Israeli Contact With Syrian Opposition?April 18, 2013 14:23 by Pesach Benson
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Today’s Top Stories
1. Arab media reports say Israeli diplomats have already made contact with Syrian opposition leaders, “likely in order to gauge the possibility of establishing a buffer zone along the Golan Heights border.” The Times of Israel writes:
According to an unnamed Syrian opposition source who spoke to Jordan’s independent Mouab website, the Israeli embassy in Amman recently contacted a number of members of the Syrian opposition living in Jordan, inviting them for “consultation meetings” inside the embassy. Some oppositionists refused the invitation out of hand, while others agreed to meet outside the embassy in complete secrecy, the report said . . .
The Times of Israel could not independently confirm the report, and a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on it.
2. Benjamin Netanyahu talked to the BBC about the possibility of Israel intervening in Syria. Suffice to say, he put the world on notice that Israel won’t let terrorists obtain chemical weapons or other game-changer goodies. A lot of news services picked up on this:
Mr. Netanyahu, in an exclusive interview with the BBC’s Lyse Doucet, said Israel’s concern was “which rebels and which weapons?”
“The main arms of concern to us are the arms that are already in Syria – these are anti-aircraft weapons, these are chemical weapons and other very, very dangerous weapons that could be game changers,” he said.
“They will change the conditions, the balance of power in the Middle East. They could present a terrorist threat on a worldwide scale. It is definitely our interest to defend ourselves, but we also think it is in the interest of other countries.”
3. Is this how US intervention in Syria begins? “The Pentagon is sending about 200 troops to Jordan to help deliver aid to refugees and to plan for possible military action, including a rapid buildup of forces,” according to the LA Times.
Israel and the Palestinians
• YNet: 5 Palestinians indicted for planning Temple Mount shooting attack
• If you’re wondering why archeology is such a sore point between Israel and the Palestinians, consider the legal situation on the ground. According to the BBC:
“The right of Israel to execute archaeological work in the region is well-embedded in international law and interim agreements with the Palestinians,” says Hananya Hizmi, head of the ADCA, [Archaeological Department of the Civil Administration, editors note] which operates according to pre-existing Jordanian law.
The issue is complicated by the fact that there is no single law dealing with archaeology in the West Bank, but rather a series of conventions, inherited laws and treaties.
The main international treaty which governs archaeology in occupied territories is the Hague Convention of 1954, which deals by-and-large with the preservation of culturally significant sites. A 1999 protocol prohibits archaeological excavation other than essential survey or salvage work, but Israel is among dozens of countries which are not signatories.
With so many sites scattered across the West Bank, the matter had to be addressed when the area was divided up under the Oslo Accords in 1995. Israel and the Palestinians agreed they would be responsible for archaeology in their respective areas and set up a joint committee on the issue, but currently there is no archaeological co-operation between the two sides.
• While we’re on the subject of archeology, embarrassed Palestinian officials talked anonymously to the Times of London about Hamas bulldozing a UNESCO heritage site for a terror training camp:
“It is devastating, very devastating to hear this site is under threat after all the efforts we made to have it recognised by Unesco,” said one Palestinian official based in the West Bank. “It makes us look bad, the Palestinians, that we cannot preserve our own sites.” . . .
Another official in Gaza, who did not want to be named, said that the land was first seized by the al-Qassam Brigades, a rival militant group, in 2002, who built a small training camp on the edge of the ruins.
“They have now muscled a much larger section there, I would say they are now using 30 per cent of the area we know to be the ruins as a training camp,” he said, adding that he was certain that “important archaeology and history is being destroyed”.
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