Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 21, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

What Happened to Saddam's WMD? - Caroline Glick (Jerusalem Post)
    Former federal prosecutor and the head of the non-governmental International Intelligence Summit, John Loftus, has released a report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, based on a private study of captured Iraqi documents.
    As Loftus summarized, "Roughly one-quarter of Saddam's WMD was destroyed under UN pressure during the early to mid-1990s. Saddam sold approximately another quarter of his weapons stockpile to his Arab neighbors during the mid-to-late-1990s. The Russians insisted on removing another quarter in the last few months before the war."
    "The last remaining WMD, the contents of Saddam's nuclear weapons labs, were still inside Iraq on the day when the coalition forces arrived in 2003. His nuclear weapons equipment was hidden in enormous underwater warehouses beneath the Euphrates River. Saddam's entire nuclear inventory was later stolen from these warehouses."
    Loftus then cites Israeli sources who claim that the Iraqi nuclear program was transferred to Deir az Zour province in Syria. Israel reportedly destroyed a Syrian nuclear installation at Deir az Zour.

Israel Wants U.S. Security Coordinator Replaced - Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Senior Israeli government sources said Sunday that Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator with the Palestinians, is ineffective and should be replaced.
    Defense officials said that in June - when Hamas took over Gaza - Dayton had already proven that he had "failed" in his mission to strengthen the security forces loyal to Abbas.
    "Fatah was overrun in Gaza within a matter of hours, despite having more men and weapons than Hamas," a senior defense official said. "Dayton was supposed to prevent that from happening."

NGO Calls to Investigate Torture by Palestinian Police in Gaza (Palestinian Center for Human Rights-Gaza)
    A Fatah activist from Beit Hanoun, who was arrested on Nov. 13, stated: "A number of policemen... handcuffed me and covered my head with a sack. They... violently beat me using sticks, especially on my feet, for nearly half an hour. [At] Beit Hanoun Hospital... doctors asserted that I had sustained fractures to the feet."
    An activist from Khan Yunis, who was arrested on Nov. 13, stated: "Policemen took me to the interrogation center. They handcuffed and blindfolded me. They then violently beat me."

West Bank University Halts Classes over Infighting - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Bir Zeit University administration decided Tuesday to suspend studies following clashes on campus between supporters of Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
    Students said four men from the PFLP attacked a Fatah student in the dorms, wounding him seriously. The assailants used charcoal to burn the student's face. They also hammered nails into the victim's feet.

Useful Reference:

Text: UN Security Council Resolution 242 (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Forty years ago, on November 22, 1967, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 242, which has provided the main agreed basis for all of Israel's peace agreements with Egypt, Jordan, and the PA.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • 49 Parties Invited to Mideast Peace Talks Tuesday in Annapolis - Glenn Kessler
    The State Department formally announced Tuesday that the U.S. has invited representatives of 49 countries and institutions - including Saudi Arabia and Syria - to sit down with Israelis and Palestinians in Annapolis on Tuesday in a conference designed to kick-start substantive peace talks in the region. The conference at the U.S. Naval Academy will be "a signal opportunity" to launch bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Assistant Secretary C. David Welch said, after "a long period in which there have been no such negotiations."
        The central goal is to persuade Saudi Arabia to send its foreign minister to Annapolis, the first time such a senior Saudi official would have joined in a gathering with Israelis. Bush weighed in with his own call to Saudi King Abdullah Tuesday. As a way to entice Saudi participation, diplomatic sources said, the formal invitation also drew on language from the 2003 Roadmap plan for peace that mentions an Arab League initiative promoted by Abdullah. That plan offers diplomatic relations with Israel if it withdraws to the 1967 borders and provides a "just solution" to the demands of Palestinian refugees. (Washington Post)
  • Russia Agrees to Provide Nuclear Know-How to Egypt
    Russia has agreed to provide nuclear know-how and technical expertise to Egypt to help Cairo with plans to build civilian nuclear power stations to meet growing energy needs, Egyptian state media said on Tuesday. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said last month Egypt would build several nuclear power stations. (Reuters)
  • Tony Blair's Plan for Palestinian Jobs - Tim Butcher
    Tony Blair has given the "green light" to initiatives designed to create thousands of jobs for Palestinians in his first major policy announcement as special envoy to the Middle East. In reality, the creation of two industrial zones in the West Bank, one at Jericho and the other near Hebron, were going ahead without the involvement of Blair's new committee, fully funded by Japan and Turkey. Industrial zones have been tried before several times. Millions of dollars in private investment were attracted to two zones in Gaza, but today the one at Erez lies in ruins and the other at Karni has been mothballed after local investors made huge losses. (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Approves Provision of 25 Armored Vehicles to PA Security Forces - Hanan Greenberg
    Prime Minister Olmert has approved the supply of 25 armored vehicles to the Palestinian security services in the West Bank as a goodwill gesture to Mahmoud Abbas ahead of the Annapolis peace conference. The Palestinians will also receive from Israel two million bullets supplied by Jordan. The Prime Minister's Office denied previous reports that Israel would supply 50 armored vehicles and 1,000 rifles to the Palestinians. (Ynet News)
        Israel previously opposed supplying Abbas' forces with armored vehicles, in part because of concern that they might fall into the hands of Hamas or other violent groups. (AP/Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel to Allow Gaza to Export Produce to Europe (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran, Syria Stepping Up Support of Terrorists - Yaakov Katz
    A day after Ido Zoldan, a young father, was gunned down in a Palestinian shooting attack near Kedumim, IDF officers warned Tuesday that Palestinian terrorist groups would continue trying to perpetrate terror attacks in an effort to derail peace talks ahead of the Annapolis meeting. Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigades took responsibility for the West Bank shooting attack, saying it was "a protest against the Annapolis conference." Defense officials said there was growing Iranian and Syrian involvement in motivating Hamas and Islamic Jihad to carry out terrorist attacks, including the transfer of funds and instructions. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Poll: Palestinians in Gaza Support Early Elections, Peace Settlement with Israel
    According to a survey of Palestinians in Gaza conducted by Near East Consulting on Nov. 12-14: 77% support early legislative elections (Hamas supporters, 23% vs. Fatah supporters, 99%). If legislative elections were held next week, 54% of Gazans would vote for Fatah, 15% would vote for Hamas. 74% of Gazans support a peace settlement with Israel (Hamas supporters, 33% vs. Fatah supporters, 91%). However, 31% of Gazans believe that Hamas should maintain its position on the elimination of Israel. (Near East Consulting/IMRA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Confidence Building after Annapolis - David Makovsky
    The Annapolis launch of a "Roadmap Plus" strategy is likely to put domestic pressure on both Israelis and Palestinians as each side undertakes more obligations. As the parties take on this greater burden, Arab states need to reinforce the progress. For example, when Israel negotiates on core issues, the Arab states must also negotiate with Israel over normalization of relations, as suggested by the third phase of the roadmap. Also, Arab economic assistance to the Palestinians could buffer Abbas and Fayad against any Hamas countermeasures. "Roadmap Plus" obligations should not fall just on Israel; after Annapolis, Arab states could be crucial in protecting both parties from potential backlash. The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Level of Representation at Annapolis Offers Leverage to Arab Leaders - Zvi Bar'el
    In addition to the question of which Arab states will attend the Annapolis meeting, everyone is waiting to hear about the level of the delegations the Arab states will send. Abbas will find it difficult to present a conciliatory stance if around the table he sees Arab ambassadors and not foreign ministers. This will not only be an insult - it will ensure that he does not diverge one iota from the historical principles of the Palestinian struggle and insist on discussing the conflict's core issues.
        The U.S. and Israel are holding two sets of negotiations: one with Abbas, the guest of honor, and the other with the Arab leaders, in an effort to convince them to show up. As such, the Arab leaders are given the legitimacy to present their own preconditions for actually holding a meeting. (Ha'aretz)
  • Deepening China-Iran Ties Weaken Bid to Isolate Iran - Robin Wright
    The rapidly growing relationship between Iran and China has begun to undermine international efforts to ensure that Iran cannot convert a peaceful energy program to develop a nuclear arsenal. At the UN, U.S. and European officials now worry more about a Chinese veto than about opposition from Russia. U.S. and European officials charged Friday that Beijing is deliberately stalling to protect its economic interests. China now gets at least 14% of its imported oil from Iran, making it China's largest supplier. Tehran in turn gets major arms systems from Beijing, including ballistic and cruise missiles and technical assistance for Tehran's indigenous missile program.
        "We're presenting China with an untenable proposition," said Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council. "We're asking them to unilaterally divest from Iran and not offering them energy alternatives. This is not sustainable for policy-makers whose predominant priority is to maintain and expand their country's growth....It's not that we shouldn't ask them to scale back their relationship, but China has put a lot of its eggs in Iran's economic basket, and a sophisticated American strategy would provide alternatives." (Washington Post)
        See also British Aid Mocks Sanctions Threat Against Iran - Jonathan Leake and Sarah Baxter
    The British government faces a diplomatic row with America over disclosures that it has provided the Iranian regime with financial support worth about £290m while at the same time calling for sanctions. The money was offered by the Export Credits Guarantee Department to support British firms exporting to Iran, mainly to the country's petrochemical industry. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    The Perils of Engagement - Jeff Robbins (Wall Street Journal)

    • If history is any guide, next week's meeting in Annapolis will yield unsatisfactory results, Israel will be blamed for failing to make the requisite concessions, and the Bush administration will be criticized for its "failure to engage." The problem is that all too often, those who blame the U.S. for failing to deliver Mideast peace are some of the world's most culpable enablers of Mideast violence - and those who are themselves actually responsible for erecting the fundamental roadblocks to a resolution of the conflict.
    • It was the Arab bloc, including the Palestinian leadership, that decided to reject the UN's 1947 partition of Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish, living side by side. Instead it invaded the nascent Jewish state rather than coexist with it, spawning the conflict that has so burdened the world for the last 60 years.
    • We are also not responsible for the Arab world's choice not to create a Palestinian Arab state in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank from 1948 to 1967, when it easily could have done so - before there were any Jewish settlements there to serve as the public object of Arab grievance.
    • Nor can the U.S. government under President Clinton be criticized for failing to pursue Yasser Arafat with sufficient solicitude between 1993 and late 2000. The Clinton administration was, after all, the most ardent of suitors of the Palestinian leader - only to be forced to watch Arafat reject an independent Palestinian state in all of Gaza and virtually all of the West Bank.
    • It was the Palestinian leadership, not the U.S., that decided in the fall of 2000 that, rather than accept an independent Palestinian state, its wiser course was to launch a four-year bombing campaign against Israel's civilian population. The result was not merely over 1,100 Israeli civilians killed, but several thousand Palestinians dead, as well as a shattered Palestinian economy and the decision by Israel to begin construction of a security barrier in July 2002.
    • When Israel withdrew from all of Gaza in 2005, the Arab world had the opportunity for a fresh start there - to create a measure of hope for a population whose suffering long predated any Israeli presence. Instead, the Hamas-dominated Palestinian leadership opted to begin and then intensify an aggressive missile-launching campaign against Israeli civilian centers.
    • Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, whose treasuries overflow with petrodollars, are in a position to invest heavily in Gaza, create economic opportunities for its destitute population, and dilute the toxin-filled atmosphere there. They have not done so. The Egyptians are in a position to act decisively to stop the flow of rockets, bombs and other arms from Egypt into Gaza, where they are used to attack Israeli civilians. They have not done so.

      The writer was a U.S. Delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission during the Clinton administration.

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