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July 27, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

PA's Dahlan: Arafat Deceived the World - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch-IMRA)
    PA (Fatah) Member of Parliament Muhammad Dahlan told PA TV on July 22 that Yasser Arafat was deceiving the world when he condemned Palestinian terror.
    "Arafat would condemn [terror] operations by day while at night he would do honorable things." Dahlan said this in the context of defending the use of Palestinian terror, which he called a "legal right."

IDF: Hizbullah Has Rebuilt Arms Stockpiles in Southern Lebanon - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Senior IDF officers believe that Hizbullah has completely rebuilt its network of bunkers and arms stockpiles in southern Lebanon, but has located them almost entirely inside Shi'ite villages rather than in open areas, as in the past.
    The defense establishment is very concerned about the possibility of a serious incident on the Lebanese border, but believes that Hizbullah is more likely to try to strike Israeli targets abroad.

U.S. Aids Palestinians in Budget Crisis (AP/New York Times)
    The U.S. has transferred $200 million to the Palestinians to help ease their government's growing budget crisis. Secretary of State Clinton announced the aid with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Friday.
    The PA's budget deficit is growing, and it has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from commercial banks to cover the government payroll.

Gaza Campers Stage Abduction of Israeli Soldier - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Children in Hamas summer camps reenacted the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in the presence of top Hamas officials, according to pictures obtained by the Jerusalem Post.
    More than 120,000 Palestinian children are spending the summer in Hamas-run camps. In addition to religious studies, the children undergo semi-military training with toy guns.

Bolivians Resist Iran's Search for Uranium - Martin Arostegui (Washington Times)
    "Bolivia is a peaceful nation that would never aid an effort by Iran or any other country to develop nuclear weapons," said Presidency Minister Juan Ramon Quintana.
    However, Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, has exchanged state visits with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and signed up to $1.2 billion in joint ventures.
    "We need to ask what Iran's real interest is in Bolivia," said Roman Loayza, a dissident from Morales' ruling party, the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), who is running against Morales in presidential elections scheduled for December.
    Morales has said that Iran wants to build a radio and TV station in his home district of Chapare to "support the peasant struggle in South America."
    Iranian movies are regularly broadcast over Bolivia's state-run TV channel and a Muslim preacher even delivered services at a state-sponsored event earlier this month.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Netanyahu: Israel Wants "Understanding" with U.S. - Matti Friedman
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he hopes to work out key policy disagreements with the U.S. during a series of meetings this week with high-profile American envoys. "Naturally, in the context of friendly relations between allies, there isn't agreement on all points, and on several issues we are trying to reach an understanding, in order to make progress together toward our shared goals - peace, security and prosperity for the whole Middle East," Netanyahu said. He will meet with U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Adviser James Jones, and top Iran and Mideast specialist Dennis Ross.
        At a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday, Mitchell described the differences with Israel as "discussions among friends" and "not disputes among adversaries."  (AP)
  • U.S. Pushes Israel-Syria Talks - Jay Solomon
    U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell pledged to seek a quick resumption of peace talks between Israel and Syria over the disputed Golan Heights during his second trip to Damascus in a little over a month as the U.S. intensified its rapprochement with Syrian President Bashar Assad. "The messages coming to us from President Obama stress his administration's determination and resolve to open a new page with Syria," Assad's media adviser, Buthaina Shabaan, told Syrian state media on Sunday. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Despite Obama's Appeal, Saudis Unlikely to Push Mideast Talks - Dion Nissenbaum
    President Obama's strategy for rejuvenating Arab-Israeli peace talks is running into resistance from Saudi Arabia, which has rebuffed the American leader's appeals to play a more active role in his plans. Saudi officials have expressed skepticism about Obama's attempts to secure concessions from the Arab world in exchange for a commitment from Israel to stop building Jewish homes in the West Bank.
        To drive that point home, the Saudis have been putting private pressure on their regional allies to make sure that they don't make any dramatic gestures unless Israel takes the first step. "The ambition to bring the Saudis on board has been disappointed," said one Western diplomat based in Riyadh. "It would be quite difficult for the Saudis to lead the way the U.S. is hoping, because any warmth towards Israel would be deeply unpopular with its public."  (McClatchy-Miami Herald)
  • Clinton: Iranian Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons Is "Futile" - David E. Sanger
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran's leaders on Sunday that if they were seeking nuclear weapons, "your pursuit is futile," and ruled out explicitly the possibility that the Obama administration would allow Iran to produce its own nuclear fuel, even under intense international inspection. Clinton told NBC's "Meet the Press": "I think it's clear we're trying to affect the internal calculus of the Iranian regime," adding, "What we want to do is to send a message to whoever is making these decisions that if you're pursuing nuclear weapons for the purpose of intimidating, of projecting your power, we're not going to let that happen."  (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Accused Israel Spy Hints at FBI Anti-Semitism in AIPAC Probe - Yossi Melman
    Lawrence Franklin, 63, a former senior officer in the U.S. Air Force, an intelligence expert, university professor and senior official in the U.S. administration, was accused of spying for Israel and lived under the specter of a 13-year prison term. He was ultimately sentenced to community service for bringing home classified documents. Franklin worked in the Secretary of Defense's bureau, as a senior policy analyst on Iran, Iraq, and Hizbullah. His superiors were Jews: Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, and Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy. Franklin believes these two senior officials were the actual, main targets of the FBI investigation, which, he says, wanted to incriminate them through him on a charge of spying for Israel.
        Franklin replies cautiously when asked about anti-Semitism in the FBI: "I find it embarrassing to admit to a foreign journalist that highly passionate prejudices and biases like these still exist in an organization that is so respected and admired by the majority of Americans. I was asked about every Jew I knew in the secretary's bureau and had left, and that disturbed me very much." (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Tunneling Near UN Facilities in Gaza - Yaakov Katz
    Hamas is digging tunnels next to UN facilities in Gaza under the assumption that the IDF will not target them during a future conflict, defense officials warned on Sunday. A tunnel adjacent to a UN school in Beit Hanun collapsed earlier this month, causing damage inside the school. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Hamas Terrorists Killed in Gaza Blast En Route to "Holy Mission"
    Hamas said two of its fighters were killed in an explosion in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza on Friday as they were on "a holy mission," a phrase used to describe militants on their way to carrying out an attack. (AP/Ha'aretz)
        See also Two Hamas Men Killed While Placing Bomb Near Border Fence - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Tested "Land for Peace" in Gaza - Mackubin Thomas Owens
    Israel's control of the West Bank (territory that should properly be called "disputed" rather than "occupied") was the result of defeating the Arab powers who initiated the Six-Day War of 1967. The status of aggressors and defenders is not interchangeable. Neither is the status of victorious powers and defeated ones. Nonetheless, Israel has taken unilateral steps toward peace, steps not reciprocated by the Palestinians. When Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, dismantling 21 settlements and displacing over 9,000 residents, it conducted the most comprehensive test of the "land for peace" concept in the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Yet Israel was rewarded with the creation of a terrorist enclave governed by Hamas, rather than the peaceful, responsible neighbor Israel would need in order to accept a Palestinian Arab state.
        Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians requires compromises on both sides. U.S. pressure on Israel, without any on the Palestinians, will not achieve the desired outcome. The writer is editor of Orbis, the quarterly journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Window of Opportunity for a Two-State Solution - Brian Katulis, Marc Lynch, and Robert C. Adler
    The Obama administration needs to take four concrete steps on the Israeli-Palestinian front in the coming months: 1) Plan for the possibility of Palestinian elections in the coming year. 2) Develop an integrated program to strengthen Palestinian institutions in a broad range of sectors to lay the foundations for statehood. 3) Take immediate action to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 4) Conduct a public outreach and strategic communications effort in the Middle East outlining U.S. regional strategy, with increased attention to Israeli public opinion. The Obama administration will achieve its goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict only if its actions are not viewed by Israelis as hostile to their interests. Israel and the U.S. cannot afford to surprise each other with unexpected, uncoordinated initiatives that collide with each other's strategic position. (Center for American Progress)
  • Iran's Vulnerability to Foreign Economic Pressure - Patrick Clawson
    The current situation, in which Iran's economy is likely to do poorly in the next few years, is a perfect moment for the international community to impose additional sanctions on Iran. No longer can Iran offset the impact of those sanctions with a flood of oil income. There is excellent reason to expect that Iranian public opinion will blame the economic problems on hardliners' isolation of Iran from the international community.
        Foreign pressure cannot cause Iran's economy to collapse, but such pressure may contribute to the intense debate inside Iran about the wisdom of a confrontational and isolationist policy toward the international community. That debate offers the best prospect for a fruitful resolution of the nuclear impasse, because those who want Iran to join the world are not willing to pay a high price for a nuclear program that they increasingly see as part of the Ahmadinejad agenda, not part of a national project. From testimony by the Washington Institute's deputy director for research before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on July 22. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    The U.S.-Israeli Dispute over Building in Jerusalem: The Sheikh Jarrah-Shimon HaTzadik Neighborhood - Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The Sheikh Jarrah-Mt. Scopus area - the focus of a dispute between the Obama administration and Israel over building housing units in the Shepherd Hotel compound - has been a mixed Jewish-Arab area for many years. The Jewish population is currently centered in three places: around the tomb of Shimon HaTzadik (a fourth century BCE high priest), the Israeli government compound in Sheikh Jarrah, and Hadassah Hospital-Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus.
    • During Israel's War of Independence in 1948, 78 doctors, nurses and other Jews were murdered on their way to Hadassah Hospital when their convoy was attacked by Arabs as it passed through Sheikh Jarrah. Mt. Scopus was cut off from western Jerusalem and remained a demilitarized Israeli enclave under UN aegis until it was returned to Israel in 1967. The area discussed here has for decades been a vital corridor to Mt. Scopus.
    • To ensure the continued unity of Jerusalem and to prevent Mt. Scopus from being cut off again, a chain of Israeli neighborhoods were built to link western Jerusalem with Mt. Scopus, and Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital were repaired and enlarged. Today both institutions serve hundreds of thousands of Jewish and Arab residents of the city.
    • Many observers incorrectly assume that Jerusalem is comprised of two ethnically homogenous halves: Jewish western Jerusalem and Arab eastern Jerusalem. Yet in some areas such as Sheikh Jarrah-Shimon HaTzadik, Jerusalem is a mosaic of peoples who are mixed and cannot be separated or divided according to the old 1949 armistice line.
    • In the eastern part of Jerusalem, i.e., north, south and east of the city's 1967 borders, there are today some 200,000 Jews and 270,000 Arabs living in intertwined neighborhoods. In short, as certain parts of eastern Jerusalem have become ethnically diverse, it has become impossible to characterize it as a wholly Palestinian area that can easily be split off from the rest of Jerusalem.
    • Private Jewish groups are operating in Sheikh Jarrah seeking to regain possession of property once held by Jews, and to purchase new property. Their objective is to facilitate private Jewish residence in the area in addition to the presence of Israeli governmental institutions. The main points of such activity include the Shepherd Hotel compound, the Mufti's Vineyard, the building of the el-Ma'amuniya school, the Shimon HaTzadik compound, and the Nahlat Shimon neighborhood. In the meantime, foreign investors from Arab states, particularly in the Persian Gulf, are actively seeking to purchase Jerusalem properties on behalf of Palestinian interests.

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