Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see web version.


November 3, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
[email protected]

In-Depth Issue:

Palestinians Condemn U.S. Reward for Info on Gaza Bombing - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The PA on Sunday condemned the U.S. for offering a reward of up to $5 million for information about the attack on the American convoy in Gaza on Oct. 15 in which three U.S. security guards were killed.
    A senior PA official in Ramallah described the U.S. offer as "imprudent" and a "flagrant intervention in Palestinian affairs."
    It is not clear what happened to the eight Palestinians who were detained shortly after the attack. Sources in Gaza City said most of the detainees have been released.

IDF Sees Terrorist Threat on Jordanian Border - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli defense officials are concerned about the attempts of terror organizations, apparently with Syrian encouragement, to "heat up" the border between Israel and Jordan, especially near the northern section of the Jordanian border near Syria.
    About two weeks ago, Jordanian soldiers killed two armed men who were about to cross into Israeli territory.
    A senior military source said the terror squad was trained in a camp operated by one of the terror groups in Syria, from where it also received its orders for the infiltration mission.
    The squad belongs to an organization that is not well known to Israeli intelligence, but is apparently an extremist Islamic group.

Bin Laden's Key 9/11 Role Revealed - Nick Fielding (Sunday Times-UK)
    The two main planners of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, who are in American custody, have disclosed that Bin Laden chose the pilots who flew the doomed jets and headed a committee that debated details of the attacks, according to transcripts of their interrogations.
    The pair have named previously unknown co-conspirators and other fellow al-Qaeda members.
    Binalshibh, at least, appears to have no regrets. If he is released or escapes, he has told his interrogators, his first act will be to "kill 1,000 Americans."

Israel Lets Thousands of Palestinians Enter for Work (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Israel permitted 10,000 Palestinian laborers to cross from the Gaza Strip into Israel Sunday for the first time since a deadly suicide bombing in Haifa on Oct. 4 killed 21 people.
    Israel began easing restrictions on the Palestinians Thursday when it allowed some 4,500 West Bank laborers and merchants to go to work in Israel.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • 16 GIs Killed, 20 Hurt as Missile Downs U.S. Copter in Iraq
    An American Chinook helicopter was shot down just outside Falluja on Sunday, killing 16 soldiers and wounding 20 others in the deadliest attack on American troops since the U.S. invaded Iraq in March. Another missile narrowly missed a second Chinook. In the last 10 days, at least 31 American soldiers have been killed. Saddam Hussein's army had thousands of surface-to-air missiles. Guerrillas are known to have fired missiles at American planes two or three times a week, and ground fire at helicopters is even more frequent. (New York Times)
  • Saddam Was Sure of Own Survival
    Former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has told interrogators that Saddam Hussein refused to order a counterattack against U.S. troops in March because he misjudged the initial ground thrust as a ruse and had been convinced earlier by Russian and French contacts that he could avoid or survive a land invasion. According to Aziz, Hussein concluded after talks with these contacts that the U.S. would probably wage a long air war first, as it had done in previous conflicts. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow. Aziz reportedly also said Hussein personally ordered several secret programs to build or buy long-range missiles in defiance of international sanctions.
        Investigators have found no comparable evidence to date that Hussein was willing after 1999 to risk being caught in major defiance of UN bans on nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. U.S.-led investigators increasingly seek to understand why Hussein might have acted as he did if he truly had no sizable arsenal of contraband weapons. Several high-ranking detainees explained that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries paid deference to Hussein because they feared he had weapons of mass destruction. A number of Saddam's own generals have said that they, too, believed chemical weapons would be deployed by Hussein for the capital's defense. Yet none of the officers admitted receiving such weapons himself. "The only consistent pattern we've gotten - 100 percent consistent - is that each commander says, 'My unit didn't have WMD, but the one to my right or left did,'" said a senior U.S. official. (Washington Post)
        See also Seized Intelligence Files Spur U.S. Investigations
    The CIA has seized an extensive cache of files from the former Iraqi Intelligence Service that is spurring U.S. investigations of weapons procurement networks and agents of influence who took money from the government of Saddam Hussein, U.S. officials say. The records contain the names of nearly every Iraqi intelligence officer, their paid foreign agents, written agent reports, evaluations of agent credentials, and documentary evidence of payments made to buy influence in the Arab world and elsewhere. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Suicide Bomber Discovered in West Bank Blows Himself Up - Roni Singer and Amos Harel
    After an intelligence tip led security officials to the West Bank village of Azun, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up Monday when he saw Israelis searching for him. No Israeli injuries were reported in the blast. (Ha'aretz)
        The bomber, sent by the Al Aqsa Brigades of Fatah, was believed to have been on his way to carry out an attack in a major Israeli city. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • The Price of Releasing Prisoners: The Jerusalem Cafe Hillel Bombing - Ze'ev Dasberg
    Not long ago, the Israeli government released 350 Palestinian prisoners as a good-will gesture to the government of Mahmoud Abbas. A few weeks later, two of the former prisoners, from the village of Rantis in Samaria, under the command of a third former prisoner, perpetrated the suicide bombing attacks on Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem and at the Tzrifin army base, in which 15 civilians and soldiers were killed and many others were wounded. (Ha'aretz)
  • American Spy Chiefs Want More Pressure on Israel - Amir Oren
    The U.S. Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) has recommended to the Bush administration to apply "clear and intentional pressure" on Israel regarding the settlements. The recommendation, written by Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research Carl Ford, was submitted last week to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Stanley Moskowitz, CIA director of congressional affairs, and a former head of the CIA in Israel, wrote to the senators on behalf of CIA Director George Tenet that an arrangement for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would be acceptable to the Palestinians and developed Arab states, "such as the plans outlined by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah," are expected to significantly reduce negative feelings toward the U.S. in the region. (Ha'aretz)
        See also PA Leader: U.S. Offered to Pressure Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Kadoura Fares, one of three senior Fatah leaders who visited Washington recently, said on Saturday that U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield offered to put pressure on Israel to dismantle settlements if the PA cracks down on Hamas and other armed groups. "The proposal calls for halting attacks against Israel, collecting weapons from Palestinian groups, detaining members of armed groups, and other measures in return for Washington's intervention against the settlements," Fares said. According to Fares, the 3-man Fatah delegation rejected the offer. "We were surprised during our meetings in Washington, because we felt that we were negotiating with Israeli ministers and leaders, and not Americans," he complained. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rajoub Meets with Shin Bet Director - Arnon Regular
    The head of the Shin Bet security service, Avi Dichter, met Sunday with the secretary of the Palestinian National Security Council, Jibril Rajoub, in the Jerusalem area. Rajoub once controlled the most organized security force in the West Bank. He had also personally opposed the armed intifada. The meeting with Dichter signifies Rajoub's return to the center of the Palestinian arena, with Arafat's explicit blessing. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz to Meet Qurei - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    The first meeting between Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei will be held in the near future, once Qurei's cabinet is approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council. Military intelligence does not attach high hope to Qurei fighting terrorist activities. Intelligence sources also believe Arafat's recent illness is not life threatening, and that his days are "short, but not numbered." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • On Hating the Jews - Natan Sharansky
    The world, we are told by friend and foe alike, increasingly hates Jews because it increasingly hates Israel. But the Jewish state is no more the cause of anti-Semitism today than the absence of a Jewish state was its cause a century ago. Israel challenges the political/moral order of the Arab and Muslim Middle East. The values ascendant in today's Middle East are shaped by Islamic fundamentalism and state authoritarianism. In the eyes of the former, any non-Muslim sovereign power in the region is anathema. Particularly galling is Jewish sovereignty in an area delineated as dar al-Islam, the realm where Islam is destined to enjoy exclusive dominance. Such a violation cannot be compromised with; nothing will suffice but its extirpation.
        In the eyes of the secular Arab regimes, the Jews of Israel are an affront not so much on theological grounds as on account of the society they have built: free, productive, democratic, a living rebuke to the corrupt, autocratic regimes surrounding it. In short, the Jewish state is the ultimate freedom fighter - an embodiment of the subversive liberties that threaten Islamic civilization and autocratic Arab rule alike. For this reason, in the state-controlled Arab media as in the mosques, Jews have been turned into a symbol of all that is menacing in the democratic, materialist West as a whole, and are confidently reputed to be the insidious force manipulating the U.S. into a confrontation with Islam. (Commentary)
  • Booby Prize - Gerald M. Steinberg
    On Nov. 6, the Sydney Peace Foundation and Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (under the auspices of the University of Sydney) is planning to award its annual peace prize to Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent member and spokeswoman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO continues to be involved directly in terror attacks against Israeli civilians, and Ashrawi plays a central role in attempting to justify this strategy. In protest against support of Palestinian propaganda in the name of peace, leading academics drafted a detailed petition including references to Ashrawi's speeches demonizing Israel, and gathered over 20,000 signatures calling on the premier of New South Wales and other officials to disassociate themselves from this travesty. Ashrawi will probably get the prize, but the efforts to demonize Israel were reversed, and the focus of the debate shifted to the Orwellian effort to turn Hanan Ashrawi's support for terror into peace. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Three Approaches for Ending the Conflict - Aaron David Miller (Ha'aretz)

    • As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drags on with no end in sight, three approaches to end it compete for the attention of would-be mediators, analysts, and politicians. There is the old game, based on a search for a conflict-ending agreement; the interim game embodied by the road map phases; and the new game, premised on waiting for strategic changes that would somehow make the conflict easier to resolve.
    • The recent surprise announcement of the Geneva initiative by out-of-power Israelis and Palestinians demonstrates the old game's allure. It is not that playing the old game is illogical or unreasonable but, simply put, its proponents have no way of playing it seriously in the face of opposition from Palestinian and Israeli leaders, angry publics, and ongoing violence. In short, right now and for the foreseeable future, there is no way to negotiate the old game, impose it from the outside, or appeal over the heads of politicians to the publics to embrace it.
    • The interim game, embodied by the U.S.-brokered road map makes perfect sense in theory, but in practice, neither Israelis nor Palestinians seem prepared to take the kinds of measures required to give this process traction.
    • In the absence of serious prospects for either the old or interim game, the new game has emerged. According to this model, a real resolution depends on time - time for leadership changes, meaning mainly Arafat's removal; time for a U.S. victory in Iraq to weaken the influence of radicalism and extremism; and time for changes in the Arab world driven by democratization and free market forces. Only then will real Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace be possible. But in reality this may prove to be dangerous and myopic thinking.
    • One of the darker dimensions of the new game is pursued by those Palestinians who believe that time and demographic advantage is on their side and that it is only a matter of time before they will become masters of all Palestine.

      The writer served in the U.S. Department of State and advised six secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli negotiations over 25 years.

    To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message here.
    To unsubscribe, send a blank email message here.