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|
April 26, 2010
Hamas Releases Cartoon about Captured Israeli Soldier - Ben Hubbard
Agreement Means More Flights between U.S. and Israel (AP)
Israel Ends Ban on iPad Imports (AP)
What's Preventing Peace? - Marty Peretz (New Republic)
Gaza Bubbles with Weddings (Economist-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell wrapped up his latest diplomatic mission Sunday without getting the Palestinians to agree to indirect peace talks with Israel, but there were signs the impasse could be broken soon. Mitchell said he would return to the region next week, signaling he is making progress. A senior Palestinian official said PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was inclined to agree to the talks, in large part because of personal appeals in recent days from Obama, Mitchell, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Last week, Obama wrote to Abbas, promising to work hard to achieve a comprehensive Mideast peace deal. The Palestinians have low expectations of the U.S.-brokered talks, but also want to avoid offending Obama and do not want to be cast in the role of nay-sayers. (AP)
Iran has struck a secret deal with Zimbabwe to mine its untapped uranium reserves in a move to secure raw material for its steadily expanding nuclear program. "Iran secured the exclusive uranium rights last month when Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Didymus Mutasa visited Tehran," said a Zimbabwean government source. In return, Iran will supply Zimbabwe with desperately needed oil to keep its faltering economy moving. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, visited Zimbabwe last week to show his support for Mugabe. At a lavish official dinner in his honor on Thursday, Ahmadinejad blasted what he termed "expansionist countries" for exerting "satanic pressures on the people of Zimbabwe." Any deal to supply Iran is likely to put Zimbabwe in breach of current UN sanctions on Iran. (Telegraph-UK)
Iran's political turmoil has prompted a growing number of the country's officials to defect or leak information to the West, creating a new flow of intelligence about its secretive nuclear program, U.S. officials said. "There is a wealth of information-sharing going on, and it reflects enormous discontent among Iranian technocrats," said a former U.S. government official. He added that among senior technocrats in the nuclear program and other fields, "the morale is very low." Sources said there has been a spate of recent defections by Iranian diplomatic and military officials, some of which have not been made public. (Washington Post)
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called on the U.S. Saturday to "impose" a solution to the Middle East conflict. He also rejected the idea of a state with "temporary borders" reportedly being offered by Israel. Speaking to members of his Fatah party, he addressed the U.S., saying: "Mr. President and members of the American administration, since you believe in this [an independent Palestinian state], it is your duty to take steps toward a solution and to impose this solution." (Sunday Times-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet Sunday, shortly after meeting with U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, that "Israel wants to start the peace process immediately. The U.S. wants to start the process immediately, I hope the Palestinians will want to start this process immediately." He added, "we will know in the coming days if the process will be launched. The talks with envoy Mitchell were very positive." (Ynet News)
See also Netanyahu: Israel Willing to Discuss Core Issues - Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. special envoy George Mitchell Sunday that as part of indirect talks with the Palestinian Authority he would be open to a "frank exchange of views" regarding the core issues (Jerusalem, borders, and security arrangements). Senior officials in the Obama administration expressed satisfaction with the results of Mitchell's visit to Israel. Officials in Jerusalem are hoping that the visit of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to Washington in a week, after the May 1 Arab League summit, will lead to proximity talks between Israel and the PA. (Ha'aretz)
Israeli forces on Monday stormed a house in Beit Awa south of Hebron, killing senior Hamas militant Ali Sweiti, who was wanted for killing IDF Border Guard Yaniv Mashiah in Hebron on April 25, 2004. Sweiti refused demands to surrender and opened fire on soldiers surrounding the house, the army said. The IDF returned fire and Sweiti was killed. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
President Obama recently said it was a "vital national security interest of the United States" to resolve the Middle East conflict. To be sure, peace between Israelis and Palestinians would be of real value. But it is easy to exaggerate how central the Israel-Palestinian issue is and how much the U.S. pays for the current state of affairs.
The emergence of a Palestinian state would not affect the power struggles in Iraq or have any effect on Afghanistan. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians would not weaken Iran's nuclear aspirations. The Palestinian impasse did nothing to dissuade Arab governments from working with the U.S. to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in the Gulf War when they determined it was in their interest to do so. Similarly, an absence of diplomatic progress would not preclude collaboration against an aggressive Iran. Nor would al-Qaeda's radical terrorist agenda be satisfied by Palestinian statehood.
What is more, any Palestinian state would materialize only amidst compromise. There will be no return to the 1967 borders and there will be nothing more than a token right of return for Palestinians to Israel. Terrorists would see this as a sell-out, and they would target not just Israel but those Palestinians and Arab states who made peace with it.
Those urging President Obama to announce a peace plan are doing him and the cause of peace no favor. Announcing a comprehensive plan now - one that is all but certain to fail - risks discrediting good ideas, breeding frustration in the Arab world, and diluting America's reputation for getting things done. The writer is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. (Wall Street Journal)
Bashar al-Assad is proving to be an embarrassment for the Obama administration. In pursuit of President Obama's policy of "engagement" with U.S. adversaries, the State Department has dispatched several senior envoys to Damascus for talks with the Syrian dictator and has also nominated a new ambassador. So far Assad has responded by holding a summit with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Hizbullah leader Nasrallah, at which he publicly ridiculed the U.S. diplomatic initiative. In secret, he has stepped up an illegal and dangerous transfer of weapons to Hizbullah's forces in Lebanon. Most recently, Assad has been accused by Israel of handing Scud missiles to Hizbullah, which would allow the Iranian-sponsored group to attack every major city in Israel with one-ton warheads.
What's been lacking are tangible steps by the administration to accompany more engagement with more pressure, such as more sanctions against Syrian officials and companies. The problem isn't that Assad is not getting the U.S. message. It's that he sees no need to listen. (Washington Post)
On Israel, Obama Playing the Mideast Game Wrong - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (U.S. News)
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert