Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Arab Leaders Back Sudanese President Wanted for War Crimes in Darfur (BBC News)
Hamas Rules Out Abiding by Past PLO Commitments (Maan News-PA)
Palestinians Support Armed Attacks Against Israeli Civilians - Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
Hamas Wins Teachers Union Elections for UN Schools in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Why Do Armies Use White Phosphorus? - Juliet Lapidos
Natural Gas Signs Found in Another Israeli Drill Site (Reuters)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Israeli military's top lawyer on Monday closed an investigation into alleged misconduct during the recent three-week war in Gaza, concluding that charges made by graduates of a military preparation school were "based on hearsay" and had been "purposely exaggerated." (Washington Post)
See also below Observations - Hearsay: Findings of Military Police Investigation of Soldiers' Comments on Gaza War (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli fighter-bombers, backed by unmanned drones, were responsible for a mid-January attack on an Iranian weapons convoy in Sudan transporting rockets and explosives to Hamas militants in Gaza, two highly-placed Israeli security sources revealed. A source denied prior claims that a ship and a second convoy were destroyed. "There was only one raid, and it was a major operation," he said.
F-16 fighter-bombers carried out two runs on the convoy. After the first bombing run, drones mounted with high-resolution cameras found that the convoy had only been partially damaged, so the Israelis ordered a second pass with the F-16s. During the 1,750-mile (2,800 km.) journey to Sudan and back, the Israeli aircraft refueled in midair over the Red Sea.
In early January, at the height of Israel's operation in Gaza, Israel's foreign intelligence agency Mossad learned that Iran was planning a major delivery of 120 tons of arms and explosives to Gaza, including anti-tank rockets and Fajir rockets with a 25 mile range and a 45 kg. warhead. "This was the first time that the Iranians had tried to send Hamas a shipment this big via Sudan - and it is probably the last," a source said. (TIME)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Monday that his government will make every effort to reach "a viable peace with all of Israel's Arab neighbors." He spoke during a special session marking 30 years since the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. "The government that I am about to form will do all in its power to reach peace with our neighbors," Netanyahu said. "Israelis know how to spot genuine peace whenever it is offered." (Ha'aretz)
The Israel Prison Service on Sunday recommended to the government to cut back on Hamas prisoners' visitation rights, academic studies and means of communication. (Ynet News)
See also Sanctions on Hamas Prisoners? - Alan Baker
Hamas blatantly violates accepted humanitarian norms by holding kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit incommunicado somewhere in Gaza, preventing the International Red Cross or his family from visiting him, and denying such minimal rights as the transfer of letters and parcels. Yet the international community doesn't seem to be too bothered. Israel, on the other hand, grants Hamas detainees the conditions required by international law including Red Cross and family visits and medical supervision, as well as additional freebees such as academic studies and access to radio and television. International recognition of this enormous discrepancy is minimal, if at all. (Jerusalem Post)
IDF soldiers thwarted an attack against Israeli forces Tuesday morning when they prevented a Palestinian attempt to place an explosive device on the Gaza border. (Ynet News)
There are reports that Iran paid the Mauritania government about $10 million to kick out the Israeli ambassador a few weeks ago. Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, visited Mauritania on Wednesday and stopped at a hospital for cancer research and treatment in the Mauritanian capital known by locals as "the Israeli hospital," where he promised that Iran will "replace" Israel and equip the hospital as needed.
The hospital was initiated in 2000 by the Israeli Ministry of Health, but was stalled at various stages due to hesitation on the part of the Mauritanian government. Several million shekels were spent on the project, which was funded partly by the Israeli government and partly by the American Jewish Committee, and an official inauguration ceremony was to have taken place within the next two months. (Ha'aretz)
See also Iran Behind Freeze in Israel-Mauritania Relations - Freddy Eitan
Nearly ten years after the start of diplomatic relations between Israel and Mauritania, the friendly relationship has changed to one of hostility and has led to the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador. Iran and Libya stand behind the change. The writer was the first Israeli ambassador to Mauritania. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
With Benjamin Netanyahu set to be sworn in as Israel's prime minister, Western capitals are in a dither about the irrelevant question of Israel's commitment to the vaunted "two-state solution." The "solution" - based on President George W. Bush's vision of a democratic Palestine living peacefully next door to Israel - has no relevance to the world as it is now: Palestine is further from developing a viable democracy than it was when W. set forth the idea. Questions of Netanyahu's commitment to the idea are just a new club for those in Washington who think that distancing America from Israel will somehow solve U.S. problems with the larger Muslim world.
EU leaders last week announced that Israel's hopes of an upgrade in economic and diplomatic ties with the EU are all but doomed unless the new Jerusalem government declares support for the two-state solution. What makes all this absurd, of course, is that Israel isn't the problem. The outgoing Israeli government was fully committed to Bush's vision. Livni, its foreign minister, endlessly negotiated with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to establish a Palestinian state. But Abbas' hold on power has been failing fast, while the absolutists of Hamas - who won't even pretend to want peace with Israel - are on the rise.
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government has "gone further in the peace negotiations than any previous government." But the Palestinian leadership's "weakness and lack of courage" derailed the negotiations. (New York Post)
This is how the Arab League summit in Doha is looking. Host Qatar is not getting along with Egypt. Jordan is furious with Qatar because Al Jazeera, owned by the emirate's ruling family, reiterated the claim that the late King Hussein was a CIA agent. Egypt and Syria are still not reconciled. Saudi Arabia has embarked on a pan-Arab reconciliation effort, but with limited success. The Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, have not reached an agreement. And Iraq is still considered suspicious, in part because it is under Iranian influence.
It's also a scene that should raise thoughts about the concept of the Arab initiative, which passed during the 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut, to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories. The initiative offer depends entirely on across-the-board Arab support. Without it, there is no point. Will Iraq, which follows Iranian dictates, make peace with Israel just because of a peace agreement with the Palestinians? Will Lebanon, whose policy is dictated by Hizbullah, agree to peace with Israel even if a peace agreement is reached with Syria? And what will the Palestinians propose? Peace in Ramallah and war in Gaza? (Ha'aretz)
See also The Arab Peace Initiative: A Primer and Future Prospects - Joshua Teitelbaum (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Hearsay: Findings of Military Police Investigation of Soldiers' Comments on Gaza War (Israel Defense Forces)
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