Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Iran Leader Arrives for New York Showdown - Francis Harris (Telegraph-UK)
Israel Campus Beat
- September 17, 2006
The Effect of the War on the Media
PA Intelligence Official, Aides Slain in Gaza - Ken Ellingwood (Los Angeles Times)
Shots Fired at Oslo Synagogue (Reuters)
Report: Freed Palestinian Terrorists Were Behind 14 Attacks - Nadav Shragai (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, following remarks by Pope Benedict XVI that angered many Muslims. The attacks left church doors charred and walls pockmarked with bullet holes and scorched by firebombs. At least five firebombs hit Nablus' Anglican church and firebombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of Greek Orthodox churches as well. Later Saturday, four masked gunmen doused the main doors of Nablus' Roman and Greek Catholic churches with lighter fluid, then set them afire. They also opened fire on the buildings. In Gaza City, militants opened fire at a Greek Orthodox church. Explosive devices were set off at the same Gaza church on Friday.
George Awad, a cleric at the Greek Orthodox church in Nablus, said he and other Christians have apologized for the pope's remarks and urged Muslims to use restraint. "There is no reason to burn our churches," he said. (AP/Washington Post)
See also Pope "Deeply Sorry" But Muslim Protests Spread - John Hooper (Guardian-UK)
If Hamas softens its position and an Israeli soldier captured in June by Hamas-allied militants is released, Israel would transfer millions of dollars in tax rebates frozen after Hamas came to power and release prisoners, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Monday. "If they do that, then the Israeli commitment is to immediately follow through with substantial confidence-building measures that would reinforce a positive momentum," Regev said. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
See also Palestinian PM: New Government Won't Recognize Agreements with Israel
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haneya said on Saturday that his new government would not recognize signed agreements with Israel. (Xinhua-China)
Israeli forces have withdrawn from more than 80% of Lebanese territory conquered during the offensive against Hizballah, handing it over to UN peacekeepers, the Israeli army said on Sunday. The army said the pace of pullouts depended on the full deployment of a UNIFIL contingent. There are currently 4,600 international troops in southern Lebanon. (Reuters)
In a political struggle between the Western-backed government and Hizballah, Lebanese Prime Minister Saniora on Thursday vowed to impose army control over the south, a day after Hizballah leader Nasrallah boasted that his armed fighters remained in villages and towns on the border with Israel. "We want this area to be under the army's and the Lebanese state's control," Saniora said.
For years the government ignored the shipment of weapons to Hizballah, but is now heightening checks at the borders, while European warships are patrolling Lebanese waters. EU personnel are to monitor Beirut airport and Syria's border with Lebanon for weapons imports. The Lebanese army has been sending thousands of troops to the south, where it has been absent for decades, and has been taking over control of border areas as the Israeli forces withdraw. (AP/Washington Post)
See also French General Hints at Disarming Hizballah (AFP/Jordan Times)
Southern Lebanon "must become a region entirely controlled by the Lebanese army and by the reinforced UNIFIL," French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in an interview with the Lebanese daily L'Orient Le Jour. The French general leading the troops hinted they would disarm Hizballah if the Lebanese army does not. "If the (Lebanese army) fails to act, we must assume our responsibilities as a UN force," Gen. Alain Pellegrini said. "Someone will have to intervene, with all the consequences that this might have for the Lebanese authorities." In the Hizballah stronghold of Baraasheet, the mayor issued a blunt warning to the French not to attempt to disarm the group.
See also Italian Peacekeepers Hit Snag in Lebanon (AFP/Kuwait Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Senior State Department officials informed envoys of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that the U.S. will not lift the economic siege on the PA and will not work with the planned unity government so long as it fails to meet the three conditions set for the Hamas regime by the international community: recognizing Israel, recognizing agreements previously signed by the PA and PLO, and renouncing violence. Abbas is scheduled to meet with President Bush on Wednesday in New York. EU foreign ministers agreed Friday to back the PA unity government, despite U.S. misgivings. (Ha'aretz)
Sheikh Raid Salah, head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, declared that Hizballah and Hamas should not release kidnapped IDF soldiers until Israel releases all security prisoners including Israeli Arabs imprisoned for security reasons. At the movement's annual rally in Umm el-Fahm, which drew about 50,000 people, Salah also said that the day "was not far off" that Israeli rule over the Temple Mount would be thrown off, and Jerusalem would become the capital of a new Muslim caliphate. (Jerusalem Post)
Philip Zelikow, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Rice, told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Friday that the U.S. must ensure progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track so that it can preserve a coalition of Arab and European states that are interested in containing Iran and international terrorism.
Israel's ambassador to Washington, Danny Ayalon, described Zelikow's statements as "an intellectual exercise." Following consultation with senior administration officials, Ayalon said that he believes "that there will be no change in American policy in the Middle East," and that "there will be no linkage between the Iranian issue and the Palestinian one." (Ha'aretz)
One person was lightly wounded and two others were treated for shock Sunday when a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza fell in the Israeli town of Sderot. A second rocket, which fell shortly afterward, killed dozens of chickens and caused damage to farm equipment. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Lots of people have ideas for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. Most of them are bad: grandiose proposals for international conferences or non-starters that would require Israel to accept the "return" of millions of Palestinians to its own territory as a condition for Arab recognition of what would no longer be a Jewish state. Nonetheless, the UN Security Council may debate the various schemes at the end of this week. However, one U.S. official said that "there will be no major diplomatic initiative."
Why the paralysis? There are some important substantive reasons, including the simple fact that the end of Israeli unilateralism means an Arab partner is needed - and the Palestinian Authority is not ready for a serious peace process. (Washington Post)
See also U.S. to Sideline Arab League UN Initiative - Nathan Guttman
In discussions among Israeli and U.S. officials over the past few days, it was agreed that the U.S. will use its diplomatic power to sideline an Arab League initiative which intends to use the UN Security Council as the main vehicle for convening an international peace conference to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Jerusalem Post)
There is no fence, no marking, no sense of a border at all in the broad track-crossed swaths of open land and rugged mountains that lie between Lebanon and Syria. Israel is concerned that Hizballah will continue to receive missiles and other sophisticated weapons from Iran across the 205-mile long, sparsely guarded frontier. Local residents say it would be a simple matter requiring only the barest collusion of either side for a tractor or truck to haul weapons from one side to the other.
Lebanon has put more than 8,000 soldiers along the border to monitor traffic, but few people here believe the Lebanese Army is capable of stopping the arms flow. At the new army checkpoint in Al Qasr, half a dozen soldiers idle away the day beside a blue metal sign reading, "Stop. Lebanese Army." The cars and trucks slow down but rarely stop. The line separating Lebanon from Syria is arbitrary, drawn in the 1920s by France. The border left 15 Lebanese villages in Syria and 9 Syrian villages in Lebanon. The border region is dominated by Shiites, who have a strong allegiance to Syria. (New York Times)
A Real Test for the Palestinians - Editorial (New York Times)
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