Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Iranian Election Outcome Won't Halt Tehran's Nuclear Program - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas Rejects Gaza-Only Joint Security Force (AFP)
Holocaust Denial Widespread among Israeli Arabs - Aron Heller (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Obama said Monday that he expected to know by the end of the year whether Iran was making "a good-faith effort to resolve differences" in talks aimed at ending its nuclear program, signaling to Israel as well as Iran that his willingness to engage in diplomacy over the issue has its limits. "We're not going to have talks forever," Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a meeting Monday in the Oval Office. (New York Times)
See also Obama and Netanyahu Optimistic about Peace Process; Obama Reiterates Calls for Two-State Solution, Netanyahu Stresses Security - Jake Tapper, Simon McGregor-Wood and Huma Khan
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu professed optimism Monday on coming to terms on issues such as Palestine and Iran, but behind their profuse praise for each other, the two leaders have clear differences on the two-state solution and the construction of settlements in disputed territories. (ABC News)
See also below Observations: What President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu Said in Washington (White House)
After his meeting with President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's advisers focused on what they regard as a key strategic success - agreement between Netanyahu and Obama on opposing Iran's development of nuclear weapons technology. Israel and the U.S. fear that Iran's nuclear program is masking an effort to develop nuclear weapons - a development Netanyahu feels would pose a threat to Israel's existence. The issue is at the core of Netanyahu's thinking about the region, and his advisers said that Monday's public comments show that Obama agrees with him. Netanyahu argues that Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia also feel threatened by Iran and, as a result, are open to closer cooperation with Israel.
"There is the beginning of a strategic convergence of the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government," said Dore Gold, a Netanyahu adviser and former ambassador to the UN. "Both recognize that there are real dangers that could undermine the security of both countries, in particular Iran." (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
President Obama informed Prime Minister Netanyahu that he intends to promote a new regional peace initiative that he will likely present during a planned June 4 speech in Cairo. Netanyahu's meeting with the president lasted for over four hours - an hour and 45 minutes of it a private discussion.
Netanyahu said the president "understands" that Iran must not be allowed to obtain military nuclear capability. "There is no green light or red light. There is a principle we agreed on. The important thing said is that there is a commitment to an outcome where Iran does not develop military nuclear power." (Ynet News)
The Israel Security Agency warned Monday that hostile elements may try to contact Israelis through online social networks, such as Facebook, in order to gather intelligence and maybe even lure them abroad for the purpose of abduction. There have been a number of cases in which terrorist elements approached Israelis through online social networks and tried to either recruit them or ask that they disclose classified information for a fee. The security agency has asked that Israelis be vigilant and report any suspicious attempt to approach them online or by phone. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
There are currently two concepts governing Israeli thinking. The first is that bilateral negotiations leading inexorably to a Palestinian state have failed miserably. What began ceremoniously and optimistically as the Oslo process in 1993 has produced nothing but terror, misery, further distrust and animosity and no political accommodation. It failed largely due to a lack of Palestinian leadership, absence of statesmanship and a tradition of missing opportunities. In other words, a politically stable, security-ensuring, economically viable Palestinian state is not a practical possibility now. Ask Tony Blair.
The second is Iran. Israel sees Iran as a clear and present threat. Imagine if the 9/11 terrorists who crashed planes into New York and Washington had nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran is a direct threat to Israel, to the U.S. and to Europe. Islamic fundamentalism, especially the Shia strain, may be fighting a losing battle, but it may strive to go out with a bang. If Iran is not prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons, an independent Palestine will constitute nothing more than an advanced and violent Iranian outpost. The writer, former Israeli Consul General in New York (2000-04), heads the U.S.-Israel Institute at the Rabin Center. (Times-UK)
Can the president's strategy of diplomatic engagement persuade Iran to cease its efforts to develop nuclear weapons? Unfortunately, successful denuclearization of hostile states is most likely to occur as a result of regime change, coercive diplomacy or military action, not U.S. pledges of mutual respect. In December 2003, Libya's Moammar Gaddafi accepted an American offer of rapprochement in exchange for giving up his nuclear weapons infrastructure - after U.S. troops had provided him with the compelling example of deposing and capturing Saddam Hussein.
In 1981, Israeli jets destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor just before it began producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, stopping Hussein's own nuclear ambitions. Military force also proved necessary against Syria's rogue nuclear activities in September 2007.
America's greatest success in setting back Tehran's nuclear program came when Iran halted its nuclear weapons design work in 2003 after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Hussein's regime. The writer, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served as national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2005 to 2009. (Washington Post)
If they are to gain peace, prosperity and eventually their own homeland, the Palestinian people need a more credible, pragmatic leadership than the fanatics of Hamas. Their leadership in Gaza renders any prospect of a Palestinian state a nonsense at present. Nor does the incompetent Fatah regime of Mahmoud Abbas on the West Bank have much to offer a complex, demanding process.
A dose of skepticism on Netanyahu's part about a two-state solution is understandable. In 2000, the Clinton administration brokered a deal in which then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was offering a deal that would have set up an independent state in all of Gaza and 95% of the West Bank and territory from Israel proper to compensate for the remaining 5%. But then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat, unwilling to be seen as the Palestinian leader to give up the struggle against Israel, rejected the offer. Palestinians responded with a four-year suicide-bombing campaign against Israeli civilians. In the last analysis, it is doubtful whether the Palestinians are sufficiently mature enough to put their need of a homeland ahead of their unjust armed struggle against Israel's right to exist. (The Australian)
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke after their meeting on Monday, May 18:
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