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Middle East Roundup: Iranian Missiles, Sudanese Refugees, Solar Energy

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Israel in talks to help build Sudanese camp for relocated refugees

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed interest in offering aid to South Sudan for the building of a city that would house Sudanese refugees returning from Israel. There are currently about 15,000 Sudanese refugees living in Israel.

The plan in question will construct a massive city in South Sudan to which Sudanese refugees who escaped to Israel will be returned. South Sudan has already agreed to take back 10,000 refugees that Israel will fly into the country and make a payment to the South Sudanese government for the acceptance of each refugee. Israeli officials are currently discussing further details of the potential initiative with the South Sudanese representatives.

In total, there are about 50,000 refugees living in Israel today, many of whom have taken great risks traveling to Israel. This has made the issue a divisive one.

 

Iran claims to own missile that can reach Israel and US

Iran is claiming it has successfully fired a long-range missile that can reach Israel and as far as the United States, the Israel National News reported. This occurred as part of a 10-day exercise titled the “Great Prophet Mohommad War Games,” in which Iran’s Revolutionary Guards tested long-range, short and medium missiles.

“The missile managed to hit the desired targets with precision and totally destroy them,” said the official Iranian government IRNA news agency.

In addition, the Iranian government has threatened that if the need arises, it can close the Strait of Hormuz, a passageway through which the world receives between 20 to 40 percent of its energy needs, said navy spokesman Commodore Mahmoud Mousavi.

 

Muslim Brotherhood will never recognize Israel, official says

A leader from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said that the group has no plans to recognize the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. In fact the group might even call for a referendum on the treaty.

Rashad al-Bayoumi told Al-Hayat Newspaper that the Muslim Brotherhood will never cooperate with Israel “no matter what the situation is.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has captured nearly half of the votes in the first Egyptian elections after last year’s uprising and the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak. The final election round is expected in the coming days.

“On no condition will we recognize Israel. It is an enemy entity, an exploiting, criminal occupier,” al-Bayoumi added.

 

Opposition leaders in Syria preparing for post-Assad era

Syrian opposition groups, already planning for the day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad either steps down or is pushed out, met in London on Saturday and agreed that a post-Assad Syria would be both democratic and secular, Israel Hayom reported.

Details of the agreement point to the group’s opposition to Western military intervention in Syria, but not that of Arab military intervention. According to the document, the leading groups “reject any military intervention that harms the sovereignty or stability of the country, though Arab intervention is not considered foreign.”

The leading opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Council, signed the deal on Friday with the largely Syrian-based National Coordination Committee, according to Moulhem Droubi, a top SNC member from Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.

 

Israeli company scores U.S. contracts for solar energy development

Ormat Technologies Inc., an Israeli company developing geothermal and recovered energy-based power plants, scored two major contracts with American energy providers.

The company signed one $21.4 million contract with U.S. energy giant Cyrq Energy Inc. for the improvement of a geothermal project in the state of Utah. It also signed a two-year power purchase agreement with California community-owned utility Imperial Irrigation District. This will allow the company to develop its first 10-megawatt solar photovoltaic farm near one of its geothermal plants in the state.

“While Ormat’s roots in solar energy go back more than 40 years, we have recently reinitiated our development efforts in solar projects as a way to expand our renewable energy portfolio,” Ormat Technologies COO Yoram Bronicki said.

 

Yaffa Yarkoni, Israel’s ‘war singer,’ dies at 86

Israel’s “war singer” Yaffa Yarkoni passed away on Sunday, one week after her 86th birthday. Yarkoni’s songs served as a national soundtrack since the founding of the Jewish state.

Yarkoni died at the Reuth Medical Center in Tel Aviv after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. In 1998, she received the prestigious Israel Prize for Hebrew song, for, among other things, her courage in singing to soldiers on the front lines.

In the 1940s, Yarkoni enlisted in the Haganah [the pre-1948 Palestinian Jewish defense force that later evolved into the IDF] serving as a radio operator in the Givati Brigade. During lulls in the fighting she would sing to the soldiers over the radio connection.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said, “While the IDF captured enemy positions, she captured the hearts of soldiers. She was the nightingale of the IDF and of the entire nation.”

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