faction. There is a debate between them on several levels,
and Meshaal’s external faction is much more moderate. This is why he is of
interest to Israel.”

No cabinet minister in Israel would call Meshaal a moderate, at least not in
public. To Israelis, Hamas is synonymous with suicide bombings and rocket
fire. It is classed by Israel and its Western allies as a terrorist group
and widely condemned for refusing to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

But in recent years Meshaal has adopted a more nuanced stance, backing the
idea of a long-term truce in return for a withdrawal to the lines
established ahead of the 1967 war, when Israel seized East Jerusalem, the
West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Hamas’s external leadership is trying to leave the Iranian axis. This is
remarkable, but it won’t be easy because they are still dependent on Iranian
arms,” said INSS research fellow Yoel Guzansky. “In the end, it could be
good for Israel.”

The abrupt departure from Syria initially weakened Meshaal within Hamas.

His relations with Damascus and Tehran had made him an essential linchpin,
but with those links damaged or broken, the Gaza leaders started to assert
their authority.

Hamas’s internal dynamics are shrouded in secrecy, but those in Gaza have
enjoyed more influence since they managed to seize control of the isolated
enclave in 2007 after fighting with the allies of President Mahmoud Abbas.

He exercises only limited Palestinian self-government in the
Israeli-occupied West Bank.

A senior Israeli official, who declined to be named, said he was not
convinced that Meshaal had done enough to restore his credibility within
Hamas as undisputed leader. “There is a power struggle going on,” he said.

“But they are keeping it hidden.”

Netanyahu played an accidental but important role in establishing Meshaal’s
militant credentials when he ordered Mossad agents to kill him in 1997 in
retaliation for a Jerusalem market bombing that killed 16 people and was
blamed on Hamas.

The agents were caught by Jordanian police after injecting Meshaal with
poison in the street; Netanyahu, in his first term as premier, was forced to
hand over the antidote and the incident turned the middle-aged former
schoolteacher into a hero of the Palestinian resistance.

“In a movement like Hamas, being the target of a political assassination is
a medal of honor, and he wore that medal on his chest,” said Itamar
Rabinovich, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States who teaches at
Tel Aviv University. — Reuters

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 7 Dec.’12:”Iran shipping signals ‘conceal Syria ship
movements’ “, by Reuters
SUBJECT: Iran‘concealed Syria ship movements’

LONDON/DUBAI — Iranian oil tankers are sending incorrect satellite signals
that confuse global tracking systems and appear to conceal voyages made by
other ships to Syria, which, like Iran, is subject to international

The two countries are close allies and have helped each other deal with
shortages by swapping badly needed fuels such as gasoline for diesel.

Sanctions imposed on Iran to hamper its nuclear programme have blocked sales
of its oil to the West and made it increasingly difficult for Iran’s fleet
to obtain insurance and financing for deals with Asian buyers in China,
India and South Korea.

Western sanctions have also isolated Syria, preventing it from exporting
oil, while blocking fuel and weapons imports.

Iranian state tanker company NITC has already changed many tanker names as
part of its response to sanctions, though shipping experts say such a tactic
would not confuse anyone in the business about a vessel’s whereabouts.

Now tanker tracking data monitored by Reuters and shipping specialists have
highlighted a more subtle twist.

Large vessels must transmit their identity and location to other ships and
coastal authorities using an automatic satellite communication system, but
in the last month Iranian vessels sailing in Asian seas have sent signals
that took over the identity of other vessels, so the same ship appeared to
be in two places at once.

“It is of course possible to manipulate or falsify information in these
messages,” said Richard Hurley, a senior analyst at IHS Fairplay, a maritime
intelligence publisher.

At least three Iranian oil tankers are transmitting such false signals,
effectively taking over the identity of Syrian-owned vessels travelling
between Syria, Libya and Turkey.

All the vessels in question were registered in Tanzania.

“In the past months we witness a recurring pattern of vessels sailing the
Tanzanian flag that transmit the same MMSI number [a satellite signal that
provides information on a ship’s identity and position],” said Windward, a
firm that provides maritime analytics technology.

“This way, if one of the two vessels is engaged in legitimate maritime
activities, it might be used as a ‘cloaking’ for the other vessel and its

Iranian oil tanker Millionaire sent messages that doubled over a voyage made
by a Syrian-owned ship, the Lady Rasha.

In a separate instance, the satellite tracks of Iranian oil tanker Pioneer
were mixed up with a Tanzania-flagged cargo ship called the Talavera,
recently renamed Chief Ahmed, and travelling from the Mediterranean into the
Red Sea.

Despite all the paired vessels appearing to be registered under Tanzanian
flags, officials in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar denied holding any
information on the vessels.

They have directed queries to a shipping agency in Dubai, Philtex
Corporation, which they say registered some Iranian ships under the
Tanzanian flag without their knowledge.

Philtex confirmed it had registered the Syrian-owned Lady Rasha, but could
not provide details on the Iranian tankers in question.

Mystery crates

Satellite signals on position, course and speed are typically sent from
onboard navigation systems with no human input. Others, like arrival time,
are input by crew.

Peter Blackhurst, head of maritime security at Inmarsat, which provides
satellite communication services, said a ship could get its Global
Positioning System (GPS) to give false data, including pretending to be
another vessel.

“That equipment is programmable one way or another,” he said, adding that he
had come across data manipulation by ships involved in illegal fishing or
waste dumping.

Syrian-owned Lady Rasha’s satellite track first mixed up with the
Iranian-owned oil tanker Millionaire on October 20, when the tanker began
transmitting the same signal as the cargo ship.

Lady Rasha was then docked in Benghazi, Libya. The Millionaire tanker was
sailing in the Indian Ocean.

To do this, the Millionaire changed its MMSI, a message that contains both
location and identity data, from 572450210 to match the Lady Rasha’s number:

Although the Lady Rasha sent signals during its journey across the eastern
Mediterranean, its identity was overwritten by the Iranian ship, which was
also sending position signals of its own from the Indian Ocean.

As a result, the Millionaire appears to be undertaking two parallel journeys
thousands of kilometres apart, while the Lady Rasha’s track is not plotted.

On one track the Millionaire can be seen sailing the Lady Rasha’s course in
the Mediterranean, and on the other it is powering though the Indian Ocean
from east Asia back to Iran.

However, another piece of identification data, the IMO, can’t be changed,
and that, too, is sent with every message on position, which enabled
vessel-tracking experts to detect that signals came from two different

A day after the Millionaire’s MMSI changed, the Lady Rasha left Libya and
arrived in Syria on October 26, the Tartous port authority said, where it
unloaded cattle and crates, the contents of which the Syrian port authority
said were not known.

The Lady Rasha is owned by ISM Group, according to the Syrian port authority
at Tartous, a firm that came under the spotlight after Lebanon seized one of
its ships with three containers filled with weapons earlier this year,
including explosives with labels indicating their origin as Libya.

The port authority at Tartous confirmed the Lady Rasha had called there and
the Millionaire had not, but a senior NITC official denied the Iranian
tanker had sent out signals that belonged to another ship.

“It is not possible practically to do this,” the NITC official said,
declining further comment.

The Lady Rasha’s owners could not be reached for comment, while the agency
that registered the vessel with Tanzania said it was unaware of the
duplicate signals.

“We have no idea and we cannot justify why they are emitting the same
satellite signals,” said Jocelyn Acosta, director of operations at
registering agency Philtex Corporation.

Acosta said Philtex cooperated with requests made by United States
government agencies and others to identify a ship’s owner and had
deregistered a number of vessels accordingly.

Tanzania under scrutiny

In a similar example of Tanzania-registered ships confusing satellite
systems, the track left by the cargo ship Talavera became mixed up with NITC
oil tanker Pioneer.

The Talavera changed its name to Chief Ahmed in November around the time a
Hamas military commander called Ahmed Al Jaabari was assassinated by Israel.

In this case tracking systems showed Pioneer undertaking two parallel
journeys in late October thousands of kilometres apart.

On one track, the tanker appeared to sail from the Suez Canal to the Red
Sea — stopping off in Jordan and Yemen on its way to Iran — while at the
same time travelling through the South China Sea to the Chinese port of

“Using another MMSI other than your own can only be done among the same flag
members and has to be done by one of the workers in the flag offices,” said
a Western diplomatic source, who monitors efforts to track Iranian tankers.

All ships registered in mainland Tanzania or Zanzibar fly the Tanzanian
flag, and officials in both offices said they were unaware of any Iranian
vessels on their register.

Responding to diplomatic pressure by the United States and European Union to
drop all Iranian tankers from their registries, Tanzania’s foreign minister
issued a statement denying Iran’s vessels had been legitimately registered.

“All the 36 Iranian ships were de-registered and hence stopped using our
national flag. We have not registered any new ships as claimed,” said
Bernard Membe, adding that Tanzania had asked the US and EU to help
investigate the Dubai-based agency that had registered the vessels.

“If we establish that this [Iranian tankers have been registered] has
happened we will cancel the registrations.”

Vessels without a flag cannot be insured, dock in most ports or use the
vital Suez Canal shortcut between the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.

Manipulating or turning off satellite tracking devices is not necessarily an
indication that a vessel is trying to conceal illegal activity, according to
International Maritime Bureau Director Pottengal Mukundan.

“Vessels sometimes shut their AIS when they are going into pirate waters for
example, as they wouldn’t want anyone to pick up their signal because they
could then be targeted by pirates,” he said.

Straightforward breaks in satellite signals have also been seen in the east

An Iranian tanker that loaded a cargo of gasoline in Syria transmitted a
message on tracking systems that it was heading for Libya in early November.

Satellite tracking showed the ship, the Alvan, sailed west towards Libya
before dropping off the radar for at least 24 hours.

When it began to transmit again, it was sailing back in the opposite
direction, east towards the Suez Canal, eventually returning to Iran in

Libyan authorities say they have not engaged in any oil trade with Iran, and
no Iranian tankers had passed through Libyan ports.

“I assure you we never received any Iranian vessels in our oil terminals to
load or unload,” said Ahmed Shawki, the head of marketing at Libya’s
National Oil Corporation (NOC

Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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