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Today’s Top Stories
1. The US and Iran hope to reach an agreement by Friday that would lift some sanctions of the international sanctions for six months. In return, the Iranians would curb their uranium enrichment program. McClatchy News sums up the deal so far:
At the heart of the proposal is the demand that Iran halt the expansion of its ability to enrich uranium, presumably by not buying new centrifuges, the equipment used in the enrichment process. That’s a change from previous demands that Iran stop enriching uranium past a certain purity.
2. The Saudis bought nuclear weapons from Pakistan, according to the BBC. They’re even ready for delivery:
One senior Pakistani, speaking on background terms, confirmed the broad nature of the deal – probably unwritten – his country had reached with the kingdom and asked rhetorically “what did we think the Saudis were giving us all that money for? It wasn’t charity.”
Another, a one-time intelligence officer from the same country, said he believed “the Pakistanis certainly maintain a certain number of warheads on the basis that if the Saudis were to ask for them at any given time they would immediately be transferred.”
3. Swiss scientists investigating Yasser Arafat’s death reported finding high levels of polonium. I liked CNN for noting the Swiss caveats; AP talked to several experts who didn’t jump off the deep end:
Goldberger noted that Arafat did not show some classic signs of radiation poisoning, further muddying the strength of the conclusion.
Lawrence Kobilinsky, a professor of forensic science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, also said the report does not prove Arafat died from polonium. He noted that other scientific teams are expected to issue reports on the case.
“It looks like he’s been poisoned, but I would wait for the other groups to confirm it,” he said. “It’s not done until we get a confirmation. This is how science works“
Nathan Lents, deputy chair of the department of sciences at John Jay, said the report’s results are consistent with a possible polonium poisoning, but “there’s certainly not a smoking gun here.”
But if you insist on blaming Israel, then Time‘s deeply skeptical Karl Vick says you’ve been drinking Al Jazeera’s Kool Aid:
Details of the forensic examination might well encourage belief in the poisoning theory, laid out in table form — pro and con — on page 67 of the 108-page report, and clearly accumulating on the pro side. But every page of the PDF posted online carries the watermark of al-Jazeera, a marketing move of dubious value for a news organization that provokes such strong reactions all by itself, and is heavily invested in the story.
4. Loewenstein’s Load of BDS BS: A defense of the boycott-divestment-sanctions movement is riddled with inaccuracies.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Discussing her husband’s death, Suha Arafat’s being very careful with her words. Here’s what she told ABC News about whodunnit:
But Suha won’t name a suspect, only going so far as to say a nuclear country must be behind it, because it takes a nuclear reactor to produce this type of polonium . . .
Suha notes that only a Palestinian in Arafat’s inner circle could have gotten to him at the time he fell ill, when his presidential compound was under siege for months by Israeli forces.
“It has to be administered by somebody who is near who can put it in his tea, a kind of injection or a powder,” she said. “You have to be near him to know that he took it.”
• YNet assesses what Avigdor Lieberman’s return to the foreign ministry means for the peace process:
Lieberman has generally stayed away from the Palestinian issue, but has made several remarks against the Palestinian Authority, which raised concern in the world. The current assessment is that he will not keep silent on the matter of negotiations, but will not actively destroy talks, out of respect for Israel’s ties with the US.
• The Financial Times (via Google News) reports that John Kerry and Tony Blair’s $4 billion plan to boost the West Bank economy is running into an obstacle called reality. Among the issues touched on:
- Donor states actually want to start weaning the PA off aid.
- Much of the money currently finances the PA budget deficit rather than West Bank investment.
- Rising West Bank violence makes it unlikely Israel will relax the travel restrictions shaking investor confidence.
- The Kerry-Blair plan is based on the assumption of “economic peace” and “normalization,” but those are dirty words in Ramallah.
• Worth reading: Raymond Ibrahim takes apart the notion (most recently expressed in The Daily Beast) that the persecution of Mideast Christians is a springboard to attack American Christian support for Israel.
• Who knew?
Rest O’ the Roundup
• The Wall St. Journal details how US-Iranian engagement resulted from years of behind-the-scenes efforts.
• Admit it: You’d love to see this happen to the BBC:
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.