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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June 9, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Saudi Arabia and Islamic Terror - Smadar Perry (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    The American government is dissatisfied with the slow pace of the elimination of underground Islamic terror cells in Saudi Arabia.
    Powell came to Sharm el-Sheikh to request an immediate and total end to all channels of Saudi funding for overt and covert activities in PA territory.
    American intelligence reports speak of four channels of funding used by hundreds of princes of the Saud family in Riyadh: salaries of PA officials; "encouragement" payments for the man in the Palestinian street; "compensation" for families of suicide bombers; and discreet "contributions" to fund Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Abdullah Nearly Pulled Out of Summit Over Ties With Israel (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah nearly withdrew from the summit with President Bush in Egypt because of U.S. pressure to speed up Arab normalization with Israel.
    Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Prince Abdullah rejected a U.S. request to mention in the final summit communique that the Arab parties agreed to normalize ties with Israel as part of steps to build trust with the Jewish state.
    See also Bush Persuades Abdullah to Stay (FBIS)
    President Bush told his aides to delete the paragraph on normalization with Israel causing the dispute and said he was willing to go personally to Prince Abdullah to persuade him to attend.

Palestinian Sources: Dahlan Offering Weapons Buyback from Al Aksa Brigades (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan on Friday offered to buy illegal weapons carried by members of the Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, a militia linked to Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, according to several Palestinian officials and militia members.
    The buyback was to start in the coming days, they said.
    Dahlan has received money from the U.S., Britain, and other European countries to buy the weapons, the officials said.
    An Al Aksa leader said Dahlan is offering US$6,000 - more than twice the black market value - for each rifle, while officials gave lower figures.
    Dahlan also offered a signup bonus of at least US$6,000 to Al Aksa members who leave the militia and join the security forces, militiamen said.

PA Getting U.S., EU Police Equipment (Ha'aretz)
    The PA Ministry of Interior is to receive European and U.S. police equipment including jeeps and special vehicles to disperse riots, shields, light pistols, and helmets, as it rebuilds a strong Palestinian police force, ministry sources said Thursday.
    Security sources said that there are preparations to build up a new Central Security Force, adding that officers in the force are being prepared to handle riots or civil disturbances.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Says Road Map Still Best Chance for Peace
    The U.S. believes that despite renewed attacks on Israelis, the time is still right for peace, Secretary of State Powell said Sunday. Powell said he is certain Abbas is committed to peace. "Now we have to give him the capacity and capability" to resist the anti-Israeli attackers. The U.S. is ready to provide him the help to do that, Powell said. (FOX News)
        See also Powell: Palestinians Need Revitalizing
    Powell said the first order of business for special envoy John Wolf and his team when they arrive in the region in a few days will be to ensure that Israel and the Palestinians are carrying out the promises they made during last week's summit. Powell will be back in the Middle East in two weeks for an international economic conference in Jordan and will use the opportunity to convene a "Quartet" meeting. (AP/Miami Herald)
  • U.S. Says Hamas is an ''Enemy of Peace''
    White House spokesman Scott McClellan Friday urged all parties in the region to dismantle the ''infrastructure of terror.'' ''Hamas is an enemy of peace and we will continue working with all parties to try to achieve peace,'' McClellan said. (Reuters/MSNBC)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Terrorists Kill Four Israeli Soldiers in Gaza
    Four IDF soldiers were killed Sunday and four more were wounded when three Palestinian gunmen opened fire near the Erez checkpoint in the northern Gaza Strip. The gunmen, wearing IDF uniforms, slipped into a line of Palestinian laborers waiting to enter Israel, then jumped over a fence and advanced toward an army post. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades issued a joint statement claiming responsibility for the attack. (Ha'aretz)
  • Terrorists Kill Israeli Soldier in Hebron
    An Israeli soldier was killed by two Palestinian gunmen firing from a rooftop in Hebron's casbah Sunday. The Palestinians had wounded another soldier in an exchange of gunfire earlier in the day. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Terrorists Murder Two Young Israelis Near Jerusalem - Jonathan Lis
    David Shambik, 27, and Moran Menachem, 17, were found stabbed to death last Thursday in a wood close to Moshav Even Sapir. The Jerusalem Police increasingly attribute the murder of the two Israelis to a terror attack. (Ha'aretz)
  • Fearing for His Life, Abbas Cancels Meet with Hamas - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas canceled a scheduled meeting with Hamas leaders in Gaza out of fear for his life, PA sources told Army Radio on Monday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Weakness of Abu Mazen - Amit Cohen
    Yesterday's day of terror clarified how much Abu Mazen's government is unconnected to the field and how limited are its chances for success. Gaza, the supposed home court of Mohammed Dahlan, showed who truly reigned there. The terrorist leaders in Gaza purposely sent a joint squad from Abu Mazen's Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad to show that the Palestinians there were united. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • First Negotiate a Fatah Cease-Fire - Ze'ev Schiff
    The attack in Gaza could be seen as the first Palestinian assault on the road map. Yasser Arafat is inciting elements in Fatah to act against Abbas and the commitments he undertook. The most serious security problem is not Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, associated with Fatah. It's doubtful there is any chance of the Palestinians meeting any of their obligations on the road map if Fatah people are still involved in terror. Therefore, Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan must start with a Fatah cease-fire. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade Says It Won't Honor Ceasefire
    The Fatah militia Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade says it will not honor the end to the armed intifada declared by Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas at the summit in Aqaba. Furthermore, the organization condemns new Palestinian Minister for State Security Muhammad Dahlan, writing to Mahmoud Abbas, "We will not agree to the issue that wanted men will be handled by a man who is an American-Israeli project forced upon the Authority and the Palestinian people. Dahlan was forced upon us by the Americans, Israelis, and Arab regimes collaborating with them." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: Palestinian State will be "Primary School" for Terrorists Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday, "No one wants to rule the Palestinians, but Palestinian sovereignty over all the West Bank's territory would be a double mistake." The best situation, he added, would be with Palestinians in full self-governing capacities, but stripped of all powers to harm Israel. "A Palestinian state would be a primary school for suicide bombers from around the world," Netanyahu said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt and Jordan: No Return of Ambassador to Israel - Smadar Perry
    Egypt and Jordan clarified Saturday that they will not be returning their ambassadors to Israel in the near future. The ambassadors will return only when there are "serious results in the field." Sources in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem believe the return of the ambassadors will be delayed in order to pressure Israel politically to continue to implement the road map. "The Arab ambassadors will return only after American pressure," one official estimated. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
        See also Egypt Not Ready to Return Envoy (Reuters)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Road Map Can Succeed - Shimon Peres
    The Palestinians claim that as long as they are under occupation it will be hard for them to control the insurgent factions. The truth is that the Palestinians have to contend with terrorist occupation by militant organizations that have become a law unto themselves. As long as Hamas and Islamic Jihad dictate the Palestinian agenda - and indirectly also Israel's - it will be hard for Israel to withdraw from the territories.
        Israel had already withdrawn from parts of the territories and transferred responsibility for security to the Palestinians. When terror in these areas became rampant, however, the IDF was forced to control them again. I believe the IDF would withdraw anew if the Palestinians curbed terrorist activities and ensured security. (New York Daily News)
  • Shades of Oslo - Charles Krauthammer
    At Sharm el-Sheik the president put his prestige on the line for the sake of Arab-Israeli peace and the Arab states gave him nothing. They refused to endorse Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. At the second summit at Aqaba, Bush managed to extract enormous concessions from Israel, where Ariel Sharon explicitly recognized the legitimacy of a Palestinian state. Did Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state? No. At Aqaba Israel bought the same rug a second time. If Bush is serious about requiring more than just words from the Palestinians, Abbas must end the incitement, stop the violence, and disarm the terrorists. Bush, having taken his friend Sharon to the cleaners, needs now to make sure that Abbas keeps his word. (Washington Post)
  • A Declaration of Palestinian Civil War? - William Safire
    United as never before, the fundamentalist Hamas-Jihad-Aksa Front, whose sworn mission is to drive the hated Jews out of the Middle East, is determined to overthrow Abbas and any "moderates" able to negotiate a peace. No comprehensive outside imposition will bring durable peace to the Middle East. It will follow the Palestinians' victory over a terrorist minority. (New York Times)
  • The Price for a Palestinian State - Jim Hoagland
    "I destroyed a terrorist state in Afghanistan, I destroyed a terrorist state in Iraq, and I am not about to help create a terrorist state" on Israel's borders, the president is said to have told aides. Arab leaders will have to display courage and toughness that have been absent for half a century in dealing with their own publics about the Palestinian refugees and workers in their midst. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, and in the first instance the Palestinian Authority will have to abandon the fiction that the Palestinians in diaspora have an absolute and unlimited "right of return" into Israel. (Washington Post)
  • Bush's Determination Surprised Israel - Aluf Benn
    In early May, Bush met with a delegation of U.S. Jewish leaders, one of whom said afterward that Bush had made the following statement about Sharon: "I saved his ass in Iraq. He owes me, and I intend to collect the debt." The administration's central message was that the victory in Iraq and Abbas's appointment as prime minister create a not-to-be-missed opportunity to move the political process forward. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:  

    Seeds of Hate in Saudi Arabia - David A. Harris (Washington Post)

    • Diminishing the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia will not end the deep-seated hatred of Americans that is embedded in the kingdom. In a country where 53% of the population is younger than 20, the first question Americans should ask is: What are Saudis learning and how does it affect their worldview?
    • A study, co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, of the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education books used in grades 1 through 10 reveals that Saudi children are taught intolerance and contempt for the West, Christians, and Jews in subjects ranging from literature to math.
    • As long as Saudi youth are essentially brainwashed to hate others, truly amicable relations between Saudis and the West will be hard to maintain.
    • Moreover, Saudi schoolbooks and curriculums are actively exported to other Arab and Muslim countries, where Saudi largess funds many schools.
    • Indeed, many Muslim schools in the U.S. have been built and staffed with Saudi money, opening the door to the spreading of Saudi-sponsored hate on American soil. Probing which of the books published in Saudi Arabia might also be used in the U.S. is vital.

      The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee.

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