Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
IDF Warns of Terror Attacks to Disrupt Sunday's PA Election - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Mosul Massacre: The Saudi Role - Stephen Schwartz (New York Post)
Boston Street Gang Linked to al-Qaeda - Michele McPhee (Boston Herald)
Appeal by American Actor Perplexes Palestinians (Reuters)
Global Anti-Semitism Report (State Department)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said in an interview Wednesday that Israel is prepared to hand security responsibility for the Gaza Strip and the main population centers of the West Bank to a newly elected Palestinian leadership as soon as it is able to handle the task. "The moment they can take responsibility over certain areas, I am willing to give them this responsibility," he said. What Israel wants in return is a "100 percent effort to break the cycle of terrorist activity and dismantle the terrorist groups." The death of Arafat has "created an opportunity we cannot miss," he said.
"I don't want Israeli troops in the Palestinian towns. We are there now because we have no other choice; we have to stop the suicide bombers. We don't want all these roadblocks and checkpoints to exist," Mofaz said. "But if they will not be a partner and stop the violence," he said, "then we will stop the violence for them." Speaking of Abbas's campaign, he said, "There are big differences the day before an election and the day afterward, when someone feels responsibility on his shoulders." (New York Times)
Sitting in a room transformed into a shrine to her dead brother, an activist with the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, 34-year-old Amni uttered an opinion that only weeks ago would have been regarded as heresy. "In this intifada we didn't achieve anything," she said. "It was a setback. All we have got is more martyrs, more prisoners, and more checkpoints. In this house everyone is tired. We want a rest." Before Arafat's death it was bad form to say so. With him gone, there has been an upsurge of candor. The majority of people, it seems, have had enough of violent struggle and are prepared to put their faith in the stern but peaceful strategy advocated by Mahmoud Abbas, the favorite to win Sunday's Palestinian election. His victory, many hope, will bring an end to the uprising. (Telegraph-UK)
Jordanian prosecutors leveled charges against two suspected Jordanian terrorists after police foiled a plan to kill four American archeologists in Hartha, 55 miles north of Amman, security officials said Wednesday. (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Fatah Central Committee on Wednesday called on Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel and to cease the incitement against Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). "The Fatah Central Committee is surprised by the Hamas incitement against Fatah and Abu Mazen personally, which is intended to torpedo the elections," its announcement read. "We demand that the brothers in Hamas stop the incitement." (Ha'aretz)
"We're very worried for [Abbas's] safety because of the campaign of incitement waged against him by Hamas and several other groups," said a senior PA official in Ramallah. The official threatened that the PA will launch a "Fallujah-style" operation against Hamas and its supporters if the movement continues its verbal offensive against Abbas. In Damascus, Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said Abbas's call for an end to rocket attacks serves the interests of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon.
Meanwhile, PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei claimed that Israel has prepared a plan to destroy next week's election. Speaking in Ramallah during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, he said IDF operations in the Gaza Strip "prove that Israel is carrying out a plan to sabotage the vote." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The key to getting back to the relative calm and promise of early 1995 lies in Israel, the Palestinians, the White House, and European governments being realistic and modest about what can be accomplished if Mahmoud Abbas wins the Palestinian presidential election Sunday as expected. In his final days of campaigning, Abbas has demonstrated that grand hopes of quickly negotiating a final peace settlement are misplaced for now. Abbas may have convinced the Palestinian voters that he is the best man for power. But he has convinced me that he is too mired in the past to reach a full peace accord. This week he denounced "the Zionist enemy" and vowed that he would never attack the "freedom fighters" of Hamas and Hizballah.
Abbas must fight Palestinian terrorism and eliminate corruption as an officially tolerated way of life. He seems intellectually to understand that. But his campaign promises to protect Arafat's "legacy" may now limit what he can do. (Washington Post)
The reformers don't expect Abbas to produce a revolution. Rather, they see him beginning a process with leading reformers and the new guard of Fatah brought into his cabinet. Abbas and those around him will now seek to develop an accountable leadership for the first time in Palestinian history.
Abbas is engaging in a "national dialogue" to get all Palestinian factions to agree to a cease-fire. He aims to stop all attacks against Israelis and use that to justify an end to Israeli checkpoints and incursions into Palestinian cities. For its part, Israel will want to see that Hamas and others cannot use a cease-fire to rebuild their capabilities and resume terror as soon as they are able. This is not the time to focus on issues that Abbas has no authority to deal with, such as Jerusalem, borders, and refugees. But it is the time to help create an environment in which a new Palestinian leadership is given the chance to succeed. (USA Today)
There is little doubt that Mahmoud Abbas will be elected as Palestinian chairman with a convincing majority. Yet Abbas will be everybody's second choice. The Arafatists want Abbas because they know he has no power base of his own - and may thus be bullied into adopting at least part of their agenda and preserving at least some of their ill-gained privileges. The democrats hope that Abbas will prepare the ground for genuine democratization - and thus allow them a greater hope of winning with a candidate of their own next time round. The "Wipe Israel Off the Map" groups see Abbas as a stopgap leader who could buy them time to strengthen their positions, especially in Gaza, before making their own bid for power.
It would be foolish to assume that we are at the threshold of a golden age in the Middle East. Nor is it wise to assume that Arafat was the sole cause of the deadlock. The truth is that hostility among Palestinians to the very existence of Israel today is greater than 13 years ago, when the peace process was launched in Madrid. President Bush would be making a mistake by transforming the Israel-Palestine conflict into an American problem - because producing peace between protagonists that are not ready for it is not within the gift of any outsider. (New York Post)
What If Bush Invited Sharon and Abu Mazen to Camp David?
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