Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
TV Documentary: Egyptians Shot Israeli POWs in 1973 (AP/International Herald Tribune)
Israel Campus Beat
- March 18, 2007
Hamas Gaining Strength in Gaza
Syria Rejects UN Plan for Civilian Monitors on Lebanon Border - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Supreme U.S. Commander in Europe Calls Israel America's Closest Ally in the Middle East - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
The Program of the (PA) National Unity Government - March 2007 (Jerusalem Media and Communication Center)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The U.S. will refuse to deal with the new Palestinian government unless it forgoes violence and fully recognizes Israel, U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley told CNN on Sunday. "This government needs to renounce terror and violence. It needs to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist," he said. "We will not deal with this government until it accepts those principles," he said. (AFP/Yahoo)
See also below Observations - Israeli Cabinet: New Palestinian Government Does Not Accept Principles of the International Community (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
In what was apparently a kidnapping attempt, Palestinian gunmen on Friday fired 14 bullets into the armored car of the Gaza director of the UN refugee agency, John Ging. The official was returning to Gaza from Israel in a white armored car clearly marked with the UN insignia and flag, accompanied by two other UN cars. Ging said that he was blocked near Beit Hanun by a vehicle carrying three masked gunmen. "They tried to force open the car, and when the driver began to pull out, they opened fire," Ging said. "This is unprecedented, to shoot at a clearly marked UN vehicle with a UN flag flying in broad daylight." "We need a safe and secure environment in which to conduct our operations. This gives us cause to carefully consider our position here," he said. (New York Times)
Iran is threatening to retaliate in Europe for what it claims is a daring undercover operation by Western intelligence services to kidnap senior officers in its Revolutionary Guard. Writing in Subhi Sadek, the Revolutionary Guard's weekly paper, Reza Faker, who is believed to be close to President Ahmadinejad, warned, "Iran has enough people who can reach the heart of Europe and kidnap Americans and Israelis."
According to Iranian sources, several officers have been abducted in the past three months. Earlier this month, Ali Reza Asgari, former commander of the Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force in Lebanon and deputy defense minister, vanished during a trip to Istanbul. Last week it was revealed that Col. Amir Muhammed Shirazi, another high-ranking Revolutionary Guard officer, had disappeared. A third Iranian general is also understood to be missing - the head of the Revolutionary Guard in the Persian Gulf. "This is no longer a coincidence, but rather an orchestrated operation to shake the higher echelons of the Revolutionary Guard," said an Israeli source.
Tehran is notorious for settling scores. When the Israelis killed Abbas Mussawi, Hizbullah's general secretary, in 1992, Iran's Quds Force blew up the Israeli embassy in Argentina in revenge. (Sunday Times-UK)
The threat of chemical attacks hung over Iraq Saturday after terrorists exploded three chlorine-gas bombs in western Iraq, killing at least two persons and injuring 350 others, including children, the U.S. military said. (Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Political sources in Jerusalem said Saturday that Israel expects a certain amount of weakening in the international position on the new PA government, but said: "The story is money, and they won't get it for the time being....Since the Americans and Europeans are maintaining the freeze on aid, and Israel isn't releasing the withheld Palestinian taxes, Hamas hasn't gained anything."
"Overall, the diplomatic battle is being waged effectively," said the sources, praising Germany, which currently holds the EU presidency, for its efforts in formulating the European position. The sources dismissed Norway's decision to recognize the PA government and to offer it aid, saying that the amount of support will be inconsequential, and that Norway is conducting a foreign policy independent of the EU because it is not a member state. U.S. officials said over the weekend that the American position on the PA government has not changed, and that the contacts with Fatah ministers should not be seen as a crack in the dam of the international boycott.
Prime Minister Olmert told the Cabinet: "Abbas promised me that the new government would not be formed before the release of (captured IDF soldier) Gilad Shalit, but he didn't keep this promise....The rocket fire has continued on a daily basis and what has Abbas done about this?" (Ha'aretz)
Israel and the U.S. are conducting a joint military exercise to hone the allies' abilities to fend off missiles equipped with nuclear, biological or chemical warheads. Israel is testing the latest version of the Arrow and Patriot PAC-2 anti-missile systems. The Americans are testing the capabilities of their Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot PAC-3 systems. "The more we train together and exchange ideas, the readier we'll be in any future scenario that may require joint or coalition operations," said U.S. Army public affairs officer Major Peggy Kageleiry. (Ha'aretz)
The IDF on Sunday rejected claims made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon last week that Israel had refused to provide UNIFIL with information regarding the location of munitions it fired into Lebanon during the war this past summer. The IDF Spokesperson's Office said in a statement that the military had cooperated with UNFIL and even relayed maps of areas that it suspected contained unexploded ordinance. (Jerusalem Post)
An Israel Defense Forces soldier was lightly wounded Sunday night when a bomb exploded next to a military jeep in Balata in the West Bank city of Nablus. Earlier Sunday, IDF troops arrested two Palestinians near Nablus in possession of explosive devices apparently intended to be used in suicide bombings. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets at Israel on Sunday in three different barrages. One of the rockets landed in Ashkelon's southern industrial zone, near a strategic facility. The rest landed south of Ashkelon and in the western Negev. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Mahmoud Abbas has stated that the establishment of the Palestinian national unity government signals a new phase in the Palestinian struggle. The new Palestinian government has not renounced terror and does not recognize Israel. As to the adherence to former agreements signed by the Palestinians, there's nothing to be said here, because even Abbas himself is not adhering to them. The writer heads the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Ynet News)
For years cynical statesmen have played a game of make-believe with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: From podiums in Europe or at the UN, they announce that their top priority henceforth will be promoting a "comprehensive settlement," brokered by the "international community." That Israelis and Palestinians may be nowhere near ready for such a deal doesn't concern them. Since the beginning of the year, Secretary of State Rice has been proclaiming her commitment to promoting an Israeli-Palestinian "political horizon," which is her newly coined synonym for a comprehensive settlement. She's promised to haunt Jerusalem and Ramallah this year; she will be there again this week, in a dramatic reversal of the Bush administration's previous hands-off policy.
It's hard to resist the notion that her diplomacy is mainly aimed at an audience of one: Saudi King Abdullah. Rice has been leaning heavily on Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Abdullah's national security chief and an intimate of the Bush family, to organize Arab resistance against Iran. Talking up the Saudi initiative pleases the king, whom Rice needs to keep happy. (Washington Post)
Israeli Cabinet: New Palestinian Government Does Not Accept Principles of the International Community (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
The Israeli Cabinet decided Sunday:
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