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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 3, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Clinton Offers Handshake of Friendship to Syria - James Hider (Times-UK)
    At the Gaza donor's conference in Egypt, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shook hands and exchanged a few words Monday with Walid Mouallem, her Syrian counterpart.
    The brief encounter was seen as a sign that Washington was prepared to mend fences with Syria, whose leader, Bashar Assad, was treated as a pariah by the Bush administration.

Iran Seeks Arrest of 15 Israeli Leaders for Gaza Operation (AP/Washington Post)
    Iran's judiciary has asked Interpol to issue arrest warrants for 15 Israelis in connection with the Gaza offensive, Iranian state TV reported Monday. Interpol denied receiving such a request.
    Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi was quoted as saying Prime Minister Olmert, Foreign Minister Livni, Defense Minister Barak and top military officers were all on the list.

Puzzled in Gaza - Yvonne Green (Jerusalem Post)
    Deeply disturbed by the reports of wanton slaughter and destruction during Israel's Gaza operation, I felt I had to see for myself and crossed into Gaza on Jan. 28.
    What I saw was that there had been precision attacks made on all of Hamas' infrastructure.
    Gazans contradicted allegations that Israel had murderously attacked civilians. They told me again and again that both civilians and Hamas fighters had evacuated safely from areas of Hamas activity in response to Israeli telephone calls, leaflets and megaphone warnings.
    The UNRWA school in Al-Fakhora was visibly intact, making it impossible to understand how UN and press reports could ever have alleged that it had been hit by Israeli shells.
    I was shown where Hamas had been firing from nearby the school, and when I met Mona al-Ashkor, one of the people injured running toward Al-Fakhora, I was told that Israel had warned people not to take shelter in the school because Hamas was operating in the area.

Report: Russia to Send 50 Armored Vehicles to PA (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Russia would provide the Palestinian Authority with 50 armored vehicles "in the very near future," the Interfax news agency reported.

End of the Turkish-Israeli Honeymoon? - Haymi Behar (Ynet News)
    Following Turkey's harsh criticism of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, angry Israelis canceled more than 70% of travel bookings to Turkey.
    In any case, they wouldn't feel so welcomed in many Turkish shops, which displayed signs expressing anti-Israeli sentiments.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Seeks Russian Help to Stop Iranian Weapons Development - Peter Baker
    President Obama sent a secret letter to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev last month suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing long-range weapons, American officials said Monday. The letter, hand-delivered in Moscow by top administration officials three weeks ago, said the U.S. would not need to proceed with the interceptor system if Iran halted any efforts to build nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles. U.S. officials said that while the letter did not offer a direct quid pro quo, it was intended to give Moscow an incentive to join the U.S. in a common front against Iran. (New York Times)
  • Clinton "Troubled" by Continued Rocket Attacks on Israel
    After the Gaza donors conference in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters: "I am troubled by the continuing rocket attacks coming out of Gaza, 15 to 18 rockets in the last several days. We call upon all parties to move toward a durable ceasefire, but it is very difficult for any country to just sit and take rockets falling on its people. That is the crux of the Israeli problem. How are they supposed to respond when they continue to have that kind of attack?"
        Q: Will the U.S. Administration consider engaging with Hamas, the same way you're reaching out to Iran?
        Clinton: "Hamas is not a country. It is an entity that has to understand what the principles for any engagement are, not just from the United States. The well as the Arab League are in agreement that there are certain principles that Hamas would have to adopt in order for any of us to engage with Hamas: recognize Israel, renounce violence, and agree to abide by the prior PLO agreements....Everyone knows what Hamas must do, and it is up to Hamas." (State Department)
        See also Clinton Reiterates Need for Two-State Solution - Roni Sofer (Ynet News)
        See also Clinton Says U.S. Diplomacy Unlikely to End Iran Nuclear Program - Paul Richter
    The Obama administration has already concluded that a diplomatic overture to Iran is unlikely to persuade Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Secretary of State Clinton told the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Abdullah ibn Zayed al Nuhayyan, in a private meeting Monday that it is "very doubtful" a U.S. approach will persuade Iran to relent, said a senior State Department official. But Clinton said an Iranian rebuff could strengthen America's diplomatic position. She said that Iran's "worst nightmare is an international community that is united and an American government willing to engage Iran." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Donors Pledge $4.5B for Palestinians - Heba Saleh
    International donors at a conference in Egypt pledged $4.48 billion over two years to support the Palestinian economy and rebuild Gaza, but made clear none of the funds should end up in the hands of Hamas. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Files UN Complaint Over Gaza Rockets - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, filed an official complaint with the UN Security Council Monday regarding the rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli towns. "Since Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire on 18 January 2009, there have been nearly 100 rocket and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip," Shalev wrote. "These ongoing attacks not only hinder efforts to reach a stable and durable cease-fire, but they represent an ongoing threat to the peace and security of Israel, as well as the people of Gaza." "In response to these ongoing attacks, Israel has the inherent duty to exercise its right to self-defense enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter." (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed south of Ashkelon late Monday evening. (Ynet News)
  • Illegal Palestinian Construction in David's Garden - Nadav Shragai
    For hundreds of years floodwaters drained into the garden of the kings of Judea, east of the Shiloah Pool in Jerusalem, which is described in the Books of Nechemiah and Ecclesiastes. The Turks and the British took care to preserve the open green area for hundreds of years as a public area, intended for preservation and development of parks and tourism. About 20 years ago, the Jerusalem municipality shored up the water runoff there, and an illegal Palestinian outpost arose. Within 18 years 88 buildings went up, causing significant and irreversible damage to antiquities, according to the director general of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman.
        Construction was finally halted after the Jerusalem municipality confiscated tractors and heavy machinery from the lawbreakers, and the existing buildings are being dealt with legally by means of demolition orders and indictments. After a plan for laundering the construction was initiated by the inhabitants and human rights organizations, the planning commission rejected the plan. In response, the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic Movement in Israel have begun demonstrations and initiated an outcry to protest "the intention to carry out the demolition orders in the King's Garden."
        While carrying out the demolition orders as written, nearly 20 years after the violation was committed, may be just, it is not wise. A more fair solution, suggested by municipal council member Yakir Segev, is to evacuate the lawbreakers and to give them compensation and land elsewhere. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Need to Reconstruct Gaza Is Gaza's Own Doing - Editorial
    The need to reconstruct Gaza is Gaza's own doing - the direct consequence of the penchant for terror displayed by the governing Hamas and other like-minded groups, of their insistent practice of targeting Israeli civilians for over eight years with assorted rocketry. Misguided efforts at assistance will prop up the very regime that is the root cause of Gaza's woes. Hamas will benefit from resources bestowed even on ostensibly non-belligerent organizations. Those funds will free Hamas from responsibility for public welfare and free up money for rearmament.
        Gaza would have faced far less hardship had it not invested its energies in gun-running, rocket-manufacture and bunker and tunnel construction. Israel cannot, and will not, allow materials into Gaza that are likely to be misused. The transfer of funds must be made contingent on a proven commitment to cease rocket attacks, demonstrated by several months of uninterrupted calm. Without this, reconstruction contributions will wind up boosting Hamas' war-chest.
        As long as Israelis are fired upon, no Gazan reconstruction can last. Sooner or later Israel will again have to protect its citizens - as would every donor nation were its people similarly threatened. The prerequisite for sustainable reconstruction is an end to the abuse of Gaza as a base for attacking Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Urge Damascus to Come Clean on Nuclear Activity - Michael Singh
    The International Atomic Energy Agency's recent report on its investigation into Syria's nuclear activities reinforces concerns that the Assad regime was secretly building a nuclear reactor until it was destroyed in late 2007. According to the U.S. intelligence community's publicly released 2009 threat assessment, the Assad regime, despite its professed desire for better relations with Washington, has maintained its interference in Lebanon, support for Palestinian terrorist groups, and close ties with Iran; further, it has "increased substantially" its military support for Hizbullah.
        The extent to which the U.S. can persuade Syria to change its attitude toward the IAEA investigation from one of recalcitrance to one of voluntary cooperation will serve as a concrete test of Damascus' willingness to change its ways and mend fences with the international community. The writer, an associate fellow of The Washington Institute, is former senior director for Middle East affairs on the National Security Council. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Don't Push Israel to Give Territory to Terrorists - Tom Gross (Wall Street Journal Europe)

    • A small miracle occurred in Israel on Nov. 5. Kinneret Chaya Boosany gave birth to her first child. Six years earlier, Kinneret, then 23, was blown up as she worked as a waitress in a coffee shop in Tel Aviv. She suffered burns over 85% of her body, her doctors gave her a 2% chance of survival, and she remained in a coma for 88 days.
    • She is just one of the thousands of Israelis - both Jews and Arabs - injured by Palestinian suicide bombers sent on their deadly missions by either the Islamist Hamas movement or the Fatah faction headed by "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat. The number of Israelis killed in terror attacks has been greatly reduced in recent years after the government built a security fence to make it harder for bombers to get through.
    • Her story is worth reflecting on as Hillary Clinton arrives in Israel. Barely a day goes by way without Jimmy Carter and assorted European politicians calling on Mr. Obama to coerce Israel into hastily withdrawing from more land no matter the security risks.
    • Like most Israelis, Kinneret Chaya desperately wants peace with the Palestinians. It is my experience of covering the region as a reporter for many years that no one wants the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to be peaceably resolved more than Israelis do.
    • But Israelis are also very aware of the dangers of naively handing over territory to terrorists, as was done during the presidency of Secretary of State Clinton's husband in the 1990s.

      The writer is former Jerusalem correspondent of the London Sunday Telegraph.

          See also Kinneret Boosany Interview - Kevin Sites (Hot Zone-Yahoo News); Video: Kinneret - A Suicide Bombing Survivor (CNN-YouTube)

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