Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Egypt Police Seize Anti-Aircraft Missiles Bound for Gaza - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz) Norway 'Bomb Plot' Underscores al-Qaida Pitfalls - Ian MacDougal (AP/Washington Post) Israeli Waters May Hold Large Oil Reserves (AP/Businessweek) Stork Flocks Swoop Down on Israel - Ehud Zion Waldoks (Jerusalem Post)
Egypt Police Seize Anti-Aircraft Missiles Bound for Gaza - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Norway 'Bomb Plot' Underscores al-Qaida Pitfalls - Ian MacDougal (AP/Washington Post)
Israeli Waters May Hold Large Oil Reserves (AP/Businessweek)
Stork Flocks Swoop Down on Israel - Ehud Zion Waldoks (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America and Europe:
After 18 months of faltering efforts to launch Middle East peace negotiations, President Obama is dramatically increasing his personal stake and his own political risk by hosting direct talks this week. Some of Obama's advisors have questioned the wisdom of linking the president so visibly with such an intractable conflict. But the president stepped up his personal involvement over the summer.
Many insiders and outside experts say that if the talks remain on track, it will be because Obama is personally applying pressure to push them forward. "He will become engaged at any point where people think he should," said a senior administration official. "He will take the advice of his team, but there's no doubt he has put a lot of time and energy into this." (Los Angeles Times)
Turkish officials in Washington have reaffirmed Ankara's commitment to maintaining friendly ties with Israel despite ongoing tension in the aftermath of Israel's lethal May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine activists dead. Washington-based Turkish diplomatic sources have informed reporters concerning the content of talks held by a Foreign Ministry delegation with several senior U.S. officials from the departments of state, defense and commerce. (Zaman - Turkey)
Moscow is fully compliant in its agreements with Syria in the sphere of the military and technological co-operation, Russian presidential aide Sergey Prikhodko said. Ha'aretz reported on August 27 that Israel was trying to “thwart a Russian arms deal with Syria” regarding the sale of advanced P-800 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles. (RT - Russia)
As he prepared to fly to Washington to renew peace talks with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel had the chance to secure a stable peace that could endure for generations. "I am convinced that if the Palestinian leadership takes the negotiations as seriously as we do, we can reach a stable agreement - not just a deal for a tactical ceasefire between wars," Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (Ha'aretz)
See also Netanyahu: I Never Promised a Continued West Bank Construction Freeze - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Netanyahu told Likud ministers on Sunday that he had not made any promises to U.S. President Obama or any other American government official regarding an extension of the settlement construction freeze in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)
The Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has distanced himself from comments by a senior rabbi who called on God to strike down the country’s enemies with the plague. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas party said the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and others should “disappear from the earth.” The Israeli prime minister said his government wanted peace with the Palestinians. The U.S. State Department described the remarks as “inflammatory” and “deeply offensive.” (Euronews)
The announcement of the resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks has been greeted by an indifferent Israeli public. “Nothing will come out of it,” has been the common reaction. I beg to differ. Changes in the political environment give peace a better chance. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, herded by their U.S. custodian, President Barack Obama, can reach a deal on the establishment of a Palestinian state within the next year. It requires patience and creativity, but it’s possible.
The international media portray Mr. Netanyahu’s government as “hard line,” but examining its actions shows a different picture. The current Israeli government is the most dovish since Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination 15 years ago. Mr. Netanyahu has been reluctant to use military force, and has slowed settlement growth. Security and economic co-operation with Mr. Abbas’s Palestinian Authority is as strong as ever, while Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is making progress in his bottom-up state-building progress. (Globe and Mail - Canada)
In the 1970s the talks between Begin and Sadat encountered angry opposition. Yet the two leaders persevered and produced the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state. Netanyahu and Abbas can also overcome resistance and conclude an even more comprehensive agreement. The key to success lies in the spirit of Camp David. Sadat and Begin were dedicated to peace and determined to achieve it. (Newsweek)
As Israelis and Palestinians prepare to visit Washington to begin direct peace talks, it's worth recalling what refugees the Palestinians are — in Arab countries. Last week, Lebanon's parliament amended a clause in a 1946 law that had been used to bar the 400,000 Palestinians living in the country from taking any but the most menial jobs.
The dirty little secret of the Arab world is that it has consistently treated Palestinians living in its midst with contempt and often violence. For six decades, Palestinians have been forced by Arab governments to live in often squalid conditions so that they could serve as propaganda tools against Israel, even as millions of refugees elsewhere have been repatriated and absorbed by their host countries. This month's vote still falls short of giving Palestinian Lebanese the rights they deserve, including citizenship. But it's a reminder of the cynicism of so much Arab pro-Palestinian propaganda, and the credulity of those who fall for it. (Wall Street Journal)
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, faces a crisis of credibility among his own people as he heads into direct talks with Israel in Washington this week. Perhaps nothing better illustrates this than a rather awkward security crackdown Thursday in Ramallah, when leftist factions convened a meeting to protest against Mr. Abbas’s decision to accept the U.S. invitation to the talks.
Privately, Palestinian Authority officials expressed their dismay at what looked to most like an effort by security services to stifle dissent. And dissent there is. All Palestinian political factions, bar one, have denounced the direct talks, some in harsher language than others. Only Fatah, Mr Abbas’s own group, supports direct talks. “There is a real leadership crisis in the Palestinian arena,” said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian analyst and a former legal adviser to the PLO, adding that it “is not responsive to the people it represents or even the factions it represents.” (The National - UAE)
See also Palestinian Rivals Crack Down Harder on Opponents - Karin Laub and Diaa Hadid (AP/Washington Post)
Looking around the Arab world this week, it is hard to know what are the region’s real priority challenges, because multiple issues stand out as problems, vulnerabilities, weaknesses or threats. Most of the problems in our region can be traced to local incompetence, or, in the worst cases, criminality and irresponsibility in the seats of power – though everywhere there is also an element of foreign involvement or manipulation that should not be ignored.
The Arab world is defined by top-heavy states where small groups of men surrounded by many soldiers make decisions without seriously consulting their fellow citizens. This legacy is firmly supported by major foreign powers who see “security and stability” as critical priorities in this region, by which they mean that Israel should remain dominant, Arab nationalists and Islamists should be fought and diminished, and security-minded Arab governing elites should rule forever. (Daily Star - Lebanon)
Prime Minister Netanyahu Discusses His Trip to Washington on Tuesday (Prime Minister's Office)
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