Israel, EU on Collision Course Over Settlement Products

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Today’s Top Stories

1. AFP: Hamas launched its own official “news agency,” Al-Rai. If they promise not to call their work journalism, perhaps the IDF will refrain from blowing them up in the next Gaza war.

2. Der Spiegel: Israel and the EU are on a collision course over labeling products from settlements.

In a response to the plans, the Israeli Embassy in Berlin argued that there are territorial disputes all over the world. “If this kind of labelling regulation is not universal, and seeks to single out one place exclusively, namely Israel,” it said, “then this measure will be inherently iniquitous and discriminatory by nature, and it should be treated as such.”

Such charges have not been intimidating to officials in Brussels. Employees of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU diplomatic service ushered in by the Treaty of Lisbon, recently sifted through the entire corpus of EU legislation in order to determine which directives and regulations could be cited in efforts to ban settler-made products. The list of applicable legislation, which SPIEGEL has obtained, shows that the lion’s share of potentially banned products involves foodstuffs.

Australian Flag3. Prisoner X, a mysterious detainee in an Israeli prison, was an Australian national who was found hanged in late 2010. Australia’s ABC News now identifies him as Ben Zygier, and claims he worked for the Mossad until “something went dreadfully wrong.” It’s an incredibly speculative story: nobody with direct knowledge talked on record.

“However the transgression came about, it would have to be involved with espionage, treachery – very, very sensitive information that known to others would pose an immediate threat to Israel as a nation state.”

Reports of a Prisoner X first surfaced in 2010. The plot thickened when I saw Haaretz later today:

The Prime Minister’s Office called on Tuesday an emergency meeting of the Israeli Editors Committee, an informal forum comprised of the editors and owners of major Israeli media outlets, to ask its members to cooperate with the government and withhold publication of information pertaining to an incident that is very embarrassing to a certain government agency.

The Australian, Daily Mail, and The Guardian picked up on the story.

Hezbollah’s Hot Seat

In the second part of his look at Hezbollah, YNet‘s Ron Ben-Yishai pieces together how the terror group will fight its next war with Israel. Essentially, Hassan Nasrallah wants to hit Israeli morale by

  1. delivering a heavy blow to Tel Aviv and national infrastructure
  2. killing or injuring as many Israeli soldiers as possible
  3. shooting down or sinking even one Israeli ship or aircraft
  4. having his own forces operating on the Israeli side of the border

At what point will Hezbollah set this strategy in motion? Most likely when a certain element – be it the US, Israel or a joint force – attacks Iran’s nuclear installations. Tehran may also order Hezbollah to attack Israel in order to divert attention from its efforts to obtain nuclear capabilities. The imminent collapse of the regime in Syria makes Hezbollah even more dependent on Iran, and it will not dare disobey an order from Tehran.

Al Monitor: Hassan Nasrallah to address the Bulgaria indictment in a public speech scheduled for February 16. What will Nasrallah say?

According to the circles, the indictment is linked to the expected new phase in Syria and is part of the global war waged by Washington and Israel against Hezbollah.

See also Daniel Nisman’s take on Israel and Hezbollah at the Christian Science Monitor.

Imad Mughniyeh

Imad Mughniyeh

The National Post notes the fifth anniversary of Imad Mughniyah’s death with more revelations about the mysterious hit in Damascus.

By the time the bomb went off, most of the Israeli agents had already packed up and left. Their mission was accomplished. They shut down the safe houses, removed any incriminating evidence, and calmly left the country under false IDs, escaping before there was any reason for Syria to suspect their presence.

On the next page

  • Obama’s Israel itinerary released.
  • Israeli-made lighters are Lebanon’s burning issue.
  • Israel on the moon by 2015?

Continued on Page 2

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The above is how Haaretz chose to illustrate the tensions in U.S.-Israel relations. This cartoon by Amos Biderman is offensive ...