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April 2, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Washington Sees Time as Ally in Disarming Tehran's Nuclear Plan - Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times-UK)
    In an interview with the Financial Times, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. and Israel had enough time to persuade Tehran to abandon what is widely perceived to be a nuclear weapons program.
    Asked whether Iran would cross a nuclear "red line" this year, he replied: "I think we have more time than that. How much more time I don't know. It is a year, two years, three years."

Syria's Assad: We'll Free Golan Through Peace or War - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    "The day will come when we will free the Golan, through peace or through war," Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday in an interview with Qatari-based newspaper al-Sharq.

Arabs, Latin Americans Meet in Qatar (AFP)
    Leaders of the 22-member Arab League and 12 South American states staged their second summit in four years this week in the Qatari capital, Doha, aiming to create political and economic fronts.
    Among the South American representatives that attended are eight heads of state, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who told reporters, "The hour has come for the final fall of the American empire."
    Regarding the attendance of Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, Chavez asked, "Why don't they order the arrest of Bush? Why don't they order the arrest of the Israeli president?"

Tehran Aims to Create Gaza Missile Base to Threaten Central Israel - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
    Iran is forcing a direct military confrontation upon Israel.
    Based on foreign reports, the Israel Air Force bombed a shipment of Fajir 3 rockets in Sudan. The Iranians are manufacturing this missile especially for Gaza in a version that can be dismantled into several pieces and smuggled in through the Gaza tunnels.
    They have also produced a special Grad rocket that comes disassembled for smuggling.
    The Iranians are aiming to establish a rocket base south of Israel that would cover the entire greater Tel Aviv area.

Fatah Members Flee Hamas Persecution - Wafa Issa (Gulf News-UAE)
    Approximately 40 Gaza-based members of the Palestinian faction Fatah, many from the security forces, have relocated to the UAE for fear of Hamas persecution.

Useful Reference:

Text: Roadmap to a Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Tells Netanyahu: U.S. Committed to Israel's Security
    President Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. The President congratulated the Prime Minister after his swearing-in and reaffirmed the U.S.' steadfast commitment to Israel and its security. The President said he looked forward to working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government to address issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Arab-Israeli peace. (White House)
  • New Foreign Minister Says Israel to Follow Roadmap, Not Annapolis Process - Charles Levinson
    On his first day as foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman said at a press conference Wednesday, "There is one document that obligates us - and that's not the Annapolis conference, it has no validity." The signed joint-declaration at the end of the conference was short on specifics and never submitted to the government or parliament for approval. Lieberman said Israel would instead abide by the 2002 Roadmap for peace, which delays discussion of Palestinian statehood until after Palestinians clamp down on terror and meet a series of other conditions. "Those who think that through concessions they will gain respect and peace are wrong," he added. "It's the other way around; it will lead to more wars."
        An Israeli foreign ministry official said he believed the Obama administration was uninterested in reviving the Annapolis agreement, which is closely associated with the Bush administration's failed peace efforts. Neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton has raised Annapolis in conversations with the Israelis, the official said. "I think basically Annapolis is not their baby and they are looking to create another framework for negotiations," said the official. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also No Rejection of Two-State Solution - Eli Lake
    Former Israeli Ambassador to Washington Daniel Ayalon, Israel's new deputy foreign minister, told the Washington Times on Wednesday that the Annapolis process took "the Roadmap and put it on its head." "Not only is this against the inner logic of the Roadmap, but also it has proven not only not to be constructive, in fact it was damaging." Ayalon stressed that Lieberman and the new Israeli government support a two-state solution within the context of the Roadmap.
        Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser to former President Bush, said he did not interpret Lieberman's remarks as a rejection of the two-state solution. "He is not saying that Israel has no commitment to the two-state solution. He may be saying that he does not want to be bound by immediate final-status talks. It seems to me that there is no basis here for a fight between the U.S. and Israel because everything we really want in policy is in the Roadmap."  (Washington Times)
        See also Text: We Will Honor the Roadmap - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • EU Commission Vice-President: "No Compromise at any Price at Durban II" - Yossi Lempkowicz
    European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot said Monday the EU should be ready to react firmly if unacceptable texts are proposed at the upcoming UN conference on racism, known as "Durban II," in Geneva. "If necessary we will call on the EU member states to withdraw from the conference if we see violations of the core European values in Geneva," he told a symposium on combating racism and anti-Semitism organized by the European Jewish Congress in Brussels. "It's out of the question for Europe to accept a compromise at any price," he said. (European Jewish Press)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Youth Murdered by Axe-Wielding Palestinian in West Bank - Anshel Pfeffer
    A 13-year-old Israeli youth was murdered and a 7-year-old child was wounded in a terrorist attack in the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin on Thursday. Channel 2 television reported that the assailant was an Arab armed with an axe. (Ha'aretz)
  • Lieberman: Israel Ready for Mutual Peace Moves - Barak Ravid
    "Israel undertook obligations regarding the Roadmap and it will honor them, but there must be reciprocity," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview with Ha'aretz. "We will stick to the phased nature of the Roadmap. We will conduct talks with the PA, but we want to make sure their 'checks' don't bounce. The Palestinians must first of all confront terror, take control of Gaza and demilitarize Hamas. Without these, it will be difficult to move forward."
        Regarding Syria, Lieberman said: "We have already said that we will not agree to withdraw from the Golan Heights. Peace will only be in exchange for peace." "Egypt is an important element in the Arab world and in the world in general. I would certainly be happy to visit Egypt, but I'll also be happy to see Egypt's leaders visit here. I respect others and want them to respect us; I support the principle of reciprocity."  (Ha'aretz)
  • PA: Death to Those Who Sell Land to Jews - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority has issued yet another warning to Palestinians against selling their homes or properties to Jews, saying those who violate the order would be accused of "high treason" - a charge that carries the death penalty. On Wednesday, Chief [Islamic] Judge Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi reminded Palestinians of an existing fatwa [religious decree] than bans them from selling property to Jews. Scores of Palestinians have been murdered over the past three decades for allegedly selling their property to Jews or acting as intermediaries in real estate deeds involving Jews. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Seizes Guns En Route to West Bank - Tal Levy
    Six M-16 rifles and 24 handguns, hidden in metal moulds to be used to produce shoe soles, were intercepted by customs agents in Eilat recently, en route to a Palestinian importer in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Roadmap Leads to a Two-State Solution - Daniel Pipes
    Lieberman intends to "act exactly" according to the letter of the Roadmap. "I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses...and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement.... We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four - dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority....We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side."
        Given that the formal name of the Roadmap is "A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," I confess myself puzzled by the news reports declaring that Lieberman has pronounced the end of the two-state solution. The writer is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • New York Times Trigger-Happy on Israel - Gilead Ini
    On March 20, just one day after the story broke in Israel, the New York Times covered allegations about unarmed civilians being killed in Gaza in a front page story. A follow-up piece the next day repeated the allegations. And a day later yet another piece dealt with the issue. Even before the New York Times published its three pieces, those charges had been substantially discredited. Israel's Channel 2 television reported that the source of one of the allegations admitted his story was based only on rumors. Yet the three Times articles wrongly described the allegations as "eyewitness accounts." It took more than a week for the Times to finally reveal (on page 4) that the core of what it reported earlier was nothing more than hearsay, but the damage was already done.
        In March 2008, American veterans of the Iraq war got together near Washington to publicly recollect their battlefield experiences. They told stories of indiscriminate fire, the killing of innocent civilians and systematic cover-ups of wrongful deaths. Although these veterans' charges were clearly more relevant to American readers of the New York Times, the Times didn't report on it at all. The writer is a senior research analyst at CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    After Gaza, Peace Is Further Out of Reach - Joel Brinkley (San Francisco Chronicle)

    • After 22 days of attacks and bombardments intended to pacify Hamas and remove its ability to terrorize Israel with missiles, nothing has changed. The missiles continue to this day.
    • What happens if Israel removes its West Bank settlements, withdraws its forces and grants the Palestinians an independent state, as the U.S. and the rest of the international community demand? What would keep Palestinians in this new state from firing missiles into Israel from the West Bank, just as they are now doing from Gaza?
    • I, for one, would like to see Israel and the Palestinians separate themselves into two independent states. But the logic of this moment says that simply cannot happen.
    • The minute Washington begins pressuring the new Israeli government to begin peace talks, I can predict what Netanyahu will say. From Gaza, he will note, Hamas has fired missiles able to strike the outskirts of Ashkelon, about 15 miles away. Fired from the West Bank, those very same missiles would be able to strike Israel's international airport.

      The writer is a professor of journalism at Stanford University and a former foreign policy correspondent for the New York Times.

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