Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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


November 15, 2010

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Official: Hamas Rockets Can Reach Tel Aviv (AP)
    A senior Israeli intelligence official warned Sunday that Hamas in Gaza has rockets that can travel 80 km. (50 miles), which would put Tel Aviv, home to some two million people, within range of its launchers.
    The official blamed Egypt, saying it was not doing enough to stem smuggling through the Sinai desert to Gaza. "In many places we can show photos of Egyptian soldiers located less than 20 meters from the opening of a tunnel, and the tunnel is operating under his eyes, under his control, and nobody is doing anything about it."
    "Egypt can stop all this smuggling of weapons within 24 hours if they want to do it," he said.
    He added that Israeli intelligence believes the long-range goal of Hamas is to destroy Israel and to establish an Islamic "caliphate," not only in the Middle East but in Europe as well.

Congressional Letter Questioning Saudi Arms Sales Gets 198 Signatures - Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy)
    A joint letter demanding more information about the Obama administration's proposed $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia was sent to top administration officials on Friday with the signatures of 198 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
    The letter was coordinated jointly by outgoing House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) and incoming chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
    The lawmakers question whether Saudi Arabia is acting in conjunction with U.S. interests and whether the deal has enough checks and balances to ensure U.S. as well as Israeli interests.

Iran Protests at China Saying "Arabian Gulf" (Fars-Iran)
    The Iranian embassy in Beijing voiced strong protest against China's use of the phrase "Arabian Gulf" instead of "Persian Gulf" during the inauguration ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou.
    Iran designated April 30 as National Persian Gulf Day.

Why Is Life Expectancy in Israel So High? - Amnon Rubinstein (Jerusalem Post)
    The UN Development Program places Israel in 10th place for life expectancy, above Norway, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S.
    As sociologist Oz Almog notes, Israelis lead a longer active life than their peers in other countries.
    Perhaps this is why Israelis accepted with equanimity the postponement of the right to pension from 65 to 67 for men and 60 to 62 for women, and why they cannot comprehend the French rage against the postponement of the retirement age to 62.
    The writer, a professor of law at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, is a former Israeli minister of education.

Video: American Football in Israel - Kevin Flower (CNN)

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

  • Netanyahu Agrees to Push for Freeze in Settlements - Mark Landler
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has agreed to push his cabinet to freeze most construction on settlements in the West Bank for 90 days to break an impasse in peace negotiations with the Palestinians, an official briefed on talks between the U.S. and Israel said Saturday. In return, the Obama administration has offered Israel a package of security incentives and fighter jets worth $3 billion that would be contingent on the signing of a peace agreement, the official said. The U.S. would also block any moves in the UN Security Council that would try to shape a final peace agreement.
        This proposed 90-day freeze would be nonrenewable: the U.S. would not ask for further extensions. The logic behind a 90-day extension is that the two sides would aim for a swift agreement on the borders of a Palestinian state. That would make the long dispute over settlements irrelevant since it would be clear which housing blocs fell into Israel and which fell into a Palestinian state.
        The security incentives offered by the administration, though generous, do not appear to go far beyond the support the U.S. typically offers Israel. For example, the U.S. has not agreed to endorse a long-term Israeli security presence in the Jordan River Valley. (New York Times)
  • Difficulty on Iran Nuclear Talks Is a Bad Omen, Diplomats Warn - Glenn Kessler
    For four months, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili traded letters trying to pin down a time and place for Iran to meet with a group of powerful countries concerned about its nuclear program. They appeared to have settled on a start date: Dec. 5. But they have yet to agree on a venue, a length for the talks or the subject. Iran says it is willing to talk about everything but its uranium enrichment program. The other countries want to talk mostly about the nuclear program. (Washington Post)
  • Clinton: Syria Has Not Met U.S. Hopes
    "Syria's behavior has not met our hopes and expectations over the past 20 months - and Syria's actions have not met its international obligations," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar in an interview published Friday. "We are not engaging for engagement's sake. We are engaging to advance our interests," she said.
        "Syria lives with consequences of pursuing policies that are outside established international norms - which is largely why the region's economic development of the past decade has left Syria behind," she said. She also pledged: "Our engagement with Syria will never come at Lebanon's expense. Nor will it come at the expense of holding Syria accountable for its behavior."  (AFP)
        See also Text of Interview with Secretary of State Clinton (U.S. State Department)
  • U.S. Lawmakers Drop Hold on Aid to Lebanese Military - Jay Solomon and Adam Entous
    U.S. lawmakers lifted a congressional hold on $100 million in military assistance for Lebanon's armed forces. "I have...been given reason for confidence that assistance to the LAF [Lebanese Armed Forces] has not fallen into the hands of Hizbullah and that every possible measure is being taken by Lebanese and American authorities to prevent that from happening," House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman said in a statement Friday. U.S. assistance has included armored personnel carriers, helicopters, M-16 rifles, night-vision scopes and advanced training. (Wall Street Journal)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Obama: Netanyahu Willingness to Freeze Settlements for Three Months Is Promising
    U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for trying to win approval from his coalition government for a U.S. proposal to extend a freeze on West Bank settlement construction. "I commend Prime Minister Netanyahu for taking, I think, a very constructive step," Obama said. "It's not easy for him to do but I think it's a signal that he is serious."
        An Israeli political source said the 15-minister security cabinet vote was expected later this week and that 7 ministers - Netanyahu among them - were likely to back the U.S. proposal, against 6 who would vote against and 2 who would abstain. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinians Waiting for U.S. Guarantees, Aid Package - Roee Nahmias
    After Israel received a list of promises from the U.S. in exchange for agreeing to an additional settlement construction freeze, Palestinian sources said Monday their leadership was awaiting guarantees and an aid package from Washington as well. Palestinian sources told al-Quds al-Arabi that the commitments would be given in exchange for a Palestinian agreement to renew direct peace talks with Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Israel to Bring 8,000 Falashmura from Ethiopia - Yael Branovsky
    The Israeli government agreed on Sunday to bring 8,000 Falashmura Jews who remain in transit camps in Gondar, Ethiopia, to Israel over the next four years. (Ynet News)
  • Bodyguard Denies Arafat's Food Was Poisoned - Roee Nahmias
    Yasser Arafat's personal bodyguard said the Palestinian leader did not die as a result of poison in his food. "We all ate what he ate," Imad Abu Zaki, 47, told Al-Hayat in an interview published Sunday. "We would eat from the same food 45 minutes before he did." "It is safe to assume that he was poisoned, but not with food," he said. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A 90-Day Bet on Mideast Talks - Ethan Bronner and Mark Landler
    The pledge by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to push for a new, one-time-only freeze of 90 days on settlement construction in the West Bank represents a bet by the Israelis and the Americans that enough can be accomplished so that the Palestinians will not abandon peace talks even after the freeze ends. Both Israeli and American officials said that final borders could not be negotiated in three months, but Obama administration officials said they believed that the Israelis and Palestinians could make enough progress on the contours of a Palestinian state to largely set aside the dispute over settlements.
        The West Bank is the heartland of much Jewish history, so for many Israelis, giving it up is a painful prospect and should come only as part of a comprehensive deal including Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. (New York Times)
        See also Inside the Clinton-Netanyahu Meeting - Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy)
  • Is America Bribing Bibi or Blackmailing Him? - Lexington
    There another way of looking at the supposed U.S. "incentive" being offered to Israel. Until this weekend, most people assumed that Israel enjoyed an unconditional American promise to maintain its military edge, and a nearly unconditional promise to support it in the UN. Now it seems that President Obama is making the continuation of some of these things conditional on Israel's acceptance of a three-month settlement freeze, during which Israel will be pressed to agree to final borders with a putative Palestinian state in the West Bank. (Economist-UK)
  • The Cedar Resistance - Josh Block
    Just a few years ago, Lebanon appeared to be a foreign-policy success for the U.S. as the Lebanese people, bolstered by international support, succeeded in expelling Syrian military forces and asserting Lebanese sovereignty for the first time in decades. These days, however, the March 14 coalition, as the ruling group is known, has been unable to capitalize on its popular mandate due to the overwhelming force wielded by Hizbullah, which is funded, trained, and armed by Iran and Syria. If the Obama administration takes a bold stand in favor of Lebanon's independence, it will find that many figures in Beirut and other countries with a stake in Lebanon's stability will enthusiastically follow its lead. (Foreign Policy)
  • Observations:

    How to Squeeze Iran on the Nuclear Issue - Ray Takeyh (Washington Post)

    • As Washington assesses how to deal with Iran's nuclear challenge, it must widen its canvass and consider its approach to the slow, simmering political change unfolding there. Given the alienation of the population and the fragmentation of the elite, the regime will not be able to manage a succession crisis.
    • For all his faults, Khamenei is the glue that keeps the Islamic Republic together. Should the elderly supreme leader pass from the scene, the system is too divided and lacks a sufficient social base to easily choose another successor. In the process of consolidating his power and ensuring the fraudulent election of his protege, Khamenei has all but ensured that his republic will not survive him.
    • All this suggests that a transactional relationship with Iran whereby carrots and sticks are traded for modest nuclear concessions is unwise.
    • History has shown that human rights do contribute to dramatic political transformations. An emphasis on human rights today can not only buttress the viability of the Green Movement but also socialize an important segment of the security services, clerical estate and intelligentsia to the norms to which a state must adhere in order to become a member of global society.
    • By linking its diplomacy to human rights behavior, the U.S. could mitigate Iran's nuclear ambitions and pave the way for a peaceful transition from clerical autocracy to a more responsible and humane government.

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

          See also Five Ways to End 30 Years of Enmity with Iran - Trita Parsi and Reza Marashi (Foreign Policy)

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert