Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Daily Alert is sponsored by the Fairness Project
The Involvement of Arafat and PA Officials in Terrorism -- An Official Report
Arafat - A Democratically Elected Leader?
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, writing recently in the New York Times, referred to Yasser Arafat as the democratically elected leader of the Palestinians. On January 21, 1996, Arafat was elected President of the Palestinian Authority with 88 percent of the vote, defeating Samiha Khalil, a 72-year-old grandmother.
What is less known is that Arafat's term of office expired three years ago, and he has never stood for reelection.
The Oslo II Accord specifies in Ch. 1, Art. III, Para. 4: "The Council and the Ra'ees [President] of the Executive Authority of the Council shall be elected for a transitional period not exceeding five years from the signing of the Gaza-Jericho Agreement on May 4, 1994."
Daily Alert Back Issues
News Resources - USA and Europe:
Israeli forces prepared today to launch an assault on the Gaza Strip in response to a suicide bombing Tuesday, massing tanks and issuing emergency call-up notices to army reservists. Shimon Peres, the dovish foreign minister, defended the widely expected offensive. "We have to hurt the people who send the suicide bombers; we have to hit the explosives labs." (Washington Post)
An operation in Gaza will likely be more intensive than the recent campaign in the West Bank. Hamas -- Israel's identified target -- enjoys broad popular support among the more hard-line and radical Gazans, and its operatives are well trained in guerrilla tactics and countermeasures. (Strategic Forecasting)
After several delays, Palestinians began to file out of the besieged Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem at 7 a.m. Friday morning. Cyprus said it would "keep for a few days" the 13 Palestinian terrorists wanted by Israel before they are dispersed to other countries. (New York Times)
Israeli troops discovered dozens of weapons, rockets and ammunition in the home of Palestinian Legislative Council member Salah Ta'amari, who headed the PA team negotiating the release of hostages at Bethlehemís Church of the Nativity. (Ta'amari, a PLO veteran, was the model for the PLO military commander in John leCarre's spy novel The Little Drummer Girl.) (Media Line)
News Resources - Israel and Mideast:
Bush's insistence on Sharon lifting the siege on Arafat was based on information obtained by U.S. intelligence that Sharon was determined to break into the compound and arrest or liquidate the assassins of former tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi and nab Arafat and expel him from the territories. The Americans were concerned that something might go wrong in the operation, and Arafat might get killed in the process. (Ha'aretz)
900,000 Jews and non-Jews in 94 cities throughout the world have participated in solidarity rallies on behalf of Israel during Operation Defensive Shield, while one and a half million individuals signed petitions identifying with Israel. (Jewish Agency for Israel/IMRA)
Jerusalem was awash in blue and white yesterday as a subdued but determined city remembered its historic reunification 35 years ago. Thousands of flag-carrying youths marched to the ramparts of the Old City and on to the Western Wall, while other marches and celebrations were held downtown to mark the holiday. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think Tank Analysis
(Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
By any fair measure the Israeli government is light-years ahead of the Arab world in terms of racial and religious tolerance. Privately, Arabs would concede that they are treated far better in Tel Aviv than any Jew would be now in Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus, or Amman. The truth is that Westerners' support or hatred for Israel increasingly tell us far more about ourselves than they do about the real situation in the Middle East. (National Review)
President Bush has been receiving a lot of bad advice, but none worse than the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved before the war on terror can proceed to its next target, Iraq. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an artificial one, manufactured by nations such as Iran, Syria, Iraq and others who are our enemies in the war on terror. It's time to put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the back burner where it belongs. (Washington Times)
This week George W. Bush allowed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to shrink Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to his true dimensions. (Ha'aretz)
Since the moment of his election as the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Arafat has given every indication of wanting to join the ranks of the Arab rulers. He shows no aspirations to be an institutional innovator. For better or worse, he seems to have taken the negligent despotism of his colleagues among the Arab regimes as his model. (New York Times)
As President Bush meets with foreign leaders and considers his options, there is a noticeable change in the administration's Middle East public focus away from a virtually exclusive September 11 counterterrorism agenda. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
U.S. intelligence sources have confirmed that, at this very moment, Saudi Arabia is spending millions of dollars to help al Qaeda and Taliban fighters escape American justice. The Saudi-American love affair is over. The sooner the Americans face it, the safer Americans will be. (Front Page Magazine)