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December 23, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Obama Not Seen as Supportive by Israelis or Palestinians (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    According to a recent poll, 13% of Israelis and 69% of Palestinians think that Obama's policy is more supportive of Israel, while 37% of Israelis and 3% of Palestinians think it is more supportive of the Palestinians, and 36% of Israelis and 22% of Palestinians think it is supportive of both sides equally.
    68% of Palestinians oppose and 30% support unconditional return to negotiations, as requested by the U.S.
    66% of Israelis and 68% of Palestinians believe the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel in the next five years are non-existent or low.
    Similarly, 65% of Israelis and 67% of Palestinians think that it is impossible to reach these days a final status settlement with the Palestinians.
    64% of Palestinians and 73% of Israelis believe that the best solution to the conflict is the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, known as the two-state solution.
    57% of Israelis oppose the Saudi initiative which calls for Arab normalization of relations with Israel in return for Israeli retreat from all territories occupied in 1967 including Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    The Truman Institute and the Department of Communication at Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted the survey on Dec. 9-15.

Osama Bin Laden's Missing Family Found in Secret Compound in Iran - David Brown (Times-UK)
    Osama bin Laden's closest relatives including a wife, six of his children, and 11 of his grandchildren are being kept in a high-security compound outside Tehran.
    They have been prevented from contacting the outside world while Iran has repeatedly denied that any of the relatives were living in the country.

Israel Drops Terror Threat Advisory Against India Travel - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Tuesday canceled a two-month-old advisory against travel to India, citing a drop in the threat of terror in that region.

Rabin Government Okayed Maale Adumim in 1974 (Jerusalem Post)
    Newly revealed National Archives documents show that the Israeli government had decided as early as 1974 that the territory on which Maale Adumim was subsequently built, as well as the E-1 area, would be an inseparable part of Jerusalem, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.
    Located just east of Jerusalem, the thriving city of Maale Adumim, with a population of 33,800, is currently the third-largest West Bank settlement.
    The U.S. as well as the PA have voiced strong opposition to Israeli construction in the E-1 area.
    See also Protecting the Contiguity of Israel: The E-1 Area and the Link Between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • White House: Next Steps Have Begun on Iran Nuclear Issue
    The White House has begun to take steps in case Iran fails to accept an enrichment fuel deal aimed at calming concerns about its nuclear program, spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday. "Mr. Ahmadinejad may not recognize, for whatever reason, the deadline that looms, but that is a very real deadline for the international community," Gibbs said. "We have offered them a different path. If they decide not to take it, then the (major powers) will move accordingly....Those preparations have begun. Discussions have been had with leaders about those next steps."  (Reuters)
  • Hizbullah Welcomes Iranian Minister
    Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met with Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday during a diplomatic trip to Lebanon. Nasrallah thanked the visiting minister for standing by the Shiite movement, Hizbullah's al-Manar news station reported. (UPI)
  • Britain Revives the Old Israel Organ Fable - Tom Gross
    In the past few days, the British print media have been digging up an old story from 15 years ago (about an Israeli doctor who transplanted minor organs like cornea and skin from dead Israelis - mainly Jewish Israelis but also a few Arab ones) to suggest to readers that Israel is now, as a matter of policy, harvesting the major organs of live Palestinians. (National Post-Canada)
        See also Guardian Apologizes for "Serious Editing Error" - Corrections Editor
    We should not have put the headline "Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs" on a story about an admission, by the former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv, that during the 1990s specialists at the institute harvested organs from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers without getting permission from the families of the deceased. That headline did not match the article, which made clear that the organs were not taken only from Palestinians. This was a serious editing error. (Guardian-UK)
  • Christians in Lands across Middle East Face Uncertainty - Richard Spencer, Samer al-Atrush, and Rob Crilly
    The region that was Christianity's birthplace is witnessing an unprecedented modern-day exodus. Bethlehem's resident Christians have dwindled from four-fifths of the population since the Second World War to just a quarter today. In the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, Christian shops have been firebombed. In Egypt, a string of businesses owned by Coptic Christians were burned down in riots in the southern province of Qena last month. "Copts are in a continuous state of fear," said the diocesan bishop, Anba Kirillos.
        In Iraq, as many 600,000 of its once million-strong Christian community have fled abroad since 2003, while hundreds of thousands more have moved to safer areas in the north, abandoning once thriving Christian communities in Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. Across the Middle East, a Christian population that stood at 20% a century ago has now sunk to under 5%. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Iraq Christians Fear Extinction - Alice Fordham
    Last week 100 Christian leaders and politicians of all religions held an emergency meeting just before fresh violence broke out in the northern city of Mosul, with attacks on churches and Christian schools. On Tuesday a baby was killed and 40 people, including schoolchildren, were injured in three simultaneous bombings. (Times-UK)
        See also Abbreviating Christmas in Iraq - Timothy Williams
    For Christians in Iraq, this will be a year of canceled holiday celebrations and of Christmas Masses spent under the protective watch of police officers and soldiers because of a spate of threats by extremist groups to bomb churches on Christmas Day. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Report: Hamas Agrees to Israel's Demand to Expel 123 West Bankers in Prisoner Exchange
    Hamas has agreed to Israel's demand to expel 123 Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank within the framework of a prisoner swap, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday, citing a report in the London-based Al-Mustaqbal. According to the report, 97 prisoners will be expelled to Gaza, more than 20 to Qatar, and 6 to European countries. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Prisoners Prepare for Possible Exile upon Release - Jack Khoury
    It has been reported that Israel is demanding the exile of prisoners involved in the most serious security offenses, including those viewed as military commanders of Hamas and other groups. Knowledgeable sources in touch with the situation in Israeli prisons say the inmates have been preoccupied with the subject. A former prisoner told Ha'aretz that if the terms of exile provided for their return home in the context of a future peace agreement, their inclination would be to accept exile because that would be far preferable to remaining behind bars. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Coordinates with Church Leaders for Christmas Holiday
    Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot and Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai met Tuesday with Christian leaders to update them on preparations to mark the Christmas holiday. They met with the head of the Franciscan monastery, the Custodian of the Holy Lands, the Ambassador of the Vatican, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, the Armenian Patriarch, and the Latin Patriarch. More than 300 Christian Palestinians from Gaza will be allowed exit to celebrate the holiday in a manner that respects freedom of religious expression.
        During the holiday season, all crossings into Bethlehem will be open 24 hours a day and additional staff will be present to ensure easy passage for visitors. The church heads expressed their great appreciation for the strong cooperation and coordination that has taken place in the fields of religious freedom, Christian holy sites, security issues, and overall quality of life. The Christmas holiday begins on Dec. 24 and extends until Jan. 19, 2010. During this period, different Christian groups will commemorate the occasion in Bethlehem with different ceremonies. (Israel Ministry of Defense-Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Saudi Double Game - Jonathan Fighel
    Anti-Semitic conspiratorial allegations have been embedded in Saudi religious and political dogma for decades. Persistent allegations that Jews, Christians, and Westerners are responsible for Saudi woes strongly belie the notion that Saudi Arabia is sincere in its public condemnations of terrorism. It has been proven over and over again that the Saudi "factory of ideas" has made a major active contribution in generating, spreading, propagating and assimilating its doctrines of Jihadism on a global scale.
        Counter-radicalization initiatives and efforts have little chance for success unless the Saudi Wahhabi-Salafi ideological and doctrinal sources are transformed, first and foremost inside Saudi Arabia by its government-supervised religious establishment. Only the official Saudi royal family and their official clerics can make the change in order to possibly ignite a new wave of moderation within Muslim communities on a global scale.
        The Saudis are still perceived as the leaders of the Sunni Muslims around the globe and the religious source of legitimacy. The reformation of Saudi religious doctrine seems to be the only catalyst to start a change in the "battle over hearts and minds" between radicalism and violence or moderation and reconciliation. Col. (ret.) Jonathan Fighel is a senior researcher at the ICT. (International Institute for Counter-Terrorism-IDC)
  • Russia and Iran Perpetuate the Illusion of an Alliance - Sadegh Zibakalam
    Observers of Iran must be baffled by the "death to Russia" slogan that many Iranians shout at their street demonstrations. Ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 the familiar slogans have been "death to America," "death to Israel" and occasionally "death to Britain." Why have so many Iranians turned against Russia? Many Iranians blame the Russians for masterminding the brutal suppression that followed the controversial Iranian presidential elections in June. Rumors circulated in Tehran that Russian security advisers had strongly recommended to Iranian leaders to stand firm against any opposition protests. In addition, protesters generally tended to oppose the Islamic regime's friends and allies at the international level, viewing them as the enemy. The writer is a professor of Iranian studies at Tehran University. (Daily Star-Lebanon/bitterlemons-international)
  • Observations:

    Europe's Israel Obsession - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

    • Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU's new chief diplomat, used her maiden speech in the European Parliament to fuel the Continent's No. 1 international-affairs obsession: trashing the Jewish state.
    • It's rather odd that no sooner had Israel left Gaza in 2005, than the same people who so anxiously had called for Israel to "end the occupation" wanted it back in the picture. Even though Hamas returned Israel's peace gesture with relentless rocket attacks, Israel is nevertheless expected to establish some sort of free-trade zone with the Islamists and open its borders again to Palestinian suicide bombers.
    • The Baroness has only Israel in her crosshairs, even though Jerusalem is actually still providing a lifeline to the Palestinians. Despite all the misreporting about a "humanitarian catastrophe" in Gaza as a result of Israel's blockade, the flow of aid support from Israel is uninterrupted. In the week of Dec. 13-19 alone, 553 truckloads with 13,587 tons of merchandise reached Gaza from Israel, according to the Israel Foreign Ministry.
    • For an authentic look at life in Gaza, check out the photos of crowded markets filled with food, clothing and candy, published by Palestine Today, a Gaza newspaper.
    • Lady Ashton also failed to acknowledge that it is the Palestinians' refusal to restart negotiations rather than Israeli intransigence that stands in the way of a Palestinian state.

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