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Entries in Non-Proliferation Treaty (2)


Middle East Inside Line: Preliminary Proximity Talks, "Strategic Advantage" of Israel's Nukes, Fatah-Hamas Tension

Warming Up the Proximity Talks: US Middle East envoy George Mitchell met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for the second time in two days. There has been no comment so far.

Mitchell is to go to Ramallah on Friday, meeting the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The official announcement of the beginning of indirect talks is awaiting approval by the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee. It is expected by Saturday.

Middle East Inside line: Israel’s Nuclear Problem; Syrian Tensions with US & Israel

Israel's "Strategic Advantage": The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, has asked member states to share views on how to implement a resolution demanding that Israel accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open  its nuclear facilities to IAEA oversight.

An Israeli official on Thursday responded by defendeing the country's "opaque" policy on its nuclear program as a "strategic advantage". He added that Israel would not sign the NPT until a comprehensive Arab-Israel peace deal is in place, as the treaty in itself is "not successful" in preventing countries such as Saddam Husein's Iraq or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Fatah-Hamas Tension: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday accused the rival Hamas movement of smuggling weapons into the West Bank. In an interview with the London-based A-Sharq al-Awsat, he said:
On the one hand, the organization is punishing those who launch rockets in Gaza, while at the same time it hoards weapons in the West Bank.

Middle East Inside line: Israel's Nuclear Problem; Syrian Tensions with US & Israel

Israel's Nuclear Trouble: On Wednesday, at the United Nations conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the ~US, Russia, Britain, France, and China voiced support for making the Middle East a zone free of nuclear arms. There are two messages: one for Iran's nuclear programme and one for Israel's secret nuclear agenda.

"We are committed to a full implementation of the 1995 NPT resolution on the Middle East and we support all ongoing efforts to this end," the five permanent members of the UN Security Council members said in a statement. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukia Amano, in a letter, asked foreign ministers of the IAEA's 151 member states to share views on how to implement a resolution demanding that Israel accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and throw its nuclear facilities open to IAEA oversight.

Israel-Palestine: The Proximity Talks Starts Silently (Yenidunya)
Syria: A National Unity Government for More Democracy? (al-Assad)
Israel-Palestine Opinion: Discrimination in East Jerusalem (Eldar)
Israel-Palestine: Proximity Talks to Begin on Wednesday? (Yenidunya)

Syria-U.S. Relations at Odds?: On Monday, the U.S. renewed the six-year-old economic and diplomatic sanctions on Syria. In response Damascus criticized Washington harshly and said that the penalties reinforce hostilities in the region.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad said the sanctions decision shows Washington has lost its credibility and failed to live up to its promises to Syria. "Obama is not serious about changing the relationship between the U.S. and Arab and Islamic states in the Middle East," Syrian officials said.

Hezbollah-Syria-Israel Triangle: On Tuesday, although there is still no evidence that Scud missiles were transferred to Hezbollah, the Israeli army's head of intelligence research, Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, told the Knesset that the Scud transfer was the "tip of the iceberg", .
"Even today Hezbollah has missiles of all ranges types, including solid-fueled rockets that have a longer range are extremely accurate."

Baidatz then drew the picture of a multiple threat:
Hezbollah's long-range rockets allow them to position launchers deep within Lebanese territory and cover ranges far greater than we aware of in the past.

Hezbollah in 2010 is very different to Hezbollah in 2006 in terms of military capability, which has advanced a great deal. Hezbollah is now regarded by the Syrians as a component of their defense establishment.

Lastly and paradoxically,Baidatz stated that a political settlement with Israel is still a priority for Damascus:
A political settlement with Israel is high on Syria's list of priorities and intelligence shows a will to reach an agreement – but on their terms, meaning a return of the Golan Heights and American involvement.

Military intelligence believes Syria could radically alter its role – but Assad feels that political progress with the current Israel government is impossible and has therefore avoided confidence-building measures.