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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August 28, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Syrian-Iraqi Relations

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad received in Damascus on Tuesday Iraqi Vice President, Taha Yassin Ramadan and his accompanying delegation which included Syria's Trade Minister, Minister of Transport, Minister of Industry and Minerals, and advisors. Talks during the meeting dealt with boosting bilateral relations in all fields and latest developments on the Arab arena.
    Assad underlined Syria's supportive stance with the brotherly Iraq stressing Syria's rejection of the threats targeting Iraq. Assad also stressed Syria's interest to enhance Arab solidarity in the face of all challenges facing the Arab nation. (Syrian Arab News Agency)

Palestinian-Iraqi Relations

Since early 2002, Saddam Hussein has been trying to be on the forefront of Arab support of the Intifada. Recently, Palestinian Authority newspapers began reporting on this phenomenon. The Palestinian Authority (PA) daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported on an event held by the Iraqi-sponsored Arab Liberation Front in the Hebron home of the family of Marwan Zalum, the commander of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (killed by in April 2002). During the event, $10,000 was given to each of the 12 families - donations from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Donations from Saddam Hussein were given to families whose homes were destroyed in Jenin; see Al-Quds (Palestinian Authority), March 22, 2002. Eleven Gaza Strip martyrs' families received donations, Al-Quds (PA), June 14, 2002. Eighteen Hebron martyrs' families received donations, see Al-Quds (PA), August 4, 2002. (MEMRI)

Useful Reference:

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Palestinian Violence and Terrorism
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Bush Assails Hussein, but Saudis Are Firm in Opposing War
    President Bush told Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S. on Tuesday that Saddam Hussein was "a menace and a threat" to both his Middle East neighbors and the U.S. But after a meeting that lasted several hours, Saudi officials said their position was unchanged - that war was not acceptable and they would not cooperate in any military action. A few administration officials suggested privately that the vehemence of Mr. Cheney's speech on Monday had taken them by surprise. (New York Times)
  • Arab Resolve Against Invasion of Iraq Deepens
    Qatar and Saudi Arabia refuse to support the U.S., complicating any Bush administration plan to launch an attack from bases in the region. Public sentiment is so universal that even Kuwait - which a U.S.-led coalition liberated from Iraqi occupation in 1991 - is officially opposed to an invasion. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned the U.S. on Tuesday, "If you strike at the Iraqi people because of one or two individuals and leave the Palestinian issue, not a single ruler will be able to curb the popular sentiments. We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region." (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Bush Moves to Ease Tensions With Saudis
    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made it clear yesterday that broad international support is not a prerequisite for U.S. action. "It is less important to have unanimity than it is to be making the right decisions and doing the right thing."
       An April visit by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah was a near disaster, sources said. Bush appeared poorly briefed about Abdullah's peace proposal for the Middle East, and Abdullah told others he was insulted. Before that meeting, Abdullah had a tense conversation with Cheney over Iraq. Abdullah confronted Cheney over his concern that officials in Cheney's office had been spreading the word that the Saudis would privately back a war with Iraq despite their public protestations. "No, the answer is no. I said 'No' in Saudi Arabia, I say 'No' now and I will say 'No' tomorrow," Abdullah told Cheney. (Washington Post)
  • Gen. Zinni Says War With Iraq Is Unwise
    Retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, said in a speech in Tallahassee on Friday that an Iraqi war would be expensive and would draw down the armed forces' manpower, which is already "stretched too tight all over the world.'' Worst of all, a war against Iraq would antagonize America's friends in the Middle East. Zinni argued that the United States would be wiser to negotiate peace between Israelis and Palestinians and to pursue the al Qaeda network before going after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. (Tampa Tribune)
  • We Won't Arm Israel
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has cracked down on arms sales to Israel to head off a rebellion by Labour MPs. A secret memo from the Government's Export Control Director states: "The outbreak of the intifada, the continued Israeli incursions in the Occupied Territories and the breach of Israel's assurance that UK originated equipment would not be used in the Occupied Territories have all been factored into the Government's current export licensing policy. As a result, we have not approved licences for equipment that would have been licensed before." One of the first casualties is an application from a British firm to export ejector seats for Israeli warplanes. (Mirror - UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Peres: PA Parliament Should Be Allowed to Hold Special Session
    Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Wednesday that Israel should allow a special session of the Palestinian parliament to approve elections and reforms, as well as the new makeup of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's cabinet. The Prime Minister's Office released a statement on Tuesday saying that permission would be denied if Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat were to head the session. The U.S. wants the Palestinians to hold parliamentary elections first, have parliament choose a prime minister and only then prepare for a presidential vote, as a way of sidelining Arafat. (Ha'aretz)
  • High-Tech Exports to U.S. Down 34% in First Half of 2002
    Industrial exports to the U.S., excluding diamonds, dropped 10% in the first half of this year, compared with the corresponding period last year. Exports for the six-month period were $2.77 billion. The Israel Export Institute director general said he "hadn't seen this rate of decline in a decade." Imports from the U.S. to Israel fell 17% in the first half of 2002, compared with the corresponding period last year, to $3.25 billion. According to the director, the decrease in exports was due to the continuing recession in the U.S., especially in high-tech. The drug and pharmaceutical sector was Israeli export's one ray of light. In the first half of 2002, there was a 66% increase in drug and pharmaceutical exports to the U.S., compared with the corresponding period last year, to $324 million. (Globes)
  • Shubaki: Arafat Abandoned Me
    Fuad Shubaki, the chief financial officer of the Palestinian Authority who is currently being held in a Jericho jail, charged Tuesday, "I was told that I would stay in the PA's compound in Jericho as Arafat's guest. No one told me that I would be held in prison with American and British wardens. I've been abandoned by Arafat and the PA. How come I've never been put on trial? Where is the evidence against me?" The IDF says that computer files and other documents regarding arms and ammunition inventories (dated 1999) found in Shubaki's office detail prohibited weapons, such as RPG-7 launchers and rockets, found in PA facilities. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 80,000 Palestinians Emigrated from Territories since Beginning of Year
    Approximately 80,000 Palestinians have left the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the beginning of the year, a rise of 50 percent compared to last year, a senior Palestinian Authority official said Monday. Another 50,000 Palestinians are now trying to leave through the Jordan River bridges and the Rafah border crossing. Thousands of Palestinians have been camping in the open air outside Jericho. About 1,000 Palestinians from Bethlehem had left the country over the past few months. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Senior Officer: More and More Terrorists Surrendering to IDF
    Some 30 Palestinians wanted by Israel have recently surrendered to the IDF. Several of the wanted men negotiated through intermediaries before surrendering. The men, realizing that it was only a matter of time before they would be captured or killed, asked for assurances that their families' homes not be demolished, Maariv reported. Others surrendered unconditionally. Palestinians have turned in family members planning terror attacks. In the past month, the Israeli army has razed more than two dozen homes of Palestinian terror suspects. (Israelinsider)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • We Will Not Live at the Mercy of Terrorists - William Kristol
    Vice President Dick Cheney laid out a compelling case for action against Saddam Hussein. The debate in the administration is over. The time for action grows near. Congressional leaders should seriously consider a resolution authorizing use of force when they return next week. Passing such a resolution as soon as possible would provide the president with maximum flexibility and an opportunity for tactical surprise, would strengthen his hand vis-a-vis our allies, and might embolden internal opposition in Iraq. (Weekly Standard)
  • I'm With Dick! Let's Make War! - Maureen Dowd
    I was dubious at first. But now I think Dick Cheney has it right. Let's declare war on Saudi Arabia! Let's do "regime change" in a kingdom that gives medieval a bad name. By overthrowing the Saudi monarchy, the Cheney-Rummy-Condi-Wolfy-Perle-W. contingent could realize its dream of redrawing the Middle East map. Once everyone realizes that we're no longer being hypocrites, coddling a corrupt, repressive dictatorship that sponsors terrorism even as we plot to crush a corrupt, repressive dictatorship that sponsors terrorism, it will transform our relationship with the Arab world. It was embarrassing yesterday, given President Bush's swagger on Iraq, to watch him fawn over the Saudis. At lunch at his ranch he entertained Prince Bandar, the man who got private planes to spirit bin Laden's relatives out of the U.S. after the attacks. (New York Times)
  • Thinking the Unthinkable - Arnaud de Borchgrave
    Kenneth Adelman, a former Reagan arms controller, is a member of the Defense Policy Board. Adelman, speaking on C-SPAN (Aug. 21), said Saudi Arabia is "a terribly barbaric society at the bottom of the human-rights list, worst of the worst, along with North Korea. Why should we keep troops there to defend the Saudis? Makes no sense." The U.S. has moved swiftly to reduce dependence on Saudi oil. Almost unnoticed, the U.S. now gets only 8 percent of its oil needs from the kingdom. September 11 revealed an ugly House of Saud secret. The scheme was brilliant in its simplicity. Saudi's fanatical Wahhabi clergy was allocated untold billions during the past 20 years to turn the Koran into a book of holy war against the U.S. and Israel and spread its teachings in mosques and Koranic schools around the world. In return, the Saudi clergy agreed to keep the 25,000-strong royal family out of its crosshairs. What the House of Saud still can't accept is that it has sown the seeds of its own destruction. It is now reassessing its strategic relationship with the U.S. Washington's reassessment of that relationship started after September 11. It is now almost complete. (Washington Times)
  • Talking Points:

    Analysis of Israeli Policy: A Facade of Going Forward - Aluf Benn

    • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been put on hold as discussions get underway over the American attack against Iraq.
    • The diplomatic contacts are moving forward slowly and have revealed the deep rift between the sides. Everyone talks in the same phrases but with completely different meanings
    • Foreign Minister Peres believes that the whole proposed election process will blow up over the demand that residents of east Jerusalem participate in the elections, since the current Israeli government will never agree to that.
    • For tactical reasons, Israel is refraining from expressing outright opposition to the democratic process and instead is proposing a number of conditions - first and foremost, a thorough reform of the Palestinian security forces and the ousting of Arafat.
    • According to defense establishment assessments, this means that the Palestinian elections will not be able to take place before the end of 2003 [after elections in Israel]. The U.S. proposal speaks of holding elections at the end of spring next year, to be followed by an IDF withdrawal to pre-intifada positions and the transfer of Arafat to a symbolic post.
    • The IDF has proposed to Sharon that during the waiting period for a change on the Palestinian side, or for an American attack against Iraq, Israel should adopt a "risk management" policy and avoid escalation with the Palestinians or a flare-up on the northern border, as far as is possible. There are three requirements for this:
        1. Terror has to be kept to a "tolerable" level. The assessment in Israel is that there is no perfect answer to terror but that the IDF's presence in the West Bank makes it more difficult to carry out attacks.
        2. American support has to be ensured. The General Staff's assessment is that the U.S. is supporting Israel now and views it as part of the front in the world struggle against terror.
        3. There must be public support in Israel. The Gaza and Bethlehem First plan, which Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer drew up with Mohammed Dahlan, is seen as part of the "risk management" policy.
    • Israeli experts believe that the Palestinians have the capability of acting against terror inside Gaza, and that they also have sufficient policemen on pay inside the West Bank. Israeli experts are encouraged by reports of internal struggles in the Tanzim between the supporters of a non-violent struggle and those who wish to continue the terror attacks only in the territories, against soldiers and "occupiers."

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