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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
May 26, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Israelis Oppose '67 Borders with Land Swaps (AP-Washington Post)
    According to a survey of Jewish Israelis published Wednesday by the Geocartographia Institute, 61% oppose the formula of 1967 borders with land swaps as a basis for an agreement with the Palestinians, while only 27% favor it.

Two Views on Netanyahu's U.S. Visit: Ha'aretz Poll: Netanyahu's Popularity Soaring Following Washington Trip - Yossi Verter (Ha'aretz)
    A new poll conducted by Dialog, under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of the Tel Aviv University Statistics Department, showed that 47% of the Israeli public believes Netanyahu's U.S. trip was a success, while only 10% viewed it as a failure.
    See also Israelis See Netanyahu Trip as Diplomatic Failure - Ethan Bronner (New York Times)

Hizbullah Says Most Syrians Still Back Assad - Yara Bayoumy (Reuters)
    Lebanon's Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday that most Syrians still backed President Bashar al-Assad and the removal of his regime would serve U.S. and Israeli interests.

Maps, Land and History: Why 1967 Still Matters - Tim Lister (CNN)
    On the website of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a map with a message. It displays how regional borders looked before the Six-Day War in 1967.
    It notes that the distance from what was in 1967 the armistice line with Jordan to the Israeli city of Netanya on the Mediterranean was 9 miles; to Beersheba, 10 miles; and to Tel Aviv, 11 miles.
    The point is a simple one: Israel was virtually impossible to defend; any aggressor would try to cut it in half. That's just what the Arab armies tried to achieve in 1967.

Israel v. Palestine Is Not a Border Dispute - David Frum (National Post-Canada)
    For two years, the Palestinian Authority leadership has refused to meet with Netanyahu.
    Rather than seek a negotiated outcome, the PA has tried to mobilize outside forces against Israel and has made a unity deal with Hamas.
    This behavior merits a slap-down from the U.S. Instead, President Obama devoted one-fifth of his speech on Thursday to Palestinian concerns.
    If that's the consequence for bad behavior, why should the PA ever change to good behavior?
    The so-called peace process remains stalled in a Palestinian fantasy land where the one and only issue is: Destroy Israel now? Or later?

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama to Palestinians: The UN Route Is a Mistake
    After meeting in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Obama said: "What the United Nations is not going to be able to do is deliver a Palestinian state. The only way that we're going to see a Palestinian state is if Israelis and Palestinians agree on a just peace. And so I strongly believe that for the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake; that it does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people, it will not achieve their stated goal of achieving a Palestinian state."
        "The Israelis are properly concerned about the agreement that's been made between Fatah and Hamas....Hamas has not shown any willingness to make the kinds of concessions that Fatah has, and it's going to be very difficult for us to get a Palestinian partner on the other side of the table that is not observing the basic Quartet principles that both David and I believe in - the need to renounce violence, recognize the State of Israel, abide by previous agreements."  (White House)
        See also Obama Pushes Europe Not to Support Palestinians' UN Statehood Bid - Christi Parsons and Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times)
        See also European Nations Could Make the Difference in Palestinians' Push for Recognition
    Europe has a swing vote of sorts: Without its support a UN resolution could more easily be dismissed as nothing new, a result of the automatic anti-Israel majority in the General Assembly; but a pro-Palestinian groundswell by major European nations with deep ties to Israel, such as Britain and France, could provide tail wind to talk of boycotts and mass protests against Israel. Most Europeans favor giving the Palestinians full statehood - but, like the Americans, they prefer negotiations to get there. (AP-Washington Post)
  • U.S.: Hizbullah Has More Missiles than Most States - Charley Keyes
    Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that Hizbullah is armed with more missiles and rockets than most states, possibly armed with chemical or biological warheads. Hizbullah cruise missiles could threaten U.S. ships with anti-ship missiles with a range of 65 miles. (CNN)
  • Egypt to Reopen Gaza Border Crossing, Raising Israeli Concerns - Ernesto Londono and Joel Greenberg
    Egypt will permanently open its border crossing with Gaza this weekend, the government announced Wednesday. Opening it will ease the blockade imposed by Israel - and supported by Egypt - after the Islamist movement Hamas took control of the strip in 2007. Israel fears the move could make it easier for the Iran-backed group to stockpile weapons. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Seeks Coalition of Democracies Against PA Statehood Bid - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left Washington on Tuesday confident that the U.S. will veto any UN Security Council resolution in September recognizing a Palestinian state, senior Israeli officials said. The U.S. views such a move as something that will only worsen the conflict and is in direct contradiction to U.S. policy over the past 20 years of reaching a negotiated settlement. The Israeli approach now is to put together a "critical minority" of 30 to 40 democracies - EU countries, Canada, Australia and others - to oppose the move in the General Assembly.
        Regarding security arrangements, Netanyahu made sure during discussions in Washington to stress not only an Israeli military presence on the Jordan River to prevent smuggling of terrorists and missiles from Jordan into the West Bank, but also to ensure that Israel has the capability to put military installations and forces on the commanding heights in Judea and Samaria. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Experts Weigh In on Obama's Middle East Speech - Jennifer Rubin
    Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator, said throwing out the reference to 1967 borders with no explanation or background was an error, especially since Obama violated the "cardinal rule" in dealing with Israel: no surprises.
        Elliott Abrams, a veteran Middle East negotiator, told me, "The 'borders and security first' idea will not work. For one thing, the far northern and southern borders are easy and the security fence runs pretty much along the Green Line. The hard part is near Jerusalem - meaning that without discussing Jerusalem, you can't do much on borders. For another, 'security' requires detailed discussions but at bottom means knowing who is across the line and what their intentions are. A security agreement with a joint Fatah-Hamas government is a non-starter."
        Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies e-mailed me: "The Palestinians have made it clear that they are committed to the unilateral track regardless of what the Israelis offer up, which will be a deterrent for the Israelis to come to the table." He added: "I think that Camp David 2 [with President Clinton] and Taba showed the world that you can't make a deal by tackling borders and security without first tackling Jerusalem and refugees...[which] cut to the core of [the Palestinians'] long-standing rejection of Israel's very existence. If anything, they should be tackled first."  (Washington Post)
  • Who Made the "Hard Choices" on Peace? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    A day after President Obama's second speech in four days in which he asserted the 1967 lines must be the basis for future peace talks, the front-page headline of the New York Times says everything about the impact of his stands. It reads "Obama Presses Israel to Make Hard Choices." Not his lengthy description of U.S.-Israel security cooperation. Not his pledge to preserve the security of the Jewish state. Not his vow to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. What the world heard and what the world understood is that Obama believes Israel must be pressured hard if there is to be peace.
        Israel has already made "hard choices." Israel signed the Oslo Accords empowering terrorist Yasir Arafat in 1993; and handed over all of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority in 2005. It offered Arafat in 2000 and 2001, and his successor Mahmoud Abbas in 2008, a Palestinian state in virtually all of the West Bank, a share of Jerusalem and Gaza, and was turned down every time. (Commentary)
  • Peace Comes Only with Arab World's Acceptance of Israel - Rep. Eric Cantor
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told AIPAC on May 22: "A Palestinian woman from Gaza arrives at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for lifesaving skin treatment for burns over half her body. After the conclusion of her extensive treatment, the woman is invited back for follow-up visits to the outpatient clinic. One day she is caught at the border crossing wearing a suicide belt. Her intention? To blow herself up at the same clinic that saved her life."
        "What kind of culture leads one to do that? Sadly, it is a culture infused with resentment and hatred. It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians' and the broader Arab world's refusal to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not about the '67 lines."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • A Negotiated Agreement Must Include Defensible Borders - Jose Maria Aznar
    Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar told AIPAC on May 24: "You can be sure that powerful voices will increase their calls for pressure on Israel. We are concerned that Israel might lack a sufficient numbers of allies in the region, in Europe and perhaps even here [in the U.S.]. We at the Friends of Israel Initiative will re-double our global efforts in defense of a negotiated and consensual agreement, born directly between the parties involved. By the way, including borders that must be defensible and secure. And we all know that the '67 lines are neither defensible nor secure."  (Friends of Israel Initiative)

U.S. and Israel: Partners for Peace - David Harris (Boston Globe)

  • Much attention has focused on the differences that reportedly exist between the U.S. and Israel. Of course, every country has its national interests, and no two sets of national interests are completely identical. But what is far more important is the convergent thinking between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu on a number of key issues.
    1. The recent meetings and speeches reveal once again U.S.-Israeli agreement on the pressing threat posed by Iran.
    2. Both countries agree that the recent "reconciliation" agreement between Fatah and Hamas constitutes a major new problem. Hamas is not a partner for peace. It is a terrorist group, recognized as such by the U.S. and EU.
    3. Obama and Netanyahu share the belief that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only come about through direct talks between the parties. It cannot result from a Palestinian campaign to seek a unilateral declaration of independence with UN General Assembly support.
    4. The U.S. and Israel are in full accord that the outcome of any peace process should be two states for two peoples - Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people, and a "non-militarized," to use Obama's language, Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people.
    5. Both sides agree that the final border between Israel and Palestine must be negotiated, not unilaterally declared. Moreover, as Obama said on Sunday, the mutually agreed boundary will have to take into account realities on the ground, including demographic changes and Israel's compelling security needs in a shrunken state.
  • More than anything else, the deep ties that unite the U.S. and Israel, again on display in recent days, are what's really newsworthy.

    The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee.

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