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September 19, 2011

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Egypt's Amr Moussa: Camp David Accords "Untouchable" - Tahseen Bakr (MENA-Al-Masry Al-Youm-Egypt)
    The 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, the Camp David Accords, is untouchable, Egyptian presidential hopeful Amr Moussa has said.
    On Saturday, Egypt's state news agency MENA cited Moussa as telling the Kuwaiti paper Al-Jarida that "the treaty has become a historical record."

Turkey Blocks Israeli Bid to Open NATO Office, Says New U.S. Radar Will Not Share Info with Israel (Hurriyet-Turkey)
    Turkey has blocked an Israeli move to open a representation office at NATO headquarters, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Sunday.
    He also insisted that information gathered by a U.S. radar system to be stationed in Turkey's Malatya province as part of a NATO missile-shield project would not be shared with Israel.
    U.S. officials have said they planned to fuse data from radars in Turkey, Israel and other sites to create a comprehensive picture of the missile threat to the region.
    Davutoglu also said Turkey was seeking support for an application to the International Court of Justice to secure a legal condemnation of Israel's Gaza blockade.

    See also Turkey Walks Out of International Conference When Israeli President Speaks (Today's Zaman-Turkey)
    Turkey's European Union Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis walked out of an international conference in Ukraine on Friday when Israeli President Shimon Peres was about to speak.

Al-Hayat: U.S.-Palestinian Ties Strained over Statehood Campaign (Jerusalem Post)
    Even if the Palestinian Authority refrains from taking its bid to the UN Security Council, its statehood campaign will have damaged Palestinian-U.S. ties, officials in the U.S. administration said, according to a Saturday report in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat.
    This was heard not only "from officials close to Israel, such as White House adviser Dennis Ross, but also others such as [Special Assistant to President Obama] Samantha Powers."

Al-Ahram: Egyptians Paid to Storm Israeli Embassy in Cairo (Jerusalem Post)
    Egyptian rioters who stormed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo were paid by a wealthy tycoon, Egypt's state-run Al-Ahram reported Sunday.
    Quoting a "judicial source," the day before the incident protesters were taken by "luxury tourist buses" to a lavish dinner where each participant was given an envelope with between 5,000-11,000 Egyptian pounds ($850-1,850), and instructed to "go to the embassy and create chaos."

Anti-Israel Turks Mistakenly Hack into Palestinian Sites - Ilil Ben Zur-Laron (Ynet News)
    Turkish hackers attacked dozens of Israeli websites over the weekend, only to find out that the sites belonged to Palestinians who use Israeli web servers.
    "The hackers left anti-Israel messages on 70 Palestinian sites," said Shai Blitzblau, the head of Maglan-Computer Warfare and Network Intelligence Labs.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Says Palestinian Statehood Bid at UN Is "Futile" - Robert Berger
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday the Palestinians' plan to seek statehood recognition at the UN is "futile." Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of "consistently evading" negotiations and called on the Palestinian Authority "to abandon unilateral steps." Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, says that by bypassing talks and going to the UN, the Palestinians are violating previous peace agreements, and that could result in Israeli sanctions.
        "They committed themselves to solving all issues of contention with Israel at the negotiating table," he said. "And you've seen very senior people in my government say that if the Palestinians feel free to abrogate their commitments, surely Israel should at least consider doing the same." The Palestinians could also be on a collision course with the U.S., which backs Israel's position that direct negotiations are the only way to achieve Palestinian independence and peace. (VOA News)
  • In West Bank, Modest Expectations from Palestinian Statehood Bid - Joel Greenberg
    After a decline in foreign donations, mainly from Arab countries, the chief worry these days for many Palestinians in the West Bank is not international recognition, but making ends meet. Weary after two uprisings and years of failed negotiations, Palestinians are taking a sober view of the bid for statehood recognition at the UN. While the UN initiative has broad public support, it does not appear to be generating the kind of energy that would fuel sustained protests against Israel. "People here have been through many social, economic and political crises, and they want things to improve, not to go back 10 years," said Muhanad Khalili, a shop manager. (Washington Post)
        See also Palestinians' UN Recognition Bid Met with Apathy on Facebook - Maher Abukhater
    Rather than use her Facebook page to coordinate plans with friends to join the rallies for Palestinian UN membership and statehood recognition, recent college graduate Reem Qadan, 21, is posting critical messages dismissing the UN bid as a "tale of collective mismanagement" by Palestinian leaders. Many of her Facebook friends echoed the sentiments and said they planned to skip the rallies.
        In stark contrast with the flurry of diplomacy and international attention focused on the UN, the mood so far on the streets of the West Bank is surprisingly apathetic and sometimes even a little hostile. "People simply don't care," Qadan said. Giant rallies have been scheduled for Wednesday and Friday. To ensure a good turnout, about 80,000 government workers will be given time off, and some schools will closed. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Tumult of Arab Spring Prompts Worries in Washington - Steven Lee Myers
    The popular uprisings of the Arab Spring have presented the U.S. with challenges - and worst-case scenarios - that would have once been almost unimaginable. What if the Palestinians' quest for recognition of a state at the UN lands Israel in the International Criminal Court? Or if Egypt responds to anti-Israeli sentiments on the street and abrogates the Camp David peace treaty? What if Turkey, a NATO ally, sent warships to escort ships to Gaza in defiance of Israel's blockade, as Prime Minister Erdogan has threatened to do?
        The bold vow on Friday by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek full membership at the UN amounted to a public rebuff of weeks of feverish American diplomacy. "The region has come unglued," said Robert Malley, a senior analyst in Washington for the International Crisis Group. "And all the tools the United States has marshaled in the past are no longer as effective."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Quartet: Israel Showing Flexibility as Palestinian Recognition Bid Approaches - Barak Ravid
    In an effort to convince PA President Abbas to return to the negotiating table with Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu has agreed to show flexibility on a number of issues involving recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; the status of the June 4, 1967, borders and territorial swaps with a Palestinian state; and the time frame for the conclusion of negotiations. Nonetheless, Abbas rejected the new proposal which was presented to him by American Middle East envoys and Quartet representative Tony Blair.
        Blair, the former British prime minister, along with U.S. envoys Dennis Ross and David Hale, conducted intensive discussions last week with Netanyahu on a draft of a Quartet statement calling for the resumption of peace negotiations. The problem is not the Israeli prime minister, who has demonstrated a positive approach, but rather with Abbas, who has rejected every suggestion presented to him, a Blair associate said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Netanyahu: Diplomatic Coordination with Washington "Excellent" - Herb Keinon
    Israel-U.S. cooperation over the past four months has been better than at any other time since President Obama came into office in January 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Sunday. He said diplomatic coordination with Washington has "been excellent" in the run-up to the PA's UN moves. The Palestinians were surprised by the level of opposition they had come up against from the U.S. to their UN gambit, the prime minister said.
        Netanyahu told the cabinet Sunday: "The UN is not a place where Israel wins praise, but I think that it is important that I go there in order to represent both the State of Israel and the truth - and the truth is that Israel wants peace, and the truth is that the Palestinians are doing everything to torpedo direct peace negotiations."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to PA Donors Conference: Cooperation Could Be Severely Compromised If Palestinians Seek Statehood
    Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told the Palestinian Donors Conference on Sunday at the UN that Israel is interested in continuing to assist Palestinian economic development, but this could be affected if the Palestinians unilaterally declare a state. "Future assistance and cooperation could be severely and irreparably compromised if the Palestinian leadership continues on its path of essentially acting in contravention of all signed agreements, which also regulate existing economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," Ayalon said. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Palestine May Win a Vote, But Won't Be a State - Jeffrey Goldberg
    Abbas' plan to ask the UN to recognize an independent state of Palestine will only defer the goal of an independent Palestine. There are only two member states of the UN that can bring it about: Israel and the U.S. Neither supports this resolution. Most Israelis view it as an attempt to limit their options in future negotiations, or to deny to them the holiest sites of the Jewish people and delegitimize the idea of a Jewish state.
        The U.S. opposes the resolution because it would represent yet another entirely symbolic and counterproductive gesture in the long history of Palestinian gesture-making. "This is about shortcutting a process for which there are no shortcuts," said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN. "At the end of the day, there's only one way to create two states for two peoples, and that is negotiations." "To have a drama that changes very little in the world vis-a-vis the actual conflict, and then to expect that while one party is taking this great victory lap the other party is going to run to the negotiating table, is not necessarily realistic."  (Bloomberg)
  • Showdown at the United Nations - Lee Smith
    The UN "is a perfect venue for making Israel look like David going up against Goliath," says Martin Kramer, the Wexler-Fromer fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. While Middle Eastern and European media typically portray Israel as the bully, the optics at the UN, with virtually everyone lined up against the Jewish state, are going to be rather different. "The Europeans," says Kramer, "are going to be left feeling a little dirty for ganging up on Israel."
        Some are wondering if the UN bid may at last provoke a Palestinian version of the Arab Spring. Doubtful, says Kramer. "If there was going to be a Palestinian Arab Spring, it would've happened already. But the Arab Spring has shown that the other Arabs are not all free with only the Palestinians waiting to be liberated. Rather, the Palestinians are arguably better off than lots of others around the region. What irks the Palestinian leadership is that it hasn't been in the spotlight for a while."
        As for the possibility of a third intifada, one rule of Middle East politics, says Kramer, is that "if people are expecting something to happen, it won't."  (Weekly Standard)

Israel's Rights as a Nation-State in International Diplomacy - Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and World Jewish Congress)

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