Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 5, 2009

In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Boost Housing for Jerusalem Arabs - Ori Lewis (Reuters)
    Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Monday outlined a plan to give many more building permits to Palestinian residents.
    The city's "master plan" would allow the construction of some 23,550 housing units in eastern Jerusalem, where mostly Palestinians live, by 2030.

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Reuters' Selective Lens Demonizes Israel on Independence Day - Tamar Sternthal (CAMERA)
    Reuters photographs marking Israel's 61st Independence Day send a concise message: Israel should not exist and Israelis are raising their children to be war-mongers.
    Reuters photographers, dispatched across the country, did not capture images of Tel Aviv revelers marking 100 years of their city, no sign of the packed beaches, no pictures of the family outings to parks, and no photos of official ceremonies.
    Instead, Reuters photos featured members of Neturei Karta, a fringe anti-Zionist movement, demonstrating against the State of Israel and burning an Israeli flag, Palestinians demonstrating to commemorate Nakba Day, and a Jewish child holding an assault rifle at a military exhibition.
    Even the photo of fireworks over Jerusalem showed the Muslim Dome of the Rock in the foreground.

British Airline Sorry for Maps Omitting Israel (BBC News)
    British airline BMI has apologized after in-flight maps on its London-Tel Aviv service did not identify Israel. The moving maps marked Islamic holy sites but showed only the city of Haifa in Israel, identified by its Arabic name, Khefa.
    BMI said it was a technical error - the maps had not been changed since the planes were taken over from a former airline, British Mediterranean Airways (BMED), which had flown from the UK to many Muslim countries in the Middle East.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Netanyahu: Israel Ready for Peace Talks Right Away Without Preconditions
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he was ready to begin Israeli-Palestinian peace talks immediately. "We are prepared to resume peace negotiations without any delay and without any preconditions - the sooner the better," he told an AIPAC conference in Washington via satellite. Netanyahu described a "triple track" approach toward peace that would include talks on political issues, on boosting the Palestinian economy and on strengthening Palestinian security forces. (Reuters)
        See also Prime Minister Netanyahu at AIPAC: Text, Video
  • Israel: Build Palestinian Institutions Before Statehood - Jay Solomon
    Members of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's government voiced skepticism toward President Obama's call for an independent Palestinian state, particularly when the PA's security forces remain weak and its political leadership divided. Netanyahu, his aides said, also wants to limit the powers to be granted to any Palestinian government, arguing that certain military capabilities could pose a threat to Israel.
        Netanyahu "was elected to change the direction of the peace process," Ron Dermer, a senior adviser to the prime minister, told the AIPAC conference Sunday. Dermer suggested Israel's new government will seek a gradual approach on the question of Palestinian statehood, placing a higher priority on institution-building.
        Despite calls from Washington to focus on the Palestinian issue, Netanyahu's government is making the campaign to end Iran's nuclear program its No. 1 foreign-policy initiative. "For the first time in my lifetime, Arabs and Jews see a common danger," Netanyahu told the AIPAC conference Monday. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Hamas Seeking Truce, Won't Recognize Israel - Taghreed El-Khodary and Ethan Bronner
    Hamas leader Khaled Meshal told the New York Times in an interview on Monday that its fighters had stopped firing rockets at Israel for now. He repeated that he would not recognize Israel, saying to fellow Arab leaders, "There is only one enemy in the region, and that is Israel." "We are with a state on the 1967 borders, based on a long-term truce. This includes East Jerusalem, the dismantling of settlements and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees." Asked what "long-term" meant, he said ten years.
        Regarding President Obama, Meshal said, "His language is different and positive," but he expressed unhappiness about Secretary of State Clinton, saying hers "is a language that reflects the old administration policies." (New York Times)
  • U.S. Rejects Syria's Call for Dialogue with Hamas, Hizbullah
    The U.S. on Monday balked at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's call to open talks with the anti-Israel groups Hamas and Hizbullah, saying the militants had to renounce violence first. "We would like to see Syria change the behavior of these two groups," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said. The diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East insists Hamas recognize the State of Israel's right to exist, renounce violence and respect past accords. "And Hizbullah, which is also a terrorist organization, needs to renounce violence and be a productive player in the region," Wood said. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • White House NSC Adviser: Obama Will Be "More Forceful" with Israel - Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya
    Gen. James Jones, national security adviser to President Barack Obama, told a European foreign minister a week ago that unlike the Bush administration, Obama will be "forceful" with Israel. Jones is the main force in the Obama administration stressing the Palestinian question. "The new administration will convince Israel to compromise on the Palestinian question," Jones said. "We will not push Israel under the wheels of a bus, but we will be more forceful toward Israel than we have been under Bush." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: Syria Arms Hizbullah While Courting U.S. - Yoav Stern
    Syria continues to transfer advanced weaponry to Hizbullah while working toward bettering its relations with the U.S., Israeli security sources say. Syria's intentions are to raise Hizbullah's capabilities to a level beyond what the group had prior to the Second Lebanon War in July 2006. In parallel, Syria is procuring sophisticated missiles that would enable it to target military bases inside Israel, in case a confrontation with Hizbullah escalates and Damascus is dragged into the conflict. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Urges Spain to Halt "Cynical" Gaza War Crimes Probe
    Spanish National Court judge Fernando Andreu announced Monday that he will pursue his investigation into the 2002 Israeli bombing of Hamas terrorist leader Salah Shehadeh in Gaza. In response, Israel's Justice Ministry said it was "convinced the Spanish government and judicial system will do their utmost" against a "cynical" attempt by the Palestinian plaintiffs to "exploit the Spanish judicial system in order to advance a political agenda against Israel." Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, "I have no doubt that the people who were involved in eliminating Shehadeh acted with a clear mind and towards a single goal - to protect the citizens of Israel." Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos has said that Spain planned to modify its law to narrow the scope of universal jurisdiction cases to those with a clear link to Spain. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Universal Jurisdiction Has Hounded Israel for Seven Years - Dan Izenberg (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Averting Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction - Irit Kohn (ICA/Jerusalem Center)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • As the U.S. Retreats, Iran Fills the Void - Amir Taheri
    Convinced that the Obama administration is preparing to retreat from the Middle East, Iran's Khomeinist regime is intensifying its goal of regional domination. It has targeted six close allies of the U.S.: Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, Morocco, Kuwait and Jordan. Last month, Egypt announced it had crushed a major Iranian plot and arrested 68 people. According to Egyptian media, four are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Tehran's principal vehicle for exporting its revolution. Tehran expects Lebanon as its first prize, spending massive amounts of cash on June's general election. Iranian strategists believe the Jordanian kingdom, where Palestinians are two-thirds of the population, is a colonial creation and should disappear from the map - opening the way for a single state covering the whole of Palestine. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Tehran's Stake in Regional Insecurity - Jonathan Spyer
    Seeking Iranian cooperation in dealing with the urgent situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan looks set to form a cornerstone in the U.S. policy of engagement with Tehran. Yet in the larger, strategic arena, Iran operates according to the dictum that America's difficulty is Iran's opportunity. Ample evidence points to Iranian covert assistance to the Afghan insurgents engaged in war against NATO forces in the country. So while the Iranians will be happy to talk if invited to, the talking will take place simultaneously with continued Iranian assistance to forces engaged in killing U.S. troops.
        The U.S. thinks that Tehran "should" support regional security and stability. The problem is that support for violence and insurgency brings with it myriad advantages to the Iranian regime. The Western powers, prevented from attaining their objectives, appear weak and helpless. The enemy, bogged down in conflicts elsewhere, has less time and capital to spend on containing Iranian ambitions. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Israel: UN Report Ignores Truth on Installations Damaged in Gaza War (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • An internal UN inspection committee will report Tuesday on nine UN installations which were damaged during Israel's recent operation in Gaza.
    • Immediately upon the conclusion of the Gaza operation, and unrelated to the UN investigation, Israel carried out independent inquiries into the damage caused to the UN installations. The findings of these inquiries, published two weeks ago, proved beyond doubt that the IDF did not intentionally fire at the UN installations.
    • The State of Israel rejects the criticism in the committee's summary report, and determines that in both spirit and language, the report is tendentious, patently biased, and ignores the facts presented to the committee. The committee has preferred the claims of Hamas, a murderous terror organization, and by doing so has misled the world.
    • During the course of its work, the committee met with the Israeli team, which cooperated fully and presented various intelligence materials, including videos, aerial photographs, eye-witness reports and other material. None of this information is reflected in the report.
    • The UN report completely ignores the eight years of attacks against Israel that preceded the decision to initiate the operation. It ignores how Hamas chose to put the lives of Palestinian civilians at risk and cynically and manipulatively used them as human shields.
    • The IDF took precautions to prevent damage to installations and vehicles belonging to the UN and other international organizations. Surprisingly, the report lays no responsibility on Hamas, which placed its installations and dispatched its men to confront the IDF in proximity to the UN installations.

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