Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 28, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Saudis Oust Anti-Extremist Editor - Neil MacFarquhar (New York Times)
    The Saudi government Tuesday fired the editor-in-chief of the Al Watan daily newspaper, Jamal Khashoggi, who had opened its pages to those who wished to examine the prevalence of Islamic militancy and had been one of the leading voices calling for openness and reform in the kingdom.
    The paper also had opened an unprecedented petition on its Web site addressed to the country's rulers, asking them to take action to curb extremist religious discourse.
    The press falls under the direction of Prince Nayef, the interior minister.
    Said one writer at Al Watan, "They are doing what the radicals want. If they fired Jamal Khashoggi, nothing is going to change."

Jews and Arabs Visit Auschwitz Together - Yair Sheleg (Ha'aretz)
    Some 150 Israeli Arab intellectuals, athletes, and businessmen, and as many Jews from Israel, are in Poland to tour and learn about the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp.
    They are joined by some 200 Jewish and Arab public figures and youth from France.
    "We are here to be with the Jewish people, in all its history and all its suffering," said Father Emil Shofani, of Nazareth, who initiated the pilgrimage.

Fundamentalists Bring "Taleban Rule" to Pakistan - Zahid Hussain (London Times)
    Since a U.S.-led coalition toppled the Taleban regime, thousands of Islamic fundamentalists have crossed the Afghan border to find refuge in North West Frontier Province in Pakistan.
    The area, which is under the control of the Islamic alliance, has now begun to look more like Afghanistan under the Taleban than a part of Pakistan.
    The package of Islamic laws that has been presented to the local assembly by the Islamic alliance will bring the province's education, judicial, and financial system in line with Sharia (Islamic law), based on the Koran.

Useful Reference:

From "Occupied Territories" to "Disputed Territories" - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Israel's 14 Road Map Reservations (Ha'aretz)

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • White House: Arafat Destroyed Prospects of an Agreement
    Q: How does President Bush's activity differ from President Clinton's efforts in this regard. You once said President Clinton tried to shoot the moon, and it didn't quite work.
    White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer: The biggest difference is Yasser Arafat is not party to the current discussions. And it was Yasser Arafat who did the most to destroy the prospects of an agreement being reached when it was very close to being reached. That's the principal difference. (White House)
        See also Arafat Blocks Sharon-Abu Mazen Meeting (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Muslim Envoys Boycott Arms Talks Chaired by Israel
    Senior diplomats from Arab and Muslim states stayed away from a major international disarmament forum on Tuesday to protest against Israel taking up its presidency, diplomats said. The Conference on Disarmament, a 41-year-old autonomous body under the UN, is holding its regular spring session in Geneva. The presidency of the conference, the world's only multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, rotates each month among the 66 member states. Israel has been a member since 1996. (Reuters/MSNBC)
  • Russia Presses Iran Over Nuclear Fuel
    Russia has responded to U.S. pressure by telling Iran it will not supply nuclear fuel for the reactor it is constructing unless the Islamic republic agrees to intrusive inspections of all its nuclear facilities, U.S. and European officials say. Moscow's move was seen in Washington as a significant step forward in the Bush administration's efforts to hinder Iran's development of nuclear weapons. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Attorney General to Sharon: Don't Say "Occupied" Territories, Say "Disputed" Territories - Gideon Alon
    Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharon noted that Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein had questioned Sharon's use of the term "occupation" at a meeting with Likud MKs on Monday, pointing out that the legal position adopted by all Israeli governments since 1967 is that the West Bank and Gaza are "disputed" territories rather than "occupied" territories. Rubinstein explained: "These are territories that belonged to no recognized sovereign power before 1967, and therefore the correct way to describe the situation in the territories in legal terms is as 'disputed territory,' whose status is to be determined through agreements." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Clarification from Prime Minister's Office
    When Prime Minister Sharon used the expression "occupation," he meant that we do not want to rule over the Palestinian population in the areas in dispute. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Abu Mazen: U.S. Told Us Not to Heed Israeli Road Map Reservations - Akiva Eldar
    According to Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, the Americans proposed that he not pay any attention to the talk about [Israeli] comments and reservations. They promised him they would not allow Sharon to evade a declaration about an end to [Israeli] violence and incitement, as required by the first article of the road map. "We hope and think it is important to control the violence, put an end to it, and we expect the Israelis to understand that even if here and there some violent incidents take place, we don't agree to it," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Dispute Over Sharon-Abbas Meeting May Indicate Internal Struggle - Arnon Regular and Aluf Benn
    A dispute over the timing of the next meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas indicates a power conflict within the Palestinian leadership, a member of the PLO executive said. He explained that this was Arafat's way of telling the U.S., Israel, and Abbas that Arafat makes the decisions over negotiations with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Road Map Decision Halted IDF Move - Amos Harel
    Israel postponed a major military operation in the territories last week, apparently in response to efforts to restart the diplomatic process. Defense sources said the planned operation was an unusually large-scale one aimed at substantially changing the balance of power between Israel, the PA, and the terrorist organizations. Security sources said the operation might still be launched if there are more serious terror attacks. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon: U.S.-Israel Understanding on Discussion of Settlements - Gideon Alon
    There is an understanding with the heads of the American administration that the subject of the settlements and outposts will not be discussed in the framework of the road map, but rather separately between Jerusalem and Washington, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday.
        Dov Weisglass, Sharon's bureau chief who was called in to report on his Washington talks, said the road map "is not a contract nor a commitment. It is a diplomatic declaration with diplomatic commitments, and consists of a series of future contracts...which will be binding only after they are signed."
        There has been a substantial increase in the number of terror attempts over the past month, with 12-15 attempts daily, Brigadier General Yossi Yafe, head of operations at the General Staff, told the committee. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Gets In the Car - Sen. Joe Lieberman
    The Israeli cabinet approved the process of the road map. What they have approved is the destination, which is peace with the Palestinians. And they've effectively agreed to get in the same car with Abu Mazen and the United States. But it's not going to get to peace by that particular road map.
        Arafat's leadership of the Palestinian cause has hurt the Palestinians and their aspiration to have a state. He has repeatedly missed opportunities to achieve a better life and an independent state for the Palestinians, and right now he's an obstacle. The coming to power of Prime Minister Abu Mazen is a hopeful step. I know him well. But the question is whether Arafat will let go. And, of course, the most important question is will Abu Mazen effectively declare war on terrorism? (Fox News)
  • The Shadow on the Road - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Abbas shows no sign yet that he is prepared to eradicate a culture that fosters violence. Arafat, the man who signed the Oslo agreement in 1993 and signs the checks for the terrorists, is doing everything he can to diminish Abbas. Arafat told one Fatah central committee meeting, "My brothers, why are you preventing Abbas from forming an American cabinet? Why won't you allow him to fulfill Israel's wishes?" The tests for stopping terrorism are clear. Abbas has to arrest, interrogate, and punish the terrorist killers; dismantle and disarm Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front; seize their illegal weapons and hand them over to the U.S. for destruction. He must also put an end to the continued incitement to violence. Disturbingly, Western intelligence agencies have concluded that neither Abbas nor Dahlan intends to do this. (U.S. News)
  • Start with the Al-Aqsa Brigades - Ze'ev Schiff
    Abu Mazen and Mohammed Dahlan will try to halt the terror through agreements and understandings and not through a civil war. To this day, such efforts have failed even when the Egyptians mediated between the representatives of the Palestinian organizations.
        Even if terror activities cease, the infrastructure will not be removed. Security sources in Israel are worried that under the cover of a ceasefire, the terror organizations will continue building their forces and rehabilitating.
        Such a cease-fire should be accompanied by the fulfillment of the other articles in the agreement, including weapons collections, an end to the arms smuggling, and a cessation of the incitement to violence. And of course, when Abu Mazen negotiates with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, he first of all should make certain that his own organization, the Fatah, ceases the operations of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:  

    The Rejection - Benny Morris (New Republic/Australia-Israel Review)

    • To judge by Palestinian opinion polls and street demonstrations, most Palestinians today do not seek only the liberation of the territories from Israel's occupation. They seek also the destruction of Israel. And the masses express their hatred of the Jewish state by supporting suicide bombings inside Israel proper, against buses, supermarkets, and restaurants. For the Palestinians, each suicide bombing represents a microcosmic assault on Israel's existence; and each street celebration following successful bombings testifies to the popularity of the method and the goal.
    • Palestinian behavior during the past three years has provided the unhappy ground for a serious re-examination of my own political assumptions. I have spent the past twenty years studying the hundred years of Zionist-Palestinian conflict. I have come away from my examination of the history of the conflict with a sense of the instinctive rejectionism that runs like a dark thread through Palestinian history - a rejection, to the point of absurdity, of the history of the Jewish link to the land of Israel; a rejection of the legitimacy of Jewish claims to Palestine; a rejection of the right of the Jewish state to exist. And, worse, this rejectionism has over the decades been leavened by a healthy dose of antisemitism, a perception of the Jew as God's and humanity's unchosen.
    • The Palestinian national movement, since its inception in the 1920s, has viewed the struggle against Zionism as a zero-sum game. Palestinian leaders and preachers, guided by history and religion, have traditionally seen the Jews as an inferior race whose proper place was as an abased minority in a Muslim polity; and the present situation, with an Arab minority under Jewish rule, is regarded as a perversion of nature and divine will.
    • Nothing more revealing was said at the Camp David summit in the summer of 2000 than Arafat's response to President Clinton's effort to persuade him to compromise over Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Arafat said: "What temple? The Jews had no temples there. It's a legend." Arafat - and this is common fare in sermons in the mosques of the West Bank and Gaza - was denying that the Jewish people had any historic connection to Jerusalem and, by extension, to Palestine.

    Prof. Benny Morris teaches at Ben-Gurion University.

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