Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Report: Bin Laden Has Ordered an Attack Bigger than 9/11 (MEMRI)
Merrill Lynch: Israel Less Vulnerable to Economic Crisis than U.S. and Europe - Rotem Sella (Ha'aretz)
Israel Offers to Desalinate Water for Jordan - Ehud Zion Waldoks (Jerusalem Post)
2,000-Year-Old Golden Earring Found in Jerusalem - (AP/FOX News)
Swedish Court: Civil Servant Unlawfully Demoted for Pro-Israel Views - Cnaan Liphshiz (Ha'aretz)
Israel Offers More Help to Vietnam in Agricultural Training (VietNamNet Bridge)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Samples taken from a Syrian site bombed by Israel last year contained traces of uranium combined with other elements that merit further investigation, diplomats said Monday. (AP/MSNBC)
See also Formal Report Drafted on Syria Atom Probe - Mark Heinrich
The UN nuclear watchdog is drafting an investigative report on Syria for the first time, suggesting to Western diplomats the agency has found some sign of undeclared activity at a site bombed by Israel last year. Moreover, Syria has been made an official agenda item at the year-end November 27-28 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors, unlike previously when IAEA officials said initial inquiries were inconclusive. (Reuters)
The incoming Obama administration plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan - including possible talks with Iran, according to Obama national security advisers. The Bush administration has kept Tehran at arm's length, but "as we look to the future, it would be helpful to have an interlocutor" to explore shared objectives, said one senior U.S. military official. The Iranians "don't want Sunni extremists in charge of Afghanistan any more than we do," he said. (Washington Post)
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni urged U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden in a telephone call to keep up a tough line on Iran and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, her ministry said on Monday. "Iran, Hamas and other extremists are testing our attitude, and they must understand that the world will not be tolerant towards extremists and terrorism," she said. "It is of the utmost importance that we keep up our coordination against the Iranian threat because time is not on the side of the moderates," she said, in the call initiated by Biden. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the goods crossings into Gaza to remain closed on Tuesday in response to Palestinian rocket attacks that have pounded southern Israel in recent days. Palestinian sources reported that fuel shortages were forcing Gaza's main power station to shut down, causing blackouts.
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Hamas is using Gaza's electricity to attack Israel. "It's a pity that we are falling for this propaganda. I can confirm one thing, if there is only one kilowatt in all of Gaza it will be in one place only - a workshop that manufactures rockets," he told Army Radio. The Foreign Ministry published a statement saying, "The ongoing fire of rockets and mortar shells is causing an impossible situation in which Israel cannot supply Gaza with the supplies necessary," adding that electricity and water were still being transferred. (Ynet News)
Pro-Palestinian activists who have been sailing to Gaza in a bid to break Israel's siege of the Strip are seeking a confrontation with the authorities, which is why they have not been stopped so far, an Israeli official involved in handling the issue said Sunday. "We judge every incident individually. The past three times, the boats have been allowed entry because it was decided that an operation to stop them was not worth conducting," the official said.
The Israeli official described the sailing activists as "ridiculous people who play into Hamas' hands. They want to be stopped and they are looking for a confrontation, so we decided not to give them one....This has no significance, other than being a gimmick. The people on board are professional anarchists and pro-Hamas activists." (Jerusalem Post)
A conference sponsored by the Brussels-based European Friends of Israel attended by hundreds of European parliamentarians concluded over the weekend in Paris with a discussion on the rehabilitation of Palestinian refugees. The debate came amid a groundswell of parliamentary activity around the world, including in the U.S. and Canada, to reroute funding from UNRWA, the UN body that deals with Palestinian refugees and their descendants, towards the resettlement of some of the refugees in third countries.
"Instead of helping the refugees we are helping those who want to [use] the refugees against the State of Israel," said Paulo Casaca, a member of the European Parliament from Portugal. "The EU has a moral obligation to examine the root of the problem instead of throwing money at the problem, as we have in the past," said Hannu Takkula, a member of the European Parliament from Finland. (Jerusalem Post)
IDF soldiers on Monday detained a Palestinian who attempted to smuggle a pipe bomb through the Taysir checkpoint, southeast of Jenin. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Iran, the ultimate mischief maker with global reach, astounding patience, a shameless marriage to mayhem and terrorism, and interests that fall squarely in opposition to those of the U.S., is making major diplomatic inroads under Washington's nose. Over the last year, Iran has worked diligently to expand relations with a host of Latin American countries, most of which have populist leaders who harbor a strong distrust of the U.S. and are looking for a powerful friend to help them rebuff Washington's influence. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has received an Iranian ammunition factory, a car assembly plant, and a cement factory. Paraguay's new president, Fernando Lugo Mendez, was lauded in the Iranian media as "an enemy of the Great Satan" after naming Hizbullah sympathizer and fundraiser Alejandro Hamed Franco as the country's new foreign minister.
Bolivian President Evo Morales lifted visa restrictions on Iranian citizens in exchange for a $1.1 billion Iranian investment in Bolivia's gas facilities. Visa-free Iranian travel means the potential creation of a terrorist base of operations in America's backyard. If anyone with an Iranian passport may enter Bolivia without a visa, the country will soon be open to covert officers of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard, which the State Department recently declared a terrorist organization, and the Quds Force, an Iranian military group whose mandate is to spread Islamic revolution around the world. The writer served as a CIA counter-terrorism official in 1998-2004. (Los Angeles Times)
The Turkish-sponsored indirect talks between Israel and Syria have not changed the regional status. The Syrian government is interested in having the Golan Heights back but not in signing a real peace with Israel. Syrian presidents Hafez and Bashar Assad were not and are not ready to establish full diplomatic and trade relations with Israel. They won't agree to demilitarize the Golan Heights, to address Israeli security needs and fears, or to allow deployment of early warning intelligence posts on their soil, manned by either Israeli or international observers. A peace accord with Israel would force Syria to expel all Palestinian terrorist organizations which have headquarters in Damascus and minimize its relations with Iran. Since Syria perceives its relations with Tehran as a strategic alliance, its leadership doubts whether a peace treaty with Israel is worth it. (Washington Post)
The Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem - Rabbi Marvin Hier (Jerusalem Post)
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