News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinian Rockets Hit Israel, Breaking Hamas Truce - Isabel KershnerThree Kassam rockets fired from Gaza on Tuesday struck the Israeli town of Sderot and its environs, constituting the first serious breach of a truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said the rocket fire from Gaza had been "a grave violation of the calm" that came into effect last Thursday. Islamic Jihad, a small extremist group, claimed responsibility for the attack. Previous cease-fire understandings in Gaza have fallen apart over the inability of Palestinian leaders to contain the smaller groups. (New York Times)
Syria Planned to Supply Iran with Nuclear Fuel, Israel Says - Ian BlackIsrael believes that Syria was planning to supply Iran with spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing into weapons-grade plutonium from the site it bombed last September, and which is currently being inspected by the UN's nuclear watchdog. An adviser to Israel's national security council said Tuesday, "The Iranians were involved in the Syrian program. The idea was that the Syrians produce plutonium and the Iranians get their share. Syria had no reprocessing facility for the spent fuel. It's not deduction alone that brings almost everyone to think that the link exists." (Guardian-UK)
Ahmadinejad Proposes Trial for Leaders of Countries Sanctioning TehranPresident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed the formation of a special court to punish the world "tyrants" for their attempt to thwart Iran's nuclear program. Ahmadinejad told a group of judges that "a court should be formed to try and punish all world criminals who invade the rights of the Iranian nation." (AP/FOX News)
Iran Would Consider U.S. Diplomatic PresenceTehran would consider any U.S. request to set up a diplomatic presence in Iran, the country's official news agency reported on Tuesday. On Monday, U.S. officials floated the idea of opening an interests section in Iran. Iran has operated an interests section in Washington for years, but the U.S. has had no diplomatic presence in Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and embassy hostage crisis. The U.S. currently relies on the Swiss Embassy in Tehran to handle the affairs of U.S. citizens in the country. A U.S. interests section in Tehran would be similar to the one the State Department runs in Havana. (AP/MSNBC)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Gaza Crossings Sealed in Response to Palestinian Rocket Attack - Barak Ravid, Amos Harel, Yuval Azoulay and Fadi EyadatDefense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the closure of all crossings through which goods enter Gaza in response to Tuesday's Kassam rocket fire on Israel, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday. The continued rocket fire constitutes a "blatant violation of the cease-fire on the part of Palestinian groups," Prime Minister Olmert said. Senior security sources said Israel would not be able to ignore the attack. (Ha'aretz)
After Olmert-Mubarak Meeting: Gaza Crossing to Remain Shut Until Abducted Israeli Soldier Freed - Tomer ZarchinEgypt assured Israel on Tuesday that the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt will remain closed until a deal is reached that secures the release of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, a senior Israeli official said after meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh between Prime Minister Olmert and Egyptian President Mubarak. Mubarak said that Egypt was working to secure Shalit's release, and Olmert thanked him for Cairo's role in the Gaza cease-fire agreement. The leaders also discussed arms smuggling into Gaza during the meeting. The London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat quoted Olmert as saying that if the smuggling of weapons into Gaza does not cease, Israel will consider the cease-fire agreement violated and will be forced to respond militarily. (Ha'aretz)
Attempted Coup Splits Hamas Military Forces - Avi IssacharoffThe Hamas military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, has split into two groups after an attempt to replace its military commander, Ahmed Al-Jabari, with Imad Akal. Mohammed Deif, the former head of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, was behind the attempt, according to Palestinian sources. There are now two camps: one led by Al-Jabari and the other by Akal. There have been long-standing disagreements between Al-Jabari and the political leadership of Hamas in Gaza. The tension exploded when Hamas police attempted to arrest members of the military group who were suspected of criminal activities. The Hamas militants resisted arrest, and the police and Iz al-Din al-Qassam members exchanged fire. According to the sources, Iz al-Din al-Qassam is divided, and there have been several attempts by commanders to kill their rivals to ensure they control an area or the organization's assets. In Khan Yunis, for example, for over a year there have been three local commanders, each of whom considers himself the chief in the region. In addition, senior Iz al-Din commanders have become more involved in criminal activities, particularly smuggling, which they control exclusively. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
A Surprise from Syria and Israel? - David IgnatiusWhat's going on between Syria and Israel? Are the indirect peace negotiations through Turkish mediators that were announced last month for real? Syrian President Bashar al-Assad favored an opening to Israel to counter attempts by the U.S., France and Saudi Arabia to isolate his country. Oddly enough, the attack on Syria's secret nuclear reactor, which was destroyed by the Israelis on Sept. 6, 2007, may have helped the peace talks. The Israelis felt that their decisive action helped restore the credibility of their deterrence policy. The Syrians appreciated that Israeli and American silence allowed them time to cover their tracks. Finally, the fact that Assad kept the nuclear effort a secret, and that he managed the post-attack pressures, showed Israelis that he was truly master of his own house, and thus a plausible negotiating partner. (Washington Post)
Israel's Side of the Story - Lenny Ben-DavidNicholas Kristof in the New York Times (22June08) finds the idea of Jews living in their second holiest city, Hebron, illegal or "utterly impractical." Sorry, Mr. Kristof, many Jews want the right to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs, something denied to Jews after the 1929 massacre of Hebron's Jews. Many of those closed shops you referred to were once Jewish properties. You claim one-third of settlement land is privately owned by Palestinians.
Not according to the Israeli Supreme Court - the "paragon of justice, decency, and fairness" - that allowed the construction of settlements on "state land." When a settlement was built on private land, the court ordered it removed immediately. (The Elon Moreh case.) The delay of sick Palestinians in ambulances at checkpoints is tragic, but the use of those ambulances to ferry explosives used by suicide bombers is lethal and criminal. I'm not surprised they get delayed at checkpoints.
Your portrait of evil Israelis just can't be complete without the canard of Israelis using five times more water than Palestinians. A study by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences along with their Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli counterparts ten years ago found: "Per capita water use for urban Palestinians reaches a maximum of 100 cubic meters a year, similar to Israeli use." The study suggests that low figures for rural Palestinians "is likely to increase with improvement in the level of living."
Lastly, all modern, developed 21st century societies use much more water than developing societies. Cross the U.S. border into Mexico and per capita water usage drops by two-thirds. The writer served as deputy chief of mission in Israel's embassy in Washington. (New York Times) See also The Two Israels - Nicholas D. Kristof (New York Times)
Israel: Security Must Exist Prior to the Establishment of a Palestinian State - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni addressed the Berlin Conference in Support of Palestinian Civil Police and the Rule of Law on Tuesday:
We cannot simply determine the border of the Palestinian state, without being able to hand over the keys to an effective and responsible government able to restore law and order - the subject of today's conference - on the other side.
Security, law and order are necessary conditions that must exist prior to the establishment of the Palestinian state. Our ability for compromise during negotiations is dependent on real change in these areas, and also upon appropriate arrangements in the agreement. The faith of the Israeli public in the process is dependent on that.
Israel will not accept another extreme Islamic state - another terror state in the area - or a situation wherein a state is unable to fulfill its commitments and to control its own territory. Take the example of the Gaza Strip. We disengaged from Gaza; we evacuated settlements and redeployed our military. In return, we got terror.
The situation in Gaza must change, and none of us can permit ourselves to take a similar risk regarding the West Bank. The actual security situation in the West Bank, and certainly in Gaza, continues to be difficult. Our ability to remove a roadblock is determined by the security of Israelis on its other side. We must be certain that we are not putting our citizens at risk in any situation.