Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

February 9, 2005

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In-Depth Issue:

Hamas Says It Is Not Bound by Cease-Fire - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas will not be bound by Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire declarations made at Tuesday's summit in Sharm el-Sheik, said Osama Hamdan, the group's representative in Lebanon.
    "The talk about what the leader of the Palestinian Authority called a cessation of acts of violence is not binding on the resistance because this is a unilateral stand and was not the result of the outcome of an intra-Palestinian dialogue as has been agreed previously," Hamdan said.
    See also Hamas, Jihad Reject Sharm Declarations - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)


No Incitement? PA TV Sermon: "We Shall Return to Every Village" - Itamar Marcus & Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch/IMRA)
    On Feb. 4, 2005, senior Palestinian religious figure Ibrahim Mudyris delivered the official Friday sermon broadcast on PA television:
    "We tell you Palestine, we shall return to you, by Allah's will, we shall return to every village, every town....Our willingness to return to the 1967 borders does not mean that we have given up on the land of Palestine. No!"
    "We shall return to the 1967 borders, but it does not mean that we have given up on Jerusalem and Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, Netanya [Al-Zuhour], and Tel Aviv [Tel Al-Rabia]. Never."
    "Our approval to return to the 1967 borders is not a concession for our other rights. No!"
    "This generation might not achieve this stage, but generations will come, and the land of Palestine...will demand that the Palestinians will return the way Muhammad returned there, as a conqueror."


Lawsuits Force Arab Bank to Close NY Branch - Jamal Halaby (AP/Washington Post)
    Jordan-based Arab Bank will close down its branch in New York, where it faces lawsuits alleging that it supported terrorism by funneling donations to Palestinian suicide bombers and their families, the Central Bank of Jordan announced Tuesday.
    "The climate of operating in the United States at present is not expedient with the bank's strategy and vision," a statement said.
    Last year, three different groups of suicide bombing victims in Israel and their families filed suits in a Brooklyn federal court against Arab Bank, alleging that the institution moved donations from Saudi Arabia to militant Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Pledge to Halt Attacks - Steven Erlanger
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared an effective cease-fire in Sharm el-Sheik Tuesday. Sharon said he and Abbas "agreed that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere, and in parallel, Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians everywhere." Abbas said, "A new opportunity for peace is born today....The calm which will prevail in our lands starting from today is the beginning of a new era."
        "We expect a declaration on the Palestinian side on the cessation of armed conflict, the intifada," said Raanan Gissin, Sharon's spokesman. "Israel will also make a unilateral declaration that says if the Palestinians cease fire, we will refrain from military activity." Gissin cautioned that in the past four years, 10 announcements of cease-fires had been followed by a resumption of violence, but added that the new announcement "has a greater chance of success than before" because of a new determination to cooperate after Arafat's death. (New York Times)
        See also below Observations: Speech at the Sharm el-Sheik Summit - Prime Minister Sharon (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Rice: Abbas Will Have to Fight Terrorism
    Secretary of State Rice told CBS News Monday: Abbas "will have to fight terrorism. I don't think that there is any doubt that the Palestinians undertook certain obligations in the Roadmap to fight terrorism. I think without the Palestinians making a strong stand against terrorism, it is going to be very difficult to have permanent progress between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And I suspect that President Abbas understands that....There is no doubt in my mind or in that of U.S. policy that the fight of terrorism is going to have to be at the core of what is done here." (State Department)
  • State Department Greets Mideast Pact Cautiously
    Aware of the tattered history of past cease-fires in the Middle East, the State Department on Tuesday cautiously welcomed announcement by Israeli and Palestinian leaders that all fighting between the two sides would cease. Spokesman Adam Ereli said, "Let's be realistic. A cease-fire is just that, a cease-fire. It can be broken." Ereli expressed hope that Abbas would dismantle the terror infrastructure in Palestinian areas of the West Bank and Gaza. "It is a necessary first step," Ereli said of the key U.S. and Israeli demand. (AP/USA Today)
  • U.S. Slams Syria for Exporting Middle East Terror
    Speaking after a meeting in Paris with French President Chirac, Secretary of State Rice strongly criticized Syria on Tuesday for what she said was its policy of exporting terror and attempting to wreck a peace process in the Middle East. Rice said Damascus had been "unhelpful in a number of ways," complaining that Syria was backing an insurgency in Iraq and undermining the political system in Lebanon by refusing to withdraw its troops from the country. "It is just not acceptable that Syria would continue to be a place from which terrorists are funded and helped to destroy the very fragile peace process in the Middle East or to change the dynamic of events in Lebanon," Rice said. "The Syrians also need to stop supporting from Lebanon the rejectionist groups that are a threat to the very peace process that we all want to see go forward," she said. (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Threatens Syria with Isolation for Supporting Islamic Militants
    Secretary of State Rice warned Syria on Tuesday that if it wants to avoid being "isolated" it must end support for Islamic militants intent on wrecking the Middle East peace process. "It is time for Syria to demonstrate that it does not want to be isolated, that it does not want to have bad relations with the United States," Rice said after talks with Italy's Foreign Minister Fini. "I can't say it strongly enough. You can't say on one hand that you want a process of peace and on the other hand support the people who are determined to blow it up." (AFP/Arab Times-Kuwait)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Egypt and Jordan to Return Ambassadors to Israel - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Jordan and Egypt announced Tuesday they were sending their ambassadors back to Israel in the wake of the Sharm el-Sheik summit. (Ha'aretz)
  • Series of Israeli Gestures to Ease Palestinians' Lives - Amos Harel
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz Tuesday approved a list of gestures meant to ease the lives of Palestinians. Some 1,000 Palestinian workers from Gaza will be allowed to enter Israel and work. Several hundred businesspeople from Gaza and the West Bank will also be granted entry permits to Israel.
        Despite the mutual cease-fire declarations in Sharm el-Sheik, there were several violent incidents in the territories. Several shots were fired at an Israeli vehicle near the West Bank settlement of Bracha near Nablus on Tuesday. IDF forces operating near the Gaza settlement of Gadid were fired upon. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • To Judge by Media Coverage, Talks Seemed Less Than Weighty - Hassan M. Fattah
    Saudi TV decided to ignore the Sharm el-Sheik summit meeting of Middle East leaders. While CNN and the major Arab news channels, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, did cover the meeting all day, their reporting was marked by a sober tone that emphasized limited expectations. (New York Times)
        See also Can Sharon and Abbas At Last Deliver Peace in Their Time? - Anton La Guardia
    It is a sign of the despair of the past four years of the intifada that both Israelis and Palestinians liked to tell the following joke. Yasser Arafat (or Ariel Sharon) asks God: "Lord, will there ever be peace in the Middle East?" God answers: "Yes, of course, but not in my lifetime." (Telegraph-UK)
        See also After Sharm: Head Over Heart - Herb Keinon
    After so many high-profile Israeli-PA summits that have flopped - Cairo, Wye, Camp David, Aqaba - it's absurd to talk any more about feeling the "flutter of history's wings" at any of these meetings. And, indeed, Tuesday's Sharm el-Sheik summit didn't have that portentous feeling of great moment about it. The gut reaction is not "Yes, we've turned the corner," but rather "Here we go again; let's hope this time it works." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hope Springs Eternal - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)
  • King Abdullah Points the Way - Editorial
    It's good to see that King Abdullah II of Jordan gets it. Now if only he'd share his insight with the Saudi and Egyptian autocrats. Abdullah said that the January elections in the Palestinian territories and Iraq were part of a "process that the Middle East needs, and one that needs to be taken seriously." He undoubtedly delighted the White House when he said the balloting will "help countries such as Jordan to be able to push the envelope" of democracy. The king deserves credit for his announcement days before the Iraq election that he wants to decentralize political power by creating elected regional councils. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Shiite Obligation: Iraqi's Majority Group Must Rise Above the Politics of Victimhood - Kanan Makiya
    The size of the turnout, irrespective of the outcome, establishes that the Iraqi elections will go down in history as a defining event in the future of the Middle East. This moment is what the 2003 war was all about. A democratic process is now a demonstrable reality in an Arab and Muslim country. No wonder the political and intellectual elites of the Arab world are so worried, and no wonder they were so hostile to everything that happened in Iraq since the overthrow of the Saddam regime.
        The terrible lesson of Palestinian politics is that a leadership that elevates victimhood into the be-all and end-all of politics brings untold suffering and misery upon its own people. Given political power, this kind of a leadership will in turn victimize. This is an iron law of social and political psychology confirmed by any number of recent historical experiences. Since 1968, the Baath have been trashing the only idea that can hold the great social diversity of Iraq together: the idea of Iraq. Their answer to the question "Who am I?" was: You are either one of us, or you are dead. They killed anyone who dared to say he was a Kurd or a Shiite or a leftist, or a democrat and a liberal. The writer is the founder of the Iraq Memory Foundation. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Speech at the Sharm el-Sheik Summit - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
    (Prime Minister's Office)

    • We all hope and pray that this day will be remembered as the day on which the process began to move forward towards completion, towards the goal of a tranquil, dignified, and peaceful life for all the peoples of the Middle East....We must all ensure that this opportunity is not missed.
    • We must all announce here today that violence will not win, that violence will not be allowed to murder hope. We must all make a commitment not to agree for a temporary solution, not to allow violence to raise its head, but to act together, determinedly, to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, to disarm and subdue it once and for all. Only by crushing terror and violence will we build peace.
    • Over the past few days, we reached a number of understandings with our Palestinian colleagues, which will enable us to grant both peoples tranquility and security for the near future. Today, in my meeting with Chairman Abbas, we agreed that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere and in parallel, Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians anywhere. We hope that today we are starting a new period of tranquility and hope. Furthermore, we agreed on a process of transferring security responsibility for Palestinian areas....Soon we will release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, and also establish a joint committee to explore future release of prisoners.
    • The Disengagement Plan was initiated by a unilateral decision. Now, if new change does emerge on the Palestinian side, the disengagement can bring hope and become the new starting point for a coordinated, successful process. The Disengagement Plan can pave the way to implementation of the Roadmap, to which we are committed and which we want to implement. We are prepared to actively fulfill all our obligations, and expect the other side to carry out all its obligations.
    • Only actions and not words - this is the only way to attain the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and tranquility.
    • To our Palestinian neighbors, I assure you that we have a genuine intention to respect your right to live independently and in dignity. I have already said that Israel has no desire to continue to govern over you and control your fate.


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