Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
UK Investigating British Aerospace's £60 Million "Slush Fund" to Pay Off Saudi Royalty - Sam Coates (Sunday Times-UK)
Israel Campus Beat
- November 19, 2006
The Israeli-American Relationship
Head of Islamic Jihad: Israel's Security Fence Blocking Suicide Bombings (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Center for Special Studies)
Palestinians Question Recognition of Israel - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
Former Mossad Chief: Iran Cannot Destroy Israel (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dismissed on Sunday a UN General Assembly resolution that deplored a deadly Israeli artillery strike in Gaza, saying the forum should aim its criticism at Palestinian militants. He said Palestinian gunmen and rocket crews were to blame for the violence in Gaza, describing them as "striking civilians as a methodical and consistent policy, without those who preach morality and roll their eyes finding it fit to condemn them." (Reuters)
See also Israel's Ambassador Rebukes France
In an interview on Saturday, Israeli envoy to the UN Dan Gillerman was highly critical of France, which was particularly active in supporting a UN resolution condemning the errant shelling in Beit Hanoun in Gaza. The UN General Assembly on Friday passed a resolution condemning Israel with 156 countries in favor, seven opposed, and six abstentions. "The French demonstrated excessive eagerness to understand terror while exhibiting utter insensitivity to the pain of (Israeli) terror victims," Gillerman said. Voting "no" were the U.S., Israel, Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau. Abstaining were Canada, Ivory Coast, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
"The French were more active in promoting the resolution than the Qataris who submitted it. As a result of France's persuasion efforts, delegates submitted amendments to the original draft resolution, written by the Arabs, which made significant changes that allowed them to support the resolution," he said. Gillerman walked out of the voting session in protest Friday, saying his words were falling on deaf ears and that he was better off holding a nearby press conference. (Ha'aretz)
See also Observations - Israel at UN: "If There Is No Terror, There Will Be No Need for Self-Defense" (United Nations)
An ultra-conservative Iranian cleric who opposes all dialogue with the West is a frontrunner to become the country's next supreme spiritual leader. Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, 71, who publicly backs the use of suicide bombers against Israel, is campaigning to succeed Grand Ayatollah Ali Khameini, 67, as the head of the Islamic state. Considered an extremist even by fellow mullahs, he was a fringe figure in Iran's theocracy until last year's election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fellow fundamentalist who views him as his ideological mentor.
Mesbah-Yazdi and his supporters will stand in elections next month for the Assembly of Experts, an 86-strong group of theologians responsible for nominating a replacement for Ayatollah Khamenei, who is rumored to be ailing. The Guardian Council, a hardline conservative body that vets candidates, is accused of vetoing reform-minded clerics and banning around half of nearly 500 applicants. Ali Ansari, an Iran specialist at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said that having Mesbah-Yazdi "in power would lead to a much more hard-line puritanical rule in Iran." (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
See also Ahmadinejad Seeks Ties with North Korea (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Hundreds of Palestinians Saturday evening prevented the IDF from blowing up the house of Mohammed al-Baroud, a senior commander in the Salah a-Din Brigades, the military arm of the Popular Resistance Committees. Sources in the Gaza Strip said that after al-Baroud received a phone call from the IDF warning him to leave the house because it was about to be bombed, hundreds of Palestinian civilians gathered around the house, stood in the yard and on the roof, in order to prevent the attack.
The protest was broadcast live by Palestinian television, and the crowds chanted, "Death to America and death to Israel." Later an Israeli military spokesman confirmed that "the attack plan was cancelled because of the people there." (Ynet News)
See also Ground Forces to Fight Human Shields - Yaakov Katz and Khaled Abu Toameh
Concerned that Palestinians will create human shields around every terror target in the Gaza Strip, a high-ranking officer said Sunday that the IDF was prepared to launch ground raids into Palestinian territory to demolish buildings that could not be destroyed in airstrikes. The officer said that the IDF would continue to phone Palestinians before bombing the homes of known terrorists, but might change the amount of time it gave the Palestinians to evacuate the area. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot on Sunday morning, injuring one man moderately-to-seriously. (Ynet News)
See also Palestinians Fire Rocket Barrage at Sderot Monday - Shmulik Hadad (Ynet News)
Israel is not overly concerned U.S.-Syrian talks will result in its being asked to give up the Golan Heights in return for Syrian aid to the U.S. in Iraq, diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said Sunday. The Sunday Times in London quoted Ayman Abdel Nour, an official of the ruling Syrian Ba'ath party, as saying that President Assad's "top demand" would be the Golan issue, but diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said this was largely rhetoric.
One Israeli official said that the top issue for Syria was not the Golan, but rather to get the international tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri called off, and to allow Syrian influence and involvement in Lebanon. "Assad's regime is a small Alawite clique, with some Sunni allies," the official explained. "If some of the cornerstones of this very small and tight clique are taken out to be tried, judged and convicted, then the whole building may collapse and this is what Assad is worried about." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Born of the ashes of Hitler's World War II, the UN has now returned to scapegoating the Jewish state. On Friday at the UN General Assembly, Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman was talking about his country's attempts to deal with the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza, which resulted in a horrific error that killed 19 innocent Palestinian Arabs in Beit Hanoun. "If France was shelled from across the border, what would the French do?" Gillerman asked. "Would the French government send flowers to their attackers?"
As Gillerman was speaking, a UN cameraman with a keen sense of irony aimed the house camera at the Palestinian Arab seat, where French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere was seen talking intently to the Palestinian UN observer, Riad Mansour. De la Sabliere's back was turned to the dais where Gillerman was speaking.
The General Assembly emergency session, a holdover from the Cold War era, was revived in 1997 by Palestinian envoy to the UN Nasser al-Kidwa, and has been used ever since to bash Israel and bypass American vetoes of one-sided Security Council resolutions. No similar instrument exists to bypass the inevitable Chinese or Russian vetoes on council resolutions dealing with Burma, North Korea, Chechnya, or Sudan. (New York Sun)
Iran's nuclear program and considerable resources enable it to strive for strategic dominance in its region. Iran challenges the established order in the Middle East and perhaps wherever Islamic populations face dominant, non-Islamic majorities. Tehran sees no compelling national interest to give up its claim to being a nuclear power and strong domestic political reasons to persist. Military action by the U.S. is extremely improbable in the final two years of a presidency facing a hostile Congress.
Understanding the way Tehran views the world is crucial. The school of thought represented by President Ahmadinejad may well see Iranian prospects as more promising than they have been in centuries. Iraq has collapsed as a counterweight; within Iraq, Shi'ite forces are led by men who had been trained in Tehran. Democratic institutions in Iraq favor dominance by the majority Shi'ite groups. In Lebanon, Hizballah, trained and guided by Iran, is the strongest military force. So long as Iran views itself as a crusade rather than a nation, a common interest will not emerge from negotiations.
America will need to reposition its strategic deployments, but if such actions are viewed as the prelude to an exit from the region, a collapse of existing structures is probable. (Sunday Times-UK)
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