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Today’s Top Stories
1. Seeing it as a national security threat, the Egyptian government is planning to undermine Hamas. Reuters got itself a heckuva scoop:
The aim, which the officials say could take years to pull off, includes working with Hamas’s political rivals Fatah and supporting popular anti-Hamas activities in Gaza, four security and diplomatic officials said.
2. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) responsible for bringing Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassins to justice moves to a new phase: a trial in absentia of four Hezbollah defendants, with a fifth to be possibly added to the indictment.
The tribunal was set up in an agreement between Lebanon and the UN Security Council, but Hezbollah refuses to recognize the court’s jurisdiction. Hariri and 21 others were killed in a massive 2005 Beirut car bombing. More on the story at the Jerusalem Post, NOW Lebanon, and the STL web site.
3. Israel long-claimed that Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the Turkish organization which organized the Mavi Marmara flotilla, had ties to Al-Qaida. Looks like the Turks finally got the message. Hurriyet reports that multi-city raids on Al-Qaida operations included an IHH storage facility near the Syrian border.
4. CNN’s Ugly Post-Mortem on Sharon: It’s bad enough that Human Rights Watch dances on Ariel Sharon’s grave. But why is CNN promoting it?
5. Sky News’s Distorted Sharon Narrative: Correspondent adds his own interpretation of Ariel Sharon’s legacy.
6. Starving Palestinians: Thousands of Palestinians in a refugee camp are threatened with starvation. But the world press doesn’t care because the bad guys are Syrian instead of Israeli.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Members of the Arab States Broadcasting Union gathered in Ramallah to essentially plan out propaganda for the coming year. The union’s general director, Salaheddine Maaoui, told the The Media Line:
He expressed his hope that the conference will be a turning point in the Arab coverage of the Palestinian cause. “We want to see that the Arab media is recruited to serve the Palestinian cause,” he elaborated.
• Palestinian authorities apologized for having illegal weapons in their Prague embassy.
• The academic boycott issue is fading from the mainstream media. Lingering commentary from Richard Cohen and a Baltimore Sun staff-ed (on academic boycotts). But with colleges resuming classes after winter break, the issue’s very much alive at Georgetown, North Carolina, Nebraska universities, plus Cincinnati area campuses.
• For more commentary/analysis, see David Singer (Abbas dismantling the framework agreement), Dror Ben-Yemini (don’t say “transfer”), the LA Times (it’s transfer, stupid) and the Melbourne Herald Sun (Jamie Hyams got a right of reply to Joseph Wakim). Last but not least, Aaron David Miller discussed what the framework agreement could do for the peace process with CNN.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Cue some ominous music while reading this. Reuters reports that international inspectors gained more access to Iranian nuclear sites, but it “still falls short of what it says it needs to investigate suspicions that Tehran may have worked on designing an atomic bomb.” And the White House confirmed that Iran “would be permitted to continue developing advanced nuclear centrifuges that will enable it to more quickly enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon.”
• A former US security official got op-ed space in the NY Times to argue against Jonathan Pollard’s release.
• Turns out that an unnamed senior Egyptian diplomat quietly attended the Sharon funeral. Details at the Times of Israel.
• Henry Kissinger reminisced about Ariel Sharon. Also commenting: David Landau, Jonathan Kay, Jake Wallis Simpson, and Molly Guinness, plus staff-eds in the Seattle Times, Boston Globe, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Youngstown Vindicator, and South Africa’s Business Day.
• I’ll leave the last word to Sharon’s son, Gilad. Time published the text of his eulogy. ‘Nuff said.
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.