Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Via Smartphone


July 14, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas: Reconciliation with Fatah Depends on Ending U.S. Gen. Dayton's Mission (Hamas-Gaza)
    Dr. Yousuf Rezqa, the political advisor to Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh, stated Sunday that the future of the national dialogue with Fatah is dependent on terminating the security mission of U.S. Gen. Keith Dayton in the West Bank.

Jordan: Death Sentence for Al-Qaeda Member in Killing of U.S. Diplomat (AP/New York Times)
    A Jordanian military court on Monday convicted al-Qaeda member Mohammed Ahmed Youssef al-Jaghbeer of involvement in the killing of American diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman in 2002 and sentenced him to death. Jaghbeer was captured in Iraq.

Human Rights Watch Seeks Saudi Money - David Bernstein (Wall Street Journal)
    A delegation from Human Rights Watch was recently in Saudi Arabia to raise money from wealthy Saudis by highlighting HRW's demonization of Israel.
    There is something wrong when a human rights organization goes to one of the worst countries in the world for human rights to raise money to wage lawfare against Israel, and says not a word during the trip about the status of human rights in that country.
    Its officers see nothing unseemly about raising funds among the elite of one of the most totalitarian nations on earth, with a pitch about how the money is needed to fight "pro-Israel forces."

Man Wanted by FBI Arrested in Tel Aviv - Adva Naftaly (Ynet News-Reuters)
    U.S. national Micky Louis Mayon, one of the FBI's 100 most wanted criminals, was apprehended in Tel Aviv on Sunday.
    Mayon, 33, is wanted in the U.S. for several federal crimes, including membership in the Ku Klux Klan and the burning of vehicles belonging to federal judges.
    "He was here because he thought this was the last place they would look for him," said Sabine Haddad, a spokeswoman for Israel's Interior Ministry.

Gaza Conflict Sparks Billboard Battle in Texas - Cnaan Liphshiz (Ha'aretz)
    Ten pro-Palestinian billboards were put up in Houston after Israel's Gaza operation featuring crying Arab children under the banner "Pray for Gaza."
    On Monday, two pro-Israel groups put up two giant roadside billboards bearing the message: "Save Gaza from Hamas. Teach peace, not hate" - featuring an Arab and an Israeli boy sitting arm-in-arm and smiling.
    "People should pray for Gaza; pray for it to be free from Hamas' tyranny," said Michael Dickson of the international Israel-advocacy group StandWithUs, which launched the new billboards together with the local pro-Israel group Bridge Houston.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use/Privacy 
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Talks of Progress on Israeli Settlements - David Alexander and Steve Holland
    President Obama indicated to Jewish-American leaders on Monday that the U.S. and Israel are making progress in bridging their differences on the issue of Jewish settlements. Obama, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and political adviser David Axelrod sat down with 16 Jewish-American leaders to discuss the Middle East and other issues. "He (Obama) said that there is more progress than appears in the negotiations and spoke quite positively of the tracks between [U.S. envoy George] Mitchell and [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak and between the two administrations," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Hoenlein said Obama indicated that "there might be some opening for an understanding between the two parties."  (Reuters)
        See also Obama Meets with Jewish Leaders - Peter Wallsten
    A private meeting Monday held to ease tensions between the White House and American Jewish leaders included a pointed exchange as President Obama said public disagreements between the U.S. government and Israel are useful in the pursuit of Middle East peace. The president's remarks, surprising to some in the room, came as he was questioned about a perceived distance between his administration and Israel - specifically in his insistence that Israel halt all settlement construction in the West Bank. Obama said his approach would build more credibility with Arabs.
        Some American Jewish leaders have complained that Obama has demanded more concessions from the Israelis on settlements than he has sought from the Palestinians. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he disagreed with Obama's remarks at the meeting, and that showing distance between the two countries gave Palestinians the ability to "play the United States against Israel" in order to gain leverage. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Palestinian Negotiator: Over the Years, Israel Has Gradually Withdrawn from Its Positions; Therefore, We Have No Reason to Hurry
    In a June 25, 2009, interview with the Jordanian daily Al-Dustour, top PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said that there had been a steady erosion in Israel's position over the years, to the point that the previous Israeli government had offered the PA territory equal in size to 100% of the land occupied in 1967, by means of a land swap. Therefore, the Palestinians had no reason to rush into accepting the Israeli proposals. He stressed that the Palestinians would insist on receiving both the "right of return" and monetary compensation for the refugees. "I estimate that we are talking about $140 billion."
        In addition, Erekat said: "Abbas told [former Prime Minister Olmert] that, according to the map he had obtained from a friendly country, the [Israeli] settlements that have been built to date occupy 1.2% of the West Bank, including east Jerusalem," and that "nobody should agree to Israeli settlers remaining in the Palestinian [state]." (MEMRI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Foreign Minister: Peace Cannot Be Achieved by Coercion
    Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was interviewed on Israel Radio on Monday:
        Q: Europe is now proposing, through [EU envoy] Javier Solana, that the UN unilaterally announce the establishment of a Palestinian state, should the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians fail.
        Lieberman: "The statement should be construed in the context of a very human situation. Javier Solana is about to retire, he will be leaving his position by the end of the year, someone else will replace him. Like anyone else in a similar situation, he too is attempting to make a few statements, to leave a legacy, to be remembered for some unique accomplishment. But when push comes to shove, everyone knows that the existing agreements in this region were never achieved by coercion but only by direct communication between the two parties. We have the successful precedents of the peace with Egypt and peace with Jordan, both of which were achieved only by direct talks between the two parties. Therefore we hold on to the concept that peace cannot be forced upon anyone; peace must be built. It is up to us to build peace, it cannot be achieved by coercion."
        "Only recently we heard President Obama speaking in great detail about the conflict in the Middle East, and he too said that there is no substitute for direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and that nothing can be accomplished by coercion." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Blair: Israel Not Getting Enough Credit for Improving Conditions for Palestinians
    Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair told Prime Minister Netanyahu Monday that Israel was not getting enough credit for its many recent measures to improve conditions for the Palestinian population in the West Bank, such as the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints. Blair was briefed on the efforts Israel was making to boost the economic development of the West Bank and lift restrictions from the Palestinian residents, and both sides raised additional ideas for improving the Palestinian economy. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister: Too Early to Resume Syria Talks - Haviv Rettig Gur
    Talk of a resumption of Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations is "very premature considering Syrian intransigence and support for terror," Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told the Jerusalem Post on Monday. American diplomat and Syria expert Frederick Hoff, a top adviser to American Middle East envoy George Mitchell, is now in Israel for meetings and will fly to Damascus on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Establishing U.S. Levers of Pressure on Iran - Emily B. Landau
    The Obama administration is attempting to fine-tune its strategy on Iran, and quietly put in place different levers for pressuring Iran if no diplomatic movement is in sight. While Obama has made it clear that he remains committed to negotiations, Iran has still not responded to the U.S. offer of engagement. Moreover, Ahmadinejad has promised to take an even more determined stance against the West in response to their recent "meddling" in Iran's internal affairs, even though Obama took every possible precaution in order not to be perceived as interfering in this way.
        The lesson is that Iran's attitude toward the U.S. is driven by what Iran seeks to achieve, and not perceptions of U.S. accommodation. In fact, accommodation can be interpreted as a weakness to be exploited. To succeed on the Iranian nuclear issue, the U.S. will ultimately have to embrace its own interests and follow through with determination. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The Iranian Regime after the Crackdown. - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    The regime has regained control of the streets. Mousavi surely knows that Khamenei has, for now, decisively outflanked him. Hope for reform again appears a long-term affair.
        The influence of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's preeminent cleric and probably the most respected Shiite jurist in the world, comes into play here. Iranian clerics have been free to go to Iraq on pilgrimage and for study since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Sistani, an Iranian by birth who still speaks Arabic with a Persian accent, has embraced democracy in Iraq. What's interesting is the potential appeal in Iran of the Iraqi model - the cultural and religious authority that comes from the Shiite tradition of keeping a certain distance from power, combined with a modern, moral embrace of democracy. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    Why Is Israel's Presence in the Territories Still Called "Occupation"? - Avinoam Sharon (Global Law Forum)

    • When an armed force holds territory beyond its own national borders, the term "occupation" readily comes to mind. However, not all the factual situations that we commonly think of as "occupation" fall within the limited scope of the term "occupation" as defined in international law. Not every situation we refer to as "occupation" is subject to the international legal regime that regulates occupation and imposes obligations upon the occupier.
    • The term "occupation" is often employed politically, without regard for its general or legal meaning. The use of the term "occupation" in political rhetoric reduces complex situations of competing claims and rights to predefined categories of right and wrong. The term "occupation" is also employed in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to advance the argument that Israel bears ultimate responsibility for the welfare of the Palestinians, while limiting or denying Israel's right to defend itself against Palestinian terror, and relieving the Palestinian side of responsibility for its own actions and their consequences. The term is also employed  as part of a general assault upon Israel's legitimacy, in the context of a geopolitical narrative that has little to do with Israel's status as an occupier under international law.
    • Iraq was occupied by the Coalition forces from the spring of 2003 until June 28, 2004, at which time authority was handed over to the Iraqi Interim Government. At that point, Coalition forces remained in Iraq, but Iraq was no longer deemed occupied. If handing over authority to a Coalition-appointed interim government ended the occupation of Iraq, would the same not hold true for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and Israel?
    • Under the Interim Agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization of September 28, 1995, it would seem that at least those areas placed under the effective control of the Palestinian Authority, and from which Israel had actually withdrawn its military forces, could no longer be termed "occupied" by Israel. Moreover, since the continued presence of Israeli troops in the area was agreed to and regulated by the Agreement, that presence should no longer be viewed as an occupation.
    • The withdrawal of all Israeli military personnel and any Israeli civilian presence in the Gaza Strip, and the subsequent ouster of the Palestinian Authority and the takeover of the area by a Hamas government, surely would constitute a clear end of the Israeli occupation of Gaza. Nevertheless, even though Gaza is no longer under the authority of a hostile army, and despite an absence of the effective control necessary for providing the governmental services required of an occupying power, it is nevertheless argued that Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza.

      Lt.-Col. (res.) Avinoam Sharon is a former Israel Defense Forces Military Attorney for Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert