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Entries in Haaretz (36)


Iran Special: Taking Apart the "Iran's Plan B for a Nuclear Bomb" Scare Story

The Daily Telegraph's not-so-dramatic "dramatic" photograph of the Arak heavy-water plant and reactor under construction (Photo: Digital Globe/Mackenzie Intelligence)

This morning's Page 1 headline in the Daily Telegraph of London proclaims, "Iran's Plan B for a Nuclear Bomb":

Iran is developing a second path to a nuclear weapons capability by operating a plant that could produce plutonium, satellite images show for the first time.

The story, written by four reporters, is dramatic. It is scary.

It also has nothing "exclusive" pointing to the "first time". And it has nothing that comes close to a "Nuclear Bomb".

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Iran Analysis: Taking Apart the "Iranian Terror Cell in Nigeria" Story

The State Security Service announced the arrests in a press conference, featuring the three suspects "on parade" before the media. The main suspect, Abdullahi Berende, gave a confession:

[He] told journalists that he was employed by “people who were ready to capitalise on my weakness", though he denied being part of a terrorist network....He regretted “betraying my country”, adding that his [Iranian] handler whom he referred to as Amir, preyed on his weakness.

He denied working for any international or local terror network, adding that his handler only requested him to get information on American and Israeli targets in Lagos.

So who are the Iranians? The report of the press conference gives no further clues: "Attempts to reach the Iranian Embassy for comments on Wednesday were unsuccessful."

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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.

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Israel Feature: Netanyahu and Opposition Agree "Unity Government" (Lis/Bar-Zohar)

A Facebook "advertisement" for the Kadima Party after it joined the "Unity Government": "An orthopedic chair made of elephant skin, particularly suitable for the 'spineless'. The chair moves forward [Kadima], backward, right and left and can be found in various colors. Price: Principles. Payment method: 15 months"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition chairman MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) reached a surprise agreement early Tuesday morning to form a national unity government.

The move came as the Knesset was preparing to disperse for early elections, which were expected to be scheduled for September 4.

Under the agreement, Kadima will join Netanyahu's government and commit to supporting its policies through the end of its term in late 2013. Mofaz is expected to be appointed deputy prime minister, as well as minister without portfolio.

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Palestine Feature: What Happens When A Journalist Criticises the Palestinian Authority? (Haas)

Protest for Yusuf Al-ShayebJournalists who stood outside the court building exchanged jokes about the "six million dollars." No problem, we'll obtain them, someone said. That's small change, another said. But these light remarks did not hide concerns about their colleague, Yusuf Al-Shayeb, who was at the time on his way to the Magistrate's Court in Ramallah, to have his remand extended.

The Palestinian Authority's foreign ministry, headed by Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, and the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France have submitted libel claims against Al-Shayeb --- who works for the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper (which is associated with the PA ) and AlGhad, a Jordanian newspaper --- demanding compensation of six million dollars.

Of the two papers that he writes for, it was the Jordanian one that on January 29 published his report on claims of corruption at the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France. The report alleged that the mission's deputy ambassador, Safwat Ibraghit, compels Palestinian students to spy on Muslim groups in France and relay information to Palestinian and foreign intelligence services. Al-Shayeb also claimed that Maliki, Palestinian National Fund director Dr. Ramzi Khouri, and Abu Nabil, who handles funds for Fatah, were responsible for Ibraghit's promotion, despite complaints that have been leveled against him.

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Israel-Palestine Special: Assessing the Move for UN Recognition of a Palestinian State

This time, Washington has to bring something more than Obama’s speech, with more flexibility for the European Union initiative, to the table. One possibility? Acknowledging Hamas behind closed doors, giving Abbas a guarantee that Ramallah will never need to recognise a “Jewish state”, and promising a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital in a year.

At the same time, a sign can be given to Prime Minister Netanyahu that he can be a peace-making hero ahead of Israeli elections. How? The release of Gilad Shalit, the detained Israel soldier, by Hamas.

And if this is not pursued? Well, get ready for the September display at the United Nations.

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Israel-Palestine Special: Assessing the Move for UN Recognition of a Palestinian State

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Israel Analysis: Netanyahu Cabinet Quarrels Over Peace and Security as Settlements Expand

Speaking in Miami last week, President Obama addressed Israel’s security concerns within the context of the “new” Middle East. He said,“I'm actually confident that 10 years from now we're going to be able to look back and say that this was the dawning of an entirely new and better era.”

The statement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to announce his “grand plan” in May, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders as part of an interim peace agreement.

Netanyahu met resistance from his own Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, who said that immediate immediate action was necessary and sought clarity from the Prime Minister: ""A permanent agreement has a chance only if Israel would be willing to clearly say what would come after it....A permanent agreement has a chance only if Israel would be willing to clearly say what would come after it.”

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Turkey Special: Erdogan Government Reaches Out Abroad, Talks Tough at Home

Prime Minister Erdogan is striking a conservative posture at home, even as it holds out the unclenched first abroad. This does not mean he is seeking confrontation as an election strategy: there is no desire for a military clash with PKK, any more than there is a wish to use Iran and Syria against the US, but he is going to the leave no doubts. He is the man in charge.

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Israel and Egypt: Does Stability Follow the Uprising?

Following the departure of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the Supreme Military Council released a statement  that Cairo will be loyal to its international agreements, including the peace treaty signed with Israel in 1979. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded that the "longstanding peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has greatly contributed to both countries and is the cornerstone for peace and stability in the entire Middle East".

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