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May 28, 2010

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Turkish Relief Fund Involved in Gaza Flotilla Has Radical Islamic Orientation (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    The Turkish IHH, which plays a central role in organizing the Gaza flotilla, is a humanitarian relief fund with a radical Islamic, anti-Western orientation. Besides legitimate philanthropic activities, it supports radical Islamic networks including Hamas, and at least in the past, even global jihad elements.
    IHH was outlawed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008 because of its role in Hamas' global fund-raising.
    As part of its connections with the global jihad, IHH supported jihadist terrorist networks in Bosnia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya. This was manifested by logistic support for the transfer of weapons and money.
    In 2006 the Danish Institute for International Studies reported that in the past IHH had connections with al-Qaeda and global jihad operatives. According to the study, Turkish authorities received information in December 1997 that senior IHH figures had purchased automatic weapons from radical Islamic organizations.
    The office of the organization in Istanbul was raided and activists were arrested. During the raid, Turkish security forces found weapons, explosives, instructions for making IEDs and a flag with a jihad message.
    IHH purchased three of the nine ships in the flotilla - a passenger ship and two cargo ships.
    On May 21, Muhammad Kaya, head of IHH office in Gaza, said there was a plan to send flotillas to Gaza every month.

New Video: Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace
    In light of the upcoming Obama-Netanyahu meeting at the White House next week, this video details Israel's critical security need for defensible borders to prevent threats to its existence - a defense policy rooted in a broad consensus that spans both past and present Israeli governments.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Former South African President Dismisses Claim of Israeli Nuclear Offer - Peter Fabricius (Independent-South Africa)
    Former South African president F.W. de Klerk has dismissed a claim that Israel offered South Africa nuclear weapons in 1975 as "simply ludicrous."

Growing Radicalization Among Israeli Arabs? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    If true, the serious charges against Amir Mahoul and Omar Said, the two Israeli Arabs charged with helping Hizbullah, are an indication of growing radicalization among that community.
    Hard-line groups such as the Islamic Movement - Southern Branch, Abna al-Balad (People of the Homeland), and the Balad Party (National Democratic Alliance) are largely responsible for the radicalization of Arab citizens.
    Moreover, the fiery rhetoric and actions of some of the Arab Knesset members have led many Arab citizens to relate to Israel as an enemy and not as their own state.

Obama Launches U.S. Jewish Heritage Month - Natasha Mozgovaya (Ha'aretz)
    President Obama launched Jewish Heritage Month on Thursday as he hosted some 200 guests at the White House to honor the contribution of Jewish Americans.
    Obama said that Jewish people's belief that a better future is always possible should be a lesson for all Americans.

Settlement Businesses Weigh Palestinian Ban Impact - Ori Lewis (Reuters)
    Israeli entrepreneurs at the Mishor Adumim industrial park in the West Bank are rethinking their business strategies to deal with a Palestinian boycott of goods made there.
    Concurrently, businesses say a stricter enforcement of labor law that forces them to pay Palestinians the minimum Israeli wage is more damaging than Palestinian trade and labor sanctions.
    Some 4,500 Palestinians work at Mishor Adumim, which has dozens of factories and workshops making products that include construction materials, plumbing fixtures and aluminum frames.
    Palestinian officials say some 25,000 Palestinians are employed in settlements in the West Bank.
    Citing tough economic realities, Avi Elkayam, a restaurateur who chairs the park's manufacturers committee, predicted Palestinians would find a way to stay and work at Mishor Adumim because "they need to support their families."
    See also Is the Palestinian Authority in Violation of American Law? - Lenny Ben-David (Pajamas Media)

Ben-Gurion U. Launches Program to Train Jordanian Paramedics in Israel - Andrew Lavin (Medical News Today)
    Jordanian and Israeli paramedics are training side-by-side in emergency medicine at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).
    BGU provides the only university-based academic degree for paramedics in the Middle East, offering an opportunity for Jordanians to obtain in-depth academic knowledge, hands-on experience, and a B.S. in Emergency Medicine.
    A key proponent of this program is Dr. Mohammed Al-Hadid, president of the Jordan Red Crescent and former head of the International Red Cross. He chaired the conference that finally allowed Israel international recognition and membership.
    "There are only three places that provide emergency medical response qualifications at the bachelor's degree level," explains Al-Hadid.
    "Either we go to the United States or we go to Australia, or we choose to go next door to our neighbors. We were very impressed with the level of expertise demonstrated in Israel - and when you see something that is working for others, you want to have the best for your own people."

Jewish-Muslim Interaction in Canada - Interview with David Goldberg by Manfred Gerstenfeld (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    There are now 780,000 Muslims in Canada, representing 2.5% of the population, while the 373,000 Jews account for about 1%.
    The leadership cadre of the three prominent national Muslim advocacy organizations: the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), and the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) has become increasingly extreme in recent years.
    Anti-Zionist rallies at Canadian universities have turned violent and threatened the personal security of Jewish students.
    David Goldberg was director of research and education of the Canada-Israel Committee (1991-2007).

Music Video: ''You Are the Land, You Are the Home'' (Israel Defense Forces)
    A music video released by the IDF Education Corps celebrating Israel's 62 years of independence.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • New U.S. National Security Strategy Focuses on Managing Threats - David E. Sanger and Peter Baker
    President Obama's first formal national security strategy describes a coming era in which the U.S. will have to learn to live within its limits - a world in which two wars cannot be sustained for much longer and the rising powers inevitably begin to erode some elements of American influence around the globe. Obama argues that after nearly a decade of organizing its national security policy around counterterrorism, the U.S. must return to a broader agenda. (New York Times)
        See also Obama Redefines National Security Strategy, Looks Beyond Military Might - Karen DeYoung (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: How the New U.S. National Security Strategy Views Israel (White House)
  • Syria Accused of Arming Hizbullah from Secret Bases - Richard Beeston
    Hizbullah is running weapons, including surface-to-surface missiles, from secret arms depots in Syria to its bases in Lebanon, according to security sources. The Times has been shown satellite images of one of the sites near Adra, northeast of Damascus. "Hizbullah is allowed to operate this site freely," said a security source.
        Israel reportedly planned recently to bomb one of the arms convoys as it crossed the border into Lebanon, but the operation was called off at the last minute. Western intelligence sources say that the Israelis have yielded - for now - to American diplomatic efforts to persuade Syria to stop the arms transfers. Yossi Baidatz, an Israeli intelligence officer, told the Knesset this month that the amount of arms being sent to Hizbullah by Syria and Iran could no longer be described as "smuggling." He said it was an "organized and official transfer" of weapons. Western officials privately say that Syrian leader Bashar Assad is "flat out lying" about the arms transfers. (Times-UK)
        See also UN Report: Iran, Syria Receiving North Korea Nuclear Technology (AP-Ha'aretz)
  • Netanyahu: Time for Direct Talks with Palestinians - Sylvie Corbet
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday in Paris that it's time to move to direct talks with the Palestinians and that he will raise the issue with President Barack Obama in Washington next week. "We want to move as speedily as possible to direct talks because the kind of problem that we have with the Palestinians can be resolved in peace and can be arranged only if we sit down together," Netanyahu said after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "I think there is a broad consensus that we should move on to direct talks," the Israeli prime minister said. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also OECD Officially Welcomes Israel as Member
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a ceremony at the Paris headquarters of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Thursday to mark the entry of Israel, Estonia, Slovenia and Chile into the club. OECD membership means Israel's status with foreign investment funds switches from that of an emerging economy to a developed one, opening up new sources of capital. (AFP)
  • Australia Part of Fake Passport Swapping Club - Dylan Welch
    Australian security agencies use false passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs to allow covert operatives to function overseas, intelligence sources have admitted. Following the admission by the deputy opposition leader, Julie Bishop, about Australian use of fake passports, sources confirmed Australia has a long-standing tradition of providing passports to overseas intelligence agencies. These countries are within the ''Western intelligence club'' - specifically Britain, the U.S., New Zealand and Canada. Australia recently expelled an Israeli diplomat over the use of an Australian passport in Dubai. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
        See also Australia's Badly Misjudged Action Will Have a Political Cost - Greg Sheridan (The Australian)
  • Clinton Criticizes Brazil's Iran Diplomacy - David Gollust
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday the U.S. has serious disagreements with Brazil over its efforts to mediate with Iran over its nuclear program. "Certainly we have very serious disagreements with Brazil's diplomacy vis-a-vis Iran....We think buying time for Iran, enabling Iran to avoid international unity with respect to their nuclear program, makes the world more dangerous, not less.''
        Earlier this month, Iran told visiting Brazilian and Turkish leaders that it was ready to accept a proposal made last year to export more than one thousand kilograms of enriched uranium, and obtain fuel for a Tehran research reactor in return. But the fact that Iran more than doubled its uranium stockpile since the proposal was made in October lessened the significance of its export pledge. It also refused to accept a key element of the original proposal, that it suspend an enrichment program seen by the U.S. as weapons related. (VOA News)
  • Just Another Drill - But Next Time It Could Be the Real Thing - James Hider
    The ominous wail of air raid sirens along the beach front and busy boulevards of Tel Aviv was met with a strange mixture of dread and apathy this week. Israelis knew that their security services were practicing countering potential missile strikes in the event of another war. Next time - and many Israelis believe that it is just a question of time - the barrages of rockets will come from Iran, Lebanon and Gaza, and could number in their tens of thousands.
        Across Israel's cities, men in nuclear-chemical-biological rubber suits could be seen rushing to imaginary impact sites as police hoisted dummies on to stretchers and oversaw potential evacuations of urban zones. During the 2006 war some 300,000 Israelis fled the rockets landing in the north. This time, officials practiced accommodating large numbers of Tel Aviv refugees in Jewish settlements inside the West Bank, which are expected to be spared the onslaught. (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Renews Call for Aid Flotilla to Unload Gaza Cargo in Ashdod
    The Minister of Defense has issued warrants prohibiting the entrance of the international flotilla to Gaza. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Yossi Gal separately summoned Thursday the ambassadors of Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Sweden and Ireland - the countries from which the ships participating in the flotilla set sail. At all the meetings, Gal clarified Israel's official position, which declares the flotilla an absolute provocation: There is no shortage of humanitarian aid to Gaza, as food products, fuel and supplies are constantly transferred into Gaza by international organizations. Therefore, the flotilla organizers are invited to dock at Ashdod port, to unload their cargo and transfer it to Gaza, after a security check, either via the Israeli authorities or via the humanitarian organizations.
        Gal emphasized that Gaza is under the control of a terrorist organization, which does not prioritize the well-being of the citizens of Gaza. This organization, under the patronage of Iran, continues to arm itself with ammunition and rockets, and to perpetuate a situation of armed conflict with Israel, after years of targeting Israeli civilians. Israel has the inherent natural right, therefore, to prevent the unsupervised transfer of supplies to Gaza. Israel will not allow the flotilla to reach Gaza.
        Gal stressed that kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit has been languishing in Gaza for four years, while Hamas blatantly breaches his elementary rights, and does not even allow the Red Cross to visit him. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also IDF to Intercept Gaza Flotilla - Yaakov Katz
    Navy commandos will board the international aid ships sailing toward Gaza if they don't turn back, defense officials said on Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Cyprus Bans Free Gaza Boats - Aviel Magnezi
    Cyprus announced Thursday that it would not allow vessels participating in the flotilla to Gaza to gather in its territorial waters, a move Israel called "an ethical deed and a voice of reason."  (Ynet News)
        See also Gaza Aid Convoy Refuses to Deliver Package to Captured IDF Soldier - Nir Hasson
    Pro-Palestinian demonstrators sailing toward Gaza with humanitarian supplies on Thursday have refused a request by the father of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to deliver a package and letter to his son. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jordanian Official Speaks of "State of Two Banks" - Roee Nahmias
    In a ceremony commemorating Jordan's independence day, Taher al-Masri, head of the country's senate, spoke of the "state of two united banks," the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Wednesday. This is a rare and surprising statement, which may be interpreted as granting legitimization to the viewpoint that the Palestinian residents of the West Bank are part of the Hashemite Kingdom. Speaking before an audience of 1,000 people, including the royal family and King Abdullah II, al-Masri spoke of "the two united banks, with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan emerging on both banks of the holy river."  (Ynet News)
  • IDF Foils Attempted Terror Attack Near Gaza Border Fence
    IDF forces spotted Palestinians who were taking advantage of heavy fog in order to plant an explosive device near the Gaza border fence. Israel Air Force aircraft opened fire at the suspects. Palestinians also fired several mortar shells at the area. Sources in Gaza said seven Palestinians were hurt in the incident. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S. Must Speak Out on the UN Human Rights Council - Editorial
    In seeking a seat on the UN Human Rights Council last year, the Obama administration hoped to reform the council from within. But the Obama team's hope is a long way from fulfillment, as the General Assembly proved earlier this month when it voted overwhelmingly to give Libya a seat on the council. Dictator Moammar Khadafy's Libya was recently depicted by a coalition of 37 human rights groups as "one of the world's most brutal and longest-running tyrannies.'' Yet Libya was elected to the Human Rights Council with the support of 155 nations - 80% of the UN membership. If the Obama administration wants the council to change, the U.S. must start objecting vocally to the composition of the panel.
        The administration has proved its UN bona fides by joining the Human Rights Council and restoring U.S. funding. But if it is serious about reform, it must also speak out, candidly and bluntly, against allowing the council to operate as a club of dictatorships. (Boston Globe)
  • Obama's Abrupt Change of Tone - Herb Keinon
    Had President Obama not invited Prime Minister Netanyahu back to the White House for another meeting next Tuesday, then Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Canada - and the warm reception he is expected to receive from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper - would have highlighted stark differences between the Canadian and U.S. administrations' public treatment of Israel. For the first visit to Canada by an Israeli prime minister in 16 years, there will be photographs and handshakes and press opportunities galore in Ottawa, a sharp contrast to the way Obama received Netanyahu in March: like an errant pupil brought into the principal's office for a scolding. It is obvious to all that Obama is now trying to correct the unfortunate impression left from that meeting. But while the tone will be much improved, the content will not have shifted all that much.
        When the Palestinians see Obama treat Netanyahu shabbily, they conclude that it is just a matter of time before Washington turns the screws another notch and "delivers" the Israeli government. But when they see Obama interacting warmly with Netanyahu, they will be less inclined to think that they don't have to do anything.
        Some say the Obama administration's sudden change of tone is insincere, a function of election politics in view of the midterm elections in November. But so what? The change is there, the reason is secondary. And this change demonstrates that regardless of who sits in the White House, there is only so far a president can go in trying to recalibrate the U.S.-Israeli relationship before certain checks come into play. For example, New York Sen. Charles Schumer is a very important American politician who could quite possibly be the next Senate majority leader. Schumer, who is Jewish and a close Obama ally, is also unabashedly pro-Israel. He will only let Obama go so far in his treatment of Israel before he pushes back, which he did last month. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Canada and Israel - Unlikely Allies (Economist-UK)
  • Yes, Israel's a Democracy - Jacob Dayan
    The Jewish state of Israel is a diverse nation that has absorbed people from more than 140 countries. Among its population are about 1.5 million Arabs, including Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, who in a May 23 Times interview lashed out at Israel, using inflammatory words like "racist" and "fascist." As is his style, Tibi failed to back up his white-hot rhetoric with hard facts.
        In 1947, Arab leaders rejected a UN resolution to form an Arab state alongside a Jewish one. This caused the displacement of some 600,000 Palestinian refugees. From that point forward, Arab nations have denied these Palestinians and their descendants citizenship and basic civil rights, including the right to own property, get an education or take out loans - rights held by Israeli Arabs.
        Arab Israelis, who make up about 20% of the nation's population, enjoy equal rights, government representation and protection in Israel. They live freely in all parts of Israel, can use all public facilities, attend Israel's top universities and are contributing members of society. By no means is Israel the epitome of perfection, but we do aspire for equality for all our citizens. According to the Abraham Fund Initiative, since Israel's establishment in 1948, the number of schools in the Arab Israeli school system increased by more than fifteenfold; Hebrew schools grew by only five times. The number of classes offered in the Arab Israeli system increased more than seventeenfold, and since 1961 the literacy rate of Arab Israelis jumped from 49.6% to 90%, a clear indication of the educational opportunities offered to all our citizens.
        Arabic is an official language in Israel (alongside Hebrew). Arab Israelis are citizens with full voting rights and can serve as elected members of the Knesset, as lawmaker Tibi does. Tibi served as Yasser Arafat's adviser on Israeli affairs while simultaneously serving as a member of the Knesset. Tibi knows that no Arab country would afford him the freedoms that the Jewish state does. The writer is the consul general of Israel in Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also The LA Times Whitewashes Ahmad Tibi - Tamar Sternthal (CAMERA)
  • At War with Radical Islam - Ed Koch
    We are at war with radical Islam, and that war will go on for many years. The vast majority of Muslims, of course, are peace-loving. Nevertheless, we know that radical Islamists want to convert us to their faith, either voluntarily or, if necessary, by force. Among the Islamist radicals there is a special hatred of Jews and Hindus and, to a lesser extent, of Christians. The hatred of Jews is such that some of the leaders of radical groups have called for the killing of Jewish civilians all over the world.
        It is infuriating to see Turkey, a NATO ally, and Brazil, a neighbor and trade partner here in the Western hemisphere, collude with Iran, which has said through its president that it wants the U.S. to disappear and makes clear every day its enmity and threats directed at us and our ally, Israel. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features

  • Jihadists in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Bandleader Jamal Al-Bayouk said he and his musicians would not risk performing in the southern Gaza Strip any more after militant Islamists threatened to kill them at a wedding party. They had just finished performing east of Khan Yunis when armed militants burst in, set fire to $40,000 worth of instruments and fired shots between the legs of band members. "One gunman...told me: Prepare for death, you immoral infidel," Bayouk said. The threats come from Salafi jihadists whose agenda is global holy war against the West.
        Hamas is not Islamist enough in the eyes of hardline groups which have stepped up attacks in Gaza over the past several months. Last Sunday, masked gunmen vandalized a UN-run summer camp for children after Islamist militants accused the UN of promoting immorality among Gaza's Muslim youth. Analysts say Hamas is reaping the harvest it sowed: many current members of the jihadist Salafi factions were once trained activists of Hamas' armed wing. Political analyst Talal Okal says the number is rising, thanks to the Islamist environment Hamas encourages. Boaz Ganor, an Israeli expert in counter-terrorism, said the hardline groups were loose cannons in territory Hamas controls, and as far as Israel was concerned it is Hamas that bears responsibility for their actions. (Reuters)
        See also Hamas Versus the United Nations
    The UN has been Gaza's only significant link with the outside world since Israel and Egypt locked the gates at both ends of it. Hamas needs that link, so protects the UN - up to a point. But both also view each other as rivals. The same security forces who let the thugs pass to burn the UN camp then blocked UN supporters when they tried to protest. Some Hamas people have falsely claimed that the UN lets boys and girls play together. UN people fear that numbers at their camps may fall thanks to Hamas' intimidation.
        To satisfy Western aid-givers, UNRWA has introduced human-rights courses into its school syllabus. Textbooks due to be distributed this year describe the Holocaust and Jewish suffering, with a picture of Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, visiting Anne Frank's museum in Amsterdam. (Economist-UK)
  • Egypt 1967 - A Very Personal Defeat - Amira Nowa
    The days and events preceding the 1967 Middle East war are indelibly carved in my memory. In May 1967, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the president of Egypt, announced that he was sealing off the Gulf of Aqaba to all Israeli shipping. He dismissed international monitors and moved huge numbers of Egyptian troops into the Gaza Strip and all along the border with Israel in an incredible show of muscle that was hailed and cheered by Egyptians. Concurrently, a torrent of patriotic martial songs flooded our ears.
        On 5 June 1967, the news was released that war had finally broken out and that Egypt's soldiers were fighting valiantly and ferociously. We understood about the bravery, but the ferocity came as a huge surprise. We had been led to believe that marching into Israel would be a piece of cake. We had absolutely no idea about the pre-emptive air strike that virtually annihilated our air force from day one.
        On 9 June, the announcement of a speech by Nasser kept everyone guessing. We were hoping he would declare the all-out victory once and for all. However, he announced his resignation. After the speech, throngs of people came out on the streets demanding that Nasser stay as head of state. For years, Nasser acted like big daddy. When the danger of his disappearance became a reality, it was unthinkable. How would Egypt survive without him? In a matter of hours all the streets of major cities were swarming with wailing women and crying men, all shouting "Stay, Nasser, stay." People knew, though, that the country had met with a colossal defeat. Soldiers and officers returning from the front, looking haggard and scruffy, became a familiar sight. (Guardian-UK)
  • In Israel, Health Care for All - Ziv Hellman
    Israel's per capita health costs are half those of the U.S., and the country expends a much smaller proportion of its GDP on health care, yet it provides universal health coverage, and top-notch, technologically up-to-date care. Compared to the U.S., Israel has more physicians per capita, a lower infant mortality rate, higher life expectancy, and lower rates of cardiovascular disease.
        Although not without its flaws, and always with room for improvement, surveys indicate remarkable general satisfaction with the health care system; a survey conducted every two years by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute consistently shows 88% of Israelis report a high level of satisfaction with their health plans. The percentage of respondents who were satisfied or very satisfied was highest among Arabic speakers, at 94%. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Observations:

    How the New U.S. National Security Strategy Views Israel (White House)

    President Obama released his 2010 "National Security Strategy" on Thursday in a report to Congress. In its discussion of Israel, the report said:

    • "We will be unwavering in our pursuit of a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors, including a two-state solution that ensures Israel's security, while fulfilling the Palestinian peoples' legitimate aspirations for a viable state of their own. And our broader engagement with Muslim communities around the world will spur progress on critical political and security matters."
    • "The United States has important interests in the greater Middle East. They include broad cooperation on a wide range of issues with our close friend, Israel, and an unshakable commitment to its security."
    • "The United States, Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab states have an interest in a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict - one in which the legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and dignity are realized, and Israel achieves a secure and lasting peace with all of its neighbors."
    • "The United States seeks two states living side by side in peace and security - a Jewish state of Israel, with true security, acceptance, and rights for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestine with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people. We will continue to work regionally and with like-minded partners in order to advance negotiations that address the permanent-status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians; borders, refugees, and Jerusalem. We also seek international support to build the institutions upon which a Palestinian state will depend, while supporting economic development that can bring opportunity to its people."
    • "Any Arab-Israeli peace will only be lasting if harmful regional interference ends and constructive regional support deepens. As we pursue peace between Israelis and Palestinians, we will also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and a broader peace between Israel and its neighbors. We will pursue regional initiatives with multilateral participation, alongside bilateral negotiations."

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