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The Day In Israel: Sun July 5th, 2009

Click refresh to see new updates during the day

Saudi Arabia has reportedly* given the green light to Israel to use its airspace during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Earlier this year Meir Dagan, Mossad’s director since 2002, held secret talks with Saudi officials to discuss the possibility.

The Israeli press has already carried unconfirmed reports that high-ranking officials, including Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, held meetings with Saudi colleagues. The reports were denied by Saudi officials.

“The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia,” a diplomatic source said last week.

Although the countries have no formal diplomatic relations, an Israeli defence source confirmed that Mossad maintained “working relations” with the Saudis.

—-

Recent developments have underscored concerns among moderate Sunni Arab states about the stability of the repressive Shi’ite regime in Tehran and have increased fears that it may emerge as a belligerent nuclear power.

“The Saudis are very concerned about an Iranian nuclear bomb, even more than the Israelis,” said a former head of research in Israeli intelligence.

I assume the green light even applies to female IAF pilots.

* Warning: Even though everyone is quoting this Sunday Times report, including Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post, one of its authors – Uzi Mahnaimi – is a known big fat liar.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

8:06PM: Here’s the video of Biden talking about Iran and a possible Israeli strike.

6:07PM: US Vice President Joe Biden has made it clear that the Obama administration won’t stand in Israel’s way should we choose to take military action to eliminate Iran’s nuclear threat.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it pretty clear that he agreed with President Obama to give until the end of the year for this whole process of engagement to work. After that, he’s prepared to make matters into his own hands.

Is that the right approach?

BIDEN: Look, Israel can determine for itself — it’s a sovereign nation — what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Whether we agree or not?

BIDEN: Whether we agree or not. They’re entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that. But there is no pressure from any nation that’s going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed.

What we believe is in the national interest of the United States, which we, coincidentally, believe is also in the interest of Israel and the whole world. And so there are separate issues.

If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But just to be clear here, if the Israelis decide Iran is an existential threat, they have to take out the nuclear program, militarily the United States will not stand in the way?

BIDEN: Look, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination that they’re existentially threatened and their survival is threatened by another country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say we can’t dictate, but we can, if we choose to, deny over-flight rights here in Iraq. We can stand in the way of a military strike.

BIDEN: I’m not going to speculate, George, on those issues, other than to say Israel has a right to determine what’s in its interests, and we have a right and we will determine what’s in our interests.

5:18PM: Photo of the day: If you squint your eyes a bit and look at the middle of the picture, it will almost look like a Hamashole wearing a skirt.

12:50PM: Introducing Israel’s “octomum” member of the Knesset.

9:15AM: Hamas has reportedly tried to arrest a female palestinian journalist who had the audacity to come to the beach immodestly dressed and acting in a wanton fashion.

And before you entertain thoughts of her in a bikini and replicating the feats of this woman, immodestly dressed means not wearing a hijab, and acting in a wanton fashion means laughing in public.

A Palestinian female journalist complained over the weekend that Hamas policemen attempted to arrest her under the pretext that she came to a Gaza beach dressed immodestly and was seen laughing in public.

The journalist, Asma al-Ghul, said that the policemen instead confiscated her passport. Since the incident, she added, she has been afraid to leave her home, especially after receiving death threats from anonymous callers.

“They accused me of laughing loudly while swimming with my friend and failing to wear a hijab,” Ghul told a human rights organization in the Gaza Strip. “They also wanted to know the identity of the people who were with me at the beach and whether they were relatives of mine.”

In a phone interview with the Dubai-based Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news Web site, the journalist said that the policemen who stopped her belonged to the Hamas government’s Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice security force.

The special force reports directly to the Ministry of Waqf Affairs and is said to be a copy of units that have long been operating in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

The Hamas government, according to local reporters, has refrained from publicly admitting that the force exists out of fear of being branded fundamentalist.

The Hamas force consists of dozens of plainclothes police officers who patrol beaches, public gardens, restaurants, hair salons and coffee shops to make sure that males and females are not mixing together and that the women are dressed modestly.

Ghul said that many Palestinian women have noticed the presence of the police officers at the beaches and other sites. She said that the talk in the Gaza Strip these days was about Hamas’s intention to impose the hijab on all female school children from first to 12th grade.

She said she was astonished by the fact that the Hamas security forces were providing security to hotels that are frequented by women wearing miniskirts while at the same time targeting “common people” who go to the beaches and public parks.

Ghul said that Hamas has banned men in the Gaza Strip from swimming topless. “And as in my case, Hamas has banned women from laughing while swimming,” she added.

She and her friends were stopped by Hamas policemen while swimming in the sea. She said that the policemen confiscated her passport and laptop after accusing her of laughing loudly and appearing in immodest clothes in a public place.

Two of her male friends were detained for questioning for three hours. They said the police officers beat them and abused them verbally before releasing them.

Hamas security commanders initially said that the journalist and her friends were stopped because they were having a mixed party at the beach. Later, one of the commanders said that Ghul was stopped because she was not wearing a hijab while swimming. Another commander claimed that the journalist and her friends were stopped because they had been seeing smoking nargilas and partying in a public place.

Islam Shahwan, spokesman for the Hamas security forces, said that policemen have been deployed at the beaches at the request of the Ministry for Waqf Affairs. He said the policemen’s task is to impose law and order and prevent harassment of families picnicking and swimming at the beaches.

“We are there for the safety of the people,” he said. “We operate there to prevent men from harassing women. We’ve received many complaints about these negative practices.”

Shahwan said that Hamas does not interfere with the way women want to dress. However, he stressed, “we must preserve our Islamic culture and traditions. If there’s a woman who wants to dress as she wishes, she must go to a private swimming pool and not to a public place.”

The supporters of Hamas on the Left may want to consider their alliance with an organization that suppresses women’s rights (not to mention human rights).

That is, if they can get past their hatred of Israel.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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