Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
U.S. Seeks Closing of Visa Loophole for Britons of Pakistani Origin - Jane Perlez (New York Times)
MI5 Watching 2,000 Terror Suspects - Frank Gardner (BBC News)
Iranian Holocaust-Denial Documentary Series on Iranian TV (MEMRI)
How Terrorists Send Money - Rachel Ehrenfeld and John Wood (UPI)
BBC Wins Right to Keep Report on Middle East Coverage Secret - Clare Dyer (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Bush administration has drawn up an eight-month timetable setting dates for when Israeli and Palestinian leaders would complete steps meant to bolster prospects for peace talks, U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials said. The U.S. timeline, the first of its kind presented to both sides, includes specific dates for when Washington envisages Israel letting Palestinian bus and truck convoys travel between Gaza and the West Bank. At the same time, Washington has set dates for when Mahmoud Abbas would step up deployment of his forces and take specific measures to begin curbing rocket fire by militants.
Diplomats said Secretary of State Rice was committed to the effort and that she hoped to draw up a blueprint that both sides would commit to, possibly in writing. U.S. diplomats presented the list of benchmarks late last week to Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Israeli officials said most troubling was Washington's decision to set specific dates for when Israel would begin allowing Palestinian travel between Gaza and the West Bank. "There is not conditionality. Even if they don't complete their obligations, we'll have to complete ours," a senior Israeli official said, noting that conditions had changed and that Hamas would use the convoys to extend its power to the West Bank. The U.S. document also sets specific dates for when Israel would remove roadblocks in the West Bank. (Reuters)
A package of $250 million of Saudi money - equivalent to some six weeks of the PA's basic funding needs - will start arriving soon, Finance Minister Salam Fayyad said on Tuesday. While the Western powers and Israel still refuse to help Hamas as long as it does not renounce violence or recognize Israel, Fayyad won a pledge from the U.S. to ease technical difficulties for those donors still making payments. A key element was an assurance from Washington to banks that they would not be penalized for making transfers to an account run by the Palestine Liberation Organization, run by Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. (Reuters)
U.S. Secretary of State Rice will participate in a meeting with major powers involved in Mideast peace that will also include Syria, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday. The meeting will be held after the planned gathering of international leaders at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh May 3-4 for a security conference on Iraq. (AFP/Yahoo)
See also Repression Getting Worse in Syria
Six leading opposition figures jailed in Syria warned on Tuesday that the "repressive climate" in their country was worsening and called for the release of all political prisoners, in a joint letter from Adra prison near Damascus published in Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper. (AFP/Yahoo)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
A group of ten European parliamentarians met in Gaza on Tuesday with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, where Kyriacos Triantaphyllides from Cyprus called for lifting the EU's financial embargo on the PA. An EU spokeswoman said the bloc's policy of shunning Hamas remains unchanged. "The parliament is not the official representative of the EU in matters of foreign policy," she said. Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, called the meeting a "very negative occurrence." "Giving recognition and legitimacy to an unreformed Hamas will not help peace," he said. (Reuters/Ynet News)
An Arab League working team made up of representatives from Egypt and Jordan is expected to arrive in the coming days to discuss the Arab peace initiative relaunched in March in Riyadh. However, there is little likelihood of anything substantial coming out of their visit. For the foreseeable future, all major diplomatic steps are frozen. Meetings will continue to be held, but the chances of anything significant happening on the diplomatic front for the foreseeable future are slim until the Israeli domestic picture clears up in the wake of the Winograd Committee's Interim Report on the Second Lebanon War. (Jerusalem Post)
Political commentators throughout the Arab world said the Winograd Report on last summer's war in Lebanon is a sign of Israel's military weakness and hailed Hizbullah for defeating the "invincible" IDF. However, some looked at the positive aspects of Israel's democratic system. "By establishing commissions of inquiry after wars and holding those responsible for failure accountable, Israel is showing how strong it is," said newspaper columnist Hassan Khader. "We failed to establish commissions of inquiry into the way decisions were being made or the way money was being wasted," he said. "That's why we have reached a stage where gangs and militias are popping up as fast as mushrooms and are hijacking our cause." (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Mecca Agreement created a fusion between the alleged moderate branch of the PA headed by Fatah leader Abbas, and Hamas that maintains links with the Muslim Brotherhood. But it did not forge a new common stance of renouncing violence, recognizing Israel, or firmly committing all Palestinian parties to previous peace agreements, as the international community has demanded.
It was precisely while the U.S. was actively engaged in conflict management between Israel and the Palestinians that al-Qaeda was planning terrorist attacks. Islamist organizations, like al-Qaeda, may raise specific political grievances at times from the Balkans, Chechnya, or Kashmir, but what empirically has really helped these organizations surge in strength is their sense of victory from the battles in any of these clashes. Withdrawal in the face of radical Islam only strengthens the present worldwide militant wave and empowers its adherents.
Recent apocalyptic Sunni and Shiite literature perceives the recovery of Jerusalem as a trigger to a new wave of global jihad. This doctrine predicts an imminent clash between the Mahdi - a Muslim savior - and the Islamic antichrist, known as the Dajjal, in the Holy City. Thus begins a new stage of worldwide violence extending to Rome and the entire West. (Henry Jackson Society)
Al-Hurra, the taxpayer-financed Arab TV network, aired Hizbullah leader Nasrallah's 68-minute Dec. 7 speech live. Al-Hurra covered the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran last December, treating Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the attendees at his conference with unmistakable deference. Al-Hurra's Dec. 12 report on the gathering included David Duke's praise for Ahmadinejad. Also broadcast unchallenged were the remarks of French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, who informed Arab viewers: "Gas chambers and mass killings of the Jews, in the way that it is pretended (by the Jews), is completely untrue, and an historical lie." In closing the piece, the Al-Hurra reporter referred to Israel as "the Jewish state on Palestinian lands."
Combating this nonsense should be ground zero in our quest to inject truth and information into the Arab world. If we can't do this, how will we ever be able counteract the jihadists who preach to the masses that America is waging war on Islam? (Wall Street Journal)
The Winograd Report - Editorial (New York Sun)
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