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 25, 2010
Sanctions Hit Iranian Oil Production - Najmeh Bozorgmehr (Financial Times-UK)
Yemen Al-Qaeda Training Gaza Groups to Attack Israel - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
How Iran Evades Banking Sanctions - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
Hamas Expels Egyptian from Gaza for Spying - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
Video: A Soldier's Story (AIPAC-YouTube)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in the Middle East, has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.
The secret directive, signed in September, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate. The goals of the new order are to build networks that could "penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy" al-Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to "prepare the environment" for future attacks by American or local military forces. (New York Times)
As Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri visits Washington this week, he faces deep questions in Congress and in the Defense Department about the future of U.S. military aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Many lawmakers and some at the Pentagon, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, are extremely skeptical that continuing to funnel large amounts of cash and supplies to the LAF is really a good way to approach the Lebanon problem.
There is also a concern Hariri could let U.S. weapons slip into the hands of Hizbullah. Mona Yacoubian, director of the U.S. Institute of Peace's Lebanon Working Group, said that there is growing concern inside the administration that the shift of power inside Lebanon toward Hizbullah suggests that it may not be wise to put more resources into the Lebanese military. (Foreign Policy)
Hamas has failed to pay in full the monthly salaries of its roughly 30,000 civilian and security employees in the past two months. In response, Gaza's Hamas-run government has imposed new taxes in recent weeks. Cigarette packs cost a dollar more than they did last month. "The Egyptian authorities have recently been monitoring and cracking down on financial transactions between Egypt and Gaza," says Gaza-based political analyst Mkhaimar Abusaada. In addition, on May 10, Arab Bank said it was closing its three Gaza branches, severing one of the last financial lifelines from the outside world. (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
"Israel aspires to economic peace," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday. "We have removed checkpoints, eased the lives of Palestinians and are working all the time to advance the Palestinian economy. Despite this, the Palestinians are opposing economic peace and are taking steps that in the end hurt themselves." Netanyahu cited Palestinian opposition to Israel's recent entrance to the OECD and the Palestinian boycott of Israeli products made in the West Bank as examples of counter-productive Palestinian actions. (Ha'aretz)
See also Quartet Office Welcomes Israeli Gestures to Palestinians
Robert Danin, Head of Mission at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem, issued a statement welcoming Israel's decision to implement a package of measures to ease movement for Palestinians in the West Bank. "Some of these steps are significant and should improve the economic and living conditions of the West Bank Palestinian population," he said. The Israeli measures will also improve access for Arab-Israelis to travel and conduct commerce throughout the West Bank. (Office of the Quartet Representative)
Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor said Monday that America's standing in the world will be determined by whether or not Iran attains nuclear weapons. A clear American success on Iran will send a "clear message of the U.S. role in the world," while lack of success, he said, would have the opposite effect.
If Iran ends up with nuclear weapons, Meridor said, the impact would also be felt on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "The Palestinians have one eye toward us and America, and one eye on Iran," he said. "A victory for Iran is a victory for Hamas." (Jerusalem Post)
The Israel Civil Administration in the West Bank retroactively legalized 1,611 Palestinian structures built without the necessary permits in recent years, according to internal documents obtained by Ha'aretz. The practice of granting legal status after the fact to illegally built structures is commonly applied in the state's dealings with illegal Palestinian construction. According to internal memos circulated by the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the state retroactively legalized 956 Palestinian homes in 2008 alone. Meanwhile, the state has informed the High Court of Justice that it intends to retroactively authorize dozens of buildings in Israeli settlements. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
A Guardian headline Monday screamed: "Revealed: How Israel Offered to Sell South Africa Nuclear Weapons." Avner Cohen, author of Israel and the Bomb, provides this assessment: The headline of Chris McGreal's story is erroneous and misleading. Nothing in the South African documents on which the story was based suggests there was an actual offer by Israel to sell nuclear weapons to the regime in Pretoria. To the contrary, the conversation amounted to a probe by the South Africans, which ultimately went nowhere.
As defense minister, Shimon Peres would not have had the authority to sell nuclear devices to another country, even if he had wanted to. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin would have had to decide. I believe that Rabin would have opposed the sale of nuclear weapons, technology, or even components - not just to South Africa, but to anyone. Peres' reply to the South African feeler was opaque, and Israel, in the end, did the right thing. (Arms Control Wonk)
See also South African Official Doubts Nuclear Arms Sale Offer (Reuters-Ynet News)
Friends of Israel, including many Jews around the world, are apathetic to the growing physical and verbal threats against Israel and Jerusalem, warned Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, speaking in Jerusalem on Sunday. He urged friends of Israel to pay attention to the words of dictators like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran when they disclose their intentions to destroy Israel and denigrate the Jewish heritage of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians are intentionally trying to demolish evidence of the Jewish heritage of Jerusalem and are finding a favorable reception among many people around the world. This atmosphere hostile to Israel is spreading and finding a receptive audience among those who know little about the history of the region and the Jewish people, he said. (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Must Stop Effort to Force Israel into Nuclear Talks - Editorial (New York Daily News)
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