Everything you need to know about today’s coverage of Israel and the Mideast. Join the Israel Daily News Stream on Facebook.
Today’s Top Stories
1. Yup, Hamas is laying the groundwork to declare Gaza’s independence. Mahmoud Zahar told Maan News in no uncertain terms that Israel does not occupy Gaza. (Hey, that’s my line!) He also dissed the one and two-state solutions:
Speaking to Ma’an, Zahhar asserted that “Gaza is free of occupation, and contiguity with the outside world is easier as visitors from all over the world visited the coastal enclave.” . . .
“The bi-national state which (Fatah leader) Ahmad Qurai is promoting, as well as the UN bid thing, UNESCO and negotiations are all indications that the program which Fatah introduced has come to an end.”
If Hamas opposes both the one and two-state solutions this blatantly, we’re left with a de-facto three-state solution I predicted last week.
2. NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s defending herself against charges of anti-Semitism. The topic? Israeli neocons (in this case, Dan Senor) running the Romney campaign’s foreign policy. Dowd’s imagery conjures up images of a cabal of Jews a la the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But don’t take my word for it:
Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte.
3. The former head of Syria’s chemical arsenal confirmed that Bashar Assad considered transferring the non-conventional weapons to Hezbollah. Major-General Adnan Sillu, who defected in July, told the Times of London (paywall) that a desperate Assad is capable of incredible recklessness:
General Sillu, who is now in Turkey, said the regime has also considered transferring chemical weapons to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia. “They wanted to place warheads with the chemical weapons on missiles — to transfer them this way to Hezbollah. It was for use against Israel, of course,” he said.
In the past, he added, fear of repercussions had stopped the regime from giving some of its chemical weapons to its allies in the region. “Now, if they have nothing to lose why not share these weapons? If a war starts between Hezbollah and Israel it will be only good for Syria,” General Sillu said.
While we’re on the subject of chemical weapons, witnesses told Der Spiegel that the Syrian military’s already testing chemical weapons systems.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Prime Minister Netanyahu talked about Israel, Iran and the US with some American talk shows. David Gregory of Meet the Press tried mighty hard to draw the Prime Minister into commenting on the presidential campaign, but Bibi didn’t bite. (Unable to find something better to write about, The Guardian‘s Chris McGreal fisked the interview.)
The Prime Minister raised similar talking points with CNN‘s Candy Crowley, though he became noticeably feisty when Crowley said at the 3:20 point, “There are legitimate, peaceful purposes for enriching this uranium.”
• Saboteurs blew up the electrical lines powering the Fordow nuclear facility, prompting Iran’s suggestion that the IAEA is riddled with terrorists. The Daily Telegraph says a sudden cut in power would damage centrifuges buried underneath the mountain. But don’t get too excited:
But IAEA inspectors visited Fordow the day after the incident, on Aug 18. Their report on Iran’s nuclear programme, released on Aug 30, does not mention any damage to the centrifuges.
This suggests that Fordow must have a backup electricity system.
Meanwhile, The Daily Beast‘s Eli Lake assesses whodunnit and why the Iranians went public with the sabotage.
• The US and UK launched a massive naval exercise in the Persian Gulf. More at Reuters.
• For more commentary/analysis, see Charles Krauthammer.