Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran Launches Large-Scale War Games - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP/Washington Post)
Syria's Terror Networks - Farid N. Ghadry (Washington Times)
Daniel in the Lions' Den - Daniel Johnson (New York Sun)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
U.S. contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned. While the U.S. insists it is not planning to attack, and is trying to persuade Tehran to stop uranium enrichment, diplomatic sources said that as a fallback plan, senior officials at U.S. Central Command have already selected their target sets inside Iran. The trigger for such an attack reportedly includes any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon. A high-casualty attack on U.S. forces in Iraq could also trigger a bombing campaign if it were traced directly back to Tehran. (BBC News)
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has questioned Israel's policy on preserving holy sites, asking the country to explain whether it protects places considered sacred to religions other than Judaism. Yaron Frost, a spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism, said: "Israel doesn't interfere by making declarations about the regulation of holy sites that are not Jewish out of a sensitivity for the religions involved and a concern that declaring a site holy would be seen as interference in the oversight." Israel said several existing statutes protect holy places by requiring excavation and other projects to first seek government permission if they are near religious sites - Jewish or non-Jewish. (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
In talks with Mahmoud Abbas and Secretary of State Rice on Monday in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Olmert demanded that the Palestinian unity government recognize Israel, renounce terror and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, as specified by the Quartet. Israel will not have any contact with Palestinian figures who are considered moderates if they serve in a government that does not accept the Quartet's conditions, Olmert said. He rejected the suggestion that Israel negotiate with the PLO, headed by Abbas, thereby freeing Hamas of the requirement to recognize Israel. He also demanded that the Palestinian government release captive soldier Gilad Shalit, stop the arms-smuggling between the Sinai and Gaza, and deploy forces in northern Gaza to prevent rocket fire at Israel. (Ha'aretz)
The Mecca agreement provides for a Palestinian coalition government dominated by Hamas which maintains its genocidal aim of wiping Israel, and most of its people, off the map. The PA will continue to tolerate, and even cheer, the daily firing of rockets at Israeli civilian targets and the launching of terrorist attacks. This makes the PA a state sponsor of terrorism. By undermining Western sanctions and rewarding Hamas intransigence, the Saudi deal makes any diplomatic progress on an Israeli-Palestinian solution even more remote. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
All over the non-Muslim world, we hear incessant demands that those who believe in the literal truth of the Koran be granted "respect." We are supposed to watch what we say about Islam, lest by any chance we be considered "offensive." A fair number of authors and academics in the West now have to live under police protection or endure prosecution in the courts for not observing this taboo with sufficient care. A stupid term - Islamophobia - has been put into circulation to try and suggest that a foul prejudice lurks behind any misgivings about Islam's infallible "message." This idiotic masochism has to be dropped.
Where are the denunciations from centers of Sunni and Shiite authority of the daily murder and torture of Islamic co-religionists? Of the regular desecration of holy sites and holy books? Of the paranoid insults thrown so carelessly and callously by one Muslim group at another? This mounting ghastliness is a bit more worthy of condemnation, surely, than a few Danish cartoons. The civilized world - yes I do mean to say that - should find its own voice and state firmly to Muslim leaders and citizens that respect is something to be earned and not demanded with menace. (Slate)
The most robust and effective nonmilitary tool available to the international community is to apply in full UN Security Council Resolution 1737, passed in December. It would employ travel bans and targeted financial sanctions against Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commander Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi and IRGC air force chief General Hosein Salimi, who are listed as persons involved in Iran's nuclear and/or ballistic missile programs. By virtue of listing the overall head of the IRGC (and the head of its air force), the UN empowered member-states to freeze IRGC funds and financial assets.
The Revolutionary Guards are precisely the element within Iran that should be targeted. Considered the backbone of Ahmedinejad's political powerbase, the Guards are an elite military corps that operates independently of Iran's regular armed forces. The IRGC is deeply involved in the country's nuclear, missile and other weapons proliferation activities, and maintains a special branch - the Qods Force - responsible for providing funds, weapons, IED technology and training to terrorist groups like Hizbullah and Hamas and insurgents attacking Coalition and Iraqi forces in Iraq. Indeed, Qods Force commander Mohsin Chizari was among the six Iranians detained in northern Iraq by U.S. forces last month. The writer is senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence and Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Washington Times)
Why did Fatah settle for a unity agreement in February that provided it far less than previous unity proposals that were rejected by Abbas? A close examination of the most recent clashes suggests that Hamas came away the winner and Fatah had to sue for peace. Fatah's forces suffered from internal divisions and rivalries among their leaderships. Unable to unite its forces under a coherent leadership, Fatah suffered greatly during the fighting after January 25. Most of the combatants killed during the fighting belonged to the Presidential Guards, the General Intelligence Service, or the Preventive Security organization. Hamas forces succeeded in capturing and in some cases destroying several of the local headquarters of these organizations, in some cases killing commanders in addition to ordinary soldiers. The intervention of Saudi King Abdullah came at an opportune moment that surely prevented additional Fatah losses on the ground. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
It is now just over a year since Hamas came to power. The Hamas government was required by the international community to recognize Israel's right to exist, and to enable the resumption of earnest peace negotiations. But they have not been able to even contemplate recognizing Israel. Thus they have further increased the misery of their own people by perpetuating the pariah status of their government and by continuing to direct attacks against Israeli civilians. Even as suicide bombings and missile attacks on Israeli towns continue, Hamas still receives a platform for its demagogic show, blaming everybody but themselves for Palestinian oppression and suffering.
It is time to call Hamas' bluff. Its leaders are watching outside reaction in an effort to strike a balance between international demands and their rejectionist ideology. Now the resolve of the international community will be put on trial, and if its determination holds, there is a greater likelihood of compromise on Hamas' part. The writer is the Israeli ambassador in London. (Guardian-UK)
One Harmful Handshake - Danielle Pletka (New York Daily News)
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