Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran Pouring Funds into Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - Amit Cohen (Maariv-Hebrew, 9Jan07)
Israelis Believe Palestinians Want to Destroy Israel - Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann (Ha'aretz)
The Palestinians and the Second Lebanese War - Hillel Frisch (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies/Bar-Ilan University)
Foreign Investment in Israel Tripled in Three Years - Zeev Klein (Globes)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived in Beijing on Tuesday aiming to lobby China to close ranks with Western powers against Iran's nuclear program. China backed a UN Security Council resolution last month imposing sanctions on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology. "We believe China does not want to see a nuclear-armed Iran," said a senior Olmert aide. "The challenge now is to preserve China's resolve, especially in matters of Iranian compliance." However, Iranian oil makes up 12% of China's crude imports. (Reuters/Boston Globe)
Iran is using an increasingly vast network of fake import-export companies to funnel weapons and money to terrorist groups in Iraq, U.S. intelligence officials and other Iraq experts revealed Sunday. Iran and its proxy group Hizbullah have put together an extensive infrastructure to train, support, and finance Shiite militias and even some Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq.
The Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards - the shock troops of the ayatollahs - operates 82 phony import-export businesses in Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, according to Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official now with the American Enterprise Institute. "It's a classic money-laundering operation," he said. (New York Post)
A U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship attacked suspected al-Qaeda members in southern Somalia near the Kenyan border on Sunday, and U.S. sources said the operation may have hit senior terrorist figure Abu Talha al-Sudani. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
In an interview with the Chinese news agency Xinhua prior to his departure Sunday for a three-day visit to China, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed his disappointment with the results of Israel's two unilateral withdrawals, saying that the violence in both Lebanon and Gaza convinced him that there is no point in any future unilateral moves of this kind.
"A year ago, I believed that we would be able to do this unilaterally," the prime minister said, referring to a withdrawal from the West Bank. "However, it should be said that our experience in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip is not encouraging. We pulled out of Lebanon unilaterally, and see what happened. We pulled out of the Gaza Strip completely, to the international border, and every day they are firing Kassam rockets at Israelis." Olmert's conclusion was that "under the existing circumstances, it would be more practical to achieve a two-state solution through negotiations rather than [unilateral] withdrawal." (Ha'aretz)
A number Palestinian terror cell members have recently left Gaza and traveled abroad to learn how to manufacture and effectively launch short-range Katyusha rockets, high-ranking Israeli defense officials said Monday. Hamas terrorists have been known to travel to Lebanon and Iran for training with Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. (Jerusalem Post)
In the West Bank town of Ramallah, Fatah militants set fire to six stores belonging to Hamas supporters on Monday. In el-Bireh, outside Ramallah, militants fired at the house of the Hamas-allied mayor. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Former President Jimmy Carter's recent book badly misrepresents the Middle East proposals advanced by President Bill Clinton in 2000. Carter juxtaposes two maps labeled the "Palestinian Interpretation of Clinton's Proposal 2000" and "Israeli Interpretation of Clinton's Proposal 2000." The problem is that the "Palestinian interpretation" is actually taken from an Israeli map presented during the Camp David summit meeting in July 2000, while the "Israeli interpretation" is an approximation of what President Clinton subsequently proposed in December of that year.
The Clinton proposals in December 2000 were American ideas, and I was the principal author of them. I know what they were and so do the parties. It is certainly legitimate to debate whether President Clinton's proposal could have settled the conflict. It is not legitimate, however, to rewrite history and misrepresent what the Clinton ideas were. The writer, envoy to the Middle East in the Clinton administration, is counselor of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New York Times)
See also A Strange Little Book by Jimmy Carter - Ethan Bronner
Whether or not Carter is right that most Americans have a distorted view of the conflict, his contribution is to offer a distortion of his own. Yasser Arafat is portrayed as someone who disavowed terrorism. Hafez al-Assad, who was president of Syria until 2000 when he died and his son took over, is quoted for an entire section, offering harsh impressions of Israel, including the opinion that it "initiated the 1967 war in order to take even more Arab land." Carter does not contradict him.
For the most radical leaders of the Muslim world - and their numbers are not dwindling - settling the Israel question does not mean an equitable division of land between Israel and Palestine. It means eliminating Israel. (New York Times)
The most striking transformation taking place throughout the Middle East is that the new regional security architecture gradually emerging in the Arab world seems to be managed almost totally by non-Arab parties: Iran, Turkey, Israel, the U.S., and now Ethiopia. It is possible that the Arabs could write themselves out of their own history, ending up as mere consumers of foreign goods, proxies for foreign powers, and spectators in the game of defining their own identity, security, and destiny. This would be a demeaning cap after a century of repeated incompetence in the field of Arab security and statehood.
Two other major trends define the region. Traditional major Arab powers like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as well as lesser ones like Syria, Jordan, Libya, Algeria and Morocco, are less influential and interventionist regionally than they used to be. In many cases they also suffer greater dissent and even some stressed legitimacy at home. At the same time, powerful new non-state actors in the Arab world now challenge, work alongside, or even replace long-serving regimes; the most noteworthy examples are Hizbullah, Hamas, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the Badr and Mehdi militias in Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and, most recently, the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Condi Heads to the Mideast - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal, 9Jan07)
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