Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Hamas Leader: We Will Never Recognize Israel (Tehran Times-Iran)
PA Daily: Arabs Caused the Palestinian Refugee Problem - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
Hamas, Abbas Hold Surprise Meeting in Ramallah - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Sees Little Progress in Gaza Truce Talks - Marius Schattner (AFP)
Hizbullah in West Africa - W. Thomas Smith Jr. (World Defense Review)
Shekel Goes International - Tal Levy (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The International Atomic Energy Agency, in an unusually blunt and detailed report, said Monday that Iran's suspected research into the development of nuclear weapons remained "a matter of serious concern" and that Iran continued to owe the agency "substantial explanations." The report accused the Iranians of a willful lack of cooperation, particularly in answering allegations that its nuclear program may be intended more for military use than for energy generation. "There are certain parts of their nuclear program where the military seems to have played a role," said one senior official close to the agency. "We want to understand why."
The report also makes the allegation that Iran is learning to make more powerful centrifuges that are operating faster and more efficiently, the product of robust research and development that have not been fully disclosed to the agency. (New York Times)
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that he remains confident Iran's close ally Syria will keep up the struggle against Israel despite its announcement of renewed peace negotiations. "I am sure that the Syrian leadership will manage the situation with wisdom and will not abandon the front line until the complete removal of the Zionist threats," Ahmadinejad told visiting Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani. (AFP)
Iran has secretly paid Iraqi insurgents hundreds of thousands of American dollars to kill British soldiers, according to a leaked government document. Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) - also known as the Mahdi Army - one of the most violent insurgent groups operating in Basra, used money from Iran to recruit and pay young unemployed men up to $300 a month to carry out attacks against the British.
Twenty-seven soldiers died and dozens were seriously injured in southern Iraq between November 2006 and May 2007, the period covered in a report by Major Christopher Job. Tory MP and former infantry commander Patrick Mercer said: "This report makes it quite clear that Iran is directly involved in funding the insurgency." He added: "The government must confront Tehran over the deaths of British troops - anything else is appeasement." (Telegraph-UK)
Iran has made a series of overtures in recent months to restore full diplomatic relations with Egypt, while Cairo has remained coolly noncommittal. Iran needs Egypt to further extend Tehran's influence and legitimacy in the Middle East. Iranian policies, however, have led to regional instability that has often infuriated the Egyptians. "Iran wants Egypt to say that its peace treaty with Israel is dead," said Sadr Hussiani, founder of the Tehran-based Iran-Egypt Friendship Council.
"I think we won't be talking about prospects for the resumption of relations but a clear confrontation between the two countries and an escalation of tension," said Mohamed Abdel Salam, an expert with the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "Iran acts as if it was already in control of the Middle East; it has controlled Iraq, and it is about to control Lebanon." (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The head of the Military Intelligence research division, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Syria was continuing to transfer significant amounts of weapons to Hizbullah. Baidatz said that, in his view, Syria was not really considering changing its attitude toward Iran, despite diplomatic contacts with Israel. He said Hizbullah was continuing to enhance its rocket capability both north and south of the Litani River. "The rockets are coming in from Syria and Iran," he said. He also said that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas will likely not run for reelection in January 2009. (Ha'aretz)
Israel has submitted a complaint to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon against the commander of UNIFIL, General Claudio Graziono, and UNIFIL official Milosh Strugger for giving interviews to the Lebanese press in which they ignored violations of UN Resolution 1701. Graziono said the only violations of the resolution were by Israel, for conducting flyovers in Lebanese air space. Following recent incidents in which UNIFIL soldiers managed to take photos of armed Hizbullah militants, UNIFIL now instructs its soldiers not to take pictures of Hizbullah. (Ha'aretz)
The IDF is planning to move the Gaza crossings several kilometers deeper into Israel and away from the border, defense officials said Monday. There are currently four crossings into Gaza - Karni, Erez, Kerem Shalom, and Sufa. "We want to create a sterile area between the crossings that would reduce the risk of car bombs and other attacks against the crossings," said a defense official working on the project. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
It's hard to exaggerate the significance of Mohammed al-Durra, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly killed by Israeli bullets, whose iconic image crouching behind his father helped sway world opinion against Israel and fueled the last intifada. It's equally hard, then, to exaggerate the significance of last week's French court ruling that called the story into doubt. The whole incident may have been staged for propaganda purposes. If so, it would be one of the most harmful put-up jobs in media history. The judge's verdict said that media watchdog Philippe Karsenty was within his rights to call the France 2 report a "hoax." (Wall Street Journal Europe)
See also A Hoax? - Nidra Poller (Wall Street Journal Europe)
Aria, an 18-month-old baby from Kirkuk in northern Iraq, underwent a successful operation at the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv, where 11 Iraqi children are being treated. The surgery is sponsored by Save a Child's Heart (SACH), a humanitarian organization founded in Israel in 1996. Aria's mother, Paiman, paid tribute to the clinic and the surgeon, Dr. Lior Sasson, saying: "He saved little Aria's life." The mother of Mustafa, 4, from Kirkuk, who has undergone two heart operations in six months, said: "My only fear, which spoils my joy at my son's escape from death, is the revenge my family can expect when we go back to Iraq." (Times-UK)
As much as the dislocations arising from Israel's re-establishment obsess certain people today, they are tiny compared to dislocations that are hardly noticed anymore. For example, just a year before Israel's re-establishment, British-ruled India was partitioned into Hindu and Muslim sectors - India and Pakistan. This uprooted 15 million people and cost about a half million lives, but today no one outside India and Pakistan seems to care.
Europe has partitioned itself too many times to count. From Finland down to Yugoslavia - whoops, Serbia now - it is impossible to walk more than a few miles without crossing what, within the last 200 years, used to be a national border or without finding a town whose name wasn't different not long ago. Traces of vanished and dispersed peoples can be found in practically every country - that's what Connecticut's Indian casinos are supposed to be about - but everyone is forgiven except for the Jews. (Journal Inquirer [CT])
Syria: Between Negotiations with Israel and the Iranian Axis - David Schenker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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