Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
U.S. Waives Congressional Restriction on Egypt Aid (Reuters)
U.S. House of Representatives Condemns Rocket Attacks on Israel - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
Poll: Support for Israel Up Among Americans - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
Two Arab Militants Arrested in Philippines for Plotting Embassy Attacks (Reuters)
New York Passes Law Against "Libel Tourists" (Times-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israeli forces will not attack the Gaza Strip if Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups halt their cross-border rocket salvoes, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Wednesday. Speaking after his security cabinet authorized a campaign to stop rocket attacks from Gaza and undermine the territory's Islamist Hamas rulers, Olmert signaled a willingness by Israel to hold its fire. "One thing should be clear: If there is no Kassam (rocket) fire on Israel, there will be no Israeli attack on Gaza. We do not wake up in the morning and think about how to attack Gaza," Olmert said. (Reuters)
After coming under heavy pressure from the U.S., Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that he intended to resume negotiations with Israel following talks with Secretary of State Rice. Abbas later said he would return to peace talks only when Israel reached a truce with Hamas. That prompted Rice to telephone Abbas, who then released a statement that the peace process was a "strategic choice and we have the intention of resuming." (New York Times)
"We all support resistance to the Israelis," said Hitam Abed Rabo, 33, who supports Hamas. "They [the Israelis] talk about responding to rockets, but nothing justifies what the Israelis did here. They have to be confronted with strong resistance, so they don't come back." Will firing rockets on Israeli towns bring independence and freedom? "Yes," she said. "Absolutely." Ayash Abed Rabo, 34, her cousin, scoffed. "These rockets are a joke," he said. "We want to live. We want peace. I don't want Israel here, and I don't want resistance."
It was a conversation that, in various forms, was repeated across Gaza this week. There is anxiety in Gaza about Hamas, which has moved swiftly to consolidate its power and whose armed policemen and military men are visible in the streets. They provide order and have ended security chaos and much crime, but they are also an intimidating force, smoothly breaking up a Fatah rally called for Wednesday by changing its venue, turning back buses of supporters trying to reach Gaza City, and putting hundreds of men, armed with guns and wooden sticks, along the streets. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed and another seriously wounded when Palestinian militants blew up an IDF jeep patrolling the Gaza border on Thursday. The jeep blew up as it passed over explosives next to Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha on the Israeli side of the border. Rescue units came under Palestinian gunfire. (Ha'aretz)
More than 700 claims for property damage in Sderot and communities bordering Gaza were filed with the tax authorities in the past week, and another 260 were filed by Ashkelon residents - all due to Palestinian rocket attacks. 113 cars and 565 buildings were damaged, including at least 30 cars and 230 buildings in Ashkelon. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinians in Gaza fired 14 rockets into Israel on Wednesday. In the morning, three rockets were fired at the western Negev, and another two hit near a kibbutz south of Ashkelon. In the evening, nine rockets struck near Sderot and Ashkelon. (Jerusalem Post)
President Bush on Wednesday named James Cunningham as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, to replace Richard Jones. Cunningham, a career diplomat, has served over the past three years as consul-general in Hong Kong, and previously served as deputy U.S. representative to the UN. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
My concerns about Iran have been echoed by the British Parliaments' Foreign Affairs Committee, and the chief UN nuclear inspector. Here is how the British Committee's chairman put it, following a visit to Iran and based on the extensive evidence received by the group: "There is a strong possibility that Iran could establish a 'breakout' nuclear weapons capability by 2015. A 'breakout capability' is the ability to manufacture a nuclear device within a short period of time by virtue of its nonmilitary nuclear technical capabilities and assets." This is precisely what I and other critics of the National Intelligence Estimate have been saying. Iranian President Ahmadinejad seems to agree. Last Friday he boasted that Iran "will have the final victory in the nuclear arena." This doesn't sound like he's talking about a peaceful nuclear alternative energy source in his oil-soaked nation. (FrontPageMagazine)
The underlying moral disparity between the sides takes on particularly sinister attributes when terrorist rockets are purposely launched from crowded civilian sites to deter Israel from striking back at the rocket cells. This makes it a lose-lose situation for Israel. If it responds vigorously, it will be censured for the likely loss of life. If it doesn't respond, it abandons increasingly larger numbers of its own civilians to "the Palestinian roulette."
According to all rules of warfare, including the Geneva Convention, Hamas' brazen use of human shields is nothing short of a war crime. When the crimes of Gaza's terrorists against their own people are consistently overlooked around the world, it can only encourage the Islamists' immorality. Democracies the world over need to internalize what is taking place here, to pin blame where it is due, and to condemn Hamas for its heartlessness toward its own people. (Jerusalem Post)
Where are the UN resolutions condemning Hamas for attacking Israel from Gaza, long after Israel pulled out? This past week, the Security Council sent the wrong message, criticizing both sides. The criticism of Israel essentially negated the criticism of Hamas, thus ensuring that Hamas will continue its rocket fire. Is the world going to sit back and let events unfold with a certain inevitability, and then complain about Israel's "disproportionate" response? Or will its leaders address the obvious question: Shouldn't we be doing everything in our power to make sure that rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza, and weapons smuggling into Gaza, are halted? Not so much because we worry about what is happening to Israelis, but because it is the only way to make sure that Israel doesn't invade Gaza?
The Bush administration, together with the other members of the Quartet who pushed the Annapolis process, should make it a priority to bring the rocket assaults to a stop, because an Israeli invasion of Gaza will surely bring a suspension of the peace talks. The writer is national director of the Anti-Defamation League. (New York Sun)
The Palestinian radicals who are firing rockets into Israeli towns measure success by the number of civilians who die. Here's the weird part - they don't care whether it's Jewish Israelis who die or their own Palestinian brothers. More significantly, Palestinian groups such as Hamas view the death of each Arab woman or child as a propaganda victory in the religious war against Israel.
This is, sadly, old news. In the 1980s, before the Palestinians had rockets, they would arrange for children to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers, then they - the Palestinian fighters - would fire bullets at the Israelis from inside the crowds. Hamas' real objective was not to kill Israeli soldiers but to ensure Arab children got killed in the crossfire. Was this depraved? You bet. But it was effective. Israel is a liberal democracy and it didn't like being blamed for the deaths of civilians, so gradually it disengaged from the disputed Palestinian territories. In the case of Gaza, Israel withdrew completely. No matter, Hamas wanted to continue the fight, which brings us to today. (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)
Israel Has No Other Alternative, Must Stop the Rocket Fire from Gaza - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni told the diplomatic corps in Jerusalem on Monday:
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