Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Assad Aide: Syria Won't Sever Iran Ties for Peace with Israel - Yoav Stern and Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
IDF: Terror Groups Planning Major Attacks on Israel - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
Wakf Official Banned from Temple Mount for Incitement - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
Holocaust Remembrance Day to Begin Tonight - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
Arab Internet Hackers Attack Bank of Israel Website - Guy Grimland (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Bush said Tuesday that last week's disclosure of evidence of a nearly completed nuclear reactor in Syria was intended to warn North Korea and Iran about the dangers of spreading nuclear weapons. Making the first remarks in public about the Israeli attack by any American official, Bush said that his administration maintained a cloak of secrecy to avoid the risk of further military conflict in the region, including possible Syrian retaliation against Israel. He said that risk of conflict "was reduced" now.
Bush said the disclosure of a covert Syrian reactor, which Syria has denied, should persuade other countries to support UN Security Council resolutions intended to keep Iran and other countries from developing nuclear arms. "We have an interest in sending a message to Iran and the world for that matter about just how destabilizing a nuclear proliferation would be in the Middle East," he said. (New York Times)
"The leaders of Hamas are increasingly serving as the proxy warriors of an Iranian regime that is destabilizing the region, seeking a nuclear capability and proclaiming its desire to destroy Israel," Secretary of State Rice said Tuesday. "How can any government negotiate with a group that sees every agreement, every choice not as a compromise to advance peace, but as a tactic to later advance war?" she asked. "The only responsible policy is to isolate Hamas and defend against its threats until Hamas makes the choice that supports peace," Rice said. (AFP)
See also Rice Sees Little Chance for Syria-Israel Peace Deal - Barry Schweid
Rice also poured cold water on any prospects that Israel and Syria could negotiate peace terms. Rice said the Bush administration had tried to interest Syria in peacemaking, with such moves as an invitation to a Mideast conference last November in Annapolis, Md. "It is hard to see there is a Syrian regime receptive" to negotiations with Israel at this point, she said. "Syria is like Iran's sidecar," she said, aligning itself tightly with a country that threatens Israel's existence. And "you know about Syria's nuclear program," Rice added. (AP/Washington Post)
Israel's deputy prime minister Shaul Mofaz said in an interview he believes the Golan Heights is a "strategic asset" and should not be relinquished to the Syrians, in part because of that country's close alliance with Iran. "The moment that the Golan Heights gets into the Syrians' hands, it means Iran will be in the Golan Heights. Close your eyes and think about what kind of threat that is for Israel," he said. Mofaz is in the U.S. for meetings with top Bush administration officials at the semi-annual American-Israeli strategic dialogue.
Mofaz said he did not expect that Syria could be easily pried away from the Iranian orbit. "If the Syrians are serious...let's talk about all the terror activity against us," Mofaz said. "Let's send out of Damascus all of the headquarters of the Palestinian terror groups, stop support for Hizbullah. Then we will understand they mean business. To be in this radical group and to be one of its leaders and then say give us the Golan Heights is ridiculous." (New York Sun)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
PA head negotiator Ahmed Qureia has rejected a proposed map of a future agreement presented by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in which Israel would retain control of the larger settlement blocs in the West Bank as well as the Jordan River Valley and Jerusalem. Qureia also rebuffed comments made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday regarding special security arrangements for a mountain ridge in Palestinian territory east of Ben-Gurion Airport. "We reject any demand, any position, or any Israeli statement regarding territory outside the 1967 borders," Qureia said. (Ynet News)
Hamas gunmen have raided the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, stealing at least 60,000 liters of fuel meant for the Gaza power station, the head of the PA's gas agency, Mojahed Salam, confirmed Tuesday. "They took control of the fuel and fired toward the terminal in order to torpedo the flow of fuel to the Strip and to pressure Egypt into reopening the Rafah border crossing," said Salam.
Also Tuesday, an Egyptian security official said that Egyptian border guards discovered two tunnels north of the Rafah border crossing that were used to pump fuel into Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired 15 rockets and 20 mortar shells at Israel on Tuesday. Five people were lightly wounded by rockets in Sderot. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Iran's defiant pursuit of nuclear technology has raised the specter of a nuclear war in the Middle East. It has also led to a debate over what role, if any, the U.S. should play in securing Israel against what appears to be an inevitable nuclear threat from the Islamic Republic. Some argue that because Israel is small, any nuclear attack would incapacitate its ability to launch a counter-attack, thereby diminishing the credibility of Israel's nuclear deterrent. Such statements overlook the considerable investment Israel has made in insuring against precisely just such a scenario.
Were Iran to precipitate a nuclear exchange with Israel, the results would be calamitous for both sides. In a study for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in 2007, Anthony Cordesman concluded that Israel could lose between 200,000 and 800,000 people while Iran could suffer as many as 16 to 28 million fatalities. The large disparity in death toll derives in part from Israel's quantitative and qualitative nuclear superiority: they would deliver significantly more weapons at much higher yields (i.e. destructive force) than Iran, and far more accurately to boot. Though Iran is a large country, its vulnerabilities are numerous: Tehran, a city of some 15 million, sits in a "topographic basin with a mountain reflector," Cordesman wrote. "Nearly ideal nuclear killing ground."
Iran also lacks the kind of medical, civil and missile defenses that the Israelis possess. These weaknesses led Cordesman to conclude that though Israel would suffer grievously, it could emerge from such an exchange. On the other hand, he wrote, "Iranian recovery is not possible in the normal sense of the term." (Yahoo/RealClearPolitics)
After a UN World Health Organization report harshly condemned Israel for allegedly preventing Palestinians from gaining admission to Israeli hospitals, media coverage of the report greatly benefitted from the swift and effective response by Israeli officials. The New York Times noted that "Israeli officials rejected the findings....They said that the people who had compiled the report had never asked them about the cases, that Israeli officials had no records of entry permits being sought in some of the cases, and that details of other cases were inaccurate."
In one case, Col. Nir Press, commander of the Israel Defense Forces' Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, responded specifically to a WHO claim that Israeli delays had caused the death of a critically ill boy. Disputing the charges, Press said Israel approved an application for the patient's transfer to an Israeli hospital the same day it was received, but that delay ensued at the behest of a Palestinian doctor seeking to stabilize the boy's condition before moving him. Press' rejoinders and their reverberation in the media's coverage are a reminder that nothing in the war of ideas and images takes the place of the all-important work of refuting defamation. The writer is Executive Director of CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. (Jerusalem Post)
Syria, the NPT, and the IAEA - Ephraim Asculai (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
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