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November 17, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Turkish Ire Hurting Israel's NATO Ties - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
    The hostility of Erdogan's government to Israel is growing. In order to not irritate the Turks - whose membership gives them veto power over NATO's every decision, plans to have an Israel Navy Saar missile-boat join Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean were put on hold.

Video - Israeli Amb. Michael Oren: "There Are No Settlements in Jerusalem"  (CNN)

Arid Israel Recycles Waste Water on Grand Scale - Ari Rabinovitch (Reuters)
    With increased interest worldwide, Israel has developed a billion-dollar industry marketing its waste water reuse technologies.
    "Today, nearly half our irrigation comes from recycled waste water," said Yaron Rot, who manages irrigation at Kibbutz Magen.
    More than 80% of household waste water is recycled, amounting to 400 million cubic meters a year, the Environment Ministry says.
    That ratio is four times higher than in any other country, according to Israel's Water Authority.

Is Anti-Semitism in Spain Really Endemic? - Adar Primor (Ha'aretz)
    "Casa Sefarad" - a branch of the Spanish Foreign Ministry working to strengthen ties with Israel and the Jewish world - presented a recent survey showing that only 35% of the Spanish public have negative opinions about Jews - a dramatic decrease compared to the 2009 ADL and 2008 Pew surveys.
    85% of Spaniards think "the Jews have a right to live peacefully within secure and recognized borders" and 78% reject the statement "Israel should disappear because it was established on Arab land."
    However, two-thirds hold Jews responsible for the Middle East conflict and see Jews as the main source of the world's problems.

Muslims Burn Coptic Christian Homes in Egypt - Salah Nasrawi (Canadian Press)
    Muslims set fire overnight to at least 10 houses belonging to Coptic Christians in the village of al-Nawahid in southern Egypt over rumors that a Christian resident had an affair with a Muslim girl, security officials said Tuesday. Human rights groups say attacks on Copts are on the rise.

Extraordinarily Ordinary Israel - Peter N. Hadar (Harvard Crimson)
    Israel functions much like any western European country. Like England, it flies its religious emblem on its flag; like Italy, its capital contains a global center of worship; and like France, its citizens are very likely to protest in the streets and express dissent.
    Israel, a country the size of New Jersey with a smaller population than Chicago's metropolitan area, has become an economic powerhouse. It ranks third worldwide (behind America and Canada) in the number of companies traded on Wall Street; second in the amount of venture capital funding received and amount of books published per capita; and first in the number of patents per capita, scientific journals per capita, and scientists per capita.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Gates: New Sanctions Are Causing Divisions within Iranian Leadership - Glenn Kessler
    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, reiterating his long-standing opposition to a military attack on Iran, said Tuesday that new sanctions led by the Obama administration are causing divisions within the Iranian leadership. Sanctions "have really bitten much harder than [Iranian leaders] anticipated." "We even have some evidence that Khamenei now is beginning to wonder if Ahmadinejad is lying to him about the impact of the sanctions on the economy." "I personally believe they are intent on acquiring nuclear weapons, but also the information that we have is that they've been surprised by the impact of the sanctions."  (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Denounces "Obsession with Condemning Israel"
    Hannah Rosenthal, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, told a conference on "Combating Anti-Semitism" in Ottawa, Canada, on Nov. 8: "Opposition to a policy by the State of Israel morphs into anti-Semitism easily and often. We record huge increases in anti-Semitism whenever there is activity in the Middle East. This form of anti-Semitism is more difficult for many to identify - but if all Jews are held responsible for the decisions of the sovereign State of Israel, when governments call upon and intimidate their Jewish communities to condemn Israeli actions, when academics from Israel are boycotted - this is not objecting to a policy - this is anti-Semitism."
        "Our State Department uses Natan Sharansky's framework for identifying when someone or a government crosses the line - when Israel is demonized, when Israel is held to different standards than the rest of the countries, and when Israel is delegitimized. These cases are not disagreements with a policy of Israel, this is anti-Semitism. The U.S. is often the only "no" vote in international bodies who seem to have an obsession with condemning Israel."  (U.S. State Department)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Disagreements with U.S. over Terms of Settlement Freeze Stalls Cabinet Vote - Jonathan Lis and Barak Ravid
    Disagreements with the U.S. are delaying Israel's inner cabinet from voting on a three-month moratorium on new construction in settlements. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu's envoy for the peace process, Yitzhak Molho, conducted marathon talks with senior advisers to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton over the text of the deal. Most of the disagreement concerns the American desire to remain vague over whether it will seek another freeze in three months' time. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Not Discussing Jerusalem Construction with U.S. - Attila Somfalvi
    The Israeli Prime Minister's Office said that negotiations between Israel and the U.S. regarding the proposal to freeze settlement construction exclude building in Jerusalem. The PM's office denied reports suggesting that Prime Minister Netanyahu's demand to continue construction in Jerusalem was the main bone of contention. (Ynet News)
        See also Israeli Official: Palestinians Trying to Foil Settlement Freeze Deal - Barak Ravid
    The Palestinian Authority is trying to thwart understandings between Washington and Jerusalem regarding a package of American incentives that would come in return for a new three-month settlement freeze by Israel, a senior Israeli official said Tuesday. "The Palestinians claim that the understandings reached between Secretary of State Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu benefit Israel too much and deny the Palestinians leverage and bargaining chips," the Israeli official said.
        "The political benefits that Israel would receive as part of the package of understanding with the U.S. are not acceptable to the Palestinians because they ease some of the pressure on Israel and make it impossible for [the Palestinians] to apply their strategy of evading direct talks and of trying to force Israel into an arrangement through UN resolutions," added the official. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Cabinet Approves Ghajar Withdrawal - Attila Somfalvi
    Israel's security cabinet approved on Wednesday a plan to withdraw Israeli forces from the northern part of Ghajar, an Arab village which straddles the Lebanese border. The IDF will leave the northern part of the village under the UN's authority. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Ninety Days in the Middle East - Editorial
    The Obama administration's efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks are less evocative of true grit than of desperate improvisation. We have no objection to the reported incentives. Despite their cost, the F-35s will help preserve Israel's margin of security at a time when Iran's nuclear program remains unchecked. Having largely created the impasse over settlements with pointless demands that Israel cease all building, President Obama will now pay dearly to take the issue off the table.
        Administration officials appear to hope that in 90 days the territory of the new state can be mostly delineated, rendering the settlement issue moot. Yet past negotiations have revealed some big differences between the two sides on territory, and they are unlikely to be settled without trade-offs on other core issues, such as the disposition of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. (Washington Post)
  • The Price of Success - Aaron David Miller
    The deal concluded last week in New York between Secretary of State Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu - if it gets through the Israeli cabinet and the Palestinians - should allow negotiations to resume in the wake of a three-month moratorium on settlements. Any advance in the world of Arab-Israeli negotiations is significant. The extension of the settlement moratorium will allow the administration to shift focus from settlements (where it had no chance to succeed) to the substance of the negotiations (where it must go if it wants an Israeli-Palestinian agreement).
        The administration will be under enormous pressure to broker an agreement on borders and security within three months, or at least make enough progress to ensure that both sides have a stake in continuing. A rapidly ticking clock can be a catalyst if the issues on the table aren't consequential ones; if they are, time can work as an enemy, not an ally. Israelis and Palestinians don't want to be rushed into making mistakes or concessions on core issues. The writer is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Foreign Policy)
  • Despite U.S. Effort, Syrian Mideast Role on the Rise - Bassem Mroue
    Syria has bounced back from years of international isolation and is wielding its influence in crises around the Middle East, shrugging off U.S. attempts to pull it away from its alliances with Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah. Now with Lebanon's factions heading for a possible new violent collision, Arabs have had to turn to Syria in hopes of ensuring peace, even as Damascus backs Lebanon's heaviest armed player, the Shiite militant group Hizbullah.
        Since 2005, Washington - along with its Arab allies - hoped to squeeze Syrian influence out of its smaller neighbor Lebanon. But Arab powers that once shunned Damascus, particularly Saudi Arabia, have had to acknowledge its regional weight, holding talks to try to avert an explosion in Lebanon. Syria has "turned the page on isolation" by building its partnership with Saudi Arabia and asserting a role in Iraq, Peter Harling, a Syria-based Mideast analyst with the International Crisis Group, says.
        President Obama has made repeated overtures to Damascus this year. Still, "Syria did not abandon Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah or its principles regarding the (Mideast) peace process," said Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst. Relations with Washington have now chilled before they even had a chance to fully warm up. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    What the PA Buys with American Money - Caroline B. Glick (Jerusalem Post)

    • Two weeks ago, a Palestinian from Bethlehem was arrested by the U.S.-financed and trained Palestinian Authority security forces, charged with "carrying out commercial transactions with residents of a hostile state." His crime was purchasing wood products from an Israeli community located beyond the 1949 armistice lines.
    • His arrest is part of U.S.-supported Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's project to ban all economic contact between Palestinians and Jews who live and work beyond the 1949 armistice lines. Fayyad's measures come on top of previously enacted PA measures like imposing the death penalty on Palestinians who sell land to Jews.
    • According to the Congressional Research Service, the PA is the largest recipient of foreign assistance in the world. According to Bloomberg, it received $1.2 billion in 2009 and will receive $1.8 billion by the end of the year.
    • Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is expected to become the chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee in the next Congress, responded to an announced expansion of U.S. aid to the PA: "It is deeply disturbing that the administration is continuing to bail out the Palestinian leadership when they continue to fail to meet their commitments, under international agreements and requirements outlined in U.S. law, including dismantling the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, combating corruption, stopping anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement and recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state."
    • It is impossible to prevent U.S. budgetary assistance to the PA from financing Hamas. Each month Fayyad transfers funds to Hamas-controlled Gaza to pay the salaries of PA employees there, in contravention of U.S. and international law which prohibits assistance to areas controlled by terrorists.

          See also Key Congresswoman Opposes "Bailout" for Palestinians - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)

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