Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 6, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

30,000 Parade through New York in Support of Israel - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel-Jerusalem Post)
    Despite a persistent downpour, some 30,000 people marched through New York on Sunday in the annual Celebrate Israel Parade.
    The night before the parade, the Empire State Building was lit up in blue and white to mark the occasion.
    The Celebrate Israel Parade included marchers from more than 250 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, floats, marching bands and performers such as the cast of the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof and the Yeshiva University-based a cappella group The Maccabeats.

Another Gaza Tunnel Digger Captured - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Israeli security forces arrested a 17-year-old Gazan who was a member of Hamas' military wing last month after he crossed the border fence into Israel, it was announced Sunday, the second such arrest in the past month.
    He said he dealt with tunnels and admitted they were to be used by Hamas special forces to kidnap IDF soldiers, commit suicide attacks, and commit large-scale attacks on Israeli towns.
    The majority of tunnel entrances are located in and around schools, mosques, and private homes, built with the knowledge that Israel is less likely to attack these structures.

Islamic State Kills Dozens of Its Own in Hunt for Spies - Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Bassem Mroue (AP)
    The drone killing in March of Islamic State senior commander Abu Hayjaa al-Tunsi sparked a panicked hunt within the group's ranks for spies who could have tipped off the U.S-led coalition about his closely guarded movements.
    By the time it was over, the group would kill 38 of its own members on suspicion of acting as informants. They were among dozens of IS members killed by their own leadership in recent months in a vicious purge after a string of airstrikes killed prominent figures.

British Special Forces Operating in Syria Alongside Rebels (Telegraph-UK)
    British special forces are operating on the front line against the Islamic State in Syria, according to rebel commanders.

PA Police Push Back Palestinian Rioters at Joseph's Tomb (Times of Israel)
    Palestinian security forces managed to push back rioters who were advancing on Joseph's Tomb in Nablus in the West Bank on Saturday in order to set the site on fire.
    Rumors had spread that Jamal Dawiqat, 20, had died after being wounded by IDF fire on Thursday after trying to throw a firebomb at Jews praying at the site.
    Rioters took to the streets, setting tires on fire and clashing with PA police, who responded with tear gas.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • France Holds Talks on Mideast Peace Process - Aurelien Breeden
    With the Obama administration having effectively given up on negotiating a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians, France tried its hand on Friday at making Middle East peace but ended the day with little to show for its efforts. In the months since revealing its initiative in January, France had already tempered its ambitions and its policy positions amid a change in its foreign policy leadership. The French foreign minister at the time, Laurent Fabius, had said that France would unilaterally recognize Palestine as an independent state if the effort failed. Fabius has since been replaced by Jean-Marc Ayrault who is no longer pushing for unilateral recognition of an independent Palestinian state.
        The meeting on Friday, which lasted only three hours, amounted to little more than an extended photo opportunity. French officials said the meeting was the first step toward fostering a positive environment for the Israelis and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
        Reacting to the meeting in Paris, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the conference "constituted a missed opportunity....History will record that the conference in Paris only hardened the Palestinian position and distanced the chances for peace."  (New York Times)
        See also Middle East Peace Initiative - Joint Communique (Paris, June 3, 2016) (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Iran's Supreme Leader: Don't Trust, Don't Cooperate with America - Rick Gladstone
    Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Friday that trusting or cooperating with the U.S. would be a big mistake, an assertion that seemed to rule out any greater collaboration despite the nuclear deal reached a year ago. "We have many small and big enemies," he said, noting that the worst are the U.S., Britain and Israel, which he described as "the damned and cancerous Zionist regime."
        Khamenei appeared to dismiss any possibility of greater coordination with the Americans, exhorting Iranians not to be lulled into "the enemy's deceptive plots to entangle Iran."  (New York Times)
  • New York Governor to Halt State Business with Groups that Back Boycott of Israel - Jesse McKinley
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York ordered agencies under his control on Sunday to divest themselves of companies and organizations aligned with a Palestinian-backed boycott movement against Israel. Cuomo called the BDS movement an "economic attack" on Israel and said, "If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Yes to Peace, No to Dividing Jerusalem - Tovah Lazaroff and Jeremy Sharon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Sunday not to divide Jerusalem in his pursuit of a two-state solution with the Palestinians, during a ceremony at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem to mark the unification of the city 49 years ago, during the Six-Day War.
        "Israel wants peace. I want peace. I want to renew the diplomatic process to achieve peace. But peace, if it's achieved, will come through direct talks between us and our neighbors, at the end of which they will recognize that Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people.... Those who deny that Israel is the homeland of the Jews, who deny our claims to Jerusalem and turn the Temple Mount into an instrument of incitement and hatred, have a long way to go before they are ready for peace."
        At a later event he spoke of how Israeli rule of Jerusalem provides a safe haven for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. "There was no peace for the religions until Jerusalem was under Israeli sovereignty. Someone was always dispossessed. It is only when we watch over the city, under Israeli sovereignty, that there can be freedom for the three religions." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Are Pro-Jordanian Political Forces Organizing among Palestinians in Hebron? - Pinhas Inbari
    Traditional tribal figures in the Hebron area of the West Bank appear to be organizing a pro-Jordanian political force in opposition to the Palestinian Authority (PA). A video on the Facebook page of the "Tribal Council of Mt. Hebron" shows a recent meeting of the group that opened with the Jordanian anthem and under the Jordanian flag, with no PA flag visible.
        Relations between Jordan's King Abdullah and PA leader Abbas broke down half a year ago after senior Jordanian religious leaders visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem were made to leave, including Jordan's Chief Kadhi and Minister of Religion. Later, the PA refused to let Jordan implement the agreement it made with U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, with Israel's approval, to place streaming video cameras on the Temple Mount.
        In light of the tension between Jordan and the PA, supporters of Jordan in Hebron began to organize to advance their interests outside the framework of the PA. The writer is a veteran Palestinian affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel Dodged a Bullet at French Middle East Summit - Herb Keinon
    Israel dodged a bullet on Friday when the French Middle east summit concluded with a communique that did little more than pledge allegiance to a two-state solution. There were concerns that the conclusions would include a firm deadline for the talks between Israel and the Palestinians, that it would place all the onus of responsibility on Israel, and that it would set new parameters for peacemaking.
        In the end - thanks largely to U.S. efforts - the participants reaffirmed "their support for a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." That's not exactly revolutionary. Fears that the meeting would put into motion an effort that would result in the international community imposing a solution on Israel never materialized.
        The communique that emerged Friday would not have been as neutral and bland as it was without U.S. efforts to water down the language, and Israel was in close coordination with Washington over the last few weeks on this matter. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why U.S. Diplomacy Can't Fix the Middle East - Aaron David Miller
    For much of my 24-year career as a State Department Middle East analyst, negotiator and adviser, I held out hope that a conflict-ending peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians was possible. I had faith in negotiations as a talking cure and thought the U.S. could arrange a comprehensive solution. I believed in the power of U.S. diplomacy. But by the time I left government in 2003, I was a disillusioned diplomat and peace processor with serious doubts about what the U.S. could accomplish in the Middle East.
        U.S.-brokered peace in the Middle East is a quixotic quest. And the more we try and fail, the less credibility and leverage we have in the region. I thought if we just kept the process going, if we were committed and creative, we would somehow find our way to agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians on Jerusalem, borders and refugees, along with agreement between the Israelis and the Syrians on the Golan Heights. But we never got there. Process can't substitute for substance.
        U.S. diplomacy can be effective when all parties feel an urgency to make decisions and when gaps separating the parties can actually be bridged. The writer, a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, served in the State Department from 1978 to 2003. (Washington Post)

Jerusalem Day: A Personal Recollection - Michelle Mazel (Jerusalem Post)

  • One tends to forget the days of terror that preceded the reunification of Jerusalem almost half a century ago. Egyptian president Nasser had blockaded the Straits of Tiran on the Red Sea, effectively cutting off Israeli maritime access to Asia and to Africa; he ordered the UN peacekeeping force to leave the Sinai Peninsula where it had been posted since the 1956 Suez war.
  • On June 5, 1967, a sudden Jordanian artillery barrage on Jerusalem took everyone by surprise. I left work to go to my two-year-old daughter who was with a caretaker. As I walked, there was a pervasive smell of gunpowder and the streets were deserted. The sound of big guns was heard intermittently.
  • The hills of Jerusalem reverberated with artillery fire. Egyptian radio had special broadcasts in Hebrew, and boasted of a string of successes. Any minute we expected Egyptian planes to bomb the city.
  • Around two or three in the morning Kol Israel suddenly announced that the Egyptian air force had been completely eliminated. Meanwhile reinforcements had been pouring into Jerusalem and were soon routing the Jordanians.
  • After a global cease-fire was reached on June 11, the Israeli government took a momentous decision and the walls between eastern and western Jerusalem went down. An incredible event followed.
  • Tens of thousands of Israelis walked to what had hitherto been forbidden territory, while tens of thousands of Arabs were going the other way, eager to discover the new city. There was not the slightest incident to mar this extraordinary day where we all thought that a new beginning was bringing hope to all.

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