Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Bin Laden Threatens U.S. in New Audiotape (AP/Dallas Morning News)
Al-Qaeda Eyes Bio Attack on U.S. from Mexico - Sara A. Carter (Washington Times)
World Bank: Massive Aid Won't Spark Palestinian Growth - Karin Laub (AP/Washington Post)
PA Wants Saudis to Axe Rail Deal with French Firm over Israel Link - Abbas Al Lawati (Gulf News-UAE)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Obama called for a "new beginning" between the West and the Muslim world Thursday in Cairo, saying there is more to unite than divide two civilizations that have been in fierce conflict for decades. (FOX News)
See also below Observations: Obama Addresses the Muslim World (New York Times)
Senior Israeli officials said they had clear understandings with the Bush administration that allowed Israel to build West Bank settlement housing within certain guidelines. The Israeli officials said that repeated discussions with Bush officials starting in late 2002 resulted in agreement that housing could be built within the boundaries of certain settlement blocs as long as no new land was expropriated, no special economic incentives were offered to move to settlements and no new settlements were built. When Israel signed on to the Roadmap for a two-state solution in 2003, the officials said, it did so after a detailed discussion with Bush administration officials that laid out those explicit exceptions. One of the officials said Israel agreed to move ahead with the removal of settlements and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 on the understanding that settlement growth could continue.
A former senior official in the Bush administration said Tuesday, "There was never an agreement to accept natural growth....There was an effort to explore what natural growth would mean, but we weren't able to reach agreement on that." However, another former Bush administration official, Elliott Abrams, who was on the National Security Council staff, wrote an opinion article in the Washington Post in April that seemed to endorse the Israeli argument. Dov Weissglas, a senior aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, wrote Tuesday in Yediot Ahronot that in May 2003 he and Sharon met with Abrams and Stephen J. Hadley of the National Security Council and came up with the definition of a settlement freeze (described above), and that Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser at the time, signed off on that definition later that month. (New York Times)
See also The Settlement Freeze Fallacy - Elliott Abrams
Will Israel's new government face American demands for a settlement freeze? If so, we are headed for a needless confrontation with the Netanyahu cabinet. For the past five years, Israel's government has largely adhered to guidelines that were discussed with the U.S. but never formally adopted...to allow for settlement growth in ways that minimized the impact on Palestinians. (Washington Post)
The White House tried to ease Israeli concerns over President Obama's fence-mending speech Thursday to the Muslim world, insisting he remains loyal to the strong U.S. relationship with the Jewish state. In an e-mail to Jewish groups and a conference call with Jewish leaders Wednesday, the White House insisted Obama's outreach to the mainstream Muslim majority is no threat to relations with its key Mideast ally. The White House e-mail said, "While we may have some differences of view with Israel at the moment over settlements, we are trying to work through them quietly, professionally, and without rancor or ultimatums, as befits a strong relationship with an important ally. We are confident we can do that." (New York Daily News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed recent tensions between Israel and the U.S. at a press conference in Washington on Wednesday. "There is total agreement [between Israel and the U.S.] on matters of general security," Barak explained. "There is a deeper agreement on the situation in Iran than it may appear, and we have similar understandings on Hamas, and what is happening in Lebanon and on a long list of issues pertaining to the diplomatic process." Barak admitted, however, that disagreements do arise, saying, "We must allow the internal discourse to moderate or dissipate a large portion of the disagreements, and that is what we will try to do in the coming weeks." (Ha'aretz)
Barak said any public debate between the U.S. and Israel "should take place in a mutual and respectful fashion." He said the U.S. government should "tone down the volume" on the public debate so that it could focus on the core of the issues at stake. (Ynet News)
Hamas leader Khaled Meshal recently relieved two brigade commanders in Gaza following the recommendation of Iranian Revolutionary Guard officials who participated in the investigation of Hamas' military failure during the Gaza fighting in January. Palestinian sources said Meshal consulted Hassan Mahdawi, commander of the "Jerusalem Column" in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a unit stationed in Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
A Palestinian security officer was killed Thursday in clashes with Hamas gunmen in the West Bank city of Kalkilya after police sought to arrest a Hamas fugitive. On Sunday, six people were killed in Kalkilya after police stormed a Hamas hideout. (AP/Ha'aretz)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel on Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Well-formulated peace plans are not enough on their own. Something else is often required. What brought about the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, signed in 1979, was a journey of less than an hour - the time it took Anwar Sadat to fly from Cairo to Jerusalem. It captured people's imaginations and created a turning point far more powerful than outside pressure. This journey put an end to the history of suspicion.
King Abdullah of Jordan's father did something similar in 1997 after seven Israeli girls were murdered by a Jordanian soldier. King Hussein, disregarding protocol, drove to Beit Shemesh, a town close to Jerusalem, where he visited each and every one of the bereaved families. The impact of this unexpected gesture on the Israeli public was spectacular.
Many Arab leaders perceive hegemony-seeking Iran as a threat to their existence and identity. For them, the primary challenge is not Israel but the Iranian ayatollahs who seek domination over the Middle East, using terror and threats of unconventional weapons. Israel is increasingly viewed as a part of the new path for a regional solution.
The positive spirit of the Arab peace initiative, together with the Roadmap, provides a clear opportunity. Israel did not take part in the wording of the Arab peace initiative and, therefore, should not be expected to accept its every word. But Israel is ready to negotiate common ground. Regional negotiations should start without preconditions. (Times-UK)
Just think about Israel and Palestine, two sovereign states living in peace side by side with open borders, prospering from friendly economic cooperation. What a great future for our children and grandchildren, all children of Abraham. Yet before I get carried away, I'm reminded of the present realities here, and then I have to agree with Netanyahu that a two-state solution is not a viable option, at least not for the moment.
Who would rule that Palestinian state: Fatah, the weak organization that hardly handles the West Bank; or Hamas, the radical movement that holds Gaza in its iron fists, ready to take over the West Bank if given the chance? In either case, such a Palestinian state will not be able to live in peace with Israel - Fatah, because it can't; Hamas, because it won't. Eventually, things will fall into place. However, American pressure for two states right away will not help this to happen. (Miami Herald)
Obama Addresses the Muslim World (New York Times)
U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday in Cairo:
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert