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Israel-Palestine Live Coverage (2 November): Is Iran Still an "Existential Threat"?

1730 GMT: Following Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas's remarks aired by Israelis Channel 2 on Thursday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called Abbas's words as "extremely dangerous". 

Abbas had stated that he would consider Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem as Palestine and the rest as Israel. When asked whether he would go to his birthplace - Safed, now a town in northern Israel - Abbas said he would go but wouldn't want to live there. This, automatically brings Abbas's standing on the issue of refugees into question. 


1540 GMT: After Bahrain signed an agreement with UN Relief and Works Agency to build three reconstruction projects worth of $5.4 million, a $25 million sports city project in Gaza City will be launched soon by Qatar, says Palestinian Minister of Sports, Youth, and Culture Mohammed Al-Madhoun.

1400 GMT: Defense official Amos Gilad criticized Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi: "Out of the desire for democracy, an appalling dictatorship has emerged inEgypt. There is no dialogue between Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Israel's political echelon and there won't be. He won't talk to us." Gilad also warned that the peace treaty with Egypt must be preserved "at any cost".

1220 GMT: Israeli military censure lifted a ban on the publication of an interview made with Nahum Lev, the commander of the operation that ended up killing Abu Jihad, co-founder of Palestine Liberation Organisation, in Tunis in 1988.

1145 GMT: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is determined to visit the Gaza Strip and adds that his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu dispatched “very weird” diplomats for talks. Erdogan also reiterated Ankara's conditions for the nomalization of bilateral relations: 

We had talks with them. I also told them these three demands. In addition, I told them that all three demands must be realized. I clearly told them that Turkey is not open to options that include offering an apology and compensation but not lifting the Gaza blockade.

1030 GMT: IDF tanks fired toward a man suspected of attempting to place an explosive device on the Israel-Gaza border. According to Palestinian sources, the man was seriously hurt.

1000 GMT: According to a poll conducted by Smith Research for The Jerusalem Post, the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu merge would get 37 seats, five fewer than what the two parties currently have. 

0900 GMT: On Thursday, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat warned of possible US and Israeli reteliations after a UN vote on the status of Palestine. Erekat said the US measures could include freezing financial aid to the PA and closing the PLO mission’s office in Washington while the Israeli unilateral actions could be withdrawing from some areas in the West Bank, freezing tax revenues, imposing restrictions to Palestinian private sector, annexing the Jordan Valley, expanding the settlements and walking away from the obligations of the 1993 Oslo Acoords.

Iran Still an "Existential Threat"? 

In a turn of both politics and presentation, key Israeli officials have said publicly this week that their information supports the August report of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran is using some of its 20% enriched uranium for civilian purposes, rather than stocking it in preparation for a nuclear weapon. 

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tehran's conversion of 38% of the uranium into fuel plates "allows contemplating delaying the moment of truth by 8 to 10 months".

Anshel Pfeffer, the Israeli daily Haaretz's analyst, asks why Barak gave this statement abroad:

What reason could he have for not telling this important information, why Israel is not going to war in the next few months? The disturbing yet regretfully most plausible explanation is that, in Israel, Barak does not want to endorse any information or development that may seem to decrease the urgency and magnitude of the Iranian threat. After all, if the Iranians for their own reasons are dragging their feet on the road to the bomb, imposing upon themselves delays, they may not actually be planning to blow us up to kingdom come. And if the Iranian threat is not that immediate, then why on earth do we need to vote for Barak or Netanyahu who have spent most of the last two years telling us it is?

Perhaps with that domestic consideration in mind, Barak shifted his line at the British Israel Communications and Research Center:

All options are on the table to prevent Iran from crossing the point of no return. We expect all those who say it to mean it; we mean it.

The State of Israel was founded precisely so that our fate would remain in our own hands. When it comes to the very future of Israel, and its vital security interests, we cannot… and will not outsource the responsibility for making the decision. Not even to our closest and most trusted allies.

Abbas's Promise for Negotiations

In an interview with Israel's Channel 2, the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said that as long as he remained in power, he would not allow a third, armed intifada to break out. 

As Ramallah prepares to ask the UN General Assembly to upgrade the status of Palestine to an Observer State, Abbas said he would drop his long-persued precondition on a halt to Israeli settlement extensions before negotiations resumed with Israel. 

Obama's Support for Israel's Security

Former US National Security Council and State Department official Dennis Ross spoke to Haaretz regarding US President's approach to Israel's security concerns. Ross said that "what the President has done for Israel in the security area is without precedent". When asked about the inconvenience among some American Jewish people who think otherwise, Ross said: 

I've worked with every Israeli prime minister in the past 30 years, and there have always been ups and downs. But you don't really see the kind of language we're hearing now. It must be the polarization. I can't explain it otherwise.

Opposition on Hold Over Elections

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met in Tel Aviv this week to consider their return to politics for January's general election. The two reportedly put off their decision before the results of the US elections next week. However, they sent the message to Washington: "In light of Israel's deteriorated state in recent years, the [Israeli] government must be replaced".

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