Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Aipac briefing

Obama Stresses Hopes for Peace, Support for Israel

Top E.U. Official Blames Hamas for Gaza Conflict

New U.N. Ambassador: U.S. Must Be Firm With Iran

Roadside Bomb Kills Israeli Soldier Near Gaza Border

Iran Seeks to Replenish Hamas' Weapon Stocks in Gaza

Natural Gas Find Could Transform Israel's Economy

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Obama Stresses Hopes for Peace, Support for IsraelIn a television interview with Dubai-based Al Arabiya, President Barack Obama on Monday reiterated U.S. support for Israel and expressed his hopes about the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, The Washington Post reported. "Israel is a strong ally of the United States," Obama said. "They will not stop being a strong ally of the United States. And I will continue to believe that Israel's security is paramount." The president added that the United States "cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them," stressing the need for patience in the quest for peace. Speaking before AIPAC Policy Conference delegates last June, then-Senator Obama issued a similar call for cautious optimism along the "long road to peace." Click here to watch his Policy Conference speech.
Top EU Official Blames Hamas for Gaza ConflictHamas bears full responsibility for the recent violence in Gaza, a top European Union official said Monday during a visit to the coastal strip, Agence France Presse reported. "At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas," Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said at a press conference in Jabalya, a town in northern Gaza. "I intentionally say this here—Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such." Michel was in the region to announce new EU-sponsored aid and development projects for the Palestinians. The United States has also pledged its commitment to reconstructing Gaza in partnership with the Palestinian Authority.
New U.N. Ambassador: U.S. Must Be Firm With IranAmbassador Susan Rice said Monday that the United States would continue to press Iran to halt its illicit nuclear program, as called for in multiple binding U.N. Security Council resolutions, Reuters reported. "We remain deeply concerned about the threat that Iran's nuclear program poses to the region, indeed to the United States and to the entire international community," Rice, the newly-appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said after a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "Dialogue and diplomacy must go hand-in-hand with a very firm message from the United States and the international community that Iran needs to meet its obligations as defined by the Security Council and its continued refusal to do so will only cause pressure to increase." Click here to learn about Iran's quest for a nuclear weapons capability.
Roadside Bomb Kills Israeli Soldier Near Gaza BorderOne Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer was killed and three others were wounded on Tuesday when a roadside bomb detonated under an army vehicle, The Jerusalem Post reported. While no one claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred along the Gaza-Israel border, a Hamas leader said his group had not agreed to a cease-fire with Israel and that "the Zionists are responsible for any aggression." An IDF official warned that Hamas would continue to carry out attacks against Israel until a long-term truce agreement was reached. On a related note, Israeli military sources said Hamas fired a Qassam rocket into the sea on Sunday to test the range of rockets left in its arsenal after Israel's recent operation. Click here to learn about Hamas' terrorist activity in Gaza.
Iran Seeks to Replenish Hamas' Weapon Stocks in GazaAccording to Israeli intelligence assessments, Iran has renewed its efforts to supply advanced weaponry to the terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, The Jerusalem Post reported. The IDF is concerned that Iran will provide Hamas with long-range Fajr missiles, which have a range of 43 miles and can easily reach Tel Aviv if fired from Gaza. The IDF believes that it destroyed about 1,200 Hamas rockets during Operation Cast Lead, but estimates that the terrorist group has about 1,000 left in its arsenal, including long-range Grad-model Katyushas. Israeli intelligence officials also believe that Iran has launched an internal probe to determine why Hamas was unable to kill more Israeli soldiers in Gaza and why the terrorist group could not fire more long-range rockets deep into Israel. Iran is a prime backer of Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction.
Natural Gas Find Could Transform Israel's EconomyIsrael could be one step closer to energy independence after drilling companies announced the discovery of "extremely significant" natural gas reserves at an offshore drilling site in the Mediterranean, about 60 miles off the coast of Haifa, Israel, the Web site Israel 21c reported. One massive pocket of natural gas is estimated to contain more than three trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to feed Israel's energy needs for 15 years. "It can contribute a lot to the Israeli economy," said Shaya Segal of Delek Drilling company. "And give us independence with anything that has to do with natural gas." In Israel, that would mean fueling power plants with natural gas, as opposed to coal or oil fuel sources, which produce more pollution. "It's much more environmentally friendly," Segal said.

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