Israel Briefs 11-21-11

The latest news from Israel.

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Israel deploying new intelligence battallion on Egyptian border

The Israel Defense Forces has announced the establishment of a new intelligence-gathering battalion to be stationed along the Israel-Egypt border. The move comes after a surge in violence from the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula, where radical groups have gained a foothold following the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Soldiers in the new battalion, which also includes female troops, are undergoing extensive combat and intelligence training, and some are also expected to be stationed along Israel's border with Jordan.

Explaining the need for the new battalion, defense officials on Sunday said that a great deal of uncertainty remains about Egypt’s future, and it is unclear what type of government will arise in Cairo after the parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 28 and to what degree the Muslim Brotherhood will be bolstered as a result.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

(Click photo to download. Caption: Ehud Barak. Credit: PD-Israel.)Barak: A nuclear Iran will be unstoppable in a year

Iran is less than a year away from being unstoppable in its goal of producing a nuclear weapon, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with CNN released on Saturday.

“It’s true that it won’t take three years, probably three-quarters [of a year] before no one can do anything practically about it because the Iranians are gradually, deliberately entering into what I call a zone of immunity, by widening the redundancy of their plan, making it spread over many more sites with many more hidden elements,” he said.

Barak said a report earlier this month by the U.N. nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Tehran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic bomb and may still be conducting secret research had a sobering effect on world leaders and was driving urgent, intensive diplomacy.
“The countdown toward nuclear materials in the hands of terrorists will start, even if it takes half a generation,” Bloomberg quoted Barak as saying.

Israel to seek closure of UN ‘refugee’ aid agency

Israel intends to ask the U.N. to close down the aid agency that assists Palestinian refugees living in Judea and Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem, saying the organization poses an obstacle to any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians because of its distorted definition of the term “refugee.”

The Israeli initiative, proposed by MK Einat Wilf (Independence), follows months of Palestinian efforts to obtain unilateral recognition of statehood at the U.N. and membership in several of its agencies. UNESCO (the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) granted “Palestine” membership last month, prompting the U.S. to cut funding in accordance with a law requiring financial ties to be cut with any U.N. agency that affords the Palestinians membership.

Now Israel plans to pursue its own measure at the U.N. to shutter the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. UNRWA is the only U.N. aid agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Simon Wiesenthal representatives: fight for Evangelical support

The dean and director of interfaith relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, wrote a letter to the Jerusalem Post arguing for the need to reach out to Evangelicals and denounce the Palestinian criticism of Zionism.

The writers condemned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ push for Palestinian recognition in the U.S. as an effort to delegitimize the Jewish state and to reduce Christian support for the country. They also cited the2010 Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) conference, where it was argued that modern Jews are not genetically related to biblical Jews like Moses and Jesus.

This statement was part of Christian Palestinian’s strategy of twisting history and pushing Evangelical Christians away from Jewish support. Such events are clearly anti-Semitic in nature, the authors said, and they only reinforce the need to actively reach to Evangelical Christians and promote a positive view of Zionism.

—JointMedia News Service

Shalit negotiator to handle captive soldier affairs

David Meidan, who conducted the complex negotiations for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, has been appointed the prime minister’s coordinator on the issue of captive and missing Israeli soldiers, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Sunday.

Meidan was made Netanyahu's special emissary for the return of Shalit in April, replacing Haggai Hadas, who had been in the position for two years. Meidan was instrumental in negotiating the deal that saw the release of Shalit in October in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Shalit had been abducted by Hamas in June 2006 during a cross-border raid, and was held captive in an unknown location in the Gaza Strip for more than five years before he was returned to Israel.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Ben-Gurion researchers create sperm from regular cells

Ben-Gurion University researchers achieved a major breakthrough in male fertility by producing sperm cells from regular mouse cells, Israel National News reported.

Professor Mahmoud Huleihel at the university's Shraga Segan Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Faculty of Health Sciences conducted the study that was published inthe Journal Nature.

“This study may open new therapeutic strategies for infertile men who cannot generate sperm and/or prepubertal cancer patients at risk of infertility due to aggressive chemo or radiotherapy, and cannot cryosperm as in adult patients,” Huleihel said, according to a press release.

Prof. Eitan Lunenfeld from Soroka University Medical Center, Beer-Sheva and Prof. Stefan Schlatt from University of Münster in Münster, Germany contributed research to the study. The German–Israel Foundation contributed funding to the project.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on November 21, 2011 and filed under Israel.