BREAKING NEWS 15:00 EST: Israel has conducted at least five air strikes across Gaza in response to one mortar shell being fired from Gaza earlier in the day.
Iran Beruit Embassy Bombed: France Iran Set Conditions for Geneva
Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for two deadly blasts took place in quick succession near the Iranian embassy in Beirut on Tuesday morning. Al Jazeera reported the death toll at 23, with at least 212 people injured.
Apparently Al; Qaeda is striking out at Iran for its support of the Syrian offensive, which is rolling up Al Qaeda linked Islamic Extremists in Syria.
Lebanese sources told Al Jazeera that the Iranian ambassador is safe, but the cultural attaché of the embassy, Ebrahim al-Ansari, has been confirmed dead. Iranian sources have said that all other embassy staff are safe.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said the first blast was caused by a suicide bomber walking down the street, while the second went off moments later when another suspect blew himself up after driving his explosives-rigged vehicle into the area of Bir Hassan.
Sunday French President Francois Hollande laid out four demands for an agreement with Iran tat tomorrow’s Geneva nuclear talks. These demands are being presented by France but behind the scenes are backed by Israel and the United States.
1. Iran must put all the Iranian nuclear installations under international supervision, right now.
2. Iran must suspend all enrichment above 3.5 percent.
3. Iran must agree to get rid of the existing stock of uranium enriched above 3.5%.
4. Iran must halt construction of the Arak (heavy water) nuclear plant.
Hollande, “These are the points which for us are essential to guarantee any agreement,”
Today Iran responded with four red line points of her own.
1) Iran will not shut down its underground enrichment plant at Fordo.
2) Work on building the Arak heavy water reactor will not be halted.
3) Iran will not allow the export of a single gram of its enriched uranium from the country.
4) Iran will not sign the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which expands international supervision of its nuclear program and permits snap inspections.
It is not difficult to see that there are several points of friction that may scuttle any potential agreement.
Kerry said that nothing the US is doing regarding Iran will put Israel at risk and that Israel stands to benefit from a potential deal with Iran. Nevertheless, he will not be arriving to Israel as planned on Friday. Haaretz writes that is to avert a brush with Netanyahu during the P5+1 talks with Iran in Geneva. This implies that the talks will continue at least up through Friday. Netanyahu is to visit Moscow tomorrow.
The Israeli Military Option
An Israeli attack has the full support of the United States, should Israel take that decision.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday that if Israel were to strike Iran in an effort to damage the country’s nuclear program, the United States would meet “some defined obligations” to the Middle East nation. He added: “I feel like we have a deep obligation to Israel. That is why we are in constant contact and collaboration.”
The defined obligations are to provide US protection for Israel from any response from Iran or its allies.
Mideast Peace Talks
John Kerry has delayed his Friday visit to Israel until after the American Thanksgiving for “scheduling reasons”, This is more likely to give Abbas more time to set up a new peace negotiating team.
A “French bite” wrote Yedioth’s diplomatic affairs correspondent Itamar Eichner after French President Francoise Hollande put a wreath on Yasser Arafat’s grave in Ramallah and called for an “end to settlements.” Maariv also noted that “after the hugs” Hollande called to stop construction in settlements and in a “firm political policy” said a two-state solution must be strived based on the pre-1967 lines with agreed-upon exchanges of territories and with Jerusalem as the joint capital of both states. Speaking to Israeli lawmakers in the Knesset, he also said “The status quo with the Palestinians cannot last” and “Peace requires courage, even more than war.” In Ramallah, he said he expects gestures of peace from Palestinian movements as well.
Former Israeli newspaper correspondent David Makovsky has joined US Mideast envoy Martin Indyk’s Middle East peace team, Haaretz+ reports. [Is Makovsky an Israeli citizen and if so how that will affect the US attempt to appear to be an honest broker in peace talks? – OH]