Everything you need to know about today’s coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Hamas and Fatah agree on national unity (again), cheap talk dominates Israel-Iran debate, and gunmen storm two Yemeni newspapers — they even brought their own journalists along.
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Israel and the Palestinians
• Meeting in Qatar, Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal agree on a national unity government. They insist they’re serious, but I’ll believe it when I see it:
Abbas would assume the role of prime minister, replacing Western-backed Salam Fayyad, a senior official said. It was not immediately clear if Fayyad would be a member of the new government or when it would be formed. Hamas had voiced strong opposition to Fayyad heading the unity government . . .
The interim government, led by Abbas, will prepare for elections in which Hamas will participate, and serve until voting takes place.
AP captures my skepticism in just 104 characters:
Previous deals have collapsed amid deep suspicions and intervention by the sides’ rival foreign patrons.
• YNet: Palestinians want to submit Israeli sites to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.
Along with the list of sites under the PA’s control, the Palestinians are also considering submitting heritage sites that are under Israeli control such as Qumran Caves and the Dead Sea.
Officials in Ramallah told Ynet they see nothing wrong with the PA proposing to recognize these sites on behalf of Palestine.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Must read: Niall Ferguson (The Daily Beast) brilliantly deconstructs objections to an Israeli strike on Iran. His conclusion:
The single biggest danger in the Middle East today is not the risk of a six-day Israeli war against Iran. It is the risk that Western wishful nonthinking allows the mullahs of Tehran to get their hands on nuclear weapons. Because I am in no doubt that they would take full advantage of such a lethal lever. We would have acquiesced in the creation of an empire of extortion.
War is an evil. But sometimes a preventive war can be a lesser evil than a policy of appeasement. The people who don’t yet know that are the ones still in denial about what a nuclear-armed Iran would end up costing us all.
• A Baltimore Sun staff-ed opposes an Israeli strike on Iran.
• Gunmen force two Yemenite newspapers to publish the outgoing president’s photo on their front pages. Self-publishing wasn’t an option? This from AP:
. . . President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s loyalists took over the newspaper’s offices in the capital of Sanaa and brought in their own journalists. They published his picture on Sunday.
Hundreds of armed men loyal to Saleh also surrounded another state-run newspaper’s offices in the southern city Taiz last week, demanding the president’s picture be restored. The editors of the el-Gomhoreya paper gave in.
• A top Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander is in Syria helping Assad crush dissent. Haaretz adds:
According to the report, the Syrian president’s goal is to gain ground ahead of a planned visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who will be arriving in the country along with a military delegation which includes the head of Russian intelligence.
• BBC reporter Paul Wood is in Homs. He says Syrian shelling of the city’s “pretty constant” — to the pace of every 30 seconds.
• Benny Avni (NY Post) says the Western sanctions shot down Russia and China were indeed about regime change, though it’s not a dirty word:
For too long, Obama and the Europeans have bought their own song and dance. After the previous “neocon” administration, “regime change” was a phrase never again to be uttered in polite society.
But, as they’ve all learned, oppressed people around the globe increasingly cry out for outside help as they try to overthrow tyrannical rulers. In such cases, urging and even aiding regime change is the West’s only moral, logical option.
• Egypt intends to put 19 American aid workers for violating foreign funding laws for NGOs. Both the LA Times and Washington Post describe Egypt’s move as diplomatic brinkmanship: the US is threatening to suspend $1.3 billion in aid.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Noble Energy and Delek discovered more natural gas in the Mediterranean. According to Globes, we’re talking about a reported 1.2-1.3 trillion cubic feet of gas 120 km northwest of Haifa.
For more, see yesterday’s Media Cheat Sheet.