Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Israeli naval vessels halt and seize 2 Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, detaining 4 fishermen. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night patrols in al-Fawar r.c. nr. Hebron and in 1 village nr. Jericho, and late-night house searches nr. Bethlehem, summoning 1 Palestinian for interrogation. (PCHR 5/31, 6/7; OCHA 6/8)

At a conference sponsored by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Israeli DM Ehud Barak says Israel should consider imposing final borders on the Palestinians, becoming the senior-most official to propose unilateral actions in light of the stalled peace process. Others (unnamed) reportedly (NYT 5/31)

urged against drastic unilateral steps, recommending that ‘‘unilateral steps could be phased in over many years and be designed ... to give Israel a stronger hand in final status’’—effectively what the Israel has been doing as unstated policy for decades. Speaking at the same conference, Gen. Shlomo Brom (Ret.), who heads INSS’s program on the Palestinian conflict, called the unilateral route ‘‘the only remaining course of action,’’ and former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, also an INSS staff member, told the conference that unilateralism was ‘‘the best of all evils,’’ urging Israel to take action in its own selfinterest, ‘‘without conditioning it on the agreement of the Palestinians.’’ (NYT 5/31)

At the INSS conference in Tel Aviv, Israeli DM Ehud Barak also states that Israel and the U.S. have different assessments of the Iranian nuclear timetable, stating, ‘‘Our clock is ticking faster.’’ He says Israel believes that Iran is rapidly approaching a ‘‘zone of immunity’’—the point at which its nuclear facilities would be so decentralized and well fortified that they would be beyond reach of a military strike. Speaking at the same forum, Israeli PM Netanyahu says that the only safe route is for Iran to stop all enrichment, to send all its uranium abroad, and to dismantle its nuclear facilities at Fordo, all of which must be verified by the IAEA. Meanwhile, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan argues that ‘‘if we bomb ... we will give them the legitimacy to attain nuclear military capability.’’ Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi (Ret.), former IDF chief of staff, recommended that more time be given for diplomacy and sanctions to work. (WP, WT 5/31)

Washington Times runs a special report on how Israel’s expanding relationship with China is raising international concerns. The report states that Israel has recently been expanding trade relations and military ties with China, seeing it as a large, emerging market for its military goods and an influential player who could pressure Iran. (WT 5/30; see QU in JPS 165 for details)