Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Hizbullah Officer: We Would Have Given Up If Not for Cease-Fire (Jerusalem Post)
Russia "Downgrades" Relationship with Hamas - Andrew E. Kramer (AP/International Herald Tribune)
Jordan Won't Send Troops to West Bank - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Islamic Opposition Pulls Out of Jordanian Municipal Elections - Hassan M. Fattah (New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The U.S. wants Israel to expand the scope of talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to begin tackling border and possibly other statehood issues, diplomats and Israeli officials said Tuesday. A Western diplomat involved in the deliberations said Washington was now eager to "expand the range of things discussed" between Olmert and Abbas. "They're more than testing the waters. The Americans are trying to see how much they can expand the envelope of 'political horizon'," a senior Israeli official said.
Israeli officials said Olmert was prepared to discuss borders and other core issues in "general terms" that could lead to an "agreement of principles" for establishing a Palestinian state. But Olmert has not agreed to full-fledged negotiations over the three main final status issues - borders, the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees - as proposed by Abbas. Israeli officials said any commitment now could raise expectations and lead to further violence if talks break down.(Reuters)
Secretary of State Rice and Defense Secretary Gates on Tuesday coupled their military assistance package for Arab allies with a public request for Arab leaders to do more to back the Shiite-led government in Iraq. The Bush team has gotten a little less than hoped for, particularly given the size of the military and aid package announced Monday. In addition to the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the gathering at Sharm El-Sheikh included Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The group issued a statement supporting a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, but made no promises that Saudi Arabia, or indeed any of the Persian Gulf countries, would attend an international conference that President Bush has proposed for this fall. American officials have said privately that they want Arab countries to confront Iran more robustly. (New York Times)
See also Joint Statement after Sharm El-Sheikh Meeting (State Department)
See also U.S. Gets No Specific Arab Promises of Iraq Help
The U.S. won no specific new promises of Arab help for struggling Iraq after a gathering Tuesday of several nations listed as recipients of an expanded aid and weapons package for friendly states in the region. President Bush's top diplomatic and military managers have a tough assignment to convince skeptical, mostly Sunni-led Arab nations that they have more to lose if Iraq fails than they stand to gain by waiting until the U.S. leaves or Bush's term ends. Arab money and diplomatic support has lagged behind Europe's, and some of Iraq's neighbors quietly tolerate, or may secretly support, attacks inside Iraq. Some of the violence targets U.S. forces and some of it Shiite militias and neighborhoods. (AP/CNN)
More than 10,000 academics, including 32 Nobel prize winners, have signed a declaration saying they would not join any project which barred Israelis. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who drafted the statement for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), said that should the UK's University and College Union "go forward with a boycott of Israeli academics and institutions, the end result will be a self-inflicted wound on British academia." (BBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
An impending $20 billion American arms deal with Saudi Arabia, in which the Saudis would receive state-of-the-art military equipment over the next decade, is fraught with potential dangers for Israel, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold said Tuesday in an interview. "There are a broad set of very possible scenarios that Israel certainly has to take into consideration. Several years ago, Israel received reports of the interrogation of al-Qaeda captives who admitted that their organization had penetrated the Saudi Arabian air force, and that it was planning to take control of several Saudi F-15s based at Tabuk in northwestern Saudi Arabia, near Eilat, and fly the planes into skyscrapers in Tel Aviv," Gold said. "From the pattern of past al-Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia, many Western observers have concluded that elements of the Saudi national guard colluded with the attackers," he added.
"Israel doesn't have to roll back to 1967 lines in order to get a Saudi foreign minister to attend a Middle East peace summit." "Up until recently, Saudi Arabia was the primary funder of Hamas during the high point of the suicide bombing attacks against Israel." Citing a written pledge made by Bush to former prime minister Sharon, according to which Israel would not be expected to withdraw to the 1967 lines, Gold said: "By embracing the Arab peace initiative (which calls for an Israeli retreat to the '67 lines), the Bush administration is creating some confusion over whether Bush's assurances to Sharon still stand. And therefore, it should issue a clarification in this regard." (Ynet News)
An explosive device was detonated Tuesday at the PA's Jenaid prison in Nablus, where Hamas prisoners are being held. Palestinian sources said the event is considered a "warning sign" to the PA to stop its arrests of Hamas operatives. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The political debate that has begun over the Bush administration's recently announced $20 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and other Mideast nations is missing the point. The real threat is the army of contractors and U.S. service members that will have to go to Saudi Arabia to support the deal. They will just fuel more Arab anger and more terrorism.
The Saudi military is even less dangerous than the gang who couldn't shoot straight. After gazillions in arms sales during the heyday of oil, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia demonstrated that it wasn't capable, even with its advanced American-supplied military, of defending its country. When Desert Storm unfolded in 1991, Saudi ground forces were given a sector to operate in where they wouldn't get in the way. The Saudi monarchy has methodically focused its military on pomp and equipment and spiffy uniforms, ensuring that it not acquire any real offensive capacity or the ability to operate as a coherent force. It does not want a competent, independent military contemplating a coup.
We will buy nothing in terms of security, and we will just put our own people in danger. But most important, we will once again renew the cycle of American penetration into the heart of Islam, one of bin Laden's original and most compelling rallying points. That's why the Saudi deal is so dangerous. (Washington Post)
Since June 2002, as an essential element of an overall settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, American policy has sought to foster the creation of a democratic Palestinian state that is opposed to terrorism. The U.S. attributed the failed Camp David Summit of 2000 and the subsequent intifada largely to Arafat's malevolence. Hamas' January 2006 election victory dealt a blow to U.S. policy. Apparently, Arafat's Palestine was to be displaced not by Bush's democratic vision, represented by Abbas, but rather by Hamas, an Islamist party (its ideology not far from that of bin Laden's) and increasingly influenced by Syria and Iran. The Palestinians had elected a party that repudiated Oslo and sought Israel's destruction through terrorism.
U.S. policy has no answer to the most important recent military developments. This is the view, shared by Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran and Syria, that they have found a way to deter if not negate Israel's military advantages, thereby enabling them to damage Israel with relative impunity. By deploying well-trained troops that use Palestinian civilians as shields and Israeli civilians as the targets, largely through missile fire, Hamas hopes to duplicate Hizbullah's feat during the Second Lebanon War. Without a military solution to this challenge, Hamas will be able to bring about a violent interruption of any negotiation that looks like success. The author is president of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a former aide to three U.S. secretaries of state. (ISN-Swiss Federal Institute of Technology/FPRI)
The Iran-Hizbullah Alliance - Matthew Levitt and Jake Lipton (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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