Jerusalem – This week, NATO approved the Israel Navy’s active inclusion in a NATO force patrolling the Mediterranean Sea in the framework of the global war on terror. This is the first open inclusion of its kind between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and NATO on an operational basis and its timing is particularly important at present, after Turkey canceled the largest aerial exercise of the alliance, which was to have included the participation of the Israel Air Force. 


NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. The force is comprised of 10 vessels of different kinds, backed by submarines and aircraft, which work to prevent naval acts of terrorism and arms smuggling. The naval force monitors suspicious ships and, when necessary, raids them. NATO also escorts ships of the alliance until they leave the Mediterranean Sea at the Straits of Gibraltar as there is intelligence information that the ships are at risk. The majority of the ships that make up the force are from the navies of the members of NATO who have a shore on the Mediterranean Sea – Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey, but are also helped by more major navies of NATO in the region. 


Israel relayed a request to have an Israeli ship join the force over 
two years ago, but approval was delayed time after time, and Israel remained outside the multi-national force. The Israeli security establishment 
believed that the reason, among other things, was the diplomatic 
sensitivity created in wake of criticism of Israeli’s actions in the Second Lebanon War and in Operation Cast Lead.

The news about the approval to join the special naval force was relayed to Israel Navy Commander Maj. Gen. Eliezer (Cheney) Marom in the course of his visit to the U.S. last week. Maj. Gen. Marom was there to take part in a global meeting of navy commanders. 


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Sources in the Israeli security establishment affirm that the approval, given at this time, reflects NATO’s esteem for the Israel Navy’s capabilities under Marom’s command, to help prevent international acts of terror. 
 In the framework of this cooperation, an Israeli Navy officer was also stationed in the position of liaison at NATO’s naval headquarters in Naples, Italy. The decision to include a vessel, one of the Israel Navy’s most advanced missile boats that will join NATO’s active task force, is expected to be made soon. 


Mark of Esteem


The idea of having Israel join NATO had been raised occasionally in recent decades as part of the thinking about security guarantees for Israel – and no less, in order to acquire a sense of security and belonging to the world of its citizens – in the framework of a comprehensive arrangement in the Middle East. Today, this idea seems distant, as does a comprehensive arrangement. In Israel’s international situation today, with legitimacy for its military actions shrinking, the inclusion of an Israeli ship in the alliance’s naval police force is greeted as big news in Israel

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.