Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 23, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Egypt: New Brotherhood Candidate Won't Meet with Israelis - Edmund Blair and Tamim Elyan (Reuters)
    Mohamed Mursi, 59, is the Muslim Brotherhood's new presidential candidate, pitched into the race after its first choice was disqualified.
    Asked about relations with Israel, Mursi said: "Egypt's next president can't be like his predecessor, he can't be a follower who executes policies put to him from outside," referring to popular criticism of Mubarak as a man who did U.S. bidding.
    An aide said Mursi was committed to the Brotherhood's pledge to uphold international treaties, a reference to the peace deal. But the aide said Mursi would not meet Israeli officials as president, though his foreign minister would.

House Panel to Boost Funds for Israel's Iron Dome - Donna Cassata (AP)
    The House Armed Services Committee, which begins crafting a fiscal 2013 defense budget next week, plans on boosting money for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system by $680 million, according to a congressional aide.
    The system is designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortars.
    The money would be in addition to the $205 million that the Obama administration and Congress agreed to in a special request in the 2011 budget and would cover several years, through fiscal 2015.

Sinai Bedouin Demand Egypt Amend Peace Accord with Israel - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    The heads of Bedouin communities in northern Sinai are demanding the Egyptian parliament amend the Camp David Accords with Israel, claiming they do not provide for the Bedouin population's participation.
    The Bedouin issue has become a theme of the Egyptian election season, as all candidates have pledged to develop Sinai and reconcile the Bedouin communities.

Israelis Told to Leave Sinai over Attack Fears (AFP)
    Israeli authorities warned citizens on Saturday to leave Egypt's Sinai Peninsula immediately because of a "critical and immediate threat" of a terrorist attack.
    "Based on information in our possession, terrorist organizations in Gaza are continuing to work energetically to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets on Sinai's beaches in the immediate term," said a statement from the anti-terrorist bureau.

Druze Professor Appointed Ambassador to New Zealand - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Professor of Hebrew Literature Naim Araidi, 62, a Druze, has been appointed as Israel's ambassador to New Zealand, Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday.
    "Araidi represents the beautiful face of Israel, in which a talented person - irrespective of religion or sector - can reach the highest places on merit, and be an inspiration for all Israelis," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

Israel and U.S. Sign Agreement to Increase African Food Production (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    MASHAV - Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation - and USAID signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Washington on April 18 to increase agricultural production in Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Supreme Leader Embraced Concept of Nuclear Arms, Document Suggests - Joby Warrick
    In a speech three months ago, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeated his religious edict against nuclear weapons, insisting that his country would never build them. But a newly published document suggests that Khamenei embraced the concept of an Iranian nuclear bomb during a meeting of the country's top leadership more than two decades ago, saying nuclear weapons were essential for preserving Iran's Islamic Revolution.
        In 2009 the International Atomic Energy Agency prepared a collection of statements made by Iranian leaders about nuclear weapons, as gleaned from intelligence sources. It includes an April 1984 meeting in which Khamenei allegedly endorsed a decision by then-leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to launch a secret nuclear weapons program.
        "According to Ayatollah Khamenei, this was the only way to secure the very essence of the Islamic Revolution from the schemes of its enemies...and to prepare it for the emergence of Imam Mahdi" (who will purge the world of evil in humanity's last days). The IAEA document was obtained by the Institute for Science and International Security. (Washington Post)
        See also Tehran Attempts to Deceive U.S. with Nonexistent Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa by Khamenei - A. Savyon and Y. Carmon (MEMRI)
  • UN Authorizes 300 Cease-Fire Observers in Syria - Colum Lynch and Alice Fordham
    The UN Security Council voted Saturday to establish a full-fledged UN mission, with up to 300 unarmed military observers and an unspecified number of civilian specialists, to monitor a shaky cease-fire in Syria. The agreement marks a public show of unity among the UN's big powers in support of envoy Kofi Annan's plan for ending the deadly upheaval.
        Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said there should be "no illusions" that a small mission of UN observers will be capable of halting the Syrian crackdown and that the U.S. is prepared to pull the plug on it after 90 days if Syria does not comply with Annan's peace plan. (Washington Post)
        See also Fears of Extremism Taking Hold in Syria - Liz Sly
    As Syria's revolution drags into its second year, evidence is mounting that Islamist extremists are seeking to commandeer what began as a non-ideological uprising. Activists inside Syria say a small but growing number of Islamist radicals affiliated with global jihadi movements have been arriving in opposition strongholds in recent weeks. Western diplomats say they have tracked a steady trickle of jihadists flowing into Syria from Iraq, and Jordan's government last week detained at least four Jordanian militants accused of trying to sneak into Syria to join the revolutionaries. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Egypt Terminates Natural Gas Agreement with Israel - Zvi Bar'el
    Mohamed Shoeb, head of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company, announced Sunday that the company will terminate the agreement to provide natural gas to Israel. It may be a dangerous precedent indicating other agreements between Egypt and Israel may also come to an end. The sale of natural gas to Israel had been one of the main criticisms the Egyptian opposition voiced against former Egyptian president Mubarak. Both the gas company and Egypt's security forces have spent great efforts and manpower in securing the pipeline, but after 14 explosions and the failure to get Sinai's Bedouin to cooperate, it seems that Egypt had given up. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Jerusalem: Gas Deal Cancellation Has Nothing to Do with Israel Ties - Herb Keinon
    Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Sunday that after speaking with their counterparts in Egypt, the cancellation of the gas deal was part of a commercial dispute between private companies and Egyptian government corporations that is presently being adjudicated abroad. The officials said that this had nothing to do with the status of Egyptian-Israeli diplomatic relations. A senior Egyptian military official was quoted as saying on Egyptian television that the gas deal was not nullified, but rather halted because of a business dispute regarding the transfer of payment. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Religious Streams Join in Appeal to Release Pollard - Gil Hoffman
    The Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jewish movements in the U.S. all renewed their calls over the weekend for President Obama to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard after 26 and a half years. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also contacted Obama and renewed its clemency call for Pollard. In their appeals, the Jewish leaders threw their weight behind an official request from President Shimon Peres to Obama for Pollard's release. Peres is scheduled to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama on June 13, and Obama has been urged to release Pollard before the medal ceremony. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Security Forces Avert Major Palestinian Terror Attack in West Bank - Yaakov Lappin
    Border Police officers averted a major terror attack on Saturday after stopping two Palestinian men acting suspiciously near a hitchhiking post used by many Israelis near Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank. They were found to be carrying four pipe bombs as well as knives and a gun. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Negotiations that Matter - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    It is a serious mistake to allow Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards, who oversee terrorist operations and the nuclear program, any domestic enrichment capacity. This was the position of the Obama administration and our Western European allies. Now that consensus has apparently collapsed because Iranian agreement seems impossible.
        Khamenei's determination to keep advancing uranium enrichment despite increasingly severe sanctions has paid off. Tehran has enough low-grade, 3.5%-enriched uranium stockpiled to produce at least one, soon two, nuclear weapons. It also has a 163-pound stockpile of 20% enriched uranium. As Oli Heinonen, the former deputy director general of the IAEA, has pointed out, mastering 3.5% enrichment is 70% of the way to mastering the fuel cycle for an atomic weapon. 20% enrichment is 90% of the process.
        An astonishing number of intelligent people in America and Europe appear to believe that Khamenei's fatwa about the "sinfulness" of nuclear weapons is significant, that it isn't just ketman, deception deployed against a stronger enemy. Exposing Khamenei's flagrant mendacity, for both Iranians and foreigners, is not without value and would again refocus the discussion on the real question: Is it acceptable for Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards to have nuclear weapons? (Weekly Standard)
  • Following Abbas' Letter to Netanyahu: Options Available to the Palestinian Authority - Ehud Eilam
    According to most estimates, there is no serious chance of a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks during 2012. It is widely believed that the letter from Mahmoud Abbas to Netanyahu was intended to create a political foundation for measures to be taken by the PA in response to what they refer to as a stalemate in the political process. The PA's options include: direct or indirect talks with Israel; turning to international institutions; popular struggle; armed conflict; and self-dismantlement. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Iran Targets Yemen - Michael Segall
    Iran regards Yemen as a springboard for subversion and for creating a tangible threat to Saudi Arabia. Iran also seeks to establish a physical Iranian presence, ground and naval, in the countries and ports of the Red Sea littoral, which control the shipping (and weapon-supply) lanes leading from the Persian Gulf to the heart of the Middle East and to Europe. According to U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein, the U.S. has evidence that the Iranians are providing military assistance and trainers to several groups in Yemen, conveyed via Lebanese Hizbullah and Hamas.
        Islamic Iran is actively involved in the region's primary crisis centers. These include Syria, where Iran backs Bashar Assad through thick and thin; Bahrain, where Iran calls for the overthrow of the Royal House and supports the Shia demonstrators; and Yemen, where Iran is active in attempts to create a new order that is not based on support for the West. The weakness of the Arab regimes, the lack of an Arab power center since the "Arab Spring" broke out, and the decline of America's status in the Middle East are bringing Iran closer to its goal. IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Netanyahu - "Iran Is Committed to Israel's Destruction" - Von Andrea Seibel, Clemens Wergin and Michael Borgstede (Welt am Sonntag-Germany)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview:

  • "I think what [Gunter] Grass says is an absolute outrage....What Grass has said shows a collapse of moral clarity. He has created a perfect moral inversion where the aggressor becomes the victim and the victim becomes the aggressor. Where those who try to defend themselves against the threat of annihilation become the threat to world peace. And where the firefighter and not the arsonist is the real danger."
  • "Here is a simple fact that apparently has eluded Mister Grass: Israel doesn't seek to destroy Iran, Iran seeks to destroy Israel and openly calls for it and works for it by building atomic bombs for that expressed purpose....Those now who agree with Gunter Grass about the Jewish state should ask themselves if they wouldn't have agreed with the slanders against the Jewish people in the time of the Holocaust....I am glad that Germany's leadership has responded clearly."
  • "There is no question they [Iranian leaders] are committed to our destruction....Look at what they're doing without nuclear weapons: They've engulfed us with two poisonous tentacles: Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon. They're supplying them with tens of thousands of rockets, thousands of which have already been fired on our cities, our homes. They're putting in more and more sophisticated weapons there and are developing more and more deadly weapons in Iran. And they're quite open about their express purpose of wiping Israel off the face of the earth. They also say this is the first stop. We are the small Satan, America is the great Satan."
  • "The great scholar of Islam, Bernard Lewis from Princeton, has said...that for Iran's radical clerical leadership the possibility of mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent but an inducement. They have a peculiar and bizarre belief that the hidden Imam, a religious leader who disappeared a thousand years ago, would come back just about now in a hail of fire where a catastrophic exchange is required for his reappearance. And I would not bet on the rationality of this regime."
  • "The security relationship that we have with Germany is a two-way-street in ways that are probably not commonly known to the German public, because we cooperate on matters such as intelligence and fighting terrorism over the years and including recent years in ways that have saved both not only the lives of our citizens but also the lives of many, many German citizens as well."

        See also Poll: Germans Disagree with Gunter Grass
    A poll published in Die Welt am Sonntag along with an interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu showed 48% of Germans thought Iran posed the biggest threat to peace while 18% said Israel was. More than half believed Iran's nuclear program posed a threat to Israel. (Reuters-Ha'aretz)

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