Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Where Israelis Live Under the Shadow of Death - Orly Halpern (Globe and Mail-Canada)
Egyptian Goods Continue to Flow into Gaza (Maan News-PA)
Iran Envoy Defends Amputation - Fiona Govan (Telegraph-UK)
Hamas TV Children Sing: "We Will Never Recognize Israel" - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch/IMRA)
Spate of Motorcycle Deaths in Gaza after Border Breach (Maan News-PA)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Hamas leaders in Gaza turned off their cell phones, avoided public appearances and were sleeping in safe houses after Israel threatened Monday to target those responsible for Palestinian rocket attacks on border towns.
On Monday, Vice Premier Haim Ramon said, "I believe the combination of (Israeli) steps against Hamas in Gaza will bring an end to the Hamas regime in Gaza." It might take a few months, but "the Hamas regime in Gaza will not last." Ramon also scaled back hopes for a peace treaty this year with moderate Palestinians, saying the goal now is a "declaration of principles."
Also Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "I don't see the Palestinians giving Gaza back to Fatah....Outside developments might bring this about." Israel, which is negotiating a peace deal with Palestinians based in the West Bank, has made it clear it has no intention of implementing any accord until Hamas is removed from power in Gaza. (AP/Washington Post)
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Cal.), whose experience as the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress shaped his strong support for human rights, died Monday of esophageal cancer. Lantos, born in Budapest to Hungarian Jews, served 14 terms in the House where he was senior Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was co-chairman and founder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a group that highlights human rights violations around the world. In 2006, he was among several members of Congress willingly arrested for protesting outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington to denounce the government's role in the killings in Darfur.
During the Nazi occupation of Hungary, Lantos twice escaped from a forced labor camp. The second time, he found safety in a Budapest apartment rented by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Wearing a military cadet uniform, Lantos used his Aryan appearance - light hair and blue eyes - to deliver food and other supplies to Jews in other safe houses Wallenberg rented. (Washington Post)
See also The Lantos Legacy - Editorial
Tom Lantos had the aura of a statesman: wavy white hair and dignified old world bearing. But there was nothing restrained about the causes he took on in the name of human rights. Genocide in Sudan, repression in Burma, support for the Dalai Lama and pressure on Japan to apologize for sex slaves in World War II were among the issues that Lantos raised unabashedly. His example as a thoughtful and tough-minded statesman will endure. The U.S. Congress will miss a leader of his stature and principle. (San Francisco Chronicle)
The State Department is considering supporting the Palestinian Authority in its quest to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments won by American victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel. Palestinian officials have argued that it makes no sense for the U.S. to be providing millions of dollars in aid to the PA while U.S. courts are threatening to bankrupt it. Secretary of State Rice wrote 13 months ago that "the United States is not party to these enforcement proceedings." But in December, a U.S. federal judge asked the government whether it would get involved, creating the current dilemma for the administration.
Victims said that a U.S. intervention with the courts would make a mockery of the administration's fight against terrorism. "If the State Department tips the scales of justice against the victims in order to support adjudicated terrorists, the war on terrorism will be seen throughout the world as a farce," said David J. Strachman, a Rhode Island lawyer who has spearheaded many of the lawsuits. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has consistently referred to an inevitable large-scale IDF ground operation in Gaza. There are several reasons why the operation has yet to be launched. From a tactical point of view, it is wintertime and when there are clouds in the skies it is difficult to get the maximum out of the IAF's fighter jets, attack helicopters, and reconnaissance drones. Captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is another factor.
The operation into Gaza will have two primary goals: First, to significantly weaken Hamas by destroying its terrorist infrastructure and removing it from governmental power. The second goal - which has proven more urgent in recent weeks with the collapse of the Gaza-Egypt border wall - calls for reoccupying the Philadelphi corridor, sealing it off, and preventing the smuggling of weapons or terrorists into Gaza. The idea will be to slice up the Gaza Strip into several sections and to begin cleansing them of terrorists and terror infrastructure. This, however, will not be an easy task since Hamas has had more than two and a half years to build up its military and prepare. (Jerusalem Post)
In contrast with the figures reported for the 2007 Palestinian census, the number of Arabs in the West Bank is 1.5 million, not 2.3 million, and the number of Gaza Arabs is 1.1 million, not 1.5 million. While the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics contends a 30% population growth during the last ten years, the World Bank documents a substantial erosion of the Palestinian fertility rate and a significant escalation of emigration. Israel's Border Police and European observers have documented net Palestinian emigration of 12,000 in 2004, 16,000 in 2005, and 25,000 in 2006, with expectation of a significant rise in 2007. The 1997-2003 average annual net emigration was over 10,000.
The actual population west of the Jordan River - without Gaza - shows a Jewish majority of 67%, compared with a 33% Jewish minority in 1947, including Gaza. (Ynet News-Hebrew/IMRA)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel Monday evening that fell south of Ashkelon. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The longer the siege against the civilian population of Sderot continues, the more the Palestinians are seen more as aggressors and less as victims. Palestinian rocket fire has turned Sderot into a version of Stalingrad, whose stand against the Germans in World War II came to be viewed by many as the turning point in the war. The world is beginning to view the people of Sderot as true victims of brutality against civilians. The Kassam rockets have acted to delegitimize the Palestinians as a people capable of governing an independent state.
The perceived message of the Kassam is: "We will drive you out of Sderot, and from Ashkelon after that, and out of all the kibbutzim that line the Israeli-Gaza border that were one of the strongest voices in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Land for peace is dead. Israel is dead. It's only a matter of time." (Ha'aretz)
The irony of Palestinians literally streaming out of Gaza was not lost on some Arab observers. In recent days, Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed, the director of Al-Arabiya television, and Tariq Alhomayed, the editor of Asharq Alawsat, both drew attention to the failures of Hamas governance; the utter illogic of its rocket-firing policy, for which Palestinians pay a heavy price; and Hamas' terrible indifference to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.
Egypt made commitments to Israel at the time of its withdrawal from Gaza on smuggling and the border that have not been fulfilled. Given that history, if Egypt now finds a way to allow Hamas to gain far more control over the border and acquiesces about Hamas being able to bring whoever and whatever it wants into Gaza, Israel will not only face a greater threat but also conclude that commitments made by others on security amount to little more than slogans. The writer is counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New Republic)
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