Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Plot to Assassinate Putin During Iran Visit Uncovered - Lynn Berry (AP/Washington Post)
Israel Campus Beat
- October 14, 2007
Israel's Requirements for Progress for Peace with the Palestinians
Ahmadinejad Under Fire Over Foreign Policy - David Blair (Telegraph-UK)
An Internet Jihad Sells Extremism to Viewers in the U.S. - Michael Moss and Souad Mekhennet (New York Times)
Book Faults Israeli Air War in Lebanon - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
Terrorists in Training Head to Pakistan - Dirk Laabs and Sebastian Rotella (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel's air attack on Syria on Sep. 6 was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel. The New York Times reported earlier that a debate had begun within the Bush administration. Officials did not say that the administration had ultimately opposed the Israeli strike, but that Secretary of State Rice and Defense Secretary Gates were particularly concerned about the ramifications of a pre-emptive strike in the absence of an urgent threat.
North Korea has long provided assistance to Syria on a ballistic missile program, but any assistance toward the construction of the reactor would have been the first clear evidence of ties between the two countries on a nuclear program. North Korea has successfully used its five-megawatt reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex to reprocess nuclear fuel into bomb-grade material, a model that some American and Israeli officials believe Syria may have been trying to replicate. (New York Times)
Secretary of State Rice on Sunday sought to downplay expectations as she began several days of shuttle diplomacy designed to nudge the Palestinians and Israelis closer to the bargaining table in advance of a U.S. peace conference. "I don't expect...that there will be any particular outcome in the sense of breakthroughs," Rice told reporters on the flight to Tel Aviv.
In the days leading up to Rice's visit, public statements from both the Israelis and Palestinians highlighted a large gap in expectations of what the conference could produce. Abbas is pressing for definitive agreements on deeply divisive issues such as right of return for Palestinian refugees and a timetable for the creation of a Palestinian state. Israeli government officials, however, view the conference as a starting point for a much longer and, at least initially, vaguer process. "There is a chance that before long Rice will be joining other senior American officials who visited our quagmire, tried to swim in it, almost drowned and went home with nothing," said Yaron Dekel, a prominent Israeli journalist. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Arabs Skeptical of U.S. Peace Effort - Jeffrey Fleishman
Arab nations, including Washington's closest allies, are criticizing the upcoming Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in November as a miscalculated photo op by a Bush administration desperate to repair its image in the Middle East. "This is not an effort to save the Palestinians, it's an attempt to prop up the administration's very low standing in the Arab world," said Mustafa Alani, an analyst with the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Randa Habib, a writer and political analyst in Jordan, said the Arab capitals and Washington appear to be speaking to each other from parallel realities. Rice is shuttling through the region to draw support for a meeting when many of those she is visiting would prefer to be taken off the list. "I think the regimes want to convince Rice, at least as things stand now, that this is not the right time for a peace conference," Habib said. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Iran's Top Cleric Calls for Boycott of Peace Talks - Steven Erlanger
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Saturday for all Muslim countries to boycott an American-sponsored meeting for Middle East peace planned for November. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
U.S. Secretary of State Rice arrived in the region in a bid to advance a joint Palestinian-Israeli statement prior to the November meeting. Prime Minister Olmert said Sunday that the process of reaching a joint declaration "will be cautious and well-considered." "This declaration is not a condition, and never was a condition, for holding this conference in November," he said. The prime minister told the cabinet that he expects the conference to be followed by "discussions on the possibility of founding a Palestinian state." But, he said, "setting a timetable for this process in advance would create more problems than it would solve."
Minister of Defense Barak told Rice that Israel would dismantle a permanent roadblock on the road connecting Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank as a gesture of goodwill toward the Palestinians. Barak added that the PA has yet to complete the daily deployment of 500 Palestinian police officers in the West Bank city of Nablus during daytime hours, a move which Rice approved during her last visit to the region. The defense minister reiterated to Rice that Israel's freedom to implement security measures within the West Bank is a basic principle which must be upheld in the future.
Concerns have been mounting in Washington that the talks may falter because of the high expectations of the Palestinians as reflected in their public statements. The Americans are worried that the Palestinians are entrenching themselves in positions from which they will have difficulty compromising, and that Israel cannot accept. (Ha'aretz)
See also Rice Won't Impose Conditions on Israel - Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff
Secretary of State Rice has no intention of imposing on Israel "anything that will not be acceptable to it," during the negotiations with the Palestinians in preparation for the summit at Annapolis, according to sources in the Prime Minister's Bureau. Rice met Sunday with Prime Minister Olmert. (Ha'aretz)
The Egyptian authorities have released a top Hamas operative wanted by the Palestinian Authority and Israel for his involvement in terror attacks over the past few years, PA officials said Sunday. Nahro Massoud, one of the commanders of Hamas' armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, fled to Egypt more than a year ago. At the request of the PA, Massoud and several other Hamas fugitives were arrested by the Egyptian security forces and held without trial. According to the PA officials, the release of Massoud is yet another sign of the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket on Sunday evening that landed near an Israeli town. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Bali and 9/11 were proof enough to many Americans that radical Islam is at war with the West; that there is nothing to negotiate, such as the withdrawal of our troops from Saudi Arabia or peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis; that the battlefield is everywhere, with everyone a combatant. The writer is a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East. (TIME)
It was President Bush who, a year after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, rewrote America's national security strategy to warn any nation that might be thinking of trying to develop atomic weapons that it could find itself the target of a pre-emptive military strike. This time it was the Israelis who invoked Mr. Bush's doctrine, determining that what they believed was a nascent Syrian effort to build a nuclear reactor could not be tolerated.
Michael Green, a former director for Asia at the National Security Council and now a professor at Georgetown University, suggested that the Israelis are thinking five or ten years ahead. They saw a chance to thwart the Syrians and to fire a warning shot that the Iranians could not fail to notice. "If you are Israel and you are looking at this, the value of striking Syria is that it sends a signal, including to the Iranians," Green said. (New York Times)
Since Hamas completed its takeover of Gaza in June, weapons smuggling from Sinai has mushroomed. Israel last week asked the American administration to speak urgently to Egypt about this matter, to make it clear that the smuggling has become a strategic problem. Despite Egyptian promises, Cairo has made no significant effort to thwart the smuggling. Every recent month has seen tons of explosives smuggled into Gaza to manufacture bombs and rockets. Would-be terrorists, trained in camps in Iran, Syria and Lebanon, are also slipping across the border.
Egypt could seal the border to smuggling if it would only decide to do so. This behavior raises the suspicion it does not really want talks between Israel and Abbas to succeed or PA rule strengthened. (Ha'aretz)
Pre-emption, Israeli Style - Joshua Muravchik (Los Angeles Times)
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