The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Links for March 14-15 2010

First off, the Biden-settlements controversy — let's hope the Obama administrations sticks to its guns on this one:

UPDATE: I should add the transcript from David Axelrod's appearance on ABC's This Week, which raises the issue of the consequences of Israeli intransigence on US policy elsewhere, as flagged by Mark Perry's revelation about US military warnings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

TAPPER:  All right, last question.  Vice President Biden went to Israel this week and he was greeted by a slap in the face, the announcement by the Israeli government of the approval of new housing units in an Arab section of Jerusalem.  President Obama was said to be very upset about it.  Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton made very strong comments about it.  Will there be any consequences, tangible consequences beyond the tough talk?  And does Israel's intransigence on the housing issue put the lives of U.S. troops at risk?

AXELROD:  Well, look, what happened there was an affront.  It was an insult, but that's not the most important thing.  What it did was it made more difficult a very difficult process.  We've just gotten proximity, so-called proximity talks going between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and this seemed calculated to undermine that, and that was -- that was distressing to everyone who is promoting the idea of peace -- and security in the region. 

Israel is a strong and special ally.  The bonds run deep.  But for just that very reason, this was not the right way to behave.  That was expressed by the secretary of state, as well as the vice president.  I am not going to discuss what diplomatic talks we've had underneath that, but I think the Israelis understand clearly why we were upset and what, you know, what we want moving forward.

TAPPER:  I hate to say this, but yes or no, David, does the intransigence of the Israeli government on the housing issue, yes or no, does it put U.S. troops lives at risk?

AXELROD:  I believe that that region and that issue is a flare point throughout the region, and so I'm not going to put it in those terms.  But I do believe that it is absolutely imperative, not just for the security of Israel and the Palestinian people, who were, remember, at war just a year ago, but it is important for our own security that we move forward and resolve this very difficult issue.

Too bad Axelrod doesn't go all the way...

FBI reports of Israelis circulating classified documents in the US Congress, "compromising" the authority of the U.S. President.

US Trade Representative concerns that AIPAC was tactically "divulging" classified information supplied by US industries opposed to AIPAC lobbying initiatives.

Reports from the International Trade Commission that AIPAC and Israeli operatives "usurped" US government authority and that an Israeli intelligence service operative was working undercover on AIPAC's staff:

Internal Department of Justice prosecutorial opinions that "theft of government property" had occurred:

An FBI director order that the Washington Field office give the AIPAC investigation top priority after Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was caught on video surveillance stealing classified US national defense information:

FBI special agent interviews of Israeli minister of economics Dan Halpern who claimed diplomatic immunity.  Halpern admitted passing classified US documents to AIPAC but refused to name his source:

FBI special agent interviews of AIPAC's former director of legislative affairs detailing how he made copies of the classified documents for AIPAC's lobbying use after being ordered to return them to the US government.

FBI interviews of key AIPAC employees involved in handling the classified US government information (full document listing):

And the rest of the links: