Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Israel Opposes Russian Plans for Moscow Peace Summit - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
UN Sees Iranian Rights Abuses - Edith M. Lederer (AP)
Egyptian College Students Flock to Learn Hebrew - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
At Rocket-Plagued Kibbutz, Kidnapping through Tunnels from Gaza Is Real Worry - Mijal Grinberg (Ha'aretz)
U.S. to Fund Joint Energy Research with Israel - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
As part of a new partnership with Nicaragua's Sandinista President Daniel Ortega, Iran and its Venezuelan allies plan to help finance a $350 million deep-water port at Monkey Point on the Caribbean shore, and then plow a connecting "dry canal" corridor of pipelines, rails and highways across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Iran recently established an embassy in Nicaragua. What worries State Department officials, former national security officials, and counterterrorism researchers is that Iran could stage strikes on American or allied interests from Nicaragua, deploying the Iranian terrorist group Hizbullah and Revolutionary Guard operatives already in Latin America.
Few Nicaragua observers believe Iran has any obvious need for trade ties with one of Latin America's poorest countries. "They use their embassies to smuggle in weapons. They used them to develop and execute plans," said Oliver "Buck" Revell, who served as associate deputy director over FBI intelligence and international affairs. "Diplomats have immunity coming and going. It is a protected center for both espionage and, on occasion, for specific operations. So an embassy in Managua is definitely an area that will be of concern to our national security apparatus." Front and center on many minds is Argentina's contention that Iran, using its embassy as cover, orchestrated two Hizbullah bombings of Israeli and Jewish community targets in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s. (San Antonio Express-News)
See also Breaching America's Borders, How Potential Terrorists Enter the U.S. (San Antonio Express-News)
The London-based al-Hayat quoted French President Nicolas Sarkozy as having told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday to use "all the means of your influence to allow the realization of (the Lebanese presidential election)." "I will no longer make do with talk. I expect action and the last opportunity is Saturday and if the election does not happen I will clearly state my analysis of what happened," Sarkozy said in remarks published Wednesday. France has been leading efforts to mediate an end to the deep Lebanese political crisis, currently focused on the election of a new president. The election has already been postponed nine times. (Reuters/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
After Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told Israel Channel 2 television Tuesday that he was prepared to negotiate an end to the rocket attacks on Israel, senior Israeli government officials indicated that an end to rocket fire from Gaza alone would not be enough to bring about a halt to IDF action in Gaza. Hamas would also have to stop building up its military capabilities. "Israel cannot allow a situation where Hamas is free to build a formidable military machine in Gaza," said one government official. Prime Minister Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said Hamas was "playing games," and that Israel would not deal with Hamas until it accepted the international community's three benchmarks: forswearing violence, recognizing Israel, and accepting previous agreements. "Our partner for discussions on the Palestinian side is the legitimate Palestinian government," Regev said. "Hamas has excluded itself from talks by its continued rejection of the international community's benchmarks."
President Shimon Peres called Haniyeh's overture a "pathetic and misleading attempt to divert international attention away from the crimes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad....If Hamas and Islamic Jihad stop firing rockets at our women and children, Israel will immediately hold its fire, so there is no need for negotiations....Hamas does not give hope to [the Palestinian] people. Its sole purpose is to sow destruction, bloodshed and war, and the moment it ceases its violent crimes, quiet will once again reign in our region." (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired at least four rockets at Israel Thursday morning. Three landed near Sderot, while another landed just south of Ashkelon. One rocket landed near an elementary school in Sderot, where several students suffered from shock. (Ynet News)
Israel's unemployment rate in October stood at 6.9%, down by 1% since January and the lowest in a decade, Army Radio reported Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
After a year's delay, Russia announced this week that it will begin supplying 80 tons of uranium for the nuclear reactor it has built for Iran in Bushehr. Now we're supposed to believe that the Bushehr reactor will have a purely civilian purpose. Yet there is a good reason why the Bush Administration tried to stop the Russians from delivering fuel, and the Clinton Administration lobbied hard against Russia's initial decision to build Bushehr in the 1990s.
John Carlson, until recently the chairman of the IAEA's Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation, has written that "during the normal operation of large light water reactors of the sort Iran is building at Bushehr, the reactor will produce 330 kilograms of near-weapons grade plutonium - enough to make over 50 crude nuclear bombs." Carlson added that the process of separating plutonium from spent fuel from the reactor "employs technology little more advanced than those required for the production of dairy products and the pouring of concrete." (Wall Street Journal)
The next time U.S. Secretary of State Rice touches down in Jerusalem, it might be wise to take her to visit a place she has apparently never been: Har Homa. Although Har Homa sits just north of Bethlehem and just south of the Palestinian villages of Sur Bahir and Umm Tuba, it doesn't abut directly against, or limit or cut off access to, any of them. In fact, Har Homa sits in a relatively unpopulated border area. The planning and approval process for the neighborhood dates back to the early 1990s government of Yitzhak Rabin.
In his famed April 14, 2004, letter to then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, President George W. Bush referred to the "new realities on the ground" that make a full return to the 1949 lines "unrealistic." If this doesn't apply to Har Homa, it's hard to say exactly where else it would. That's why it's troubling that Rice would repeatedly single out construction in a Jerusalem neighborhood that sits within the Israeli side of the security fence and is contiguous with the former border community of Kibbutz Ramat Rahel. In specifically citing Har Homa, the Bush administration is certainly not engendering confidence in the current post-Annapolis negotiations with an Israeli mainstream that knows exactly where Har Homa is. (Jerusalem Post)
For 34 years, Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was not invited to Paris. By the time he left last weekend, it was clear why. Here was Libya’s leader-for-life, now in his 39th year of running a nasty police state, being feted on International Human Rights Day by the leader of a country that authored the Declaration of the Rights of Man. French legislators, to their credit, turned down the colonel’s request to address the National Assembly.
The visit was in part a reward for Libya’s release - after lengthy imprisonment and abuse - of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor unjustly accused of deliberately injecting patients with the virus that causes AIDS. France will help Tripoli build a civilian nuclear power plant and will sell military equipment that will allow Libya to rebuild its forces after years of damaging international sanctions. (New York Times)
Sanction Iran Now - Matthew Levitt (Financial Times Deutschland/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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