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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Concern has been mounting over the implications of President Obama’s participation this week in the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations summit in Turkey, with some critics painting the organization as anti-Western and advocating Iranian interests.

“The Alliance might more appropriately be called a UN-approved Slush Fund for Advancing Iranian and Other Islamic Interests,” wrote Claudia Rosett, a Forbes contributor and journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

A separate report by the Heritage Foundation labeled the Alliance forum “well-intentioned” with little prospect for success due to “bias and objectionable proposals to freedom of expression.” The report was titled “Why President Obama should not attend the Alliance of Civilizations forum.”

The organization was formed in 2005 as an offshoot of the Dialogue of Civilizations, an earlier UN project founded by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who is still a member of the Alliance. Other Alliance member states or participating organizations include China; the Organization of the Islamic Conference; the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; the Arab League; Turkey; and the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization.

Jorge Sampaio, UN High Representative for the Alliance, declared at a press conference in Iran last year that freedom of speech should be balanced with respect for religion. Iran’s Khatami, meanwhile, has reportedly been actively involved with shaping the Alliance’s agenda.

In 2006, the Alliance released a 63-page official report largely laying blame on the West for negative perceptions of Muslims and Islam. The report only mentions Islamic terrorism once – in its recommendations section where it suggests that Western media should not use the term terrorism.

The report also seems to focus disproportionately on Israel. It implies that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is largely to blame for much of the violence in the Middle East. The report recognizes the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative, which defenders of Israel warn would leave the Jewish state with truncated, difficult-to-defend borders and could threaten Israel’s Jewish character by compelling it to accept millions of foreign Arabs. The Initiative calls for a total Israeli retreat from the Golan Heights, West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.

Following scores of denials that he would trumpet the plan, Obama in January hailed the Arab initiative as important in an interview with an Arab television network – his first formal interview as president.

State Department Delegation Promises
Opposition To Israeli Settlements

A delegation from the State Department promised the Palestinians that the Obama administration will strongly oppose any new Jewish construction in the strategic, biblical West Bank, a top Palestinian Authority official told WorldNetDaily.

The PA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. delegation last week told the PA in a meeting that it views Israel’s presence in the West Bank as an obstacle to peace and that Obama was ready for a possible confrontation with incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue of any new construction in the territory.

The PA official, who was present at last week’s meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said the State Department officials told the Palestinian leadership that Obama opposed both so-called illegal outposts and “natural growth” of settlements – meaning expansions of existing Jewish communities in the West Bank to accommodate population growth.

The Bush administration also opposed “illegal outposts,” a term referring to Jewish structures built in the West Bank without Israeli government approval. But the Bush White House and State Department largely accepted expansions resulting from natural growth.

The PA official said Obama’s administration is apparently seeking a nearly complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within range to launch rockets at Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport.

One Palestinian activist told this column that the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem is closely monitoring all Jewish construction in the West Bank.

“The consulate is in contact with many Palestinian activists. They tell us that if we see a single packet of cement for [Jewish] building, to call and let them know,” the activist said.

Israeli officials previously confirmed to this column that the U.S. consulate was closely monitoring both West Bank and eastern Jerusalem construction to the point that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert received several calls from the consulate since January asking about the alleged sighting of bulldozers in Maale Adumim, an eastern Jerusalem community.

Fatah Claims Responsibility
For Ax Murder

The military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah organization proudly claimed responsibility for the ax murder of a 13-year-old Jewish boy this past week. Much of the Israeli media, however, is claiming the attack was perpetrated by an unknown assailant.

A terrorist leader of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s declared military wing, called this reporter to say the attack was carried out to avenge the Feb. 12, 2007, assassination of Hizbullah arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh. He said the attack was carried out by members of what he called the Imad Mughniyeh Brigades, which he said is composed of Fatah Al Aksa Brigades gunmen.

The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades later released an official pamphlet taking credit for the attack and also put out a statement to that effect on its website.

The 13 year old was killed, and another boy, age 7, was moderately hurt when a Palestinian attacker entered the Jewish community of Bat Ayin in the southern West Bank between Jerusalem and the biblical city of Hebron. The community is particularly easy to infiltrate since its inhabitants refuse to build a security fence, explaining that a fence would be a sign of weakness. The Palestinian terrorist used an ax to attack the two boys.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the book “Schmoozing with Terrorists.” 

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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