Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
The Secret War with Iran - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
Sir Paul McCartney: Terror Target - Dennis Rice
Six Muslims Found Guilty of Terrorism in Australia - Mick Tsikas
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview published on Sunday he will remain in office until January 2010. Hamas, which defeated Fatah in parliamentary elections in 2006, says Abbas' term ends on January 9, 2009. (Reuters)
See also Abbas: Palestinian Refugees Must Return to Israel - Akiva Eldar and Avi Issacharoff
In an interview, Abbas was asked: "Is it clear that on the issue of the right of return, the refugees will return only to the areas of the Palestinian state?" Abbas replied: ""Not at all. This issue is not at all clear. There are today five million Palestinian refugees whose forefathers were expelled from the area of Israel, not from the West Bank and Gaza. We understand that if we demand of you that all five million return to Israel, the State of Israel would be destroyed. But we must talk about compromise and see to what numbers you can agree....We intend to hold talks with Israel about the number of refugees who will return to its area." (Ha'aretz)
Iraq said on Sunday it would prosecute secular Sunni parliament member Mithal al-Alusi who made a trip to Israel earlier this month for a conference on terrorism and security. "In the name of the government and prime minister, we reject this visit which violated the law and provoked the feelings of the Iraqi people. The government will take all legal measures against this person," minister for parliamentary affairs Safaaeddine al-Safi told the assembly.
Two sons of Alusi were murdered in 2005 and a former culture minister, Asaad al-Hashemi, was found guilty in absentia last month and sentenced to hang for involvement in the killings. (Reuters)
See also Iraqi MP Visits Israel
Chairman of Iraq's Democratic Party, Mithal al-Alusi, arrived at a conference on terror in Herzliya on Wednesday, calling for the establishment of a joint intelligence network with Israel and the U.S. (Jerusalem Post)
The European Union has decided not to renew its funding of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). The organization's director Jeff Halper, who played a leading role in the "Free Gaza" voyage, announced: "We have just heard that our request for re-funding has been rejected." For several years, despite its extreme anti-Israel agenda, ICAHD has been a recipient of major EU funding under the Partnerships for Peace framework. As NGO Monitor demonstrated, an EU grant of 473,000 euros in 2005 constituted the majority of ICAHD's annual budget.
ICAHD routinely refers to Israel as an "apartheid" state, while its director promotes a one-state solution, which would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. NGO Monitor's executive director, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, noted: "ICAHD's facade has finally been acknowledged, and the European Commission has acted appropriately in ending further funding. In reality, ICAHD does nothing to advance coexistence and instead promotes extreme views which fuel the conflict." (NGO Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Friday to keep supporting Hamas until the "collapse of Israel." The Iranian news agency Khabar quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in a phone conversation that Iran views the support of the Palestinian people as part of its religious and national duty and that Iran will stand behind the Palestinian nation "until the big victory feast which is the collapse of the Zionist regime." (DPA/Ha'aretz)
The Israel Defense Forces has issued an order prohibiting soldiers in mandatory service, career soldiers and civilians working for the military from traveling to Sinai, Army Radio reported on Sunday. On Sep. 4, the Counter Terrorism Bureau issued a travel warning on serious terror threats to Israelis in Sinai including suicide bombings at holiday sites and kidnapping Israelis and smuggling them into Gaza. Israel fears that terror cells from Gaza have infiltrated Egypt and are currently searching for Israelis to kidnap or murder. (Jerusalem Post)
A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza Sunday evening landed near a residential complex in the Israeli town of Sderot. One man suffering from shock was taken to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
With Hamas' takeover of Gaza seemingly complete, the West Bank going its own way and scant prospects for reconciliation in the foreseeable future, the crisis of the Palestinian national movement is only worsening. After a series of unfruitful ventures - including the Mecca Agreement and national unity government, the Yemeni Initiative and ongoing Egyptian mediation - the split between Fatah and Hamas as well as between the West Bank and Gaza seem destined to endure and deepen. Some Gazans have gone so far as to speak nostalgically about the days of Israeli occupation when their economic and medical needs were better met, and they could move in and out of Gaza with relative ease.
A divided Palestinian movement is unlikely to be in a position to make bold decisions. A weak Palestinian counterpart is unlikely to gain Israel's trust or encourage it to compromise. A segregated Palestinian entity is unlikely to become a viable state. Under current conditions, prospects for a genuine and sustainable peace process are bad and getting worse. (International Crisis Group)
What happens in January 2009 when Mahmoud Abbas' term as president of the Palestinian Authority expires? With Hamas in control of Gaza, Abbas issued a decree some time ago to hold the presidential elections simultaneously with the legislative council elections in January 2010. Hamas leaders have already begun to declare that Abbas will have no legitimacy after his term ends. Secretary of State Rice remains determined to try to produce an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians on the permanent-status issues of Jerusalem, refugees, security and borders. While that might be desirable, it is simply not in the cards.
Rice would be well advised to direct her attention elsewhere and line up Arab support for Abbas staying in office - something that should not be hard to do. One option would be to try to seize the high ground and put Hamas on the defensive by having Abbas (with a public endorsement from Arab leaders and the Quartet) call for presidential elections to be held as soon as security conditions in Gaza permit. Those conditions would require at least some PA security presence, along with international observers to ensure the elections are free and fair and conducted without Hamas intimidation. (Washington Post)
As the free world tries to formulate an effective response to Russia's recent incursion into Georgia, policymakers might want to consider how we got to this point. The situation in Georgia is the culmination of a failed post-Cold War policy toward Russia. Central to this failure has been ignoring the inherent connection between internal freedom and external aggression. As democracy was rolled back within Russia, the world abandoned an approach that had been so effective during the later stages of the Cold War, when relations with the Kremlin were linked to the expansion of freedom inside the Soviet Union.
If the root of the problem is to be addressed, the focus must return to the matter of democracy within Russia itself. The threat to Georgia, Russia's other democratic neighbors and America ultimately arises from a lack of democracy within Russia. Changing that should be the focus of statecraft today - if we want to ensure that the Kremlin poses no threat to peace tomorrow. (Washington Post)
The Myth of al-Aqsa: The Holiness of Jerusalem to Islam Has Always Been Politically Motivated - Mordechai Kedar (Ynet News)
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