Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 28, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Back to the Clinton Parameters?
    While the State Department may be weighing the December 2000 "Clinton Parameters" as the outline for a final peace settlement, after nearly two years of Palestinian violence, Clinton's plan has become thoroughly irrelevant.
    First, Prime Minister Sharon was elected last year by a landslide majority that rejected former Prime Minister Barak's advocacy of the Clinton ideas.
    Second, any settlement will have to be based on certain lessons Israel has learned:

  • Israel must control the Jordan Valley and all international passages to prevent the flow of "Karine-A"-type illegal weaponry to the Palestinians in violation of any future demilitarization agreements.
  • Israel must keep Jerusalem united. After Palestinian desecration of the Church of the Nativity, the ransacking of Joseph's Tomb, and archeological damage to the Temple Mount by the Palestinian waqf, Israel must not turn over the holy sites of Jerusalem to Palestinian jurisdiction.
  • Israel needs defensive buffer zones in order to prevent terrorist infiltration by suicide bombers. A fence is insufficient against a wire-cutter. An eastern buffer zone will be vital against a post-sanctions Iraq.
        The Clinton Parameters for a final settlement failed to produce any agreement, as did the Taba proposals. (See Jerusalem Issue Brief No 19.)
        The only pragmatic diplomatic option is to attempt a long-term interim agreement that recognizes that all differences between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be resolved at present.

    Useful Reference:

  • Twenty Facts about Israel
  • Myths & Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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  • Speeches
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  • News Resources - USA and Europe:
  • Baby, Grandmother Slain in Petach Tikva Bombing
    The suicide bomber struck an outdoor cafe crowded with women and children, killing an 18-month-old girl along with her grandmother, and wounding more than 40. One eyewitness told Israel radio: "I saw children lying wounded on the ground asking for help. Bleeding mothers were lying on top of their children, protecting them and not caring about themselves, screaming, 'Save my child!'" Police officers combing the debris brought out three baby carriages. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Considers Outlining Terms for Mideast Pact
    The internal debate in the U.S. administration no longer focuses on whether to press for the removal of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but on how to bridge differences between Israel and U.S. allies in the Arab world over the goals of upcoming negotiations. State Department officials in particular are urging the administration to detail a U.S. vision, while administration skeptics, notably in the Pentagon, prefer that the U.S. give Sharon latitude to wage his war on Palestinian militants. (Washington Post) (See In-Depth Issue discussion.)
  • Israeli Forces Back in Bethlehem
    Israeli troops entered Bethlehem early Monday in a pinpoint, intelligence-driven operation. The city had been under Israeli control for nearly six weeks during the previous offensive. Israeli troops blocked access to Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity to prevent another standoff at the shrine with Palestinian gunmen. (Boston Globe/AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Emergency Fence Under Construction - Ze'ev Schiff
    Recent suicide strikes have put an end to delays in the construction of a fence around the West Bank. Some 20 contractors are to work on the fence, which will not be put up exactly along the Green Line but will follow the physical contours of the land. The separation fence will not provide total protection. IDF soldiers and weapons will have to supplement the fence, and IDF operations within Palestinian areas will continue. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Al-Jazeera Revolution - Ehud Ya'ari
    The tiny sheikhdom of Qatar is now producing a commodity much in demand in the Arab world: freedom. Over the past three years, this remote desert peninsula has become a major exporter of powerful video signals that are gradually changing the cultural and political order in the Middle East. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Israeli Arab Involvement in Terror Grows
    According to unofficial figures, at least 110 Israeli Arabs were detained last year on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities -- a record high, and about three times the number in the previous year. (JTA)
  • Global Commentary and Think Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Democracy in Palestine -- End Times for Arafat? - Eli J. Lake
    Israel has made public documents that show Arafat's signature authorizing cash disbursements to members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, a group the State Department designated this year as a foreign terrorist organization. Ambassador Francis Taylor, the Secretary of State's coordinator for counterterrorism, has declared: "We don't have any question about the authenticity of the documents provided by the Israeli government." (Weekly Standard)
  • New Follies on the Mideast - Robert Satloff
    Granting Arafat virtual immunity runs against precedent. U.S. law stipulates that the PLO, with Arafat at its head, is a terrorist group with which the U.S. has relations only by dint of periodic presidential waiver. In June 1990, the U.S. cut ties with Arafat when he violated commitments to renounce terrorism. (Financial Times)
  • The Palestinian Scene Begins to Change - Moshe Arens
    Operation Defensive Shield seems to have been the catalyst that may yet produce profound changes in Palestinian society. More and more Palestinians are beginning to realize that Arafat's leadership has led to ruin and disaster. (Ha'aretz)
  • Good Fight - Martin Peretz
    There is an early Zionist military doctrine called "purity of arms" that still holds in Israel. It is a doctrine of self-constraint: Everything reasonable must be done to avoid harming civilians, even if that entails additional risks to Israeli soldiers. Richard Holbrooke recently observed that the Israeli military is probably more fastidious about moral constraints than is our own. (New Republic)
  • Dividing Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai
    Those who undermine our rights on the Temple Mount subvert the very existence of the state, because if we have no rights in a place like the Temple Mount, then we have no rights anywhere in the Land of Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • A Soldier's Story - Dave Bender
    A veteran IDF reservist reports from the field. (
  • Talking Points:

    Dangerous Illusions: Reform of the Palestinian Authority - Shlomo Avineri

        There is no doubt that the Palestinian Authority in its present form cannot be a partner for peace negotiations. But in the quest for alternatives, some dangerous nonsense is being touted as new conventional wisdom. The most outlandish is the possibility of the PA becoming democratic and transparent.

    • While the last two decades have witnessed momentous movements for reform and democratization, there is no such parallel in Arab countries. There has been no Arab Gorbachev, Arab Solidarity, or Charter-77 movement.
    • Neither from the top down, nor from the bottom up, has Arab society shown a capacity for democratization or reform.
    • The success of democratization depends on the existence of numerous social conditions: mediating institutions, a civil society, social tolerance, and pluralism. No such conditions exist today in any Arab country; none exists in Palestinian society, which has been mobilized by a terroristic nationalism for decades.
        To imagine, therefore, that the PA can be democratized with or without Arafat is a pipe dream.
        (The author was Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the first government of Yitzhak Rabin. From the Jerusalem Post.)

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