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November 19, 2009

In-Depth Issues:

The Implications of Long-Range Hamas Rockets - Jeffrey White (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    The IDF recently monitored Hamas' launch of a 60-km-range Iranian rocket from Gaza into the Mediterranean Sea.
    A rocket with such a range can reach the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv as well as targets across much of southern Israel.
    According to Amos Yadlin, IDF director of military intelligence, Hamas now has "dozens" of rockets with a 60-km range.
    Hamas' new rocket capabilities must also be seen in the context of Hizbullah's acquisition of rockets with a 300-km range. In a possible two-front war, this means that most of Israel, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, would be within rocket range.
    From Israel's standpoint, the threats to its large population centers will likely make the government more willing to deal decisively with a revamped threat from Hamas. This would probably mean a comprehensive air and ground offensive throughout Gaza - one that would far exceed the scope of last winter's Gaza operation.
    The writer is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute.

Gaza Charity Offers $1.4M for Capture of IDF Soldiers - Diaa Hadid (AP)
    A Gaza charity headed by Hamas' Interior Minister Fathi Hamad on Wednesday offered $1.4 million to any Arab citizen of Israel who abducts an Israeli soldier.
    The Waad group offered the bounty in an e-mail sent to Palestinian media.

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Tiny Survivor Doesn't Remember Mumbai Attack - Amy Teibel (AP)
    Moshe Holtzberg celebrated his third birthday on Wednesday with his first haircut. He appeared not to recall the tragic events of a year ago, when his parents were killed in a terror attack at Chabad House in Mumbai, India.
    His caretaker, Sandra Samuel, rescued Moshe from the bullet-raked building. She said he recognizes his parents in pictures, but he no longer cries out when he sees them. The child is being raised by his grandparents.

Judea Coin Brings $83,375 at Auction (World Coin News)
    A Judeaen bronze coin of the Bar Kokhba War series was sold at auction for $83,375.
    The coin is from 132-135 CE and is dated "Year two of the freedom of Israel."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Imperils Western Nuclear Deal - Chip Cummins and Jay Solomon
    Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Wednesday in Tehran that Iran wouldn't send any of its uranium out of the country, as envisioned in a deal struck Oct. 1 between Iranian negotiators and counterparts from the U.S., France, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Two UN Security Council diplomats said they view the deal as essentially dead, but expect council members to wait until the end of the year before pushing for fresh sanctions against Iran. There is growing concern among Washington's European and Middle East allies that with the deal potentially evaporating, the White House's engagement policy toward Tehran is adrift. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Iran Nuclear Deal Collapses. Time for U.S. to Get Tough? - Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor)
  • U.S. Warns Iran of Consequences over Nuclear Standoff - Patricia Zengerle and Manny Mogato
    President Obama issued a strong warning to Iran on Thursday of consequences of its failure to respond to the offer of a nuclear deal. "Iran has taken weeks now and has not shown its willingness to say yes to this proposal...and so as a consequence we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences," Obama said during a visit to South Korea. "We weren't going to duplicate what has happened with North Korea, in which talks just continue forever without any actual resolution to the issue." "Our expectation is that, over the next several weeks, we will be developing a package of potential steps that we could take, that would indicate our seriousness to Iran," he said. (Reuters)
  • British Media See a Vast Jewish Conspiracy - Robin Shepherd
    Since the end of Israel's Gaza operation earlier this year, the British government has imposed a partial arms embargo on Israel and failed to vote against the Goldstone report in the UN. The charities War on Want and Amnesty International UK have both promoted a book by the anti-Israeli firebrand Ben White, tellingly called Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide. The Trades Union Congress at its annual conference has called for boycotts of Israeli products as well as a total arms embargo. In the media, the Guardian newspaper has stepped up its already obsessive campaign against the Jewish state.
        Readers may be surprised to learn, therefore, that the British media and political establishment is apparently cowering under the sway of a secretive cabal of Zionist lobbyists who have all but extinguished critical opinions of Israel from the public domain. Such charges have been aired to mass critical acclaim this week in a landmark documentary, "Inside Britain's Israel Lobby," on Channel 4 - the same outlet that offered Iran's Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an uninterrupted, seven-minute propaganda slot on Christmas Day last year. The writer is director of International Affairs at the Henry Jackson Society and author of the new book, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem with Israel. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Shallow Polemic on UK Pro-Israel Lobby Will Do More Harm than Good - David Cesarani (Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • French Foreign Minister: Jerusalem Construction "Not an Obstacle to Negotiations" - Attila Somfalvi
    Visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday that Israel's plan to build additional housing in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood "should not be an obstacle to resuming negotiations." Kouchner also said that France would not recognize a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood. (Ynet News)
        See also U.S. Demands on Jerusalem Construction Deemed "Strange and Bizarre" - Naama Lanir
    Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Zalman Shoval said: "The demand not to build in Gilo seems strange and even bizarre since it has been inhabited for 30 years....It's not east Jerusalem - Arabs have never lived in Gilo and its houses weren't built on private Arab land."  (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Pressure Over Jerusalem Shows a Continued Misread of Israel - Herb Keinon
    The U.S. government's continued misreading and misunderstanding of the Israeli public was evident again in its objection to a plan to build 900 new housing units in Gilo, one of the large new neighborhoods built in Israel's capital following the Six-Day War. Gilo is not some far-flung settlement overlooking Nablus, nor part of a settlement bloc, or in an Arab neighborhood. Many Israelis are clearly dismayed that the U.S. now seems to be considering the post-1967 neighborhoods in Jerusalem as settlements.
        Pressing a construction freeze in those areas was widely viewed by the public as an unreasonable demand, especially when it was not accompanied by any demands on the Arabs or Palestinians. The irony is that this has come at a time when it looked as if Obama understood that his much touted outreach to the Arab and Muslim world had to be accompanied by some kind of dialogue with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Obama Calls Israeli Building in Jerusalem "Dangerous"
    Referring to Israeli plans to add 900 new apartments in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, President Obama told Fox News Wednesday: "I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel's security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbors. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous."  (Fox News)
        See also Gilo Residents Angered by U.S. Criticism of Building Plans - Abe Selig (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Don't Run to Assad - Gabriel Siboni
    Syria was brought back from the political cold only after indirect talks with Israel via Turkey were revealed. These talks gave the Syrian regime legitimacy, even though Syria continued on as a loyal member of the radical bloc.
        Some say that pulling Syria out of the Axis of Evil will improve Israel's overall strategic balance. But closer heed must be paid to the Syrian president's words. To him, peace with Israel means Israeli retreat from the Golan, while he maintains his strategic connection to Iran and other rogue states. Past experience shows that rapprochement attempts by Israel and parts of the international community don't make him moderate his positions, but rather convince him to believe he can have everything both ways.
        Syria, having realized it cannot conquer Israel, has chosen the path of resistance and attrition, with the aim of exhausting Israelis in the long run. This change proves the irrelevance of giving away assets in exchange for security arrangements and guarantees, demilitarization and the like. The writer chairs the military research program at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Ha'aretz)
  • Is Saudi Arabia Ready to Play Hardball with Iran? - John Hannah
    Are the Saudis prepared to constrain oil prices to weaken Iran? Saudi output has increased almost 300,000 barrels per day since earlier this year, a strategy that has the side benefit of pinching Iran. While the Saudis in 2009 require an average oil price of about $51 a barrel to cover their budget, Iran needs an average price in excess of $90. If the price holds steady at the Saudi-designated range of $70-$80 for the rest of this year, the Saudi treasury could come in with a slight surplus. The Iranians, by contrast, have reportedly been forced to consider phasing out food and energy subsidies in an attempt to battle their looming fiscal problems.
        There's no doubt that Saudi King Abdullah views Iran - and the near-term prospect of its acquiring nuclear weapons - as an existential threat to the House of Saud and its position in the Islamic world. In this regard, Abdullah no doubt perceives Iran's involvement in Yemen as the latest maneuver in a grand strategy whose ultimate target is the kingdom itself. (Foreign Policy)
  • Observations:

    Palestinians Seek to Overturn UN Resolution 242 - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • The Palestinian idea of negotiations goes something like this: Agree to our position in its entirety and then we can talk about the modalities of implementation. Lo and behold, this approach has not borne fruit so a frustrated PLO may turn to the UN Security Council to ask it to impose Palestinian demands on Israel. The Palestinians created an artificial deadlock by suddenly insisting that they would not negotiate without a settlement freeze.
    • The Palestinians want the UN Security Council to, in effect, junk Resolution 242 - the edifice upon which the entire peacemaking process is constructed - and give its imprimatur to a new Palestinian declaration of independence claiming 100% of the West Bank and Gaza plus all of east Jerusalem including the Jewish holy sites.
    • Resolution 242's masterfully crafted language insists on an exchange of land for peace using the formula - "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" - that deliberately does not call for a pullback from all territories. So rather than bargain in good faith to build a viable accord, the Palestinians are betting on an outside imposed solution.
    • This way will not bring reconciliation, mutual security and peace, but doom yet another generation of Israelis and Palestinians to more bloodshed. Would it not be better if the Palestinians returned to the bargaining table - and the sooner the better?

          See also Israel's Right to Secure Boundaries and UN Security Council Resolution 242 - Dore Gold, Meir Rosenne, Ruth Lapidoth, Yehuda Blum, and Richard Holbrooke (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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