Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iranian Jailed for Outing the Mullah Mafia - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
U.S.-Trained Weapons Expert Teaching Hamas Forces (People's Daily-China)
Israeli Support for Roadmap Plan Dips Below 50% - Anthony Jaffee (Washington Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran said Saturday that a package of incentives offered by six countries was "out of the question" because it includes a demand for the country to suspend uranium enrichment activities. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana presented the proposal to Iranian authorities Saturday on behalf of the U.S., China, France, Germany, Britain and Russia. He told reporters in Tehran that the offer was "generous and comprehensive and a starting point for real negotiations" on the country's nuclear program. But Gholam Hossein Elham, Iran's government spokesman, said, "If the package includes suspension, it is not debatable at all....Any precondition regarding suspension would be out of the question." (Washington Post)
In an interview published on Sunday, President Bush said: "We need more sanctions. The next step is for the Europeans and the United States and Russia and China to understand that diplomacy only works if there are consequences. It is the international issue that faces us all. If the people in the Middle East do not think that the United States and Europe, for example, are going to work to provide security, they will find ways to secure themselves. And what the Middle East does not need is a nuclear arms race. It does not need the instability that comes from an innate fear that the West is not strong enough or willing enough to take on the problem."
"When you go to the Middle East and you sit in my seat and listen, yes, there's concern about the Palestinian state. But the dialogue has shifted dramatically from 'solve the Palestinian state and you've solved the problems in the Middle East' to, now, 'solve the Iranian issue and you solve the problems in the Middle East'." (Observer-UK)
On the latest of her nearly monthly visits to Jerusalem, Secretary of State Rice said Sunday that thousands of housing units that Israel is building on captured land were harming peace talks with the Palestinians. Referring to the construction of Jerusalem neighborhoods, Rice said, "I do believe, and the United States believes, that the actions and the announcements that are taking place are indeed having a negative effect on the atmosphere for the negotiation." (New York Times)
See also Olmert to Rice: Israel to Continue Building in Jerusalem - Roni Sofer
"We are not confiscating additional Palestinian lands but building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem which are expected to remain in Israeli hands," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told visiting Secretary of State Rice on Sunday. (Ynet News)
See also Jerusalem Mayor: Jerusalem Is Not a Settlement - Jonathan Lis
A proposal by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski for the construction of 40,000 residential units in various neighborhoods of the capital over the next decade was approved Sunday by the District Planning and Building Committee. The plan aimed to deal with the serious shortage young couples face in hunting for affordable housing, and will include housing for Arabs in eastern Jerusalem, in the northern neighborhoods of A-Tur, Issawiyeh and Shuwafat. "Jerusalem is not a settlement and construction in the capital will continue," the mayor said Saturday. (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
On Sunday, top Israeli defense officials and IDF officers slammed two American-backed initiatives to deploy additional Palestinian forces in the West Bank, saying they are allowing terrorism to flourish. Defense officials say that since 600 PA soldiers trained by U.S. defense contractors in Jordan were allowed to deploy in Jenin last month, there has been an increase in terrorist activity in the city. On Sunday, a 20-kg. bomb detonated next to an IDF force in Jenin without causing any casualties. Terror suspects arrested by PA forces were usually released in a few days or just hours later, one defense official said. Weapons provided by the U.S. to the PA are finding their way to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Jenin as well as in Nablus, a top officer in the IDF Central Command said. In addition, terrorists have infiltrated the ranks of the PA police and military. (Jerusalem Post)
After its violent seizure of Gaza in June 2007, Hamas appears to be as popular as ever. Hamas supporters in Gaza say that despite its failure in almost all fields, Hamas has successfully ended the state of anarchy and lawlessness that prevailed under the Fatah-dominated PA security forces. Hamas officials boasted that not a single foreigner has been kidnapped since the movement took full control of the area.
A Palestinian journalist working for a foreign news agency in Gaza City noted, "Most people here are happy that the Fatah security forces are gone because they were very corrupt and many of their commanders were acting like mafia leaders. They are also happy that all the Fatah gangsters who used to roam the streets and intimidate the people have disappeared. Today no one dares to carry a gun in public." But all this has been achieved at a very heavy price. More than 450 Palestinians have been killed and 1,800 wounded in the power struggle between Fatah and Hamas. "As long as the Palestinians don't see a better alternative to Hamas, they will continue to support the movement," a Palestinian editor from Gaza City said. "Many Palestinians still don't trust Fatah because of its failure to reform itself and remove all the corrupt leaders."
Hamas is desperate to reach a cease-fire agreement with Israel; such a truce would allow Hamas to claim "victory" over Israel and the U.S. and to further consolidate its authority in Gaza. Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah would emerge as the biggest losers from any cease-fire agreement. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The notion of Gaza as an enduringly separate entity is solidifying, making it less likely that Palestinians might agree even among themselves on peace with Israel. "What happened in Gaza a year ago was not really a coup," said an Arabic-speaking Israeli security official. "Hamas' takeover was a kind of natural process. Hamas was so strong, so deeply rooted in Palestinian society through its activities in the economy, education, culture and health care, and Fatah was so weak, so corrupt, that the takeover was like wind blowing over a moth-infested structure."
"Hamas is strong and brutal but very good at governing," observed Eyad Serraj, a British-trained psychiatrist in Gaza. "They have gotten people to pay for car registration. They are getting people to pay their electricity bills after years of everyone refusing to. The city and the hospitals are cleaner than in many years." Jawad Tibi, a health minister under the Fatah government, said, "Hamas is talking about a 30-year truce which is no different really from what we want. Hamas is Fatah with beards." (New York Times)
Some have criticized our presidential candidates' positions on Israel as being in lockstep with the pro-Israel lobby. That view says more about the malevolence or ignorance of those who hold it than it does about the candidates. As one observer wrote recently, Israel's very existence as a Jewish state is viewed as its real crime by its enemies. No politician who believes that Israel has a right to exist and says so will ever win the approval of such extremists.
Thailand, France and India all have lobbies in Washington. Despite widespread American political support for the continued existence of all of those countries, I don't recall these same critics decrying what must be the obvious undue influence the Thai, French and Indian lobbies have over our politicians. Instead, the critics' obsessive focus is on Israel, the world's only Jewish state. I wonder why that is. (Houston Chronicle)
Do Jewish Homes in Jerusalem Really Undermine Peace? - Editorial (New York Sun)
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