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Today’s Top Stories
1. Israel HaYom profiled Israel’s new Christian Arab political party, which supports Israel as a Jewish state, and Arabs serving in the IDF. Could this be a game changer for Israeli society?
As of today, the Arab Christian party will be named Habrit Hahadashah (The New Alliance — the word “brit,” which also means covenant, references the New Testament).
This is a historic turning point with profound and far-reaching consequences for Israeli society. If the party is successful, it will provide an alternative for that sector of Israel’s Arab population that seeks full partnership in Israeli society, and which sees a Jewish democratic Israel as its home.
2. Egypt’s interim government is coming together. Most notable among them was Hazem el-Beblawi, “a 77-year-old economist known as a free-market champion, was named as interim prime minister,” and the better known Mohammed ElBaradei, who will become vice president. (The Jerusalem Post explains why Israeli officials aren’t enamored with ElBaradei.)
- Gaza’s water utility may have to release untreated sewage into the sea, having reportedly depleted its strategic water reserves.
- Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims returning from Mecca are stranded at the Cairo airport.
- Egyptian tanks and floodlights are kept pointed at the Gaza border.
- Fuel prices are through the roof and construction has ground to a halt.
While Egypt keeps the Rafah crossing closed, The Media Line points out that Israel’s continuing to send hundreds of truckloads of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing.
4. Bye Bye Bari: Prominent Arab editor resigns after calling Osama Bin Laden “half a terrorist.” His views on Israel are even more incendiary. It’s time for other major Western news services associated with Abdel Bari Atwan to drop him too.
5. Comments and the Roar of the Crowd: What’s on readers’ minds? The latest from the HonestReporting inbox.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Israel’s new ambassador to the US is Ron Dermer. Dermer’s originally from Miami, so you’ll find interesting local angles at the Miami Herald. According to the NY Times, Washington insiders are giving the appointment a thumbs up:
But since November, he has worked to repair his reputation in Washington and has won over many in the White House with the critical roles he played in negotiating a cease-fire after Israel’s eight-day operation in the Gaza Strip, reconciling relations between Turkey and Israel and planning Mr. Obama’s much-heralded March visit to Israel.
Now, several people close to the Obama administration said, any suspicions about Mr. Dermer’s political leanings are outweighed by the benefit of having an ambassador in Mr. Netanyahu’s inner circle . . .
“If you have someone you know is well connected to the prime minister it means you can always use that channel, no matter how sensitive the message is, and understand it’s going to be communicated the way you want it,” said Dennis B. Ross . . .
Ambassador Michael Oren steps down this fall. No word yet on his post-embassy plans.
• Knesset lawmakers revived a bill targeting foreign funding for non-governmental organizations. Details at the Times of Israel.
• Worth reading: Spanish columnist Jorge Marirrodriga (El Pais) visited Sderot and shared his impressions with the European Jewish Press.
People living with this daily routine – many of them teenagers who haven’t known any other kind of life– live within the borders drawn by the United Nations in 1947. They belong to different religious and ethnic groups. They are Jews and Muslims, shopkeepers and Bedouins, schoolchildren and pensioners. There are also many illegal aliens. All of them are civilians. Nobody can accuse them of either occupying land or of shooting at anyone. These men and women are simply civilians who abide by international law. Yet these very civilians have barely been able to enjoy sixty days of peace over the last twelve years, sixty days during which no rockets were being launched at them.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged $8 billion in economic aid to Egypt. It’s a badly needed lifeline, but the LA Times points out the announcements “diminish the United States’ already shrinking influence with the new government in Cairo.”
• JTA: Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman — whose investigation of the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center uncovered an extensive Iranian intelligence network in South America — was blocked from testifying to the US Congress. Higher ups in Argentina inexplicably refused to give Nisman authorization to go.
• USA Today’s into the start up nation thing.