Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Jerusalem: Israel Not Obama's First Priority - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas: "Jihad Until Victory" - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Abbas Aide: Obama Never Promised Us Eastern Jerusalem (Maan News-PA)
Vatican Hosts Meeting with Muslim Scholars - Ariel David
Britain Pressing EU to Curb Exports from Israeli Settlements - Donald Macintyre (Independent-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket into the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Wednesday. The Kassam rocket was among 20 fired into Israel between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, an Israeli police spokesman said. (CNN)
See also below IDF Enters Gaza to Thwart Kidnapping Operation, Six Gunmen Killed (Ynet News)
Secretary of State Rice sets out Wednesday on what could be a final push for the sputtering Israeli-Palestinian peace process. This weekend, the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheik will host a summit of the foreign ministers of major powers along with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, perhaps setting markers from which a new U.S. administration could take up the peace process next year. (Christian Science Monitor)
See also Rice Seeks to Document Status of Israeli-Palestinian Talks
U.S. Secretary of State Rice will likely present the next U.S. administration with her own parameters for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said on Tuesday, two days before she arrives for yet another visit to the region. According to assessments in Jerusalem, Rice was likely to present a paper summing up the talks and laying out what she thought needed to be done to reach an agreement, similar to the way President Clinton issued his "Clinton Parameters" before leaving office in January 2001. (Jerusalem Post)
Britain has warned the European Commission and the PA that it wants to prevent its humanitarian funding being swallowed by an increasingly damaging power struggle in Gaza. The Department for International Development is trying to work out how to disburse the funds earmarked in July by Gordon Brown for aid to the Palestinians without it being used merely to offset the impact of paying salaries of health and education employees on strike in Gaza. The British government has made it clear privately that it wants to ensure UK taxpayers' money is directly used to meet vital humanitarian needs. (Independent-UK)
Iran's parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to impeach a cabinet minister who has been a close ally of President Ahmadinejad. Interior Minister Ali Kordan was impeached for having falsely claimed to hold an honorary law degree from Oxford University. The struggle over Kordan has exposed a growing divide in the parliament between the government's remaining backers and those who are abandoning it. Out of 290 deputies, 188 voted for the impeachment of Ahmadinejad's confidant, 45 voted against.
On Sunday, Ahmadinejad called the impeachment "not legal" and "unfair." Kordan is the 10th Iranian minister to leave office, either through impeachment or resignation, since Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005. Ahmadinejad has yet to announce whether he will seek reelection in June. "If he does, he will be a very weak candidate," said Ahmad Zeidabadi, a political analyst and well-known critic of the president. "Anybody who is in touch with Iranian society, in cities and villages, realizes that Ahmadinejad doesn't have much support anymore." (Washington Post)
See also 4th of November Will Be an Unforgettable Day for Ahmadinejad - Meir Javedanfar (Middle East Analyst)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
IDF forces operated in Gaza Tuesday night to collapse a tunnel located 250 meters from the border, which terror groups intended to use for kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Palestinian sources reported that six gunmen were killed in the clashes that ensued during the operation. Six IDF soldiers were wounded.
The IDF force arrived at a structure near al-Bureij and a fierce gunbattle ensued. Shortly afterwards a loud explosion occurred. The army said the intensity of the blast was due to the large amount of explosives stored in the building. After mortar shells were fired at the troops during the operation, the Air Force launched two separate strikes on cells launching mortar shells, killing at least five Hamas gunmen. IDF sources said the operation was "an innately defensive one and not an offensive one." A senior military source called the incident "a ticking tunnel," adding that "this is a pinpoint operation."
Palestinian sources said IDF forces had recently arrested a Palestinian who was hurt while attempting to carry out a suicide bombing in the same area and they assumed the man told the security forces about the tunnel. "The IDF is committed to maintaining the ceasefire and is acting accordingly," Ynet was told. "In this case, we had a credible threat indicating soldiers might be kidnapped and we had no choice but to act in order to thwart it." Security sources said that risking a kidnapping attempt "was not an option." (Ynet News)
The Palestinian Authority told Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem on Tuesday not to vote in next week's municipal elections and said that those who defied the boycott order would face punishment. Mahmoud Abbas' chief of staff, Rafiq Husseini, said, "We call on all [Arab] residents of Jerusalem not to take part in the elections." The PA would stop Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem from voting "by all means," Husseini said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Iran is an existential threat to Israel. This apocalyptic warning call has become a mantra continually repeated by virtually all Israeli leaders and defense officials and has been adopted by much of the U.S. national security establishment. What can be done to forestall an Iranian nuclear weapon? Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns recently participated in negotiations with Iran over the nuclear issue. Others have floated the idea of establishing an interests section in Tehran. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama speaks of engagement as a necessity. On all sides - the U.S., Europe, and Israel - the preference for a diplomatic solution is manifest.
At this point, conditional but all-out engagement, limited in time and closely combined with stringent multilateral sanctions, rapidly followed by a naval blockade, appear to hold the best prospects for success at an acceptable cost, possibly even without bloodshed. Hopefully, further measures will not be required down the line. In any event, let us not engage in unwarranted, self-deterring risk aversion. Iran at least has a good appreciation of the true balance of power and for power politics. The writer, a former deputy national security adviser in Israel, is a senior fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Schusterman fellow. (Arms Control Today)
As the credit crisis spreads havoc and economic gloom around the globe, bankers and policymakers in Israel are growing in confidence that they will weather the storm. The Bank of Israel expects the economy to grow by 4.5% this year and about 2.7% in 2009. This is less than in each of the past five years, when Israel clocked up growth rates of more than 5%. But that expansion contrasts with the faltering economies of Western Europe and the U.S. "We entered this period in relatively good shape. In particular, we started with a budget that was essentially in balance," said Stanley Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel. He said there was no sign the country was slipping into a recession and that "the credit system continues to operate." Fischer said Israel's banks had largely shunned mortgage-backed securities and other risky assets, and were "barely exposed to the subprime crisis." (Financial Times-UK)
Why the Next U.S. President Will Be a Wartime Leader - Michael Eisenstadt (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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