Thursday, May 28, 2009

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May 28, 2009


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Israel Concerned about UNIFIL's Fate after Lebanon Elections - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Israel is concerned that if Hizbullah wins the upcoming elections in Lebanon, some European members of UNIFIL will consider downsizing their participation in the force or completely withdrawing their personnel.
Defense officials have also expressed concern with American plans to supply advanced military platforms to the Lebanese armed forces.
Senior defense officials warned that if Hizbullah formed the next government, the weapons would fall into the group's hands.
See also Hizbullah Builds Up Its Might - Amir Mizroch (Jerusalem Post)
The assessment in Israel is that Hizbullah will win the June 7 election, but even if it doesn't, it will continue to control Lebanon.
Hizbullah has received hundreds of millions of dollars every year from Iran for its military program, and also obtains military hardware from other countries through Iranian and Syrian financing and logistics.
Israel in 2009 is facing threats on five fronts: Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas and Global Jihad.


Arab Public Opinion Poll: Chavez Most Admired World Leader - Shibley Telhami (Brookings Institution)
According to the 2009 Annual Arab Public Opinion Survey, the most admired non-Arab world leader is Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.


National Geographic Blames Israel for Christianity's Decline in Middle East - Dexter Van Zile (CAMERA)
In its June 2009 issue, National Geographic portrays the departure of Christians from the Holy Land as largely a consequence of Israeli (and American) policies in the region.
The article offers no honest description of the well-documented mistreatment of Christians at the hands of Muslim majority populations in the Middle East.
It also obscures the fact that Israel's Christian population grew by 25% from 1995 to 2007.


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Who's Who: Iran's Top 20 (Newsweek)
Power and public discourse in Iran are dominated by fewer than two dozen heavyweights, ranging from ayatollahs to entertainers (and one TV network).


NY Arrest Puts Focus on Missile Defense for Airliners - Glenn Pew (AVWeb)
The arrest in New York last week of four people who planned (among other things) to fire shoulder-launched missiles at aircraft highlights a continuing danger.
There have been more than 35 attempts to shoot down civilian aircraft in the past 10 years, resulting in at least 24 crashes and the deaths of some 500 people.


Holocaust Toll Will Rise Even Higher - Roger Boyes (Times-UK)
After a five-year investigation, French priest Father Patrick Desbois, who has been digging up the mass graves of Eastern Europe, is convinced that the figure for the number of Jewish dead in the Holocaust will have to be revised upwards.
"Surely at the end of it all the numbers will be larger," Father Desbois said, "but we are still inspecting sites in Belarus and there is the vastness of Russia ahead of us."


Life Expectancy in Israel Higher than in U.S. (AP/Ha'aretz)
Life expectancy in Israel is among the highest in the Western world - 82 years for women and 79 for men, according to a World Health Organization study.
In the U.S., life expectancy is 81 for women and 76 for men.


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Clinton: No More Jewish Settlement Growth - Paul Richter
Rebuffing Israel, Secretary of State Clinton said Wednesday that President Obama "wants to see a stop to settlements - not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions." "We intend to press that point," Clinton said in an appearance at the State Department with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
Israeli officials maintain that existing settlements should be allowed to expand to accommodate the natural growth of Jewish families. Israeli officials are willing to limit growth in outlying settlements, but contend that expansion should be allowed in larger settlements, closer to Israeli territory, that probably would be annexed to Israel in any final settlement. Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated Sunday that there must be an allowance for "natural growth." (Los Angeles Times)
See also Israeli Defense Minister Barak: Agreement with Palestinians Does Not Depend on Limiting "Natural Growth" - Mark Landler and Isabel Kershner
On Monday, Ehud Barak, the defense minister and leader of the Labor party, gave a hypothetical example of a family of four that originally moved into a two-room home in a settlement. "Now there are six children," he said. "Should they be allowed to build another room or not?...Ninety-five percent of people will tell you it cannot be that someone in the world honestly thinks an agreement with the Palestinians will stand or fall over this." (New York Times)
See also Israel Shrugs Off U.S. Demand on Settlements - Jean-Luc Renaudie
Israel shrugged off Thursday a blunt U.S. call for a halt to all Jewish settlement building. Government spokesman Mark Regev said the fate of settlements "will be determined in final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and in the interim, normal life must be allowed to continue in those communities." (AFP)
On Wednesday, an Israeli official said the demand of Israel to completely freeze settlement construction was out of order, as the Palestinians have failed to fulfill their part in the first phase of the Roadmap, in particular in combating terrorism. (Ha'aretz)
Clinton Promises New U.S. Proposals for Mideast Peace - David Gollust
Secretary of State Clinton said Wednesday the Obama administration will soon present "very specific proposals" to Israel and the Palestinians on how to advance toward a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict. (VOA News)
Islamic Charity Leaders Get 65-Year Jail Terms
U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis on Wednesday handed down 65-year prison sentences to two founders of the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation, a U.S. Islamic charity convicted of illegally funneling $12.4 million to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. A grand jury convicted five of its leaders for conspiracy to support a foreign terrorist organization, money laundering, tax fraud and other charges. "These sentences should serve as a strong warning to anyone who knowingly provides financial support to terrorists under the guise of humanitarian relief," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. (Reuters)
Egyptian Candidate for UNESCO Chief Apologizes for Anti-Israel Rhetoric - Sophie Hardach
Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, a candidate for the top job at the UN culture agency UNESCO, apologized on Wednesday for calling for Israeli books to be burned. "Nothing is more distant to me than racism, the negation of others or the desire to hurt Jewish culture or any other culture," he wrote in the French newspaper Le Monde. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

Netanyahu: Arab States Should Normalize Israel Ties Now
Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday urged Arab countries to make immediate moves toward normalizing ties with Israel. Speaking in the Knesset, he also said, "We are prepared to make, and we will make, concrete steps for peace with the Palestinians," but that "we will insist on reciprocity in talks with Palestinians....We expect the Palestinians to make such concrete steps as well. And it would be good if Arab countries joined the peace effort and made concrete and symbolic steps toward normalization with Israel, not later, but now." "Bringing Arab states into the circle of peace will strengthen Israel and bring security to the Palestinians as well," Netanyahu said. (Ha'aretz)
See also Netanyahu Convenes Ministerial Committee on Improving Situation of the Palestinians
Prime Minister Netanyahu convened the Ministerial Committee on Improving the Situation of the Palestinian Residents of Judea and Samaria on Wednesday. He said that advancing economic projects would improve the Palestinians' quality of life, with emphasis given to those projects which could be financed with international capital. Defense Minister Barak presented economic projects in the PA, including the establishment of industrial zones in the Jenin, Jericho, Hebron, and Bethlehem areas, waste disposal and sewage treatment sites, and the establishment of a Palestinian city near Ramallah. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israeli, U.S. Officials Discuss Outposts - Herb Keinon
An Israeli team headed by Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor, National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, and Netanyahu aide Yitzhak Molcho met in London on Tuesday with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell to discuss Iran and settlement construction. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday, "We must...find a way to make it clear to the Americans that there is not a direct connection between the outposts and Iran....It is not as if the minute that the last outpost is removed...the Iranians will abandon their nuclear aspirations. These things do not have to be directly linked to one another." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Is Obama Looking for a Fight over "Natural Growth"? - Herb Keinon
"A 'settlement freeze' would not help Palestinians face today's problems or prepare for tomorrow's challenges," Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser under former President George Bush, wrote in April in the Washington Post. "The demand for a freeze would have only one quick effect: to create immediate tension between the United States and Israel's new government," he wrote. The question is why the U.S. is looking for this fight.
As Netanyahu told a visiting Congressional delegation on Wednesday, there is a need to find a way with the U.S. administration to enable "normal life" in the settlements to continue. (Jerusalem Post)
IDF Warns Gazans to Keep Away from Border Fence - Ali Waked
Israel Air Force helicopters on Monday dropped thousands of leaflets in Arabic warning Gaza residents to keep a 300-meter distance from the border fence with Israel. The leaflets featured maps of the areas, and residents were urged to stay away "lest they be harmed." (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

The Two-State Solution Illusion
While Ottawa's political leaders were meeting on Tuesday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, a group of businessmen in Calgary met with Khaled Abu Toameh, the Arab-born West Bank and Gaza correspondent for the Jerusalem Post. And while politicians condemned Israel's settlements as an obstacle to a peaceful "two-state solution," Toameh couldn't help but chuckle. "I laugh when they talk about a two-state solution," he said. "It's unreal. It's not going to work." He dismisses it because, as those living in the territories well know, the Palestinians cannot even co-exist with themselves, let alone with Israel. "Abbas doesn't even have power in downtown Ramallah, where he works and lives," he says.
Were Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to endorse the two-state plan tomorrow, it would be utterly meaningless. "There is no partner on the Palestinian side," Toameh says. Israel's West Bank settlements are no obstacle, he adds; they are a red herring: a minor issue that Jerusalem will easily handle - based on its readiness to dismantle its settlements in the past - when the moment is right. (National Post-Vancouver Sun-Canada)
North Korea Tests - Editorial
Loudly castigating and threatening North Korea and then failing to implement sanctions is worse than doing nothing at all. It will only embolden Pyongyang and send a dangerous message to others - Iran is surely watching - about the fecklessness of the major powers. (New York Times)
Israel Fears a Nuclear Iran - Victor Davis Hanson
Why would the Iranian government spend billions of dollars trying to develop a few first-generation nuclear bombs (as nearly everyone believes is the case) when the country is so poor that it has to ration gasoline? Most likely, Iran wishes to break Israel's will - not necessarily by a nuclear strike. Instead, periodic threats from a nuclear theocracy, it may recognize, would do well enough. Once armed with the bomb, Iran will likely increase the frequency of its now-familiar denial of the Holocaust. The net effect would be for half the world's Jews to hear constantly two messages - there was no Holocaust, but there might well be one soon. It would be analogous to the American public reliving the threats of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 - every day. The writer is a historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Arabs vs. Iranians - Reuel Marc Gerecht
"For Israel to get the kind of strong support it's looking for vis-a-vis Iran," warned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts." The two "go hand in hand." Unstated in Clinton's warning is the assumption that an Arab bloc could be assembled to oppose Iran, and that this would benefit Israel and the U.S. But for all practical purposes we've seen an Arab bloc of Sunni dictators, kings, and sheikhs opposed to Iran since 1979. And the results have been mixed. (Weekly Standard)
The Truth Is a Precondition for Peace - Max Singer
The Palestinians teach their people that no Jewish kingdom ever existed in the land they call Palestine, and that there was never a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. For most Palestinians, these are "facts" learned in school and taken for granted. This is not merely an "alternative narrative." This false story helps explain the Palestinian refusal to make peace, because so long as Palestinians think the Jews were never here before, they will see Jews as a foreign colonial implant with no claim to the land. Modern Israel's claim depends on the Jews' historic connection to the territory. Without this history, the Jews would indeed be foreign invaders, not a people returning home.
Denial of the Jews' connection to the land is much more important than Holocaust denial. Israel's claim to the land has nothing to do with the Holocaust. The international decision that Palestine should be a Jewish homeland was made by the League of Nations a generation before the Holocaust. Israeli diplomats should call on the U.S. to end the Palestinians' denial of history. There are plenty of Muslim sources that can be used to teach the facts. (Jerusalem Post)
Weekend Features

Jewish Woman Wins Arab Poetry Prize - Toby Axelrod
Tuvit Shlomi, 28, who works at the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel in The Hague, won the El Hizjra Prize, a poetry award designed to promote the culture of Arab immigrants to Holland. Shlomi submitted her poems using the pseudonym Wallada bint al-Mustaqfi, who was an 11th-century Andalusian poet and feminist. (JTA)
In Israel, History with a Whiff of Adventure - Nancy M. Better
We wanted our children's holiday in Israel to have a whiff of adventure. If the caves of Maresha reminded them of Indiana Jones, we were on the right track. Teenagers thrive on action and intrigue, and Israel fits the bill. The entire country is kid-friendly - lively and colorful, laid back and casual. You can go caving and then show up at a nice cafe for lunch without changing clothes, and nobody cares. We crisscrossed the country, which is about the size of New Jersey. Few destinations offer such a vast array of experiences in such a small space - or so many educational opportunities that feel like plain fun. (New York Times)

Peace Has Never Been Up to Israel; It's Always Been Up to the Arabs - Daniel Gordis (Jerusalem Post)

Many people believe that to achieve peace in the Middle East, Israel just needs to be subdued. Break Israel's intransigence, and we'll finally see progress.
To these people, and to President Obama, I'd like to propose the following thought experiment: Imagine that Israel decides to take down the security fence, remove the checkpoints, open all the roads and Gaza's sea and air routes. It agrees publicly to return to the pre-1967 borders and accede to demands that parts of Jerusalem be put under Palestinian control. Does this end the conflict? Of course it doesn't.
The noose would tighten. The rockets would be fired from a shorter distance and the demand for the return of refugees would persist. As was the case when Israel left Lebanon in May 2000 or Gaza in the summer of 2005, Israel's enemies would smell a weakened, bloodied state and would prepare for the next stage of their war. But peace would not have come.
Now try the opposite side of the thought experiment. Imagine that the Palestinians decide that they have tired of the conflict and insist on a settlement. They recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, agree to an immediate and permanent cessation of hostilities and violence, and insist that any other outstanding issues be negotiated and resolved. Would an Israeli plebiscite overwhelmingly approve the offer? Without question.
This, of course, is not going to happen because there's always been one party that's sought peace, and another that's rejected it. It's never been up to us, and it's always been up to them.
The writer is senior vice president and a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and the author of Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War that May Never End.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

daily alert

Prepared for the
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May 26, 2009

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Will Not Recognize Any Agreement Signed by Abbas - Saed Bannoura (IMEMC-PA)
Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said Monday that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' term in office had already expired; therefore he cannot sign an agreement with any country, including understandings with the U.S. and Israel.
"He no longer represents the Palestinian people," Barhoum said.

See also Hamas Seeks to Carry Out Executions without Abbas' Approval (Xinhua-China)
Hamas is seeking a legal opinion allowing it to carry out the death penalty in Gaza without the need of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' approval, Hamas spokesman Taher al-Noono said Monday.
"A number of death verdicts have accumulated against some collaborators with the Zionist occupation," al-Noono said. "If the committee [studying the question] approved the executions, we would implement its decision," he added.

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Hamas Denies Preventing Rocket Attacks Against Israel (Xinhua-China)
The Palestinian Islamic Hamas movement on Monday denied reports that it had decided to prevent Palestinian groups from firing rockets into Israel from Gaza.
Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for the Interior Ministry of the Hamas government, said, "The factions have the right to respond to any Zionist crime using any sort of resistance and there is no lull with (Israel)."

Egyptian Police Bribed by Gaza Smugglers (Maan News-PA)
Four Egyptian police officers stationed in northern Sinai were arrested on suspicion of receiving bribes from Gazan smugglers, an Egyptian security source said on Tuesday.
The four received a sum exceeding 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($17,800) each, according to the source.

India's First AWACS Arrives from Israel (Times of India)
The first of three Indian Air Force "eye-in-the-sky" airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) flew in from Israel to the Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat on Monday.
With its ability to detect aircraft, cruise missiles and other flying objects at ranges far greater than is possible through existing systems, the AWACS can also "listen-in" to highly confidential communications between the enemy's front-line units.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

* Iran's Ahmadinejad Rejects Western Nuclear Proposal - Parisa Hafezi and Zahra Hosseinian
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday rejected a Western proposal for it to "freeze" its nuclear work in return for no new sanctions and ruled out any talks with major powers on the issue. His comments are likely to further disappoint the U.S. administration which is seeking to engage Iran diplomatically. Ahmadinejad proposed a debate with Obama at the UN "regarding the roots of world problems," but he made clear that "Our talks will only be in the framework of cooperation for managing global issues and nothing else....The nuclear issue is a finished issue for us." (Reuters-Washington Post)
* Venezuela, Bolivia Supplying Iran with Uranium - Mark Lavie
Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program, according to a secret Israeli government report. Both regimes have a history of opposing U.S. foreign policy. Bolivia has uranium deposits, while Venezuela has an estimated 50,000 tons of untapped uranium reserves. The report also charges that Iran-backed Hizbullah has set up cells in Latin America and that Venezuela has issued permits that allow Iranian residents to travel freely in South America. The report says Venezuela and Bolivia are violating UN economic sanctions with their aid to Iran. (AP/Washington Post)
* Iran Sends Six Warships to International Waters in "Saber Rattling" Move
Iran has sent six warships into international waters and the Gulf of Aden in a move security experts are calling a "muscle flexing" show of defiance following missile tests last week. Foreign policy experts are calling it an aggressive move targeted at a Western audience and regional powers like rival Saudi Arabia. Jim Phillips, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Heritage Institute, said Ahmadinejad was using the opportunity to thumb his nose at the U.S. and UN to advance his own popularity in Iran ahead of the country's June 12 election. (FOX News)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* Israel Seeks Discussions with PA Without Preconditions
In an interview with David Frost for Al-Jazeera English television on May 23, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said: "Mr. Netanyahu really came forward with a good faith approach of immediate negotiations with the Palestinians, with Mahmoud Abbas. By the way, we have requested a meeting with Abbas, but to no avail so far. But we have said we are ready to start without any preconditions....We are willing to start on a very intensive, multi-track approach, whereby there will be a security track, an economic track and also a political track."
"We are very willing to work and help the Palestinians to build capacity so far as the security situation permits. Our policy is to open up everything, to really have a free flow and really bring the economic level and all other aspects of life in the West Bank up to par to Israelis." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
* Report: Most Hamas "Police Officers" Killed in Gaza Were Terrorists - Roee Nahmias
During the IDF offensive in Gaza in January, Hamas has claimed that 343 of those killed were innocent police officers. However, a study by the independent Orient Research Group, commissioned by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to investigate the identities of those killed, says 286 of the 343 "police officers" killed were members of terror organizations, the vast majority of them belonging to Hamas' military wings.
Referring to the claim that an Israel Air Force strike hit members of a Hamas traffic police training course, the report said 88% of those present were terror operatives, many belonging to the al-Qassam Brigades. The report explained that "The enlistment of al-Qassam Brigades operatives in official [police] security positions allowed the Hamas government to pay their wages with government funds." (Ynet News)
* Abbas' Office Honors Palestinian Terrorists - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
The Palestinian Authority is once again using Western aid money to proclaim that killing Israeli woman and children is heroic. The PA chose to name its latest computer center "after the martyr Dalal Mughrabi," who led the 1978 bus hijacking that killed 37 civilians, 12 of them children, including American photographer Gail Rubin. The new center is funded by Mahmoud Abbas' office, Al-Ayyam newspaper reported on May 5. U.S. law prohibits the funding of Palestinian structures that use any portion of their budget to promote terror or honor terrorists. Last summer the PA sponsored "the Dalal Mughrabi football championship" for kids, and a "summer camp named for martyr Dalal Mughrabi," Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported. (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

* Israel's Forgotten Rights in Jerusalem - Dore Gold
When the actual talks with the Palestinians are launched, Israel will have to avoid making the basic diplomatic mistake that previous governments have made in defining Israel's primary interests - especially when it comes to Jerusalem. For most of the past two decades, an asymmetry could be observed in how the two parties handled their struggle in the diplomatic sphere. While the Palestinians maintained that their goal was to achieve a Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem, most Israeli declarations sufficed with general statements that the goal is peace, or peace and security.
Whereas Israel presented an abstract goal, the Palestinians spoke about a clear and well-defined purpose. As a rule, the side that presents clear objectives is the triumphant one in any political conflict. Little wonder, then, that the contemporary diplomatic discourse is focusing on the Palestinian narrative, and Israel's arguments have been swept aside. This process comes despite the fact that Israel's claims rest on a broad base, and have in the past received solid international recognition, especially when it comes to Jerusalem.
Two Israeli governments that proposed to divide Jerusalem never reached a final agreement. Israel need not be bound to the protocols of a failed negotiation. To protect Jerusalem, Israeli diplomacy must reestablish the unification of the city as a clear national goal, and not abandon the subject of Jerusalem exclusively to Palestinian spokespeople. The writer heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and was the Israeli ambassador to the UN. (Ha'aretz)
* Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Building in the E-1 Area Next to Jerusalem - Razi Barkai
Q: What is your position regarding building in the E-1 area?
Barak: I believe that Jerusalem is beyond discussion. In Jerusalem, no one intends to build in Arab neighborhoods, but building inside Jewish neighborhoods is something that is recognized and undisputed, part of the national consensus. There is no construction currently about to begin in E-1. Prime Minister Rabin was the one who envisioned Maale Adumim as a part of the State of Israel and saw the need to build there. I continued this, as has every Israeli government. There is a corridor that connects Har Hatzofim to E-1 and actually it is the Palestinians from A-Zaim on one side and from Anata on the other side that are building there illegally. (Israel Army Radio, 25May09)
See also Protecting the Contiguity of Israel: The E-1 Area and the Link Between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim - Nadav Shragai (ICA-JCPA)
* Why Is the Human Rights Community Silent over Kidnapped Israeli Soldier? - Elena Bonner
I have a question for my human rights colleagues. Why doesn't the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit trouble you in the same way as does the fate of the Guantanamo prisoners? During the three years Shalit has been held by terrorists, the world human rights community has done nothing for his release. He is a wounded soldier, and fully falls under the protection of the Geneva Conventions. The conventions say clearly that hostage-taking is prohibited and that representatives of the Red Cross must be allowed to see prisoners of war. The fact that representatives of the Quartet conduct negotiations with the people who are holding Shalit vividly demonstrates their scorn of international rights documents and their total legal nihilism. The writer is a renowned human rights activist and the widow of the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Andrei Sakharov. (Jerusalem Post)


Seven Mistaken American Assumptions - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland (Ynet News)

1. Assumption: "Establishing a Palestinian state in line with the 1967 borders is the essence of the Palestinians' national aspiration."
The Palestinians could have secured such a state many times in the past, including at the Camp David talks in 2000. What is the basis for assuming that the Palestinian ethos, which is premised on a "desire for justice," "need for revenge," recognition of their "victimhood," and mostly the "right of return," has changed all of a sudden?

2. Assumption: "The gap between the Israeli and Palestinian positions is bridgeable."
Reality is different. The maximum any Israeli government can offer the Palestinians is far from the minimum that any Palestinian government would be able to accept.

3. Assumption: "Egypt and Jordan want to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolved."
Reality is different. As long as the conflict exists, Egypt has the ultimate excuse for all domestic troubles. For the Jordanians, a neighboring Palestinian state - likely under Hamas' rule - would mark the end of the Hashemite Kingdom.

4. Assumption: "A final-status agreement would bring stability and security to the region."
The exact opposite is true. There is no chance that the small and divided Palestinian state would be viable. The frustration created by such a situation, and with Israel being stripped of "defensible borders," is an obvious foundation for instability.

5. Assumption: "We have an opportunity that must not be missed."
The chance of securing an agreement back in 2000 was much greater than it is currently, yet it didn't happen. Is it more possible now to reach an agreement when Hamas is the dominant Palestinian movement?

6. Assumption: "Progress on the Palestinian front is vital in order to enlist the support of Arab states against Iran."
Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia have a supreme interest in curbing Iran, irrespective of the Palestinian issue.

7. Assumption: "There's only one solution to the conflict - the two-state formula."
There are alternate solutions whereby the Palestinian are no longer under Israel's control.

The writer chaired Israel's National Security Council from 2004 to 2006.

Monday, May 25, 2009

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May 25, 2009


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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Military Chief: Iran within One to Three Years of Nuke - Alan Elsner (Reuters)
Iran could be within one to three years from developing a nuclear weapon and time is running out for diplomacy to defuse the problem, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday.
"They are moving closer, clearly, and they continue to do that," Mullen said on ABC's "This Week."
"That leaves a pretty narrow space in which to achieve a successful dialogue and a successful outcome, which from my perspective means they don't end up with nuclear weapons," he said.
See also U.S. Updates Military Plans for Iran (DPA)
The Pentagon has updated its plans for using military force against Iran at the request of President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday.
The U.S. has not ruled out the possibility of a military strike if diplomacy fails to resolve the international dispute over Iran's nuclear activities, Gates said.
"Presidents always ask their military to have a range of contingency plans available to them," Gates told NBC television. "And all I would say is that, as a result of our dialogue with the president, we've refreshed our plans and all options are on the table."


Israel Lifts Objection to Anti-Israel Egyptian Minister as Head of UNESCO - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
At a May 11 meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israel promised to cease its campaign against Hosni's appointment.
A senior source in the Prime Minister's Office said the decision was made following a personal request by Egypt's president. "We would not have done this unless Israel's interests benefited," the source said.
See also Jewish Intellectuals Oppose Egyptian UNESCO Nominee (JTA)
Bernard-Henri Levi, the French philosopher, joined Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace laureate, and Claude Lanzmann, director of the Holocaust documentary "Shoah," in an open letter urging nations to keep Egyptian Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni from leading UNESCO.
See also UNESCO: The Shame of a Disaster Foretold - Bernard-Henri Levi (Huffington Post)
Who declared in April 2001: "Israel has never contributed to civilization in any era" - and added two months later: "the Israeli culture is an inhumane culture; it is an aggressive, racist, pretentious culture"?
Who explained in 1997, and has repeated it since in every way possible, that he was the "archenemy" of all attempts to normalize his country's relations with Israel?
Farouk Hosni, the Egyptian Minister of Culture, is the opposite of a man of peace, dialogue, and culture; he is a dangerous man, an inciter of hearts and minds.
We invite all countries dedicated to liberty and culture to take the initiatives necessary to avoid the disaster that would be his nomination.


Russia to Build Nuclear Power Plants in Jordan (Ynet News)
Russia and Jordan on Friday signed a 10-year nuclear cooperation agreement to build four power plants in Jordan, the Russian news agency Novosti reported.

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Settlement Issue Is Complicated by Bush Agreement - Glenn Kessler and Howard Schneider
The Obama administration is pressing the Israeli government to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements, seeking a visible symbol that might inspire Arab states to consider normalizing relations with Jerusalem. But the administration's effort has been complicated by an unwritten agreement on the issue between Israel and the U.S. reached during the Bush administration. While in Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu argued that Israel already dismantled settlements in the Gaza Strip, going beyond the Roadmap, and was rewarded with the takeover of Gaza by Hamas and hundreds of rockets raining on Israeli towns, Israeli sources said. Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said there are no plans for a full settlement freeze. "The issue of settlements is a final status issue, and until there are final status arrangements, it would not be fair to kill normal life inside existing communities," he said.
Regev said the Israeli government is relying on "understandings" between former president George W. Bush and former prime minister Ariel Sharon that some of the larger settlements in the West Bank would ultimately become part of Israel, codified in a letter that Bush gave to Sharon in 2004. In an interview with the Washington Post last year, Sharon aide Dov Weissglas said that in 2005 the Bush administration arrived at a secret agreement that Israel could add homes in settlements it expected to keep, as long as the construction was dictated by market demand, not subsidies. Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser who negotiated the arrangement with Weissglas, confirmed the deal in an interview last week. (Washington Post)
New Evidence Points to Hizbullah in Hariri Murder - Erich Follath
The UN special tribunal investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri now believes Hizbullah was behind the murder. At the time of the 2005 attack, it was known that Hariri had had a falling out with Syrian President Bashar Assad after demanding the withdrawal of Syrian occupation forces from Lebanon. As a result, the prime suspects in the murder were Syria and its Lebanese henchmen.
However, intensive investigations in Lebanon are all pointing to a new conclusion: that it was not the Syrians but Hizbullah that planned and executed the attack. A special unit of the Lebanese security forces, headed by intelligence expert Captain Wissam Eid, has identified a network of mobile phones used by the hit team that carried out the attack, together with a second network of phones that were in proximity to the first network noticeably often. All of the numbers involved in the second network belong to the "operational arm" of Hizbullah.
Hizbullah member Abd al-Majid Ghamlush, who had completed a training course in Iran, was identified as the buyer of the mobile phones. He committed the indiscretion of calling his girlfriend from one of the "hot" phones, enabling investigators to identify him. This led investigators to the man they now suspect was the mastermind of the terrorist attack: Hajj Salim, 45, considered to be the commander of the "military" wing of Hizbullah. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

Netanyahu: No New West Bank Settlements, Jerusalem Not Under Settlement Construction Restrictions - Herb Keinon
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday that he made clear in the U.S. last week that although Israel is committed to removing illegal West Bank outposts, it will not stop construction in Jerusalem or building to accommodate natural growth in the settlements. Netanyahu said he stressed in Washington that Jerusalem was not included in various understandings regarding settlement construction that were reached over the years between the U.S. and Israel. "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, and we do not accept limits on construction or on our activity inside Israel," he said. Netanyahu also told the cabinet, "We can't accept the idea that families will not bring children into the world, or that children will have to move away from their parents....We won't establish new settlements, but there is no logic in not providing an answer to natural growth."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, trying to illustrate how the settlement issue was widely misunderstood abroad, said that in a recent meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, he said that his home settlement of Nokdim needed additional preschools, and was asked by Kouchner why the children there couldn't just go to study in nearby Bethlehem [which is part of the Palestinian Authority]. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Defense Minister Barak: U.S. Demand on "Natural Growth" in Settlements Makes No Sense - Roni Sofer
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, chairman of the Labor party, told the cabinet on Sunday: "There cannot be a situation whereby a father of two who bought a 54-square-meter home and then decides to expand his family will be forbidden from adding two rooms due to an injunction relayed by the U.S. This makes no sense." (Ynet News)
See also Strategic Affairs Minister Ya'alon: Settlements Did Not Block Peace
Strategic Affairs Minister and former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon told Channel 2 television on Saturday: "Settlements are not the reason that the diplomatic process failed. The settlements were not an obstacle to peace at any point. Even when Israel evacuated swathes of land, terrorism continued. Even when we uprooted communities, all we got in return was 'Hamastan.'" (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

Netanyahu Seeks to Extend Olmert-Bush Deal on Settlements - Aluf Benn and Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Netanyahu will seek to extend an informal agreement reached between former prime minister Olmert and the Bush administration on the issue of West Bank settlement construction that was reached ahead of the 2007 Annapolis conference. The understanding is an extension of a similar pact reached during the tenure of former prime minister Sharon, and divides West Bank construction into four categories - those involving Jerusalem, settlements in major blocs, isolated settlements outside the blocs, and unauthorized outposts.
Regarding Jerusalem, Israel refused to accept any limitations whatsoever. On settlements in the major blocs (such as Maale Adumim), construction would be allowed even beyond the existing borders, as long as it remained in close proximity to the community itself. ("No farther than two hills from houses at the settlement's edge," according to a senior Israeli official.) In settlements outside the major blocs, building will be allowed within the existing construction boundaries. In addition, Israel promised not to erect any new settlements, not to expropriate Palestinian land for settlement construction, and not to issue government incentives for settling communities beyond the "green line." (Ha'aretz)
What Confidence-Building Measures Are the Palestinians Willing to Undertake? - Herb Keinon
In a briefing with Israeli reporters after meeting Obama, Netanyahu said it was particularly ingenuous for the world to demand that Israel fulfill its Roadmap obligation calling for a complete freeze on settlements, while giving the Palestinians a pass on their major obligation to uproot the terrorist infrastructure. If the world expected Israeli concessions on settlements, as per the Roadmap, it would have to ensure that the Palestinians fulfilled their part of the Roadmap, including uprooting the terrorist infrastructure - something that right now seems impossible, considering Hamas' control of Gaza. Fix that, Netanyahu is saying, and then talk to Jerusalem about a settlement freeze.
Indeed, Uzi Arad, a top Netanyahu aide and the head of the National Security Council, intimated as much when he responded to a question about what confidence-building measures Israel would make toward the Palestinians. His reply: "What confidence-building measures are they willing to undertake?" (Jerusalem Post)

Protecting the Contiguity of Israel: The E-1 Area and the Link Between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim - Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The E-1 area, part of the city of Maale Adumim located immediately adjacent to Jerusalem, is largely uninhabited, state-owned land that will connect the city's 36,000 residents to Israel's capital.
The main threat to Israel's future contiguity comes from encroachments on E-1 made by illegal Palestinian construction. Israeli and Palestinian construction in the West Bank has been governed by the legal terms of the Oslo II Interim Agreement from September 28, 1995. The area around E-1 is within Area C, where, according to Oslo II, Israel retained the powers of zoning and planning. As a result, much of the recently completed Palestinian construction there is illegal.
In contrast, none of the Oslo Agreements prohibited Israeli settlement activity, though Israel undertook unilateral limitations upon itself in this area in recent years.
Contrary to reports, the completion of E-1 would not cut the West Bank in half and undermine Palestinian contiguity. Israel has planned a new road that would allow Palestinian traffic coming from the south to pass eastward of Maale Adumim and continue northward to connect with the cities in the northern West Bank. This Palestinian bypass road would actually reduce the time for Palestinian drivers traveling in a north-south direction who would encounter no Israeli roadblocks.
Israeli construction of E-1 will not undermine Palestinian contiguity, but were Israel to lose control of E-1, the contiguity of Israel would be severely compromised.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Obama and Netanyahu

May 22, 2009 | Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday was baptism of fire for Israel's new premier. What emerged from the meeting is that Obama's priorities regarding Iran, Israel and the Arab world are diametrically opposed to Israel's priorities. During his ad-hoc press conference with Netanyahu, Obama made clear that he will not lift a finger to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And acting as Obama's surrogate, for the past two weeks CIA Director Leon Panetta has made clear that Obama expects Israel to also sit on its thumbs as Iran develops the means to destroy it.

Obama showed his hand on Iran in three ways. First, he set a non-binding timetable of seven months for his policy of appeasement and engagement of the ayatollahs to work. That policy, he explained will only be implemented after next month's Iranian presidential elections. And those direct US-Iranian talks must be given at least six months to show results before they can be assessed as successful or failed.

But Israel's military intelligence has assessed that six months may be too long to wait. By the end of the year, Iran's nuclear program may be unstoppable. And Iran's successful test of its solid fuel Sejil-2 missile with a two thousand kilometer range on Wednesday merely served to show the urgency of the situation. Obviously the mullahs are not waiting for Obama to convince them of the error of their ways.

Beyond the fact that Obama's nonbinding timeline is too long, there is his "or else." Obama made clear that in the event that in December or January he concludes that the Iranians are not negotiating in good faith, the most radical step he will be willing to take will be to consider escalating international sanctions against Teheran. In the meantime, at his urging, Congressman Howard Berman, Chairman of the House International Affairs Committee has tabled a bill requiring sanctions against oil companies that export refined fuel into Iran.

Finally there was Obama's contention that the best way for the US to convince Iran to give up its nuclear program is by convincing Israel to give away more land to the Palestinians. As Obama put it, "To the extent that we can make peace with the Palestinians -- between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with a potential Iranian threat."

This statement encapsulates the basic lack of seriousness and fundamental mendacity of Obama's approach to "dealing with a potential Iranian threat." Iran has made clear that it wants Israel destroyed. The mullahs don't care how big Israel is. Their missiles are pointing at Tel Aviv not Beit El.

As for the international community, the Russians and Chinese have not been assisting Iran's nuclear and missile programs for the past fifteen years because there is no Palestinian state. They have been assisting Iran because they think a strong Iran weakens the US. And they are right.

The Arab states, for their part are already openly siding with Israel against Iran. The establishment of a Palestinian state will not make their support for action to prevent Iran from acquiring the means to dominate the region any more profound.

On the face of it, Obama's obsessive push for a Palestinian state makes little sense. The Palestinians are hopelessly divided. It is not simply that Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and Fatah controls Judea and Samaria. Fatah itself is riven by division. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's appointment of the new PA government under Salam Fayyad was overwhelmingly rejected by Fatah leaders. Quite simply, today there is no coherent Palestinian leadership that is either willing or capable of reaching an accord with Israel.

And as for the prospects for peace itself, given that there is little distinction between the anti-Semitic bilge broadcast daily in Gaza by Hamas-controlled media, and the anti-Semitic bilge broadcast daily in Judea and Samaria by the Fatah/Abbas/Fayyad-controlled media, those prospects aren't looking particularly attractive. That across-the-board anti-Semitic incitement has engendered the current situation where Hamas and Fatah members and supporters are firmly united in their desire to see Israel destroyed. This was made clear on Thursday morning when a Fatah policeman in Kalkilya used his US-provided rifle to open fire on IDF forces engaged in a counter-terror operation in the city.

Given that the establishment of a Palestinian state will have no impact on Iran's nuclear program, and in light of the fact that under the present circumstances any Palestinian state will be at war against Israel, and assuming that Obama is not completely ignorant of the situation on the ground, there is only one reasonable explanation for Obama's urgent desire to force Israel support the creation of a Palestinian state and work for its establishment by expelling hundreds of thousands of Israelis from their homes. Quite simply, it is a way to divert attention away from Obama's acquiescence to Iran's nuclear aspirations.

By making the achievement of the unachievable goal of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians through the establishment of a Palestinian terror state the centerpiece of his Middle East agenda, Obama is able to cast Israel as the region's villain. This aim is reflected in the administration's intensifying pressure on Israel to destroy Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. In portraying Jews who live in mobile homes on barren hilltops in Judea and Samaria -- rather than Iranian mullahs who test ballistic missile while enriching uranium and inciting genocide -- as the greatest obstacle to peace, the Obama administration not only seeks to deflect attention away from its refusal to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is also setting Israel up as the fall guy who it will blamed after Iran emerges as a nuclear power.

Obama's intention to unveil his Middle East peace plan in the course of his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4, like his decision to opt out of visiting Israel in favor of visiting a Nazi death camp, make clear that he does not perceive Israel as either a vital ally or even as a partner in the peace process he wishes to initiate. Israeli officials were not consulted about his plan. Then too, from the emerging contours of his plan, it is clear that he will be offering something that no Israeli government can accept.

According to media reports, Obama's plan will require Israel to withdraw its citizens and its military to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines. It will provide for the free immigration of millions of Israel-hating Arabs to the Palestinian state. And it seeks to represent all of this as in accord with Israel's interests by claiming that after Israel renders itself indefensible, all 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (including Iran) will "normalize" their relations with Israel. In short, Obama is using his peace plan to castigate the Netanyahu government as the chief destabilizing force in the region.

During his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu succeeded in evading the policy traps Obama set for him. Netanyahu reserved Israel's right to act independently against Iran and he conceded nothing substantive on the Palestinian issue. While itself no small achievement, Netanyahu's successful deflection of Obama's provocations are not a sustainable strategy. Already on Tuesday the administration began coercing Israel to toe its line on Iran and the Palestinians by engaging it in joint "working groups." Then too, the government's destruction of an outpost community in Judea on Thursday was perceived as Israeli buckling to US pressure. And it doubtlessly raised expectations for further expulsions in the near future.

So what must Netanyahu do? What would a strategy to contain the Obama administration's pressure and maintain international attention on Iran look like?

Under the present circumstances, the Netanyahu government's best bet is to introduce its own peace plan to mitigate the impact of Obama's plan. To blunt the impact of Obama's speech in Cairo, Netanyahu should present his peace plan before June 4.

Such a plan should contain three stages. First, in light of the Arab world's apparent willingness to engage with Israel, Netanyahu should call for the opening of direct talks between Israel and the Arab League or Israel and the OIC regarding the immediate normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab-Islamic world. Both Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah claim that such normalization is in the offing. Israel should insist that it begin without delay.

This of course is necessary for peace to emerge with the Palestinians. As we saw at Camp David in 2000, the only way that Palestinian leaders will feel comfortable making peace with Israel is if the Arab world first demonstrates its acceptance of the Jewish state as a permanent feature on the Middle East's landscape. Claims that such an Israeli demand is a mere tactic for buying time can be easily brushed off. Given Jordanian and American claims that the Arab world is willing to accept Israel, once negotiations begin, this stage could be completed in a matter of months.

The second stage of the Israeli peace plan would involve Israel and the Arab world agreeing and beginning to implement a joint program for combating terrorism. This program would involve destroying terror networks, cutting off funding for terror networks, and agreeing to arrest terrorists and extradite them to the Hague or the US for trial. It should be abundantly clear to all governments in the region that there can be no long term regional peace or stability for as long as terrorists bent on destroying Israel and overthrowing moderate Arab regimes are allowed to operate. So making the implementation of such a join program a precondition for further progress shouldn't pose an obstacle to peace. Indeed, there is no reason for it to even be perceived as particularly controversial.

The final stage of the Israeli peace plan should be the negotiation of a final status accord with the Palestinians. Only after the Arab world has accepted Israel, and only after it has agreed to join Israel in achieving the common goal of a terror-free Middle East can there be any chance that the Palestinians will feel comfortable and free to peacefully coexist with Israel. And Israel, of course, will feel much more confident about living at peace with the Palestinians after the Arab world demonstrates its good faith and friendship to the Jewish state and its people.

Were Netanyahu to offer this plan in the next two weeks, he would be able to elude Obama's trap on June 4 by proposing to discuss both plans with the Arab League. In so doing, he would be able to continue to make the case that Iran is the gravest danger to the region without being demonized as a destabilizing force and an enemy of peace.

Whether Netanyahu advances such a peace plan or not, what became obvious this week is that his greatest challenges in office will be to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons while preventing the Obama administration from blaming Israel for the absence of peace.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

aipac upDATE May 20, 2009
Obama: Talks Cannot Be Excuse for Iranian Inaction
76 Senators Urge Obama to Adhere to Peace Principles
Iran Test-Fires New Long-Range Missile
Obama to Newsweek: I Understand Israeli Fear of Iran
House Approves $555 Million in Security Aid for Israel
Israeli Teen Aims to Transform Car Industry

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Obama: Talks Cannot Be Excuse for Iranian Inaction
President Barack Obama welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on Monday, telling the Israeli leader that he expected to know by the end of the year whether Iran was making "a good-faith effort to resolve differences" in talks aimed at ending its nuclear program, The New York Times reported. "We're not going to have talks forever," Obama said. "We're not going to create a situation in which the talks become an excuse for inaction while Iran proceeds with developing" a nuclear weapon. The president added that the United States is "not foreclosing a range of steps, including much stronger international sanctions, in assuring that Iran understands that we are serious." U.S. and European officials have privately said that if Iran fails to begin serious talks by September or October, the administration and its allies will shift direction and seek to impose tough sanctions on Iran.
76 Senators Urge Obama to Adhere to Peace Principles
Seventy-six members of the Senate on Tuesday sent a letter to President Obama supporting U.S. efforts to help Israel achieve peace with all its neighbors and urging the president to adhere to the principles that have successfully led to peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan. These key principles include supporting direct, bilateral negotiations between the parties, remaining both a trusted mediator between the parties and a devoted friend to Israel, and insisting on an absolute Palestinian commitment to end incitement and violence against Israel. The senators also urged the president to promote a greater role for the Arab states in promoting peace efforts. The letter was spearheaded by Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Arlen Specter (D-PA) and John Thune (R-SD). Members of the House are circulating a similar letter, which has 224 signatories as of Wednesday afternoon.
Iran Test-Fires New Long-Range Missile
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Iran had test-fired an upgraded surface-to-surface missile with a range of about 1,200 miles, far enough to strike Israel, parts of Europe and U.S. bases in the Middle East, The New York Times reported. "The Sejil-2 missile, which has an advanced technology, was launched today," Ahmadinejad said. "It landed exactly on target." Secretary of Defense Robert Gates later confirmed that the Iranian missile test was successful. Last November, Iran said it test-fired a missile called the Sejil, a forerunner to the Sejil-2, also with a range of 1,200 miles—almost as far as another Iranian missile called Shahab-3. At the time, Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said the missile "can be produced and stored in mass and is easy to prepare launching and immediately remove the launcher from the scene."
Obama to Newsweek: I Understand Israeli Fear of Iran
In advance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington, President Barack Obama said that he understands the Israeli fear of a nuclear-armed Iran. "I understand very clearly that Israel considers Iran an existential threat, and given some of the statements that have been made by President Ahmadinejad, you can understand why," Obama said in an interview with Newsweek. "So their calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute. They're right there in range and I don't think it's my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are." Obama added that he is "not naïve about the difficulties" of engagement with Iran, saying such a policy will strengthen the U.S. position in mobilizing the international community if Tehran continues on its current path.
House Approves $555 Million in Security Aid for Israel
The House last week approved $555 million in security aid to Israel as part of an emergency supplemental spending bill to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other key national security efforts. The aid will fund a portion of President Obama's request of $2.775 billion in security assistance for Israel in fiscal year 2010 as called for by the 2007 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding. The remaining $2.22 billion of the request is expected to be funded in the fiscal year 2010 foreign aid bill. The supplemental bill also includes $556 million in economic support and $106 million in security assistance to the Palestinian Authority. The bill contains conditions stating that no U.S. aid can be provided to a Hamas-Fatah unity government unless all ministers in that government have accepted—publicly and in writing—the three Quartet conditions: recognizing Israel, renouncing terrorism and accepting previous agreements.
Israeli Teen Aims to Transform Car Industry
An Israeli teenager has developed a small device that can reduce a car's gasoline consumption by up to 40 percent, boost the power of the car and reduce air pollution, Israel 21c reported. The teen, Zion Badash, has car manufacturers lining up to buy his invention. The device changes, for a fraction of a second, the way air behaves when going into the combustion chamber. This change allows the engine to use air more efficiently, saving fuel and giving more thrust at the same time. What Badash's alloy is made from remains a secret, but road tests on emissions show that it certainly does work. It can be fitted to new cars, or old ones, diesel, hybrid, buses—basically any combustion engine, even power plants. Click here to learn more about the invention.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2 state solution?

Monday, May 18, 2009

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May 18, 2009


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Israel, PA Hold Secret Meetings over Renewing Peace Talks - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Israel and the Palestinian Authority have launched discreet contacts recently regarding a renewal of negotiations.


Israel's Secret War with Iran - Ronen Bergman (Wall Street Journal)
During the last four years, the uranium enrichment project in Iran was delayed by a series of apparent accidents: the disappearance of an Iranian nuclear scientist, the crash of two planes carrying cargo relating to the project, and two labs that burst into flames.
In July 2007, a mysterious accident occurred in a missile factory jointly operated by Iran and Syria at a Syrian site called Al-Safir. The production line - which armed Scud missiles with warheads - was shut down and many were killed.
In January 2009, Israeli Hermes 450 drones attacked three convoys in Sudan that were smuggling weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip.


U.S. Has Plan to Secure Pakistan Nukes if Country Falls to Taliban - Rowan Scarborough (FOX News)
The U.S. has a detailed plan for infiltrating Pakistan and securing its mobile arsenal of nuclear warheads if it appears the country is about to fall under the control of the Taliban, al-Qaeda or other Islamic extremists.
American intelligence sources say the operation would be conducted by Joint Special Operations Command, a super-secret commando unit that is the military's chief terrorists hunting squad.
"We have plans to secure them ourselves if things get out of hand," said a U.S. intelligence source who has deployed to Afghanistan. "Small units could seize them, disable them and then centralize them in a secure location."
See also Pakistan Is Rapidly Adding Nuclear Arms, U.S. Says - Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger (New York Times)
Washington is increasingly focused on trying to assure the security of an arsenal of 80 to 100 weapons so that they will never fall into the hands of Islamic insurgents.


Palestinian Infighting Blocks Gazans Seeking Medical Treatment - Diaa Hadid (AP)
A sick child in Gaza died on Sunday after Palestinian infighting prevented his parents from seeking medical treatment abroad for their 10-year-old cancer-stricken son.
A medical committee that handles requests from the seriously ill to travel abroad for treatment halted work in March after Hamas sought to seize control of it.
The World Health Organization has said eight such patients died by the end of April.


Oman Seeks Cooperation with Iran - Michael Slackman (New York Times)
The Sultanate of Oman has accelerated its cooperation with Tehran, defying overtures from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to pull away from Iran.
Oman, like Syria and Qatar, sees in Iran an important political and economic ally that is too powerful and too potentially dangerous to ignore, let alone antagonize.
The close ties between Iran and Oman help explain the West's failure to cripple Iran with trade sanctions.
Oman has for years helped Iranian smugglers circumvent international trade sanctions, with fleets of speedboats crossing the Strait of Hormuz daily, making the trip between Iran and Oman in under an hour. Oman collects taxes on all the goods.


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Differences Unlikely to Come to Fore at Obama, Netanyahu White House Meeting - Glenn Kessler
Analysts and government officials expect no fireworks when President Obama meets one on one with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office on Monday. The Obama administration has only the wisps of a policy toward the Middle East in place. With the Palestinians weak and divided, and the new Israeli government skeptical of high-profile peace efforts, many key strategic questions remain unanswered.
The Obama administration appears eager to coax small but symbolic confidence-building measures from all sides, especially Arab states, to build up a sense of momentum. Vice President Biden declared earlier this month: "Now is the time for Arab states to make meaningful gestures, to show the Israeli leadership and the people that the promise of ending Israel's isolation in the region is real and genuine. They must take action now." (Washington Post)
Obama: It's Not My Place to Determine for the Israelis What Their Security Needs Are
Asked about Prime Minister Netanyahu's upcoming visit and concerns about Iran, President Obama said in an interview: "I don't take any options off the table with respect to Iran. I don't take options off the table when it comes to U.S. security, period. What I have said is that we want to offer Iran an opportunity to align itself with international norms and international rules. I think, ultimately, that will be better for the Iranian people. I think that there is the ability of an Islamic Republic of Iran to maintain its Islamic character while, at the same time, being a member in good standing of the international community and not a threat to its neighbors. And we are going to reach out to them and try to shift off of a pattern over the last 30 years that hasn't produced results in the region."
"Now, will it work? We don't know. And I assure you, I'm not naive about the difficulties of a process like this. If it doesn't work, the fact that we have tried will strengthen our position in mobilizing the international community, and Iran will have isolated itself, as opposed to a perception that it seeks to advance that somehow it's being victimized by a U.S. government that doesn't respect Iran's sovereignty."
"I understand very clearly that Israel considers Iran an existential threat, and given some of the statements that have been made by President Ahmadinejad, you can understand why. So their calculation of costs and benefits are going to be more acute. They're right there in range and I don't think it's my place to determine for the Israelis what their security needs are. I can make an argument to Israel as an ally that the approach we are taking is one that has to be given a chance and offers the prospect of security, not just for the United States but also for Israel, that is superior to some of the other alternatives." (Newsweek)
Hamas Says Israel Recognition Not for Discussion - Jailan Zayan
The Islamist Hamas movement said on Saturday that it will not discuss the recognition of Israel with Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party during reconciliation talks in Cairo. "We can discuss with Fatah all the options...except the American card which stresses recognition of the Zionist entity and the conditions of the Quartet," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in Gaza. "This is not open for discussion." The Quartet has long demanded that Hamas renounce violence and recognize Israel and past peace agreements as a precondition for dealing with any Palestinian government in which the Islamist movement is represented. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

Obama, Netanyahu to Focus on Iran Threat - Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya
Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama will discuss the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions, National Security Council head Uzi Arad, a close aide to Netanyahu, said Sunday. "This is an existential matter. Iran is constantly advancing toward a nuclear capability, and joint efforts with the [Obama] administration to prevent this will be at the center of the discussion." "There is no subject more important to Israel, and the administration knows this," Arad added. "There is a sense of urgency and that time is against us."
On the matter of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Arad cited the takeover of Gaza by Hamas in June 2007. "That is the presence of a huge terrorist infrastructure that was put in place, established precisely at the time when Israel evacuated Gaza and allowed the Palestinians to rule themselves," he said. (Ha'aretz)
Iran to Mass Produce Long-Range Missiles - Yaakov Katz
Iran is in the midst of a multi-year plan to produce 500 missile launchers and over 1,000 missiles with a range of 2,500 km. by 2015. Tehran is believed to currently have an arsenal of 100-200 long-range Shihab missiles that have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers and carry up to one-ton warheads. "The Iranians are making great efforts to obtain a significant number of missiles," said Tal Inbar, head of the Space Research Center at the Fisher Brothers Institute in Herzliya. "They already talk about how one of the ways they will overcome the missile defense systems is by firing salvos of missiles." (Jerusalem Post)
Israel: Syria's Assad Wants Only Peace Process, Not Peace Accord; Strict Sanctions on Iran Could Make Military Action Unnecessary
Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said Saturday with regard to Syria's President Assad: "What interests Assad is not peace, but rather the peace process. Assad knows very well that he will have to pay for peace with normalization and open his country to the West, which could bring about the toppling of his regime. Assad is only interested in the peace process in order to get his country out of its international isolation and to remove the pressure of the international community." If Assad really wants peace, Ayalon continued, "He must come to the negotiating process without preconditions. It's impossible to desire peace and at the same time support and arm Hizbullah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad."
With regard to stopping Iran's nuclear plans, Ayalon said: "It's possible to stop Iran, which hasn't yet crossed the 'point of no return,' through diplomatic means. Iran is a very weak state in a shaky situation. They cannot withstand real sanctions; their banks and shipping companies are vulnerable. If the world insists on imposing strict sanctions against them, military action may not be necessary." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

U.S., Israel Share Strategic Goals - Dore Gold
Will the "two-state solution," which the Obama administration has said it supports, be an enormous sticking point at Monday's summit meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama? The reality is that although Netanyahu has not embraced this formula, he has stated that Israel does not want to rule over the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. He wants the Palestinians to have all the power necessary to rule themselves, but none of the power to undermine the security of Israel. What that means is that if a Palestinian state were to arise, it would have to be demilitarized and could not sign defense pacts with, say, Iran, allowing it to receive a contingent of Iranian Revolutionary Guards (as Lebanon did in 1982). Instead of waiting for such a situation to arise, Netanyahu is addressing this issue up front. Former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Los Angeles Times)
Israel's Fears, Amalek's Arsenal - Jeffrey Goldberg
Benjamin Netanyahu faces the daunting task of maintaining Israel's relationship with the U.S., while at the same time forestalling Iran's nuclear program. If Iran gains nuclear capacity, Israel will have judged him a failure as prime minister; if he does serious damage to his country's standing in Washington, he will have failed as well. Netanyahu will have a much more difficult time convincing President Obama that Iran poses an existential threat to America. It is certainly true that a nuclear Iran is not in the best interests of the U.S. It would mean, among other things, the probable beginning of a nuclear arms race in the world's most volatile region, and it would mean that the 30-year-struggle between America and Iran for domination of the Persian Gulf will be over, with Persia the victor. (New York Times)
Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Smart Connection - Oded Eran and Emily B. Landau
A message coming from the Obama administration is that dealing effectively with Iran's nuclear ambitions is contingent on Israel being more forthcoming with regard to peace talks with the Palestinians. Yet Iran is today much higher on the immediate agenda of most of the Arab states in the Persian Gulf as well as Egypt than is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because of the urgency of the emerging Iranian nuclear threat, they, like Israel, do not have time to wait for success in the Palestinian sphere. The common interest between Israel and these Arab states on Iran is real, and will not disappear if there is not movement toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Curtailing Iran's nuclear and regional ambitions is the major issue that must be resolved in the first place. In this regard, Netanyahu's equation that says Iran first, and then the Palestinians, rests on solid ground as far as its basic strategic logic. Oded Eran is the director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University and Emily B. Landau is a senior research associate at the institute. (Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu and Obama Have a Shared Interest in Iran - Reuel Marc Gerecht
Therese Delpech, a leading nonproliferation expert at France's Atomic Energy Commission, warned last October: "We [the Europeans] have negotiated during five years with the Iranians...and we came to the conclusion that they are not interested at all in negotiating, buying time for their military program."
Never before have the Israelis had to confront a rabidly anti-Semitic enemy with nuclear weapons and a long track record of supporting deadly killers such as Hizbullah and Hamas. Western counsel to Israel to calm down and get used to the idea of mullahs with nukes doesn't sit well with a people who have already lived through the unthinkable. Iran's penchant for terrorism, its extensive ties to both radical Sunnis and Shiites, its vibrant anti-Semitism, and the likelihood that Tehran will become more aggressive with an atom bomb in its arsenal doesn't reinforce the case for patience and perseverance. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal)
See also Are Obama and Netanyahu Destined to Clash? - David Makovsky (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Obama and the Middle East - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley (New York Review of Books)

If the President's objective is to achieve a comprehensive, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it will be pursued under unusually inauspicious circumstances.
On the Palestinian side, intense Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah have so far failed to stitch the national movement together. Hamas possesses the power to spoil any progress and will use it. It can act as an implacable opponent against any potential Palestinian compromise. Bilateral negotiations that failed when Olmert was prime minister and Hamas was a mere Palestinian faction are unlikely to succeed with Netanyahu at the helm and Hamas having grown into a regional reality.
The other question is what, in short, would a two-state solution actually solve? Peace may be possible without such an agreement just as such an agreement need not necessarily lead to peace. Unlike Zionism, for whom statehood was the central objective, the Palestinian fight was primarily about other matters. The absence of a state was not the cause of all their misfortune. Its creation would not be the full solution either.
Today, the idea of Palestinian statehood is alive, but mainly outside of Palestine. Establishing a state has become a matter of utmost priority for Europeans, for Americans, and even for a large number of Israelis. But universal endorsement has its downside. The more the two-state solution looks like an American or Western, not to mention Israeli, interest, the less it appeals to Palestinians.
There may be another way. Its starting point would be less of an immediate effort to achieve a two-state agreement or propose U.S. ideas to that effect. Rather, it would be an attempt to transform the political atmosphere and reformulate the diplomatic process.
Hussein Agha is Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College, Oxford. Robert Malley, formerly Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs, is currently Middle East and North Africa Program Director at the International Crisis Group.

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for the sake of clarity a thought experiment

For the Sake of Clarity - A Thought Experiment

A Jerusalem Post Column

May 15, 2009

In Perspective: For the sake of clarity, a thought experiment

May. 14, 2009

He was in his 20s, the young man with the question after my lecture. He
couldn't have asked it more kindly or gently. Without a hint of cynicism or
anger, he expressed what was clearly on the minds of many of the people his
age in the crowd: "Can you justify a Jewish state," he wanted to know, "when
having a Jewish state means giving up on so many of Judaism's values?"

Here's what he didn't say: Israel is the root of evil in the Middle East.
It's the cause of checkpoints, of roadblocks, of a big ugly wall that runs
along a border no one has agreed to. The Palestinians are desperate, and in
the massive imbalance of power, they have no chance and no hope. Israel is
the nuclear bully in a region that, were it not for Israel's existence,
would no longer be on the front page. To achieve peace in the Middle East,
Israel just needs to be subdued. Break Israel's intransigence, and we'll
finally see progress.

That was his unspoken claim, and now it's also the position of the Obama
administration. At AIPAC's recent Policy Conference, Vice President Joe
Biden and Sen. John Kerry made it clear that for the US to support Israel on
Iran, Israel must settle the Palestinian problem once and for all. It has
been widely reported that Rahm Emanuel, in an off-the-record session, said
precisely the same thing. After decades of tacit agreement that the US would
remain silent about Israel's nuclear capability, a State Department official
publicly suggested that Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as
if, on the eve of Iran's going nuclear and with Pakistani weapons in danger
of falling into the hands of the Taliban, Israel's nuclear arsenal is the
world's most serious concern.

A new message is afloat - Israel is the problem, and the US has had enough.
Even the pope couldn't help himself. His comments about the victims of the
Holocaust were so tepid as to be outrageous, but he had no problem calling
urgently for an immediate Palestinian state, as if Israelis haven't tried to
create one for decades.

The young American Jews in my audience, clearly struggling with the morality
of a Jewish state, now have the Obama administration and the pope echoing
all their misgivings.

I have no illusions that all this can be changed overnight, but with the
upcoming Binyamin Netanyahu-Barack Obama meetings putting Israel into the
spotlight once again, I'd like to propose the following thought experiment -
at least to these young American Jews, and possibly to Obama himself.

IMAGINE THAT ISRAELIS decide that by Jerusalem Day, this coming week, they
want a deal. So we take down the security fence. We remove the checkpoints.
We open all the roads, and Gaza's sea and air routes. We agree publicly to
return to something closely approximating the pre-1967 borders, and we
accede to the demands that parts of Jerusalem be internationally governed,
or even put under Palestinian control.

Does this end the conflict? Of course it doesn't. The Hamas Charter calls
not only for the destruction of Israel, but for Islamic war on Jews
everywhere. (Why do we consistently refuse to believe that Hamas means what
it says?) What would change? The noose would tighten. The rockets would be
fired from a shorter distance and the demand for the return of refugees
(thus ending the Jewishness of the state) would persist. As was the case
when Israel left Lebanon in May 2000 or Gaza in the summer of 2005, Israel's
enemies would smell a weakened, bloodied state and would prepare for the
next stage of their war.

But peace would not have come. Much as we all want this conflict to end,
does anyone really doubt that? There is, as honest brokers must admit,
nothing that Israel can do to end this conflict.

NOW, HOWEVER, TRY the opposite side of the thought experiment. Imagine that
the Palestinians decide that they have tired of the conflict, or their
electorate begins its long-overdue rebellion and insists on a settlement. So
the Palestinians, Hamas and Fatah, demand everything Israel's agreed to
above - an end to roadblocks and the wall, an opening of Gaza, a bridge or a
tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank and a return to the 1967 borders.
Let's say that they even insist on Palestinian control of east Jerusalem.

But they also recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. They
agree to an immediate and permanent cessation of hostilities and violence
(this is a thought experiment, after all) and insist that any other
outstanding issues be negotiated and resolved with the US and the Quartet as
intermediaries. And they require Israelis to vote within a month, no longer,
on whether to accept the deal.

Will there be Israelis who object? Will there be residents of the West Bank
who will resist leaving their homes? Yes, there will be. But would an
Israeli plebiscite overwhelmingly approve the offer? Without question. In a
matter of weeks, three quarters of a century of bloodshed and suffering
would come to an end.

This, of course, is not going to happen, because all the new rhetoric
notwithstanding, and all the confusion of today's young American Jews aside,
there's always been one party that's sought peace, and another that's
rejected it. It was true in 1948, and it was true in Khartoum. It's no less
true today.

It's never been up to us, and it's always been up to them.

But this simplistic thought experiment is worth considering not because it
can be implemented, but because it brings one unfortunate truth into stark
focus. Young American Jews ought to take note: Israel cannot end this
conflict. It can weaken itself, but the only way it can bring peace to the
region is to go out of business.

If that is what the peacemakers really seek, we'll see that soon enough,
with frightening clarity.

Friday, May 15, 2009

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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
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May 15, 2009
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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Iranian Revolutionary Guards Arrested in Egypt - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
Egyptian sources told the Lebanese newspaper Almustaqbal that, some five months ago, Egyptian authorities arrested four members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds unit who set up an intelligence ring on Egyptian soil.
See also Egypt Finds 266 Rockets in Massive Arms Cache along Israel Border (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
Egyptian security forces have uncovered hundreds of weapons and explosive devices hidden along the Sinai Peninsula's border with Israel, the Arabic-language Al-Quds al-Arabiyeh reported on Friday.
Egyptian forces found 266 rockets, 40 mines, 50 mortar shells, 20 hand grenades and at least three anti-aircraft missiles.

The Mideast Nuclear Arms Scramble - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
Fears that the U.S. intends to let Iran become a nuclear power has sent other Middle Eastern countries shopping around for partners to help them join the nuclear club.
Saudi Arabia announced Sunday that it's reached an "agreement in principle" with France to develop a "nuclear industry for peaceful purposes." It becomes the third Arab country - after Egypt and Qatar - to seek French help in joining the nuclear club.
Iraq also intends to seek a return to the nuclear club. Last month, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki set up an effort to bring together Iraq's nuclear scientists and invite those in exile to return home.
Having triggered the nuclear race, Iran is also playing an active role in proliferation, with signed agreements to help Syria and Venezuela achieve "nuclear capacity."
China is negotiating with Iran to build 20 nuclear power stations over the next decade. With no international control over what happens to the spent fuel generated by those stations, Iran could end up having enough material to make hundreds of bombs.

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French Poll: 73% See Iranian Nukes as Threat - Haviv Rettig Gur (Jerusalem Post)
In a poll in France conducted in April, 35% said they viewed Israel unfavorably, while 21% viewed Israel in a positive light.
The Palestinians enjoy nearly twice as much support (27%) as the Israelis (14%), though even more (32%) said they did not support either side.
Yet more blamed Hamas for Gaza's humanitarian situation (36%) than Israel (26%).
83% feel that a two-state solution is the "only realistic solution" to the conflict, but an identical 83% said it was "not realistic right now."
73% believed an Iranian nuclear weapon would be a threat to France, up from 64% in December 2007.

"Lawfare" Against Israel Complicates the Search for Peace - Josh Goodman (Wall Street Journal Europe)
Last week a Spanish judge decided to pursue an investigation in a case brought by a group of Palestinians accusing Israel of "crimes against humanity" for a 2002 strike against the military leader of Hamas in Gaza.
That strike took place during a year in which waves of suicide bombings rocked Israel's cities. As a result of the war in Gaza last January, Israel expects to face a slew of similar probes and lawsuits in foreign courts.
The misuse of legal concepts in public discourse is often designed to give one-sided criticism of Israel the appearance of a judicious assessment of international law.
Political philosopher Michael Walzer correctly points out that the term "disproportionate violence" as used by many commentators today "is simply violence they don't like, or it is violence committed by people they don't like."

Hamas' Mistake - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)
Hamas leaders believed their own rhetoric and that of Hizbullah. They truly believed that Israel will bow down before them, that it would be scared to enter Gaza, and that it would certainly refrain from going in deep.
Their arrogant and belligerent displays have disappeared. Hamas now understands: It is merely a small organization that jailed itself and its society in a bottle.
In contradiction to its own lies, Hamas sustained a decisive military blow and has trouble recovering from it.
The smuggling tunnel network it built is indeed helping it to get stronger, yet improved Egyptian efforts are making this more difficult.

The Fatal Glitch with "Land for Peace" - George Jonas (National Post-Canada)
The peace plan outlined by Jordan's King Abdullah would entail the gradual recognition of Israel by 57 Arab and/or Muslim countries in return for Israel's gradual withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. It sounds reasonable, except for three things.
One, 57 Arab/Muslim countries are 56 too many. They aren't likely to agree with each other on the time of day, let alone the recognition of Israel. Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad going to recognize Israel? And if only one nuclear ayatollah doesn't, what does it matter who does?
Two, the peace-for-land concept has been a historic failure, not because Israel wouldn't dole out land for peace - it has, to all comers, sometimes unasked - but because the Arab/Muslim side won't dole out peace for land.
Three, the Middle East conflict has zip all to do with Israel's 1967 borders. It has to do with Israel's 1948 borders. Had Israel's Arab/Muslim neighbors accepted Israel's 1948 borders, there would be no 1967 borders to dispute today.
The irony of King Abdullah lecturing Israel on a two-state solution isn't lost on anyone who remembers that the Hashemite Kingdom occupies about 80% of the former Palestinian Mandate.

There Are 70 Conflicts Worldwide, So Why Do We Focus on Just One? - Stephen King (Irish Examiner)
The media has a fixation on Israel (and its supposed crimes) which is, for want of a better word, disproportionate. The fact that Israel is the world's one and only Jewish state - amidst a vast ocean of Muslim states - inevitably makes many Jewish people think it's them, and not Israel as such, which is in the media's sights.
The International Crisis Group is currently tracking 70 conflicts around the world, from Afghanistan and Algeria to Yemen and Zimbabwe. So why the obsession with Israel? It's the only country in the world whose existence is queried.
Could it be some wrongheaded notion of guilt for having set up Israel after the Holocaust, when actually Israel fought British imperialism for its independence? Could it be, as many Israelis believe, that we see Israelis as Jews in the latest manifestation of centuries-old anti-Semitism?

Monitoring Anti-Semitism in Europe - Michael Whine (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Governments and the relevant intergovernmental agencies now accept that anti-Semitism and violence against Jewish communities has increased.
The murder of Ilan Halimi in February 2006 in Paris, the torching of synagogues in France and the UK, the continuous cemetery and synagogue desecrations, and the rash of anti-Jewish graffiti throughout Europe, North America, and the former Soviet Union have finally roused governments and agencies to take action.
Awareness of the increase in racist and anti-Semitic violence has led the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union (EU) to adopt moves to monitor and combat the phenomenon.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

* U.S. Envoy Says Iran Top Issue in Mideast - Nicholas Kralev
Iran's nuclear program and its increased regional influence have replaced the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the main concern of governments in the Middle East, the Obama administration's chief envoy for the region said Thursday. Jeffrey D. Feltman, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing that the fears about Iran have become "the key development in the region." "When you traveled around the [Middle East] five, six, seven years ago, almost everywhere you went, the first thing that came up was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Feltman said. "When you travel around today, what you are going to hear about is Iran." He reiterated the administration's goal of preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon.
Feltman called Iran a "spoiler" in the pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace through its support for Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Lebanon's Hizbullah. Nevertheless, he said, "we want to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to remove one of the tools that Iran uses to distract the region from what Iran is doing." (Washington Times)
See also below Observations: America Must Deal First with the Threat from Iran - Efraim Halevy (Financial Times-UK)
* Israel: Netanyahu's Message in Tune with Obama's - Tobias Buck
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's officials confidently dismiss talk of an impending clash at his keenly awaited first meeting with President Barack Obama. Insisting there is no substantial disagreement between the two men, they suggest Monday's encounter should be a smooth and amicable affair. Netanyahu's message, they say, will be entirely in tune with that of Obama - from the need to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions to Israel's willingness to engage in peace talks with the Palestinians. With regard to the political process, Netanyahu will raise his idea of a "triple-track" approach aimed at achieving parallel progress with the Palestinians on the economic, security and political fronts. (Financial Times-UK)
See also No Crisis Expected in Obama-Netanyahu Talks
Aaron David Miller, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, told AFP: "There is no reason, need...for a fight." Neither side wants a breakdown in trust that would flow from a major crisis. At this point, Miller said, he has also seen no sign of a "fully-formed" Obama administration strategy to deal with either Iran or the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. "They don't have their ducks in line," he said. For example, he said, there is no sign that the administration is promoting a quid pro quo in which the Netanyahu government endorses a two-state solution and the Arabs begin taking steps to normalize ties with Israel.
Elliot Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser in the administration of George W. Bush, wondered aloud whether President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt might agree with Netanyahu that priority be given to dealing with Iran. Egypt, Abrams said, is increasingly alarmed at the "subversive" role played by non-Arab, Shiite Muslim Iran in mainly Sunni Muslim Arab countries. He added: "I don't see a clash mostly because I don't think it's in the interests of either side to have one. Even where there are disagreements, some of these will be postponed, some of them will be covered over." (AFP)
* Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon: Two-State Solution Will Lead to the Collapse of Israel
PLO Ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki told ANB TV on May 7: "Even Ahmadinejad, leader of the rejectionists throughout the region, said he supports a two-state solution....With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made - just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status....If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward." (MEMRI)
* U.S. Judge OKs $116M Ruling in Palestinian Terror Attack - Ray Henry
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lagueux on Wednesday upheld a $116 million verdict against the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority over a June 1996 terror attack in Israel that killed U.S. citizen Yaron Ungar and his wife, Efrat. (AP/Forbes)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

* Jordan King Tells Netanyahu of Concerns over Hamas, Hizbullah, and Iran - Roee Nahmias
Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II on Thursday, officials at the prime minister's office confirmed that King Abdullah had expressed concern over the growing power of extremist groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah, as well as the Iranian nuclear threat. Jordan "doesn't want a Hamastan in the (West Bank), and a nuclear Iran is a problem for Jordan as well as Israel," one official said.
Netanyahu told Abdullah that he was "aware of the need to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and I intend to focus the talks on political, security and financial issues." (Ynet News)
* For Syria, Alliance with Iran Outweighs Rapprochement with U.S. - Jonathan Spyer
In his letter to Congress announcing the renewal of U.S. sanctions on Syria, President Obama said Syria was "supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining U.S. and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq." Syria's activity reflects the regime's strategic choice to align itself with Iran.
With regard to supporting terrorism, the leaderships of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are domiciled in Damascus. In addition, Syria has over the last decade built a close, mutually beneficial strategic relationship with Hizbullah. On weapons of mass destruction, Syria possesses one of the largest and most advanced chemical warfare programs in the Arab world - including chemical warheads for all its major missile systems. It is known to possess a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, and is attempting to develop the more powerful VX nerve agent, according to the CIA's bi-annual report on WMD proliferation. Damascus is also thought to possess a biological warfare development program.
Four months into Washington's courting of the Assad regime, there has been no improvement in Syria's stances regarding issues of concern to the U.S. The regime has evidently concluded that it has nothing to gain by loosening its relationship with the Iranians at the present time. The firmness of the Syrian stance suggests that Damascus expects U.S. attempts at engagement with Iran to fail. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

Netanyahu Goes to Washington

* Netanyahu's Visit: Remember, the Real Problem Isn't Israel - Cal Thomas
Last week in London, I spoke with Liam Fox, a Conservative member of Parliament and "shadow defense secretary." Fox told me, "There is a belief in some quarters that if only you can resolve the problems between Israel and Palestine, all the other problems in the Middle East, in a domino-like fashion, will fall into place. That is absolute nonsense." Fox said that on a recent visit to Iran, Iranian politicians told him that Hizbullah and Hamas "are part of our defense policy against Israel." Fox quoted them as saying, "Hamas is not part of the Palestinian problem. Hamas is the foreign-policy wing of Iran in Israel."
The pressure from the U.S. ought not to be on Israel, which has mostly lived up to every agreement, from Oslo to Madrid to Wye River. U.S. pressure should be directed at those bent on Israel's destruction. Israel's enemies lost land through military action aimed at destroying Israel. They are winning it back through diplomacy, pressure and terrorist acts carried out by their proxies, Hamas and Hizbullah. Israel's enemies have used this newly acquired land to launch attacks.
The Palestinians will deserve a state when they and their Arab- Muslim supporters prove by their actions that they are prepared to allow Israel to exist in peace and have no intention of flooding a Palestinian state with "refugees" who might very well be used to finish the job so many of them wish Adolf Hitler had completed. The question Netanyahu should ask President Obama is whether the U.S. wants to sustain the first democracy in the Middle East or whether it wishes to create another terrorist state. (Sacramento Bee)
* Israel Sees Iran as Biggest Threat to Region - Aluf Benn
No crisis will erupt at the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama at the White House on Monday. The prime minister will explain that Iran is the biggest problem in the region, not the Palestinians, and that the moderate Arab countries share Israel's concerns. He will advise that a Palestinian state be built "from the ground up" to ensure that it doesn't threaten Israel's security. He will propose a "regional" process and hint that if the Arab initiative is amended and the right of return is removed from it, there will be something to talk about. (Ha'aretz)
* Political Disparity Unlikely to Cloud Israel-U.S. Alliance - Zhang Yanyang
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Chair of the Political Studies Department at Bar-Ilan University, said that perceived tensions between the Israeli prime minister and the Obama administration were blown out of proportion and were unlikely to cloud the alliance between the two countries. "I certainly would not say that the situation is in a conflict phase," Steinberg said. "Neither Obama nor Netanyahu would find any benefit in a souring in the alliance between the U.S. and Israel." "The Obama administration is sending mixed signals but it is all in line with a particular strategy. They want to bring Syria closer to the U.S. and distance Syria from Iran," he said. "But at the same time they set restrictions on a closer relationship with Syria that involves the need to address terrorism and support against nuclear proliferation," he added.
Menahem Blondheim, professor of American Studies at Hebrew University, said, "It is a little premature to say that there is going to be a showdown." "Given the very high stakes and tensions in the Middle East, especially between Egypt and the moderate Arab countries on the one side and Iran on the other, Israel is a stable entity that carries a tremendous significance." (Xinhua-China)

Other Issues

* The U.S. and the Non-Proliferation Treaty: Israel on the Line? - Emily B. Landau
When Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller noted that "universal adherence to the NPT itself - including by India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea - also remains a fundamental objective of the United States," the immediate context of the statement underscores that it does not in itself indicate a break with past positions. The timing of the speech was determined by the NPT Preparatory Committee session she attended, and within this context it is standard U.S. practice to express support for the NPT, including the hope that all states eventually join.
However, placing states on equal footing in the nuclear realm, per their NPT commitments, and downplaying the important differences among them is a theme that could have problematic implications for Israel down the road, and is in and of itself flawed. The cases of Iran and North Korea drive home that when states have a strong incentive to proliferate, even if they have joined an international treaty that prohibits this, some will nevertheless ignore commitments and work to achieve a nuclear capability. These states are noteworthy for having cheated on their past commitments; moreover, they are seeking nuclear weapons not only for their security value but to wield influence over other states, if not to directly threaten their security and existence. Indeed, the primary concern in these cases is not the weapons per se, rather the threat that these states pose to other states in their region and beyond. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
* Why It's Dangerous to Talk to Armed Islamists - Michael Young
You know an idea is making headway when the New York Times finally picks up on it. The head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, was afforded space in the paper recently. Hamas' primary goal is to become the leading interlocutor on all matters related to the Palestinians. Meshaal knows that once the West engages Hamas it will undermine the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, a key step in allowing Hamas to fulfill its dream of taking control of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians. No wonder Assad wants the U.S. to deal with Hamas. What the movement gains, Syria and Iran gain too, as both have substantial sway over Hamas decision-making.
Is that an objective Western states should help to advance? Recently the British government resumed a dialogue with Hizbullah at a moment of dangerous polarization in Lebanon before elections in June. Forget that a dialogue existed several years ago and led nowhere; this latest step implied that Hizbullah's Lebanese political adversaries, who are closer to positions the British government advocates, were losing ground. In fact, engaging Hizbullah made that outcome more likely. The foolish decision caused an angry reaction, irritating the U.S. especially, which may be why the UK has now backtracked. The writer is opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon. (The National-UAE)
* A Misreading of History - Benny Morris
As implied by Max Hastings in his essay in the Guardian last Saturday, in recent times the Zionists/Israelis have grown brutal. The simple truth is that since before its inception, the Arab world has laid siege to the Zionist enterprise and tried to destroy or badly weaken it, in war after war and terrorist campaign after terrorist campaign, by continuous political delegitimization, assault and boycott. Even today, after two Arab states (Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994) have formally signed peace agreements with the Jewish state, the Arab League is offering Israel a "peace" settlement that must include Israel's acceptance of a mass refugee return. Flooding Israel, with its 5.7 million Jews and 1.4 million Arabs, with the refugees would instantly turn it into just another Arab-majority state (the world already benefits from 23 such states). And that is the goal of the "moderate" PLO and Palestine Authority.
Hastings takes Israel to task for failing to negotiate peace and preferring "its military capability." What of the Begin government, which gave up the Sinai peninsula in exchange for peace with Egypt? What of the Rabin government, which gave up slices of territory for peace with Jordan? What of the Barak government, which agreed to give up the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and 95% of the West Bank in December 2000? What of the Sharon government, which unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip? (Guardian-UK)
* Al Jazeera and Qatar: The Muslim Brothers' Dark Empire? - Zvi Mazel
In 1996, the Emir of Qatar established the Al Jazeera satellite channel which is today the most viewed station in the Arab world with an estimated audience of some 60 million. There was never any doubt about the station's political orientation. Al Jazeera launched scathing attacks on Israel during the Second Intifada and went on to incendiary broadcasts against the U.S. at the time of the Afghanistan conflict and over Iraq. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Al Jazeera behaved as a Hizbullah spokesman. During the Gaza war, a senior Al Jazeera reporter stationed himself at Shifa Hospital, from where he broadcast a stream of carefully selected horror pictures.
Al Jazeera has become a weapon in the hands of an ambitious emir who may be driven by the Muslim Brothers and who is threatening the stability of the Middle East. With the Muslim Brothers increasingly aligned in recent years with Iran, by repeatedly attacking the Sunni Arab regimes and inciting against them, Al Jazeera is serving as an important instrument for Tehran and its effort to undermine their internal stability. The writer, who served as Israel's Ambassador to Romania, Egypt, and Sweden, currently directs the Jerusalem Center's Arabic-language website - (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
* The Jordanian Option Is Back - Michael Bar-Zohar
The West Bank is less than half the size of Los Angeles County. The Judean Desert comprises one-third of the area. Does anybody believe that this tiny slice of territory, sandwiched between Israel and Jordan, will provide enough living space for the local 2.4 million Palestinians, for millions of Palestinian refugees, and for Palestinians from overcrowded Gaza? It appears that the supporters of the two-state solution are determined to give the Palestinians a state that would not be able to sustain itself economically.
There is a solution, but it must be a regional one that includes at least Jordan or, even better, Jordan and Egypt. It is based on the idea of a Palestinian-Jordanian federation. Jordan is a largely uninhabited country that possesses huge tracts of land where the excess population of the West Bank, Gaza and the returning refugees can establish new towns and villages and find a little breathing space. Most of Jordan's citizens are Palestinians. The writer is a former Labor Party MK and the official biographer of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres. (Jerusalem Post)
* For Next Round of Mideast Peace Talks, Let the Palestinians Go First - Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper
Like clockwork, just as a new U.S. president hit the 100-day milestone, comes another push to "jump-start" the Middle East peace process. As in past administrations, concessions from "both sides" means: Israel, you go first. But perhaps the time has come for peacemakers to try a fresh approach: Ask the Palestinians to make the first move. Israelis have been making difficult concessions at least since 1993, repeatedly trading land for promises of peace. When they turned over the major West Bank cities and Gaza to Yasser Arafat, all they got in return was broken promises.
To start the ball rolling toward real peace, Mahmoud Abbas should begin now to carry through on his repeated promises to end "anti-Israel incitement" in state-controlled Palestinian mosques and media that remain as vicious today as ever in preaching hatred of the Jewish state and Jews everywhere. Rabbis Hier and Cooper are the dean and associate dean respectively of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (New York Daily News)

Weekend Features

* Heart of Darkness - Editorial
IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped 1,054 days ago, remains the ill-treated, abused, tormented human pawn of an inhuman, cynical regime of genocidal terrorists and haters of Jews. "The kidnapping of Israeli soldiers has become a strategic vision for Hamas," said Abdel Latif Qanou, a Hamas spokesperson, last month. It is difficult to understand how individuals who are moved by the plight of the people of Gaza are so little-moved by the plight of young Gilad Shalit. It is also difficult to understand how and why those same individuals who inveigh in the highest pitch of vehemence and umbrage against the Jewish state will not find a single word of criticism for the Hamas rulers who have kept Shalit beyond the reach even of the Red Cross.
Some members of the U.S. Congress have recently launched an initiative that would tie the $900-million Gaza reconstruction aid to Shalit's release. Gaza is a place of darkness. Ordinary Gazans are exploited even as their pressing needs are neglected by their rulers. Only a concerted effort by fair-minded people, governments and NGOs can penetrate that darkness and bring Gilad Shalit home. (Canadian Jewish News)
* Israel's Clean Technology Pioneers - Roben Farzad
At a kibbutz in Israel's Negev Desert, entrepreneur Amit Ziv recycles runoff water from a nearby spa to raise sea bass and barramundi, a white fish in demand at high-end restaurants. He then channels the water from his desert fish farm to grow olives, which he exports to, of all places, Spain. Israel leads the world by recycling 70% of its wastewater, three times the figure for No. 2 Spain. At a time when most other investment prospects are bleak, just about every major VC firm in Silicon Valley is prospecting across Israel for cleantech investments.
In the decade before Israel won statehood, Simcha Blass was captivated by an abnormally large tree he spotted in a grove, he shoveled underneath it and discovered a cracked drainpipe feeding steady droplets directly to the tree's roots - just enough water to allow the tree to flourish. In 1965, Blass patented and sold his vision of "drip irrigation" to Kibbutz Hatzerim. Today the company has grown into Netafim, a $500 million high-tech drip-irrigation giant employing 2,600 people in 110 countries. (Business Week)
* Helping Terror Victims' Families Heal - Sara K. Eisen
Last Friday was the anniversary of the death of Koby Mandell, the 8th grader who, along with his friend, Yosef Ishran, had cut school one day in May 2001 to explore the caves near their home in Tekoa in the West Bank. They were found the next day, bludgeoned to death with large rocks.
What Sherri Mandell, Koby's mother, and her husband, Seth, have done with the tragedy is astounding. The Mandells launched and continue to run the Koby Mandell Foundation to provide support to families - especially mothers and children - who have lost loved ones to terror. The foundation runs workshops, retreats and summer camps, all subsidized, to bring some joy and empathy into the lives of people who live daily with the pain of having had a loved one disappear. Despite their grief, they seek only to help others heal. (Ynet News)


America Must Deal First with the Threat from Iran - Efraim Halevy (Financial Times-UK)

* The Obama administration is openly telling Israel that its policies on the Palestinian dispute must be crafted in such a way as to enable Washington to build a credible and powerful anti-Iranian coalition including the moderate Arab regimes.
* While Iran's nuclear threat, coupled with its policy denying Israel's right to exist, is a predominant factor demanding an extraordinary international response, other aspects of Iran's involvement in the Israel-Palestinian conflict are assuming ever-growing importance. In addition to Iran's traditional sponsorship of the Hizbullah movement in Lebanon, for close to ten years Iran has invested heavily in Hamas, upgrading training and equipment.
* If the convoy of Iranian equipment sent via Sudan in January had not been destroyed, its arrival in Gaza would have put most of Israel within accurate missile range. All-out regional war might have been unavoidable. Iran, through Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, is constantly upping the ante.
* Iranian support has been a key factor in solidifying Hamas' political power base in the Palestinian territories. Not only is Gaza firmly in its hands, but all the combined efforts of Israel, Fatah, the U.S., Europe and the moderate Arab regimes to reduce Hamas' status in the West Bank have proven futile. Polls show Hamas would win a majority in the West Bank.
* Fatah, still struggling to try to hold its party congress, not convened for 20 years, has become a politically hollow movement. Even if the Palestinian Authority signed a peace agreement with Israel, it could not implement it in the West Bank, let alone Gaza.
* Iran has emerged as a spoiler of the "peace process." Its nuclear ambitions pose an unprecedented strategic challenge to Israel and the free world, and its activities on the ground are the biggest block to efforts to reinvigorate Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. It is essential to rid the Palestinian scene of Iran's destructive involvement. In the absence of this, efforts to aid the Palestinians in nation-building are doomed to failure.

The writer heads the Shasha Center for Strategic Studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a former head of the Mossad.

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