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|
September 28, 2010
Israel Navy Boards Latest Gaza Aid Boat - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
Northern Cyprus vs. Israel - Emanuele Ottolenghi (Commentary)
El Al Security Guards in Toronto Block Land Mines from Flight to Israel - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz-Ynet News)
U.S., Israel Ink Deal on Short-Range Missile Defense (Reuters)
Israel Air Force Ups Defense Drills at Air Bases - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
87 U.S. senators have already signed on to a letter, initially circulated only three days ago, calling on President Obama to publicly pressure Palestinian President Abbas to continue with direct peace talks with Israel. The letter stated that "Neither side should make threats to leave just as the talks are getting started," a thinly veiled reference to Abbas' multiple statements that he would leave the talks if the settlement construction moratorium was not extended.
Some pro-Israel groups in Washington, which have perceived Obama as willing to publicly pressure Netanyahu but not Abbas, are lending their support to the senators' message. "AIPAC strongly applauds this overwhelming, bipartisan statement supporting these important direct talks, and making crystal clear to President Abbas that staying at the table - without preconditions or threats - is the only path to peace," said AIPAC spokesman Josh Block. (Foreign Policy)
A subtle shift in the political balance between the Israelis and Palestinians seems clear: Israel is now winning the blame game. Now that Israel's moratorium on new construction in settlements has expired, the Obama administration has completed a subtle tilt toward Israel's point of view. The problem is no longer Israel's actions: It's the Palestinian insistence that one issue - settlements - be resolved before talks can begin.
If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas fulfills his promise to withdraw from talks, he will bear the full blame for their collapse. "The onus is on the Palestinians not to walk away," said Hussein Ibish, a fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine. "The Palestinians can say a million times that they'll walk out - but they can't."
Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. peace negotiator who is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said the White House has profoundly shifted its orientation over the last year. "The administration bought into the logic that the Palestinians shouldn't insist" on the settlement issue, he said, and that "the only way to get an agreement was to return to the table." (Politico)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
In a joint IDF-Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) operation, the Israel Air Force targeted and identified hitting a number of terrorists preparing to fire rockets from the central Gaza Strip into Israel. More than 150 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli territory since the beginning of 2010. The IDF holds Hamas solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
See also Three Islamic Jihad Terrorists Killed in Gaza Airstrike - Ali Waked
The three Palestinians killed in an IDF strike in Noserat were Muhammad Abu Id, Awani Abdel-Khadi and Ala Abu Zbeida - all confirmed members of the Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades. (Ynet News)
For Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, coordinator of government activities in the territories, the International Monetary Fund report claiming that the economy in Gaza had grown by 16% is proof of what he has been telling international diplomats for the past year: there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Contrary to public thinking, the easing of the Gaza blockade started months before the flotilla incident in May. "The Palestinians in Gaza have for years been receiving the same amount of food which is sent in according to the amount they request," he says. "Even now, with our more liberal policy, they are still asking for the same amount, which means they were never really lacking."
In August, Dangot testified that the so-called aid flotillas are nothing more than an attempt to strengthen Hamas. "The flotillas help Hamas' agenda. The Mavi Marmara did not have a single bag of food on it. Just weapons and anti-Israel propaganda....The medicine [it carried] had expired." The real humanitarian crisis in Gaza, he says, has to do with IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still in Hamas captivity four years after he was abducted.
In the West Bank, Dangot refers to the lifting of 27 roadblocks over the past two years. At the same time, he does not feel that PA security forces are prepared to receive complete control, particularly in Area A cities like Ramallah and Nablus. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The arena of the Obama administration's incompetence is the issue of West Bank settlements. This is something of a misnomer since some settlements are indistinguishable parts of Jerusalem. Even in the Middle East, common sense can play a role. The Jerusalem-area settlements are not going to be abandoned by Israel. Settlements are how Zionists settled Israel - and the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria are the heart of biblical Israel.
Given the highly emotional nature of the settlement issue, it made no sense for the administration - actually, President Obama himself - to promote an absolute moratorium on construction as the prerequisite for peace talks. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu complied, under extreme pressure, but only to a 10-month moratorium. For Netanyahu, this was a major concession. He heads a coalition that takes settlements very seriously. Netanyahu had a choice: accede to Obama's terms and have his government collapse, or end the moratorium. On Sunday, with the 10 months up, he chose the latter.
From the very start, the president has taken a very hard line against settlements, refusing to distinguish between an apartment in Jerusalem and a hilltop encampment deep in the West Bank. He also seems not to understand their religious, cultural or historical importance to some Jews. The Obama approach has been counterproductive. Obama has to husband his credibility. He foolishly demanded something Israel could not yet give. It was bad diplomacy. (Washington Post)
See also Let Them Talk It Out - Michael Singh
It was Washington's - not the Palestinians' - early preoccupation with settlements that metastasized into a precondition delaying peace talks in 2009 and early 2010. The American (re)emphasis on it now decreases the chance of a compromise which will allow the talks to continue unimpeded. It is the U.S. public insistence on an extension of a freeze that seems overly rigid. With both the Israelis and Palestinians apparently interested in continuing with the talks for now, behind-the-scenes efforts may pay off if Washington plays its cards right and defers its public statements. The writer, a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is former senior director for Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council. (Foreign Policy)
Will sanctions force a change in Iranian behavior sufficient to forestall an Israeli attack, or for that matter, one by the U.S.? President Obama certainly appears to think so. He has once again extended an offer to talk with Iran, and to mend relations, even as he presses for ever tougher sanctions that he seems to believe will force Iran to jettison its nuclear weapons program.
President Ahmadinejad was his usual defiant self at the UN and did not sound like someone who felt cowed by the sanctions. But Ahmadinejad does not control foreign policy or national security; those portfolios remain in the hands of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There is no evidence that Khamenei is prepared to do anything more than permit his diplomats to engage in yet another round of talks with the Western powers even as the nuclear program proceeds apace. Indeed, Khamenei may well view Obama's recurrent offers of both talks and improved relations as a sign of American weakness. The sanctions therefore might be affecting Iran's economy, but not necessarily its policies. The writer served as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Planning and Resources during the Reagan administration and Undersecretary of Defense and Comptroller during the George W. Bush administration. (National Interest)
Israel: Settlement Freeze Issue "Just an Excuse" for Abbas - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
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