Israel hopes for the best, prepares for the worst

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29 Apr 2011
 Israel hopes for the best, prepares for the worst

The IDF is currently preparing for possible scenarios related to the call for the third Intifada predicted to take place on 15, May. One scenario is the possibility of having thousands of Palestinians marching towards the check points on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. "We are preparing for a large number of scenarios, the Palestinians feel that they have legitimacy for these peaceful demonstrations, especially now following the creation of a new government and ahead of the declaration of statehood," a senior commander of IDF's Southern Command said. Meanwhile, the IDF continues to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority despite the fact that they earlier this week announced the formation of a unity government with Hamas. "At the moment, this is an agreement on paper. If Hamas members join Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, that will mark the end of PA-Israel security cooperation in the West Bank," said Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland.

Analysts project massive Middle East arms race
Defense Industry analysis firm Frost & Sullivan issued a report Wednesday which included numbers indicating that Air Forces in the Persian Gulf are set to buy large numbers of new planes and related air defense equipment in the coming years, taking the regional arms race to new heights. The biggest spenders are projected to be Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, three countries very worried about the growing power and aggression of Iran who are set to spend close to $60 billion by the end of the decade. "The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are moving towards an integrated air defense network to include air platforms, air defense batteries and air surveillance systems under the 'Peninsular Shield' initiative; but the progress has been slow," notes the report. "The use of networked force by the US and European forces in the Gulf War and the latest Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been a startling revelation for Middle Eastern MODs who are now keen on acquiring these capabilities."

Terrorist bomb in Morocco kills 15, including one Israeli
On Thursday a bomb exploded at a café in the popular Moroccan tourist city of Marrakesh, killing 15 people according to the country's Interior Ministry. Only three of the victims were of Moroccan origin while the rest were foreigners from France, Holland and Britain as well as Jewish couple residing in Shanghai. The Jewish couple, Massoud Zikri and Israeli born Michal Weizman, who was expecting their second child, was in Morocco to celebrate Passover with the husband's family.

Dispute threatens fragile calm in Sudan
Sudanese President Omar Bashir gave a speech in the southern Kordofan state recently, saying that he will not recognize the newly independent country of South Sudan if it continues to claim that the disputed border town of Abyei is the source of tensions between north and south. Southern Sudan is scheduled to gain its independence from Moslem dominated northern Sudan on 9 June. The international community is in the meantime pressing on both sides to come to an agreement regarding Abyei. "It is important that both sides, those in Khartoum and those in Juba, focus intensely on trying to resolve the key issues," said assistant US Secretary of State Johnnie Carson.

Better Place and China Power Grid partnership
Israeli-owned electric car infrastructure company Better Place signed an agreement on Wednesday with officials from China Southern Power Grid Co. to open a battery switch station and joint education center in China. The Israeli group sees China as a future significant player in the automotive market and this collaboration "opens the door to new opportunities for switchable battery electric cars made by Chinese manufacturers for the domestic and export markets", said Better Place CEO and founder Shai Agassi. China Power Grid and Better Place hope to develop their relationship further by expanding the battery-switch, network model.

Egypt plans to permanently open Gaza border crossing
Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby told Al-Jazeera during an interview on Thursday that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza could be permanently opened within seven to ten days. Opened for the first time since January 30, 2011, the Rafah border will allow greater freedom of movement for people on both sides of the border, as well as goods in and out of Gaza without Israeli permission."Egypt has decided to reopen the border and it will allow up to 300 people from the Gaza Strip to exit each day," said Hamas official Ghazi Hamad. In related news, Egypt's former envoy to Israel, Mohamed Bassiouni, said on Thursday that the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has achieved significant gains for both nations and that it should not be annulled. "It's win-win - we both gain from the treaty", Bassiouni said. However, a recent survey by the Pew Research showed that over half of Egyptians favor overturning the treaty.


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