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September 15, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

PA Knows It Must Keep Talking Even If Building Freeze Ends - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Despite the Palestinian Authority's tough talk on the issue of settlement construction, Palestinian sources in Ramallah believe PA leaders will soon have to climb down from their high tree.
    Some say it was President Obama's public demand that Israel halt all settlement construction that prompted the PA leadership to place the issue at center stage. Obama has since endorsed a more lenient approach on the issue.
    According to informed sources in Ramallah, the PA leadership has no choice but to accept a partial freeze - one where Israel would continue to build quietly while the PA turns a blind eye.

Poll: Americans' Support for Israel Up Following Restart of Talks (Ha'aretz)
    A strong majority of Americans believe the Israeli government is committed to making peace with the Palestinians, according to a poll conducted for the U.S.-based Israel Project and released Tuesday.
    58% thought the U.S. should support Israel - a jump of 7% from a similar poll in July, 7% thought the U.S. should support the Palestinians, and 6% said America should back neither side.
    58% thought Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was committed to making peace, while 40% thought the same of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
    View the Poll Results (Israel Project)

Hamas Prime Minister's Bodyguard Smuggles Gold into Gaza - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reports that Muhammad Naim, the bodyguard of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, was arrested in Cairo six months ago for smuggling large amounts of gold into Gaza.
    Egyptian security forces have detained 12 gold merchants for their part in the smuggling.

Deradicalization an Essential Counter-Terrorism Component - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Prof. Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland, co-director of the National Institute for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism (START), told a conference in Herzliya on Tuesday that efforts to deradicalize Muslims with extremist attitudes was a key part of the effort to tackle the threat of terrorism.
    "In Turkey, there is a huge wave of radicalization. I was recently in Egypt, where there is also a tremendous amount of radicalization," he said.
    "In the U.S., the myth that American Muslims are not vulnerable [to radicalization] because of the great integration of America seems to be undermined. In 2009 alone, 10 plots were uncovered."
    He said what was needed to deradicalize extremists was rational cognitive argument, an emotional transformation, and employing people who are respected and trusted by the radicalized population to lead the effort to change their outlooks.

Useful Reference:

New Israel Public Diplomacy Website (Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs)
    A new Israeli government website has been launched to counter misconceptions and false information regarding Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Envoy: Mideast Talks "Moving in Right Direction" - David Gollust
    American Middle East envoy George Mitchell said Tuesday he thinks the U.S.-brokered direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks "are moving in the right direction overall," after a three-way U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. "The parties have agreed to begin first on working to achieve a framework agreement for permanent status. That work is now well under way," Mitchell said. The venue will shift to Jerusalem Wednesday to, as a senior U.S. official said, "put the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian channel and to regularize the dialogue."  (VOA News)
  • Iran Donates $25 Million to Turkey's Ruling Party - Con Coughlin
    Western diplomats say they are alarmed by reports that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has negotiated a deal with Iranian President Ahmadinejad for Tehran to make a substantial contribution to the campaign funds of Turkey's Islamic AKP party. Under the terms of the deal Iran has agreed to transfer $12 million to the AKP, with further payments of up to $25 million to be made later in the year. The money is said to be meant to help support Erdogan's campaign for re-election for a third term in next year's general election. Diplomats also say Iran has agreed to provide financial support for the Turkish Islamic charity IHH which supported last May's aid flotilla. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Cleric Calls on Iran to Take U.S.-Led Sanctions Seriously - Thomas Erdbrink
    Former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Tuesday criticized the Iranian government in unusually blunt terms, saying that it is not taking U.S.-led sanctions seriously enough and that Iran could become a "dictatorship." Business owners complain that the prices of raw materials are skyrocketing because of shortages. "We have never been faced with so many sanctions," Rafsanjani said at a meeting of an influential clerical council. Rafsanjani and Iranian President Ahmadinejad have long been rivals. (Washington Post)
        See also German Bank Sanctioned for Ties to Iran
    The U.S. Treasury Department announced that it was sanctioning German bank Europaisch-Iranische Handelsbank (EIH) for "actively facilitating" business with Iranian banks that Washington says are connected to arms exporters in Iran. The Hamburg bank is accused of working with Iranian financial institutions Bank Mellat, Persia International Bank, the Export Development Bank of Iran and Post Bank of Iran, all of which are the subject of Washington and European sanctions. Stuart Levey, the U.S. undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said EIH was acting as a "financial lifeline" for Iran. EIH is the 17th financial institution designated by the U.S. for alleged ties to Iranian weapons. (UPI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians in Gaza Step Up Rocket Fire at Israel
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets and six mortar shells into Israel Wednesday morning, apparently stepping up attempts to scupper Middle East peace talks. One rocket exploded in an industrial zone just south of Ashkelon. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Gaza Terrorists Fire Missile at IDF; Army Returns Fire - Yaakov Katz
    After an IDF force operating near the Gaza security fence came under anti-tank fire on Tuesday, the IDF returned fire, killing one terrorist and wounding four others. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Cracks Down on Non-Violent Muslims - Avi Cafiri
    The Ahmadi Muslim sect, founded in 1889 in India, now numbers tens of millions of believers, mostly living outside the Arab world. "We believe in a tolerant, friendly and rational Islam," says Muhammad Sharif, head of the Ahmadis in Israel. Former Haifa Mayor Amram Mitzna notes that among this community there is "no incitement, violence, or feeling the need to conquer the whole world."
        Yet members of the sect who live in the Palestinian Authority have been suffering from incessant persecution, confiscation of property, and physical violence during the past year. Muhammad Jaabri, 46, of Hebron, a married father of four, explains: "They have repeatedly written threats and curses on the walls of my house. They've burned my car twice, thrown rocks at my windows." A month ago Jaabri was attacked by a group of radical religious youth near his home. "They beat me with clubs, and I was in the hospital for days." After his release, "I went to the police to file a complaint and they sent me to PA security service investigators, where I was beaten again and jailed."
        Muhammad Alawi, 34, from Tulkarm, was summoned to a PA Sharia court with his wife, who is not from an Ahmadi family, where she was ordered to leave her husband and return with her three children to her own family, who had initiated the legal proceedings. (Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 8Sep10)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S. Role in Israeli-Palestinian Talks Is a Problem - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    There is a serious problem in procedure in the latest Israeli-Palestinian talks. The Americans will sit in on the direct negotiations, something the Arab leaders wanted in the belief that the Obama administration is the most pro-Palestinian in history. The Israelis accepted only reluctantly. In all previous meetings, the Americans entered the talks in a serious way only at the endgame. The trouble with the current approach is that this will make it harder for the Israelis and the Palestinians to engage.
        An example is Israel's 10-month-old moratorium on settlement construction, an Israeli gesture of good faith, put forth in the hope of a reciprocal response from the Palestinians. It was not forthcoming. In the culture of the Middle East, an unrequited gesture is not regarded as magnanimous but as a sign of weakness, and as such inviting further pressure. That, in part, is why the Israelis are unwilling to extend this moratorium. American officials must urge the Palestinian leadership to stop their threats and recognize that the talks will have to begin with both sides having to make concessions. (U.S. News)
        See also Sides Speak More with U.S. than with Each Other - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why Israelis Care about Peace - Michael B. Oren
    Imagine that you're a parent who sends her children off to school in the morning worrying whether their bus will become a target of suicide bombers. Imagine that, instead of going off to college, your children become soldiers at age 18, serve for three years and remain in the active reserves into their 40s. Imagine that you've seen rockets raining down on your neighborhood and have lost close family and friends to terrorist attacks. Picture all of that and you'll begin to understand what it is to be an Israeli. And you'll know why all Israelis desperately want peace.
        Yes, many Israelis are skeptical about peace. We withdrew our troops from Lebanon and Gaza in order to generate peace, and instead received thousands of missiles crashing into our homes. We negotiated with the Palestinians for 17 years and twice offered them an independent state, only to have those offers rejected. Over the last decade, we saw more than 1,000 Israelis - proportionally the equivalent of about 43,000 Americans - killed by suicide bombers, and tens of thousands maimed. We watched while Palestinian mothers praised their martyred children and wished to sacrifice others for jihad.
        When Arab leaders such as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat or King Hussein of Jordan offered genuine peace to Israel, our people passionately responded and even made painful concessions. That most Israelis are still willing to share their ancestral homeland with a people that has repeatedly tried to destroy them is nothing short of miraculous. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People: From the San Remo Conference (1920) to the Netanyahu-Abbas Talks - Joshua Teitelbaum (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the real root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians had been their ongoing refusal to recognize "the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in their historic homeland" and he has singled out this issue as a key "prerequisite for ending the conflict." Netanyahu's proposal puts back on the global agenda a fundamental Jewish national right that was once axiomatic but today is rarely mentioned.
    • Ninety years ago at the San Remo Conference following World War I (April 1920), the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers determined the allocation of the Middle Eastern territories of the defeated Ottoman Empire and decided to incorporate the 1917 Balfour Declaration supporting a Jewish national home in Palestine into the British Mandate for the territory, a move which confirmed international recognition of the right of Jewish self-determination.
    • The language adopted at San Remo was a triumph for Zionism, which saw a national solution to the problem of the Jews. It recognized the existence of the Jews as more than individuals who subscribed to a certain religion - Judaism - but rather as a corporate group deserving of national expression, in this case in the form of a national home. And this home was to be in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews. The language agreed upon at San Remo was, as British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon put it, "the Magna Carta of the Zionists." It was clear at the time that the term "national home" really meant a state.
    • Jewish self-determination was part of a process that ended up decolonizing the Middle East in an effort that led to Arab as well as Jewish independence. Repeated recent associations of Israel with colonialism - an ahistorical canard that erases the millennia-long association of Jews with the Land of Israel as an indigenous people - ignores the benefit that Zionism actually brought to the Arabs through the process of decolonization. The British Peel Commission Report of 1937 was quite clear on this. Indeed, it was the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel that gave critical mass to a distinct and unique Palestinian identity as well.
    • The Jews have been brought back into history through the establishment of the State of Israel. This was accomplished with the aid of international institutions which recognized the justice and importance of Jewish national self-determination. These institutions accepted the validity of Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jews. Today, those who deny the Jewish right to national self-determination, more than 60 years after the founding of Israel, engage in a new kind of anti-Semitism.
        See also Israel's Demand for Recognition as Jewish State Crucial for Stable Peace Agreement - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland
    The Palestinians make a distinction between recognizing the fact that the State of Israel exists and the recognition that it has the right to exist. The entire concept of "hudna" (long-term ceasefire) is based on an approach that espouses compromise in an effort to elicit what can be achieved now, without abandoning the intention to fight and get much more in the future. The way to curb future demands is to create a Palestinian obligation to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The writer chaired Israel's National Security Council from 2004 to 2006. (Ynet News)

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