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April 30, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Palestinians Reject '67 Borders, Sharing Jerusalem with Israel (Angus Reid Global Monitor)
    67% of the residents of the West Bank and Gaza are opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with some land exchange as part of a solution to the current impasse with Israel, according to a poll by An-Najah University in the West Bank.
    77% reject making Jerusalem the capital of both an eventual Palestinian state and Israel.

Amnesty Calls for Retrial of Hizbullah Case in Egypt (AFP)
    Amnesty International on Thursday called for a retrial of 26 defendants convicted in Cairo of working for Lebanon's Hizbullah to launch attacks in Egypt, criticizing the use of an emergency court.
    "Their conviction was based on 'confessions' which the defendants say were obtained under torture," Amnesty said.
    See also Hizbullah Spy Cell in Egypt Found Guilty of Terror Plots - Miret El Naggar (McClatchy-Christian Science Monitor)
    The charges against the group included plotting attacks against tourists; targeting vessels crossing the Suez Canal; spying; training agents; building explosive belts and devices; and smuggling weapons to the Islamist Hamas militants in Gaza.

UN to Distribute 200,000 Laptops to Gaza Schoolchildren - Adel Zaanoun (AFP)
    UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, on Thursday launched a campaign to distribute 200,000 laptops to schoolchildren in Hamas-ruled Gaza, spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said.

Crisis Along the Nile - Zvi Mazel (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
    The battle between Egypt and other African countries for control of the water of the Nile River is in full swing.
    Out of 85 billion cubic meters of water that annually flow through the Nile, Egypt utilizes 55.5 billion and Sudan utilizes 18 billion, which totals 87% of the Nile's water.
    The Nile provides 85% of Egypt's water resources, but in the coming years the need for water by Ethiopia and other Nile countries will continue to grow.
    On April 20, Ethiopia called for the other Nile countries to sign a new agreement for fair distribution of the Nile's water, based on international law.
    The writer is Israel's former Ambassador to Egypt and Sweden.

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Google Buys Israeli Start-Up - Assaf Gilad (Calcalist-Ynet News)
    Google has purchased Lab Pixies - an Israeli start-up that develops widgets such as games, translating programs, calculators, and calendars - for around $25 million.

Israeli Exports Up - Amnon Atad (Calcalist-Ynet News)
    Israeli exports rose 26% in January and February, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday.

The Role of Jews in Swiss Society - Simon Erlanger (Jewish Political Studies Review)
    Numbering 18,000, Jews constitute a tiny fragment of Switzerland's population of 7.7 million. Nevertheless, Swiss public discourse is preoccupied with things Jewish.
    Rarely does a day go by without many, mostly negative, feature articles or news items on Jews and Israel. Jews in Switzerland have come to symbolize unwanted change and foreign influence.
    The medieval image of the Jew as the religious Other has transformed into the image of the Jew as the essential Other against which, for most of the twentieth century, Swiss identity was defined.
    The writer teaches Jewish history at the University of Lucerne.

Useful Reference:

Answers to the Top 10 Anti-Israel Lies - Marvin Hier (JTA)
    The Simon Wiesenthal Center has produced a new brochure, "2010 Top Ten Anti-Israel Lies."
    Download the Brochure (Simon Wiesenthal Center)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Clinton: Israel's Right to Defend Itself Is Not Negotiable
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the American Jewish Committee Thursday: "President Obama noted recently that there has been some of what he called 'noise and distortion' about this administration's approach in the Middle East. Over the past month, we have attempted to remove any ambiguity. The president and this administration have repeatedly reaffirmed our commitment to Israel's security in word and in deed."
        "We have spoken out forcefully about the grave dangers of Syria's transfer of weapons to Hizbullah. We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and have expressed our concerns directly to the Syrian government. Transferring weapons to these terrorists - especially longer-range missiles - would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel....We do not accept such provocative and destabilizing behavior - nor should the international community."
        "Regional peace must begin with the recognition by every party that the United States will always stand behind Israel's security and, as President Obama put it recently, 'no wedge will be driven between us. Now, we will have our differences, but when we do, we will work to resolve them as close allies.' Israel's right to exist, and to defend itself, is not negotiable. And no lasting peace will be possible unless that fact is accepted. But similarly, Palestinians must have a state of their own. They must be able to travel, conduct business, govern themselves, and enjoy the dignity of a sovereign people. There can be no equivocating on this either....We know we cannot and will not impose a solution. It is up to the parties themselves."  (State Department)
  • U.S. Anti-Terrorism Team Visits Lebanon-Syria Border
    A U.S. anti-terrorism assessment team visited the main Lebanon-Syria border crossing this week, a U.S. embassy official said on Thursday, amid allegations that Damascus was supplying its ally Hizbullah with missiles. The team visited the Masnaa border crossing in the eastern Bekaa region on Wednesday. Hizbullah MP Nawaf Moussawi denounced the visit as an "attempt by the U.S. embassy to impose its hegemony over Lebanon and Lebanon's security, and transform the country into a banana republic under American control."  (AFP)
  • Belgium Votes to Ban Full-Face Veils in Public - Edward Cody
    Belgium's lower house of Parliament unanimously voted on Thursday to prohibit women from wearing full-face Islamic veils in public places, the first move of its kind in Western Europe. The bill forbids anyone to appear in public with his or her face hidden in a way that makes identification impossible. The French government has pledged to pass a similar ban by September, and similar bills have been introduced in the parliaments of Italy and the Netherlands, as the sight of women on the streets of European cities covered from head to toe in dark robes with only a slit or a screen at eye level has aroused resentment. The full veil has been condemned by European politicians of the right and left as an affront to the dignity of women and, because it hides a woman's face, as a security risk in schools, banks and government offices. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Report: Obama to Call World Summit If Mideast Peace Talks Fail - Barak Ravid
    President Barack Obama has told several European leaders that if Israeli-Palestinian talks remain stalemated into September or October, he will convene an international summit on achieving Mideast peace, senior Israeli officials told Ha'aretz on Thursday. The conference would be run by the Quartet, and would address core issues such as borders, security arrangements, Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem. Obama is determined to exert his influence to establish a Palestinian state, the officials said. They said Obama could postpone the summit, or the unveiling of his own peace plan, until after the Congressional elections in November.
        Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday in Amman, "We want our state to be declared under an international agreement. If this could not happen, the Arabs will go to the UN Security Council to get recognition of Palestinian statehood." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Fears UN May Recognize PA State - David Horovitz and Khaled Abu Toameh
    Concern is growing that the PA is planning to marginalize the diplomatic process and instead unilaterally seek UN recognition for a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines. The idea of such a move, say some in the Netanyahu government, is to establish a state not at peace with Israel, but rather to continue the conflict. It is very widely doubted within the Israeli coalition's senior decision-making echelon that Mahmoud Abbas is prepared to negotiate viable terms for peace with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Report: Obama Promised Abbas a Palestinian State within Two Years
    President Obama told Palestinian leader Abbas that he was committed to seeing the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state within two years, an Egyptian official told Al-Hayat on Thursday. The official also said Israel had rejected special U.S. envoy Mitchell's proposal to withdraw Israel Defense Forces troops from sections of the West Bank. According to the report, Israel told Mitchell that it could not guarantee such a move before beginning direct peace negotiations with the PA. The official said Israel offered other goodwill gestures instead, such as removing checkpoints and releasing Palestinian prisoners. (Ha'aretz)
  • British Pro-Palestinian Protesters Try to Attack Israeli Diplomat - Hagit Klaiman
    Pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Manchester attempted to attack Israel's Deputy Ambassador to Britain Talya Lador-Fresher on Wednesday after a lecture. After she was removed from the hall and into a police vehicle, protesters surrounded the car and climbed on the hood, trying to break the windshield. Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor emphasized that the embassy expects a sweeping denunciation of the event from the local authorities and universities in Britain. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Middle East Peace: Why Have We Failed?
    Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of U.S. Central Command and U.S. envoy to the Middle East peace process in 2001 and 2002: "By now, we should realize what doesn't work: summits, agreements in principle, special envoys, U.S.-proposed plans, and just about every other part of our approach has failed. So why do we keep repeating it?"
        Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S.; historian of the Middle East: "Calling this an Arab-Israeli conflict today is largely a misnomer. We have two states that have peace treaties with Israel. The largest antagonist is Iran, which is not an Arab state....It's quite extraordinary: We now have a situation that existed before Oslo in '93 and before Madrid in '91 - we can't get the Palestinians to sit down face to face with us and discuss the issues.... Palestinians, and Arabs more generally, must feel that they have more to gain by participating in negotiations than not. If they believe that by staying out of negotiations they can win concessions over issues such as east Jerusalem, why would they participate in what can be a drawn-out, uncertain process?"
        Dov Weisglass, advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: "The U.S. and Israel in the last year basically reshuffled the whole arrangement so that everything is back in debate; everything is an issue. That's why the conflict is far more complicated than it used to be."
      See also Yossi Beilin, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Saeb Erekat, Daniel Kurtzer, James Wolfensohn, Robert Malley. (Foreign Policy)
  • A Palestinian Veto Over U.S. Policy - Yitzhak Klein
    The Palestinian-Israeli conflict exists because the two sides cannot agree on the terms on which to end it. It will remain an irritant until the Palestinians agree that the conflict is at an end, which gives the Palestinians a veto. The Obama administration is demonstrating that the Palestinians can achieve far-reaching gains by being intransigent, since they hold in their hands a mechanism that allows them to dictate American policy. U.S. demands are reshaping Israeli-Palestinian relations in the latter's favor without doing anything to bring about genuine rapprochement. They reward radicalism and intransigence and thus encourage further radicalism and intransigence.
        Far from facilitating the formation of an effective regional coalition against Iran, the administration's current policy is likely to elevate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from a distressing distraction to the main issue in regional politics. That does not serve American, nor Israeli, nor even moderate Arab interests. It only serves Tehran's interests. Societies have to be psychologically ready for peace and reconciliation and until they are, peace is unachievable. The Palestinians aren't ready yet and the Obama administration encourages them to believe that they need never be. The writer heads the Israel Policy Center. (Jerusalem Post)
  • What About the Arab States? - Editorial
    Any real peace process requires clear, unequivocal and consistent buy-in from Arab and Islamic countries that, more often than not, have served as instigators of more conflict, not supporters of peacemaking efforts. Without Arab League support, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely to follow through with the U.S. call for resumed talks. It doesn't make sense to keep pressing Israel while taking a relatively passive stance toward other regional leaders who have traditionally fueled Israeli-Palestinian conflict to serve their domestic political needs.
        Saudi Arabia claims a special relationship with the U.S.; Egypt is the second biggest recipient of U.S. aid. Where is the active leadership of these countries in pressing the Palestinians to get back to serious negotiations. Until the administration devotes as much energy to enlisting the active and unwavering backing of Arab and Muslim governments that say they're allies as it does to pressuring Israel, it's hard to imagine how this latest U.S. initiative will be any more successful than the long list of past failures. (New York Jewish Week)
  • Learning from Previous Mistakes - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Gaza is now swarming with scores of Islamic fundamentalist groups who are leading the Palestinians toward the abyss. If Israel repeats the same mistake and withdraws from any more territory unilaterally, Hamas, the Iranians and al-Qaeda-inspired groups will be sitting in the suburbs of Jerusalem and on hilltops overlooking Tel Aviv beaches. The last time Abbas received control of an area, in 2005, he ran away, handing it over to Hamas and its allies. Israel's unilateral withdrawal sent the wrong message to the Palestinians - namely that the Jews ran away because of the suicide bombings and rockets. Many Palestinians gave Hamas credit for driving Israel out of Gaza through violence. (Hudson Institute-New York)
  • Why Obama Suddenly Loves Netanyahu - Nathan Guttman
    Last month, the Obama administration chose to go to an extreme when criticizing Israel over its settlement activity. Now it is going to the opposite extreme in showing its love for the Jewish state. Signs of the orchestrated pro-Israel public relations campaign launched by the administration are abundant. The change has been credited to increased pressure from the U.S. Jewish community and Jewish Democratic lawmakers. The Jewish community, which was initially reluctant to enter the dispute between Washington and Jerusalem, became much more vocal as tensions increased.
        "The good news is that they are listening to us," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "The question is whether this is a cosmetic change or a substantial one."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • Watchdog: BBC Biased Against Israel - Jonny Paul
    A report published Wednesday by Honest Reporting says that the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the first quarter of 2010 was steeped with anti-Israel bias. The study reviewed 57 articles from the BBC News Web site from January until March that often led with the Palestinian perspective or quoted "partisan, agenda-driven" Israeli organizations critical of Israel. The report accuses the BBC of presenting historical issues without context: referring to Jerusalem as "occupied" with no reference to its 3,000-year Jewish history.
        Inaccurate terms are often used, referring to Hamas as "militants" or Prime Minister Netanyahu's coalition government as "right-wing." "By using this term - which we have never seen applied by the BBC to even the most extreme Palestinian political parties - isn't the BBC passing its own judgment? Especially considering the fact that "right-wing" is usually used as a pejorative rather than simply descriptive label, it has no place in objective journalism. "Despite BBC claims to be objective and impartial, we routinely find that its choice of stories is highly selective, focusing on Israel as an obstacle to peace while ignoring or downplaying issues such as Palestinian incitement or glorification of terror," said Simon Plosker, Honest Reporting's managing editor. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Nuclear-Armed Mullahs Are Not an Option - Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) (Washington Times)

    • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems hell-bent on enriching uranium and developing the other complex components and specialized parts necessary to deliver and detonate a nuclear weapon.
    • Iran continues to conduct military exercises in the Persian Gulf to showcase the regime's ability to threaten a vital transit route for the region's petroleum exports. America's dangerous dependence on foreign oil means that Iran's hostile behavior poses a national security threat. And while the threat from Iran's conventional weapons is serious, the threat to this strategic waterway from a nuclear-armed Iran would be a thousand times worse.
    • Regrettably, it is increasingly apparent that the president's "outstretched hand" to the Islamist regime in Iran has failed, while his continual scolding of Israel appears to have further emboldened Mr. Ahmadinejad's hostility toward this important regional ally.
    • Effective sanctions must be imposed immediately, and the U.S. must demonstrate its unequivocal support for the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.
    • We also must not foreclose the possibility of a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities or the option of overwhelming retaliatory force should Iran launch itself or supply terrorists with the resources to launch an attack on the U.S. or our allies. Iran should have no doubt about the full force of America's military strength and no question about our willingness to use it.

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