Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran Tests New Solid Fuel Missile (Jerusalem Post)
Poll: 82% of American Jews Believe Arabs Seek Destruction of Israel (American Jewish Committee)
No Nukes, No War - David Frum (National Post-Canada)
Document Reveals Details of Previous Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations - Barak Ravid
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Bush administration expressed confidence on Tuesday that it had rallied international support to intensify diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran. Senior administration officials now increasingly express chagrin that last week's National Intelligence Estimate incorrectly focused on the suspension of a secret weapons program and not on the accelerated effort to enrich uranium. That undercut the administration's main rationale for confronting Iran, and left the administration seeking to regain the diplomatic initiative for continued sanctions.
Acknowledging this, administration officials said that a UN vote on new sanctions, originally scheduled for this month, would most likely be deferred until next year. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "We're not talking about whether or not there's going to be a resolution [to tighten sanctions on Iran], but we're talking about what are the elements to a new Security Council resolution." (New York Times)
North Korea may have given arms and possibly training to Lebanon's Hizbullah, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service. In September 2006, Paris Intelligence Online, a French Internet publication that specializes in political and economic intelligence, published details of an extensive North Korean program to give arms and training to Hizbullah. The French publication said the program began in the 1980s with visits by Hizbullah members to North Korea for training and expanded after 2000 with the dispatch of North Koreans to Lebanon to train Hizbullah members how to build underground bunkers to store arms, food and medical facilities. This training "significantly improved Hizbullah's ability to fight the Israelis" during the 2006 war.
The CRS also cited a report by South Korean academic Moon Chung-in that the Israeli Mossad intelligence agency believed that "vital missile components" used by Hizbullah against Israel came from North Korea. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The long-awaited launch of Israeli-Palestinian bilateral final-status negotiations began Wednesday in Jerusalem. One Israeli diplomat, describing the atmosphere at the meeting as "tense," said the sides had widely different ideas of what the meeting was meant to accomplish. While Israel saw the meeting as "a festive resumption of the peace process" that would deal with procedural issues about how to move the process forward, the Palestinians saw it as a forum for airing grievances. "This was supposed to be the kickoff of the post-Annapolis process," one Israeli official said. "But if every time we meet there will be nothing but a discussion of current events, we will get nowhere." The two sides agreed to hold another meeting at the end of the month. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's security cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Gaza. Senior security officials told the cabinet that there has been a marked decline in Palestinian support for Hamas in Gaza, due to Israeli sanctions. The cabinet told the defense establishment to continue its pinpointed activities in Gaza against Hamas and other militant groups responsible for firing rockets and mortars. A total of 970 rockets and 1,200 mortar shells have been fired at Israel from Gaza since the start of 2007. Since May 2007, 158 Palestinian militants have been killed and 173 injured in IDF operations in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
See also IDF Chief: Gaza Operation Unavoidable - Roee Nahmias
The current situation in Gaza cannot continue, and ongoing Kassam rocket attacks on Israel may force the IDF to launch a large-scale operation there, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Wednesday at a conference hosted by the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. "You cannot defeat a terror organization without eventually taking control of the territory," he said. "The only reason we have been successful in Judea and Samaria is because we control the area." While the current limited army operations in Gaza impair the capabilities of terror organizations, they would never completely curb all attacks against Israel. (Ynet News)
See also Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel from Gaza Continues
Palestinians in Gaza launched two Kassam rockets into Israel Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
Fatah's armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, announced on Tuesday that they had fired at an Israeli bus near Kedumim, east of the West Bank city of Kalkilya. (Maan News-PA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The new NIE holds that Iran may be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon by the end of 2009 and, with increasing confidence, more warheads by the period 2010 to 2015. That is virtually the same timeline as was suggested in the 2005 National Intelligence Estimate. It is therefore doubtful that the evidence supports the dramatic language of the NIE summary and, even less so, the broad conclusions drawn in much of the public commentary.
If my analysis is correct, we could be witnessing not a halt of the Iranian weapons program - as the NIE asserts - but a subtle, ultimately more dangerous, version of it that will phase in the warhead when fissile material production has matured. The NIE does not reject this theory; it does not even examine it. (Washington Post)
No fewer than 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have just told us that the Iranian nuclear program really is not so dangerous. Before rolling out the peace banners, though, it's worth looking at the agencies' track record in getting these sorts of "estimates" right. As a matter of fact, U.S. intelligence services have so far failed to predict the nuclearization of a single foreign nation. But on the possible nuclearization of a regime that sounds fanatic enough to use this doomsday weapon, the NIE is suddenly to be trusted?
The NIE has little in common with intelligence as it is understood by professionals. Through this sleight of hand, the intelligence services effectively sabotaged the Bush administration's efforts to steer its allies toward a tougher position on Iran. Paris in particular won't be amused about what appears almost like a betrayal. President Nicolas Sarkozy took a great political risk when he turned around French foreign policy and became Europe's leading opponent of a nuclear Iran. The report also betrays a rather naive view of the nature of the Iranian regime. Are the mullahs' intentions really so hard to discern? The writer, a former field operative for the French foreign intelligence service, heads the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. (Wall Street Journal)
Outgoing National Security Council head Ilan Mizrahi claimed Tuesday that Israel had concrete evidence that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon. Its unprecedented development of long-range missiles was also an indication that it aspired to nuclear capability and planned to project its power throughout the entire Middle East and South Asia. "The evidence that we in the State of Israel have is such that I have no doubt that Iran is advancing toward a [nuclear] weapons program," said Mizrahi, who in the past served as deputy head of the Mossad. "I cannot provide more details, but I am convinced that they are moving toward a military program."
Turning to the Palestinian issue, Mizrahi said, "I don't think it will be possible within a year to reach an agreement on the core issues with the Palestinians." Regarding the possibility of Israel talking with Hamas, Mizrahi said, "The Israeli interest, in my mind, is to strengthen the pragmatists and to stop the radicals....Any Israeli agreement of dialogue with Hamas will weaken the pragmatists." (Jerusalem Post)
What Abbas Can Do - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert