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November 23, 2010

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Gazans Shocked at How Many Neighbors, Coworkers, Officials Are Spying for Israel - Kristen Chick (Christian Science Monitor)
    After a Hamas campaign to uncover and uproot the network of collaborators with Israel, Gazans were astounded not only by the number or arrests, but by who was arrested.
    Prominent figures in society, including many doctors, were among those caught in the sweep, and the hunt for spies continues. The number of those arrested is in the high hundreds.
    Gazans say the revelation of the network's reach is eroding trust between neighbors, coworkers - even family members. "People start to be afraid of each other. We don't talk openly with each other, and we suspect each other," says Alaa Fouad, an anesthesiologist at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
    Many of those accused of collaborating are tortured, and Issam Younis, director of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, says confessions extracted by coercion or torture are common. An intelligence source said many of those arrested belonged to Fatah.

Lessons of Hate at Islamic Schools in Britain - John F. Burns (New York Times)
    A British network of more than 40 part-time Islamic schools and clubs with 5,000 students has been teaching from a Saudi Arabian government curriculum that contains anti-Semitic and homophobic views, including a textbook that asks children to list the "reprehensible" qualities of Jews, according to a BBC documentary broadcast on Monday.
    The Saudi government-supplied textbook says that Jews "looked like monkeys and pigs," and that Zionists set out to achieve "world domination."
    One of the textbooks prescribed execution as the penalty for gay sex, and outlined differing viewpoints as to whether death should be by stoning, immolation by fire or throwing offenders off a cliff.
    Another set out the punishments prescribed by Shariah law for theft, including amputation of hands and feet. A BBC video showed a textbook illustration of a hand and a foot marked to show where amputations should be made.

Jewish-Israeli Rehab Clinic Opens in Haiti - Jordana Horn (Jerusalem Post)
    A newly renovated rehabilitation clinic and prosthetic workshop opened last week in Port-au-Prince by Jewish and Israeli organizations to help the victims of Haiti's catastrophic earthquake.
    "The rehab center has helped hundreds of Haitians regain their mobility and independence," said Judy Amit, global director of international development for the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
    The clinic is staffed by rotating teams of Israeli orthopedic doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran's Nuclear Program Reportedly Struggling - Glenn Kessler
    Iran's nuclear program has experienced serious problems, including unexplained fluctuations in the performance of the thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium, leading to a temporary shutdown. Speculation immediately centered on the Stuxnet worm, a computer virus that some researchers say was designed to target Iran's centrifuge machines so that they spin out of control.
        Olli Heinonen, a former top IAEA official, said Monday that 3,772 centrifuges at the Natanz facility were being fed uranium gas and 5,084 machines were idle. "This indicates that there is a problem," he said. (Washington Post)
  • Iran Parliament Pushes to Oust Ahmadinejad - Farnaz Fassihi
    Iran's parliament revealed it planned to impeach President Ahmadinejad but refrained under orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, exposing a deepening division within the regime. In a report released Sunday and discussed in parliament Monday, four prominent lawmakers accused Ahmadinejad and his government of 14 counts of violating the law, often by acting without the approval of the legislature. Charges include withdrawing millions of dollars from Iran's foreign reserve fund without getting parliament's approval. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israeli Parliament Approves Referendum-for-Peace Law - Allyn Fisher-Ilan
    Israel's parliament approved by a 65-33 vote on Monday a measure to require a referendum on potential land-for-peace deals concluded with Arab neighbors. The Israeli law calls for putting any treaty involving a withdrawal from Israeli-annexed land to a public vote, in the event that Israel's parliament has not approved the deal in question by a two-thirds majority. It would cover any agreements involving east Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, but would not apply to the West Bank. Palestinian leaders have also said they would hold a referendum on any deal with Israel. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S.-Israel Discussions Continue - Attila Somfalvi
    Senior Israeli officials said Monday that contacts with Washington regarding the paper of understandings Israel will receive in exchange for renewing the settlement construction freeze continue but that agreement has yet to be reached on several issues. Israel's chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho said Monday that Israel is waiting for a U.S. response on a number of issues. (Ynet News)
  • Work Begins on Egypt-Israel Border Barrier - Yaakov Katz
    Work began Monday to construct a barrier along Israel's border with Egypt to stem the flow of illegal migrants into the country. The Interior Ministry said the number of African economic migrants and asylum seekers leaped this year to 1,100 per month, compared to last year's average of 350 per month. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Study Claims Jews Have No Right to Jerusalem's Western Wall - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Western Wall in Jerusalem belongs to Muslims and is an integral part of the Al-Aksa Mosque complex, according to an official paper published on Monday by the PA Ministry of Information. "The Al-Buraq Wall is in fact the western wall of Al-Aksa Mosque," said the study, prepared by ministry official Al-Mutawakel Taha. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Obama's Mideast Bribes Won't Work - Leslie H. Gelb
    U.S. officials say Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama believe a new freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank for 90 days - as opposed to the freeze that failed a month ago - will trigger the elusive peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis. But it won't. The U.S. president and his secretary of state also are said to think that if they can, finally, create an Israeli-Palestinian peace, that will dissipate vicious anti-Americanism and even terrorism throughout the Muslim world. But it won't.
        Anti-Americanism and terrorism among Muslims rests far less on what happens with Israel and far more on how and when American combat ends in the Middle East and upon improving how our Muslim allies treat their own people. It makes no sense to push the parties to the negotiating table with little prospect of success and a very good chance of another dangerous failure. The writer is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. (Daily Beast)
  • Bad Ideas Come from Bad Premises - Bret Stephens
    Should the U.S. offer - and Israel accept - diplomatic guarantees, plus $2 billion worth of fighter jets, for the sake of a 90-day settlement freeze? Er, no. Israel can afford the planes, or at least it can afford them better than the perception that it's getting a free ride from U.S. taxpayers.
        The U.S. should not put a price on things it ought not to do anyway, like recognizing a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. And bribery is generally a bad idea, particularly between friends. Then again, bad ideas are what you get when you're operating from bad premises. Premises such as: There is a deal to be had between Israelis and Palestinians, or that the settlements are the core of the problem.
        The consistent willingness of Western news organizations to downplay stories about Palestinian illiberalism and thuggery goes far to explain why so much of the world misdiagnoses the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Settlements are a convenient alibi: They foster the illusion that the conflict can be resolved by Israeli territorial concessions alone. But if that were true, Gaza would have turned peaceful the moment settlements were withdrawn five years ago. The opposite happened. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Video: Can the Palestinians Legally Declare Statehood Unilaterally? - Dore Gold
    The Palestinian Authority committed themselves in the 1995 Interim Agreement that neither side would take any step to change the status of the West Bank prior to the completion of permanent status negotiations. Unilateralism is not allowed by the Oslo Agreements themselves. If the Palestinian Authority violates Oslo, it doesn't violate a peripheral commitment, but violates a core commitment. They are essentially in material breach of the Oslo Agreements that were witnessed by the United States, the European Union, the Russians, the Norwegians, the Jordanians, and the Egyptians. And if they are in material breach of a core commitment, they are basically violating international law.
        That means they would be turning to the international community to give them rights by recognizing them as a state, rights that eminate from an illegal act. According to everybody who understands international law, that cannot stand. U.S. law in fact states that if an international entity arises out of an illegal act, it cannot be recognized. The Palestinians are aware of that and they are looking at international institutions to help them out. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Averting Palestinian Unilateralism: The International Criminal Court and the Recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a Palestinian State - Dore Gold with Diane Morrison (Jerusalem Center)
  • Observations:

    Peace Process to Nowhere - Elliott Abrams and Michael Singh (Foreign Policy)

    • The proposed U.S. offer for a 90-day extension of the construction freeze in West Bank settlements masks an unwelcome shift in U.S. mediation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The troubling precedents set by this package will serve to dim rather than enhance prospects for a breakthrough in peace negotiations.
    • The most worrying aspect is the linkages it establishes between Israeli concessions on settlements (and apparently on the pace of construction in Jerusalem as well) and other unrelated policy matters. Washington has long opposed, and frequently vetoed, UN Security Council initiatives targeting Israel, not out of a sense of charity, but because they were unconstructive, unhelpful, and unprincipled.
    • The suggestion that unless there is a construction freeze America will no longer do so will make it far harder for U.S. negotiators to defeat or soften such drafts in future years. Leaving Israel undefended in the UN will make successful negotiations less, not more, likely, for an Israel that is under constant attack will batten down the hatches, not "take risks for peace."
    • More disturbing still is the explicit connection between U.S. security assistance to Israel and the settlement freeze. As much as Israeli officials may desire the additional hardware, particularly in light of the growing threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, they will no doubt think long and hard before setting this precedent.
    • A stand-alone border agreement is a mirage. For Israelis, more important than where the border lies is what lies beyond it - what security arrangements will be put in place to prevent a barrage of rockets originating from the West Bank, as they now do from Gaza?

      Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Michael Singh is a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Both worked on Middle East affairs at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration.

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