Eritrea Hosting Israeli and Iranian Bases?

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Today’s Top Stories

1. Israel will not transfer any tax revenues to the PA for the next four months.

Liberman said the funds to be withheld were not Palestinian money, but rather money the PA owed Israel for giving it advances earlier this year enabling it to pay salaries, and to cover debts it owed for electricity, water and other services to Israeli companies.

“First we will get back what we are owed, and then after four months we will check and see what to do,” Liberman said. Israel paid NIS 900m. to pay PA debts, and advanced it another NIS 700m. to pay salaries, he said.

2. Whoda thought? Israel and Iran both have military bases in Eritrea, according to intelligence reports cited by Haaretz. There’s  an unspecified Iranian presence in the southern port city of Assab. And Israel?

This is not the first indication of a covert Israeli military presence in the small African country, but Stratfor’s report is the most detailed to surface to date.

According to Stratfor, Israel has a listening station on the secluded Mt. Amba Sawara, as well as docks in the Dahlak Archipelago . . .

Stratfor’s analysis claims Eretria’s government – one of the world’s harshest regimes – is nurturing relations with the two rival nations in order to maintain its advantage against its larger neighbor Ethiopia, from which it gained independence in 1991, and Djibouti and Yemen.

3. Egyptian judges don’t want to touch the constitutional referendum with a ten foot pole. AP reports most will boycott any role in overseeing this month’s vote:

The move was unlikely to stop the referendum from taking place, but it cast further doubt on the legitimacy of the constitutional drafting process and, ultimately, the document itself.

Israel and the Palestinians

Israeli and Palestinian representatives will meet in Jordan to resume promote the peace process. According to YNet, King Abdullah was also critical of Egypt for marginalizing Amman during Gaza cease fire talks. I wonder if this is more about King Abdullah boosting his regional stature more than the peace process.

Over lunch with reporters, Ambassador Michael Oren shared his views on recent developments. The Christian Science Monitor was more intrigued by the ambassador’s take on E1 (a necessary political reprisal), while Bloomberg News focused on Syria and the devil you don’t know:

“There’s the possibility that you’ll have Sunni extremist elements who will try to come to the fore,” Oren said yesterday in Washington. “Our opinion is that any situation would be better than the current situation” in which the Syrian regime has a strategic alliance with Iran and the Lebanese Shiite Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah, he said.

 The Times of Israel looks at the question of whether Palestine is now a “state.” Spoiler alert: It depends . . .

 Legal action trying to re-route the security fence away from Battir and its ancient stone-walled terraces got a boost. According to The Guardian:

The case has been bolstered by a last-minute U-turn by Israel’s nature and parks authority, which called on the court on Tuesday to accept the petition, saying the “special and valuable area” should be protected in the public interest. The authority argued there was no longer an emergency security environment requiring environmental considerations to be cast aside.

There are Jewish connections to Battir too, but since you won’t read about that in The Guardian, see Jonathan Tobin.

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