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April 28, 2009

In-Depth Issues:

Communities Around the World to Sing Israel's National Anthem on Wednesday (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    On Wednesday, April 29 at 10:50 p.m. Israel time (3:50 p.m. EST, 2:50 p.m. CST, 12:50 p.m. PST), communities around the world will join together to sing Israel's national anthem Hatikva in honor of the 61st birthday of the State of Israel.
    Live Hatikva will be broadcast around America and on the Internet streaming live at

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Sick Gazans Victims of Hamas-Fatah Power Struggle - Diaa Hadid and Ibrahim Barzak (AP/Washington Post)
    Hundreds of Palestinian patients have been trapped in Gaza, unable to travel abroad for crucial medical treatment, because of political infighting between Hamas and Fatah.
    Eight Gazans who were waiting to travel abroad have died since a dispute shut down a medical referral committee that helps sick residents find treatment outside of Gaza, according to the World Health Organization.
    On March 22, Hamas took control of the Fatah-run medical committee, which referred about 1,000 patients a month with life-threatening illnesses to Israel and Egypt.
    In response, the West Bank government, which funds medical treatment for Palestinians abroad, froze most patient transfers.

Israel Confirms First Case of Swine Flu in Man Who Visited Mexico (Ha'aretz)

Turkish Army Unhappy over Drill with Syria - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    "The Turkish military is not happy about [this week's joint military drill with Syria]. It does not like Syria, and views it as a problematic state," said Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, on Monday.
    Internationally, the drill raised many questions over Turkey's relationship to NATO (of which Turkey is a member), the West and Israel, Inbar said.
    Dr. Mordechai Kedar, an expert on Arab political discourse at BESA, noted: "Turkey is occupying a whole section of Syria [Alexandretta province], and yet Syria is willing to hold joint military drills with Turkey. So there's no reason why Syria can't cooperate with us while we're sitting on the Golan Heights."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Abbas Rejects Calling Israel a Jewish State - Isabel Kershner
    PA leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday dismissed a demand by Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian negotiators have long refused to recognize Israel's Jewish character. In an attempt to bolster the Palestinian argument, Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide and veteran negotiator, on Monday produced a copy of a letter signed by President Harry S Truman on May 14, 1948. In its original form, it recognizes the provisional government of the new Jewish state, but the typed words "Jewish state" in the second paragraph have been crossed out and replaced with the handwritten "State of Israel."
        Shlomo Avineri, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said Erekat was misinterpreting the American president's intention. The Truman letter had been prepared hours before Israel declared its independence, before the new country had chosen its name. It was later corrected by a Truman adviser, Clark M. Clifford, after the declaration of independence in order to call the country by its name, not to deny its Jewish character. (New York Times)
        See also President Truman's Decision to Recognize Israel - Clark Clifford with Richard Holbrooke (ICA/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Israel: PA Recognition of Jewish State "Crucial" for Reconciliation - Yoav Stern and Barak Ravid
    The Foreign Ministry said Monday that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was "crucial" for reconciliation between the two sides after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas dismissed Israeli calls to do so. "Recognition of Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people is an essential and necessary step in the historic reconciliation process between Israel and the Palestinians," the ministry said in a statement. "The sooner the Palestinians internalize this basic and essential fact, peace between the two peoples will progress and come to fruition."  (Ha'aretz)
  • UN Chief Raps Hizbullah "Intimidation" in Lebanon
    Hizbullah and other armed militias in Lebanon are fostering instability and intimidation as elections near, UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned in a report published Monday. "The threat that armed groups and militias pose to the sovereignty and stability of the Lebanese state cannot be overstated," he wrote. Hizbullah's arsenal, which includes an autonomous telecommunication network, "is a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the Lebanese state and an obstacle for the conduct of the normal democratic process in the country." In 2004, UN Security Council Resolution 1559 called for the "disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias." (AFP)
  • U.S. to Expand PA Security Forces - Mohammed Assadi
    The U.S. plans to expand a program to bolster PA security forces in the West Bank. "We have plans to train at least three more battalions before this time next year," Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton said Monday. Each battalion has about 500 members. "If it goes the way the administration has asked for, we will accelerate dramatically what we are doing here in terms of training and equipment," Dayton said.
        U.S.-funded training is conducted by Jordanian police at a base outside Amman. Last month, U.S. officials said the Obama administration planned to boost support for the Dayton program by up to 70%, from $75 million in 2008 to as much as $130 million. Some 1,600 members of Abbas' National Security Force and Presidential Guard have undergone U.S.-funded training since January 2008. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: We'll Continue to Pursue Peace - Ronen Medzini
    "In spite of the opposition of our enemies, Israel signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and despite the difficulties, we will continue our efforts to complete the circle of peace with the rest of our neighbors, until we are successful," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a memorial service in honor of Israel's fallen soldiers. "The price we have paid and are still paying is unbearable, I know. My family has also been struck by bereavement; your sorrow is my sorrow. I feel the pain deep in my heart and carry with me the memory, the yearning and the burden of the loss." The prime minister's brother Jonathan was killed during the 1976 IDF raid on Entebbe to free Israeli hostages. (Ynet News)
        See also Address at Memorial Service for Israel's Fallen Soldiers - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Israeli Defense Minister: No Second Chance for Those Who Can't Defend Themselves - Hanan Greenberg
    "We live in a tough environment. This isn't western Europe or North America. There is no mercy for the weak here, and no second chance for those who can't defend themselves," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday prior to Remembrance Day. (Ynet News)
  • Israel at 61: Population 7.4 Million, 75.5 Percent Jewish - Motti Bassok
    The population of Israel stands at 7,411,000 - 75% of it Jewish - up from 7,282,000 last year. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Jewish population of Israel stands at 5,593,000 and the Arab population is 1,498,000, or 20.2%. Foreign residents make up 4.3% of the population. There are 14 cities with over 100,000 residents. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran's New Target: Egypt - Abdel Monem Said Aly
    On April 8, Egypt announced it had uncovered a Hizbullah cell operating inside its borders, offering a rare insight into the way Iran and its proxies are manipulating Middle East politics. Tehran sees Egypt as its greatest rival in the region, and the most formidable Arab bulwark opposing its influence. It is in this context that Hizbullah actions in Egypt should be assessed. Acting as a front for Iranian objectives, Hizbullah is tasked with distracting Egypt from the diplomatic process. Egypt's persistent attempts to bring about peace in the Israeli-Palestinian arena and its encouragement of other Arab countries to follow its path with Israel threaten to deprive Iran of the single most potent regional issue that it can exploit to further its radical agenda. The writer is director of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Boycotting Israel Not Ethical - Editorial
    Having set up the Mountain Equipment Co-Op as an "ethical," customer-owned enterprise, the Vancouver-based MEC board has committed itself to letting those customers discuss what business practices may be considered ethical. Now a faction of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation thinks the MEC should boycott Israeli-made products. Why? Because when subjected to terrorist attacks from Gaza, Israel vigorously defended itself.
        Much of what we buy is made in countries where modest research would uncover human-rights abuses sufficient to justify a boycott. China, for instance, should be on any list of least-favored trading partners. Yet, without Chinese products MEC members would hike barefoot and sleep under the stars. Israel is at least a democracy, where citizens are free to criticize their government. (Calgary Herald-Canada)
        See also Getting One's Knickers in a Twist over Israel - Pete McMartin (Vancouver Sun-Canada)
  • Observations:

    Netanyahu Bids to Change "Diskette" - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

    • Israel's new government will formally unveil its foreign policy when Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with President Obama at the White House on May 18.
    • Netanyahu will set out to achieve a changing of the international "diskette." This, first, necessitates an acknowledgement that successive negotiating efforts have foundered on the rock of Palestinian intransigence and weakness. Second, it requires a shifted focus to a more modest, gradual program for creating a climate in which reconciliation might truly start to flourish.
    • In comments that mesh thoroughly with the thinking in the Prime Minister's Office, Foreign Minister Lieberman has stressed that Israel fully "intends to take the initiative" as regards the Palestinians. Indeed, the Netanyahu government wants to engage with the Palestinians and with the rest of the region - first and foremost, to build a partnership to face down the common threat posed by Iran.
    • Netanyahu's government is not conditioning the renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians on the thwarting of Iran. But it is saying, sensibly, that there is no prospect of substantive progress with the Palestinians unless Iran's nuclear drive is halted. Iran threatens Israel directly, via Hizbullah to the north and via Hamas in the south. But if Iran is cowed, moderate Palestinians and more moderate forces throughout our region would be liberated.

          See also The World According to Foreign Minister Lieberman - David Horovitz and Amir Mizroch (Jerusalem Post)

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