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November 10, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Invites Ahmadinejad to Visit Gaza (Fars-Iran)
    "We invite [President] Ahmadinejad to pay a visit to the Gaza Strip, and we are confident that the visit will have extraordinary importance," Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed Yousef said in Gaza.
    He said that the visit will boost the morale of the resistance front as happened during Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon.

Poll: Palestinians Oppose Compromise, Want New Elections (Arab World for Research and Development-PA)
    A poll of Palestinian public opinion in the West Bank and Gaza released Tuesday by Arab World for Research and Development in Ramallah asked:
    If Palestinian negotiators delivered a peace settlement that includes a Palestinian state but had to make compromises on key issues (right of return, Jerusalem, borders, settlements) to do so, would you support the result? Yes 12%, No 85%.
    65% said it was "essential" that any peace agreement include historic Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
    66% said it was "inappropriate" to dismantle the Palestinian Authority as a reaction to a failure in the negotiations.
    80% believe elections (municipal, legislative, presidential) should be immediately rescheduled and held as soon as possible.
    If elections were held today, who would you vote for? Fatah 42%, Hamas 11%, an independent party led by Salam Fayyad 4%, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine 4%, Islamic Jihad 2%.

IDF: Hizbullah Refused Hamas Request to Bomb Israel During Gaza War - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas asked Hizbullah twice to fire rockets on northern Israel during the 2008-2009 military offensive in Gaza but Hizbullah refused, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Dan Harel, who was deputy IDF chief of staff at the time, said Tuesday.

The Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    52 leading scientists have settled in Israel, $77 million has been invested in equipment, $44 million has gone into infrastructure, and 106 successful new projects have been launched as startups or given patents as a result of three years of financial support for nanotechnology as an Israeli national project, according to the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI).
    See also Israel's Nanotech Researchers Think Big - Sara Hussein (AFP)
    A material just one atom thick that is stronger than steel but flexes like rubber. A "mini-submarine" that can trick the immune system and deliver a payload of chemotherapy deep inside a tumor.
    These are among the discoveries being presented at Nano Israel 2010, a nanotech conference in Tel Aviv.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama: Israel Construction Plans Unhelpful - Christi Parsons
    President Obama said Tuesday that Israel is not helping the cause of peace by restarting home construction in territory claimed by both Arabs and Israelis. "This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations," Obama said. "And I'm concerned that we're not seeing each side make the extra effort to get a breakthrough that could finally create a framework for a secure Israel living side by side in peace with a sovereign Palestine."  (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Netanyahu Rejects Obama Criticism of East Jerusalem Construction Planning - Gwen Ackerman, Jonathan Ferziger and Christopher Power
    In an interview with Bloomberg Television Tuesday, Netanyahu called Palestinian complaints about Israeli settlement construction "a minor issue" that has become "way overblown." He said previous settlement construction hadn't prevented Egypt or Jordan from concluding peace agreements with Israel. "In many ways it's a minor issue that has assumed center stage for no objective reason."  (Bloomberg)
        "You are talking about a handful of apartments that really don't affect the map at all, contrary to impressions that might be perceived from certain news reports."  (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Netanyahu: Jerusalem Is Not a Settlement
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement Tuesday: "Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. Israel has never accepted upon itself restrictions of any kind on construction in Jerusalem."
        "Israel sees no connection between the diplomatic process and planning and building policy in Jerusalem, which has not changed in 40 years. All Israeli governments in the past 40 years have built in all parts of the city. During this period, peace agreements were signed with Egypt and Jordan, and for 17 years, diplomatic negotiations have been conducted with the Palestinians. These are historical facts. Construction in Jerusalem has never hindered the peace process."
        "The disagreements with the U.S. over Jerusalem are well-known. They are not new and have continued for 40 years. We hope to overcome them and continue to advance the diplomatic negotiations."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Obama Says U.S. Reaching Out to Muslim World
    President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that Washington's effort to reach out to the Muslim world was earnest and would help improve U.S. security. Obama described a range of efforts the U.S. is making to reach out to Muslims, including education and business initiatives. "That will be good for our security but it will also be good for the larger cause of understanding between the United States and the Muslim world. I think it's an incomplete project we've got a lot more work to do. It's not going to eliminate or replace some tough dialogue around concrete policy issues."  (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • What Do the Residents of Har Homa Say? - Nir Hasson
    In less than a decade, Har Homa (officially Homat Shmuel - "Samuel's wall") has 20,000 residents, wide streets, modern infrastructure, and plans to build another 2,000 housing units. The neighborhood was set up in the face of strong Palestinian and international protests during Benjamin Netanyahu's first term as prime minister. Attorney Herzl Yechezkel, one of the first residents of the new neighborhood, has been the head of its residents' committee since its inception. "I remember the fight that accompanied the birth of the neighborhood....Then everyone threatened that there would be a third world war. The bottom line was that [Faisal] al-Husseini made some noise and some headlines but when we started to actually build, the whole world was quiet."
        "It's our right to build up Jerusalem...the capital of the Jewish people....The demands of the world are hallucinatory. It's as if I were to say: Don't build in Washington."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Is Har Homa a Settlement? The Strategic Significance of Har Homa - Lenny Ben-David (I*Consult)
  • In New York, Netanyahu Urges Investment in Israel - Jordana Horn
    Prime Minister Netanyahu met Tuesday in New York with American business and financial leaders and business news outlets to encourage investment in Israel. "We [take] pride [in] our brainpower and the entrepreneurship of our people," Netanyahu told Bloomberg television. "We have lived with uncertainty from day one. And that hasn't prevented us from moving to an economy that is now about $30,000 per capita. But the growth is right there, it's in front of us, because we can produce per capita more conceptual products right now than any other society on Earth....The future belongs to those who can produce conceptual products."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • From Jakarta to Jerusalem - Editorial
    What did President Obama talk about upon arriving in Jakarta? Israeli construction projects. Israel's decision to proceed with the building of some 1,000 housing units in the Har Homa neighborhood of municipal Jerusalem - a "settlement" only in the most jaundiced sense of the term - was made in October. Israeli governments of both the right and left have encouraged similar building projects since Jerusalem was reunified in 1967.
        All Israel has done is insist that Jews have a right to live anywhere in their capital city, something that might be controversial in Ramallah but ought not to be in Washington. Mr. Obama's public endorsement of the Palestinian view of what constitutes a settlement only puts the negotiated peace he seeks further out of reach. Meanwhile, the Indonesian government forbids Israeli citizens from visiting their country. If Mr. Obama wants to bridge the distance between Jakarta and Jerusalem, maybe he can start with that one. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Is Obama's "Charm Offensive" Over for Israel? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Obama chose to use his visit to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, as the venue for comments directly criticizing Israel for approving the building of 1,000 new housing units in the Har Homa section of Jerusalem. Obama's stance on Jerusalem was unprecedented in U.S.-Israel relations: although the U.S. had never recognized Israel's annexation of the eastern part of the city in 1967, it had also never treated the building of Jewish neighborhoods there as a point of dispute between the two countries in this manner. (Commentary)
  • Sunni Hamas and Shiite Iran Form a Common Political Theology - Ehud Yaari
    The Muslim Brotherhood - with Hamas as its Palestinian branch - is a natural partner of Iran, with which it shares a common set of values and a joint vision of the revival of the caliphate, despite the divide that historically separates Sunnis from Shiites. Hamas Foreign Ministry Director-General Dr. Ahmed Yousef explains this in an Arabic-language booklet titled The Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Revolution in Iran, The Dialectic of State and Nation in the Thought of the Imams al-Banna and Khomeini. The preface was written by Dr. Muhammad al-Hindi, the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Yousef, recognized as one of the main spokesmen for the more moderate wing of Hamas, was allowed to define "What Hamas Wants" in a New York Times op-ed in June 2007.
        He explains that Hamas' dependence on Iran is not an accidental marriage of convenience, but an inevitable partnership based on the common aspiration for the divine ideal of the "Islamic state." Hamas is rapidly distancing itself from the Saudis and other traditional benefactors in order to strengthen its pact with Iran, and is very unlikely to make more than a pretense of reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Red Lines - Make Clear to Our U.S. Allies Where We Stand on Key Issues - Ari Harow (Ynet News)

    • The professional pundit class seems split in their predictions on how President Obama will react to last week's "shellacking" of Democrats. Some think that the president will realize that the American public is disappointed with his performance to date, resulting in a refocusing of his efforts on his domestic agenda and attempting to turn the economy around.
    • Other experts warn that once it becomes apparent to Obama that there is little he can do within his power to actually lower the stubbornly high unemployment rate, he will turn to overseas adventures where the president has much more authority to act without congressional approval.
    • As President Obama and his advisors contemplate which of these paths to chose, it is vital that Prime Minister Netanyahu once again clearly state Israel's red lines in negotiating with the Palestinians. Whether this clarification serves to bolster our friends in Congress, or remind the administration as they plan any new initiatives, it is crucial that our American allies understand where we stand on these issues as we inch closer to returning to direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
    • In his historic speech at Bar-Ilan University in June of 2009, Netanyahu laid out three key areas where Israel's red lines cannot be crossed. The Palestinians must agree to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Israel must remain within defensible borders as the result of any peace agreement. We cannot compromise on territorial concessions in the Jordan Valley or on the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria which overlook the center of our country.
    • Finally, Jerusalem can never be divided again. Jerusalem - Zion itself - is the raison d'etre for our national existence here in Israel and it is the glue that holds the entire Jewish people together.

      The writer served as the Director of Prime Minister Netanyahu's Bureau and is a public affairs and international business strategic consultant.

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