Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Taliban Threatens to Attack Washington - Zahid Hussain and Jeremy Page (Times-UK)
Spain to Probe Israeli "Crimes Against Humanity" - Soeren Kern (Spero News)
See also Will a Spanish Judge Prosecute U.S. Officials? - Lisa Abend (TIME)
List of New Israeli Cabinet Ministers (Ynet News)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
In the weeks since he was chosen to form Israel's next government, Benjamin Netanyahu has labored to dispel the perception that he's on a collision course with the country's most powerful ally. Netanyahu, sworn in as prime minister on Tuesday, says that Obama, with whom he has met twice, is "open to new ideas" on how to address the region's conflicts.
"Netanyahu 2009 is very pragmatic. He puts Israel's interests first, but he does not ignore that one of those most important interests is the close relationship with the United States," said Zalman Shoval, a Netanyahu adviser and former ambassador to Washington. (Los Angeles Times)
Iran is reportedly increasing its military aid to both Hizbullah and Hamas, according to Israeli intelligence sources. Meanwhile, Tehran is suspected of interfering in the reconciliation talks between the rival Palestinian factions. Even the veteran Egyptian mediators had underestimated Iran's influence. Khaled Mashaal is regarded as Tehran's man in Hamas. The politburo chief lives in exile in Damascus, but in recent months he has been frequently on the move, with Iran one of his most important destinations. Many Fatah officials, such as Ibrahim Abu al-Nasha from Gaza City who has known Mashaal for over 30 years, are convinced that the Hamas leader allowed the talks to fail under pressure from Tehran. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
See also UK: Not the Time for More Iran Sanctions - Adrian Croft
Big powers should not rush to impose new sanctions on Iran at a time when Tehran has a good chance to move to normal ties with Washington, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Tuesday. Miliband told Britain's parliament: "Now is not the time to be rushing for more sanctions." (Reuters)
The Obama administration announced Tuesday it will seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, reversing the stance of the Bush administration, which viewed the Geneva-based council as irredeemable for its almost exclusive focus on human rights violations by Israel. Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the UN, said, "We do not see any inherent benefit as demonstrated by recent history in being outside the tent and simply being critical without having significant influence." (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel seeks peace with the entire Arab and Muslim world but continues to be threatened by the forces of Islamic extremists, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday as the Knesset voted 69-45 to approve his new government. "I separate extremist Islam from the general Muslim world, which is also threatened by extremist Islam," he told the Knesset. "The Muslim culture is a rich culture that knew times of prosperity, of Arabs and Jews who lived together and created things together."
"If the heads of the Palestinian Authority want peace, I tell them now - we can achieve it." "We will carry out ongoing negotiations for peace with the Palestinians in an attempt to reach a permanent agreement," he said. "We don't want to rule another people, and the agreement will give the Palestinians all the rights to rule themselves, except for those that endanger Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Netanyahu: Israel Is Serious about Peace - Josh Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)
Four rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed near Sderot on Tuesday. A woman broke her leg while running to take cover. (Ynet News)
See also In Sderot, Nighttime Is Wartime - Yanir Yagna
Since the end of the Gaza operation, the Edry family of Sderot is struggling to return to a normal routine. The entire family still sleeps together in a small protected space instead of the upstairs bedrooms. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
With Iran about to achieve nuclear capability, and its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza gaining strength, this is the worst possible time for tension between the U.S. and Israel. But a crisis can be averted if both countries consider each other's most pressing needs and remain focused on their shared anxieties. The first prerequisite is genuine realism in Washington regarding negotiations with the Palestinians. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, couldn't have tried harder to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. Instead of continuing to pursue the unattainable, the American-Israeli approach should focus on creating a civil society in the West Bank that is an essential precondition for the eventual creation of a Palestinian state.
This is not the time to be distracted by what are, for now, secondary issues, like eventual Palestinian statehood. Nor should disagreements between Israeli and American intelligence agencies over the pace of Iranian nuclear development distract the two governments from their agreement over the danger posed by a nuclear Iran. By focusing on thwarting Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the U.S. and Israel will find Arab allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. That dynamic is already creating a shift in regional alliances, and could eventually lead to a real Middle East peace process. The writer is a fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and a contributing editor of the New Republic. (Wall Street Journal)
Benjamin Netanyahu has been sworn in as Israel's next prime minister almost a decade after the end of his first premiership. In addition, Ehud Barak continues his tenure as defense minister. Barak and Netanyahu appear to share common views on Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority. In the early 1970s, Netanyahu served under Barak in Israel's elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. As such, they seem to share a commando view of the world: utter secrecy among a tight circle and utilization of unorthodox methods to reach unswerving goals. In the West Bank, Netanyahu and Barak believe that some final status issues between Israel and the PA cannot be resolved in the current environment, yet both think PA institution building should be pursued. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
The Arab states continue to be apoplectic over the Gaza war, at least in public. This is true even though some of the most significant of these states secretly cheered Israel on and certainly did nothing to help their Hamas brethren fight or recover. The big royals and small, plus all of the colonels and petty politicians, who run Arab Islam have gathered this week in Qatar. The big news event of the Qatar gathering was the arrival of Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, who is a fugitive from the International Criminal Court which has a warrant out for his arrest on charges of genocide.
Do any of you doubt that Bashir is guilty of genocide? Do any of you doubt that hundreds of thousands of African Muslims have been murdered by Arab Muslim hordes deployed by Khartoum to kill, rape and pillage. Yet the Arabs are moved only by the plight of the Palestinians. Why? Because their condition can be blamed on Israel and on the Jews the world over.
The leaders of the Arab world are welcoming a mass murderer into their midst. And, instead of turning him over to authorities in The Hague, they are welcoming him because he is an Arab who is killing black Africans. (New Republic)
See also Arab Summit Embraces the Butcher of Darfur - Editorial
The UN has reported more than 300,000 civilian deaths in Darfur as a result of the genocidal campaign sponsored by Bashir. If the Obama administration and the rest of the civilized world needed further demonstration of why the promotion of democracy and human rights must be central to any policy for the Middle East, Omar Bashir's reception in Doha ought to suffice. (Washington Post)
Netanyahu: Iran Is the Terrorist "Mother Regime" - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal, 24 Jan 09)
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