President Barack Obama has announced that the U.S. will convene an international conference to stem arms flow to Gaza.

Next week, the representatives from the U.S., E.U., Israel and possibly Egypt will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, for in-depth discussion of arms smuggling from Sinai into Gaza at the conference organized by the president.

This conference follows a commitment made by European nations and the U.S. as part of the January 16 anti-smuggling accord that was signed between former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Mr. Obama’s announcement came the same day the U.S. Navy announced it had released an Iranian vessel in the Red Sea that had been sailing with arms for Gaza. This action made the problem of arms smuggling even clearer.

Weapons of various kinds were found onboard the Cypriot-flagged, Iranian-owned, vessel when it was seized January 19, the last day of the Bush administration.

The U.S. Navy was forced to release the Iranian ship after the new Obama administration decided no legal basis existed for the navy to disarm the ship.

The Joint Chiefs’ chairman, Adm. Michael Mullen, told reporters present at a Washington press conference, the U.S. Navy had “no legal authority to impound the arms.”

American assurances with regard to Israel have historically failed to materialize.

In 1957, Israel withdrew forces from the Sinai in exchange for an understanding that the American government would guarantee that it would stop any future attempts to blockade shipping into the Gulf of Aqaba, the lifeline of Eilat -Israel’s only southern port.

However, in May 1967, when Egypt expelled U.N. forces from the Sinai and blocked shipping into Eilat, the U.S. said that it “had no authorization” to break the blockade.

Israel’s foreign minister at the time, Abba Eban, flew to Washington to ask about the American gurarantees to safeguard shipping in the Gulf of Aqaba. Yet no one in the American government could locate the guarantees, which led Israel to act on its own in 1967 to launch a war to break the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba.

Published in the Phila. Bulletin January 28, 2009


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.