Egypt Bulldozes Homes for Gaza Buffer Zone

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Today’s Top Stories

1. Where does the world stand on intervening in Syria? Turkey will join coalition against Assad. Expect France to join in without parliamentary debate. Australia, Canada, and Britain will support from the sidelines. While the Saudis and the Arab League are urging the world to take action, South Africa and Argentina are opposed. Brazil and India won’t support action without UN authorization.

2. If you didn’t think it was possible for Egypt to escalate its war on Gaza’s smuggling tunnels, think again. AP reports that the army bulldozed 13 homes along the Rafah border to clear a buffer zone:

The military envisions creating a building-free zone with no trees 500 meters (1,640 feet) wide and 10 kilometers (6 miles) long starting at the Rafah border crossing and ending at the Mediterranean Sea, Northern Sinai government officials said. The homes were knocked down over the last 10 days as a test of the buffer zone idea in an area called el-Sarsoriya, a few kilometers (miles) from the Rafah crossing, while explosives were used to collapse the tunnels.

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3. According to the Jerusalem Post, Mahmoud Abbas said that any peace deal with Israel will be brought to a referendum for Palestinians everywhere. But don’t read too much into that. The JPost also reports Abbas cancelled a Rosh HaShanah reception with Israeli lawmakers after being pressured by the Palestinian anti-normalization movement.


The Syrian Situation

• UN: 7 million Syrians — that’s about one-third of the population — have been displaced by the civil war.

This headline in The Independent sums up where we’re at now.

The Independent

• Israel’s staying out of the US debate on attacking Syria, and doesn’t want to influence — or even appear to influence — an American decision. According to the NY Times, that’s why Prime Minister Netanyahu told Israeli officials to keep their mouths shut. See also the Christian Science Monitor.

Worth listening to: Dr. Michael Bar Zohar, a former advisor to Moshe Dayan, discussed the Syria situation with Australian radio. He told The World Today that Western delay emboldens Bashar Assad, boosts the likelihood of a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran.

 Henry Kissinger: Rather than fight Assad, just support the break-up of Syria into smaller ethnic states, starting off with an independent Kurdistan. Via Israel Matzav.

Without dropping a single bomb, this declaration would create a win for the Kurds, a pro-Western people who are also one of the largest ethnic groups in the world without a state of their own. It would create a win for the West, who would now have a pro-Western state in what has long been hostile territory. It would create a humiliating loss for Assad, who would be seen to have presided over the dismemberment of his country. And most importantly in meeting the West’s immediate security needs, it would send a chill through Iran’s mullahs, who have to date been impervious to Western boycotts . . . Iran, which has Kurds of its own along with other restive minorities, would now contemplate the prospect of the dismemberment of its own state – Iran’s dominant Persians represent only about 60% of the country’s population. A Western declaration of support for Iran’s Kurdish minority would deter the mullahs as nothing else has.

For more commentary/analysis, see Jonathan Spyer, Eyal Zisser, Vali Nasr, Max Boot, David Sanger, and Joe Klein.

Rest O’ the Roundup

• Are people connected to Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaida looking for work inside the CIA? The CIA’s concerned enough, according to documents the Washington Post obtained from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

 Hurriyet: An Israeli diplomat was invited to an official Turkish state reception for the first time since the Mavi Marmara fallout.

 Mohammed Morsi’s going to be put on trial for inciting supporters to murder protesters. AP coverage.

• Egypt deported a three-man film crew working for Al Jazeera English.

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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