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U.S. `Green Light' for Israeli Attack on Iran Depends on `Whether It Can Get the Job Done'

By Ha'aretz

President Barack Obama is capable of ordering a military attack on Iran, but the U.S. would probably prefer to yield to Israel if it was convinced that it "could get the job done" – this is the assessment of Walter Russell Mead, an expert on American foreign policy. "The U.S. has a lot of things to think about in a lot of places and I'm sure Obama feels that he has enough wars in the Middle East already."

But he said that if America became convinced that an attack on Iran is necessary and that only the U.S. is capable of carrying it out successfully, then Obama "would not hesitate to pull the trigger." Mead said that it is probably the Republicans themselves, and not Israel, that has turned Iran into a partisan issue in American politics, though it is unwise for Israel "to collaborate" with this Republican agenda, which is harmful to Israel's short and long term interests.

At the same time, Mead said that he believes both Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu realized this year that they need a "more correct relationship" than the confrontational mode in which they found themselves during the 2011 AIPAC Conference, when Obama spoke of the 1967 borders. "After spending the first half of his Administration having Prime Minister Netanyahu regular beat him at the game of American politics," Mead said, "Obama has gotten tired of that and he has a better sense of what he needs to do so as not to keep losing control of the policy process in the U.S."

Mead said that it was hard to gauge in advance how long the American public would sustain its support for a military attack against Iran. "If Israel attacks Iran, and Iran attacks American targets, you might bet a 'Pearl Harbor' response against an unprovoked attack by a vicious enemy. There is a tremendous amount of residual ill-will toward Iran in America," he added.

Israelis, Palestinians Closely Watch Egypt Turmoil

By Scott Bobb (VOA-Jerusalem)

The political face-off in Egypt between the military and Islamists following the presidential election is being closely watched by Egypt's neighbors in Israel and the Palestinian territories. And as with many issues the viewpoints vary considerably. Opinions are divided among Israelis and Palestinian groups over future relations with Egypt although all agree those relations will continue to be important.

The Muslim Brotherhood asserted that its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, won the run-off election to be Egypt's next president. Egypt's governing Supreme Council of the Armed Forces indicated it will accept the result but it has reduced the president's authority and given itself legislative powers while the elected parliament is dissolved. The decree sets up a possible confrontation between two traditional sources of power, the barracks and the mosque.

Israel has been watching with concern. Its leaders attach great importance to maintaining the peace treaty signed with Egypt 33 years ago. Despite cool relations, the treaty is the basis for cooperation between the two neighbors in many areas including security, commerce, transportation, energy and diplomacy.

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu underscored this view recently. He said he hopes any government that arises in Egypt, any president elected in Egypt, will choose to honor the peace agreement. He says the peace accord helped Egypt as much as it helped Israel, and he hopes that the next government will understand it is in Egypt's interest no less than Israel's.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which dominated Egypt's now-dissolved parliament, has said it will respect all previous treaties. But some of its members have suggested submitting the Israel treaty to a popular referendum where its future would be much less certain.

The second major Israeli concern is the increasing lawlessness along the border with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The upheaval in Egypt has led to a rise in smuggling, human trafficking and terrorist attacks across the border.

A Palestinian analyst in East Jerusalem, Mahdi Abdul Hadi, said Israel is closely following events in Egypt. "The Israeli government is sitting in a bunker, watching, keeping an eye, trying to infiltrate here and there to get more information and putting [forth] different scenarios, not for today but for five years from now," said the analyst.

The Muslim Brotherhood's assertion of election victory in Egypt brought celebrations in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement. Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said relations with Egypt have improved since last year's popular uprising brought the Muslim Brothers into the power structure, but hopes what he calls "our big sister" will help break the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

The rival Fatah Movement, which controls the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority, views the Egyptian election somewhat differently. Fatah and PA President Mahmoud Abbas enjoyed good relations with Egypt's ousted president Hosni Mubarak, while the Mubarak government viewed Hamas with suspicion. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and is labeled a terrorist group by Western governments.

A Fatah leader in Gaza, Diab Al-Louh, said he hopes Egypt's new leadership will encourage Hamas to moderate its policies, soften its stance on Israel and implement a reconciliation agreement with Fatah. He said Fatah is committed to what was agreed upon and ready to implement it fully.

A Gaza leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Kayed Ghoul, believes a government led by the Muslim Brotherhood will be pragmatic and focus first on reviving the Egyptian economy which has been battered by 17 months of political upheaval. He said this reality will reflect on the political positions of the Muslim Brotherhood. They will likely keep the peace agreement with Israel and would try to have Hamas align its positions more with the Brotherhood's.

A senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, speaking on the West Bank radio station Rai-FM, said he believes the rise of the Islamists will create a more balanced Egyptian position toward the various Palestinian groups. He said they will not be like Mubarak regime, pressuring Hamas, closing all the crossings and borders and just allowing Fatah members or the Israelis to pass.

Report: Flame Part of US-Israeli Cyberattack Campaign Against Iran

By IDG News Service)

The highly sophisticated Flame malware was jointly developed by the U.S. and Israeli governments in preparation for a cyber sabotage campaign to disrupt Iran's nuclear fuel enrichment efforts, according to a media report.

Citing unidentified Western officials with knowledge of the operation, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that Flame's goal was to collect intelligence about Iran's computer networks that would facilitate future cyberattacks.

On June 1, The New York Times reported that Stuxnet, a sophisticated piece of malware that is believed to have caused the destruction of up to 1,000 gas centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility, was created by the U.S. and Israel governments as part of a joint operation code-named Olympic Games.

The Times cited unnamed official sources who said that prior to deploying Stuxnet, cyber espionage software programs known as beacons were secretly inserted into computers made by German hardware manufacturer Siemens and an Iranian company. The purpose of these beacons was to collect information about how computer from the Natanz facility interoperated with the uranium enrichment centrifuges, and send this data back for analysis.

On June 11, security researchers from Kaspersky Lab, one of the security companies that discovered and analyzed the Flame malware, announced that they found a link between Flame and Stuxnet in the form of shared computer code.

Based on this evidence of collaboration, they theorized that the two threats were created by two development teams funded by the same group of attackers. Flame was probably used for espionage and Stuxnet for sabotage, Roel Schouwenberg, a senior researcher with Kaspersky Lab's global research and analysis team, said at the time.

Flame was discovered back in May, following an investigation into a series of mysterious data loss incidents at Iran's Oil Ministry. Those attacks were carried out in April by the Israeli part of the operation without knowledge from the U.S. side, the Washington Post's sources said.

Security researchers from Kaspersky Lab believe that Flame was created in the first half of 2008. Stuxnet was discovered in June 2010, but the first variant of the malware is believed to date from June 2009. In September 2011, a separate piece of cyber espionage malware called Duqu was discovered. Duqu's architecture and code are similar to Stuxnet, leading security researchers to believe that the two threats were created on the same development platform.

Eilat Residents Fear for their Safety in Wake of Terror


Just 10 days after Highway 12 near Eilat was reopened to evening and nighttime traffic, the IDF closed it once again on Wednesday for security reasons. The road was initially closed for traffic 10 months ago, after the combined terrorist attacks that killed eight Israelis near the border with Egypt. In March, the road was reopened to daytime traffic.

Wednesday's decision was made following a security assessment in which it was decided to increase security in the region. Until it is decided by what means to secure the road, it will remain closed.

Moshe Yosef, a 42-year-old resident of Eilat who volunteers with the local police, told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday that local residents feel very unpleasant and unsecure. "The terrorists are handling our lives," he said, adding, "The IDF must take action and constantly patrol the road." He said that anyone traveling on Highway 12 constantly looks around, due to a fear of an attack. "There is no security on this road. I personally do not travel on this road," he said.

He noted that today, more than ever, Eilat residents fear infiltrations by terrorists. "Sudanese infiltrators come here freely, so who knows if there any agents of Al Qaeda among them," said Yosef. "In the meantime we try to continue with our regular routine because there is no choice, but it's not safe here. I live right at the edge of the city of Eilat and I feel uncomfortable. I sleep with a gun."

North Carolina Democrats Consider Anti-Israel Resolution

By Reuters

The North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) is considering passing a resolution that would criticize Israel for its "illegal occupation of Palestine," The Daily Caller reported.

While the resolution did not pass at this weekend's NCDP state convention, it was tabled to be considered at a later date. It attacks the United States for providing Israel with "$3 billion annually in military aid," while the "Israeli occupation, disenfranchisement and impoverishment of significant numbers of the Palestinian population, and Israel's overwhelming military might and its role as the only nuclear power threaten stability in a region witnessing increased demands for democracy and an end to autocratic rule."

In the resolution, which is titled "Bringing a Just Peace to the Middle East: Israel and Palestine," the authors accuse Israel of using "this aid to continue its illegal occupation, demolition of Palestinian homes, expansion of existing illegal settlements built on expropriated Palestinian land, and a continued blockade of essential goods from Gaza, a blockade causing a U.N.-documented humanitarian crisis."

The resolution also says that the United States' aid causes "violence and insecurity to Israelis, Palestinians, and helps subvert any prospect for peace." It goes on to accuse Israel of "human rights violations" and "illegal occupation" that "violate international and U.S. law."

If passed, the resolution would mean the NCDP "would hold its elected congress members and senators accountable for helping end our government's role in continuing the Israeli Palestinian tragedy by making the human rights of both peoples central to U.S. foreign policy, by ending Israel's illegal occupation, by advocating for a viable Palestinian state, and membership of that state in the United Nations."

It would also mean the NCDP would advocate its congressional delegation bring "all parties, including Hamas, to the table to negotiate an end to the Israeli Occupation and a secure peace based on the 1967 borders," among other things, noted The Daily Caller. While the resolution was the only one that did not pass at Saturday's NCDP convention, it is still being seriously considered by party members, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

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