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Today’s Top Stories
1. Guilty as charged: Ehud Olmert was convicted of accepting hundreds of thousands of shekels in bribes connected to the Holyland real estate scandal. Former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and several other defendants were also convicted. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for April 28. Take your pick of Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, YNet, Times of Israel, Israel HaYom, and i24 coverage.
Cue up the Israel-warts-and-all commentaries, and, perhaps, an Arab columnist out there lamenting the Arab world’s lack of accountability.
A decision to grant a visa to Aboutalebi could spark opposition in the U.S. Congress and beyond because memories of the 1979-1980 hostage ordeal remain raw, according to Maloney. “This is not buried history,” she said.
Michael Metrinko, a former diplomat and hostage who endured beatings and interrogations during his 444 days of captivity, said it was “really stupid” and ironic for Iran to pick someone associated with taking diplomats hostage to become its top diplomat at the UN.
3. What’s the Palestinian plan for the day after peace talks collapse? The Washington Post assesses a few scenarios: the PA trying to drag Israel to the International Criminal Court, the dissolution or collapse of the Palestinian Authority, boycott efforts, another intifada, and pushing for a one-state solution. How much of this reflects reality and how much are Palestinian scare tactics? Judge for yourself:
“If we are blamed, if there are external actions against us, and the Palestinian Authority collapses, it could lead to either Hamas taking over or to warlordism,” the PLO official said. “The people here do have weapons.”
4. Different Standards for Different Rocket Attacks: Israel couldn’t possibly be judged by different standards to other democracies under fire. Could it?
5. Comments and the Roar of the Crowd – 7: The latest from my inbox. Are readers left out by our comments system? And the perils of poor punctuation.
6. Boycott Threats as a Tool of Diplomacy: The threat of boycotts against Israel is becoming an indelible part of the peace process.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Peace talks? We’re reduced to headlines describing John Kerry’s efforts as rescue and salvage. If those are today’s buzzwords, I’m more hopeful for MH370. The Secretary of State’s returning to Mideast tonight. ‘Nuff said.
• This Irish Times headline sure gives a pass to Palestinian obstructionism. It’s all Israel’s fault.
• Prague police told AFP that Jamal al-Jamal, the PA ambassador to the Czech Republic, was holding the explosive in his hand when it blew up on New Year’s Day. Palestinian officials scrambled to explain the presence of unregistered weapons in the embassy safe Jamal was opening at the time of the blast.
“The explosive was not placed on the door or inside the safe and was not there to protect the safe,” Zoulova said, adding that the investigation was ongoing.
• Jackson Diehl channels his inner Moshe Yaalon: John Kerry’s departure from reality.
Kerry offered an answer to my first critique of him in an interview with Susan Glasser of Politico: “I would ask” anyone “who was critical of our engagement: What is the alternative?” Well, the alternative is to address the Middle East as it really is. Recognize that Egypt’s generals are reinstalling a dictatorship and that U.S. aid therefore cannot be resumed; refocus on resuscitating and defending Egypt’s real democrats. Admit that the Assad regime won’t quit unless it is defeated on the battlefield and adopt a strategy to bring about that defeat. Concede that a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace isn’t possible now and look for more modest ways to build the groundwork for a future Palestinian state.
In short, drop the delusions.
• For more commentary/analysis, see Alan Baker (Kerry’s peace efforts), Khaled Abu Toameh (Palestinians condemned for visiting Auschwitz), A.B. Yehoshua (the peace process is an obstacle to peace), and Jonathan Tobin (thank you, NY Times, for profiling a Palestinian murderer).
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Egypt schedules presidential elections for end of May.
• Haaretz: French Jewish immigration reaches new high.
(Image of Olmert via YouTube/WoodrowWilsonCenter)
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.