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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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July 23, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Mulls Possible U.S. Aid Halt Effects - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Amid growing tension between Jerusalem and Washington, the IDF and the Defense Ministry have held brainstorming sessions to discuss the possibility that the U.S. would cut military aid to Israel.
    The discussion came just hours before a State Department spokesman said that it was still "premature" to talk about financial sanctions against Israel for its refusal to freeze settlement construction.
    Israeli defense officials said it was possible to interpret the remark as meaning that now it is premature, but that at a later date sanctions might be realistic.
    Israeli diplomatic officials, on the other hand, completely discounted the likelihood that the current disagreements with the U.S. would lead to punitive sanctions against Israel.
    One official said there was no concern at this time in the Foreign Ministry that Washington would use this weapon, especially since its pressure on the Arab world to take gestures toward Israel is not bearing any fruit, but no one is talking about potential sanctions against the Arab world for not positively responding to the president.

U.S. Pressure on Jewish Settlements Spurs Sales - Peter Kenyon (NPR)
    As the Obama administration continues to press for a freeze to all new construction in Jewish settlements, real estate agents are reporting a rush to buy apartments both in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.
    In Maale Adumim, a modern settlement in the hills east of Jerusalem, developers have seen the yellow light of U.S. pressure and are responding with a mini-rush on apartments.
    Real estate agent Ayalon Cohen says he is selling six to ten units a month, comparable to the fastest-growing towns in Israel. Talk of a settlement freeze, it seems, is good for business.
    "There's a lot of demand. A young couple that wants to buy in Jerusalem cannot afford to do so," Cohen says.
    Before Obama's statements, a three-bedroom apartment in Maale Adumim sold for $215,000. Now, the price has jumped to $244,000.

Evangelicals Back Israel in Washington - Sam Greenberg (Jerusalem Post)
    The fourth annual summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) brought together 4,000 Christian leaders and supporters of Israel from around the country this week.
    Founded in 2006 by Pastor John Hagee, the organization is now active in all 50 states and in dozens of countries.
    See also Video: Greeting by Prime Minister Netanyahu to Christians United for Israel (Prime Minister's Office)

Terrorists to Be Honored with PA Street Names - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinian Authority plans to name West Bank streets after at least 100 Palestinian security prisoners who were involved in murdering Israelis or carrying out terrorist attacks, PA Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqi said on Wednesday.
    Many streets in West Bank cities and villages have already been named after Palestinian "martyrs."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Missile Interceptor Tested on U.S. Range
    Israel's Arrow II missile defense system was tested at a U.S. range off the California coast on Wednesday but problems prevented the launch of the system's interceptor, the Pentagon said. In a test involving three U.S. missile interceptors, the Arrow tracked a target missile dropped from a C-17 aircraft. The Israeli system also exchanged data on the target in real-time with elements of the U.S. missile defense system. However, "not all test conditions to launch the Arrow Interceptor were met and it was not launched," the Pentagon said. (Reuters)
  • Statement by Conference of Presidents Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein on Issues Raised Regarding Construction in Jerusalem
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has long advocated and supported the unity of Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. As such, we believe that legal construction by residents of the city should be allowed as long as it is in keeping with the standards and requirements of the municipality and the national government. We find disturbing the objections raised to the proposed construction of residential units on property that was legally purchased and approved by the appropriate authorities. As a united city, Jerusalem's Jewish and Arab residents should be permitted to reside wherever legal and security requirements allow. (Conference of Presidents)
  • Flying Iran's Hazardous Skies - One Effect of Western Sanctions - Reuben F. Johnson
    A Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154M airliner operated by Caspian Air crashed last week after take-off from Iran's Imam Khomeini airport, killing 168 passengers and crew. In February 2006, a Tu-154 operated by Iran Airtour crashed during a landing in Tehran, killing 29 of the 148 people on board. An Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft crashed in 2003, while another Tupolev operated by Airtour crashed in 2002 in western Iran, killing all 199 persons on board. The 1996 U.S. Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) prohibits the sale of most U.S. and European-made commercial aircraft to Iran. As a consequence, the country continues to utilize a combination of aging Western and Russian aircraft - all of which are becoming increasingly unsafe.
        The only countries Iran has no problems purchasing passenger aircraft from are Russia and China, but most of Russia's commercial production lines are shut down and China's only modern-design regional airliner, the ARJ21, has too many major U.S. components in its configuration to get past the ILSA embargo lists. The deaths from operating aircraft past their useable service life are another casualty of the increasing isolation that the Ahmadinejad regime has brought on its own people. (Weekly Standard)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: Israel Won't Dismantle West Bank Fence
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel has no intention of dismantling the West Bank separation fence, which he called "a critical component of Israel's security." Media reports said the PA had relayed a demand to President Obama to remove the fence since the security situation in the West Bank had improved. Netanyahu told the Knesset: "I hear they are saying today that because it's quiet, it's possible to take down the fence. My friends, the opposite is true....It's quiet because a fence exists."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Fatah Has Never Recognized Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah has never recognized Israel's right to exist and it has no intention of ever doing so, a veteran senior leader of the Western-backed faction said on Wednesday. Rafik Natsheh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee who also serves as chairman of the faction's disciplinary "court," is the second senior official in recent months to make similar statements regarding Israel. Natsheh is also a former minister in the Palestinian Authority government who briefly served as Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Earlier this year, Muhammad Dahlan, another top Fatah figure, said that Fatah had never recognized Israel's right to exist despite the fact that it is the largest faction in the PLO, which signed the Oslo Accords with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Fatah Convention to Reaffirm Commitment to Armed Struggle - Ali Waked
    As the Fatah movement prepares for its August 4 leadership convention in Bethlehem, senior Fatah official Rafik Natsheh said: "We will maintain the resistance option in all its forms and we will not recognize Israel....Not only don't we demand that anyone recognize Israel; we don't recognize Israel ourselves." "I am certain that we will hinder all the traitors who wish to remove the resistance option from the movement's charter," Natsheh added. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Working on the Obama-Netanyahu Relationship - Ari Shavit
    Despite their previous wariness, most Israelis were quite happy to see Obama in the White House. Despite a few suspicions, our prime minister was quite charmed by the young senator from Illinois and his meteoric rise. But his meeting with Netanyahu in the Oval Office several months ago was an ambush. Without any advance warning, Obama placed his ultimatum in front of Netanyahu. That is how he turned Netanyahu from an admirer into an adversary in the blink of an eye.
        Soon after the confrontation in Washington Obama renounced the commitments made by previous administrations on the settlement blocs. He trashed the letter written by George W. Bush and the policies of Bill Clinton. That is how he taught the Israelis a lesson they will not quickly forget: The word of a U.S. president is not worth much. A pre-withdrawal promise is only a promise. This behavior has paralyzed the Israeli public's willingness to support the next large-scale withdrawal and only a few Israelis view him as a true friend of Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel on Their Minds - Editorial
    Never mind Iran's crackdown on peaceful protestors, China's killings of ethnic Uighurs or the epidemic murders of Kremlin critics. When it comes to Europe, the only country that really seems to engage their moral indignation is Israel. Calling for Israel to be sanctioned may be the one cause that unites British university lecturers and Scandinavian union activists with radical Islamists and neo-Nazis. Now, however, the European Court of Human Rights has called this fixation with the Jewish state what it is: discrimination.
        Last week, the Strasbourg-based court upheld a 2003 French court conviction against Jean-Claude Fernand Willem for advocating a boycott of Israel. The former mayor wanted to infringe on "the normal exercise of economic activity of the manufacturers based solely on the fact that they belong to a certain nation." (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Has Damascus Stopped Supporting Terrorists? - Ryan Mauro
    The Assad regime sponsors terrorism because it is a regime based on terrorism. It seeks to use terrorists to defeat the U.S. in the region, thwart the development of democracies in Lebanon and Iraq, and to employ terror as a means of waging war against Israel. Outmatched by the weapons the West possesses, Syria repeatedly turns to unconventional means. Terror sponsorship also creates a dependency upon the Assad regime, making it counterproductive for the forces of Islamic extremism to wage war against it.
        Any strategy to tackle Assad's support for terrorism must rely on more than engagement and shuttle diplomacy. Rather than allowing terrorism to be an effective tool of diplomacy, such actions must be met with economic sanctions and international pressure. Every move by Syria should be countered and the regime must see only loss from its support of terrorism. Finally, the West should assist the development of the democratic opposition forces in Syria, however weak they may be. (Middle East Quarterly)
  • Religious Cleansing in Iran - J. K. Choksy and Nina Shea
    "Every aspect of a non-Muslim is unclean," proclaimed Iran's late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Thus Iran's Zoroastrians, Jews, Mandeans, Christians, and Bahais are subordinated and treated as a fifth column by the revolutionary Islamic Republic. No matter that most of these religious groups were established in Iran before Islam arrived there; none are accepted by Iran's Shiite rulers as fully Iranian. Jamsheed K. Choksy is a professor of Iranian studies at Indiana University. Nina Shea directs the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    How Israel Hopes to Achieve Peace with the Palestinians - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a conference call on Tuesday:

    • We seek unconditional peace talks with the Palestinians. We're prepared to begin those talks immediately. We have to work on five principles that are not preconditions for beginning peace talks, but they are clear foundations for a successful completion of peace talks.

      1. Recognition. We are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people. It's necessary and elementary that the Palestinians be asked to recognize the nation-state of the Jewish people. The absence of the recognition of the Jewish people's right to a state of their own remains the source, the root of this conflict.

      2. The problem of Palestinian refugees will be resolved outside the State of Israel.

      3. A peace treaty that actually ends the conflict. It's not an interim peace treaty from which the conflict is pursued from the Palestinian state that will be established. The Palestinians upon the signing of a peace treaty have to say unequivocally that they have no more claims.

      4. A Palestinian state that doesn't threaten the State of Israel. The only way that will be achieved is by effective demilitarization. Gaza and Lebanon are examples of ineffective measures of demilitarization. These two places are used as a launching ground for thousands of missiles that have been hurled against us.

      5. A peace arrangement must be guaranteed by the international community, led by the United States.

    • One other element for ending the conflict is to push forward the spread of prosperity. We've taken far-reaching steps to liberalize movement in the West Bank, removing barriers and checkpoints, and to unblock several economic projects that could advance the Palestinian economy. This idea of advancing economic peace is not a substitute for achieving political peace, it's a way to facilitate it. It makes peace more possible and more worthwhile for the Palestinians, as opposed to the radical Islamist projection of misery and conflict.

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