Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Betancourt: Free Gilad Shalit (Reuters/Ynet News)
UN Peacekeepers Salute Hizbullah Terrorists - Joseph Abrams (FOX News)
Middle East Deal Doable, Says British PM (AFP)
Palestinian Extremist in Lebanon Killed in Clash with Fatah - Zeina Karam (AP/Washington Post)
Poles Who Rescued Jews Honored in Warsaw - Vanessa Gera (AP)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iranian and American officials were deadlocked Saturday after their highly publicized meeting failed to produce a breakthrough. After six unproductive hours the Iranians were given two weeks to respond. "Iran has a choice to make: negotiation or further isolation," said U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. The negotiations, in Geneva, allowed the U.S. to press its demand for the immediate suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment program. However, Iran refused to agree to any such proposal.
Diplomats described the talks as a final attempt to persuade Iran that it must freeze its nuclear program. "They can take this message away with them to Iran," said a British official. "If they don't agree to our proposals, we will have to start imposing sanctions." (Times-UK)
See also Heat Rises Under Iran - Jay Solomon
The U.S. is fine-tuning new financial penalties against Iran that would target everything from gasoline imports to the insurance sector, and the prospect of such sanctions grew after talks over its nuclear-fuel program this weekend made no progress. The sanctions could include measures to impede Iran's shipping operations in the Persian Gulf and its banking activities in Asia and the Middle East, officials said. "We have not gotten all the answers to the questions," said EU foreign-policy coordinator Javier Solana after Saturday's meeting. He said the two-week timeframe was meant to give Iran the space to come up with "the answers that will allow us to continue." (Wall Street Journal)
A federal judge in Washington is ordering Iran to pay $12 million for the emotional distress incurred by the wife of a prominent Iranian dissident assassinated in France in an operation investigators there blamed on the Iranian government. Judge Henry Kennedy ordered the award in a lawsuit brought by Shahintaj Bakhtiar, who was married to Chapour Bakhtiar when he was stabbed to death and mutilated at his Paris home in 1991. Bakhtiar was a longtime critic of the Shah's regime who briefly served as Iran's prime minister.
American courts have awarded at least $8.6 billion in default judgments against Iran for terrorist acts carried out by groups it sponsors, such as Hamas, Hizbullah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The awards are rarely collected, because Iran has few assets in America. (New York Sun)
An interfaith conference convened in Madrid by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia concluded on a sour note Friday as Christian and Jewish participants complained that the organizers, the Muslim World League, had too much control over the conference's closing communique. The final statement rankled several of the conference participants because it differed from an earlier agreed-upon draft. The vast majority of participants never had a chance to review any version of the statement before Abdul Rahman Al-Zaid of the Muslim World League read it aloud. "For us as participants from other religions this is not an acceptable procedure for adopting documents," said George Ryabykh, a Russian Orthodox priest participating in the conference. (New York Sun)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Director of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet Sunday, "We have intelligence indicating terror activities are possible both on the northern and southern fronts. Hizbullah may choose to use one of their still disputed subjects, such as the Shaaba Farms or Imad Mugniyah's assassination." Regarding the Iranian threat, Yadlin said Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear developments, despite the international community implementing some diplomatic and financial duress. Syria, he said, is "escaping its international isolation, despite assisting Hizbullah. Damascus is taking several steps in order to get closer to the West, but is still very much a part of the axis of terror." Yadlin said that in Gaza, "quality arms are still being smuggled into the Strip." (Ynet News)
With the uncovering of a second Arab-Israeli cell with ties to al-Qaeda in the space of a few weeks, we learn that among Arab Israelis, like the Palestinians in the territories, there is growing support for the messages of al-Qaeda. For some years now the public declarations of Bin Laden and his aides have increasingly focused on Israel and Jewish communities around the world as targets for terrorist attacks. It is also known that cells linked with al-Qaeda operate with relative ease in Gaza. The desire of al-Qaeda to operate in Israel is finding fertile ground. There are those who will willingly offer assistance - and therefore the likelihood of a strike by international jihad on Israeli soil (similar attacks have already taken place in Jordan and Sinai) is of reasonable likelihood. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
You can take whatever side you like in the Israeli-Palestinian debate. You can argue who is entitled to land and statehood and borders. But you cannot defend the frenzied lovefest that took place for Samir Kuntar in Lebanon, as if he were some long-lost statesmen, instead of a common murderer who did the worst thing you can do: take the life of a child. How do people celebrate such a killer? Is it because the little girl was Israeli - and Israel is the enemy? Since when does a 4-year-old know of politics or war? An Israeli soldier who deliberately smashed a child's head on a rock would be tried as a criminal, not cheered like a hero.
The total disregard for life of anyone who does not believe what Hizbullah believes stands in stark contrast to the value of life - and even of its demise - that Israel demonstrated in bringing those two bodies back. (Detroit Free Press)
See also Hero's Welcome Puts Hizbullah's Barbarity on Display - Editorial
If blackmailing Israel into releasing a child-murderer is what Hizbullah and its supporters consider a triumph, they have no one to blame but themselves when the world ignores or rejects the cause they claim to represent. The episode is a useful reminder that it is wrong to put the cause of Israel on a par with the cause of its enemies. One side represents reverence for life. The other has no regard for life. (Miami Herald)
Why did PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, described as a moderate and said to be committed to peace with Israel, join in the unseemly celebration of child murderer Samir Kuntar by announcing his congratulations to Kuntar's family? Abbas' gesture of goodwill to Kuntar only reinforces the paranoid culture of hate in Palestinian society and undercuts his responsibility to tone down official expressions of hate. Abbas must prepare his people in mind and spirit for peace with the Israelis if negotiations are to succeed in producing a lasting resolution to the conflict. (Chicago Sun-Times)
A new monograph by the RAND Corporation, a prominent U.S. think-tank, titled "Iran's Political, Demographic, and Economic Vulnerabilities," finds that despite the theocratic basis of its state, most Iranians perceive the regime as legitimate. It notes, "The regime appears to be under no imminent danger of collapse or coup." "Ethnic cleavages persist in Iran but do not provide an easy means of swaying Iran's leadership. Although Persians, the dominant group, account for only half the population, Iranian governments have been relatively successful in inculcating an Iranian identity into citizens from most other ethnic groups by emphasizing Shi'ism as a unifying force and fostering Iranian nationalism."
Gary Sick, who was on the staff of the National Security Council under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan, said, "It is not an effective strategy to try and overthrow the regime. It would require massive resources and a long, long time. This is a 2,500-year-old entity. Most tribes identify themselves as Iranian first; they are looking for more respect, not to overthrow the government." The report noted that during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, living standards plummeted. Yet opposition to the war was muted because most Iranians rallied around the flag. (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
Gillerman: When Muslims Kill Muslims, Nobody Cares - Deborah Solomon (New York Times)
Outgoing Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman said in an interview:
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