Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Israel: Iran Will Know How to Build Bomb in 6 Months
Putin to Sharon: Russia to Sell Anti-Aircraft Missiles to Syria
- Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
NYC Drops Columbia Prof. from Teaching Program for Teachers - Julia Levy (New York Sun, 16Feb05)
Germany Deports Extremist Egyptian Imam - Oliver Schmale (AP/Washington Post)
The New Head of the Israeli Security Agency - Ben Caspit (Maariv-Hebrew, 11Feb05)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The U.S. recalled its ambassador to Syria for consultations Tuesday in an expression of concern by the Bush administration about a potential Syrian role in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey delivered a stern message to the Syrian government expressing "our deep concern as well as our profound outrage over this heinous act of terrorism." (USA Today)
See also U.S. and UN Step Up Pressure on Damascus - Robin Wright
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that the U.S. has a "growing list of differences" with Damascus. At the UN, the Security Council called for a report by Secretary General Kofi Annan on the "circumstances, causes and consequences" of the assassination. (Washington Post)
See also U.S. Recalls Ambassador to Syria (State Department)
Speaking at a news conference with foreign correspondents Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharon warned that his country would not withdraw from the Gaza Strip under fire, and would move strongly to crush any attempt by Palestinian extremist groups to attack soldiers or settlers while the withdrawal is taking place. Sharon also said Israel has begun coordinating its plans for the withdrawal with Palestinian officials.
Sharon said Syria must "expel the terror organization headquarters from its territory, stop the instigated terror against Israeli targets,...allow the Lebanese Army to deploy its forces along the border with Israel, expel Iranian Revolutionary Guards from Lebanon, and end the Syrian occupation of Lebanon...before negotiations may be renewed." (Boston Globe)
See also Sharon Stakes Claim to Key Settlements - Donald Macintyre
Sharon reaffirmed that Israel plans to hold onto the most populous settlement blocs in the West Bank under any final agreement with Palestinians. The Israeli prime minister made it clear he was holding President Bush to the concessions he secured from him last April, that would include the redrawing of the 1967 borders to include the biggest settlement blocs. (Independent-UK)
Jordan's cabinet decided Tuesday that its ambassador to Israel will return to his post on Sunday, setting the stage for the normalization of diplomatic relations between the nations after a four-year break, Jordanian government spokeswoman Asma Khader announced Wednesday. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
About 350 Palestinian gunmen will be incorporated into the PA security forces as part of a deal reached between PA Chairman Abbas and leaders of all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. This is the first time that members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad would serve in the PA security forces. "The Palestinian Authority does not distinguish between the wanted men," said PA Minister of Agriculture Ibrahim Abu al-Naja. "They are entitled to join the security forces because of their involvement in the resistance."
Abbas recently offered to absorb members of the armed wing of Fatah, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, into the security forces, but not all the gunmen have accepted the proposal. (Jerusalem Post)
IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that the situation in the PA was "fragile." The PA is making numerous efforts to take control and impose order, but it is facing anarchy and threatening terrorist organizations, Ya'alon said. Israel has made clear to Abbas that it expects him to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad and completely prevent terror organizations from operating.
The head of Military Intelligence's research branch, Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser, told the Knesset committee Monday that "there is quite a lot of organizing going on in the territories to prepare attacks, including big attacks." He added that the terror organizations are continuing to build their organizational infrastructure, though most of the Palestinian public wants calm. (Ha'aretz)
IDF soldiers killed two Palestinians armed with Kalashnikov rifles who were approaching the settlement of Har Bracha near Nablus on Tuesday. According to IDF officials, the two were on their way to attack Har Bracha. In the past two weeks, there have been six shooting attacks in the area which targeted civilians and soldiers using the road leading to the settlement. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Two Mortar Shells Fired at Gaza Settlement
Two mortar shells were fired Wednesday at Neve Dekalim in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hariri's car was bullet-proofed and equipped with systems to thwart remotely-controlled explosives. This was a highly sophisticated operation that could hardly have been executed without at least the connivance of Syria's ubiquitous intelligence services. The timing of his murder is significant, disturbingly so. Syrian control over Lebanon will be the biggest issue in the Lebanese elections due in April and May, and Damascus has made no secret of its determination to engineer victory for the pro-Syria lobby led by Hariri's rival, President Emile Lahoud. (Times-UK)
See also Beirut Murder Mystery - Editorial
Whoever is responsible for the Hariri assassination, the fact remains that, 15 years after the end of the civil war, Pax Syriaca has long outlived its usefulness. Withdrawal from Lebanon without the compensation of regaining the Golan Heights could spell political death for President al-Assad. But then the outside world hardly owes this isolated and intractable leader a living. (Telegraph-UK)
Anyone who seriously hopes for a quick return to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should take a deep breath and lie down until the feeling passes. What's needed at the moment is something completely different, a whole new kind of approach that puts the Oslo process in the past and focuses instead on cautious but credible unilateral steps. To their credit, the agenda of both Sharon and Abbas at Sharm el-Sheik reflected the triumph of the achievable over the desirable, of the probable over the possible. Their unspoken motto: Think small.
Oslo's most important legacy - the mutual recognition between political Zionism and Palestinian nationalism - endures to this day. But that's just about all that remains. The Oslo process was in many respects a religion for believers, blinding its adherents to its flaws, and elevating negotiation to an almost sacred level of importance. (Los Angeles Times)
The basic ideology of political Islam - which was adopted later by all radical groups - finds its origin within Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. During the 1940s the Brotherhood lead a campaign of violence and assassinations that eventually brought about the Free Officers revolution in 1952. The Brotherhood tried to kill Nasser in 1954 but failed. Nasser declared the organization illegal and arrested 60,000 people, condemning its leaders to death.
Sadat released the members of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1971, believing he needed them to fight the remnants of the Nasser era. An Egyptian jihad group assassinated Sadat in October 1981. In 1995 al-Gamaa al-Islamiya tried to kill Mubarak in Addis Ababa. The bombings at Sinai resorts in October 2004 reveal that the disciples of radical Islam are still active in Egypt. The writer is a former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt and Sweden. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
"Cease-Fire" at Sharm el-Sheik - George Melloan (Wall Street Journal, 15Feb05)
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