Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
British, Egyptian Security Experts in Gaza (Xinhua-China)
Hamas Still in Contact with EU (AP/Washington Post)
Hamas Activist Survives Damascus Blast (AP/Washington Post)
Gazans Demonstrate Against Rising Crime (AP/Jerusalem Post)
They Will Strike Again - Peter Bergen (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
France's Council of State on Monday ordered Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat to stop broadcasting Hizballah's Al-Manar TV station because it broadcast some programs that were "openly contrary" to a French law banning incitement to hate, a situation that poses "risks to maintaining public order." (AP/Newsday)
Egypt's new trade agreement with Israel and the U.S. is stirring a debate in Egypt, with business executives saying it could create 250,000 jobs in a year and politicians saying it favors Israel. As part of an accord signed Tuesday in Cairo, goods produced in certain areas in Egypt with a minimum Israeli content will gain tariff-free access to the U.S. (AP/Boston Globe)
See also Egypt and Israel: An Icy Peace Beginning to Thaw
Egypt may have signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but, in real terms, the ink has never truly dried. However, the hot line between Egyptian President Mubarak and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has been veritably glowing over the past few months. There is no doubt that Egypt's new attitudes regarding Israel are not popular with the man in the street. Yet, there appears to be a new pragmatism among Egyptians. Many do recognize the reality of Israel's existence and realize, with some distaste, that the U.S., the world's lone superpower, is biased toward the Jewish state, a situation unlikely to change as long as George W. Bush is in the Oval Office. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Intelligence circles in southern Afghanistan are increasingly optimistic that the Taliban are largely a spent force, made up in great part by disillusioned, worn out soldiers. While Afghan President Karzai plans a general amnesty for Taliban rank and file, some 150-200 top and mid-level Taliban leaders and hardened criminals will not be accepted under the general pardon. (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
PA and Fatah officials have refused to condemn Sunday's tunnel attack near Rafah, saying it was a "legitimate operation" against a military target. The PA-controlled media on Monday hailed the perpetrators as "martyrs." (Jerusalem Post)
See also Time to Hold Abbas to a Higher Standard - Editorial
Abbas's refusal to condemn this attack, much less use the thousands of armed men under his control to crack down on supposedly illegal militias, means he is making a choice. We are being assured that all good things must wait for the Palestinian election, which will strengthen Abbas. But this logic would suggest repeating the policy that failed so spectacularly with Arafat, in which the world would demand little and receive less, all in order to "strengthen Arafat."
The opposite approach would seem to be more effective. Let Abbas tell his people that the billions in assistance and a chance to build their own state will only come when the Palestinians prove they are abandoning terrorism and embracing democracy. But Abbas won't say that as long as Israel, the U.S., and Europe seem poised to shower him with unconditional support the minute he is anointed in an uncontested election. (Jerusalem Post)
"The use of arms has caused damage and must be stopped in order to calm the atmosphere on the Palestinian street," PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the London-based Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat. He also said there were currently no official talks with Israel but rather daily contacts about daily issues. (Maariv International)
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday that Israel would pull its troops out of Palestinian cities before the Jan. 9 Palestinian election: "We will get out of the Palestinian cities for a period of 72 hours - one day before the election, the day of the election, and the day after it." He also urged the Palestinians to coordinate on the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Mofaz said Israel would be prepared to hand over full control of chunks of territories to the Palestinians even before next July's planned pullout, on condition they crack down on terrorism. "The day they deal with the terrorists, we will be out of their cities," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Michael Koubi worked for Shin Bet, Israel's security service, for 21 years and was its chief interrogator from 1987 to 1993.
Q: There have been accusations of torture and abuse during interrogations.
Koubi: I know. But these accusations come from detainees who heard screams and shouts coming from neighboring cells and believed it was really happening, when it was just theatre. The yelling was from other detainees who were cooperating with us. Sometimes it has happened, but very seldom, and in these cases the interrogators were thrown out of the organization. I have no need for those methods. I use only psychology, head to head. You have to learn everything about the detainee and his background. You have to know about his family, his wife, his children, his friends, his neighborhood, his city. You have to be better than him, wiser than him. It's about making them think they cannot hide anything from you.
I interrogated Sheikh Yassin in 1984 and 1989. To prepare for this interrogation I had learned the Koran almost by heart. I started asking complicated questions abut the Koran, and he didn't know the answers. I sat with him for hundreds of hours while he talked about the ideology of Hamas. He even told other detainees to cooperate with me, because he respected me. If he could, he would have killed me, but he respected me. (New Scientist-UK)
We are in the final stages of carrying out an unprecedented feat: utterly defeating a no-holds-barred Palestinian terrorist war against our civilian population. We are fighting against non-uniformed fighters whose tactics make it hard to avoid casualties both among Arab civilians and our own forces. Our main mistake in this conflict was that we did not insist on defining it early on for what it was: a war of extirpation against Israel's civilian population declared by Palestinian groups, headed by Arafat and supported (at least initially) by Palestinian society. (Jerusalem Post)
The tectonic plates under the Middle East are finally moving: Arafat is dead, Sharon is extending an olive branch to Palestinians, and Egypt is urging them to seize it. All this has happened no thanks to Britain. With a UK election due in May next year, Blair rather desperately needs something good to show voters. So, in talks in Washington last month, Bush agreed to let Blair take some of the credit for anything that happens in the Middle East. Britain can plan all it likes but its influence in the area has waned to almost zero.
There are plans for a peace conference in London - one big photo opportunity. White House officials already dismiss this as a "publicity stunt" which will be "harmless" at best. (Scotland on Sunday)
There are a lot of Iraqis who would really like the chance to vote on their future, just once, and there is a virulent minority that is butchering people there just so they can never have that chance. Is it such a hard call for Arabs and Europeans to figure out on whose side they should be? (New York Times)
PA Leadership Has to Ditch Arafat's Legacy - Giora Eiland
National Security Council head Giora Eiland told the Herzliya Conference Monday:
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