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July 20, 2009

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$21 Million from Qatar to Hamas in Jerusalem - Shlomo Tsazna (Yisrael Hayom-Hebrew, 20July09)
    The head of the Israel Security Agency Yuval Diskin described the situation in eastern Jerusalem to the Israeli cabinet on Sunday.
    Sheikh Yousuf Qaradawi who lives in Qatar has granted $21 million to Hamas in order to buy buildings to be used by activists providing welfare services as a base for the organization.
    See also Diskin Briefs Cabinet on Hamas Activities in Jerusalem - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Qaradawi, 82, an Egyptian-born Muslim scholar with strong links to the Muslim Brotherhood, is a keen supporter of suicide bombings in Israel, which he describes as "martyrdom operations.
    Diskin also told cabinet ministers that the PA and its security forces have been working actively to thwart the sale of Palestinian land to Jews, particularly in eastern Jerusalem.
    He added that there had been a steady trickle into Gaza of foreigners linked to global jihad.

PA Negotiator Meets with Iranian Foreign Minister - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    PA negotiator Saeb Erekat met with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Sharm e-Sheikh last week.
    In response, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said Erekat's meeting stands in stark contrast to the Palestinian refusal to negotiate with the Netanyahu government.
    "The Palestinian side has refused to allow the resumption of peace talks by placing preconditions on such a resumption," said spokesman Mark Regev.
    "It appears, however, that they have no qualms and place no preconditions upon dialogue with the most extreme and violent enemies of peace."

European Court: Israel Boycotts Are Unlawful Discrimination - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    On Thursday, the Council of Europe's European Court of Human Rights upheld by a vote of 6-1 a French ruling that it was illegal and discriminatory to boycott Israeli goods, and that making it illegal to call for a boycott of Israeli goods did not constitute a violation of one's freedom of expression.
    Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Sunday that the ruling provided important ammunition for those challenging on legal grounds calls in Europe for a boycott of Israeli products.

Key Israeli Economic Indicator Rises - Alisa Odenheimer (Bloomberg)
    Israel's index of leading economic indicators rose a preliminary 0.2% in June, the first increase since July 2008, led by foreign trade, the Bank of Israel said Sunday.
    Standard & Poor's on July 16 said that Israel's GDP will probably contract by 1.5% in 2009 and grow 1% in 2010.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Former Iranian President Rafsanjani Offers Compromise - Amir Taheri
    Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani proposed that the dispute over the presidential results be referred to the Supreme Court for final judgment. He called for the government to release the 5,000 people arrested since June 13, publish the full list of those killed in the insurrection, and lift the ban on dozens of newspapers and magazines closed down for their opposition to Ahmadinejad's controversial re-election. Rafsanjani offered the formula at the Friday mass prayer at Tehran University where he appeared with former President Muhammad Khatami and defeated presidential candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi in a show of unity. Rafsanjani refused to acknowledge Ahmadinejad as the legally elected president. (New York Post)
        See also Rafsanjani Defies Ayatollah Khamenei as Protesters Turn Out in Force - Michael Purcell (Times-UK)
        See also below Commentary: Rafsanjani Accused in 1994 Blast at Argentina Jewish Center - Alexei Barrionuevo (New York Times)
  • Pro-Hizbullah Lebanese Injure 14 UN Peacekeepers - Bassem Mroue
    Shiite Muslims sympathetic to Hizbullah threw stones at UN peacekeeping troops in southern Lebanon Saturday, lightly injuring 14 soldiers, in an attempt to prevent an investigation near the site of last Tuesday's explosion of a Hizbullah weapons depot. A peacekeeping patrol fired warning shots in the air to clear its path, said peacekeeping spokeswoman Yasmina Bouziane. About 100 people attempted to hamper the activity of the UN peacekeepers less than a mile from the site of the explosion in Khirbet Silim, about 9 miles (15 kilometers) from the Israeli border. (AP)
        See also Report: Explosion Was at Secret Hizbullah Outpost, Not Weapons Bunker
    Kuwait's A-Siyassa newspaper reported on Saturday that last week's explosion killed a number of Hizbullah gunmen at a secret military outpost, and did not destroy a hidden weapons cache as was initially believed. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Lebanese Army Seen Collaborating with Hizbullah - Yaakov Katz
    Israel's Defense Ministry is hoping that the UN will issue new rules of engagement for UNIFIL that will enable the peacekeeping force to search Lebanese villages without prior coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). A senior defense official said Sunday that there have been several cases when UNIFIL knew of Hizbullah caches in villages and coordinated operations with the LAF. However, when the peacekeeping force arrived at the suspected building it was empty. "We suspect that the LAF is infiltrated by Shi'ite elements who leak intelligence information to Hizbullah before operations," the official said. "If UNIFIL were able to act on intelligence immediately and without coordination, it would dramatically improve the force's effectiveness."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Tells Israel to Halt Construction Project in Eastern Jerusalem - Roni Sofer
    A senior Israeli official said Sunday that Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, was summoned to the State Department over the weekend and told that Israel must suspend a planned project in eastern Jerusalem near Israel's national police headquarters, Israel Radio and Army Radio reported. (Ynet News)
        See also "No Difference to U.S. Between Outpost, Eastern Jerusalem Construction" - Akiva Eldar
    The U.S. views eastern Jerusalem as no different than an illegal West Bank outpost with regard to its demand for a freeze on settlement construction, American sources have informed both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel: Ambassador Not "Summoned" by U.S. Over Jerusalem Construction
    Israeli diplomatic officials said that Ambassador Michael Oren went to the State Department last week for routine talks, during which his American interlocutors raised their concern about plans approved last month by the Jerusalem Municipality for 20 apartments to be built at the site of the Shepherd Hotel in eastern Jerusalem, bought in 1985 by American businessman Irving Moskowitz. The officials said that Oren was not summoned to the State Department to discuss the issue, nor was it even the main agenda item of the meeting. Rather, the meeting was planned some two weeks in advance and covered a range of issues. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jerusalem Housing Project "Not in the Middle of an Arab Neighborhood" - Ali Waked
    "The not located in the heart of the Arab neighborhood, but rather on the border between the Sheikh Jarrah and French Hill neighborhoods. It's not as though someone built a Jewish neighborhood smack in the middle of a remote Arab neighborhood," said Jerusalem municipal council member Yakir Segev. (Ynet News)
        See also below Observations: If Arabs Can Live in Western Jerusalem, Jews Can Live in Eastern Jerusalem - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
  • IDF Troops Trade Fire with Palestinians Near Gaza Border - Anshel Pfeffer
    Israel Defense Forces soldiers Sunday exchanged fire with Palestinian militants who shot a rocket-propelled grenade at them near the Nahal Oz Israel-Gaza border crossing. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A "Settlement Freeze" Compromise - Elliott Abrams
    Having failed to bully Netanyahu into a total settlement freeze, U.S. negotiator George Mitchell is said to be asking for a moratorium of six months or a year in new units started, that would allow completion of all projects already underway, perhaps 2,500-3,000 units. Mitchell, who is reported to want to leave his negotiator position at the end of 2009, would be able to quit while this "freeze" is in place. Why Netanyahu and his government loathe this entire project is clear. Morally, it accepts the argument that Israelis have no right to live in the West Bank (or even some parts of Jerusalem). And what's the exit strategy when the agreed time ends - and Obama says, "I just need a bit more time to bring peace and freedom to the Middle East."
        The Palestinian leaders know settlement construction is a made-up issue. They know that life in the West Bank is getting better, the economy is improving, the Israelis are removing roadblocks and obstacles to movement - and they know that settlement construction provides badly needed employment for Palestinian construction workers. Abbas has said a hundred times in the last few months that he will not agree to resume negotiations with Israel unless there is a settlement freeze. The U.S. will call whatever compromise Mitchell reaches a "settlement freeze" and will then turn the pressure on Abbas to go back to the table. The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the deputy national security adviser handling the Middle East in the George W. Bush administration. (National Review)
  • Abbas: "Talks with Olmert Produced No Results"
    An interview with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas appeared in the Egyptian weekly October on July 12, 2009:
        Q: There are Israeli leaks regarding a concession in the Palestinian position on the issue of Jerusalem. [What is your response?]
        Abbas: "The one who said that was [former Israeli prime minister Ehud] Olmert. From Annapolis until the end of his term, negotiations over borders, Jerusalem, and the refugees continued, but no results were achieved.... Olmert placed a proposal on the table and he spoke of the Haram [Al-Sharif - the Temple Mount], the Mount of Olives, and the cemetery, and said: 'All this area is the Holy Basin. We propose that it be overseen by an international committee.'...In the end, we did not agree on anything."  (MEMRI)
  • Inquiry on 1994 Blast at Argentina Jewish Center Gets New Life - Alexei Barrionuevo
    No one has been convicted for the July 18, 1994, bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Association in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died and more than 300 were injured. But in May, Argentina's Supreme Court validated much of the evidence of the initial investigation, which had previously been ruled inadmissible. Then last month, federal judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral ordered the international capture of Samuel Salman El Reda, 43, a Colombian citizen whom prosecutors accused of helping coordinate the local Hizbullah cell that Argentine investigators said had carried out the bombing. Investigators believe that they have solved the case in principle, having accused the Iranian government of planning and financing the attack, and Hizbullah of executing those plans.
        In 2006, the prosecutor who took over the investigation in 2005, Alberto Nisman, formally accused several members of Iran's government of planning and financing the bombing, including former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. The 1994 bombing came two years after the Israeli Embassy was bombed, killing 29 people, a case that also remains unsolved. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    If Arabs Can Live in Western Jerusalem, Jews Can Live in Eastern Jerusalem - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday:

    • "I read the newspaper headlines today about the construction of a neighborhood in Jerusalem and I would like to re-emphasize that united Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and of the State of Israel. Our sovereignty over it cannot be challenged; this means - inter alia - that residents of Jerusalem may purchase apartments in all parts of the city."
    • "This has been the policy of all Israeli governments and I would like to say that it is indeed being implemented because in recent years hundreds of apartments in Jewish neighborhoods in the western part of the city have been purchased by - or rented to - Arab residents and we did not interfere. This says that there is no ban on Arabs buying apartments in the western part of the city and there is no ban on Jews buying or building apartments in the eastern part of the city."
    • "This is the policy of an open city, an undivided city that has no separation according to religion or national affiliation. We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and purchase in all parts of Jerusalem. I can only describe to myself what would happen if someone would propose that Jews could not live in certain neighborhoods in New York, London, Paris or Rome. There would certainly be a major international outcry. Accordingly, we cannot agree to such a decree in Jerusalem. This has been the policy of Israeli governments over the years and it is also the policy of our government."

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