Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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PA to Allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad Terrorists R&R in Egypt - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
Israel to Avoid Arresting Hamas Candidates During Palestinian Elections - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
U.S., Israel Resume Talks on $1.2b Special Aid Package - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
Rice Names New Mideast Coordinator (Reuters)
No Pakistani Delegation in Israel (Daily Times-Pakistan)
Knockoff Artists Financing Terrorism - Shane Harris (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Secretary of State Rice spent all day and night successfully brokering an accord on Tuesday on security controls at a Gaza border crossing, suddenly elevating the Bush administration's involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a new level. Until now President Bush and Secretary Rice have avoided taking risks in the conflict, confining their diplomacy to consultations, exhortations, drive-by visits to the region, and documents like the "road map."
What changed this week, State Department officials said, was mounting fear of more instability and frustration that could lead to a rebuke of Mahmoud Abbas in Palestinian parliamentary elections in January. That sense of urgency, driven by warnings from Washington's Arab and European allies as well as from American envoys, prompted Ms. Rice's unusual personal participation in the negotiations in Jerusalem.
Probably the most difficult aspect of Washington's enhanced role is that it could lead to more American pressure on Israel. This week Ms. Rice leaned heavily on Prime Minister Sharon to ease Israeli controls over people and goods going in and out of Gaza. How much pressure she can exert on other matters depends on a peaceful Israeli-Palestinian situation, something that is outside American control. If suicide or rocket attacks resume, with Gaza as a base, American pressure on Israel will probably be out of the question. (New York Times)
See also Why Rice Pushed So Hard on Gaza Border Deal - Herb Keinon
The agreement gives the Palestinians control of a border - without Israeli interference - for the first time, and it also marks the first time Israel accepted a third-party presence on its outer envelope. Since disengagement, the Gaza-Egyptian border cannot really be called Israel's border any longer.
To understand Rice's extra effort and the State Department-driven spin to play up the story, it is important to look at what happened over the weekend in Bahrain, the first leg of Rice's recent journey, where on Saturday, a high-profile, U.S.-backed summit, meant to promote political freedom in the region, ended without agreement. Rice suffered a defeat in Bahrain, and then came to Israel. The Secretary of State could not afford to be burned twice within three days; she put her prestige on the line to conclude the agreement, and conclude it she did. In addition, with Israeli elections looming so large, it was clear to the U.S. that the window of opportunity to close a deal such as this was narrowing quickly. (Jerusalem Post)
See also below Observations: Text of Agreement on Movement and Access in Palestinian Territories and at Egypt-Gaza Border (U.S. State Department)
King Abdullah II of Jordan, concerned with a threat to his country that he described as Iraqis "who believe they're resistance fighters," accepted the resignations of 11 of his advisers on Tuesday, including the national security adviser. In an interview with the king and his brother, Prince Ali bin Hussein, the king highlighted how the terrorist group that carried out the deadly bombings in Amman last week has been transformed from a local organization whose attacks were once constantly thwarted into one that is slowly being fueled by Iraqi insurgents. That has made it more difficult for Jordan's intelligence services to track these terrorists. Zarqawi only managed to slip his people through Jordanian security when he started using Iraqis, they said. The government announced the appointment of a new national security adviser, Marouf al-Bakhit, formerly Amman's ambassador to Israel. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel's defense establishment realized a long time ago that getting out of Gaza would ultimately mean relinquishing control over who, and later what, enters the Palestinian-controlled areas. Military and security officials point out that the impact on Israeli security of this deal was marginal since Gaza itself was still sealed off from Israel and the West Bank.
What would impact directly on Israel's security would be the importation of Katyusha rockets and artillery. The danger of the Rafah precedent will be apparent when the Palestinians open their sea and air port where these weapons could be more readily imported. (Jerusalem Post)
Approximately half the victims of last week's terror attack in Jordan were Palestinians, some Jordanian citizens and some residents of the West Bank. I watched the reactions in the Arab world and heard their denunciations of the bombing, but not even one person thought to compare the wanton slaughter of Jews and the wanton slaughter of Muslims. Most protested the fact that Muslims had the audacity to murder other Muslims, not over the fact that innocents were killed. The message was frighteningly clear: there is nothing wrong with terrorism in-and-of-itself. The mistake in the current instance was the religious makeup of the targets.
One British reporter traveled to the West Bank village that was home to 17 of the victims. Near the mourning tent, he spoke to family members and asked them who they thought was responsible for the massacre. Every single one blamed Israel. They had internalized the message that Muslims wouldn't have murdered fellow Muslims, and so it must have been Israelis. (Ynet News)
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom arrived in Tunisia Tuesday at the head of Israel's delegation to the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS), a UN-sponsored conference. "We come to this summit, which deals with technology and communications, with proposals for regional cooperation with our neighbors for the welfare of all the peoples of the region. This...will be another brick in the structure we are building with the Arab countries, a joint structure of dialogue and coming closer together," he said. For Minister Shalom the visit also has a personal poignancy: He was born in Tunisia and was brought by his parents to Israel when he was one year old. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
See also Tunisian Students Demonstrate Against Israel's Presence at IT Summit (Arabic News.com)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The effort to stop the "Iranian bomb" took on secondary importance in the wake of the call by Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to "wipe Israel off the map." The radical comment clarified the severity of the threat facing Israel and generated worldwide condemnation. But Israel cannot allow expressions of sympathy to suffice when it faces an enemy threatening to destroy it and aiming to arm itself with the means necessary to do so.
The International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors is to meet again next Thursday to discuss turning the Iran matter over to the UN Security Council, which can impose sanctions. It's important for Israel to make it clear that time is running out and that diplomacy must have a clear and final target date. The Iranian bomb must be stopped before it becomes operational and fundamentally changes the balance of power in the Middle East. (Ha'aretz) .
In truth, the tranquility of Jordan was deceptive, secured by a monarchy that has always been more moderate in its temperament than the population it ruled. "Iraqi Insurgent Blamed for Bombings in Jordan" was a headline on the front page of the New York Times of Nov. 13: Not quite! For Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as his nom de guerre specifies, is a man from the town of Zarqa, a stone's throw from Amman.
From its inception as the unlikeliest of nation-states, Jordan has been a realm ruled by a merciful dynasty and a population bristling under the controls, threatening to overrun the political limits and then pulling back from the brink out of a grudging recognition that the soft authoritarianism of the place was safer than the prospects of calamity. A stranger who encounters Jordan is always struck by that juxtaposition of stability and barely hidden rage.
It would be a calamity were the rulers to succumb to the temptation to proclaim Jordan's innocence, its shock and surprise that the safe haven has been violated. True, the assailants who struck the Amman hotels were Iraqis from the Sunni triangle. But the spectacle of displaying the would-be suicide bomber - Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, with her belt of explosives - on Jordanian television ought not to become theater and escapism, a message that the terror hails from beyond Jordan's borders.
In one Pew survey, conducted in the summer of 2005, 57% of Jordanians expressed their support for suicide bombings and attacks on civilians. A country with this kind of political culture is in need of political repair. Once more, we are face to face here with the phenomenon of Arab denial. How else can we explain the anger of Jordanians that Zarqawi had struck his own birthplace? (Wall Street Journal)
See also Jordan's Predicament - H.D.S. Greenway (Boston Globe)
Agreement on Movement and Access in Palestinian Territories and at Egypt-Gaza Border (U.S. State Department)
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