A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending June 2, 2011
May 27, 2011 Briefs
• At Canada's insistence, 1967 lines omitted from G8's final communiqué calling for Israel and the Palestinians to return to negotiations.
• Russia: Qaddafi has lost his legitimacy and Moscow ready to mediate his departure from power.
• G8 threatens Syria with UN Security Council action for brutal repression of protest.
• Obama in Paris says US and France will "finish the job" in Libya.
• Concluding his European tour, the US president laid a wreath at Warsaw Ghetto.
White House prepares US-Israel-Palestinian summit
27 May. The White House is going full steam ahead with preparations for an early summit between US President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to restart the peace process, debkafile's Washington sources report exclusively. While Obama is satisfied with extracting from Netanyahu three major concessions, Israeli sources call on the US president to shift ground on "land swaps" and security provisions – or the peace talks will end in an Israel-US crisis soon after they begin.
One concession was Netanyahu's consent to leave settlements outside borders, which a US official says lets him off the hook of having to evacuate 1,200 settlers. Another concerned acceptance by Israel and the Palestinians of the "sovereignty symbols" in each other's states. But Israel will on no account agree to the equal swaps of land that would cut deep into its territory beyond the 1967 lines or the removal of a military presence from the West Bank.
May 28, 2011 Briefs
• Suicide blast kills northern Afghan police commander and 6 others, including two German soldiers. Maj. Gen. Markus Kneip, commander of German forces in Afghanistan, was one of 9 injured. They were attacked as they ended a regional security meeting.
• Italy asks to cut back Italian UN interim Force unit after six Italian soldiers hurt in bomb blast in South Lebanon. Rome accuses Palestinian extremists of staging attack.
Cairo opens Gaza's Rafah crossing, prepares to halt gas to Israel
28 May. Egyptian authorities plan to follow up on the permanent opening of the Gaza Strip Rafah crossing Saturday, May 28 – so ending its four-year siege – by liquidating EMG (the East Mediterranean Gas Company) and halting the supply of Egyptian gas which supplies 40 percent of Israel's needs.
Both are violations of Egypt's international commitments and both meet the demands of the Palestinian Hamas. They are also consistent with Cairo's post-revolutionary rulers' policy to distance themselves from the former peace relations with Israel.
Last week, debkafile's sources report, Cairo informed Israel that although the damage caused the gas pipeline by the April 27 Hamas explosion had been repaired, deliveries would not resume because EMG had refused to renegotiate prices with the Egyptian suppliers.
29 May 2011 Briefs
• Up to 14 killed, including 12 children in coalition air strike in Helmand.
• Karzai in "last warning" to NATO: Stop killing civilians.
• Israeli cabinet allocates $115 m to promote development, tourism in Jerusalem. Gift marks annual Jerusalem Day Wednesday celebrating city's reunification in 1967 war.
• Abbas; Palestinian state must be free of an Israeli presence, whether civilian or military. No recognition for Jewish state. He addressed Arab League meeting in Doha which supported full UN membership for Palestinian state within 1967 borders with E. Jerusalem its capital.
• Abbas: We still prefer negotiations but conditions imposed by Netanyahu give us no other choice.
US-Russian deal for Assad and Qaddafi
29 May. Bashar Assad and Muammar Qaddafi both look like surviving the revolts against them; neither is buckling under varying kinds of US and Western pressures. Assad has begun regaining control of his country, while all five of Qaddafi's brigades have survived NATO pounding intact. To break the impasse, debkafile sources reveal that Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev attempted a deal on the G8 sidelines: Assad would stay and Qaddafi must go.
Assad is holding out thanks to four advantages:
1. The affluent middle class living in Syria's biggest towns, Damascus and Aleppo, stood aside from the uprising.
2. Likewise the Druze community which obeyed its leaders to stay out of it on orders coming from the Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.
3. Syria's Christians who are the backbone of the country's business community actively supported the Syrian ruler.
4. More than 100 Iranian and Hizballah officers placed their active experience in crushing opponents at Assad's disposal.
According to our sources, neither the US nor Russia sees anyone in the Libyan rebel political or military leadership capable of taking over the reins of power in Tripoli. It is therefore assumed that a member of the Qaddafi clan will be chosen as Libya's interim ruler.
May 31, 2011 Briefs
• Israel's chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gantz: Syrian crackdown has so far left 1,200 dead.
• Gantz: Israel will halt any ship seeking to break Gaza naval blockade.
• Blast kills three in Popular Palestinian Front training facility in Rafah, S. Gaza.
Assad is set to declare victory over Syria's uprising
30 May. Damascus is humming in anticipation of a speech in the coming hours by Syrian President Bashar Assad declaring victory over the 10-week uprising against his regime, debkafile reports. Two pockets of resistance still hold out around Homs, but the protest ringleaders fled briefly to the Lebanese port of Tripoli and will soon be on their way to a West European safe haven. It is not clear how many of the 10,000 protesters arrested will benefit from the amnesty announced Tuesday.
He has also offered to create a national reconciliation committee but "political parties" meaning the opposition are not included.
Hamas-Gaza's missile stock passes 10,000 – and going up
31 May. According to updates reaching debkafile's military sources, Hamas had stockpiled more than 10,000 by early May in defiance of Israel's partial blockade of the Gaza Strip. Following April 9, when the Palestinian fundamentalists shot 133 rockets at seven Israeli cities, Egypt's military rulers persuaded Israel to accept a ceasefire in lieu of an operation for smashing this arsenal. By September, when Egypt holds elections which Hamas' parent the Muslim Brotherhood is heavily tipped to win, Hamas will have accumulated 11,000 missiles.
Firing at the rate of 150 missiles a day, Hamas is capable of keeping southern Israel under constant attack for 66 days running. Israel continues to hold back from stemming the arms flow to Gaza just as it has not hindered Hizballah's acquisition of thousands of advanced rockets – all pointing in one direction.
June 1, 2011 Briefs
• National memorial ceremony on Ammunition Hill for Israeli soldiers who fell in the liberation of Jerusalem. Netanyahu: City will not be divided again and building will go on and expand.
• Five policemen injured by flying rocks and bottle bombs in Jerusalem's Arab A-Tur neighborhood. Boosted police presence in Jerusalem for celebrations.
• Bolivia cuts short Iranian minister Ahmad Vahidi visit with apology. Argentina demanded his extradition on charge of planning 1994 terrorist bombing of Jewish Buenos Center that killed 85 people.
June 2, 2011 Briefs
• Mass marches on Israel's borders called for Sunday, anniversary of Arab armies' 1967 defeat.
• Lebanese army declares Israeli border region a closed military zone.
• Israel detains Hamas West Bank leaders organizing Green Line border rallies Sunday.
• Israeli defense official Amos Gilad meets Egyptian leaders in Cairo including intelligence minister Mawafi.
• Australia seeks UN action for bringing Bashar Assad to trial for war crimes.
• Scores more protesters killed by Syrian troops Wednesday.
• Obama's adviser on terror John Brennan to visit Riyadh and other Arab capitals.
• Ex Mossad chief Dagan: Strike against Iran would count as state violence with unforeseen consequences. I don't know of any plan to attack Iran this year.
• Clashes over dismantling of four unauthorized West Bank structures at Alei Ayin leaves 11 injured.
Cairo shuts Gaza's Rafah crossing to free passage at US insistence
2 June. Just four days after the much-heralded opening of the Rafah crossing between the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Sinai, Cairo virtually shut it down Tuesday, May 31, by a series of tight bureaucratic measures in response to a US warning that since the crossing's opening, Palestinian and al Qaeda terrorists had been roaming at large across Sinai exposing the Suez Canal to attack.
After the US informed Jerusalem of the new restrictions, an Israeli defense official, Gen.(Res.) Amos Gilad, arrived in Cairo to discuss security coordination with Egyptian officials including intelligence minister Murad Muwafi.
Under the new measures, 5,000 Palestinians are barred from crossing into Egypt, including all the top operational ranks of Hamas, Jihad Islami and other terrorist organizations, and passage is limited to 400 a day all of whom must apply for permission in advance.