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News briefs

1. Military affairs

a. Short range rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. Several smuggling tunnels from Egypt into Gaza were bombed.

2. Middle Eastern diplomacy

a. Israeli relations with Turkey continue to be an issue.

i. Turkish military sources now claim that Israeli participation in the Anatolian Eagle air force exercises was canceled due to the late Israeli delivery of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to Turkey. After Israel was excluded the U.S. and NATO nations withdrew from the exercise.

ii. Following the cancellation of Anatolian Eagle Turkey and Syria announced they will hold a second series of joint military exercises. A Turkish delegation also visited Syria.

iii. The Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish envoy to Israel to protest a television program on Turkish state television that depicts Israeli soldiers deliberately killing Palestinian civilians. In response to Israeli protests Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc commented that Turkish-Israeli relations were strong and that the program should not cause a “diplomatic problem.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Israel was “disappointed” by the program.

iv. Turkey has arrested between 30 and 50 members of the local al-Qaeda connected ‘Islamic Jihad League’ on suspicion they were planning attacks against U.S., Israeli and NATO targets in Turkey.

b. Palestinian and Egyptian sources report that the Palestinian reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah will not be signed until there is a “better atmosphere” between the parties.

c. Lebanon has been elected to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

d. Reports indicate that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul Gheit has refused to participate in the Mediterranean Union summit to be held in Istanbul in November if Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman attends.

e. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories. She will address an annual conference hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres and meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

f. U.S., French, Russian and Iranian representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet next week to discuss details of a plan to transfer low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France for processing into medical isotopes.

g. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao hosted Iranian First Vice President Muhammad Reza Rahim and stated that “cooperation in trade and energy has widened and deepened.” Chinese Ambassador to Israel Zhao Jun stated in an interview that China was “strongly against the idea that the Iranians should develop nuclear weapons.” Trade between China and Iran grew 35% in 2008 to $27 billion. During the past five years China has also signed oil deals worth an estimated $120 billion.

h. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stated that it was “premature” to “talk” about additional sanctions on Iran and that there was there was “no need to scare the Iranians.” Putin’s comments came after U.S. Secretary Hilary Clinton visited Russia for talks on the Iranian issue.

i. Saudi Arabia has proposed that if wealthy countries reduce oil consumption to combat global warming, they should pay compensation to oil producers.

3. ‘Human rights’

a. The United Nations ‘Human Rights Council’ (UNHRC) endorsed the Goldstone report. Of the 47 members six nations including the U.S. voted against, 11 abstained and 5, including France and Britain, did not take part in the vote. The report will now be forwarded to the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. The report asks that the Security Council forward it to the International Criminal Court as a basis for prosecution of Israelis for ‘war crimes.’

b. Richard Goldstone expressed regret over the UNHRC vote and stated “There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report.”

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