Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Some Funds Released by Israel to PA Went to Hamas Security Forces - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Masked Gunmen Kidnap BBC Reporter in Gaza - Conal Urquhart (Guardian-UK)
Al-Qaeda: The Second Coming - Jason Burke (Observer-UK)
Palestinian Christians Look Back on a Year of Troubles - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Russian officials said Monday that nuclear fuel will not be delivered to Iran this month as planned and that the September completion of a Russian-built nuclear power plant will be postponed because of an escalating dispute between the two countries. Moscow and Tehran have been arguing for weeks over what Russia calls Iran's failure to make $25 million monthly payments on the $1 billion plant in Bushehr.
Underlying the financial dispute appears to be increasing Russian hostility to Iran's suspected desire to build nuclear weapons and its flouting of international demands that it stop the enrichment of uranium. "We do not need a nuclear Iran or an Iran with the potential to create them [nuclear weapons]," a Russian official told Russian news agencies Monday. "We will not play any anti-U.S. games with it." (Washington Post)
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Monday said it was still committed to Israel's destruction despite a power-sharing deal with the Fatah faction. "We will not betray promises we made to God to continue the path of Jihad and resistance until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine," Hamas said in a statement. On Sunday, al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, accused Hamas of serving U.S. interests by agreeing to a Saudi-brokered unity government deal with Fatah. Hamas said it continued to be a "movement of resistance, seekers of martyrdom" and that its "principles will never be changed." (Reuters)
Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, who formerly headed the Shin Bet intelligence service, offered a surprisingly optimistic view Monday of prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, despite what he called a big push by Iran to sow discord in the region. Dichter predicted the Palestinians would ultimately understand they have no choice but to accept Israel. "I spent more years in Gaza than I spent in Tel Aviv. I think I know (the Palestinians) very well," Dichter told a gathering of diplomats and reporters at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The Palestinians "know that they have no chance to build themselves as a nation without a peace agreement with Israel," he said. (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Three Hamas members were apprehended near Ramallah last month for attempting to kidnap an Israeli from a hitchhiking post at the Eli intersection in the West Bank, it was approved for publication Monday. Omar Barghouti, 21, of Qubar, was recently released from an Israeli prison, while Duad Mantzur, 23, from Bilin was released last June. The third man was identified as Anas Barghouti, 20, from Qubar. (Ynet News)
The UN Human Rights Council is expected to place Israel under permanent investigation for its "violations" of international law in the territories - until such time as it withdraws to the pre-1967 border - according to Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, who said he received the information from diplomatic sources. Neuer said he expects the council to take at least four anti-Israel actions during its fourth session, which started in Geneva on Monday and runs through April 5. Since its inception last June, the Council has issued eight anti-Israel resolutions, and none against any other nation. It has also held three special sessions on Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
See also The Plot: Use the UN to Rid the World of Israel - Bradley Burston (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In the five years since the Saudi initiative first emerged, the Palestinians, backed by Arab leaders, have adamantly refused to back down from the demand for the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees. All Israeli governments continue to oppose any concession on the issue, reflecting the consensus that allowing the refugees back would amount to suicide of the Jewish state. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told an Arab newspaper that parts of the Saudi initiative were acceptable, but not the "right of return." But can Israel pick and choose?
Nobody really believes - including the Saudis - that there is a chance of reaching a comprehensive peace treaty on the basis of the Saudi initiative any time soon. The appearance of an ongoing diplomatic process gives the public a feeling that something's happening. Next time the EU envoys ask for more concessions to the Hamas-dominated PA, the Israeli government can point to the Saudi initiative. Most importantly, the Americans are all for it. The Saudi initiative will never hatch a realistic peace plan. But if talking about it is going to make Secretary of State Rice happy, the Israelis and Saudis will play along. (Jerusalem Post)
Ever since Hizbullah's uncouth kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers last summer, Lebanon is no longer the same Lebanon. Thousands of Lebanese citizens have immigrated to different countries, many Lebanese economic facilities were shut down and many emigrants had lost their life savings that they earned from Africa, Australia and America. What is really surprising is that Israelis admit their mistakes and call themselves as well as their leaders to account. Yet in Lebanon they are still fighting one another and brashly refuse to admit their mistakes. For that reason, we can understand why Israel can surpass us and why we continuously fail.
Has there ever been a single disaster that befell Arabs, whether natural or organized, that was followed up by investigations, the results of which would have the guilty parties brought to account and punished? There have never been such investigations ever since the series of defeats that began with the defeat of the 1948 war, where only scapegoats were convicted so as to save the real perpetrators from the anger of the people and disguise the scandal. The writer is the general manager of Al-Arabiya television. (Asharq Alawsat-UK)
The arrest of Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, a top Taliban strategist, by Pakistani authorities last month, right on the heels of American and British pleas for renewed toughness, is too convenient. Akhund was arrested solely to keep Western governments at bay. For too long, the international perception has been that Musharraf's regime is the only thing standing between the West and nuclear-armed fundamentalists. Nothing could be further from the truth. Islamic parties have never garnered more than 13% in any free parliamentary elections in Pakistan.
Why is it that all terrorist plots - from the Sept. 11 attacks, to Madrid, to London, to Mumbai - seem to have roots in Islamabad? Restoring democracy through free, fair, transparent and internationally supervised elections is the only way to return Pakistan to civilization and marginalize the extremists. A democratic Pakistan, free from the yoke of military dictatorship, would cease to be a breeding ground for international terrorism. The writer served as prime minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996. She lives in exile in Dubai. (Washington Post)
Our World Is Divided between Moderates and Extremists Headed by Iran
The Foreign Minister of Israel told the AIPAC convention on Monday:
See also AIPAC Convention Video Presentations (Jerusalem Online)
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