Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 24, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Fabricating Fuel Crisis in Gaza (M&C)
    Israel Thursday accused Hamas of causing a "fabricated crisis" by refusing to distribute one million liters of fuel delivered to Gaza.
    Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said the million liters of fuel, which he said was enough for humanitarian needs, that Israel transferred three weeks ago, is still waiting to be collected on the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel crossing terminal.
    "Hamas can take the fuel but doesn't," he charged, accusing Hamas of deliberately wanting to claim there is a crisis.
    Gaza residents said Hamas officials have taken fuel for their own purposes and given it to high-ranking officials, government employees and its own students, but has not distributed the remainder to the population at large.

France, U.S., UK Walk Out at UN After Libya's Comparison of Gaza to Nazi Death Camps (Los Angeles Times)
    The U.S., France and Britain walked out of a Security Council debate on the Middle East on Wednesday after Libya compared the situation in Gaza to that of Nazi "concentration camps."
    French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert plucked off his translation earpiece and walked out, followed by his two colleagues, after Libyan Deputy Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi made the statement.

Most-Wanted Saddam Hussein Aide Captured in Iraq (Telegraph-UK)
    Iraqi security forces claim they have captured Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the vice-chairman of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party.
    Duri tops the Iraqi government's current list of most-wanted fugitives and is considered an operational leader with close ties to anti-U.S. insurgents.
    In remarks to the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat published on Wednesday, Iraqi national security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie said Duri was in Syria from where he led the insurgency in Iraq.

Israeli-Made Georgian Drone Shot Down Near Russia - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    An Israeli-made Georgian unmanned aircraft was shot down over the breakaway region of Abkhazia over the weekend.
    Russia's Foreign Ministry denied Georgian accusations that a Russian fighter jet shot down the plane, saying it was shot down by Abkhazian air defenses.

British Police "Have Foiled 15 Terror Plots Since 7/7" - Richard Edwards (Telegraph-UK)
    Fifteen terrorist plots have been foiled in the three years since the London bombings, Bob Quick, Scotland Yard's new head of anti-terrorism, disclosed.
    Britain was said to be the primary target for Muslim extremists, ahead of America and other European countries.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israelis Claim Secret Agreement with U.S. on Settlements - Glenn Kessler
    A letter that President Bush personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon four years ago has emerged as a significant obstacle to the president's efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during his last year in office. Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush's letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush's peace plan officially calls for a freeze of Israeli settlements.
        In an interview this week, Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed this understanding in a secret agreement reached between Israel and the U.S. in the spring of 2005, just before Israel withdrew from Gaza. In a key sentence in Bush's 2004 letter, the president stated, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Weissglas said he then negotiated a "verbal understanding" with deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams that would permit new construction in those key settlements; Rice and Sharon then approved the Weissglas-Abrams deal.
        U.S. officials say no such agreement exists, and in recent months Rice has publicly criticized construction on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which Israel does not officially count as settlements. National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, at a news briefing in January, suggested that Bush's 2004 letter was aimed at helping Sharon win domestic approval for the Gaza withdrawal. "The president obviously still stands by that letter of April of 2004, but you need to look at it, obviously, in the context of which it was issued," he said. (Washington Post)
  • Video Links North Koreans to Syrian Reactor - David E. Sanger
    The White House is preparing to make public on Thursday video evidence of North Koreans working at a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor just before it was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Sept. 6. Senior officials in Israel and the U.S. have said the target was a nascent nuclear reactor that had been under construction for years, modeled on the reactor North Korea used to obtain the fuel for its small nuclear weapons arsenal. The video, believed to have been obtained through Israeli intelligence services, shows Korean faces among the workers at the Syrian plant. (New York Times)
        Sources familiar with the video, taken last summer, say it shows that the Syrian reactor core's design is the same as that of the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, including a virtually identical configuration and number of holes for fuel rods. (Washington Post)
  • UN Chief Calls for Hizbullah Disarmament
    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Monday for the disarmament of Hizbullah's well-armed militia. In his six-month report to the Security Council, Ban warned that Lebanon will not be a fully sovereign, democratic state until Hizbullah is disbanded. "Hizbullah's maintenance of a paramilitary capacity poses a key challenge to the government's monopoly on the legitimate use of force," he said. "It is high time, 18 years after the end of the civil war, 8 years after the Israeli withdrawal, 3 years after the withdrawal of the Syrian troops, and 1 1/2 years after the war between Israel and Hizbullah, for all parties concerned, inside and outside of Lebanon, to set aside this remaining vestige of the past." (AP/USA Today)
        Read the UN Report
    "Palestinian refugee camps continue to pose a major challenge to stability and security in Lebanon, in particular due to the presence of a range of non-state actors in the camps. I remain concerned that threats from al-Qaeda-inspired militias in Palestinian refugee camps continue." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Foreign Ministry: Israel Doesn't Spy in U.S. - Roni Sofer
    Israel does not engage in espionage activity in the United States, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Aryeh Mekel said Wednesday. "Since 1985, the prime ministers' orders to refrain from engaging in this kind of activity have been strictly followed," he said. "The U.S.-Israel relationship has always been premised on true friendship as well as shared values and interests," he said. (Ynet News)
        See also No Sign Spy Affair Will Harm U.S. Ties - Hilary Leila Krieger
    Several U.S. officials have downplayed the arrest of a former U.S. army engineer on charges he spied for Israel, and suggested fears of blowback are unjustified. They pointed to the lengthy amount of time - 23 years - since the espionage is alleged to have occurred and the understandings that emerged between the two states after the arrest of Jonathan Pollard. Bruce Reidel, a former CIA official and Middle East analyst, said, "given the passage of time, I think both governments will not want this to upset the already many difficult issues they have to deal with."
        "If there was a real schism, believe me, we'd know it," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "There's no schism here."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Durban II Is Going to Make Durban I Look Like a Picnic - Anne Bayefsky
    The first substantive session of the Preparatory Committee for the Durban II Conference opened in Geneva on Monday. Three quarters of the opening day was spent on an Iranian-driven attempt to deny accreditation to the NGO called the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy. Algeria was concerned about Jewish money, or "their sources of funding." The Palestinian observer complained the NGO supported Israeli settlements and no NGO supporting an illegal activity could be involved in Durban II. Libya acted as the meeting's chair, Iran as a vice chair, and Cuba as rapporteur.
        Iran outlined Durban II's agenda: "The emerging of new forms of racism in the aftermath of the Durban [2001] Conference, particularly after 9/11 and under the pretext of the so-called war on terror, reflects the visible rise of the contemporary forms of racism throughout the world and especially against Muslims." In other words, Durban II is an Islamic offensive to define Muslims as the preeminent victims of racism, at the hands of Western colonizers acting under the pretense of ending terrorism. The writer is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. (National Review)
  • British Ex-Jihadis Form Foundation for Tolerance - Mark Rice-Oxley
    They once plotted insurrection in Britain. Young, middle-class, and angry, they were the vanguard of a generation of disaffected Muslims that gave rise to the July 7, 2005, transportation bombers. But now, in one of the most visible assaults on political Islam from within the British Muslim community, a network of ex-radicals launched on Tuesday a movement to fight the same ideology that they once worked to spread. The Quilliam Foundation - named for a 19th-century British convert to Islam - aims to propagate a tolerant and pluralistic view of Islam among young Muslims who are the most vulnerable to radicalism.
        "The ideology of Islamism has sadly become the default for political discourse among young British Muslims," says the foundation's director, Maajid Nawaz, a former radical who until last year was a leader of the Hizb ut-Tahrir group, which wants to revive an international caliphate across the Muslim world. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Bush's Mideast Peace Hopes - Massimo Calabres (TIME)

    • The odds of President Bush achieving his goal of a framework agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by year's end may be shrinking. The President hosted Jordan's King Abdullah for breakfast at the White House on Wednesday, and will welcome Mahmoud Abbas for talks on Thursday afternoon.
    • Bush will visit Israel on May 14 to celebrate the Jewish state's 60th anniversary, and will later go to Sharm el-Sheik for talks with Abbas and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on the sidelines of a long-scheduled economic summit. Mubarak invited Olmert to join them, but, according to a senior Administration source, the Israeli premier declined. "Olmert made it clear to the Egyptians he does not want to go because he thinks it will just mean pressure on him for concessions," the official says.
    • Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni recently presented Palestinians with a map outlining Israeli ideas for a border between the two states, sources familiar with the talks said. And both sides have discussed the difficult issues of refugee return and the division of Jerusalem. But nothing has yet been put on paper, and there have been no actual negotiations.
    • Attacks out of Gaza by Abbas' Palestinian adversary, the militant group Hamas, undermine Israel's willingness to move ahead on a deal. Egypt has been attempting to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but talks on that front remain difficult.

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