Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Hamas Fabricating Fuel Crisis in Gaza (M&C)
France, U.S., UK Walk Out at UN After Libya's Comparison of Gaza to Nazi Death Camps (Los Angeles Times)
Most-Wanted Saddam Hussein Aide Captured in Iraq (Telegraph-UK)
Israeli-Made Georgian Drone Shot Down Near Russia - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
British Police "Have Foiled 15 Terror Plots Since 7/7" - Richard Edwards (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
A letter that President Bush personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon four years ago has emerged as a significant obstacle to the president's efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during his last year in office. Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush's letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush's peace plan officially calls for a freeze of Israeli settlements.
In an interview this week, Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed this understanding in a secret agreement reached between Israel and the U.S. in the spring of 2005, just before Israel withdrew from Gaza. In a key sentence in Bush's 2004 letter, the president stated, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Weissglas said he then negotiated a "verbal understanding" with deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams that would permit new construction in those key settlements; Rice and Sharon then approved the Weissglas-Abrams deal.
U.S. officials say no such agreement exists, and in recent months Rice has publicly criticized construction on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which Israel does not officially count as settlements. National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, at a news briefing in January, suggested that Bush's 2004 letter was aimed at helping Sharon win domestic approval for the Gaza withdrawal. "The president obviously still stands by that letter of April of 2004, but you need to look at it, obviously, in the context of which it was issued," he said. (Washington Post)
The White House is preparing to make public on Thursday video evidence of North Koreans working at a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor just before it was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Sept. 6. Senior officials in Israel and the U.S. have said the target was a nascent nuclear reactor that had been under construction for years, modeled on the reactor North Korea used to obtain the fuel for its small nuclear weapons arsenal. The video, believed to have been obtained through Israeli intelligence services, shows Korean faces among the workers at the Syrian plant. (New York Times)
Sources familiar with the video, taken last summer, say it shows that the Syrian reactor core's design is the same as that of the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, including a virtually identical configuration and number of holes for fuel rods. (Washington Post)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Monday for the disarmament of Hizbullah's well-armed militia. In his six-month report to the Security Council, Ban warned that Lebanon will not be a fully sovereign, democratic state until Hizbullah is disbanded. "Hizbullah's maintenance of a paramilitary capacity poses a key challenge to the government's monopoly on the legitimate use of force," he said. "It is high time, 18 years after the end of the civil war, 8 years after the Israeli withdrawal, 3 years after the withdrawal of the Syrian troops, and 1 1/2 years after the war between Israel and Hizbullah, for all parties concerned, inside and outside of Lebanon, to set aside this remaining vestige of the past." (AP/USA Today)
Read the UN Report
"Palestinian refugee camps continue to pose a major challenge to stability and security in Lebanon, in particular due to the presence of a range of non-state actors in the camps. I remain concerned that threats from al-Qaeda-inspired militias in Palestinian refugee camps continue." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel does not engage in espionage activity in the United States, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Aryeh Mekel said Wednesday. "Since 1985, the prime ministers' orders to refrain from engaging in this kind of activity have been strictly followed," he said. "The U.S.-Israel relationship has always been premised on true friendship as well as shared values and interests," he said. (Ynet News)
See also No Sign Spy Affair Will Harm U.S. Ties - Hilary Leila Krieger
Several U.S. officials have downplayed the arrest of a former U.S. army engineer on charges he spied for Israel, and suggested fears of blowback are unjustified. They pointed to the lengthy amount of time - 23 years - since the espionage is alleged to have occurred and the understandings that emerged between the two states after the arrest of Jonathan Pollard. Bruce Reidel, a former CIA official and Middle East analyst, said, "given the passage of time, I think both governments will not want this to upset the already many difficult issues they have to deal with."
"If there was a real schism, believe me, we'd know it," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "There's no schism here." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The first substantive session of the Preparatory Committee for the Durban II Conference opened in Geneva on Monday. Three quarters of the opening day was spent on an Iranian-driven attempt to deny accreditation to the NGO called the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy. Algeria was concerned about Jewish money, or "their sources of funding." The Palestinian observer complained the NGO supported Israeli settlements and no NGO supporting an illegal activity could be involved in Durban II. Libya acted as the meeting's chair, Iran as a vice chair, and Cuba as rapporteur.
Iran outlined Durban II's agenda: "The emerging of new forms of racism in the aftermath of the Durban  Conference, particularly after 9/11 and under the pretext of the so-called war on terror, reflects the visible rise of the contemporary forms of racism throughout the world and especially against Muslims." In other words, Durban II is an Islamic offensive to define Muslims as the preeminent victims of racism, at the hands of Western colonizers acting under the pretense of ending terrorism. The writer is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. (National Review)
They once plotted insurrection in Britain. Young, middle-class, and angry, they were the vanguard of a generation of disaffected Muslims that gave rise to the July 7, 2005, transportation bombers. But now, in one of the most visible assaults on political Islam from within the British Muslim community, a network of ex-radicals launched on Tuesday a movement to fight the same ideology that they once worked to spread. The Quilliam Foundation - named for a 19th-century British convert to Islam - aims to propagate a tolerant and pluralistic view of Islam among young Muslims who are the most vulnerable to radicalism.
"The ideology of Islamism has sadly become the default for political discourse among young British Muslims," says the foundation's director, Maajid Nawaz, a former radical who until last year was a leader of the Hizb ut-Tahrir group, which wants to revive an international caliphate across the Muslim world. (Christian Science Monitor)
Bush's Mideast Peace Hopes - Massimo Calabres (TIME)
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