Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Aipac briefing

Hamas Threatens Suicide Attacks as Rockets Hit Israel

217 Lawmakers Urge Robust Foreign Aid Budget

U.S. Warns Russia Against Selling Missiles to Iran

Israel Applauds U.N. Resolution on Bilateral Peace Talks

Justice Department Links Iranian Bank to Fifth Avenue Building

Young Israelis Save Food to Feed African Refugees

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Hamas Threatens Suicide Attacks as Rockets Hit IsraelAs Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip escalated their rocket attacks against Israeli civilians this week—more than 50 were fired in the past several days—Hamas leaders threatened to resume suicide bombings inside the Jewish state, Agence France Presse reported. "The world must understand that the situation in southern Israel is intolerable for hundreds of thousands of citizens exposed to rocket fire," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. "We cannot remain with our arms crossed. Either the international community intervenes or we will have to act." Israel also filed a formal complaint with the United Nations stressing that Israeli residents will not be held hostage to Hamas terrorists, and Israel, like every other sovereign nation, maintains the right to defend its citizens in accordance with the U.N. charter. Click here for more information on Hamas' termination of its period of calm with Israel.
217 Lawmakers Urge Robust Foreign Aid BudgetMore than 200 members of Congress—51 senators and 166 House members—sent letters to President-elect Barack Obama last week urging him to support a robust international affairs budget for fiscal year 2010. The letters, led by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) in the Senate and by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) in the House, reinforce America's commitment "to invest in the strategic tools that are essential to ensuring our national security, building economic prosperity and demonstrating our moral values." The international affairs budget directly funds vital security assistance to Israel and thus plays a critical role in ensuring that America's close ally has the resources to maintain its qualitative military edge and to defend itself against increasing threats.
U.S. Warns Russia Against Selling Missiles to IranU.S. officials on Monday demanded answers from Russia on whether it is selling advanced surface-to-air missiles to Iran, a move the U.S. insists could threaten American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported. "We have repeatedly made clear at senior levels of the Russian government that we would strongly oppose the sale of the S-300," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood. "As the U.S. government has said before, this is not the time for business as usual with the Iranian government." Although Moscow has sent conflicting reports on the sale of the S-300 missiles, a senior military intelligence official said the United States believes the sale is taking place. Russia has partnered with Iran to develop the country's nuclear program and has prevented the U.N. Security Council from imposing biting sanctions against Tehran for its illicit atomic work.
Israel Applauds U.N. Resolution on Bilateral Peace TalksIsrael welcomed the passage on Tuesday of a U.N. Security Council resolution expressing support for the "ongoing bilateral negotiations" between Israel and the Palestinians, The Christian Science Monitor reported. "The Security Council's clear support is a vote of confidence in the process Israel is advancing with the legitimate Palestinian leadership, that has no substitute, and that confirms that with sensible leadership it is possible to harness the international community to support Israel's interests and the interests of advancing genuine peace," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in a statement. The resolution, introduced by the United States and Russia, endorsed the Annapolis process and supported the notion that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed." It also reaffirmed a commitment to upholding the Quartet conditions on Hamas—recognition of Israel, renunciation of terrorism and acceptance of previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. The resolution passed by a vote of 14-0, with Libya abstaining.
Justice Department Links Iranian Bank to Fifth Avenue BuildingThe Justice Department announced last week it was seeking to seize part of a large 36-story office tower along New York City's trendy Fifth Avenue, charging that it is co-owned by a front company based offshore and representing Bank Melli—the Iranian national bank sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as a major financier of Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program, The Washington Post reported. "This scheme to use a front company set up by Bank Melli—a known proliferator—to funnel money from the United States to Iran is yet another example of Iran's duplicity," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. According to the report, the Treasury Department also sanctioned the front company, Assa Corp., for providing financial assistance to the Iranian regime. Click here to learn about the importance of sanctions against Iran. Young Israelis Save Food to Feed African RefugeesFour young Israelis have started a group called Fugee Fridays whose mission is to distribute the surplus food from Tel Aviv's Friday Carmel Market—which would otherwise go to waste—to hungry African refugees who fled to Israel on foot to escape persecution, Israel 21c reported. "We knew that while perfectly good food was being thrown away at the vegetable market every Friday, a short distance away the refugees had nothing to eat," said Jesse Fox, the group's founder. "I had written a post for a local blog asking why the Carmel Market throws out so much trash—which is not really trash. Why not use it to feed hungry people? It's a way to merge both green and social activism."

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