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|
May 18, 2010
Israel Tells Diplomats It Will Stop Gaza Aid Boats (AFP)
Hizbullah's "Disneyland" (AFP-Straits Times-Singapore)
Over a Quarter Million Jews Have Visited Israel with Birthright - Jonatan Urich (Israel Defense Forces)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The U.S., Europe and Russia responded with extreme skepticism to Iran's announcement on Monday that it had reached an agreement to ship roughly half of its nuclear fuel to Turkey, saying they would continue to press for new sanctions against Tehran. Officials from several countries said the deal, negotiated with the leaders of Turkey and Brazil, was a deftly timed attempt to throw the sanctions effort off track.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement: "While it would be a positive step for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium off of its soil as it agreed to do last October, Iran said today that it would continue its 20% enrichment, which is a direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions." Gibbs made clear that the U.S. would continue to press forward with sanctions until Iran demonstrates "through deeds - and not simply words - its willingness to live up to international obligations or face consequences, including sanctions."
Sergei B. Ivanov, the deputy prime minister of Russia, was similarly skeptical, saying he expected the sanctions resolution to "be voted in the near future," and said that the new Iranian accord should not be "closely linked" to the sanctions effort. (New York Times)
See also France: Iran Fuel Deal Would Not Fix Nuclear Issue (Reuters)
French judges are expected Thursday to release Ali Vakili Rad, who is serving a 1994 life sentence for murdering Shapour Bakhtiar, the last prime minister of the late Shah, in Paris. The move appears to be part of a deal which won the freedom of Clotilde Reiss, 24, a French student who had been held for 10 months in Tehran.
President Sarkozy's government denied any link with a Paris court's decision last week to refuse an American request for the arrest of Iranian businessman Majid Kakavand, 36, wanted by Washington for exporting to Iran U.S.-made electronics which had possible military use. The media saw the twin releases as the price that Sarkozy had been forced to pay for Reiss' freedom. France also paid a $285,000 fine to obtain her release from house arrest at the French embassy in Tehran. (Times-UK)
Hardly a day goes by without Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad touring a West Bank town or village to meet and greet the public. "Love him or hate him, the one who is running the show at the moment is Salam Fayyad," said one senior figure in the PLO's dominant Fatah faction, headed by Fayyad's boss, Mahmoud Abbas. "We could get to the point where the only option for the Palestinian people as a successor to Abbas is Salam Fayyad," said the senior Fatah figure.
Opinion poll data show Fayyad with a low but increasing level of support. However, senior Fatah figures have no doubt Fayyad, a long-time outsider, is now very firmly a contender. "After three years in office and with all the projects he has opened, it would be stupid to believe that this man does not have a popular base," said Sabri Saidam, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Cairo has decided to cut all contact with heads of the Hamas movement, both in the Palestinian territories and abroad, the Egyptian newspaper al-Mesryoon reported Monday. According to a senior official, the decision was in response to "the organized media campaign that Hamas officials are waging against Egyptian figures, by defaming them in Arab satellite television stations and in Arab media."
The tension between Hamas and Egypt is rooted in Egypt's refusal to open the Rafah crossing to Gaza, its construction of a steel fence on the Gaza border, and its war against smuggling tunnels. Last Wednesday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Egypt of torturing 30 Palestinian detainees in its custody. Last week, a Palestinian fisherman was killed when his boat collided with an Egyptian naval vessel in Egypt's territorial waters. Gazans said Egyptian sailors beat the fisherman to death. (Ynet News)
Hizbullah is growing stronger every day, in terms of the number of fighters, quantity of missiles, and capabilities. The M-600 missiles supplied by Syria to Hizbullah are not just another item in its arsenal. It is a much more accurate and effective weapon, with the ability to hit IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv in the next war should it wish to do so. In 2006, it did not possess this ability. In the next war, Hizbullah will have the option of firing dozens of accurate missiles simultaneously from dozens of launch sites across Lebanon - while directing them at one specific target. (Ynet News)
See also Getting Ready for Hizbullah - Alex Fishman
The Scud missiles which Hizbullah reportedly received from Syria are meant for a specific objective. If they are Scud D type, this is apparently a threat on Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona. Its war will focus on firing rockets and missiles deep into Israel, over time. Hizbullah (as well as Hamas) is rapidly digging fortifications underground - bunkers, headquarters, control centers, and passageways between them.
In the Second Lebanon War, the Air Force destroyed Hizbullah's long-range missiles within 35 minutes. Meanwhile, 50% of the rockets fired from short- and mid-range rocket launchers were destroyed before they were used, while the rest were destroyed immediately after the first attack. Hizbullah maintains an army of less than 20,000 men. The increase it aspires for, to at least 40,000 men, requires compromise on manpower quality. However, advanced weapons systems require strict maintenance and high technological capabilities. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
By striking a deal to ship some of its low-enriched uranium abroad, Iran has created the illusion of progress in nuclear negotiations with the West, without offering any real compromise. (Washington Post)
See also A Sham Deal with Iran - Bronwen Maddox
Brazil and Turkey claim to have pulled off a triumph in persuading Iran to freeze the heart of its nuclear program. But this is almost certainly a sham deal - and one that, dangerously, will undermine the drive to bring new sanctions against Tehran. (Times-UK)
Recently leaked documents detail an exchange between Washington and Cairo regarding the future of U.S. economic assistance to Egypt, indicating that the Obama administration has welcomed Cairo's idea of ending traditional assistance in favor of creating a new endowment, "The Egyptian-American Friendship Foundation." This idea has a long, checkered history and, if implemented, will be bad for both American taxpayers and the Egyptian people. The administration should work with Egypt to craft alternatives that advance common objectives, including democratic reform. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Iran Maneuvers to Delay Sanctions - Ronen Bergman (Ynet News)
Iran's Nuclear Coup - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
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