Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israeli Link Holding Up Turkey Landmine Clean-Up - Burak Akinci (AFP)
Why Syria Fuels the Iraqi Insurgency - Raymond Tanter (Daily Star-Lebanon)
French Military Base Opens in Persian Gulf - Edward Cody (Washington Post)
Al-Qaeda-Linked Terrorists Arrested for Cairo Bomb Attack - Cynthia Johnston (Reuters)
Vandals Desecrate Christian Graves in West Bank - Ali Sawafta (Reuters)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, 74, heads a fractured government and a fractured political party. His four-year term expired four months ago. Polls show that he lags in popularity behind the leader of the Islamist Hamas movement, Ismail Haniyeh. His handpicked prime minister, Salam Fayyad, trusted to manage billions of dollars in foreign aid, is reviled by some Palestinians as a U.S. proxy. Whatever peace initiative President Obama envisions for the region, it involves a gamble that Abbas can overcome a long list of liabilities, put Palestinian politics back into one piece and hold up his side of any bargain. Abbas is to meet Obama at the White House on Thursday. (Washington Post)
Muslim foreign ministers meeting in Damascus on Monday issued a statement saying: "We must not reward Israel for its crimes." The statement issued by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) said: "Any progress on ties must be linked to how much the Israeli position represents a commitment to a just and comprehensive peace that guarantees the restoration of rights and occupied land." The OIC said the concept of "resistance" was distinct from terrorism. "Terrorism is a dangerous global phenomenon, but this does not mean that we should allow it to be used to confuse issues and describe resistance as terrorism," the statement said. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that Hizbullah has more rockets than before the Second Lebanon War. "Hizbullah is secretly bolstering its power south of the Litani River, but UNIFIL's presence is making that task more difficult," he noted.
On the Iranian nuclear threat, Ashkenazi said, "The option of dialogue, alongside imposing sanctions, is preferable in our view, but as chief of staff, my obligation is to prepare for every alternative for dealing with this matter, and that is what I'm doing." He added that Israel and moderate Arab states in the region have a common interest in stopping Tehran's nuclear ambitions. "Iran is very vulnerable from an economic standpoint, and firm pressure and sanctions can influence the Iranian regime to reconsider its nuclear policy." (Ha'aretz)
Dennis Ross, the U.S. Secretary of State's special adviser on Iran, opposes the Obama administration's concept of linkage in a new book, Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East, written with David Makovsky. Ross writes that efforts to advance dialogue with Iran should not be connected to the renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. In the second chapter, entitled "Linkage: The Mother of All Myths," Ross writes: "Of all the policy myths that have kept us from making real progress in the Middle East, one stands out for its impact and longevity: the idea that if only the Palestinian conflict were solved, all other Middle East conflicts would melt away. This is the argument of 'linkage.'" (Ha'aretz)
Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon told a conference at the Knesset on Tuesday, "I do not see any chance of establishing a viable Palestinian entity in Judea and Samaria and/or the Gaza Strip that could sustain itself economically....The gap between Israel as a First-World country and a Palestinian Third-World country is a recipe for instability." Ya'alon suggested educational, economic, political, police and military reforms for the PA, while cooperating with Arab countries on issues like the humanitarian plight of Palestinians who consider themselves refugees. But he said even this could not take place without a responsible Palestinian leadership that would recognize Israel as a Jewish state. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In March, Muhammad Dahlan, a former chief of the PA's secret police organizations and once a tacit ally of the CIA, defended Fatah from the charge, made by Hamas, that it had previously recognized Israel's right to exist. Dahlan said: "For the 1,000th time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather we are asking Hamas not to do so, because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist." Dahlan's comment helps buttress the main argument of Benny Morris's new book, One State, Two States, which says that Arab rejectionism is so profound a force that only the terminally obtuse could believe that Palestinians will ever acquiesce to a state comprised solely of the West Bank and Gaza.
Morris sees the culprit as the implacable fanaticism of Arab Islamists, who are unwilling to accept a Jewish national presence in what is thought of as Arab land, a position that hasn't changed since 1920. Subsequent events that seemingly contradict this - most notably the PLO's ostensible recognition of Israel in 1988 - have been staged for the benefit of gullible Westerners, Morris writes. (New York Times)
See also Excerpt: One State, Two States - Benny Morris (New York Times)
A strong case for a two-state solution has been made, but it better be based on the Palestinians developing their own effective peacekeeping troops and, arguably, on an Israeli presence on the Jordan River. Neither can rely on the U.S., beleaguered as it is, or on the conflicted and casualty-averse NATO to show a staying power for peacekeeping that neither has mustered in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Haiti. The Palestinians are surely entitled to govern themselves. However, if the West Bank is not to be turned into one giant terrorist base, part of the solution will have to be a credible way to ensure that the two states will live in "security and peace" with each other. The writer is a professor of international relations at George Washington University. (TPM Cafe)
Opinions about the status of Israeli settlements in the West Bank under international law are more varied than the pro-Palestinian segment of the press would lead you to believe. There has, of course, been no final settlement of borders between Israel and the future Palestinian state; the Palestinian parties have always found a way to sabotage any such deal. The essential precondition for firming up a set of mutually tenable borders is for Palestinians to settle their civil war and choose a government that is permanently committed to renouncing terror. They have, essentially, been paid hundreds of millions of dollars by the West to help this part of the process along; so far, the money has accomplished little.
In 2005, Israel demonstrated in the Gaza Strip, to what ought to be anyone's satisfaction, that it is willing to dismantle Jewish settlements in disputed territories to achieve peace. In Gush Katif, it evacuated a particularly successful community in a place that has had Jewish demographic representation since antiquity, and turned a cutting-edge economic infrastructure over to Palestinian authority - only to see that infrastructure demolished in triumphalist rioting, and to be rewarded with rocket fire on nearby Israeli towns.
Why, when every step Israel takes toward peace is met with increasing pressure from Palestinian elements who hope to annihilate it, should it be stricter about suppressing overly adventurous Jewish settlers than Palestine has ever been about respecting Israeli sovereignty over Israel? When rocket attacks and cross-border raids are answered by the quiet, stubborn construction of houses and farms, it won't do for third parties to forget the rockets and denounce the farms as "illegal." (National Post-Canada)
The Jewish Nakba: Expulsions, Massacres and Forced Conversions - Ben-Dror Yemini (Ma'ariv-Hebrew, 16May09-Tom Gross Media)
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