Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 20, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Cabinet Approves Release of 441 More Palestinian Prisoners in Pre-Annapolis Goodwill Gesture (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israeli cabinet approved on Monday a list of 441 Palestinian prisoners to be released ahead of the Annapolis conference.
    The move is intended as a goodwill gesture to Mahmoud Abbas.
    On Tuesday, Prime Minister Olmert will meet Egyptian President Mubarak in Egypt to coordinate positions ahead of the Annapolis meeting.

Israel Campus Beat
- November 18, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    Should the Palestinians Recognize Israel as a "Jewish State"?

Palestinians Want to Reopen Institutions in Jerusalem - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    PA Information Minister Riad el-Malki said Monday that the Palestinians would demand at Annapolis that Israel reopen Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem under the framework of phase one of the Roadmap.

Chavez Jokes He's in Iran to Get an A-Bomb (Oil Week-Canada)
    Making his fourth trip to Tehran in two years, Venezuelan President Chavez has built a strong bond with Ahmadinejad that has produced a string of business agreements as well as a torrent of rhetoric presenting their two countries as an example of how smaller countries can stand up to the U.S.
    "Here are two brother countries, united like a single fist,'' Chavez said.
    When a reporter asked about the aims of his visit, Chavez quipped: "As the imperialist press says, I came to look for an atomic bomb, and I've got it here. If anyone should cross me, I'll fire it."

Anti-Semitic Palestinian Cartoons Appear Regularly - (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    Coarse anti-Semitic cartoons drawn by Palestinian cartoonist Alaa' Allaqta appear regularly in Hamas' newspaper, Felesteen, on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad website, and in Saudi Arabian and Qatari newspapers.
    His cartoons, which recycle anti-Semitic motifs, have recently been part of a propaganda campaign against the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the upcoming Annapolis meeting.

Saudi-Based Terrorist Charity Remains UN-Recognized NGO - Eric Shawn (FOX News)
    The International Islamic Relief Organization is a Saudi-based charity, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works in the UN system.
    In Jakarta, Indonesia, FOX News found the IIRO branch open for business, but there's a catch. Both the UN Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee and U.S. Treasury Department have placed the IIRO Indonesian and Philippine branches on the Terrorism Sanctions list.
    The Jakarta branch allegedly financed al-Qaeda training facilities and supported the group responsible for the deadly Bali bombings.
    The head of the UN NGO Panel says they are not looking into the group's membership.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • High-Level Saudi Presence Seen Unlikely at Annapolis - Andrew Hammond
    Saudi Arabia could keep the U.S. guessing until the last minute on whether it will attend a Middle East peace conference next week, but analysts and diplomats say a high-level delegation is unlikely. "Right now the position is Saudi Arabia is not attending, that's what it seems - unless the Americans surprise us with a better agenda," said Jamal Khashoggi, editor of al-Watan daily, which is owned by a brother of the foreign minister. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Saudi Arms Package Faces Fight in Congress
    Lawmakers are striking a note of alarm over U.S. plans to sell sophisticated satellite guided bombs to Saudi Arabia. A coalition of 188 members of the House of Representatives warned that if the technology fell into the "wrong hands" it could harm U.S. forces in the Middle East and threaten Israel. The lawmakers' letter to President Bush was coordinated by Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Christopher Carney (D-Pa.). (AFP)
        See also Lawmakers Caution White House on Proposed JDAM Sale to Saudi Arabia - William Matthews (Defense News)
  • Jordan's Limited Democracy Leaves Voters Discontented - Ellen Knickmeyer and Yasmin Mousa
    Tuesday's elections for the 110 seats in Jordan's lower house are marked by growing charges that the parliament is only superficially democratic. About 900 candidates are running, including about 200 women. The country's electoral system gives disproportionate representation to sparsely populated rural areas, a setup that favors tribal candidates, who generally support government policies, over liberal and Islamic opposition politicians concentrated in urban areas. Analysts predict that opposition parties will win 20% of the seats. (Washington Post)
        See also Jordanian Islamists Seek to Win Palestinians' Vote - Suleiman al-Khalidi
    Behind a poster of Jerusalem's Muslim shrines, Islamist activist Omar Zaib tells a crowd of Palestinian refugees at a Jordanian election rally that Israel is doomed - if not by this generation of jihadists, then the next. (Reuters)
        See also Jordan's Shift to Democracy Slows Amid Worries Over Islamist Power - Mark MacKinnon (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • Saudi Columnists Call on Gulf States to Form Anti-Iran Front
    Following recent threats against the Gulf countries by leading Iranian officials, several Saudi columnists have criticized the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries' passivity in the face of the danger posed by Iran. In the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Saudi columnist Abdallah al-Mutairi wrote that the Gulf countries must not remain silent in the face of Iran's threats, but must instead formulate a joint defense plan. "We all remember the editorial by Hossein Shari'atmadari, advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and editor of the Kayhan newspaper, in which he stressed that Bahrain was a region belonging to Iran and that there are documents proving full Iranian sovereignty over the three islands (Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Moussa). We also cannot forget [Shari'atmadari's] comment that among the Gulf states there are illegitimate regimes." (MEMRI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Motorist Murdered in West Bank Terrorist Attack - Efrat Weiss
    Ido Zoldan, 29, of Shavei Shomron, was murdered Monday near the Palestinian village of Funduk in the northern West Bank after terrorists opened fire from a passing car. Zoldan was survived by his wife, Tehila, and his two small children, three-year-old Aharon and one-year-old Rachel. As the Annapolis peace conference gets closer, the Israel Defense Ministry has in its possession five specific warnings on attempts to carry out terrorist attacks, in addition to dozens of general warnings. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Foils Terror Attack on Israeli Community Near Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    At 11:30 p.m. on Monday, IDF soldiers spotted three Palestinians climbing on the security fence in an attempt to infiltrate the community of Netiv Ha'asara, located just north of Gaza. IDF forces opened fire and killed the three would-be attackers. A spokesman for the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the infiltration attempt and said, "It was planned to be a suicide attack."  (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Border Community Hard-Hit by Palestinian Rocket Fire
    Public Security Minister Avi Dichter on Sunday toured Moshav Nativ Ha'asara, a border community which has been particularly hard-hit by the continued Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza. "I live only ten kilometers away from here," he said. "We need to halt the rocket fire by controlling rather than taking control. It's not enough to deal with the rocket fire - we must also deal with the independence of Hamas, which is smuggling in weapons such as anti-tank missiles similar to those Hizbullah used against us in Lebanon," he said. "Hamas is turning into a terrorist army. It is arming and building up in every way like an army. I suggest a three-part plan: An operation against the continued rocket fire, action against Hamas gaining strength, and an operation to end Hamas' ability [to wage war]." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians Fire Mortar Barrage at Israel - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired 20 mortar shells that landed in Israel's western Negev on Monday afternoon. Nine of the mortars landed near the Erez crossing, by the Gaza security fence, damaging a number of cars. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Annapolis Fiasco - Brett Stevens
    "Annapolis" was conceived earlier this year by the Bush administration as a landmark conference that would revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and lead to a final settlement by January 2009. Today, the operative theory is that Israel's neighbors, fearful of Iran's growing regional clout, have a newfound interest in putting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to rest. Few Israelis take seriously the view that the creation of a Palestinian state offers a solution to their concerns about Iran. On the contrary, they fear that such a state would become yet another finger of the Islamic Revolution, just as Hizbullahstan is to their north in Lebanon, and Hamastan is to their south in Gaza. Among the principles sharply in dispute is whether Israel is a Jewish state. One would have thought the question of Israel's Jewishness was settled 60 years ago by a UN partition plan that speaks of a "Jewish state" some 30 times. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Critical Questions for Annapolis and Beyond - Robert Satloff
    After a short-lived romance with the possibility of reaching a full-scale Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the core issues - Jerusalem, territory, security, and refugees - the Annapolis hosts realized that the step-by-step philosophy embodied in the Roadmap was essential. Israel made an important procedural concession: acceptance that negotiations for the third phase of the Roadmap (creation of a Palestinian state) can proceed without full compliance on the first phase's security obligations. But however much U.S. officials would like to broker agreements on the core issues, it is clear that the focus is on devising a mechanism to define, execute, and monitor the security-related terms of the first phase. Washington tried this before in 2003 and failed.
        U.S. officials expect Arab states will no longer insist on normalization at the end of the process, and instead implement aspects of normalization in parallel with Israel's early discussion of final status issues. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also A Brief Encounter with Not Much Promise - Bronwen Maddox (Times-UK)
  • The Al-Dura Affair - David Frum
    A 55-second film clip that purports to show the shooting death of a 12-year-old boy at a Gaza crossroads was broadcast on France's TV 2 on Sept. 30, 2000. Yet evidence has been gathering for years that the shooting of Mohammad al-Dura was entirely staged. The 55-seconds are not a continuous sequence, but are made up of six distinct pieces spliced together. There is no shot of the boy actually being hit, nor is there any sign of blood. Nor does the father make any move toward his son. The crowd in the background cries out that the boy is dead before he falls over. Video of the incident taken by other photographers shows passersby walking unconcernedly between the crouching al-Duras and the Israeli post from which the bullets were supposedly fired. (National Post)
        See also France 2 Cooks the Raw Footage - Nidra Poller (Pajamas Media-Canada)
  • Observations:

    Unpopular Child - Hillel Halkin (New York Sun)

    • The Annapolis conference represents the kind of mistaken thinking that has characterized every American or international attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 1991 Madrid Conference: Namely, the belief that there is something in the world of diplomacy called "process" that has an intrinsically positive momentum of its own capable of overcoming deep disagreements on substance between two sides to a dispute.
    • This is nonsense. There is nothing intrinsically positive about any diplomatic process. Such processes work when potential points of agreement already exist and can be focused on. When they don't exist, all the processes in the world can't conjure them up. In the case of Israel and the Palestinians, such points of agreement do not exist.
    • Like many conflicts in history, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not come to an end by means of a negotiated settlement. A viable Jewish state and a viable Palestinian state west of the Jordan River are not both possible.
    • The conflict will come to an end because the case for a viable Jewish state is the stronger of the two, the Jewish people having no other country. Annapolis will be quickly forgotten, even quicker than the Madrid Conference was. The dire prophecies of what will happen if it fails will not come true. The Palestinian people is not in the mood for a new intifada.

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