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February 2, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Gazans Describe Using Schools to Shoot Rockets at Israel, Hamas Taking Control of International Aid - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Nuaf Atar said Hamas set up rocket launchers and fired rockets into Israel from within school compounds since they knew Israel would not bomb the schools.
    Zabhi Atar revealed that Hamas used food coupons to entice Palestinians to join its ranks, and Hamad Zalah said Hamas took control of UNRWA food supplies transferred to Gaza and refused to distribute them to people affiliated with Fatah.
    These are examples of testimony from Hamas and Islamic Jihad men who were captured by the IDF during the recent operation in Gaza.

Egypt Labels Hizbullah Leader "An Iranian Agent" (AFP/Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Egypt on Friday accused Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah of being an agent of Iran, after his criticism of Cairo during Israel's military assault in Gaza.
    "Hassan Nasrallah's criticism of Egypt confirms once more that he is nothing more than an agent of the Iranian regime and takes his orders from Tehran," a government statement charged.

Spain Promises to Limit Jurisdiction to Prevent Charges Against Israeli Officials - Roni Sofer (Ynet News)
    Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos telephoned Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Friday, and promised that the Spanish government would work to limit Spanish courts' jurisdiction in order to prevent charges against Israeli security officials.
    On Thursday, a Spanish court granted a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, asking that seven Israeli security officials be charged with alleged "crimes against humanity" for their involvement in the 2002 killing of Hamas suicide bombing mastermind Salah Shehade in Gaza.
    Moratinos also said his government was working to solve the current lawsuit.
    See also Spain Won't Annul Judge's Decision (Jerusalem Post)
    The Spanish government is not intending to work to annul a decision by a Spanish court to prosecute seven Israeli officials for alleged war crimes.
    Contradicting Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega was quoted by Israel Army Radio as saying that "Spain is a country ruled by law and the justice system [here] enjoys absolute independence. This was made clear to Israel."

Freed Lebanese Terrorist Visits Iran, Calls for Destruction of Israel (AFP)
    Convicted murderer Samir Kantar, who was released by Israel in a prisoner swap last year, called for the destruction of Israel during a visit to Tehran on Thursday.
    "We have to resist the Zionist regime and destroy it," Kantar said in a speech before being honored by Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Leader in Tehran Rules Out Permanent Truce
    The political supremo of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, on Sunday ruled out any "permanent ceasefire" with Israel. "The resistance is against a permanent ceasefire," Meshaal said at a news conference in Tehran, Iran's state news agency IRNA reported. Meshaal met Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said that Hamas' recent "victory will lead to more such victories" against Israel. Meshaal thanked Khamenei for the "strong support given by Iran which had a big role in the victory of the people of Gaza." (AFP)
        See also Report: Hamas Offers One-Year Truce with Israel (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
  • Abbas Sets Conditions for Dialogue with Hamas - Alaa Shahine
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday ruled out dialogue with Hamas unless it recognizes the supremacy of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), deepening the split between the two main Palestinian groups. He was responding to a proposal by Hamas to replace the PLO, which is dominated by Abbas and the factions loyal to him. Hamas rejects the agreements the PLO has made with Israel, including the 1993 Oslo accord in which the PLO formally recognized the Jewish state. (Reuters)
  • Hamas Dismisses Blair's Conditions for Talks
    Mushir al-Masri, the head of Hamas' parliamentary bloc, dismissed a condition set by Mideast Quartet Envoy Tony Blair that Hamas must recognize Israel before starting talks. On Saturday he termed Blair's suggestion as "utterly foolish and useless." In an interview with The Times (UK) published Saturday, Blair said Hamas must be involved in the Middle East peace process; however, it would have to recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence. "I do think it is important that we find a way of bringing Hamas into this process, but it can only be done if Hamas are prepared to do it on the right terms," Blair said. (Press TV-Iran)
  • International Prosecutor Looks at Ways to Put Israeli Officers on Trial for Gaza "War Crimes" - Catherine Philp and James Hider
    When Palestinian groups petitioned the International Criminal Court over alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza, its prosecutor said that it was unable to take the case because it had no jurisdiction over Israel, a nonsignatory to the court. Now, however, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, has told The Times that he is examining the case for Palestinian jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed in Gaza. Palestinian groups have submitted arguments asserting that the Palestinian Authority is the de facto state in the territory where the crimes were allegedly committed, despite its lack of internationally recognized statehood.
        "It is the territorial state that has to make a reference to the court. They are making an argument that the Palestinian Authority is, in reality, that state," said Moreno-Ocampo. Determining jurisdiction was a first step, he said, and only after it had been decided could he launch an investigation. (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Worsens - Yuval Azoulay
    Palestinians in Gaza fired at least five Kassam rockets and eight mortar shells at Israel on Sunday. Two soldiers and a civilian were wounded. In addition, Israel Defense Forces soldiers exchanged fire with Palestinians near the Kissufim crossing on Sunday. On Saturday, a Grad rocket struck south of Ashkelon. (Ha'aretz)
  • After Warning Palestinians to Leave Targets, Israel Retaliates for Gaza Rocket Fire - Barak Ravid
    Israel Air Force aircraft struck an evacuated Hamas security headquarters in central Gaza on Sunday after Israel telephoned warnings to Palestinians. Two other strikes were on smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt. Before the attack, Israeli aircraft flew over the Gaza-Egypt border, setting off sonic booms, and witnesses said hundreds of people who work in the tunnels there fled, along with residents. (Ha'aretz)
  • Military Intelligence: Hamas Upholding Cease-Fire, But Smaller Gaza Groups Undeterred - Barak Ravid
    IDF Military Intelligence Head Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin said Sunday that while Israel's offensive in Gaza had deterred Hamas, other radical groups were still looking to escalate hostilities. "Two weeks following the cease-fire, militants from groups other than Hamas are challenging it and carrying out attacks aimed at renewing escalation," Yadlin told cabinet ministers. Hamas "is not preventing the attacks of others," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Talk to Iran. Then What? - Stephen Rademaker
    What should the U.S. demand when it finally talks to Iran? And when Iran rejects our opening position, insisting that Iran suspend its efforts to enrich uranium, how much should we compromise to come to a deal? Once we accept enrichment in Iran, it will become impossible to deny the same arrangement to friendly governments in the region, let alone unfriendly ones like Syria. The result will be the proliferation of dangerous nuclear technologies that we have been seeking to avoid.
        The U.S. cannot be more eager than Tehran to reach a deal, and Mr. Obama must persuade Iran that he can afford to see negotiations fail. The writer was an assistant secretary of state responsible for arms control and nonproliferation from 2002 to 2006. (New York Times)
  • Gaza Casualties: Civilian or Combatant? - Steven Stotsky
    CAMERA examined the data collected by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights regarding the number of combatants vs. civilians killed in the recent fighting in Gaza. By cross-checking with other sources, a number of Hamas fighters and members of other Palestinian terrorist groups were identified who were either misclassified by PCHR as civilians, not identified as combatants, or omitted entirely from their tabulations. The majority of civilian fatalities recorded by PCHR are males between 15 and 40 years old, the same age profile as the combatants. As reported by the New York Times on Jan. 11, Hamas combatants were told to shed their uniforms and fight in civilian clothing. (CAMERA)
  • Iranian-Led Durban II "Anti-Racism" Negotiations Target Israel - Anne Bayefsky
    Intensive negotiations in Geneva have resulted in a new version of the "Draft Outcome Document" for the Durban II conference. Iran - a vice-chair of the executive committee for Durban II - played a leading role in the drafting process, speaking more often than any other single state. The result? Now on the negotiating table: Jewish self-determination or Zionism is racism. Israel is guilty of apartheid and the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust is questionable. President Obama, it is time to announce the United States will stay away from Durban II, together with Canada and Israel. (Eye on the UN)
  • Erdogan's Davos Outburst Is Nothing New - Asli Aydintasbas
    For us Turks, watching Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan storm out of the World Economic Forum's meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday after a loud exchange with Israeli President Shimon Peres was nothing new. Temper tantrums are not new for the Islamist leader, who was greeted to a hero's welcome back in Istanbul a few hours later. Erdogan has increasingly become more belligerent, lashing out at reporters, columnists, aides or members of the business community. Here in Turkey, each of his outbursts has increased Erdogan's aura of awe and authority. With public rebuke or court cases against members of the media, he has effectively silenced major criticism of his policies.
        During the recent crisis in Gaza, Erdogan has led the most vocal opposition to Israel from the Muslim world. Turkey today values its relationships with Russia, Iran and the Arab world almost on equal footing with its traditional ties to Israel and the West. (Forbes)
        See also Turkey's Turn from the West - Soner Cagaptay
    In Turkey, liberal political trends are disappearing, EU accession talks have stalled, ties with anti-Western states such as Iran are improving, and relations with Israel are deteriorating. If Turkish foreign policy is based on solidarity with Islamist regimes or causes, Ankara cannot hope to be considered a serious NATO ally. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Using the Holocaust to Attack the Jews - Walter Reich (Washington Post)

    • The Holocaust is being increasingly used as a weapon against the Jews and the Jewish state. As some people who don't like Jews have found, it's worth acknowledging the Holocaust if you can then turn it into a cudgel against the Jews. According to this crowd, the Jews today have become Nazis. The Jewish state is now supposedly carrying out a Holocaust against the Palestinians.
    • People of good will around the world are naturally shocked by the tragic and appalling deaths of Palestinian civilians, including those killed in the recent war in Gaza. But the massive and unceasing eruptions of outrage against the Jewish state - in a world in which other countries and groups have engaged in immensely more destructive and immoral behavior while provoking barely any outrage - can only be explained in a few ways.
    • One is that attacking Israel has become a means of attacking Israel's ally, the U.S. Another is that over-the-top attacks on Israel, particularly those invoking Holocaust language, have become a means of once again attacking the Jews.

      The writer, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, is a former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

        See also Diminishing the Holocaust - Irwin Cotler (Montreal Gazette)
    • The lessons of the Holocaust risk losing their value if the tragedy of the Holocaust is invoked to fit every case of moral outrage. No recent event makes this more clear than the inflammatory misuse of Holocaust comparisons to describe the conflict in Gaza, in a dual demonizing indictment.
    • On the one hand, Jews are blamed for perpetrating a Holocaust on the Palestinians, as in the appalling statement of Norwegian diplomat Trine Lilleng that "The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany;" and on the other hand, crowds are incited to another Holocaust against the Jews, as in the chants of protesters who scream "Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the gas!"
    • Consider the simultaneous humanitarian crises in the world that were largely ignored during the war in Gaza. Darfur continued to be beset by genocide. Mass rape was being used as a weapon of war in the Congo. In Zimbabwe, a disastrous cholera epidemic was afflicting tens of thousands. Anarchy reigned in Somalia; systemic repression endured in North Korea, and political prisoners were being executed in Iran.
    • Meanwhile, Israel unilaterally halted its fighting in the middle of the day to allow humanitarian supplies to flow to Palestinians, and it warned civilians - by dropping leaflets and by phone - when attacks in their vicinity were coming.
    • The comparison between Israel's action against Hamas - a terrorist group sworn to destroy Israel - and the Nazi Holocaust is as false as it is obscene. I say this not as a proponent of Israel, but as a voice for Holocaust remembrance.

      The writer is a member of the Canadian Parliament and a former justice minister.

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