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|
December 31, 2009
Israel Closes Decade with Population of 7.5 Million (TheMarker-Ha'aretz)
Israel's Economy Grew in 2009 Against All Expectations - Adrian Filut (Globes)
Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei Loves Caviar and Vulgar Jokes, Defector Claims - Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat (Telegraph-UK)
Lebanon Fears Al-Qaeda Has UNIFIL Forces in Sights - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
Israeli Medical Team Saves Sight in Myanmar - Nirit Bourla and Nadav Belfair (Ynet News)
The Peace Process with the Palestinians: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told Reuters Tuesday that the UN must play a bigger role in trying to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the U.S. should not be the only mediator. "There should be a change in the direction of the peace process, by having a mediator who understands the needs of the two parties, and not one party," he said. "The United Nations role, which was marginalized at a certain stage with regard to the Arab-Israeli struggle, should be brought back," he added. (Reuters)
Five British men kidnapped in Iraq in 2007 were taken in an operation led and masterminded by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, according to an extensive investigation by the Guardian. The men - including Peter Moore, who was released Wednesday after more than two years in captivity - were taken to Iran within a day of their kidnap from a government ministry building in Baghdad. They were incarcerated in prisons run by the al-Quds force, a unit that specializes in foreign operations on behalf of the Iranian government.
One of the kidnappers told the Guardian that three of the Britons - Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan - were subsequently killed after the British government refused to take ransom demands seriously. Moore was released in exchange for the release by the Iraqi government of Shia cleric Qais al-Khazali, a leading figure in the Righteous League, a proxy of the al-Quds force. (Guardian-UK)
An underground wall that Egypt is building along its border with Gaza will significantly stem Palestinian arms smuggling when it is completed, an Israeli military officer said on Wednesday. However, the officer said it may be months before it is finished. "The wall definitely has the potential to make things difficult, though it (smuggling) won't stop hermetically," an Israeli military officer said. "There has certainly been an effect already. It's driving Hamas crazy." Citing an Egyptian intelligence source, Israel's Yediot Ahronot said the wall would run as deep as 30 meters and would be rigged with sensors and pressurized hoses to flood tunnels with seawater. (Reuters)
See also Egypt Defends Right to Build Gaza Wall
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit on Wednesday defended Egypt's right to secure its border in the government daily al-Akhbar, saying: "What Egypt is doing is placing structures on its territory related to Egyptian defense." Egypt has repeatedly defended increased security at the border as necessary for maintaining its sovereignty and national security. (DPA/Ha'aretz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Wednesday that the demand to halt construction in Jerusalem only for Jews would not be legal anywhere in the world, Israel Radio reported. (Ha'aretz)
Dozens of attempts by Palestinian terror groups from Gaza to infiltrate Israel via the porous Egyptian border were thwarted throughout 2009, the Israel Security Agency revealed on Wednesday in its annual report. The Gaza terrorists crossed into Sinai and then tried to enter Israel armed with explosives or weaponry. A majority of the infiltration attempts across the Egyptian border were made by Palestinian terrorists affiliated with groups in Gaza aligned with al-Qaeda and global Jihad. (Jerusalem Post)
Two Arab residents of Jerusalem were jailed for two years Wednesday after admitting to conspiring to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Ayad Avid and Abdullah Avid from Issawiyah planned to use a tractor to ram a military jeep before kidnapping the soldiers inside at gunpoint. The two were also found guilty of setting fire to a ballot box during local Jerusalem elections last year, when they threatened a panel of electoral supervisors, removed a ballot box and set it alight outside. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The leaders of the Palestinian Authority have reached the conclusion that, under the current circumstances, it would be a waste of time to return to the negotiating table with Israel. They are convinced that the only way to get anything is by rallying pressure from the international community against Israel. It is for this reason that representatives of the Palestinians have been negotiating with the Europeans and Americans about the peace process - not with Israel. They believe that Israel is more isolated than ever in the international arena, particularly in light of the UN's Gaza War report, the "Goldstone Report."
The Palestinian leadership has chosen to confront Israel in the international arena, and not at the negotiating table. Yet by negotiating with Abbas and his government, Western governments are, in fact, keeping the Palestinians from resuming peace talks with Israel. (Hudson Institute New York)
The mayhem that has swept over Iran in the past few days is once more calling into question the Islamic Republic's longevity. Recent events are eerily reminiscent of the revolution that displaced the monarchy in 1979. While it is premature to proclaim the immediate demise of the theocratic regime, it is obvious that the lifespan of the Islamic Republic has been considerably shortened. The most remarkable aspect about the events in Iran has been the opposition's ability to sustain itself and to generate vast rallies while deprived of a national organizational network, a well-articulated ideology and charismatic leaders.
The Obama administration should take a cue from Ronald Reagan and persistently challenge the legitimacy of the theocratic state and highlight its human rights abuses. Even if the regime accommodates international concerns about its nuclear program, the U.S. must stand firm in its support for human rights and economic pressure against the Revolutionary Guards and other organs of repression. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
Six months after President Ahmadinejad's hotly disputed election victory, the Green protest movement shows no sign of abating. Rather than being quelled by the regime's brutal response - as happened during the antigovernment protests of 1999 and 2003 - the protestors' resolve has been strengthened and the opposition movement has grown substantially.
Iran's mounting international isolation over its nuclear program was one of the issues that encouraged the anti-government protesters to take to the streets in the first place. So was the Ahmadinejad government's ruinous handling of the economy. What the events of the past week have amply demonstrated is that the overwhelming majority of Iranians are desperate for change in the way their country is governed. The writer is executive foreign editor of London's Daily Telegraph. (Wall Street Journal)
What Israel Can Teach Us about Airport Security - Cathal Kelly (Toronto Star)
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