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Abbas: We Won't Recognize Israel as a Jewish State

By & VOA News

The Voice of Israel radio reported Sunday that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that the PA will not meet Israel's demand that it recognize Israel as the Jewish State.

According to the Kol Yisrael report, Abbas explained this statement using the reasoning that once that the PA agrees to this requirement, there would be no value to the 1.5 million PA Arabs living in Israel, and no refugee would be allowed to come back to Israel, in keeping with the PA demand that Israel allow millions of Arab refugees to return to their old homes in Israeli cities as part of a future agreement.

Abbas made the comments during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, the report said, and added that Israel still refuses to stop building in Judea and Samaria. He said that one day PA Arabs will wake up and find a Jewish settlement in the heart of the PLO's Muqata headquarters in Ramallah.

He said that the PA leadership intends to send a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and emphasize that it will resume peace talks with Israel only if it stops building Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria, accepts the principle of two states along the 1949 armistice lines (the so-called 1967 borders), and release prisoners, especially those who were imprisoned before the second intifada began in 2000. Abbas stressed that the PA will await Netanyahu's response and added that if its demands are rejected it will once again turn to the UN to pursue a unilateral statehood bid.

Abbas' comments come less than a week after he signed an agreement with the Hamas terror group in Doha. The reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah faction calls for Abbas to head an interim government, which will be made up of "independent technocrats." The new PA interim government is to be presented on February 18 in Cairo.

Abbas has claimed the agreement does not contradict with the peace process, but at the same time has continued to present Israel with preconditions for peace talks, as he has done for almost three years since Netanyahu took office.

While Fatah is often considered the "moderate" of the two factions, Fatah official Nabil Shaath said last week the new interim PA government "need not recognize Israel. It is the PLO, not the PA, that recognizes Israel," Shaath insisted in an interview with the Hamas-affiliated Arabic-language Al Quds, in an attempt to justify forming a unity government with Hamas, which continues to call for Israel's destruction.

Shaath's statements run counter to clear conditions set by the Quartet for Middle East Peace - the European Union, Russia, United Nations, and United States - for Hamas to be included in a PA government. Quartet officials have said Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, formally abandon terrorism and violence, and uphold agreements signed by previous PA governments with Israel and any other entity.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office responded to Abbas' Sunday comments and said that his speech turns away from peace. Instead of negotiating to end conflict, the PMO said, Abbas prefers to join the terrorist group Hamas which embraces Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Saturday that Iran will soon unveil new nuclear achievements. He spoke at Tehran's famous Azadi (Freedom) square during a rally marking the 33rd anniversary of the country's Islamic Revolution. "God willing, in the coming days, the world will see Iran showcasing some very big nuclear achievements."

Tens of thousands of Iranians rallied Saturday to mark the anniversary of the revolution that toppled Iran's U.S.-backed Shah and brought hard-line Islamic clerics to power. Demonstrators gathered across the country, some chanting and carrying placards proclaiming death to America and Israel.

Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh joined the rally at Azadi square. He spoke to the crowd ahead of Ahmadinejad, saying his Palestinian militant group would never recognize Israel.

Israel is among the nations, including the United States that suspect Iran may be enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons. Israel has not ruled out an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Iran has used the visit of Haniyeh to offer "scientific and technological experience" to the PA for a "victory" over Israel.

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Haniyeh of "the need for Palestinian adherence to the basic principles of resistance as the key ingredient for their victory against Israel," according to the official Iranian PRESS TV news agency. Haniyeh replied, "Muslims through full unity and with the support of the Islamic Republic of Iran will liberate Al Aqsa mosque [on the Temple Mount] in the future."

Iran and Hamas' supreme leader Khaled Mashaal's have been at odds with Haniyeh for not siding with its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad. The financial problems of Hamas in Gaza are attributed as the reason for Haniyeh's visiting Tehran.

U.S. Admiral Says Forces Prepared to Confront Iran

By Israel Faxx News Services

The top US Navy official in the Persian Gulf said Sunday he takes Iran's military capabilities seriously but insists his forces are prepared to confront any Iranian aggression in the region.

Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of the 5th Fleet, told reporters at the naval force's Bahrain headquarters that the Navy has "built a wide range of potential options to give the president" and is "ready today" to confront any hostile action by Tehran.

He did not outline specifically how the Navy might respond to an Iranian strike or an effort to shut the entrance to the Persian Gulf, though any response would likely involve the two US aircraft carriers and other warships cruising the waters off Iran. "We've developed very precise and lethal weapons that are very effective, and we're prepared," Fox said. "We're just ready for any contingency."

Faced with tightening Western sanctions, Iranian officials have stepped up threats to close the Strait of Hormuz if the country's oil exports are blocked. A fifth of the world's oil supply passes through the narrow waterway, which is only about 30 miles (50 kilometers) across at its narrowest point. Iran and Oman share control of the waterway, but it is considered an international strait, meaning free passage is guaranteed.

Iran's army chief, Gen. Ataollah Salehi, early last month warned an American warship not to return to the Gulf shortly after the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and another vessel left. Another carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, entered the Gulf without incident on Jan. 22.

Fox acknowledged that Iran's military is "capable of striking a blow" against American forces in the Gulf, particularly using unconventional means such as small attack boats or mines laid along shipping lanes. "We're not bulletproof. There are people that can take a swipe at us," Fox said.

"They have increased the number of submarines ... they increased the number of fast attack craft," he told reporters. "Some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used as a suicide explosive device. The Iranians have a large mine inventory." But he added that he has reminded officers under his command that they "have a right and an obligation of self defense" if attacked.

The admiral's comments echo those of other Western officials, who say they will respond swiftly to any Iranian attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CBS' "Face the Nation" last month that Iranian forces could block shipping through the strait "for a period of time," but added, "We can defeat that."

Fox's command encompasses the bulk of the Middle East, including the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and a large swath of the Indian Ocean along the east African coast. There are about 25,000 sailors under his command.

IDF: Relinquish Dual Citizenship


The Israel Defense Forces issued a statement requiring soldiers serving in Israel's submarine fleet to relinquish any foreign citizenship they may hold. While this regulation does exist in other elite units of the IDF, the submarine fleet received special notification of such, this past week.

Each unit has its own standards by which soldiers receive security clearance, the IDF noted. Often, recruits are only required to state if they hold foreign citizenship, but are actually forced to relinquish it. Yet, "for information security purposes, soldiers serving in certain IDF units are required to meet strict criteria," the IDF Spokesman's Office announced.

It remains doubtful as to whether the imposed regulations will contribute to a statistical decrease in some elite IDF units of soldiers holding dual citizenship.

Egyptian TV: Jeans Made in Israel Cause Infertility


Egyptian television featured a segment in which Muhammad Al-Mane'i of the Sinai Bedouins accused Israel of producing jeans, which were then sold to Arabs, containing magnets that cause infertility in Arab women, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported.

Al Mane'i claimed, "There was a time when they would bring us jeans… These pants used to have belts. If you looked at these belts from the front, you'd find a secret compartment, and when you opened it, you would find a magnet inside. When we asked that these magnets were, we were told that they cause sterility. "

The reported then asked Al-Mane'i whether his intention was to state that these jeans cause infertility in Arab women, to which Al Mane'i responded, "Exactly… There was a time when these jeans with belts would invade us from Israel, and we used to take the magnets out and chuck them away. "

The reported concluded the segment by saying, "Israeli products contain lethal poison. You might not feel this poison now, but you will in the future. Israel will remain an enemy lying in wait for Egypt, no matter what happens and regardless of the agreements, because Israel has its eye set on Egypt."

It is possible that Al Mane'i was referring to magnets that helped belts stay closed, but Israeli manufacturers did not consider the accusation worthy of comment, conjecturing that it is either a result of rampant anti-Semitism or that the source is an Arab jeans manufacturer who knows that Gaza markets are filled with Israeli products.

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