Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
July 22, 2009
Lebanon Arrests Ten Islamists Plotting Attacks on UN Troops (Reuters)
Iran Supreme Leader Warns Opposition to Back Down - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
Russia Eyes Mediterranean Naval Base in Syria (UPI)
Saudi Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing - Michael Jacobson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
How Canadian Jews Defeat Boycotts - Stuart Laidlaw (Toronto Star)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Germany, France and EU president Sweden on Tuesday joined Western nations pressing Israel to stop building in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank under a U.S.-led effort to resume stalled peace talks. (Reuters-Washington Post)
See also State Department: Financial Sanctions on Israel "Premature" - Herb Keinon
Asked at a press briefing whether the U.S. was considering putting financial pressure on Israel to get it to comply with U.S. demands, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Tuesday: "It's premature to talk about that." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Text of State Department Briefing
Q: "Would the U.S. be ready to exert some financial pressures on Israel to convince the government to stop settlements?"
Wood: "It's premature to talk about that. What we're trying to do, as I said, right now is to create an environment which makes it conducive for talks to go forward. And as I said, Senator Mitchell is working very hard on this. And what we all need to do in the international community is support this effort, and that means Americans, that means Arabs and Israelis, to do what they can to kind of foster a climate in which the two sides can come together and negotiate their differences peacefully so that we can get to that two-state solution." (State Department)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday in Thailand that the U.S. has not given up hope that Iran can still be persuaded to scrap a uranium enrichment project believed to be weapons-related. But she says, if Iran acquires a nuclear weapons capacity, the U.S. will respond with "crippling" actions and is prepared to offer regional allies a "defense umbrella" to prevent Iranian intimidation. (VOA News)
See also Israeli Minister Criticizes Clinton Statement on Nuclear Iran - Barak Ravid
Dan Meridor, Israel's minister for secret services, told Army Radio that Clinton's statement regarding "a defense umbrella" for its allies in the Middle East implies a willingness to reconcile with the eventuality of a nuclear-armed Iran. "I heard, unenthusiastically, the Americans' statement that they will defend their allies in the event that Iran arms itself with an atomic bomb, as if they have already reconciled with this possibility, and this is a mistake....Now, we don't need to deal with the assumption that Iran will attain nuclear weapons but to prevent this." (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Senior White House adviser Dennis Ross will join an already crowded list of top U.S. officials traveling to Israel next week, a step interpreted positively in Jerusalem as an attempt by the Obama administration to engage more constructively with Jerusalem. Ross will come in the same week as Middle East envoy George Mitchell, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Adviser James Jones. Asked about the sudden surge in high-level U.S. visitors, one senior Israeli diplomatic official said, "It's about time. It's much better that the two countries discuss the issues between them face-to-face, and not through the media." (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas has been severely weakened in the West Bank in recent years and has lowered its profile out of fear its men will be captured by the PA and the IDF. It is operating a number of terrorist cells in every major city that are completely compartmentalized to ensure survivability, according to the latest military assessments. "Hamas is very weak and today is working mostly on surviving and retaining its capabilities for a time sometime in the future when it decides to attack," a senior IDF officer explained on Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
Some 40 people were injured, 14 of them seriously, in a blast during the wedding of former PA security chief Mohammed Dahlan's relative in Khan Yunis on Tuesday. The injured are all family members and Fatah activists. A Gaza source said the explosion was caused by an explosive charge placed under the stage on which the bridegroom was sitting and the guests were dancing. "There was another device which did not explode. Had it been detonated, no one would have escaped alive," the source said. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The U.S. decision to get tough with Israel translates into escalating Palestinian demands on Israel. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas complained to the Americans about the construction of 20 apartments and an underground garage in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Shimon Hatzadik. The State Department promptly instructed Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, to halt the building project.
Zionist Jews founded the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood in 1891 by purchasing the land from Arabs, then, due to Arab riots and Jordanian conquest, abandoned the area. Amin al-Husseini, Jerusalem's pro-Nazi mufti, put up a building in the 1930s that later served as the Shepherd Hotel. After 1967, the Israelis designated the land "absentee property." The administration picked a fight on an issue where an Israeli consensus exists - not over a remote "outpost" but a Jerusalem quarter boasting a Zionist pedigree back to 1891. The writer is director of the Middle East Forum and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. (Philadelphia Bulletin)
See also An Unwise Line in the Sand - Benny Avni (New York Post)
Last week, the U.S. demanded that the Israeli government pull the plug on a planned housing development near the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem because Sheikh Jarrah is in a largely Arab section of Jerusalem, and the developers of the planned apartments are Jews. The administration would never demand that Israel prevent Arabs from moving into a Jewish neighborhood. In the 21st century, segregation is unthinkable - except, it seems, when it comes to housing Jews in Jerusalem. During Israel's War of Independence in 1948, the Jordanian Arab Legion invaded eastern Jerusalem and expelled all its Jews - many from families that had lived in the city for centuries.
For the next 19 years, eastern Jerusalem was barred to Jews. Dozens of Jewish holy places, including synagogues hundreds of years old, were desecrated or destroyed. Jerusalem's most sacred Jewish shrine, the Western Wall, became a slum. In 1967, after Jordan was routed in the Six-Day War, Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli sovereignty and religious freedom restored to all.
U.S. policy, laid out in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, recognizes Jerusalem as "a united city administered by Israel" and formally declares that "Jerusalem must remain an undivided city." As a presidential candidate, Obama said the same thing: "Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital, and no one should want or expect it to be re-divided." (Boston Globe)
Whatever his intentions, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' political weakness has effectively neutered him as an effective peace interlocutor. He is engaged in an epic power struggle with Hamas, which not only controls Gaza but also is the ruling party of the democratically elected Palestinian legislature. And his influence is waning even in his own Fatah organization. It has become conventional wisdom internationally that no credible peace process is possible without the consent of Hamas.
Egypt-mediated talks aimed at reconciling Hamas and Fatah continue, but little progress is expected because Hamas has little incentive to make the concessions that Fatah is demanding. Hamas believes it has the momentum at home and abroad. Just last week, it was revealed that Thomas Pickering, former U.S. ambassador to the UN, had met with Hamas leaders, though the Obama administration continues to insist that it will not engage with Hamas until the organization renounces violence, recognizes Israel and abides by past agreements. Meanwhile, Abbas is under pressure from Fatah leaders who openly challenge his fealty to Washington. (TIME)
Revisiting Obama's Riyadh Meeting - Laura Rozen (Foreign Policy)
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