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May 26, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu, Obama to Meet in Washington Next Tuesday - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet at the White House with President Barack Obama next Tuesday after a scheduled visit to Canada, Israeli officials said.
    On Monday, Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, praised Netanyahu for his efforts to advance the peace process, such as the declaration of a 10-month freeze on construction in the settlements and the removal of many IDF checkpoints in the West Bank.
    Mitchell also said he believes Netanyahu is capable of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
    See also Rahm Emanuel Meets Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem Wednesday (Ynet News)

U.S. Gen. Dayton to Step Down - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    The U.S. special security coordinator, Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, will step down from the post in the fall, Ha'aretz has learned.
    Dayton is widely credited with equipping and training the Palestinian security forces that have enabled Ramallah to solidify its rule in the West Bank.
    Though initially scheduled to serve for one year, Dayton has remained in the region for five years.
    Washington plans to replace Dayton with another general of the same rank.

Fancy Restaurants and Olympic-Size Pools in Gaza - Tom Gross (National Post-Canada)
    The BBC and other prominent Western media regularly lead their viewers and readers astray with accounts of a non-existent "mass humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza.
    What they won't tell you about are the fancy new restaurants and swimming pools of Gaza, or about the wind surfing competitions on Gaza beaches, or the Strip's crowded shops and markets.
    Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live a middle class (and in some cases an upper class) lifestyle that Western journalists refuse to report on because it doesn't fit the story they were sent to write.
    Of course there is poverty in Gaza. There is poverty in parts of Israel too. But the way the media systematically create the false impression that people are starving in Gaza, and that it is all Israel's fault, can only serve to increase hatred for the Jewish state.

Arab Women Join IDF Rescue Units - Roni Shaked (Ynet News)
    The IDF Home Front Command is operating special rescue units which include young Arab-Israeli women.
    Anwar, Rim, Fatma and Wassil reside in Kfar Kassem and Kfar Bara, and serve in two of four Home Front Command companies containing Arab soldiers. Despite maintaining Islamic religious lifestyles, they don full army uniforms, including helmets over their hijabs.
    "It wasn't easy for me to wear the uniforms, but when the ice was broken I realized it was no big deal," 32-year-old teacher and mother of four Wassil said. "I'm religious and don't wear pants. But I agreed to do it for the rescue training and even came home with the uniforms. My children and husband saw me and said, 'well done.'"
    Lt.-Col. Salim Wahaba, a Home Front Command area chief, is the one who came up with the idea to enlist the Arab women to the Kfar Kassem and Kfar Bara companies in 2009. "We are implementing National Service," he said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Clinton Rejects Iranian Nuclear Fuel Swap Plan - Matthew Lee
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday rejected as inadequate an Iranian plan to swap some of its enriched uranium for reactor fuel. "There is a recognition on the part of the international community that the agreement that was reached in Tehran a week ago between Iran and Brazil and Turkey only occurred because the Security Council was on the brink of publicly releasing the text of the resolution that we have been negotiating for many weeks," Clinton said. "It was a transparent ploy to avoid Security Council action."  (AP)
  • Turkish Aid Ships Steam toward Gaza - Sevim Songun
    The Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara was to leave Turkey on Tuesday with two cargo ships and join six more ships organized by the Free Gaza organization. The humanitarian aid and purchasing of Turkish ships were organized by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), and the other ships are supported by England, Ireland, Kuwait and Greece. Israel's Ambassador to Ankara Gabby Levy said, "The sole purpose of these activities is to create provocations that pose security risks to the State of Israel." Serkan Nergis, IHH's press coordinator, said, "These ships have the Turkish flag on them. Anything that is going to be done to them is also done to Turkey, and they will have a diplomatic response."  (Hurriyet-Turkey)
        See also Israel: Ships Forcing Their Way into Gaza Will Do Nothing to Aid the People There - Yigal Palmor
    In a typical week, 15,000 tons of supplies enter Gaza. Truckloads of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, milk powder, baby food, wheat and other staples arrive in Gaza on a daily basis. Building materials are also shipped in, when monitored by international organizations so as not to be commandeered by Hamas for the fortification of bunkers. Since the ceasefire in January 2009, well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel - that is almost a ton of aid for each man, woman and child.
        Israel has invited the organizers of the flotilla to use the land crossings, in the same manner as all the reputable international organizations. However, they are less interested in bringing in aid than in promoting their radical agenda, playing into the hands of Hamas. While they have wrapped themselves in a humanitarian cloak, they are engaging in political propaganda and not in pro-Palestinian aid. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also IDF Says Aid Mission to Gaza a Provocation - Hanan Greenberg
    IDF Col. Moshe Levi, commander of the Gaza District Coordination Office, said Wednesday there is no shortage of food or equipment in Gaza. "The sail is a provocative act that is unnecessary in light of the figures, which indicate that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is good and stable," he said, adding that Israel allows the transfer of many products apart from those which may be used by Hamas for terror-related activities. Some 100 trucks enter Gaza every day. (Ynet News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Blow Up Donkey Cart Filled with Dynamite near Gaza Border
    Palestinians on Tuesday blew up a donkey cart filled with dynamite near the Gaza border and fired several mortar rounds into Israel. In response, Israeli planes attacked two terror tunnels being dug a kilometer from the border to enable terrorists to enter Israel to attack Israeli civilians and soldiers. (Israel Defense Forces-Hebrew-Ha'aretz)
  • The Humanitarian Situation in Gaza
    Hamas, which seized power in Gaza, is supported and funded by Iran. It denies Israel's right to exist and continues to build up its weapons stockpiles to continue attacking the Israeli civilian population. In 2010, 140 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel from Gaza. Whether using smuggling tunnels or fishing boats, Hamas is constantly trying to smuggle in missiles, rocket launchers, guns, explosives and materials for building weapons.
        IDF operations, including the maritime closure and crossing restrictions, arise from the need to maintain the safety of the citizens of Israel from the terrorist threat in Gaza and to prevent weapons smuggling. The IDF allows the crossing of goods and equipment into Gaza in a routine and frequent manner, and enables the transfer of people for medical, religious, welfare, business or diplomatic reasons. (Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson)
        See also Full Gaza Markets - 29 Photos (Palestine News Agency-Arabic)
  • PA's Abbas Slams Iran - Ali Waked
    PA leader Mahmoud Abbas told Egyptian television Tuesday that Hamas was refusing to achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation because of an Iranian veto. "We, the Palestinian people, are like a hijacked airplane," he said. "The decision-making power is not in our hands, but rather, in the hands of the Iranians. For that reason, the Palestinian people's unity, just like the plane, is also hijacked."  (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • As Ugly as It Gets - Thomas L. Friedman
    When I first saw the May 17 picture of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, joining his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with raised arms - after their signing of a putative deal to defuse the crisis over Iran's nuclear weapons program - all I could think of was: Is there anything uglier than watching democrats sell out other democrats to a Holocaust-denying, vote-stealing Iranian thug just to tweak the U.S. and show that they, too, can play at the big power table?
        "Lula and Erdogan's visit to Iran came just days after Iran executed five political prisoners who were tortured into confessions. They warmly embraced Ahmadinejad as their brother, but didn't mention a word about human rights. There seems to be a mistaken assumption that the Palestinians are the only people that seek justice in the Middle East, and if you just invoke their cause you can coddle the likes of Ahmadinejad," observed Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment.
        What this deal really does is what Iran wanted it to do: weaken the global coalition to pressure Iran to open its nuclear facilities to UN inspectors, and, as a special bonus, legitimize Ahmadinejad on the anniversary of his crushing the Iranian democracy movement. (New York Times)
        See also Lula's Folly: The Brazilian President Embraces Iran - Jaime Daremblum (Weekly Standard)
        See also Much Lacking from Lula and Erdogan's Diplomatic Foray - Emile Hokayem (The National-UAE)
  • Israelis, Palestinians Happy to Continue Status Quo - Joel Brinkley
    A new poll of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza provides a startling conclusion: Fully one-third of the population no longer wants a separate state of their own. No, these Palestinians now say they want to live in one state alongside the Israelis. This number has increased by 60% in the last ten months. Fewer than half now say they support a two-state solution, a sharp decline since last year. Israel is not likely to accept such a solution, afraid of what might happen if Palestinians eventually outnumbered Jews. But that's not the point.
        Special envoy George Mitchell is now shuttling from Jerusalem to Ramallah and back in the latest iteration of American-sponsored peace talks. But it's apparent that no one really wants a peace agreement, except maybe a few officials in Washington. When Israel pulled out of Gaza five years ago, look what happened: Hamas seized control and began firing hundreds of missiles at Israel. What is to say that a new Palestinian state would not be the same? That's how many Israelis view it.
        The Arab world has been championing the Palestinian cause for more than 40 years. Most Middle East analysts believe Arab leaders continually promote this view primarily as a means to distract their subjects from the sorry state of their own lives. For now, these leaders say, all our resources must be devoted to fighting the Zionists, freeing our Palestinian brothers! If Israel and the Palestinians reached a peace agreement, removing that issue from the region's political equation, how long would it be before Arabs began looking at their own problems instead? Peace would not be good news for Arab dictators. The writer, a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, is now a professor of journalism at Stanford University. (Providence Journal)
  • Observations:

    Demilitarization - Preventing Military and Terrorist Threats from Within and By Way of the Palestinian Territories - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The Israeli demand for demilitarization of the Palestinian entity has been in effect since the 1993 Declaration of Principles, which served as the basis for the Oslo process and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.
    • Israel cannot tolerate living alongside an entity honing a terrorist infrastructure and hosting hostile military forces. Israel's definition of demilitarization is that no security threat develop either within or by way of Palestinian territory.
    • Israel's current military freedom of operation in the West Bank, which enables the IDF to reach every place where prohibited arms are manufactured or hidden, has thus far prevented terrorists there from being able to manufacture rockets and launch them at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It has also enabled the IDF to intercept suicide bombers.
    • Two main potential scenarios are liable to unfold in the wake of the establishment of a Palestinian state. The first involves threats to Israel from within a failed Palestinian state that serves as a base for terrorist infrastructures, as happened in Gaza. The second involves threats to Israel from the east, via Palestinian territory.
    • In Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to date, the heads of the PLO and the PA have refused to agree to a definition of a Palestinian state that would be demilitarized.

      Brig.-Gen. Udi Dekel was appointed in 2008 by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to head the Negotiations Unit with the Palestinians. Previously he served as head of the Israel Defense Forces Strategic Planning Division.

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