SWI NEWS: Wed, Apr 11, 2012 19 Nisan, 5772
Former US undersecretary of defense Lawrence Korb says Jonathan Pollard may yet be released, perhaps in June.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 4/10/2012, 9:18 PM
Israel news photo: Flash 90Former undersecretary of defense Lawrence Korb said Tuesday that convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard may be released soon. "Given Jonathan's deteriorating health they may consider clemency," Korb said in remarks that contradicted reports that Pollard's release was were baseless. "There is a chance." Korb also rejected that US President Barack Obama's silence on anemergency plea for Pollard's release from Israeli President Shimon Peres on humanitarian grounds was a definite "no" on clemency for Pollard. "Obama didn't respond to a letter sent by Prime Minister Netanyahu over a year ago, either, to my knowledge," Korb said. "He may be waiting for the right time." Korb added: "I think maybe they were planning to in June – at least I hope so – but in light of Jonathan's deteriorating health, maybe they will do it early." Obama is expected to award the Medal of Freedom to Peres in June. At that time Peres is expected to deliver a letter from 80 Israeli lawmakers asking for Pollard's release. Peres is also expected to make his now-third formal request for Pollard's release in June. He first requested Pollard's release when he met with Obama at the White House in March. "I think it's important, because if he is released right now he will not have to go back to prison, and he could receive proper healthcare at a civilian hospital," Korb said. "Treatment beyond prison walls is much better in of itself . If it is released now he can be reunited with his wife, and I think it will help him heal faster. " "There is no doubt he should be freed," Korb said. "Even if he was healthy, he has served 27 years for a crime most people receive much shorter sentences for – providing information to a friendly country." "I'm optimistic," Korb said. "I am optimistic by nature. And as Winston Churchill said of the United States, we always sought to right our mistakes." Earlier on Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor responded to Peres' emergency plea saying "Our position has not changed". Pollard was hospitalized Friday before Passover began at a medical facility for prisoners after reporting severe pain. Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the US Navy, was arrested in 1985 and has been serving a life sentence since 1987 for one count of conspiracy to deliver national security information to a foreign government. Pollard told Wolf Blitzer that year that he provided Israel with satellite photography of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) headquarters in Tunisia, specific capabilities of Libya's air defenses, and "the pick of U.S. intelligence about Arab and Islamic conventional and unconventional military activity." Others convicted of the same crime, including those who pass intelligence data to hostile nations, have been given average sentences of 7 years or less in prison. Israel granted Pollard citizenship in 1995, but denies he was an Israeli agent. In 1998, Israeli officials said Pollard had worked for an "unauthorized rogue operation." The disparity of Pollard's sentence with those of others convicted of the same crime has turned his lengthy incarceration into an issue for American Jewry. Jewish and Israeli leaders have been joined by numerous US officials and lawmakers in calling for Pollard's release.
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he will turn to the UN General Assembly for recognition if Israel does not capitulate to his demands
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 4/9/2012, 7:50 PM
Flash 90President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he will turn to the UN General Assembly for recognition if Israel does not capitulate to his demands. A previous bid for recognition in the United Nations Security Council – which must approve all moves for full membership in the world body – was stopped dead by the specter of a veto from the United States. Approval would require 9 affirmative recommendations in the council and no negative recommendations from the five permanent, veto-wielding, members - Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States. The PLO – currently listed as an observer "entity" with no voting rights – applied for full membership of the UN on Sept. 23. An admissions committee said on Nov. 11 it had failed to reach an agreement on the bid. Even without the promised US veto in play, the current composition of the 15-member decision making council remains unfavorable to the PA bid as Ramallah cannot muster sufficient affirmative votes. It had been suggested that Ramallah could instead seek upgraded observer status via the General Assembly to make it a non-member observer state – like the Vatican – but Abbas angrily rejected the proposal. Nonetheless, Abbas' change of heart on Sunday is no surprise. Last Tuesday, Abbas telegraphed the move saying a unilateral track at the United Nations “is our right and we will turn to the UN again." The threat to again pursue a unilateral track at the United Nations in violation of the 1994 Oslo Accords comes as chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat prepares to deliver a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu outlining Ramallah's demands. The letter is expected to reiterate Ramallah's preconditions that Israel accept the indefensible pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a PA state, release all Arab terrorists from its prisons, and again halt all construction in the 'disputed territories.' Presidential adviser Nimir Hammad indicated earlier that Palestinian envoys would deliver the message next week, but negotiator Saeb Erekat told Ma'an on Sunday they were still waiting for Israeli confirmation of the meeting. Last week, sources close to Netanyahu said the Prime Minister will reply to Abbas demanding he returns to negotiations without preconditions. Netanyahu is also expected to demand Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state and agree to security arrangements in any peace agreement. The official said Netanyahu would finalize his response after receiving Abbas' letter. Critics say Netanyahu's government has failed to adapt to a new paradigm in which PLO officials pursue a unilateral track while forestalling bilateral talks with unacceptable preconditions. In December 2011, PLO officials announced "a strategy based on continuous efforts along with the international community to secure full recognition and full United Nations membership, pursuing internal reconciliation, and keeping up the popular resistance."
Photo: Albatross The IDF is considering the deployment of missile interceptors on gas rigs that Israeli companies plan to construct in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in the coming years, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Israel’s concern is that Hezbollah will try to attack the platforms with anti-ship missiles or explosives-laden vessels.
‘Lebanese targets fair game in war with Hezbollah’
Photo: REUTERS/Sharif Karim Israel will attack Lebanese government targets during a future war with Hezbollah, senior defense officials said amid speculation that a war could erupt in the North following a future strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. “It was a mistake not to attack Lebanese government targets during the War in 2006,” a senior defense official explained. “We will not be able to hold back from doing so in a future war.”
- 'Iran may activate US Hezbollah cells after strike'
- IDF weighs interceptors for offshore gas platforms
Saudi Air Force warplanesAt least 200 American and Arab Gulf fighter-bombers thundered overhead Sunday, April 8 at the outset of the biggest air force exercise ever conducted in the Gulf region. They are simulating war with Iran and an operation for reopening the strategic Straits of Hormuz if it is closed by Tehran. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that 100 of the warplanes took off from the USS Enterprise and USS Abraham Lincoln which are cruising with their strike groups opposite Iranian shores. The Saudi, UAE, Kuwaiti and Bahraini air forces contributed the other 100. In an unprecedented show of military solidarity with the US, Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet High Command, was also chosen by Gulf Cooperation Council – GCC - members for their unified exercise headquarters to be located at the Shaikh Isa Air Base. Tehran was being told that neither the Obama administration nor the Gulf Arab governments were deterred by its threats of retaliation against emirates placing bases at the disposal of foreign forces for an attack on Iran. However, shortly after the exercise began, Iranian ambassador to Kuwait Rouhullah Qahremani called urgently on Kuwait Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Khalid Al-Sabah with a warning that the Iranian air and navy would attack the Gulf nations taking part in the exercise unless they withdrew at once. The Kuwaiti army chief took Iran's threat to the GCC Secretary General for Military Affairs Maj. Gen. Khalifa Humaid Al-Kaabi. Kuwait and Riyadh also briefed the Americans. The exercise is due to end on April 15, the day after the six world powers launch resumed nuclear negotiations with Iran in Istanbul. However some Iranian sources were hinting Monday that they would not come to the talks under military threat. Although the participants are keeping the exercise’s scenario under wraps, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources are able to outline its five segments: 1. A practice operation to pry open the Strait of Hormuz should Iran try to block the waterway through which one-fifth of the world’s oil is exported - whether by deploying warships, scuttling old vessels, strewing sea mines or firing shore-to-ship missiles from the Iranian-controlled islands of Abu Musa, Great Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Sirri Island. The combined US-Gulf force is practicing air and naval assaults against those Iranian island bases and the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ mainland facilities facing them from Bandar-e-Abbas, Bandar-e-Lengeh and Qeshm island. They plan to cut off Iranian reinforcements en route to Hormuz. 2. They also aim to prevent Iranian air or sea assaults on the Persian Gulf emirates’ oil facilities and export terminals, focusing mainly on Saudi, Bahraini and Kuwaiti oil facilities and fields. 3. Air strikes are conducted against Iranian naval vessels, including speedboats, in a simulated exercise to head them off before they strike American aircraft carriers and warships or Gulf fleet vessels. 4. Testing the degree of coordination between US air, sea and marine forces and their Persian Gulf counterparts. 5. The Gulf exercise is in fact the sequel of Noble Dina 12, the US-Israeli-Greek war gameconducted earlier this month in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. That war game practiced runs by Israeli fighter-bomber from their home bases to the big American facility on Crete, fueled in flight by American and Israeli tanker planes. The distance between the two points is roughly equivalent to the 1,200 kilometers between Israel and Iran. In a furious response to that maneuver, the Iranian Chief of Staff Gen. Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi, declared Saturday April 7: “Iran will bulldoze and destroy the illegal Zionist nest.