Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
U.S.-Israel Laser Cannon Intercepts Rocket - Amnon Barzilai (Ha'aretz)
Report: Egypt Seeking to Move Arafat to Gaza? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
8 Palestinians Hurt in Hamas-Fatah Gunfight in Nablus - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
Italian Authorities Break Up Islamic Cell - Frances D'Emilio (AP/Washington Times)
Sniffer Dog Given Military Funeral - Laurie Copans (News.com-Australia)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinians disguised as women opened fire with automatic weapons Sunday at some 300 Israelis who had congregated at the site where Tali Hatuel and her four daughters were murdered a week ago near the Kissufim crossing in the Gaza Strip.
Families with babies hit the sand dunes the moment they heard the sound of gunfire that came from the nearby Palestinian town of Khan Yunis. Some people grabbed babies and ran to an armor plated ambulance while soldiers and armed civilians shot back. Two tanks fired at the terrorists. Later an armored bus arrived and evacuated people. No Israelis were hurt. Brig. Gen. Shmuel Zakai said soldiers killed the attackers. (UPI/Washington Times-Jerusalem Post)
President Bush told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram on Thursday: "I think the timetable of 2005 [for a Palestinian state] isn't as realistic as it was two years ago. Nevertheless, I do think we ought to push hard as fast as possible to get a state in place."
"The rights of Palestinians to return to Israel will be negotiated." "I think Prime Minister Sharon created an interesting dynamic, I really do, and that is withdrawal from the West Bank....I think you're going to see over time with the emergence of a Palestinian state that the West Bank will be occupied by Palestinians. And to the extent to what the final border looks like is up for negotiations." "The focus ought to be on how do we get a Palestinian state up and running and moving forward." (White House)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Prime Minister Sharon told the cabinet Sunday that he will bring a new diplomatic plan to a top-level discussion in three weeks time after consulting with ministers over the next few weeks. "Sharon will listen to what the ministers have to say, but the prime minister will not deviate from the principles he established of reaching a consensus in Israel, with the U.S., and the world community that would minimize harm to Israel strategically," a senior official close to Sharon said. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Netanyahu: We Must Respect Likud Vote - Herb Keinon
Finance Minister Netanyahu told the cabinet Sunday, "The Likud's decision [in the disengagement referendum] obligates all Likud members....The majority of Likud members are prepared to make large sacrifices for peace, but they are not willing to do so during these times of intense terror attacks." Netanyahu said he is convinced that Likud voters are "ready to take meaningful steps in a future agreement that they believe in. Therefore, there is a need for an alternative plan." (Jerusalem Post)
Something interesting happened to the disengagement plan after its rejection by the Likud membership a week ago: From an initiative of Prime Minister Sharon, it suddenly became an international plan led by the U.S. President Bush is giving interviews right and left, sending envoys and letters, and trying to market the withdrawal as a move that will change the face of the Middle East. (Ha'aretz)
A Palestinian terror cell which carried out two lethal shootings in northern Jerusalem this spring was also behind a third - heretofore unsolved - shooting on March 3, 2003, which mortally wounded David Mordechai, 77, who died of his wounds two months ago, and left his son Menachem, 47, completely paralyzed. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
In the two and a half years since American troops rooted al-Qaeda out of its Afghan home, more than 1,200 people have died in attacks from Sunni global jihadists outside of Iraq, Israel, and Kashmir - and there's no end in sight. From the beginning, al-Qaeda more closely resembled a virus than a corporation. In 1988, its founder, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian, chartered al-Qaeda ("The Base") as the vanguard of Islamic zealotry. Al-Qaeda wouldn't win the holy war itself, but it would show other Islamists the way. The organization was only the needle for injecting its horrific ideology into other Islamists. (National Journal)
If I were a Jew, I'd be frightened by the letters of hate in this town's newspapers this week. The Jews may be "too strong for Australia's health," wondered one man. Yes, they're "unduly influential," warned another.
If Jews were powerful, our aid groups would not routinely accuse the Jewish state - often falsely - of brutality in its defensive war against terrorists who blow up buses and last week deliberately shot dead a two-year-old Jewish girl, and her three sisters. If Jews were truly powerful, the media coverage of Israel wouldn't be so hostile, academics wouldn't vilify Israel so glibly, the hate-preaching Muslim Mufti of Australia would have been expelled, and Jewish synagogues, centers, and schools wouldn't need protecting with guards, barriers, and barbed wire. (Melbourne Herald Sun-Australia)
Last week, King Abdullah walked out of the White House with assurances by the U.S. not to prejudice future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. On April 29 in Amman, Abdullah's wife Queen Rania led a march against terrorism. The pan-Arab daily Al Hayat reported that close to 150,000 people turned out, some of them burning photographs of Bin Laden and al-Qaeda associate Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian national who allegedly plotted a chemical attack against several targets in Amman. (Slate)
I have just returned from an international conference on terrorism at Imam Mohammed University in Riyadh, the global headquarters of Wahhabism, where nearly 20,000 students study the core teachings of Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab. The conference revealed the extent and depth of rethinking taking place within the kingdom. In closed-door sessions I was extremely critical of Wahhabism and of Saudi policies, and I found the Saudi scholars and ministers in attendance open and willing to listen.
I heard one member of the Majlis al-Shura (the Saudi consultative council that is a pretense for a parliament) as he lambasted the university and Wahhabi clerics for being the source of the problem behind terrorism in Saudi Arabia. "We are a country that is economically in the 20th century and intellectually in the 14th century," he said. The writer is a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. (Beirut Daily Star)
Cursed by Oil - Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times)
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