Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Via Smartphone


August 3, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Former PA Minister: Fatah Should Ally with Iran (Maan News-PA)
    The time has come for Fatah to seek a strategic alliance with Iran, the movement's Jerusalem affairs liaison Hatim Abdul Qader said Saturday.
    Fatah's rival, Hamas, is known to have warm relations with Iran.
    Abdul Qader encouraged the upcoming Fatah conference to adopt a political program that formulates new relations with Iran due to its strategic importance and influence.
    He argued that Iran's power in the region ought to be exploited to serve the Palestinian cause.
    Last month, the PLO's top negotiator, Saeb Erekat, met with Iran's foreign minister.

Report: Iran Plane that Crashed Was Carrying Arms for Hizbullah - Nir Magal (Ynet News)
    An Iranian plane crash two weeks ago which left 168 people dead was caused by the explosion of sophisticated fuses slated to be delivered to Hizbullah, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Saturday.
    Sources said the plane was meant to transfer the fuses from Iran to Armenia, and from there to Syria through Turkey, and then on to Lebanon.
    According to the report, the transfer of arms was a special operation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and some of its members were among the crash victims.

Pentagon Eyes Accelerated "Bunker Buster" Bomb - Jim Wolf (Reuters)
    The Pentagon is seeking to speed deployment of an ultra-large "bunker-buster" bomb as soon as July 2010, the Air Force said on Sunday, amid concerns over perceived nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran.
    The non-nuclear Massive Ordnance Penetrator would deliver more than 10 times the explosive power of its predecessor and is designed to destroy deeply buried bunkers beyond the reach of existing bombs.
    It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet (61 meters) underground before exploding.

Fatah Activists Don Islamic Garb to Flee Hamas-Run Gaza (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Some 27 Fatah activists have sneaked out of Hamas-ruled Gaza in recent days to attend the Fatah convention in Bethlehem this week.
    Hamas says it will not allow the Gazans to leave until Fatah releases Hamas detainees in the West Bank.
    Israel has granted permits to nearly all the Fatah delegates from Gaza, as well as scores of Fatah delegates from abroad, in a gesture of support for Mahmoud Abbas.
    One woman put on a veil and long robe and then rode in a donkey cart past the Hamas checkpoint.
    Others posed as medical patients on their way to treatment in Israel, including a woman delegate who got in a wheelchair and was pushed by three Fatah activists.

2,000-Year-Old Ritual Cup Found in Jerusalem - Thomas H. Maugh II (Los Angeles Times)
    U.S. archaeologists have found an extremely rare 2,000-year-old limestone cup inscribed with 10 lines of Aramaic or Hebrew script near the Zion Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem.
    "To have 10 lines of text is unprecedented," archaeologist Shimon Gibson of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte said Wednesday.
    Researchers are not yet able to decipher it because the text is in an informal cursive script and is apparently deliberately cryptic.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use/Privacy 
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Is Ready to Build an N-Bomb, Waiting for the Ayatollah's Order - James Hider, Richard Beeston, and Michael Evans
    Iran has perfected the technology to create and detonate a nuclear warhead and is merely awaiting the word from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to produce its first bomb, Western intelligence sources say. A U.S. National Intelligence Estimate two years ago concluded that Iran had ended its nuclear arms research program in 2003 because of the threat from the American invasion of Iraq. But intelligence sources say Tehran halted the research because it had achieved its aim - to find a way of detonating a warhead that could be launched on its long-range Shehab-3 missiles. They said that, should Ayatollah Khamenei approve the building, it would take six months to enrich enough uranium and another six months to assemble the warhead of a nuclear device.
        An Israeli official said that Iran had poured billions of dollars over three decades into a two-pronged "master plan" to build a nuclear bomb. He said that Iran had enriched 1,010kg of uranium to 3.9%, which would be sufficient for 30kg of highly enriched uranium at 95%. About 30kg is needed to build one bomb. (Times-UK)
        See also Nuclear Progress in Iran Has Dire Consequences If Diplomacy Fails - Richard Beeston
    We know from intelligence estimates that Iran is nearing the point when it can produce its first nuclear warhead and the means to deliver it. That moment is likely to come under the leadership of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, and Mr. Ahmadinejad, who will be inaugurated this month for another four-year term. These are men who have demonstrated that they intend to hold on to power by whatever means necessary. They are also responsible for accelerating the nuclear program and taking a hardline position against the West, in spite of repeated peace overtures made by President Obama. Washington has given Tehran until September to respond to an offer of dialogue. The hope is that diplomacy can bring Iran back from the brink. Who runs Iran in the coming months and years is not just a matter for Iranians. This is now a global issue. (Times-UK)
  • No Incremental Steps to Peace, Saudi Says - Glenn Kessler
    U.S. officials insist they are making slow but steady progress behind the scenes. But the pressure on Israel to halt settlement expansion has generated a backlash there against the U.S., while no Arab states have publicly revealed what they are prepared to do. Meanwhile, the Palestinians have hardened their position, refusing to talk to Jerusalem unless there is a settlement freeze. Saudi officials have privately been highly critical of the U.S. approach - even rejecting appeals from Obama when he visited Riyadh - but visiting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal's decision to offer such a public critique, in Washington, raises the stakes for the administration. (Washington Post)
        See also Saudi Foreign Minister: "Making Conditions Right for a Settlement Is Not by Making Gestures"
    After meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said: "Incrementalism and a step-by-step approach has not and - we believe - will not achieve peace. Temporary security, confidence-building measures will also not bring peace." He was asked:
    Q: If the Obama Administration gets a full settlement freeze, would your country or the Arabs do anything in return?
    Saud: "We believe that making conditions right for a settlement is not by making gestures. It is by delving into the real issues. As the Secretary has said, that is what will make peace. And remember, giving up settlement is not something that Israel is giving."  (State Department)
  • U.S. Weighs Iran Oil Sanctions If Nuclear Talks Are Rejected - David E. Sanger
    The Obama administration is talking with allies and Congress about the possibility of cutting off Iran's imports of gasoline and other refined oil products if it fails to respond to President Obama's offer to negotiate on its nuclear program, acting against companies around the world that supply Iran with 40% of its gasoline. Legislation that would give Mr. Obama that authority already has 71 sponsors in the Senate and similar legislation is expected to sail through the House. "Draconian sanctions did not make sense in 2005 and 2006," said R. Nicholas Burns, who led the Bush administration's Iran strategy as undersecretary of state for policy. "But given the new weakness and vulnerability of the Ahmadinejad government, much tougher sanctions make sense now," he said. (New York Times)
  • Palestinians Evicted in Jerusalem Legal Dispute - Isabel Kershner
    Israeli security forces evicted two Palestinian families in eastern Jerusalem on Sunday after they lost a long legal battle to remain in contested properties at a site in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. In the early 1970s, a Jewish association claimed ownership of the land based on property deeds from Ottoman times. At first the Palestinian families agreed to pay rent to the association to continue living there as protected tenants. (New York Times)
        See also The U.S.-Israeli Dispute over Building in Jerusalem: The Sheikh Jarrah-Shimon HaTzadik Neighborhood - Nadav Shragai
    There are dozens of pending court cases and legal proceedings seeking to remove Arab tenants on the grounds that they have not been paying rent to the rightful owners - the Committee of the Sephardic Community and the Ashkenazi Assembly of Israel, who purchased the land in the second part of the nineteenth century. In some of these cases, eviction notices have been issued.
        After 1967, control over Jewish-owned property in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood that had been seized by Arabs was transferred from the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property to the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property. In 1972 the Israeli Custodian released the land back to its owners (the Committee of the Sephardic Community and the Ashkenazi Assembly of Israel). In 1988 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the 28 Arab families living on the premises enjoy the status of "Protected Residents," but that the ownership of the land belongs to the two Jewish organizations. (ICA-Jerusalem Center)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Report: Fatah Conference to Harden Party Line - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Fatah general conference is scheduled to convene in Bethlehem on Tuesday for the first time in two decades. Fatah officials said over 500 people were competing for seats on the Revolutionary Council, while 150 were running for the Central Committee.
        According to a draft "political plan" leaked to some Arab newspapers over the weekend, the Fatah conference will reiterate Fatah's commitment to the "armed struggle" against Israel as one of the options to achieve an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Fatah is also expected to reemphasize its opposition to Israel's demand that it be recognized as a Jewish state. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Fatah to Reject Israel as Jewish State at Congress
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction will reaffirm its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state at a major congress next week, according to a document obtained by AFP on Saturday. The congress document also reiterates the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to resume peace talks with Israel as long as it continues building in Jerusalem and the West Bank. (AFP)
  • Netanyahu: Peace Will Be Based on Reciprocity
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "According to the Hebrew calendar, today is the fourth anniversary of the disengagement. Israel uprooted approximately 10,000 Israelis - men, women and children - from their homes. To our regret, Gaza has become a base for Hamas-led, Iranian-sponsored terrorism; thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired at us."
        "We are not prepared to countenance rocket and missile fire of any kind on our cities....All firing will be vigorously responded to. Peace will go back to being based on reciprocity, not unilateralism. In the framework of the peace agreements, Israel expects that the Palestinians will recognize the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, that the problem of the refugees will be resolved outside Israel's borders, that there will be effective security arrangements and demilitarization, with international recognition and guarantees. These are not pre-conditions for the start of a peace process but the basic conditions for establishing a lasting and stable peace. Palestinian moderates should internalize this."
        "Israel is willing to open peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, with Syria and any other Arab country without pre-conditions. Whoever sets pre-conditions for opening negotiations delays the peace process. We wholeheartedly support President Obama's regional initiative. In the framework of that initiative, the Arab countries, especially the main Arab states, must contribute with normalization steps towards Israel."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S. to Push Peace in Middle East Media Campaign - Mark Landler
    The fact that U.S. envoy George Mitchell has shuttled back and forth to the Middle East for the last 190 days without any breakthroughs, he said, does not mean that President Obama's push for peace there is stalled. But while the negotiating has continued, reports in Israel, in particular, have focused on the claim that the Obama administration's pressure is alienating Israelis even while it is failing to sway Arabs. "One of the public misimpressions is that it's all been about settlements," Mitchell said in an interview Friday. "It is completely inaccurate to portray this as, 'We're only asking the Israelis to do things.' We are asking everybody to do things."
        In coming weeks, the White House will begin a public-relations campaign in Israel and Arab countries to better explain Obama's plans for a comprehensive peace agreement. The campaign amounts to a reframing of a policy that people inside and outside the administration say has become overly defined by American pressure on Israel to halt settlement construction on the West Bank.
        Aaron David Miller, who was a peace negotiator in several administrations, said that assuming that Mitchell can break the deadlock over the settlements issue in the next few weeks, the Obama administration will most likely aim for a peace conference in the fall. However, Obama has not yet visited Israel as president and, in the view of some, has not laid out his broad strategy to the Israeli people in a persuasive manner. (New York Times)
  • Kayhan: "The Americans Are Begging Iran for Dialogue"; U.S. Strategic Needs in Pakistan, Afghanistan Supersede Its Need to Prevent Iran from Going Nuclear
    In a July 27, 2009 editorial, the conservative Iranian daily Kayhan stated that the U.S. has only one strategy for dealing with Iran, namely striving for dialogue with it - particularly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognized Iran as nuclear. Kayhan explained that U.S. interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan are more important than the threat of Iran going nuclear. Thus, the Americans are sending a desperate message to the world, begging Iran for dialogue. Tehran understands that Washington is not overly concerned about the prospect of a nuclear Iran; moreover, it knows that enhanced sanctions against Iran or even an attack on the country are impossible.
        The editorial also ridicules the Americans, "whose entire lives are foolishness," and praises them for finally realizing that decisions in Iran are made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and that they should not pin their hopes on turnover in the Iranian government. (MEMRI)
  • Observations:

    Why Israel Is Nervous - Elliott Abrams (Wall Street Journal)

    • If Iran is the most dangerous source of U.S.-Israel tension, the one most often discussed is settlements: The Obama administration has sought a total "freeze" on "Israeli settlement growth."
    • The Israelis years ago agreed there would be no new settlements and no physical expansion of settlements, just building "up and in" inside already existing communities. Additional construction in settlements does not harm Palestinians, who in fact get most of the construction jobs.
    • A recent International Monetary Fund report says [Israel's] "continuation of the relaxation of restrictions [in the West Bank] could result in real GDP growth of 7% for 2009 as a whole." That's a gross domestic product growth rate Americans would leap at, so what's this dispute about?
    • It is about the subordination of reality to pre-existing theories. In this case, the theory is that every problem in the Middle East is related to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
    • Israelis notice that the Saudis have refused to take any "steps" toward Israel, and other Arab states are offering nothing approaching normal relations. Israelis have learned the hard way that reality cannot be ignored. Four wars and a constant battle against terrorism sobered them up.
    • A policy based in realism would help the Palestinians prepare for an eventual state while we turn our energies toward the real challenge confronting the entire region: what is to be done about Iran.

      The writer, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the deputy national security adviser overseeing Near East and North African affairs under President Bush from 2005 to 2009.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert