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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August 22, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Arafat is Still In Charge - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    The person with the most influence over how long this period lasts is not Abbas but Arafat, who on Wednesday rejected a request that he transfer control of two major PA security services to Abbas and his security chief, Dahlan.
    Arafat also postponed a discussion of the plan submitted by Abbas and Dahlan for taking action against Hamas and Islamic Jihad following Tuesday's suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
    On the same day that a Hamas bomber from Hebron blew up the bus in Jerusalem, an Islamic Jihad cell from Western Samaria had been en route to a suicide bombing in Haifa - but was arrested instead.
    The ludicrous part is that both the Jerusalem attack, which killed 20 people, and another, less deadly suicide bombing last week are considered by Hamas to be part of the cease-fire.
    During the weeks of truce, in which neither the IDF nor the PA took action against Hamas, the organization built up its strength and its capabilities.
    Israel warned Dahlan repeatedly that his inaction would eventually lead to disaster.
    Israel has informed Washington that it remains committed to the diplomatic process, but it sees no chance of this process succeeding without action against the terrorist infrastructure.
    Before the Aqaba conference, the Americans told Israel that Dahlan would need much time before he was able to start fighting terror.
    When Israel told the Americans that three to four weeks ought to suffice, the Americans responded that they would dictate the time limit - a response that generated some sharp exchanges between Secretary of State Powell and IDF Chief of Staff Ya'alon.
    Now, following the Jerusalem bombing, America is beginning to issue more forceful demands that the terrorist infrastructure be eliminated immediately.

Islamist Call to Arms Against U.S. - Arnaud de Borchgrave (Washington Times)
    A new generation of mujahideen (Islamist "freedom" fighters) is gearing up to take on U.S. occupation troops in Iraq, which they say is the same jihad, or holy war, their fathers' generation fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
    A nexus is emerging between Islamist militants and Iraq's underground resistance movement, which is made up of Ba'athist Party has-beens who have lost their privileges, former Iraqi army personnel that were discharged by the U.S. without compensation, and common criminals in it for the bonus they are paid for killing U.S. soldiers.
    Captured or killed Americans fetch cash rewards up to $2,000.

Israel Signs Loan Guarantee Agreement with U.S. - Zeev Klein (Globes)
    A detailed agreement between Israel and the U.S. on $9 billion in U.S. loan guarantees was signed Wednesday.
    While the agreement stipulates that Israeli government investments beyond the "green line" will be deducted from the loan guarantees, the U.S. reserves the right of flexibility and maneuvering room over actual deductions.
    The final decision on the deduction from the loan guarantees will be taken only in 2006.

17 Iraqi Immigrants Arrive in Israel - Yuval Dror (Ha'aretz)
    In 2000, Rachel Nissan and her husband Amir, both from Baghdad, secretly immigrated to Israel just days after they were married.
    On Wednesday, 17 new immigrants arrived in Israel from Iraq, including Rachel's parents, Avraham and Tikva, four of their daughters, two sons, and a nephew - all aged under 18.
    Another one of Rachel's sisters immigrated with her husband and their five children.

Ministers Approve Plan to Boost Israeli Arab Sector - Yair Ettinger (Ha'aretz)
    The ministerial committee on Arab affairs, headed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on Tuesday approved a plan submitted by the National Security Council (NSC) for narrowing the gaps between the Jewish and Arab sectors.
    The plan includes affirmative action for Arabs in the civil service.
    The plan also calls for reconsidering the idea of national service for Arab high school graduates.

Women Shine in Israeli Army - Margaret Coker (Palm Beach Post)
    Since a landmark 1995 Israeli court ruling struck down the "men-only" rule for combat units, the Israel Defense Forces has begun integrating women into front-line platoons, opening up more challenging ways for them to serve their country.
    Still, the debate has not ended about the proper role of women in the army, quieted worries about female prisoners of war, or shattered the military establishment's glass ceiling.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Powell Appeals to Arafat
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday: "I call on Chairman Arafat to work with Prime Minister Abbas and to make available to Prime Minister Abbas those security elements that are under his control so that they can allow progress to be made on the roadmap....Those who are determined to blow up the roadmap must not be allowed to succeed....The end of the roadmap is a cliff that both sides will fall off of, and so we have to understand the consequences of the end of the roadmap. So it is not the end of the roadmap. I believe both parties understand that a way has to be found to go forward." (State Department)
        See also Powell is Now Pressing Arafat to Combat Hamas
    After a year of trying to sideline Yasser Arafat, Secretary of State Powell called on the Palestinian leader to enlist the security forces under his control to help crush Hamas and other groups held responsible for the Jerusalem bus bombing on Tuesday. The unusual appeal to Mr. Arafat reflected what administration officials said was a growing realization that he remained a force to be reckoned with among Palestinians and that more pressure needed to be directed against him after the latest attack by Palestinian militants.
        Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said it was "understandable" that Israel would now need to concentrate on security needs and suspend its plans to take conciliatory steps toward the Palestinians. Some administration officials suggested that even with Israel's action Thursday, killing a top Hamas leader, the government of Prime Minister Sharon had shown some restraint. "They've been somewhat limited in their actions, and we appreciate that," a senior official said.
        Before this week, the administration's view of Palestinian prime minister Abbas was that he needed a bit more time before he made widespread arrests of Hamas and other militant leaders, as demanded constantly by Israel. Accordingly, the administration had quietly acquiesced to the cease-fire that Abbas had negotiated with the militants as a means to that end. But today that view was decidedly different. "The bombing has forced Abbas to move against terrorist groups sooner than he would like," an administration official said. "He needs the additional capability that's in the hands of Arafat." This official added, however, "Israel understands that it needs to give Abbas some time and space if they want him to act." (New York Times)
  • Abbas Seeks Arafat's Permission to Crack Down on Militants
    Abbas and Arafat met in Arafat's headquarters Thursday to develop a joint strategy on dealing with militants. Abbas needs approval from Arafat if he wants to move against the militants, since Arafat commands the loyalty of Palestinian security agencies, particularly on the West Bank. Israeli leaders said they wouldn't settle for Palestinian leaders' usual round of condemning terrorist attacks. "If they don't act decisively against those who support or perpetrate terror attacks, any chance or vision of a Palestinian state will be lost for another who knows how many years," senior Sharon adviser Zalman Shoval warned. "It's very obvious now that the rules of the game have changed," said PA Security Minister Dahlan's spokesman Elias Zananiri. "The days of conducting dialogue with Hamas and Islamic Jihad over a cup of coffee are over." (Knight Ridder-Miami Herald)
  • Israel Envoy: UN Bomb Came From Syria
    Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman said Thursday that intelligence reports show the Soviet-made truck used in the deadly bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad came from Syria. "Intelligence reports and reports we've seen and heard in the media indicate the truck that blew up the compound in Baghdad came from Damascus," Gillerman told reporters. (AP/Newsday)
  • UK Holds Iran Ex-Envoy Over Buenos Aires Jewish Bombing
    Iran's former ambassador to Argentina, Hadi Soleimanpour, was arrested by British police on Thursday in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center which killed 85 people, Scotland Yard said. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Bush: Go After Them - front page headline - Ben Caspit
    The Americans have expressed satisfaction over the past two days from the growing chaos among the Palestinians. Here, finally, the connection between Abbas and Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin is breaking. The American green light is clear - for the moment. The Americans, meanwhile, don't intend to give up without a fight. They are pressuring the Egyptians over the smuggling tunnels. And the Americans are telling the Palestinians: "You gave a personal promise to the President." But after all the pressure, it seems that the energy is waning. President Bush is no longer with us; his attention is somewhere else. The engine that powered the process is silent. Everything happening now is the result of inertia. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Palestinians Rocket Israel From Gaza; IDF Splits Gaza into Three - Amos Harel, Jonathan Lis, and Yair Ettinger
    Palestinians fired eight Kassam rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday night and Friday. One rocket damaged a house, but there were no injuries. Palestinians also fired 15 mortar shells at the Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza Thursday night. Military sources said some of the rockets were fired from areas adjacent to Palestinian police stations, but that the police did not intervene. Friday, the IDF blocked off main roads in the Gaza Strip, effectively separating it into three sections, to stop potential terrorists from travelling along the main north-south axis. On Thursday, 12 members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades wanted by Israel left Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah, apparently out of concern for possible IDF action against them. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Gives PA 24 Hours to Begin Fighting Terrorists - Amos Harel, Arnon Regular, Aluf Benn, and Shlomo Shamir
    Israel decided Thursday night on a 24-hour lull in military action against Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets to see if its suspended military campaign and American pressure leads to the PA confronting the terror organizations. A senior defense source said that if during the 24-hour lull there was no sign of the PA taking steps against Hamas and terror attacks continued, Israel would step up its offensive against Hamas and Islamic Jihad networks. On Thursday, an IDF helicopter strike in Gaza killed Hamas co-founder Ismail Abu Shanab [number five in the Hamas leadership and a close associate of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin].
        A senior officer at the General Staff said the Palestinians "talk a lot, but they did not act because they made the mistake of believing time was on their side. Our reaction made it clear to them that we will not accept any more wasted time," said the senior officer, who expressed doubt the PA would act now. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Hunts Terrorists in Nablus - Amos Harel
    According to Paratroop Brigade Commander Col. Aviv Kochavi, the current IDF operation in Nablus, Fine Tuning 1, is meant to limit the freedom of movement of armed, wanted men, to arrest at least some of them, to uncover explosives laboratories, and to prevent suicide bombers from leaving for Israel - and that, according to IDF sources, will take three to four weeks. Such a lengthy period will force the wanted men to change their hiding places, and gradually, the army hopes, they will make a mistake or come out into the open and be exposed. Kochavi knows that his job is to narrow the lead the terror networks have gained on the army in the last two months. (Ha'aretz)
  • 33 Still Hospitalized After Bus Bombing - Etgar Lefkovits
    Two days after the devastating Jerusalem bus bombing, thirty-three people remained hospitalized Thursday, including nine people in serious condition, hospital officials said. The wounded include seven children who sustained head and lung injuries, and an 18-month-old girl who lost an eye in the blast. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Fatal Blow for Abbas? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA officials and newspapers continue to complain that Israel was doing its utmost to sabotage the hudna. But Palestinians seemed to deliberately ignore the fact that Israel was never a party to the hudna. Nor was it involved in the negotiations that led to the cease-fire agreement among the PA, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. At one point during the negotiations that preceded the unilateral hudna declaration, Abbas told the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza City that he would not repeat the mistake of Yasser Arafat, who in 1996 ordered the PA security forces to arrest hundreds of activists following a spate of suicide bombings in which more than 100 people were killed. "I will do everything to prevent a Palestinian civil war," Abbas stressed. Many Palestinians see the collapse of the hudna as the beginning of the end of Abbas's era. Thousands of Palestinians marched in the streets of Gaza City Thursday chanting slogans against Abbas and Minister of Security Dahlan. A leaflet distributed by Hamas advised Abbas to resign and leave the Palestinian territories immediately. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Cure for an Islam Gone Mad - Amos Oz
    The suicide-murder at the UN headquarters in Baghdad and the suicide-murder in Jerusalem have a great deal in common: A force that once was described by Salman Rushdie as "paranoiac Islamism" was at work in both cases. The same phenomenon is probably behind the fact that out of 28 violent conflicts raging right now all over the globe - from Indonesia to Kashmir, from Sudan to Chechnya, from the Middle East to North Africa - 25 involve an Islamist faction. Paranoiac Islamism maintains that "modernity" or "the West" or "the Jews" or "the superpowers" or even "the entire international community" are conspiring to erase Islam and therefore true believers must act preemptively by wiping out all Islam's enemies - and almost everyone in the world is considered a deadly foe. Paranoiac Islamism has become the worst enemy of Muslim civilization, an enemy of its values, of its heritage, and of its long-standing tradition of tolerance and wisdom. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Waiting for the PA to Defeat Jihadism - Editorial
    The bloodbath in Jerusalem was crushing not because it was so unexpected, but because it was, even in the middle of a "cease-fire," so expected. Did anybody, Mahmud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan included, really believe that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had repented of their crazy sanguinary ways? Until the Palestinian Authority recognizes that it will not win a fight for statehood unless it wins a fight against jihadism, there will be no peace process and there will be no peace. (New Republic)
  • Abbas's Perspective - Caroline Glick
    PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who cautiously explained Tuesday that the massacre of children and their parents traveling on a bus on their way home from the Western Wall "did not serve the national interests" of the Palestinians, referred to the IAF's strike in Gaza that took out Hamas terrorist Ismail Abu Shanab as "a heinous crime." Abbas is not Israel's partner in peace. Abbas is Hamas's partner in war. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Right Idea, Wrong Holocaust Museum - Walter Reich
    U.S. officials want Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas to visit a Holocaust museum. Were Abbas to visit the Holocaust museum in Washington, many Jews would see the visit as a diplomatic gimmick set up by the administration to manipulate their opinions and as an exploitation of the memory of their dead for political purposes. And Arabs would see it as a humiliating concession extorted from a weak Palestinian leader by a powerful America. On the other hand, a visit by Abbas to Israel's own Holocaust museum would raise doubts about Holocaust denial in the Arab world, and in Israel it would be seen as a genuine acknowledgment of the history and fears of Israelis. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Saudi Oil Power over America - A House of Cards - Max Singer
    Saudi policy toward the U.S. is based on their perception of our fear of their oil power. That is why the Saudis have felt safe enough to allow more than $50 billion of Saudi oil money to be exported to stir up hatred of the U.S. in the past 20 years. The Saudis' power over the U.S. is a house of cards that can be blown away by fresh thinking based on a realistic understanding of the current oil business. When the American political community realizes that the world economy is not in Saudi hands as much as the Saudi economy is in the hands of Western oil buyers, Washington can stop being afraid of the Saudis. Then the Saudi government will understand that it must respond to the U.S. very differently from the way it has in the past. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Saudi Connection - Editorial
    Why does the Bush administration treat the Saudis with kid gloves? Partly because of State Department Arabism, and State Department love-thy-enemy. Partly because of a misguided policy of Muslim outreach, which in practice reaches out to established, and corrupt, Muslim groups in this country. The Saudi regime exports dissidence, while fomenting a Nazi-like hatred of the Other at home and throughout the Muslim world. (National Review)
  • How Did We Degenerate to Such a Terrible Extent? - Editorial
    The UN staff who were killed and injured included some of the finest, most dedicated international civil servants anywhere in the world; they also comprise a large contingent of scrupulously honest and diligent Arab and other Middle Eastern specialists. Killing them is an act so degenerate that it defies any rational explanation. How could the societies of the Middle East have deteriorated politically and morally to such a degree that this sort of attack has become routine? The madness of a few among us who would do such deeds as the Baghdad bombing is the tip of an iceberg that permeates the wider circles of our cultures and countries. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • The War is Over; the Jihad Isn't - Robert Spencer
    Iraq is just one battlefield of many: Muslim militants all over the world are moved today to murder and mayhem for the sake of restoring the caliphate. The caliph, for Sunni Islam, was the successor of Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community. Islamic theology makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular, and for Sunni Muslims the caliph was something like a combined generalissimo and pope. The overwhelming majority of the successors of the Prophet were warrior caliphs. It is not an invention of the Wahhabis, but a provision of classic Islamic law (the Sharia), that the caliph has not just a right but a responsibility to wage war. There is no way to tell how many Muslims in the U.S. and Western Europe are dedicated to jihad for the reestablishment of the caliphate and the resumption of Muslim glory, but it is certain that this particular jihad isn't even close to being over. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Observations:

    Turning Point in the Road Map - Uzi Benziman (Ha'aretz)

    • The attack in Jerusalem was a turning point in the road map. The number of casualties and their demographic composition (ultra-Orthodox, infants and children, evoking images of pogroms from the exilic period) translated into a demand for an operation that would leave a lasting impression on the Palestinian public.
    • The security cabinet gave Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas more than 24 hours to take action against the leaders of Hamas, but that expectation did not materialize. Dahlan told the Israelis that he needs the cooperation of the security units controlled by Arafat in order to move against Hamas. But Arafat declined to cooperate.
    • The reaction by the IDF is intended to deal a blow to the terrorist organizations and demonstrate to the Palestinian leadership that Israel will act in its place against terrorism, but at the same time not burn the bridges.
    • Two days after the bus bombing, the word in Sharon's vicinity was that the process of dialogue with Abbas and his group has not reached its final stage and that the common interest of all the sides is to persist in it, and that therefore the process is still alive.
    • The Israeli decision to focus its military reaction on Hamas seemed to indicate an intention to settle accounts with the main organization that is taking Israeli lives and also undermining the (declared) will of Abu Mazen to reach an agreement with Israel.
    • Implicit in the Israeli decision is a message to the Palestinians and to the world: Israel is taking action where the Palestinian leadership should be taking action. Israel is no longer ready to bear the consequences of murderous Hamas activity or the failures of the Palestinian government. Once it concludes its operation against Hamas, Israel will be ready to renew the dialogue with the PA leadership.
    • Hamas is not a partner for an agreement with Israel. It is part of the world of terrorism and both its military wing and its political infrastructure must be eradicated. After it loses its status, moderate forces may arise within Palestinian society with whom it will be possible to reach an agreement.
    • Hovering over the character of the Israeli response was the lesson of Oslo, as it is understood by the current leadership in Jerusalem (and on this point, by the previous leadership as well): there must be no restraint in the face of violations of agreements in the security sphere. Every breakdown in this sphere must be reacted to by exacting a price that will make it plain to the other side that it will be best for them to maintain the agreement.

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