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|
October 1, 2010
Iran Puts Off Nuclear Plant Launch (Reuters)
U.S. Sanctions Eight Iranian Officials for Human Rights Abuses - Robert Burns (AP)
Norway Bans Israel-Bound German-Made Submarines from Its Waters (Ynet News)
Russia Bans Iranian Investments in Nuclear Industry (Xinhua-China)
Under the Gun: How the People of Gaza Feel about Hamas - Mitchell Prothero (National-UAE)
In Sweden's Muslim Neighborhoods, Emergency Workers Refuse to Enter Without Police Protection - Soeren Kern (Hudson Institute-New York)
Israeli Innovation Fights False Alarms at Northern Border (DPA)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
In its scramble to salvage Middle East peace talks, the Obama administration has dangled incentives before the Israeli government if Israel would agree to extend a freeze on settlement growth for 60 days. Palestinian officials have said they will not return to the talks unless some sort of extension is arranged. The offer struck some analysts as an unusual gambit that might leave the impression that Washington wants the talks more than either of the two sides negotiating. The offer was outlined in an article by David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and has the imprimatur of an official leak. Administration sources confirmed Makovsky's account was largely accurate.
By some accounts, administration officials are surprised Netanyahu would reject what they see as a generous offer. But Netanyahu may also view such written assurances from Americans with skepticism. When Obama took office, his administration refused to acknowledge written assurances that President George W. Bush had given Israel in 2004. (Washington Post)
See also Obama Letter to Abbas Promises Support for Palestinian State on '67 Borders - Ben Caspit and Eli Bardenstein
Alongside a letter to Israel, President Obama sent a letter to Mahmoud Abbas promising that if the Palestinians continued with the direct peace talks, the U.S., and Obama personally, would pledge to support the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines [the 1949 armistice lines] with land swaps.
In a briefing to Jewish Senators and Congressmen Wednesday, Obama's Middle East Advisor Dennis Ross said Netanyahu appreciates the American proposal but has not accepted it. The reason, it appears, is that he will not break his pledge to the Israeli public [to not renew the freeze]. (Ynet News-Hebrew)
See also The Obama Draft Letter to Israel: Why Netanyahu Is Unwilling to Extend the Freeze - David Makovsky
Prime Minister Netanyahu has put forward three arguments defending his unwillingness to extend the moratorium, relating to the issues of reciprocity, consistency, and relevance. First, he says the original U.S. idea to halt settlement activity in 2009 required reciprocal actions from Arab states, which were not forthcoming. Second, the Palestinians did not initially deem the moratorium as significant, wasting nine out of the moratorium's ten months by not opening direct talks. In Netanyahu's view, why would a matter originally deemed insignificant become suddenly indispensable?
Finally, he argues that the focus on settlements is excessive, since the parties will be dealing with the far larger issue of reaching the contours of an overall territorial solution within the next year. Beyond these arguments, it is also clear that Netanyahu fears losing elements of his coalition over the moratorium issue. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also U.S. Denies Obama Letter to Netanyahu on Peace Talks
The White House on Thursday denied that President Barack Obama had sent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a letter outlining inducements designed to preserve his fragile peace drive. "No letter was sent to Prime Minister Netanyahu," said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman. (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. special Mideast envoy George Mitchell Wednesday that he is committed to reaching a peace agreement with Palestinians. (CNN)
Netanyahu told Mitchell: "There are many skeptics, many doubts and there are many obstacles on the road to peace. There is one way to prove them right - that's not to try. We're committed, and I'm committed, to try to get to a peace agreement that will secure Israel's security and other vital national interests. That's my goal, and that's our policy and we will continue to pursue it and I very much look forward to continuing it with Abu Mazen [Abbas]." (Prime Minister's Office)
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington Wednesday that the world will judge the United States on its success or failure stopping Iran's ambitions. "Some have suggested that we should simply learn to live with a nuclear Iran," Lieberman said. "In my judgment, that would be a grave mistake. And as one Arab leader I recently spoke with pointed out, how could anyone count on the United States to go to war to defend them against a nuclear Iran, if we were unwilling to go to war to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran in the first place?"
Lieberman said the time has come for the U.S. to step up pressure on Iran if it becomes clear that sanctions against the country will not work, and he hopes President Obama will make an assessment of the current Iran strategy by the end of the year. He also said, "If military action must come, the United States is in the strongest position to confront Iran and manage the regional consequences. This is not a responsibility we should outsource." (ABC News)
See also Transcript: Sen. Lieberman Addresses U.S. Power in Middle East
"It is time to retire our ambiguous mantra about all options remaining on the table. It is time for our message to our friends and enemies in the region to become clearer: namely, that we will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability - by peaceful means if we possibly can, but with military force if we absolutely must. A military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities entails risks and costs, but I am convinced that the risks and costs of allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear weapons capability are much greater....I also believe it would be a failure of U.S. leadership if this situation reaches the point where the Israelis decide to attempt a unilateral strike on Iran." (Council on Foreign Relations)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A senior source in Jerusalem assesses that even if Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to extend the building freeze in the settlements, he would not have a majority in the cabinet to approve it. Israel offered that the new construction be only in the large settlement blocs, under government supervision and with a low profile. (Israel Radio-Hebrew-IMRA)
Hundreds of laborers flooded West Bank settlements on Monday with the end of the settlement construction freeze. One Palestinian resident of the Jerusalem area said, "At the end of the day both sides need to make a living, and although we are rivals, the need to put food on the table overrides everything else. I have no problem building settlements; I have been doing it for twenty years." "We want genuine and just peace, just like everyone else, but peace without income is worthless," he added. "I don't care if the settlements stay here. The most important thing is for us to live in peace, what's wrong with that? We don't believe the boycott on settlement goods will last. The workers cannot survive another extended period of just sitting at home without doing anything, which has been the case now for almost a year."
"They [Palestinian workers] are being threatened with five years in prison if they work for us after January 1," said Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council. "The real coexistence, after all, happens here, and the Palestinian Authority is trying to sabotage this. I am the one who wants peace and they just want war. This is the difference between us." Goldstein said that the start of construction in the settlement of Neve Daniel was celebrated with a joint barbeque which included 80 Palestinian construction workers and 40 Jews. (Ynet News)
Meir Indor, the head of the Almagor Terror Victims Association, and his wife, Batsheva, were leaving the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem on Wednesday when they encountered a traffic jam on the main street of the Arab neighborhood next to the cemetery. Indor said that when about ten Arab youths "saw we were Jewish, they started to throw huge blocks on us one after the other." Indor was injured in the head by a rock. The Indors only escaped the mob when a truck blocking them moved forward, allowing them to maneuver out of the traffic jam and drive directly to the hospital. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In November 2009, the Israeli government decided to implement a 10-month freeze on all new housing construction in the settlements, a gesture that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly called unprecedented. Israel explicitly stated at that time that this was a one-time gesture of good will. However, the Palestinian Authority swiftly rejected the gesture as "unacceptable," refusing to enter peace talks. Now, after wasting 9 out of those 10 months turning a cold shoulder to both the U.S. efforts and Israel's good will, the authority is saying this once "unacceptable" moratorium is now essential for them even to attend the peace talks.
The whole logic behind peace talks is to create an opportunity to solve differences rather than use the differences to create new obstacles. Therefore, the Palestinian threat to leave the peace talks is reverse logic as well as unhelpful. Peace was accomplished with Egypt and Jordan without freezing construction in the settlements. Moreover, the Arab-Israeli conflict existed long before any settlement ever did. The writer is Consul General of Israel to the Southwest U.S. (Houston Chronicle)
The fact is that President Obama made construction in the territories the center of his peace strategy from the beginning. This put Israel in a bind. But, worst of all, it put the Palestinians in a much greater bind. They had no room to maneuver. If the president of the United States insists that new building not be done even in settlements that everyone knows will remain with Israel, how can the Palestinians palaver in any other circumstance? The Palestinians are trapped in Obama's truculence. The president also urged the Palestinian Authority to consult with the Arab League about its conundrum. The Arab League always takes a hard line. And that is what it will do this week. In fact, the League is planning to bring the matter before the UN Security Council. (New Republic)
In exchange for a two-month extension of the freeze on settlement construction, Barack Obama has offered Israel various mouth-watering goodies. Yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leaning toward refusing. What gives? I suspect the real reason is too undiplomatic to state publicly: Obama, by his own actions, has shown he views presidential promises as made to be broken.
Israel, after all, received its last presidential promise just six years ago, in exchange for leaving Gaza. In writing, George W. Bush said the Palestinian Authority must end incitement and terror, voiced support for Israel "as a Jewish state," vowed to "strengthen Israel's capability" to defend itself, and said any Israeli-Palestinian deal should leave Israel with the settlement blocs and "defensible borders." He also promised orally that Israel could continue building in the settlement blocs. But when Obama took office, he denied the oral pledge's very existence.
And while Obama hasn't denied the written document's existence, he's nullified it de facto through his every word and action: he's never challenged PA incitement; he's advocated the indefensible pre-1967 borders, including in east Jerusalem (where he bullied Israel into halting construction even in huge Jewish neighborhoods that will clearly remain Israeli under any deal); and more. With enough domestic pressure, Obama would probably do everything in the latest offer anyway. But without it, Israelis fear he'll renege the moment he finds it convenient. (Commentary)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators need to take into account that it's completely unrealistic to talk about restoring the pre-1967 situation where Jerusalem was divided into two cities. Jerusalem is a very small city where Jews and Arabs live across the street from each other and on top of each other. Since 1967, Israel has built many new neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city, rendering it impossible to imagine a reality where Jerusalem would exist as a divided city. Redividing Jerusalem will turn the lives of both Jews and Arabs into a nightmare. Every day, tens of thousands of Jews and Arabs commute between the two parts of the city freely.
In addition, the negotiators must ask the more than 200,000 Arab residents of the city about their preferences. This can be done through a referendum where the Arab residents would be asked if they would like to live in a divided city under the rule of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Most likely, a majority of the Arab residents would say that they prefer the status quo to the other options. The Arab residents of Jerusalem have seen what happened in the West Bank and Gaza over the past 16 years and are not keen to live under a corrupt authority or a radical Islamist entity.
Instead of talking about tearing the city apart, it would be better if the negotiators started thinking of ways that enable Jews and Arabs to share, and not divide, the city. (Hudson Institute-New York)
See also Jerusalem: The Dangers of Division - Nadav Shragai (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
9/11 was an inside job. Just ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He knew that the Muslim world would be paying attention to his UN speech. That's a world in which his view of 9/11 isn't on the fringe but in the mainstream. The University of Maryland's World Public Opinion surveys have found that just 2% of Pakistanis believe al-Qaeda perpetrated the attacks, whereas 27% believe it was the U.S. government. Among Egyptians, 43% say Israel is the culprit, while another 12% blame the U.S. Just 16% of Egyptians think al-Qaeda did it. In Turkey, 39% blame al-Qaeda, another 39% blame the U.S. or Israel. Even 15% of Italians and 23% of Germans finger the U.S. for the attacks. Ahmadinejad's constituency may be irrational, but he isn't crazy. (Wall Street Journal)
Upstream countries, looking to right what they say are historic wrongs, have joined in an attempt to break Egypt and Sudan's near-monopoly on Nile River water, threatening a crisis that Egyptian experts said could, at its most extreme, lead to war. Egypt's population is growing briskly, and by 2017 at current rates of usage the Nile's water will barely meet Egypt's basic needs, according to the Ministry of Irrigation. Under British colonial rule, a 1929 treaty reserved 80% of the Nile's flow for Egypt and Sudan, then ruled as a single country.
Usually upstream countries dominate control of a river, like the Tigris and Euphrates, which are much reduced by the time they flow into Iraq from Turkey and Syria. The case of the Nile is reversed because the British colonials wanted to guarantee water for Egyptian agriculture. The seven upstream countries - Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda - say the treaty is an unfair vestige of colonialism, while Egypt says those countries are awash in water resources, unlike arid Egypt, which depends on just one.
This spring, Ethiopia inaugurated a $520 million hydroelectric dam on a Nile tributary, part of a decade-long project to create a modern electricity infrastructure. In addition, investors from China and the Persian Gulf region have expressed interest in underwriting enormous agriculture projects in Uganda and Ethiopia which would use Nile water.
Meanwhile, water experts say that Egypt has done little to curtail its own misuse of water. Irrigation water still flows largely through dirt channels often choked with weeds. Much of it leaches into the ground before reaching crops. So long as water is free for farmers, there is little incentive to conserve. (New York Times)
A draft law regulating online media would clamp down on Syrian bloggers and other journalists, forcing them to register and submit their writing for review. Other Arab countries regularly jail journalists who express dissident views, but Syria may be the most restrictive of all. Most of the Syrian media is still owned by the state. Privately owned media became legal in 2001, but much of the sector is owned by relatives of President Assad and other top government officials. All of it is subject to intimidation and heavy-handed control.
The basic "red lines" are well known: no criticism of the president and his family or the security services, no touching delicate issues like Syria's Kurdish minority or the Alawites, a religious minority to which Assad belongs. But the exact extent of what is forbidden is left deliberately unclear, and that vagueness encourages fear and self-censorship, many Syrian journalists say. (New York Times)
Ten Basic Facts about the UN Human Rights Council - Leon Saltiel (UN Watch)
UN Watch testified Monday on the UN Human Rights Council's selectivity, hypocrisy, and grant of impunity to gross human rights violators during a day-long debate on alleged Israeli human rights violations.
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