Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Washington Rejects Palestinian-Kosovo Comparison (AFP)
Egyptian General Slams Hamas for Destroying Egyptian Border (MEMRI-TV)
Shaken Hamas Still in Control of Gaza - Karin Laub (AP/Washington Post)
Jerusalem on the Monopoly Board - Tim Franks (BBC News)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Mohammad Mohaddessin, a representative of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, claimed Wednesday in Brussels that Tehran had established a command and control center to work on a nuclear bomb and that it was also setting up a center to produce warheads. He said Iran had closed down one center only to open another later with the same purpose, and called the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate "not accurate." He said he had provided the latest information to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday and urged them to investigate more sites in Iran and interview more scientists. Mohaddessin said the information came from sources within Iran, including from among staff at covert nuclear plants. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
The new command and control center, coded-named Lavizan-2, was established at Mojdeh on the outskirts of Tehran last April, near the site of a previous facility razed after its exposure. Production of nuclear warheads is at a complex code-named B1-Nori-8500 at Khojir, about 20 km. further southeast. Mohaddessin said the Khojir site was under the charge of missile expert Mehdi Naghiyan Fesharaki, who was transferred there two years ago. "This means the regime is getting to the point of connecting nuclear weapons to missiles," he said.
"The Iranian regime is undoubtedly developing the nuclear bomb. None of the essential work has been halted....All three parts have been speeded up," he said, referring to uranium enrichment, weaponization, and missile development. "Time is running out to stop the regime acquiring a nuclear bomb. If we do not act today, tomorrow might be too late." (Reuters)
In a speech broacast Wednesday on Iranian state television, President Ahmadinejad said: "World powers have created a black and dirty microbe named the Zionist regime and have unleashed it like a savage animal on the nations of the region." (AFP)
See also Iran Urges UN to Condemn Israel - Edith M. Lederer
Iran urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to condemn Israel over Prime Minister Olmert's Jan. 14 warning that all options were on the table when it comes to keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman responded: "For a country whose leader describes a member state of the United Nations as a dirty microbe and a savage animal, to complain about others' statements is the height of hypocrisy," noting this was "coming from a country which is the world's major sponsor and exporter of terror." (AP)
Acting on American court judgments meant to compensate victims of terrorism, a French court has frozen $85 million belonging to the Central Bank of Iran. An appeals court in Paris is scheduled next week to review whether the funds, held at the French bank Natexis, should remain frozen or be released. (New York Sun)
See also The Nexus Between Iranian National Banks and International Terrorist Financing - Shimon Shapira (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas quickly dismissed Yasser Abed-Rabbo's call Wednesday for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood if negotiations with Israel fail. "We don't think this idea is being seriously considered," one official said. "Everyone - Israel and the Palestinian leadership - is working toward a negotiated settlement." Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei said a unilateral declaration of statehood had never been discussed by the Palestinian leadership. (Jerusalem Post)
A senior Palestinian involved in the talks explained Abed-Rabbo's statements in terms of simple Palestinian politics: "[Abbas] left him outside the team that is holding talks with the Israelis. This is his response." (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that hit an Israeli building on Wednesday night. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The recent violence and chaos on the border separating Gaza from Egypt should serve as a wake-up call about the jihadist threat emanating from the Sinai Peninsula, which has become a recruiting ground for al-Qaeda and, increasingly, an infiltration route into Israel. Israeli officials say the opening of the Gaza-Egypt border fence on Jan. 23 permitted terrorists to enter Egypt. Once in Egyptian territory, they make their way to less-defended areas of Sinai and cross into Israel to stage attacks. Israeli officials say there are as many as 20 terror cells in Sinai preparing to launch attacks on Israel.
Sinai has become the soft underbelly of terror - and a huge security problem for Egypt and Israel and for the tens of thousands of foreign tourists that visit its resorts each year. There are also 1,800 members of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), the Sinai-based international peacekeeping force monitoring compliance with the 1979 peace treaty signed by Egypt and Israel. (Washington Times)
On a recent sun-drenched and unseasonably warm winter afternoon in the Israeli town of Sderot, near the Gaza border, I noticed the near empty sidewalks, yards and parks. Almost no children were outside at play because of daily Kassam rockets fired from Palestinian-controlled and Hamas-governed Gaza. This wasn't the scenario envisioned by the Land for Peace movement. Most believed that the rocket attacks would cease once the 9,000 Jewish settlers abandoned their homes and Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005.
Almost 4,000 rockets later, that hope has evaporated. It is estimated that close to 5,000 people in Sderot have already given up and moved to other parts of Israel. The plight of Sderot has many others in Israel and around the world questioning the wisdom of returning additional territory if the Palestinians will not even recognize Israel's basic right to exist. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The U.S. distributes funds to the Palestinians through the Agency for International Development (USAID). Until now, the U.S. funded only selected projects, which were expected to be vetted and certified by USAID to ensure recipients used the funds only for their allocated purposes, and did not "commit, threaten or support terrorism." Yet in at least 74 cases, according to a December 2007 audit, the USAID mission for the West Bank and Gaza "failed to comply" with the anti-terrorism requirements of Executive Order 13224, and failed to vet subcontractors and require anti-terrorism certification for all contractors and subcontractors who received money. Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is director and Alyssa A. Lappen is Senior Fellow at the American Center for Democracy. (Pajamas Media)
Islam at the Ballot Box - Amir Taheri (Wall Street Journal)
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