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EU's Catherine Ashton 'deeply concerned' by Israeli settlement plans (Reuters)
U.S. deeply disappointed by Israeli settlement moves, U.S. official says (Reuters)
U.K. Foreign Secretary condemns Israeli decision to accelerate settlements (Haaretz)
Senior ministers and diplomats said the International Atomic Energy Agency's report, due to be released on November 8, will have a decisive effect on the decisions Israel makes.
Western intelligence officials agree that Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear program. Intelligence services now say it will take Iran two or three years to get the bomb once it decides to (it hasn't made the decision yet ).
According to Western experts' analyses, an attack on Iran in winter is almost impossible, because the thick clouds would obstruct the Israel Air Force's performance.
The test-firing of a ballistic missile on Wednesday at the Palmahim Israel Defense Forces base in central Israel would not have been possible without a long and complex process of serious planning and rigorous safety standards; The joint drill with the Italian Air Force last week over Sardinia could not have occurred without extensive pre-planning with the Italians. The drill planned for Thursday in Holon, simulating a rocket attack on Gush Dan, was scheduled a long time ago by the Home Front Command.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking cabinet support for a military strike on Iran, Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday, after days of speculation on plans for such an attack.
Haaretz said that Netanyahu and Barak had already scored a significant win by convincing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to throw his support behind a strike.
But the newspaper cited the senior Israeli official as saying there was still "a small advantage" in the cabinet for those opposed to an attack.
Among those still opposed, Haaretz said, are Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor, Strategic Affairs Minister and Netanyahu confidant Moshe Yaalon, and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
Media reports say any strike is also opposed by army chief Benny Gantz, the head of Israel's intelligence agency Tamir Pardo, the chief of military intelligence Aviv Kochavi and the head of Israel's domestic intelligence agency Yoram Cohen.
Germany has reportedly threatened to halt the delivery to Israel of a sixth Dolphin class submarine, supposedly capable of firing nuclear-tipped missiles at Iran, in protest against plans to build 1,100 homes for Jewish settlers in an East Jerusalem suburb.
Israel is reported to be seeking to extend the range of its Jericho- 3 ballistic missile, which could be used for pre-emptive military strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.
"Israeli ambassadors in Western countries have been instructed to inform high-ranking politicians that the window of opportunity for imposing effective sanctions on Iran is closing," the newspaper said.
But Western experts say the three-stage, solid-fuel Jericho 3 has an estimated range of 3,000-4,000 miles. That means Israel can hit targets anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran.
It's believed the missile can carry a 1,650-pound nuclear warhead or two or three low-yield multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle -- MIRV -- warheads.
The Israeli air force is preparing to deploy a new air-defense system with the biblical name of David's Sling, designed to intercept medium-range missiles, while the Iron Dome system deployed earlier battles Palestinian rockets.
A new unit has been formed to man the first David's Sling battery that will be based in central Israel sometime in 2012.
One reason there are still only two Iron Dome batteries deployed is that the government was slow to acknowledge the need for such systems and does not have the funds.
Amid continuing concern that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is inclined to order military action against Iran's nuclear program, a key Defense Ministry chief says, "Iran is out central threat."
While the media and political sphere is abuzz with news on a potential attack on Iran's nuclear development facilities, the Israel Air Force continues conducting comprehensive drills on long-range attacks.
The last drill of this sort took place last week at the NATO base in Italy, in which six different types of air force squadrons participated. The drill was widely covered on websites around the world that specialize in aviation.
The U.K. is stepping up its preparations for a military strike on Iran, the Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday. According to the report, the U.K. is increasingly concerned over Tehran's nuclear program, and is preparing to deploy Royal Navy ships in the in the coming months to assist a possible U.S. attack on key facilities in Iran.
The paper cited senior officials who said they believed Iran had regained its technological capabilities which were severely damaged in a cyber-attack last year. Iran said the Stuxnet worm infected personal computers of employees at the Bushehr plant, but not the plant's main systems. The New York Times reported last January that the worm was a joint Israeli-U.S. effort to undermine Iran's nuclear ambitions.
PM says Israel must continue to develop Jerusalem, asserts construction there is Israel's basic right and not simply a punishment to Palestinians.
The blueprint also calls for the "release of people detained as a result of the recent events, the withdrawal of forces from towns and districts where there have been armed clashes, and the granting of access to the Arab League, and Arab and international media."
Saudi crown prince rules out compromise with Iran
MECCA (AFP) - Saudi Crown Prince Nayef Ben Abdul Aziz on Tuesday ruled out any compromise with Iran over allegations of Iranian involvement in a plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
“There can be no compromise with Iran concerning the assassination bid because there is no need for it,” the crown prince, who also holds the interior ministry portfolio, told a news conference in Mecca.
“We are ready to deal with any scenario... with any means necessary,” he added without further details during an inspection tour of preparations for the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.
Iran wants Bahrain as its ‘crown jewel’ - minister
CAIRO (AFP) - Bahrain's foreign minister on Tuesday accused Iran of eyeing the Gulf monarchy as "the crown jewel" in a campaign to penetrate the Gulf, and called for Arab support in confronting Tehran, according to official Egyptian media.
"Iran always looks at Bahrain as the crown jewel," Khalifa was quoted as saying by the official Egyptian news agency MENA, adding it is the entry point into the Gulf.
"Gulf countries should not have to stand alone facing Iran, [other] Arab countries must be responsible, and Arab publics must pay attention to Iran's dangers, which come under a thousand guises. The threat is grave," he said.
White House on Iran: We remain focused on a diplomatic course (Haaretz)
At least 36 killed in Syria, as regime accepts Arab League plan (DPA)
Ex-Mossad head Meir Dagan: Recently released IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is not a hero (Haaretz)
Israel decided today to accelerate Jewish settlement building and withhold Palestinian Authority funds, moves likely to further hold up international efforts to revive peace talks.
Israel's move came a day after Unesco awarded the Palestinians full membership of the UN cultural agency, a diplomatic victory for the Palestinian Authority in its push for recognition as a state at the United Nations.
Israel called the Unesco decision a "tragedy" and the United States said it would stop its funding of the organisation.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the accelerated construction of some 2,000 housing units, said an official statement released after he convened his cabinet.
High-ranking Iranian officer: We are stronger than ever, threatening us is pointless (Ch. 10)
Egypt announces pardons of 334 sentenced during ‘Arab Spring’ on Facebook (AP)
Haaretz-Dialog poll shows 52 percent of Israelis trust PM Netanyahu and DM Barak's 'on the Iranian issue,' while 37 percent do not, only 11 percent had no opinion.
Israelis are almost evenly split on whether Israel should attack Iran's nuclear facilities, with 41 percent supporting such a strike and 39 percent opposed, a new Haaretz-Dialog poll has found.
Barak supports military strike on Iran, Ya'alon favors U.S. intervention.
One minister who belongs to the octet said that, at the forum's meetings, Ya'alon and Barak presented diametrically opposed views: Barak supported an Israeli military strike on Iran and said it should take place as soon as possible, while Ya'alon argued that Israel should give international sanctions on Iran more time, and that if military action did become necessary, it would be better for America to do it.
The speed of events on the Israel-Iran front is beginning to recall the eve of a war.
Israel conducts a rare ballistic missile test; the Israel Air Force reports a successful exercise in Sardinia, far from home; Iran's chief of staff says the "likelihood is low" of an Israeli attack, but threatens that his country would respond forcefully.
British sources tell The Guardian of preparations for an attack on Iran's nuclear sites coordinated with the United States; Britain's chief of staff makes a secret visit to Israel. The defense minister goes to London for talks; MKs from the extreme right demand that the former head of the Mossad be put on trial (! ) for daring to object to an Israeli attack. The speed of events on the Israel-Iran front is beginning to recall the eve of a war.
Iran is attempting to engineer and test nuclear weapons at a series of banned production sites in defiance of United Nations sanctions, according to a report to be released next week.
According to a Haaretz-Dialog poll, 59% of respondents say Iran attack would likely cause a regional war, while 20% believe that the probability of war is unlikely or entirely improbable.
Canadian activist Ehab Lotayef says two-vessel flotilla is 'halfway to Gaza'; says 'there will be no violence from our side' in dealing with Israel Defense Forces.
Iran TV: Israel strike would have apocalyptic consequences (DPA)
Israel freezes UNESCO funding after Palestinian membership (Haaretz)
Iran FM warns U.S. against entering 'collision course' with Iran (Reuters)
Gaza militants fire at Israeli security forces, IDF responds to source of shooting (Haaretz)
Obama says pressure must be maintained on Iran over its nuclear program (Reuters)
Home Front Command to conduct drill simulating rocket attack on central Israel at 10 A.M. (Ch. 10)
NATO has “no intention whatsoever” of intervening in Iran, the alliance’s top official said in response to reports that some governments may be planning a military strike against Tehran’s nuclear program.
A deputy leader of Turkey’s main opposition party has said a “plot” is being staged in unrest-hit Syria to pave the way for the country’s foreign occupation. She also said the Republican People’s Party (CHP) does not back all practices of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but is against a foreign intervention in Syria.
“The West has written a plot about democracy and liberty, and they are staging it. But this plot of democracy and liberty is nothing but the plot for an invasion,” Birgül Ayman Güler told the Hürriyet Daily News. She said this plan would result in thousands of deaths.
Arab League gives Syria 15 days to implement proposal (DPA)
An insurgent army which claims to be up to 15,000 strong is being coordinated from Turkey to take on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, which risks plunging the region into open warfare.