Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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"Death to Israel and America," Islamic Pilgrims Shout in Saudi Arabia - Yaniv Berman (Ynet News)
Israel Campus Beat
- January 8, 2006
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
UK Cleared Nuclear Cargo to Iran - Antony Barnett (Observer-UK)
Hamas Launches TV Station in Gaza - Ibrahim Barzak (AP/Los Angeles Times)
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander Dies in Plane Crash (AP/New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam says he wants to see President Bashar al-Assad ousted through a popular uprising. Speaking from Paris, Khaddam said: "The Syrian people will take on themselves the responsibility for changing the government." "The Syrian people are quite unhappy....There is an opposition in Syria which will find its way in leading the people to overthrow him." "A traitor is he who causes harm to his country....The man who should be named as traitor is Bashar al-Assad himself," he said. On Thursday, he told France 3 TV that the Syrian president should go to prison for his involvement in former Lebanese prime minister Hariri's assassination in February. (BBC)
I have always been reluctant to accept the Israeli statesman Abba Eban's observation that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, but arriving in Gaza Monday, it had to be admitted that the man had a point. Four months ago, when I was last here, the place sparkled with optimism. With the Israelis gone, Gaza was going to show the world what Palestinians could do when left to their own devices.
Now it felt more like the Wild West. Our regular driver, Ashraf, was not there to meet us. He has the bad luck to belong to the Masri clan, who are currently engaged in a blood feud with their rivals, the Kafarnehs. The toll so far is five dead and 70-odd wounded. As we passed through the town of Khan Yunis, the main road was blocked by what I took at first to be an election rally. Wrong. The Masri boys were at it again, this time wading into the Tahas, their sworn enemies in the southern end of the strip. As we turned into a parallel street to detour round the mob, we ran into a gun battle, with the rivals trading Kalashnikov fire from opposing blocks of flats. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Following the incident at the Rafah border crossing in which two Egyptian soldiers were killed, Egypt threatened to withdraw its support for the PA if it did not act to control the rampant anarchy in the Gaza Strip, according to a report in the London Arab newspaper Al Quds. (Jerusalem Post)
Discussing Iran's attempts to achieve nuclear capability, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said Monday, "Israel is in no rush. The whole world condemns Iran's actions - it cannot be perceived as an exclusively Israeli problem and should not be treated as one." "The steps Iran is taking to develop and attain nuclear capability...could affect far more than Israel, and should be the cause of concern for others." (Jerusalem Post)
The Palestinian Authority is facing a fiscal crisis that could result, as early as next month, in it being unable to pay the salaries of its 130,000-plus officials and security staff, Nigel Roberts, the World Bank's man in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, said in an interview. "The Palestinian government needs the continued assistance of the international community," Roberts declares, "and to secure that, it must begin to assume its responsibilities." Raising salaries at a time when resources are unavailable for this, he notes, is precisely the opposite of demonstrating responsibility and reliability. The direct consequence was a decision by the Bank, supported by the European Commission, to freeze $60 million for funding the PA's operating budget.
Roberts notes that the amount of assistance the Palestinians are getting - $5 billion in five years, or $300 per capita annually - is the highest granted to any entity since World War II. "At the beginning of 2005, when Abu Mazen was elected president, we hoped for new momentum in the direction of governmental reforms." Arafat died, but everything pertaining to the corrupted system of government, the "Arafatism," is still alive and kicking, Roberts says. "We did not think that becoming accustomed to new norms would take so much time." (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israel is bracing for a political battle to determine the fate of its fallen premier's policy of disengagement. On one side is a coterie of Sharon aides who have hinted in recent days that he secretly intended to draw final borders for the Jewish state if he had won the election scheduled for March 28. But at the same time, much of the Israeli leader's base insists that he promised that the Gaza withdrawal was the last unilateral disengagement and that the security fence that runs roughly along the 1967 armistice lines was never meant as a permanent border.
Former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold said Sunday he believed that al-Qaeda's increased terror activity near Israel was a strong reason to suspend any possible plans for withdrawing soldiers from the West Bank. "Iraqi Sunni militants are exporting the jihad to neighboring states....More than ever, Israel needs to retain the Jordan Valley as a strategic buffer on its eastern front." (New York Sun, 9Jan06)
See also Sharon's Vision of Peace for Israel - Benny Avni
Back in September 2000, Prime Minister Sharon explained to me during a long phone conversation why he planned to visit the Temple Mount. Sharon returned again and again to the point that no Jew should ever be barred from visiting any area of Jerusalem. Sharon's philosophy was informed by the notion that facts Israelis create on the ground are much more significant than any international agreement or meaningless pacts. As long as Israel did what was right for itself, he believed, the rest would fall into place. Sharon knew that peace could not be achieved with the current Palestinian Arabs' leadership and that nothing was more deadly than endless negotiations with it. (New York Sun)
As a professional soldier, Sharon saw that Israel had won all its wars with the Arabs in military terms, but failed to translate those victories into lasting political gains. For a war to be won, it is not enough for one side to claim victory. It is also necessary for one side to admit defeat. Yet in the Arab-Israeli wars, the side that had won every time was not allowed to claim victory, while the side that had lost was prevented from admitting defeat. Each time, the UN intervened to put the victor and the vanquished on an equal basis and lock them into a problematic situation in the name of a mythical quest for an impossible peace.
Bizarre new concepts were invented to prevent the normal mechanisms of war and peace from functioning, including "land for peace." Yet there is no instance in history in which the winner of a war has given the loser any land in exchange for peace. In every case, the winner wins the land and gives the loser peace. Thus for more than 50 years Israel and the Arabs were asked to achieve what no others had ever achieved in history. And so Israel-Palestine became the only conflict to defy a resolution.
Sharon understood that if such a formula remained in force, there would never be peace. It was necessary for the victor to claim victory, regardless of what anyone else said. It is still possible for Israel to create on the ground the kind of peace it can live with and then let the Palestinians decide whether or not they, too, can live with it. My guess is that they will. (New York Post)
The new audio clip attributed to Abu Musab Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, with Osama bin Laden reported to have instructed his activists to redirect the offensive toward the Near East, is believed by the defense establishment to be authentic. There are too many signs indicating that al-Qaeda and its offshoots are planning to expand their efforts to include Israel.
Chief of Staff Dan Halutz sought to put into proportion the claim of responsibility for the Katyusha attack in Israel. "When my mother hears that al-Qaeda fired from Lebanon, she immediately pictures Afghan horsemen charging toward us," he said. "Ultimately, we are concerned with a number of Palestinians who were once members of Organization A and when they weren't paid, they went over to work for Organization B. After all, it is the same 107mm Katyusha." (Ha'aretz)
Where Is the Arab Sharon? - Tim Hames (Times-UK)
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