A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
December 22, 2009 Shalit Deal Not Closed, Egypt Tightens Border, Iran Update
The news in Israel continued to be dominated by the ongoing discussion on Gilad Shalit. The security committee met for many hours last night. The media tried to give the sense that a decision has to be made but in fact negotiations will continue. It would seem that Israel has agreed to Hamas’ list, but is insisting that 100 of the prisoners are exiled, something that Hamas is having a difficult time accepting, since it is looking forward to the pictures of the West Bank prisoners coming home and reuniting with their families. The negotiations now go back to Hamas, which is divided between the Gaza leadership who is more willing to make concessions, and Damascus who is less interested in making any concessions.
A story that is not getting very much play recently is the effort taking place by Egypt to end the smuggling into Gaza. The Egyptians are sinking steel barriers with pile drivers deep into the ground on the Gaza-Egypt border and there are also stories that they are planning underground water pipes to further block the path. Hamas in Gaza has been very agitated by the actions and has attempted to demonstrate against the Egyptians who have brought additional troops to the border.
Events in Iran continue to develop quickly. Yesterday's funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri shows signs of uniting the opposition and reigniting their protests. History is not full of examples of dictatorships that are committed to holding on to power at all costs that have been overturned.
In the meantime, as the year comes to an end, the Obama administration is going to have no choice but to work to impose the strictest sanctions possible. It will become clear soon enough if Obama’s diplomatic outreach will have been worth it. The White House has been clear in the last few days that while it is not too late for negotiations, time is almost up. Interestingly, J Street, the bad boys of the Jewish community, came out in support of the recent sanctions resolution in the House of Representatives. Previously they did not support that position but since now the Obama Administration sees it as an inevitability, they have come out in support of it. Hmm!
There are a couple of interesting articles worth looking at. The first is an interview Mahmoud Abbas in today's Wall Street Journal
In Defense of America where Roger Cohen discusses anti Semitism- an experience he did not experience and explains a little of his worldview.