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June 16, 2009

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Behind the PA's Hysterical Reaction to Netanyahu's Speech - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinian Authority leadership's hysterical, hasty and clearly miscalculated response to Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech is likely to boomerang because it makes the Palestinians appear as "peace rejectionists."
    Even before he completed his speech, several PA officials and spokesmen used every available platform to declare their total rejection of Netanyahu's ideas.
    The harsh response of the PA is the direct result of high hopes that its leaders have pinned on the Obama administration.
    Reports about a looming crisis between the U.S. and Netanyahu, combined with Obama's conciliatory approach toward the Arab and Muslim worlds, had created the impression that the Israeli government had no choice but to accept all the Palestinian demands.
    The fact that Netanyahu is even prepared to talk about a Palestinian state is in itself a major achievement.
    So what if the future state of Palestine doesn't have an army and an air force? Why would Palestine need tanks and warplanes?
    Don't the Palestinians already have enough security forces and armed militias? Don't they already have enough ammunition and rockets?

    See also The Ball Is in Obama's Court - Yoel Marcus (Ha'aretz)
    The Palestinians, as usual, instead of catching Bibi on every good word or gesture, have begun another round of missing an opportunity. They have already called him a liar and a charlatan.
    It remains to be seen whether Barack Hussein Obama can save the Palestinians from themselves.

Proposal for a Demilitarized Palestinian State Not New - Benjamin Balint (Tablet)
    Netanyahu's proposal for a demilitarized Palestinian state is nothing new. Such a state was a cornerstone of the Oslo Process and was one of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's four "red lines" for final-status negotiations at the July 2000 Camp David summit.
    The Palestinian moderate Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds University, called for the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state as far back as January 2002.
    In the U.S., Gen. James Jones, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's special envoy to the Annapolis conference in 2007, concluded that a future Palestinian state would require third-party troops - from NATO, for example - to secure Israel's security.
    The writer is a fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Ross to Move to National Security Council - Mark Landler (New York Times)
    With the White House assuming a more central role in dealing with Iran, the Obama administration plans to move its senior Iran policy-maker, Dennis Ross, to the White House's National Security Council from the State Department, two administration officials said Monday.
    See also Ross to Have a Freer Hand at White House - Massimo Calabresi and Michael Scherer (TIME)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hundreds of Thousands in Iran Protest Vote Result - Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim
    Hundreds of thousands of Iranian protesters defied authorities Monday and marched to Tehran's Freedom Square, as Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered an investigation into allegations of voter fraud after the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The crowd - estimates of which ranged to more than 1 million - defied Interior Ministry warnings broadcast on state television and radio that anyone showing up would be beaten or worse, and even ignored defeated presidential candidate Mousavi's last-minute call to cancel the event. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Report: Up to 24 Killed in Iran Clashes (Ynet News)
  • Growing Public Outrage Pushes Iran to the Brink - Warren P. Strobel
    The unrest, possibly Iran's worst political crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, confounded predictions that the regime would be able to contain the fallout from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim of a landslide victory. (McClatchy-Miami Herald)
        See also Iran's Day of Destiny - Robert Fisk
    Not since the 1979 Iranian Revolution have massed protesters gathered in such numbers, or with such overwhelming popularity. When they reached the main highway they found riot police in steel helmets and batons lined on each side. The people ignored them all. And the cops, horribly outnumbered by these tens of thousands, smiled sheepishly and - to our astonishment - nodded their heads towards the men and women demanding freedom. (Independent-UK)
        See also Twitter Streams Break Iran News Dam - Glenn Chapman
    Protestors in Iran used Twitter for battle cries and to spread the word about clashes with police, despite efforts by authorities to block news of the protests. (AFP)
  • Obama: "Positive Movement" in Netanyahu Speech
    President Obama said on Monday he saw "positive movement" in a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, but he insisted that Israel must meet its "Roadmap" obligations to halt construction of Jewish settlements, and the Palestinians must put an end to violence against the Jewish state. (Reuters)
        See also Text of Obama's Remarks (White House)
        See also U.S. Officials Skeptical on a Demilitarized Palestine - Paul Richter
    U.S. officials reacted skeptically Monday to an Israeli proposal that the U.S. guarantee that Palestine remain demilitarized as a condition of its statehood. "We need a solution that works, and this would be very difficult for the Palestinians to swallow," said one official. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Did Netanyahu Pass the Obama Test? - Hilary Leila Krieger
    In the wake of Prime Minister Netanyahu's address on Sunday, the Obama administration has publicly been emphasizing the positive nature of the message. The focus on the positive is being seen as an effort to move past public disagreements with Israel and find a constructive approach that might include compromise on some points. "The Netanyahu government took a big step forward yesterday in acknowledging for the first time the need for a two-state solution," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Monday. "I think the pleased thus far with the progress that's being made."
        Members of Congress also welcomed Netanyahu's remarks. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), one of the Jewish congressmen closest to President Obama, said: "There has not been a meeting of the minds between the U.S. and Israel on settlements, but I'm confident that there will be." David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said: "This is a way of taking the edge off the tension between the U.S. and Israel." Aaron David Miller, a former State Department Middle East official, said: "They have made a virtue of necessity here, because I'm not sure they wanted to get into a fight with Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Boy Murdered as "Collaborator" for Chatting with Israeli Border Guard - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Raed Sawalha, 15, from the village of Hijjah near Kalkilya in the West Bank, was brutally tortured before being hanged. His father, Wael, had locked him inside a warehouse after villagers claimed they had seen the boy "chatting" with an Israeli Border Police soldier. The father told police that he only sought to "discipline" his son and did not know that other members of the family, including his own brother, would assault him and kill him on suspicion of "collaboration" with Israel. The uncle, who confessed to the murder, told police investigators that he "lost his temper" when some boys in the village told him that his nephew had waved to a Border Police soldier as he drove by. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why Obama Should Listen to Netanyahu - Leslie H. Gelb
    In his speech Sunday, the Israeli prime minister made security points that Team Obama must not ignore - and absent Palestinian concessions, he went as far on settlements as any Israeli leader could go. The writer is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • In Iran, an Iron Cleric, Now Blinking - Neil MacFarquhar
    Few suggest yet that supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei's hold on power is at risk. But, analysts say, he has opened a serious fissure that may prove impossible to patch over, particularly given the fierce dispute over the election that has erupted amid the elite veterans of the 1979 revolution. "The myth that there is a leader up there whose power is unquestionable is broken," said author Azar Nafisi.
        Those sensing that important change may be afoot are quick to caution that Khamenei could still resort to overwhelming force to crush the demonstrations. But many analysts say the differences between factions have never been quite so pronounced nor public as in the past few days. If Khamenei lets the demonstrations swell, it could well change the system of clerical rule. But if he uses violence to stamp them out, the myth of a popular mandate for the Islamic revolution will die. (New York Times)
  • What the West Should Tell Iran - Jeffrey Gedmin
    The Iranians we hear from want the U.S. to engage the Iranian government. They say: Tell President Ahmadinejad that if he is confident he won these elections he can benefit enormously by opening his country to a team of international observers to certify the results. They say: Tell Iran's government that it should permit free media and respect the free flow of information and ideas. They also say we should insist to Tehran that the authorities refrain from using violence against peaceful protesters. The writer is president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. (Washington Post)
  • Iran's Clarifying Election - Amir Taheri
    Ahmadinejad's victory should kill the illusion that the Khomeinist regime is capable of internal evolution towards moderation. Ahmadinejad sees Iran as a vehicle for a messianic global revolution. The election eliminates the elements within the regime - such as unsuccessful candidates Mousavi and Karrubi - who have pursued the idea of keeping the theocracy intact while giving it a veneer of democratic practice. Believing that he has already defeated the U.S., Ahmadinejad will be in no mood for compromise. Moments after his victory he described the U.S. as a "crippled creature" and invited President Obama to a debate at the UN, ostensibly to examine "the injustice done by world arrogance to Muslim nations." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    With Israel in Grave Danger, Has the U.S. Gone Wobbly? - Mort Zuckerman (U.S. News)

    • The State of Israel and its citizens are confronted by the greatest peril in the nation's history. Iran and its proxies, Hamas and Hizbullah, seek to "wipe Israel off the map." A world so bored with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so used to quick fixes, so confused that it has succumbed to the most specious moral equivalency, makes no distinction between the inexcusable, indiscriminate violence of terrorism and the very different, unavoidable defensive violence of the authority responsible for protecting its citizens. It's the difference between the arsonist and the firefighter.
    • The TV pictures are framed not in terms of the survival of Israel or the security of the state but of self-determination for the Palestinian Arabs, with Israel seen as the bully oppressing the underdog. The truly brutal reality is that Palestinian maps still do not show the State of Israel.
    • When President Obama speaks about daily humiliation of Palestinian Arabs, he ignores that every Israeli is searched numerous times during the day; that Jewish schoolchildren have to be protected by perimeter fences and armed guards; that guards are required in cafes, restaurants and movie theaters. Arab villagers do not need to have guards at their shops, cafes or restaurants. Why? Because the Israelis do not target the innocent.
    • It is extraordinary that a gullible world now regards Israel as rejectionist, yet it is Arab leaders who have rejected everything over the decades. Arab leaders converted the West Bank territory they came to control into a launching pad for an intifada that killed more than 1,000 Israelis and ultimately forced Israel to return to the West Bank at great cost and build a security fence against terrorist infiltration.
    • This conduct turned upside down the priorities of the Roadmap for peace, which stated that prior to Israeli concessions the Palestinians would be obliged to demonstrate a commitment to curbing terrorism, eschewing violence and its incitement.

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