Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 29, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S., Not Three-Way Committee, to Monitor Progress (Oxford Analytica/Forbes)
    President Bush met with Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday both separately and together to launch the peace negotiations inaugurated at Tuesday's Annapolis conference.
    It is clear that his administration will not be putting forward U.S. proposals on key issues, seeing its role rather as a facilitator of talks.
    Washington will lead an "informal mechanism" to monitor progress and adherence, Israel having rejected proposals for a formal three-way committee.
    See also Former NATO Commander Jones Named U.S. Mideast Security Envoy - Janine Zacharia (Bloomberg)
    Retired Gen. James Jones, a former NATO commander and Marine Corps commandant, was appointed Wednesday as special U.S. envoy for Middle East security by Secretary of State Rice.

Lebanon Lawmakers Back Army Chief - Sam F. Ghattas (AP)
    Lebanon moved closer Wednesday to a deal for army chief Gen. Michel Suleiman to become the next president. Suleiman is seen as a neutral figure.
    It was the first sign of progress after weeks of stalemate that left Lebanon without a president after the term of pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud ended last week, creating a dangerous power vacuum.

After Annapolis: PA TV Shows "Palestine" Map Erasing Israel - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    An information clip rebroadcast after the Annapolis meeting on Abbas-controlled Palestinian television shows a map in which Israel is painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, symbolizing Israel turned into a Palestinian state.
    The description of all of the State of Israel as "Palestine" is part of a formal, systematic educational approach throughout the Palestinian Authority.

Sudan Charges British Teacher with Inciting Hatred for Naming Teddy Bear "Muhammad" (CNN)
    A British teacher arrested in Sudan after allowing her class to name a teddy bear "Mohammed" has been charged by authorities with offending religion, British officials say.
    Gillian Gibbons, 54, is being held by police in Khartoum after she asked her class of seven-year-olds to come up with a name for the toy as part of a school project.
    Under Sudanese law, the offense is punishable by 40 lashes, a jail term of up to a year or a fine.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Cannot Impose Vision on Mideast, Bush Says
    President Bush on Wednesday told CNN he would personally "facilitate" peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, saying the formation of a democratic Palestinian state was the best way to bring peace to the region. When asked whether the peace process can overcome opposition from Hamas, Bush said "the best way to defeat those terrorists and through a vision based upon liberty." "Ultimately, if this can be done, if the state can be laid out - what the state should look like - then it gives people like President Abbas the chance to go to the Palestinians and say, 'You can have their vision of violence or this vision of peace, take your pick.'" "America can't impose our vision on the two parties," Bush said. "If that happens, then there's not going to be a deal that will last." (CNN)
  • Israel Plays Down Prospects of Starting Syrian Track - Adam Entous
    Israel on Wednesday played down prospects of restarting peace talks with Syria at this time. President Bush has also shown little enthusiasm for an Israeli-Syrian peace track, casting doubt on the chances of a breakthrough soon. Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin said: "We don't think it's feasible now with the present regime. Of course the regime can always change policies. It is something that's constantly being checked." (Reuters)
  • Dr. Terror: An Interview with Hamas Leader Mahmoud Zahar - Reena Ninan
    Sources inside Hamas tell us that Dr. Mahmoud Zahar is credited with leading the Hamas takeover of Gaza in June. I began by asking what hope, if any, he held for President Bush's peace conference in Annapolis. "Peace will not be made by America," he told me. He was equally scathing about Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad (who the U.S. supports), and his call for Zahar to step down because he took over Gaza in a violent coup. "He is no prime minister....What happened in Gaza will also come to the West Bank," he said. (FOX News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: Israel Not Committed to Any Deadline - Herb Keinon
    Speaking with reporters following his final meeting with President Bush at the White House on Wednesday, Prime Minister Olmert said Israel had not committed itself to any deadline whatsoever to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. He also stressed that it was completely clear to all parties that the agreement would not be implemented until all the Palestinian requirements under the road map - including dismantling the terrorist infrastructure - are fulfilled. He emphasized that this included both the West Bank and Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arab Representatives in U.S. Shun Israeli Foreign Minister - Herb Keinon
    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni failed in attempts to set up meetings in Annapolis or Washington with colleagues from the Arab world, even though the summit was designed to show international support for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israeli officials interpreted this as evidence that the Arab world had not changed its fundamental policy that there would be no warming of relations with Israel until after a deal, and that normalization was one of the Arab world's major bargaining chips. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Fire 20 Mortar Shells at Israel from Gaza on Wednesday
    Palestinians in Gaza fired 20 mortars at southern Israel on Wednesday, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sixty Palestinians Hurt in Fatah-Hamas Clashes - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Thousands of Hamas and Hizb al-Tahrir supporters participated in the funeral on Wednesday of Hisham al-Baradi, who was shot dead by PA security forces during protests against the Annapolis peace conference that erupted in Hebron on Tuesday. The mourners hurled bottles and stones at Palestinian policemen waiting outside the mosque, who responded by opening fire. For nearly 60 minutes, the area outside the mosque was turned into a battlefield. By the end of the day, residents said at least 60 people were injured, half of them policemen.
        Hizb al-Tahrir spokesman Maher Ja'bari said Abbas was on his way to losing control over the West Bank. He added: "When we talk about occupied Palestine, we mean the land from the river to the sea, not only the West Bank and Gaza. There is no room for the State of Israel. When they move out of all of Palestine as a state, there can be peace." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Palestinians After the Summit - Zvi Bar'el
    Fatah's violent dispersal of the Hamas rally against the Annapolis summit in Hebron attests to Mahmoud Abbas' determination to seal every crack Hamas might slip through. At the same time, it illustrates that the PA chairman is dealing with a time bomb. It is clear to Abbas and Washington that an all-out war by Fatah on Hamas is impossible without massive military intervention by Israel. However, if Abbas enlists Israeli help for such a cause, he would undermine his own legitimacy. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • After Annapolis - Editorial
    How do the so-called moderate Palestinians expect Israel to cede territory when they'll cede nothing on the right of Israel simply to exist? The U.S. is in no realistic position to force peace on people unwilling or unable to make it - to get Abbas to reclaim the Gaza Strip, for instance, or prevent Hamas from raining rockets on Israel. Nor can the Administration decently ask Israelis to compromise their security for the sake of a "peace process" that exists more in the minds of Western diplomats than it does among the human beings living in harm's way. Bush and Rice run the risk of repeating the mistakes of the Clinton Administration, which made a fetish of photo-ops, left the hard issues to the end, and tried to substitute atmospherics for substance. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Indyk: Bush Seemed Uninvolved in His Own Peace Conference - Bernard Gwertzman
    In an interview, Martin S. Indyk, Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, said: "The secretary of state, unlike the president, is very committed to trying to reach a final status agreement. It was her heavy lifting that got the powers to Annapolis in the first place....Each step of the way, she's had to bring the president along. She got him to commit to the international meeting....You get the sense that he'll turn up...but in terms of wanting to roll up his sleeves actively and get involved in the negotiations in order to achieve an agreement by the end of his administration, which is a goal that he has now embraced, I think that is questionable. You didn't get the sense in any of his words or his body language yesterday that there's a real commitment to that." (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Why Should the Annapolis Summit Be Any Different? - Peter Philipp
    It is odd that, without even trying to get to the real core issues in the Middle East conflict, peace is now supposed to be possible - more so than in the past. Declarations of intention alone do not suffice. Otherwise, we would have had a pacified, free and democratic Iraq as a role model for the rest of the Arab world long ago. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • Observations:

    Sixty Years of Arab Rejection - Salim Mansur (Toronto Sun)

    • Sixty years ago on November 29, 1947, the UN passed the resolution on partitioning Palestine, held by Britain under the League of Nations mandate, into two states: One Arab and one Jewish.
    • At any time during the years since then, the Arab states could have acknowledged the rights of Jews to a state in Palestine, accepted the UN resolution on partition, negotiated the details of coexistence, assisted the Palestinians with their state, and received support of the great powers, including the U.S., in meeting the needs of their people and bringing prosperity to the region given the resources available.
    • But the Arab position was a resounding "three nos" as duly spelled out after the June 1967 war: No peace and no negotiation with and no recognition of Israel.
    • The great lie repeatedly told in the Mideast, and swallowed whole or in part in the West, is that the U.S.' unconditional support for Israel stands in the way of just peace in the region.
    • What is implicit in this lie is the meaning of just peace. For the Arab and Muslim supporters of Hamas, Hizbullah, al-Qaeda and the Iranian acolytes of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, just peace requires the rollback of Israel and returning Jews to the secondary status of "dhimmi" (protected people) as provided by Islamic laws when Arabs were empire builders.

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