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Thousands March Up NYC's Fifth Avenue in Celebrate Israel Parade (AP-Wall Street Journal)
New York's Fifth Avenue was awash in the blue and white of the Israeli flag for Sunday's Celebrate Israel Parade.
The thousands of marchers included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and U.S. Sens. Kristen Gillibrand and Charles Schumer.
Organizers say the annual parade, which started in 1964, is the largest in the world celebrating the founding of the Jewish state in 1948.
White House Adds "Israel Security" Page to Its Website (White House)
The White House has unveiled a new page on its website entitled "President Obama: Advancing Israel's Security and Supporting Peace."
The page begins:
"For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist." - President Barack Obama,
May 19, 2011
PA Praises Obama Decision Not to Move Embassy to Jerusalem - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday welcomed as "encouraging" President Obama's decision not to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Obama on Friday invoked U.S. national security interests to notify Congress that he will not move the embassy to Jerusalem.
Obama's notification did not include a commitment to moving the embassy at some point in the future, unlike his predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
See also A Symbol of Obama's Hostility to a United Jerusalem - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
President Obama's decision to speak of Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem as "settlements" that must be frozen and his insistence on using the 1967 lines as the starting point for future negotiations - as opposed to Bush’s frank acknowledgment that those neighborhoods and the surrounding settlement blocs will always be part of Israel - has put the status of Jerusalem back on the political front burner.
Israeli Reaction to French Plan for Negotiations (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Sunday to France's proposal to convene Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Paris.
"We will study the proposal and discuss it with our American friends as well. The Americans also want to advance initiatives and we have our own thoughts as well....Negotiations will not be conducted with a Palestinian government, half of which is Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks to destroy Israel."
See also Hamas: Abbas Approval of French Peace Proposal Hasty (Al-Qassam Brigades-Hamas)
Robert Kennedy's 1948 Reports from Palestine - Lenny Ben David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated in Los Angeles by a Palestinian, Sirhan Sirhan, died on June 6, 1968.
In April 1948, one month before Israel declared independence, Robert Kennedy, then 22, traveled to Palestine to report on the conflict for the Boston Post. His four reports and accompanying photos are reproduced here.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Abbas Knows UN Won't Recognize State - Mohammed Daraghmeh
The Palestinians had hoped to count on growing international support for gaining statehood recognition at the UN outside of the framework of peace negotiations.
But a top UN official undercut that strategy last week when he said there was no way a Palestinian state could become a member of the UN without a recommendation from the Security Council. That is unlikely because Obama has hinted strongly that the U.S. would exercise its veto power to block such a move.
On Saturday, a senior Palestinian official said Abbas has concluded that a statehood push at the UN would not advance the Palestinians' cause.
Abbas' initiative, he said, will be compromised by the fact that the Palestinians first have to seek support from the Security Council before going to the General Assembly.
The Palestinian leadership has concluded that the most they could wrest from the UN General Assembly would be a non-binding affirmation of previous resolutions stating that the Palestinians have the right to a state, he added.
However, the official said the Palestine Liberation Organization, which Abbas heads, intends to go ahead with its plan to approach the UN in order to save face among the Palestinian people. (AP-San Francisco Chronicle)
- Syrian Forces Killed 70 Protesters Friday - Mariam Karouny
Syrian forces killed at least 70 protesters Friday, activists said, as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets.
Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said at least 60 people were killed in Hama.
The Syrian human rights group Sawasiah said one person was killed in Damascus and two in Idlib, while seven were killed in Rastan. (Reuters)
- Palestinians in Gaza Try to Break Through Closed Egyptian Terminal - Ahmed Aldabba
Just a week after Egypt reopened its border crossing to Gaza, Palestinians found Saturday that the checkpoint was temporarily closed without warning.
On Saturday, hundreds of frustrated Palestinian travelers stormed the Egyptian gate of the Rafah crossing after learning about new restrictions. (Los Angeles Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- IDF Prevents Breach of Syrian Border
A firebomb thrown by Syrian demonstrators towards IDF forces on Sunday caused a brushfire in Syrian territory, which led to the explosion of four mines on the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights.
IDF forces used riot dispersal means against demonstrators from Syria who tried to breach the international border. After demonstrators ignored warnings not to approach the border, IDF soldiers were forced to open fire towards the legs of a number of demonstrators who attempted to breach the border fence.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai said Sunday: "The IDF's response is very focused. I'm happy that the Lebanese army prevented demonstrators from approaching the border fence....On the Syrian border in the Golan Heights, I regret to say we're seeing that the Syrian government and army are not in control of the situation." (Israel Defense Forces)
See also Lebanon Palestinians Scrap Border March - Mohammed Zaatari
Palestinian officials announced Friday the cancellation of a mass march to the border with Israel following a refusal by the Lebanese Army to allow Sunday's planned demonstration along the southern border.
See also On Monday Syrian Troops Block Palestinian Protesters from Approaching Israel Frontier (AP/Washington Post)
- IDF: Syrian Protesters Caused Their Own Deaths - Hanan Greenberg
The IDF said Monday that many of the Syrian protesters who stormed the border fence and Quneitra crossing Sunday were responsible for their own deaths by igniting fires in mine fields on the border.
Protesters were killed as a result of the Red Cross's inability to reach them, due to protesters' refusal to cease violence in order to allow for medical evacuations.
IDF officials say commanders ordered three ceasefires, each of which were taken advantage of by the protesters in order to gain ground.
See also Syria May Have Exaggerated Number of Casualties - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
In the clashes on the Syrian border, the Northern Command by and large retained control over events. The IDF has no real way to estimate the number of fatalities on the other side. But the Syrian government - through its media - has a clear interest in exaggerating the number of casualties to have the border incidents overshadow President Assad's ongoing massacre of anti-government protesters. On Sunday, according to opposition forces, at least 35 Syrians were killed by their own security forces during protests.
Unlike on Nakba Day, the Palestinians were saving their energy for future clashes. At least for now, the population of the West Bank doesn't seem particularly enthused about the possibility of a third intifada.
- Netanyahu: Palestinians Not Interested in Solution Based on 1967 Borders - Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya
The violent clashes on the border with Syria prove that the Palestinians are not interested in a solution based on 1967 borders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Rather, they are interested in a solution based on 1948 borders.
Senior officials in Jerusalem placed the responsibility for Sunday's violence on the Syrian police.
"Syria is trying to divert attention from the massacre that [Syria] is carrying out against its citizens with the provocation on the border," a senior official said. "We sent messages in recent days to both Syria and Lebanon. Lebanon prevented the protests, but Syria decided to carry out a provocation." (Ha'aretz)
- IDF Actions Signal Israel's Seriousness over Sovereignty - Yaakov Lappin
The IDF's well-planned and cool-headed response to the new threat of flooding the nation's borders with civilian rioters sent a firm message to hostile neighbors on Sunday that Israel takes its sovereignty seriously. The IDF's Northern Command has fortified the northern border with a second barbed-wire perimeter and new lookout positions, and positioned senior commanders on the ground, who could quickly respond to developments and issue new orders. Soldiers were instructed beforehand to only open fire after issuing repeated warnings to activists against trying to breach the border. Observers are united in the belief that hostile elements will try to organize larger border incidents soon.
- Israeli Preparations, Lack of Palestinian Enthusiasm, Doomed Naksa Day - Ron Ben-Yishai
The minor coverage by Arab media and the relatively low number of participants at Sunday's protests attest to the failure of Naksa Day, a weak imitation of Nakba Day events some three weeks ago. The deterrence produced by Israel's decisive response during Nakba Day made clear to potential protestors that they may pay a terrible price for a brief TV appearance, the first and possibly last of their lives.
Syria's fingerprints were evident in every detail: Starting with driving the protestors to the site, through Syrian TV, which set up several broadcast points and covered the events live, and including the ambulances and medical teams deployed in advance at points of friction.
- President Assad's Bloody Hands - Editorial
Syrians have shown extraordinary courage, standing up to President Bashar al-Assad's reign of terror. We wish we could say that about the international community. Most appalling, the UN Security Council is unable to muster the votes to condemn the bloodshed, much less impose sanctions.
If Russia and China, which have veto power, can't be won over, the U.S. and Europe must push a robust sanctions resolution.
Arguments that Assad is the best guarantor of stability and the best way to avoid extremism have lost all credibility.
(New York Times)
See also Out of the Shadow of Fear in Syria - Ed Kashi
Suddenly, they open their purses and hold up their banners. Each woman has her slogan.
Stop the Killing. Stop the Violence.
They start walking to the square with the looming bronze statue of Hafez al-Assad. White vans and scores of men in plain clothes pop up from nowhere. They tear posters out of the girls' hands, throw the women to the ground. One refuses to release her poster and screams as her finger is broken. A white van drives away with four of the girls. The square appears as if nothing has happened. But something has happened. Something has begun.
See also A Blind Eye Won't End Syrian Repression - Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe)
Israel's Greatest Strategic Minds Have Long Opposed 1967 Line - Dore Gold (Los Angeles Times)
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent statement that Israel can't defend itself with borders drawn along pre-1967 lines has been questioned in certain foreign policy circles. These critics have noted that Israel successfully fought two wars, in 1956 and in 1967, while based within those borders.
- True, Israel won in 1967, but the war also pointed out the country's many vulnerabilities. In the years following the war, the main advocate for creating new boundaries to replace the fragile lines from before 1967 was Yigal Allon, then Israel's deputy prime minister. Allon had commanded the Palmach, the elite strike units of the Jewish forces, in the 1948 war that created Israel.
- Under the Allon plan, Israel would include much of the Jordan Valley within its border. Because it rises from an area that was roughly 1,200 feet below sea level up a steep incline to mountaintops that are 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level, it serves as a formidable line of defense that would enable a small Israeli force to hold off much large conventional armies, giving Israel time to mobilize its reserves.
- Control of the Jordan Valley also allowed Israel to prevent the smuggling of the same kind of weaponry to the West Bank that has been entering Gaza: rockets, antiaircraft missiles and tons of explosives for terrorist attacks.
- Israeli vulnerability has regional implications. Should the great Jordan Valley barrier that protected Israel for more than 40 years no longer remain in Israeli hands, then the Kingdom of Jordan will become an increasingly attractive forward position for jihadi groups seeking to link up with Hamas to wage war against Israel.
- In October 1995,
Yitzhak Rabin made clear to the Knesset that Israel would not withdraw to the 1967 line. He insisted on keeping Jerusalem united. And, like his mentor Yigal Allon, Rabin stressed that Israel would hold on to the Jordan Valley "in the widest sense of that term."
The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
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