Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran's Tough Swagger Can't Disguise a Basic Weakness. - Bronwen Maddox (Times-UK)
Hamas Criticizes U.S. Security Aid for Abbas (Reuters)
Militant Groups Turn on Each Other Near Afghanistan-Pakistan Border - Jeremy Page (Times-UK)
U.S., Israeli Firms to Tap Need for Small Satellites - Jim Wolf (Reuters)
IMF Ups Israel Growth Forecast - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad has failed to convince the EU to agree to resume aid to the PA. EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner repeated Wednesday in Brussels the international demands that the Palestinian government renounce violence, formally recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by former agreements. She said until that happened, the EU would only deal with what it considered to be Western-friendly members of the new Palestinian unity government.
In 2006, the EU redirected its funding for the Palestinians through a special mechanism to help the neediest people while bypassing the government to avoid contact with Hamas - which it considers a terrorist organization. Ferrero-Waldner said this temporary mechanism would continue, but offered Fayyad technical assistance for his ministry. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
Arms believed to have been manufactured in Iran as recently as last year have turned up in Sunni-majority areas as well as in the hands of Shiite extremists, U.S. Maj.-Gen. William Caldwell said Wednesday at a news conference where the weapons were put on display. The U.S. also had information from detainees that Iranian intelligence operatives had given support to Sunni insurgents and that surrogates for Iranian intelligence were training Shiite extremists in Iran. The link between Iranian intelligence and Sunni Arab insurgents is new.
The military knew the mortar rounds were of Iranian origin by their structure, the geometry of the tail fins, and the stenciling on the warheads. 81-mm. mortar rounds are made regionally only by Iran. Other nearby countries make 82-mm. rounds. (International Herald Tribune)
Al-Qaeda's new affiliate in North Africa - "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" - asserted responsibility Wednesday for the deadliest attacks in Algeria's capital in a decade as 24 people were reported killed and 222 injured in bombings that shattered the prime minister's headquarters and a police base. (Washington Post)
See also Sarkozy Says Al-Qaeda Group that Bombed Algeria Targets France - Gregory Viscusi (Bloomberg)
See also How North African Nations Are Dealing with Islamist Resurgence - Jill Carroll (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
As negotiations over the release of kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit continue, grave concern was expressed within the Israeli defense establishment on Wednesday over the growing rift within Hamas, which officials warned could jeopardize the deal. Hamas is seen to have split into three central groups. The first is led by Khaled Mashaal, the exiled political leader based in Damascus.
The second group is led by former Interior Minister Said Siam, former Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, and former Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, who enjoy the backing of many members of Hamas' armed wing, Izaddin Kassam. The "rejectionists" accuse Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Mashaal of betraying Hamas voters by agreeing to form a coalition with Fatah. They argue that the Mecca agreement is a plot designed to remove Hamas from power. The third group is led by Ahmed Jaabri - the Hamas "Chief of Staff" in Gaza - believed to have directed and carried out Shalit's abduction in June. (Jerusalem Post)
PA security officers and militants from the Aksa Martyrs Brigades exchanged heavy fire in downtown Nablus on Monday, wounding three people. "I saw, from where I was, dozens of Palestinian police and gunmen chasing each other and shooting," said Ghassan Tabila, a street vendor. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
The Egyptian authorities are committing systematic abuses of human rights in the name of national security, and planned anti-terror legislation could make the situation worse, according to an Amnesty International report released on Wednesday in Cairo. Thousands of Egyptians have been locked up, with many sentenced after unfair trials in emergency and military courts, according to Amnesty. Torture and prolonged detention without trial are rife. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Walt and Mearsheimer paper on the Israel lobby has had a profound effect on Arab elites. It has encouraged them not to be introspective, not to think about their own problems, but to blame everything on the villainous Israeli network. And so we enter a more intractable phase in the conflict, a war over narratives. The Arabs will demand that the U.S. and Israel adopt their narrative and admit historical guilt. Failing politically, militarily and economically, they will fight a battle for moral superiority, the kind of battle that does not allow for compromises or truces.
Americans, meanwhile, will simply want to get out. Most Americans have given up on their ability to transform the Middle East and on Arab willingness to change. Faced with an arc of conspiracy-mongering, most Americans will get sick of the whole cesspool, and will support any energy policy or anything else that will enable them to cut ties with the region. What we have is not a clash of civilizations, but a gap between civilizations, increasingly without common narratives, common goals or means of communication. (New York Times, 8Apr07)
The objective of the Saudi initiative is to diplomatically achieve everything the Arab world was unable to achieve through war and terror: The return of refugees and return to the borders of June 4, 1967, that invited aggression. And the Arabs are not relating to these issues as points for negotiation, but rather as a precondition to their actual willingness to engage in talks. Their refusal to make any amendments to the plan only confirms it.
The Saudi initiative also seeks to convene a conference attended by the international Quartet (U.S., Europe, Russia, and the UN,) the Palestinians (namely, the Hamas government), and a new creature called "The Arab Quartet" (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE). In other words, Israel will find itself in a situation it has always tried to avoid: isolated in an international forum whose composition is bad. (Ynet News)
Saudi columnist Yousef Nasser al-Sweidan wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa on March 5, 2007: "It is patently obvious that uprooting the descendents of the refugees from their current homes in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and other countries, and returning them to Israel, to the West Bank, and to Gaza is a utopian ideal and [a recipe for] anarchy. More than that - it is an idea that cannot be implemented." "The Arab countries where the Palestinians live in refugee camps must pass the laws necessary to integrate the inhabitants of these camps into society."
In a second article on March 16, he wrote: "The Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon - who have for many long years been fed by their Arab hosts on impossible dreams and on shiny promises that were soon broken - do not need another 60 years of misery, wretchedness and suffering...in order to figure out for the thousandth time that all the talk about the 'bridge of return' is nonsense and deceit - a fairytale that exists only in the old, worn-out demagogy of the Arab propaganda." "In reality, there is no 'bridge'...except for the bridge that we now must pass...called the peace process and normalization of relations between the Arabs and Israel." (MEMRI)
Terrorists Released in Prisoner Exchanges Revert to Terror - Interview with Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shalom Harari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
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