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Sat. March 28, 2015 EDITOR'S PICKS :  
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Issue: Israel's Jewish Identity. What Does it Mean?
MidEast Week
PA: Made "Generous" Offer; Israel: "Bring it to the Table"
Israeli and Palestinian Women Wage Peace
Israel's Arab Parties United For Election
More Arabs Join Israel's National Service
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Gaza Reconstruction Has Barely Begun
Palestinians Hope for Upset in Israeli Elections
Netanyahu's Planned Speech to Congress Sparks Controversy
Egypt Intensifies Crackdown on Islamists
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Déjà vu in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as Outrage at Morsi’s Power-Grab Continues

In a scene reminiscent of the days leading up to the overthrow of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, an estimate 200,000 demonstrators overflowed Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Tuesday protesting newly-elected President Mohamed Morsi’s declaration making his decrees immune to judicial review. A protestor who died from inhaling tear gas became the second casualty since Morsi’s statement last Thursday touched off outrage. Observers report that the sense in the streets was that the populace was expressing overall dissatisfaction with Morsi’s autocratic abuses, and not just displeasure with his most recent pronouncement. On Monday, Morsi tried to clarify his remarks by saying that he meant that his absolute discretion was limited to “sovereign matters,” but the argument fell flat based on the massive turnout on Tuesday. Offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organization headed by Morsi before his election, were attacked in several cities. A senior official of the Brotherhood told the Associated Press that Morsi and his party “will not rescind the declaration.”

Palestinian UN Gambit Divides Western Allies

The Palestinian United Nations gambit – seeking non-member status from the General Assembly – has become a source of friction among Western allies who are approaching the issue from different perspectives. On Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will make the formal request which has overwhelming support in the GA notwithstanding strong opposition from Israel and less strident concerns from the United States which has warned Israel to temper its response to what appears to be a fait accompli. Still, at the eleventh hour, efforts are under way to convince the Palestinians to temper their moves. Abbas has reportedly rejected a British proposal for the PA to forswear any plans for membership in the International Criminal Court, a benefit of non-member status that Israel fears will result in untold cases being filed against Israeli officials alleging war crimes stemming from military actions against Palestinian terrorist organizations. The American administration is critical of French support for the PA bid,  believing that it circumvents the long-established principle that neither party will make unilateral moves or end-run the peace process brokered by the “Quartet” – the US, UN, European Union and Russia. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday that Washington still plans to vote against the PA bid in the General Assembly, calling it a “mistake.”

Gazans Thank Iran for its Role in Fighting Israel

Billboards have appeared throughout the Gaza Strip expressing gratitude to Iran for its support in the recent week-long hostilities between Hamas and Israel. Offering public thanks for the first time, the billboards, which are placed at key intersections of Gaza roadways, say, “Thank you, Iran” in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and English and feature images of the Fajr-5 missiles. The Iranian-produced weapon, smuggled into Gaza and fired by Hamas terrorists, played an important role in what Israel called “Operation Pillar of Defense” by proving for the first time that Hamas is able to reach deep into the heart of the Jewish state, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, even though there were no deaths or injuries in those attacks. Until now, Israeli accusations that Tehran was supplying missiles to Hamas were unproved. Some experts believe the public gratitude is a two-edged sword because the acknowledgement opens the door to measures intended to prevent the re-arming of Hamas weapons stockpiles depleted during the week of fighting.

Israeli Police “Lose” Hours of Video of Investigation into Gang’s Attack on Arab Youth

The criminal case against a gang of Jewish toughs who stalked and attacked a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem’s Zion Square on a Saturday night in August is in jeopardy after police told the Justice Ministry that it had “lost” hours of video recordings of the investigation into the case. 17-year old Jamal Julani was not breathing when the medical first responders reached him moments after being repeatedly pummeled and kicked in the chest by his attackers. Witnesses said the incident was unprovoked. The medics were able to restore his breathing and Julani was taken to Shaarei Zedek hospital where he recovered. Nine minors and one adult were subsequently arrested in the case.

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Launches New Party: A One-Woman Show

[Analysis] Political jokes abound about politicians who should name their party after themselves. Deposed Kadima party head and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni launched her new party on Tuesday and actually did so, offering neither solutions to the issues she raised nor a list of politicians to run with her. But the party will be called “The Tzipi Livni Party.” Really. Livni was a life-long member of the Likud party when she bolted to the newly-formed Kadima with then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, becoming foreign minister, a post she retained when Ehud Olmert ascended to the prime ministry following Sharon’s stroke. Unable to form a governing coalition despite having won a single seat more in parliament than Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud, Livni refused his offer to share power and took Kadima to the opposition which she headed until being deposed by the lackluster Shaul Mofaz, who himself had bolted to Kadima immediately after swearing allegiance to Likud. In what many described at the time as classic sour grapes, Livni resigned from the party and recently turned down a plea by Labor party head Shelly Yachimovich to join Labor, which is seemingly on the upswing and could, conceivably, anchor a center-left bloc that could mount a serious challenge to Netanyahu and his right-wing bloc. But the obvious catch was that if successful, Yachimovich would be the prime minister, not Livni. Critics point out that the upcoming campaign [election on January 22] will be framed as “right versus left,” arguing that if the center-left and left hope to defeat Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc it will have to unite behind leadership and not splinter beneath egos.






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