Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
After Mecca - Hamas Is Still Hamas - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
Iran's Emerging Leadership Vacuum (Jerusalem Post)
World Court Links Sudanese Minister to Darfur Atrocities - Mike Corder (AP/Boston Globe)
Expert: Israel Is "Defensive Play" after Wall Street Drop - Robert Daniel (MarketWatch)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The EU on Tuesday played down prospects of a swift resumption of direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, saying the policies and actions of a unity government would be assessed over time. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, at the start of a visit to Israel, said the new PA government should "respond" to the demands of the Quartet to abide by Israeli-Palestinian pacts, recognize Israel, and renounce violence. "We will judge this government by its actions," she added. European officials and Western diplomats said the EU's review would take time and a temporary aid mechanism, which bypasses the Hamas-led government, would remain in place.
Saudi Arabia has made clear that its promised aid would be earmarked for infrastructure and development projects, and not directly support the new government. (Reuters)
See also Hamas Will Not Recognize Israel, Mashaal Says
In a statement to reporters in Moscow Tuesday, Hamas political chairman Khaled Mashaal reiterated that his movement will not recognize Israel. (Syrian Arab News Agency)
See also below Commentary: The Mecca Agreement - A Strategic PLO-Hamas Alliance for Establishing a Palestinian State without Hamas Recognizing Israel - C. Jacob and Y. Carmon (MEMRI)
Israeli Strategic Planning Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called on Russian authorities to end contacts with Hamas. "To my regret, not only Russia, but some countries in Western Europe as well maintain contacts with Hamas," Lieberman said in an interview with Kommersant published Wednesday. "We are not happy with it. We are trying to persuade Russia to comply with common standards in defining terror," he said. "It is impossible to name Chechen militants terrorists and yet refer to [Hamas leader] Khaled Mashaal as the leader of a national liberation movement." (Interfax-Russia)
Vice Adm. (ret.) John M. McConnell, the new director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that the U.S. is "very concerned" that Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda leadership are attempting to rebuild their terrorist network and establish training camps in a region of northwest Pakistan. "We inflicted a major blow, they retreated to another area, and they are going through a process to reestablish and rebuild, adapting to the seams or the weak spots as they might perceive them." He said an attack on the U.S. would "most likely" emerge from Pakistan, and warned that al-Qaeda elements in Iraq, Syria, and Europe are planning attacks.
Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, confirmed that weapons training for Iraqi militia members is being provided in Iran as well as in Hizbullah camps in Lebanon. (Washington Post)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met relatives of two Israeli soldiers seized by Hizbullah at the start of last year's Lebanon war on Tuesday and promised he will keep working hard to seek their release. Ban told the wife and parents of Ehud Goldwasser and the brother of Eldad Regev that he has been working with a secret "facilitator" to help win the soldiers' release, UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said. Hizbullah has not released any details on the condition of the soldiers or provided any sign they are still alive since they seized the pair in a July 12 cross-border raid. Goldwasser's wife called on Hizbullah to allow the Red Cross to visit the soldiers. (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel is considering taking action to stop the smuggling of weapons from Syria to Hizbullah, although it plans for the time being to continue diplomatic efforts to change UNIFIL's mandate so that UN forces will deploy along the Syrian-Lebanese border, Israeli sources said on Tuesday. IDF Northern Command Head Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot met on Tuesday with UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano of Italy to discuss the Syrian arms smuggling and ways to better enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which forbids the transfer of weapons to Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. (Jerusalem Post)
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Tuesday that Israel is concerned about the continued strengthening and arming of Hamas. He said Hamas is taking advantage of the cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to continue stockpiling arms. "Every solution that protects the citizens of Israel is possible," he said. "We prefer a diplomatic solution, but where that doesn't work out, we will also conduct military operations."
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said one of the principal threats from Gaza that concerns the IDF is the digging of booby-trapped tunnels by Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket into Israel's western Negev Wednesday morning, causing damage. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians opened fire Tuesday afternoon on an Israeli vehicle traveling east of Kfar Taiba north of Ramallah in the West Bank. No casualties were reported, but the vehicle was damaged. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hamas will not be required to recognize Israel, since, as a Palestinian movement, and even as a government, it is not authorized to conduct diplomatic negotiations, as negotiations and the signing of treaties in the name of the Palestinian people are the exclusive prerogative of the PLO and its head, Mahmoud Abbas. This tactic allows Abbas to conduct negotiations as the representative of the Palestinian people, and it enables him to ask Israel and the international community to overlook the fact that Hamas, which is part of the PA government, has not changed its principles and does not recognize Israel. (MEMRI)
A new variety of U.S. Treasury sanctions is having a potent effect in Iran. The new measures work thanks to the hidden power of globalization: Because all the circuits of the global financial system are inter-wired, the U.S. quarantine effectively extends to all major banks around the world. "As banks do their risk-reward analysis, they must now take into account the very serious risk of doing business in Iran, and what the risks would be if they were found to be part of a terrorist or proliferation transaction," says Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt.
Top U.S. Treasury officials visited bankers and finance ministers around the world, warning them to be careful about their dealings with Iranian companies that might covertly be supporting terrorism or weapons proliferation. This was enough to convince most big foreign banks in Europe and Japan to back away from Iran. The new sanctions are toxic because they effectively limit a country's access to the global ATM. In that sense, they impose - at last - a real price on countries such as Iran that have blithely defied UN resolutions. (Washington Post)
In the political vacuum that followed Saddam's fall, Iranian influence quickly spread into southern Iraq on the back of commercial connections - driven by a growing volume of trade and a massive flow of Iranian pilgrims into shrine cities of Iraq - and burgeoning intelligence and political ties. Iran's influence quickly extended to every level of Iraq's bureaucracy, Shiite clerical and tribal establishments, and security and political apparatuses. The war turned a large part of Iraq into an Iranian sphere of influence and, equally important, paved the way for Iranian hegemony in the Persian Gulf. The writer is professor at the Naval Postgraduate School and adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Foreign Policy-Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
Maintaining Perspective on Iran - Fouad Ajami (U.S. News)
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