Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
Palestinian Leader Has Heart Procedure (AP/Washington Post)
Saudi Maneuver Raises Suspicions of Nuclear Aspirations - Benny Avni (New York Sun, 1Jun05)
Israel Joins NATO Parliamentary Assembly - Nina Gilbert (Jerusalem Post)
Sharon Emphasizes the 21st Century Israel - Larry Weinberg (Israel21c)
Trans-Israel Highway a Runaway Success
- Sharon Kedmi (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has warned countries near Iraq not to provide sanctuary or medical treatment to Iraq's al-Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is believed to have been wounded by coalition forces. Rumsfeld added that it is important to differentiate between countries like Saudi Arabia, which has been hit by terrorist attacks and is part of the war on terrorism, and other countries that have not been as cooperative. Recent reports have indicated that most of the suicide bombers who have struck in Iraq have been Saudis, but it is not clear how they get into Iraq.
At the same Pentagon news conference, the top U.S. military officer, General Richard Myers, said he believes Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has in fact been wounded. "The best guess is that he was injured out in western Iraq, near the Syrian border," he said. (VOA News)
When Lebanon's phased parliamentary polls move south on Sunday, Hizballah, in alliance with Amal, the other main pro-Syrian Shi'ite group, is set to sweep the region's 23 seats. Yet the Israeli pullout from Lebanon in 2000 eroded any clear need for armed guerrillas. Some Christian leaders want Hizballah disarmed and there are Muslim voices too who view its military wing as an anomaly that must be resolved if the Lebanese state is to regain full authority. Yet Hizballah leader Nasrallah's vow to resist disarmament by force must be taken at face value - not that the Lebanese army, with its mostly Shi'ite soldiers, could be asked to do the job.
Moving away from Hizballah's "resistance" identity is likely to be a slow process and one vulnerable to the vagaries of regional politics, at least while Iran is at odds with the West over its nuclear program and the threat of a U.S. or Israeli military strike on Iranian facilities remains possible. Hizballah's rocket arsenal would be an obvious means of retaliation. "Any internal Lebanese dialogue with Hizballah could be hindered or pushed forward by what happens in the nuclear dispute with Iran," Hizballah analyst Nizar Hamzeh said. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israeli security authorities have foiled an Islamic Jihad double suicide bombing in Jerusalem. During interrogation, the terrorists confessed that they attempted to dispatch two suicide bombers from the northern West Bank on two separate occasions this week, and a third attempt was scheduled for Thursday. Iyad Fuajara, 27, from Bethlehem, revealed that he was to lead suicide bombers into Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood in order to carry out an attack "in a bus, synagogue, or coffee shop." Security officials said the latest terror plot demonstrates Islamic Jihad's unwillingness to submit to intra-Palestinian truce understandings and continued attempts to strike at targets inside Israel. (Ynet News)
Israel freed 400 Palestinian prisoners on Thursday in what Prime Minister Sharon called an attempt to boost PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. (Ha'aretz)
Some 50 members of the PA's Military Intelligence Force armed with AK-47 assault rifles on Wednesday blocked main roads and stormed public buildings in the Gaza Strip in protest against the PA's decision to reconstruct the Palestinian security forces. Until recently, most of the PA security forces were being run as private fiefdoms belonging to top security officials.
Sources in Gaza City on Wednesday confirmed that former Civil Police Chief Ghazi Jabali had recently left for Jordan. Since Arafat's death last November, several PA officials have fled the territories to avoid facing charges of financial corruption. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
While traditional Arab monarchies and emirates are changing in the wake of a democratic tide sweeping across the Arab world, Saudi Arabia remains a huge and seemingly immovable obstacle to region-wide reform. On May 15, three leading reformers were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to nine years for calling for a constitutional monarchy. Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, is keen to be seen as a champion of reform. But his half-brother and more powerful rival, Prince Nayef, the interior minister, ordered the arrests, trial and imprisonment of 13 reformers in March 2004.
Under regional and international pressure, the Saudi ruling family has constructed a Potemkin village of reform while retaining absolute control over all political developments. Earlier this year it staged partial, tightly-regulated municipal elections. The entire female population was excluded, and only a quarter of the male population was eligible to vote. Inevitably, Wahhabi Islamists did best. The writer is a research fellow at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Professor Jonathan Adelman of Denver University describes three ingredients as historically important for a revolution to begin. The intelligentsia must take a stand against the regime, the nation is in financial distress, and there is a breakdown of the elites. In Syria today, the elites are represented by the Allawite families who are the last wall of defense for Syrian leader Bashar Assad. Although Assad's fall would be problematic for their stature, blind support would be disastrous for the whole community. The majority of Allawites today suffer from the malaise gripping Syrians in general and want to see a democratic Syria emerge.
Among the traditional Sunni-based business groups, we are watching, in slow motion, the peeling off of their backing of the Assad regime because of Syria's policies in Iraq that are hurting any prospect for a better economy. Syrians are ready for a revolution and democracy whether we like it or not. The writer is president of the Reform Party of Syria. (Washington Times)
One day, historians will scratch their heads in disbelief, wondering how it came to pass that Muslim extremists managed to intimidate moderates of every religion - including Islam - on every continent on earth. No question, insulting any religion is beyond reprehensible. It appears, however, that nothing is more reprehensible than insulting the Muslim religion. And the extremists now decide what constitutes an insult. Moderates everywhere now seem terrified of making missteps that might upset the extremists, while they obsess over the question, "What can we do to avoid offending Muslims?" Standing Pentagon orders instruct those touching the Koran that "clean gloves will be put on" and that "two hands will be used at all times." (International Herald Tribune)
Understanding Iran's Nuclear Agenda - Daniel L. Byman (Brookings Institution)
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