Egypt's Morsi Implies Jews Control the American Media - Josh Rogin
Last week in Cairo, seven U.S. senators had a highly contentious meeting with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi during which the Muslim Brotherhood leader implied that he was the victim of an American media run by the Jews.
The 90-minute meeting devolved into an uncomfortable set of exchanges as the senators pressed the Egyptian president to explain his 2010 comments describing Jews as "bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians" as well as "the descendants of apes and pigs."
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) quoted Morsi as saying: "We all know that the media in the United States has made a big deal of this and we know the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces and they don't view me favorably."
"He did not say [the Jews], but I watched as the other senators physically recoiled, as did I," Coons said. "I thought it was impossible to draw any other conclusion."
U.S. Renews Call for Resumption of Israeli-Palestinian Talks - Jeff Mason (Reuters)
The White House on Wednesday renewed its call for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in the wake of Israeli elections.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "We believe that what needs to take place is direct negotiations between the two parties (Israelis and Palestinians) that addresses the final-status issues and results in a two-state solution."
America's Israeli Dronefather (Economist-UK)
When Abe Karem, the aerospace engineer behind the Predator, America's most successful and most feared military drone, arrived in the U.S. from Israel in 1977, the Pentagon had almost given up on robotic planes.
Karem founded a company, Leading Systems, in the garage of his Los Angeles home and began work on a drone that would ultimately transform the way America wages war.
A graduate in aeronautics of Israel's Technion, Karem joined the Israeli Air Force and within 13 years had completed and deployed 16 projects, mostly conversions of jet fighters to add new weapons or capabilities.
"In Israel at that time, we averaged six months from an idea to completion of flight testing," he says. "Military programs in the United States now typically take over 20 years to achieve first operation."
Jihadists on the Nile - Aaron Y. Zelin (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Jihadist groups are emerging as a major threat in Egypt because of the permissive atmosphere for Islamist mobilization in general since Mubarak's ouster, the ruling Muslim Brotherhood's tolerance toward its fellow Islamists, and the weakness of the Egyptian state.
The Egyptian government has done little thus far to curtail the jihadist emergence.
Given how important the jihadist problem is to both Egyptian and U.S. interests, it should be a central component of bilateral relations.
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- Diplomats Press Iran to Stop Stalling on Nuclear Talks - Laura Rozen
After weeks of Iranian foot-dragging, Western negotiators are pressing Iran to give a firm response to multiple efforts to arrange a new meeting.
"We have been very surprised to see Iran come back to us again and again with new pre-conditions on the modalities of the talks, for example by changing the venue and delaying their responses," a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Wednesday.
Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, noted: "When interested parties can't agree on a date or location for a negotiation, it doesn't portend well for the negotiation itself." (Al-Monitor)
See also Why Tehran Plays Hard to Get on Nuclear Diplomacy - Tony Karon
Western diplomats have been struggling since last December to get Tehran to commit to a time and place for a new round of nuclear talks they had hoped to hold on Jan. 15. Iran is playing hard to get because its decision makers reportedly believe Iran faces no imminent threat of military action, and are confident in their ability to absorb the impact of further sanctions.
Former State Department non-proliferation official Mark Fitzpatrick noted that "It's a misperception that Iran is on the ropes and...sanctions have driven them to the negotiating table." He added that the concessions Iran is demanding up front are beyond what the Obama Administration will be willing to grant, and he feared that Iran's reluctance to talk will strengthen calls for a military response. (TIME)
- U.S. Protests "State of Palestine" Placard in UN - Peter James Spielmann
U.S. UN Ambassador Susan Rice objected Wednesday when the Palestinian foreign minister spoke at the Security Council while seated behind a nameplate that read "State of Palestine." Rice said that the U.S. does not recognize the General Assembly vote in November "as bestowing Palestinian 'statehood' or recognition."
"Only direct negotiations to settle final status issues will lead to this outcome," Rice said.
"Therefore, in our view, any reference to the 'State of Palestine' in the United Nations, including the use of the term 'State of Palestine' on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term 'State of Palestine' in the invitation to this meeting...does not reflect acquiescence that 'Palestine' is a state."
Canadian Ambassador Guillermo E. Rishchynski also complained that allowing the Palestinians to sit behind the "State of Palestine" nameplate "creates a misleading impression" and said Canada would oppose the Palestinians' attempts to upgrade their status in symbolic ways.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Lapid Backs Settlement Blocs, Opposes Dividing Jerusalem - Herb Keinon
Political newcomer Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party became the second largest in Israel's Knesset, winning 19 seats in Tuesday's elections, backs the retention of Ariel - an Israeli city in the West Bank, supports Israel's retention of other major settlement blocs, and is opposed to the division of Jerusalem. He says the capital represents the country's ethos, the reason the Jewish people are in Israel. These positions place him very much in the heart of the Israeli consensus.
- Israel's UN Envoy: If Mali Is on France's Doorstep, Gaza Is in Our Living Room - Raphael Ahren
Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council on Wednesday: "France's foreign minister said this month that his country was fighting to prevent the creation of an Islamist terrorist enclave 'at the doorstep of France and Europe.' If Mali is on France's doorstep, Gaza is in Israel's living room."
"France's principled stand should be commended. We only ask that France and all the countries who are supporting its principled stand today, support Israel tomorrow when we fight Islamic terrorism on our borders."
Prosor also expressed the Israeli government's view that the UN's upgrade of Palestine to a nonmember observer state has no tangible meaning.
"The only Palestinian state in these halls is the Palestinian state of denial," Prosor said.
(Times of Israel)
- Israel's Elections Confound Critics - Josh Block
While the doomsday predictions of Israel's illiberalism in Tuesday's elections may have been useful for those whose political agendas are served by such misleading portrayals, they stand in stark contrast to reality. Once again, both Israel's next government and its opposition will be led by parties that back the two-state solution.
Israel, a centrist country rooted in liberal, Western values identical to the United States, gave its vote to parties clustered around the political center. Those who predicted a different outcome will now have to ask themselves which of their assumptions, or their agendas, led them so far astray. The writer is CEO of the Israel Project.
- Muslim Brotherhood Deepens Control in Egypt - Zvi Mazel
President Mohamed Morsi is making an all-out effort to appoint members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters to every available position. With the dissolution of the lower house of parliament, Morsi has entrusted the legislative powers to the upper house - where the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists hold 85% of the seats.
The upper house has hastened to pass a new electoral law favoring Islamic parties, and has rejected a proposal that would have made it mandatory for each party to include a woman in the top half of its candidates list. Meanwhile, the government is working on a law curtailing the right to strike and protest.
Morsi is also waging an all-out war against the media and is changing textbooks to better conform with the Brotherhood's doctrine. The Arab Network for Human Rights Information noted: "There were four times as many 'insulting the president' lawsuits during President Mohamed Morsi's first 200 days in office than during the entire 30-year reign of former president Hosni Mubarak." The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt.
- Israeli Settlements' Legal Basis - Alan Baker
The oft-used term "occupied Palestinian territories" has no basis whatsoever in law or fact. The territories are neither occupied nor are they Palestinian. No legal determination has ever been made as to their sovereignty, and by agreement between Israel and the PLO, they are no more than "disputed" pending a negotiated solution, with both sides claiming rights to the territory.
Israel has nevertheless committed itself to negotiate the fate of the area with the Palestinians.
As long as settlements do not violate local Palestinian private property rights, and as long as the issue of the fate of the areas remains a negotiating issue, there is no legal basis for preventing continued settlement, pending the outcome of the final status negotiations. The writer, legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry from 1996 to 2004, participated in the negotiation and drafting of agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians. (USA Today)
Peace Process? Check the Back Burner - Mark A. Heller (New York Times)
- Israelis' preoccupations have shifted and, perhaps in an unconscious echo of Barack Obama's declared priorities for America, they want their leaders to focus on "nation-building at home."
- So to the question that most non-Israelis are asking - "What do the elections mean for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process?" - the answer is, "Not much."
- As a result, the next Israeli government will almost certainly not undertake any major new initiative on the peace process. Its leaders will not be pushed by public opinion to become more proactive.
- Finally, nothing Obama does on this issue can be effective unless it fully complements a visible redefinition by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, of the purpose of the process.
- Only Abbas can dispel the sense of pointlessness - by clearly communicating that positive movement will culminate not just in Israeli concessions on territory but also in a definitive termination of the conflict, the renunciation of any further claims, and the peaceful coexistence of two states for two peoples.
The writer is principal research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
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