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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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December 1, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Announces New Iran Sanctions - Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times)
    On the same day that Iran and the West agreed to meet next week for talks on Iran's nuclear program, the U.S. announced a set of fresh sanctions on the Islamic Republic's shipping lines.
    On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department cited five Iranian corporate officials and 10 businesses as having ties to either Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines or Bank Mellat, which the U.S. had previously blacklisted.

Holland: Gas Companies Refuse to Fuel Iranian Foreign Minister's Plane - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dropped his planned visit to the Netherlands on Tuesday because U.S. sanctions meant his Iran Air plane might be refused fuel.
    "Mr. Mottaki canceled his visit because the government of the Netherlands could not guarantee that his plane would be refueled by private fuel firms at Schiphol airport, which follow U.S. sanctions," Ward Bezemer, a spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Ministry, told the Jerusalem Post.

WikiLeaks: Germany Pressured U.S. to Force Settlement Freeze on Israel - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Two weeks before Israel's cabinet decided on a settlement construction freeze in November 2009, German National Security Adviser Christoph Heusgen urged the U.S. to threaten Prime Minister Netanyahu that if he did not agree to a moratorium, Washington would withdraw its support for blocking a vote on the Goldstone Report at the UN Security Council.
    According to a telegram published by WikiLeaks, Heusgen met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon and U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy on Nov. 10, 2009, to discuss the matter.
    "He [Heusgen] suggested pressuring Netanyahu by linking favorable UNSC treatment of the Goldstone Report to Israel committing to a complete stop in settlement activity." The American officials were surprised by the proposal and said that such linkage would be counterproductive.

WikiLeaks: Israel Has "Significant Trade" with Iraq - Ronen Medzini (Ynet News)
    Israel has significant trade relations with Iraq, Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a Feb. 2009 meeting with U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, according to a document revealed Tuesday by WikiLeaks.
    Pointing to what he described as "strong but unpublicized trade" between Haifa port and Iraq via Jordan, he suggested assembly points could be set up in the West Bank for some goods, which would create thousands of jobs.

WikiLeaks: Egypt Mobilizing to Counter Iran - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    According to a document published by WikiLeaks, Egyptian General Intelligence Service Chief Omar Suleiman revealed in an April 30, 2009, conversation with Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen that the Egyptian secret service was mobilizing agents in Iraq and Syria in order to counter Iran's recruitment of activists in Egypt.
    Suleiman claimed that Iran was trying to recruit Bedouin to smuggle arms into Hamas-controlled Gaza. He stressed that Egypt has "started a confrontation with Hizbullah and Iran," adding that they "will not allow Iran to operate in Egypt."
    "If you want Egypt to cooperate with you on Iran, we will," Suleiman told Mullen. "It would take a big burden off our shoulders."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Condemns Palestinian Claim on Western Wall in Jerusalem
    State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday: "Regarding a claim by a senior Palestinian official that the Western Wall is an Islamic Waqf, we strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive, and highly provocative. We have repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of delegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also Conference of Presidents Lauds Administration Condemnation of PA Denial of Jewish Rights to Western Wall
    Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations welcomed the strong condemnation by the Obama administration of a report issued by a senior Palestinian official refuting Jewish claims to the Western Wall. "The Western Wall has been a prayer site for Jews since the destruction of the Ancient Temple in 70CE....This ongoing process of delegitimization of Israel and the ancient Jewish connection to the land is part of an ongoing campaign that damages confidence in the willingness of the PA to negotiate a solution that accepts Israel," said COP Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein. (Conference of Presidents)
  • WikiLeaks Cables Highlight Arab Contempt for Iran - Jeffrey Fleishman
    Confidential memos from U.S. embassies made public by WikiLeaks have further agitated the ill will between Tehran and Arab capitals over Iran's nuclear enrichment program and its influence on militant groups in Iraq, Gaza, and other locales. "The official stance in the Middle East, led by Saudi Arabia and including countries like Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, has always been that it is Iran and not Israel that poses the main threat to the region," said Mustafa El-Labbad, director of Al Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies in Cairo. "What WikiLeaks did was unveil everything to regular citizens around the world and this has led to the embarrassment of regimes in the Middle East. But there is nothing new in the cables," he said. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: WikiLeaks Cable on "Land Swaps" Was U.S. Diplomat's Interpretation - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Netanyahu's office issued a statement Tuesday explaining a cable that seemed to quote him as supporting a land swap with the Palestinians. At a meeting Netanyahu held with a congressional delegation led by Maryland Sen. Benjamin Cardin just after the February 2009 elections - according to the cable - the incoming prime minister "expressed support for the concept of land swaps, and emphasized that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks from being launched from there." Netanyahu has never publicly agreed to the idea - accepted by the Olmert government - that Israel would "swap" land inside the Green Line with the Palestinians for any land beyond the Green Line that would be retained by Israel as part of a final agreement.
        While the term "land swaps" appears in the opening paragraph of the cable, it does not appear later on in the document, where the details of the conversation are presented. This led one Israeli official to say that the term, which does not appear in the document in quotation marks, had been inserted in an interpretative manner by the diplomat who wrote the cable.
        According to the cable, Netanyahu said there were three options: "withdrawing to the 1967 borders (that would 'get terror, not peace'); doing nothing ('just as bad'); or 'rapidly building a pyramid from the ground up.' Netanyahu suggested a rapid move to develop the West Bank economically, including 'unclogging' bureaucratic 'bottlenecks.'" Netanyahu "promised that as Prime Minister his government would not 'go back' to unilateral withdrawals," the cable said. He also warned that if Iran attained a nuclear bomb, any result from negotiations with the Palestinians would be "washed away."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • WikiLeaks: You Can't Blame Israel for Mistrusting Arabs, Says Qatari Ruler
    Israelis can't be blamed for mistrusting Arabs, Qatar's Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, told U.S. Senator John Kerry on Feb. 23, 2010, as reported by U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Joseph LeBaron. "The Israeli leaders need to represent the people of Israel, who themselves do not trust Arabs. The Emir said this is understandable and 'we can't blame them' because the Israelis have been 'under threat' for a long time." The Emir went on to say, "When you consider that many in the region perceive that Hizbullah drove Israel out of Lebanon and Hamas kicked them...out of Gaza, it is actually surprising that the Israelis still want peace."  (Ha'aretz)
        Text of the Cable (Guardian-UK)
  • WikiLeaks: Assad: Iran Won't Attack Israel with Nukes to Avoid Hurting Palestinians - Roee Nahmias
    The U.S. Embassy in Damascus sent a cable to Washington following a meeting between Syrian President Bashar Assad and U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin on Feb. 18, 2009, in which the Syrian president is quoted as saying that an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel would result in massive Palestinian casualties, which Tehran would never risk. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Arrests Three Palestinians in West Bank Shooting - Anshel Pfeffer
    The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) has arrested three Palestinians suspected of carrying out a shooting attack against two Israelis on Sep. 26, it emerged on Tuesday. The three belong to the Abu-Moussa group, a splinter faction of Fatah; the head of the cell received military training in Syria and Lebanon. They admitted during their interrogation to plotting other terror attacks. Israeli authorities confiscated two M-16 rifles, a handgun, a LAW missile, and large amounts of ammunition.
        Sharon Zucker and his wife Neta, in the ninth month of pregnancy, were wounded in the south Hebron hills in the West Bank, near Omerim Junction. The assailants also fired on another passing Israeli-owned car. Neta Zucker was rushed to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, where she gave birth to a son via C-section. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Long Twilight of the U.S.-Turkey Alliance - David Kenner
    WikiLeaks documents prove that the U.S. diplomatic corps' concern about Turkey's drift away from the Western alliance runs deeper than it let on publicly. One document, written in 2004 and signed by then-ambassador Eric Edelman, while praising Erdogan as an uncommonly talented politician, accuses him of "unbridled ambition stemming from the belief God has anointed him to lead Turkey" and as having "an authoritarian loner streak." By 2010, a cable written in January by Edelman's successor James Jeffrey condemns Turkish leaders' "special yen for destructive drama and rhetoric," and says that the government possessed "Rolls Royce ambitions but Rover resources," which led it to throw its supports behind "underdogs" such as Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal or Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Foreign Policy)
  • Guardian Correspondent Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem: A Six-Month Overview
    Sherwood has published 138 articles since her arrival in Israel. One article presented Israel in a balanced, realistic and objective manner. 79 articles presented Israel in a non-balanced, pejorative and subjective manner. 36 articles presented both sides of a story. 11 articles took a positive slant, exclusively about Palestinian-related subjects.
        Sherwood's reports on Palestinian life are either sympathetic reports of Palestinian suffering with little or no context, or "lifestyle" pieces. Israeli Jews are either "settlers," "ultra-Orthodox hard-liners" or members of the military - usually those who have been involved in investigations of their conduct during service. Israeli Jews portrayed in a sympathetic light are almost exclusively those who engage in anti-Israel activity such as supporters of boycotts.
        The Israeli point of view is usually prefixed by "Israel claimed," implying that statements made by Israeli sources may lack credibility. A term very frequently used by Sherwood when describing Israeli activity is "illegal under international law," while on no occasion has she backed up this claim with legal evidence. CiF Watch is dedicated to monitoring and exposing anti-Semitism on the Guardian newspaper's "Comment is Free" blog. (CIF Watch)
  • Observations:

    The Palestinian Refugees on the Day After "Independence" - Jonathan D. Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The gap between Israel and the Palestinians on the refugee question cannot be reconciled. The Palestinians demand a "just peace," which implies recognition of the right of return according to their interpretation, and rejects any compromise on the issue.
    • The Palestinian position, which receives support from Palestinian and even some Israeli human rights organizations, looks to UN resolutions that uphold the right of return as a "private right" of every refugee. This means that the representatives of the Palestinian people (as well as the Arab League and the United Nations) have no authority to waive this right in the name of the refugees.
    • According to the Palestinian consensus, non-implementation of the right of return will leave open the gates of the conflict with Israel. This implies justification for the continued armed struggle against Israel even following the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    • By rejecting "patriation" or the resettlement of the refugees in any Arab state, the Arab Peace Initiative essentially leaves each refugee with no choice but to go to Israel itself. The Arab states rejected any solution that involves "resettling [of the Palestinians] outside of their homes." The Arab Peace Initiative does not envision the Palestinian refugees being resettled in a West Bank and Gaza Palestinian state.
    • The transfer of border crossings to Palestinian control and/or the establishment of a Palestinian state is likely to bring about a wave of immigration, combined with a mass expulsion of Palestinians (primarily from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan) toward the Palestinian territory even without a political agreement on the refugee issue. This could lead to the infiltration by Palestinians into Israeli territory, as well as legal claims by refugees at the International Court in The Hague for the right of return, restitution of property, and compensation.
    • Since the Israeli consensus holds that the mass return of Palestinian refugees to Israel means national suicide, Israel will require robust international support in negotiations on a final status agreement to reach an accord on the basis of defensible borders, and to find a permanent solution to the refugee problem based primarily on the Palestinian refugees receiving citizenship in their host countries or their absorption in a Palestinian state.

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