Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Report: North Korean Chemical Arms Experts Advised Syria (AP/Ha'aretz)
Israel Campus Beat
- November 25, 2007
Sadat's Visit to Jerusalem 30 Years Ago
Hamas "to Step Up Attacks" After Annapolis - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Limiting IDF West Bank Operations Increases Rocket Threat on Tel Aviv - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
Israeli Pediatrician Who Saves Lives of Palestinian Children Is Also an Attack Helicopter Pilot - Laura Blumenfeld (Washington Post)
Where Boys Grow Up to Be Jihadis - Andrea Elliott (New York Times Magazine)
Iranian Jews Leaving Home for the Homeland - Rory McCarthy (Guardian-UK)
Saudi Arabia Marks 136th Beheading of 2007 (AP/FOX News)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations decided Friday to attend the U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference in Annapolis. But the Saudi foreign minister said he would not allow "theatrics" such as handshakes with Israeli officials, insisting the meeting make serious progress. Participation by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal was a key goal of the U.S. to show strong Arab support for the conference. Al-Faisal told a news conference that an Arab League meeting had decided Arab countries will attend the conference at the level of foreign minister.
"I'm not hiding any secret about the Saudi position. We were reluctant until today. And if not for the Arab consensus we felt today, we would not have decided to go," al-Faisal said. "But the kingdom would never stand against an Arab consensus, as long as the Arab position has agreed on attending. The kingdom will walk along with its brothers in one line." (AP)
See also Iran Rebukes Saudi Arabia for Attending Mideast Conference (AFP)
U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley told a pre-Annapolis conference press briefing Sunday: "This is not a negotiating forum; this is an opportunity, if you will, to showcase what is an opportunity to move into a negotiating phase between Palestinians and Israelis."
"What specifically is liable to come out of this meeting? Well, first is the indication by the Israeli and the Palestinian delegations that it is their intention to start negotiations for the establishment of a Palestinian state and for the reaching of an Israeli-Palestinian peace....Secondly, I think you will hear...a commitment by the two parties, Israelis and Palestinians, to carry out the road map so that you are going to have a situation where the negotiations would go forward, but at the same time, the parties would be implementing their obligations under the road map....There will be an indication that the parties have asked the United States to be, if you will, the rapporteur...and to monitor the progress of the parties towards implementing the road map."
"I think, in some sense, the role of the joint statement has changed....If they can agree on some things as an input to the negotiations, that would be fine. But I think it is really no longer on the critical path to a successful conference." In addition, "I don't think that the President will conclude that the time is right for him to start offering ideas on outcomes on specific issues." (White House)
See also Bush to Stay on Sidelines of Mideast Talks - Paul Richter
Bush's positions suggest there may be a gap between his views and those of Rice, his chief diplomat, who has labored for years to indicate there is no daylight between them. Rice has said that she wants to wrap up negotiations before the president's term ends. But Hadley said the administration is not, in fact, setting that date as a deadline. Completing the deal within a year was "an idea that the parties have articulated," Hadley said. (Los Angeles Times)
Washington has proposed that Arab states attending the U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference in Annapolis hold a follow-up meeting in Moscow "in January that would discuss the Syrian and Lebanese tracks of the peace process, in addition to the Palestinian track," a Riyadh-based Arab diplomat said Saturday. According to the Arab diplomat, the U.S. has also suggested that the Annapolis conference establish a follow-up committee that would monitor future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The committee would draw its membership from the Quartet and an Arab contact group. (AFP/Yahoo)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said before leaving for Annapolis that the league's decision to send its foreign ministers to the conference does not mean normalizing relations with Israel. Andre Azoulay, senior adviser to King Mohamed VI of Morocco, told Ha'aretz Sunday that the summit's purpose in his view is to signal to all the people in the region that it is possible to revive peace efforts, but that it would be a mistake to expect steps toward normalization immediately after the conference. (Ha'aretz)
The IDF has amplified efforts to locate tunnels that Gaza-based terrorists are attempting to dig into Israeli territory to carry out terrorist attacks ahead of the Annapolis conference. The military is using bulldozers and other heavy earth-moving equipment in order to foil attempts by Palestinian terrorists to infiltrate into Israel via underground passages. Top IDF officials have admitted in recent months that a number of the tunnels dug from Gaza were already nearing completion upon their discovery. One officer even estimated that as many as a dozen tunnels were currently being dug, while some were likely ready to be used. (Ynet News)
An Israeli withdrawal from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem as part of a peace treaty with the Palestinians would put the whole city within range of Palestinian rocket fire, former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya'alon said Sunday. "One must be blind not to see that dividing the capital will bring the neighborhoods of Jerusalem, government ministries and schools into the range of Kassam rockets," Ya'alon said at a Jerusalem rally against the division of Jerusalem organized by the One Jerusalem organization. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
When Bush first asked Rice to take over the State Department after the 2004 elections, during a weekend at Camp David, she quizzed him on only one policy issue: Was he willing to support the creation of a Palestinian state? The president gave an affirmative answer, which was important to her, according to people familiar with the conversation. "I wouldn't be doing this if he weren't deeply committed to it," Rice told reporters last week. "I am his secretary of state." Indeed, the push to negotiate a final settlement, before Palestinian political and security institutions are built, marks a significant shift for the administration. It also marks a victory for Rice, who for the past year has said she wants to give the Palestinians a "political horizon" - a vision of the contours of a Palestinian state.
However, people who have spoken to Bush in recent weeks say he has made it clear that he has no intention of trying to force a peace settlement on the parties. The president's fight against terrorism has given him a sense of kinship with Israel over its need for security, and he remains skeptical that, in the end, the Palestinians will make the compromises necessary for a peace deal. (Washington Post)
The Annapolis meeting may yet serve the modest purpose of providing an international blessing for the first formal Mideast peace process in seven years. But events of the past few weeks have tested Ms. Rice's notion that conditions in the region now favor the two-state settlement that President Bush has endorsed. In practice, the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams have bogged down in the decades-old disputes that have blocked every previous peace process, such as sovereignty over Jerusalem and whether Palestinian refugees will be allowed to settle in Israel.
The response of the "mainstream" Arab governments that Ms. Rice hoped to marshal has been disappointing. Saudi Arabia, which claims the Palestinian cause is a top priority, has persistently declined to support the new U.S. effort, either through substantial support for Mr. Abbas' government or overtures to Israel. Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal announced his attendance at Annapolis only on Friday - and then only after making clear that he would not speak or shake hands with Israeli attendees. The breakthrough that Ms. Rice thought was possible still looks remote. (Washington Post)
The main message of this week's summit at Annapolis will be that the U.S. is back as a leader in the Middle East. When the U.S. calls, the world sides with it. Only a year ago, a pessimistic theory of America's decline as a leading power in the Middle East dominated Washington.
Now Bush is launching a counterstrike. Encouraged by the improved security situation in Baghdad and the drop in the number of casualties, and the successful Israeli strike against a Syrian nuclear installation, Bush is embarking on a diplomatic adventure in the Middle East. The photo-op at Annapolis will reflect the power of the "axis of moderates." The U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE will stand holding hands against the "axis of evil" who were not invited: Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah. (Ha'aretz)
See also A Diplomatic Show of Force - Ron Ben-Yishai
Underestimating the Annapolis summit is not a good idea. It is completely clear that the event will only slightly advance the Israeli-Palestinian conflict's resolution, if at all. Yet this is not the reason why Condoleezza Rice initiated this meeting. The genuine and major objective of the U.S. is to produce a diplomatic show of force in Annapolis that would make it clear how robust Washington's status is in the Mideast region and in global politics. America currently needs a show of force that will reunite the pro-Western camp around it and encourage its allies to continue the struggle against radical Islam's belligerent intention to take over the region. (Ynet News)
Annapolis is nothing more than an attempt to institutionalize the change that has taken place in the atmosphere between Israel and the Palestinians and to try to find a way out - as modest as it may be - of the freeze that resulted from the failure of the 2000 Camp David summit and the second intifada. Anyone who expects Annapolis to lead to an agreement is ignoring the situation on the ground. The gaps between the relatively moderate Israeli stance, which is represented by the Olmert-Barak government, and the relatively moderate stance represented by Mahmoud Abbas, are still too profound.
After almost six years in which Israeli and Palestinian leaders have not spoken to each other, in recent weeks they have been meeting regularly. Perhaps they have not yet reached agreements, but, after the collapse of the Oslo Accords, the fact they are talking is in itself an achievement that should not be made light of. The writer is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Ha'aretz)
In Israel, those calling for revived negotiations with Syria have become more vocal, and even Prime Minister Olmert is reported to be considering whether to give priority to the Syrian track over the Palestinian track, where the chances for real progress appear slim. In the U.S., a change in approach is less palpable, but there, too, the impression exists that the recommendation of the Baker-Hamilton report to open a dialogue with Syria has recently gained currency. The more the U.S. focuses on its unfolding confrontation with Iran, the more it is argued that weaning Syria away from the axis with Iran can be a very effective tool in waging that confrontation.
Without Syria's presence, it will be harder to argue persuasively that there is a consensus in the Arab collective on this issue. From that point of view, the more it becomes clear that the two sides alone are unable to formulate a joint statement of principles to be presented to the meeting and adopted by its participants and that the meeting is turning into an event that only signals the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the more important it is for the parties to receive the imprimatur of the Arab world. (Jerusalem Post)
Is the Israel-Palestine Conflict about the Size of Israel, or About Its Existence? - Bernard Lewis (Wall Street Journal, 26Nov07)
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