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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November 10, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Palestinian Authority Funds Go to Militants (BBC)
    The Palestinian Authority, headed by Yasser Arafat, is paying members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - responsible for carrying out suicide attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians - up to $50,000 a month, a BBC investigation has found.
    A former PA minister says the money is an attempt to wean the gunmen away from suicide bombings.
    Despite the payments, the al-Aqsa group has not declared a formal ceasefire and Arafat has not asked the group to stop the suicide bombings.
    Close links between Arafat's Fatah political faction and al-Aqsa were also discovered. Said a leader of Fatah in Jenin, "There is no difference between Fatah and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades."

    See also Arafat's Billions - Transcript (60 Minutes-CBS News)

Israel to Compete with Suez Canal - Dan Gerstenfeld (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel will build a railway between Ashdod and Eilat, allowing ships that dock at the Red Sea port to transfer goods to the ports of Ashdod and Haifa and from there to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, in an attempt to compete with the Suez Canal, Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
    Netanyahu said that India and China export finished products to the U.S. and Europe by sea, but big ships arriving from the Far East are now forced to transfer their goods by land to an Egyptian port on the Mediterranean.
    "We can break the monopoly of the Suez Canal," Netanyahu said. "At an investment of several million shekels we can link the Mediterranean with the Red Sea."
    He added that, if Jordan expresses interest in joining the project, the rail link can be extended to the modernized Aqaba Port.

Egyptian Muslim Brother Tortured to Death (Aljazeera-Qatar)
    A member of the Muslim Brotherhood has been tortured to death by Egyptian authorities.
    The Islamist organization said Saad Sayed Muhammad Qutb, 43, died on Monday at the headquarters of the Egyptian state security forces in Cairo.
    In its 2003 report on Egypt, Human Rights Watch said thousands of political suspects remained in prolonged detention without trial under emergency legislation, adding that torture and ill-treatment of political detainees remains common.

Pro-Palestinian Protests at Kristallnacht Commemoration in Vienna (Jerusalem Post)
    Protesters waved Palestinian flags and barked catcalls against Israel during the 65th annual commemoration of Kristallnacht in Vienna, Sunday night.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Disappointed that Arafat to Keep Control of Palestinian Security
    The United States expressed disappointment Sunday with the announcement of a new Palestinian Cabinet that leaves Yasser Arafat in control of security forces. "The prime minister must have control of all of the security forces and insist that terrorists and military organizations not under the control of the Palestinian Authority be disarmed and dismantled," State Department spokeswoman Amanda Batt said. Israel and the U.S. had hoped to sideline Arafat and see the security services consolidated under an empowered prime minister. Arafat heads the PA and came up with the prime ministerial system to satisfy U.S. demands. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
        See also Arafat Wins Control of PA Security Forces - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Yasser Arafat and PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei on Saturday reached a deal giving Arafat exclusive control over all PA security forces. Qurei said, "The interior minister will most likely be Hakam Balawi [a longtime associate of Arafat and former PLO ambassador to Tunis], with responsibility for administrative affairs, while security issues will be conducted by the National Security Council headed by Arafat." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Arafat Resumes Security Control
    "This is a sad day for reforms in the Palestinian Authority because we see that the cartel of terror headed by Arafat still calls the shots when it comes to security," said Ra'anan Gissin, a spokesman for Ariel Sharon. (Guardian-UK)
  • Bombings Step Up Pressure on Saudi Regime
    The bombs that devastated an expatriate compound in Riyadh on Saturday are a fresh challenge to Saudi Arabia's ruling al-Saud family. The interior ministry says 600 people have been arrested since May, but the discovery of cells in cities across the country and of massive quantities of explosives suggest the terrorist network is more extensive and has greater capability than had been assumed. Islamist activist Mohsen al-Awaji said many Saudis were critical of the government's approach, insisting that many detainees were unconnected to terrorist attacks but were suspected because they had fought in Afghanistan, Chechnya, or Bosnia, past jihads that had not been opposed by the Saudi government. Three influential clerics, two of them considered radical, last week offered to mediate between the government and suspected terrorists. Mr. Awaji said the initial reaction of the regime to the initiative was positive. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also A Campaign to Rattle a Long-Ruling Dynasty (New York Times)
  • Ashcroft: U.S. Dedicated to Combating Anti-Semitism
    Attorney General John Ashcroft told the annual conference of the Anti-Defamation League that the U.S. is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, as well as discrimination against people perceived to be of Middle Eastern descent. "This administration believes that acts of anti-Semitism must be confronted, condemned, and denounced," he said. (VOA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Cabinet Ratifies Prisoner Exchange with Hizballah; Hizballah: No Deal - Aluf Benn, Gideon Alon, Anshel Pfeffer, and Yoav Stern
    The deal approved Sunday aims to secure the return of kidnapped businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of Israeli soldiers Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Suwad, kidnapped near the Israel-Lebanon border in October 2000. Israel is expected to free 20 Lebanese prisoners and 400 Palestinians in exchange.
        However, Hizballah sources said the deal would not be carried out without the release of Samir Kuntar, held in Israel after a 1979 attack in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, in which he entered an apartment and murdered three family members and an Israeli police officer. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that Kuntar would not be included in the deal. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Framework Principles for the Agreement to Release Israeli Prisoners and Hostages Held in Lebanon
    Palestinian prisoners and detainees will be released according to the criteria that those with blood on their hands will not be released. (Prime Ministers Office/IMRA)
        See also Israeli Held by Iran Reported Alive in 2000 - Baruch Kra
    Meir Gilboa, a retired police investigator and member of the Winograd Commission, which reviewed intelligence information related to the fate of Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, downed over Lebanon in 1986, said Sunday that there is positive evidence that Arad was still alive and being held in Iran in the year 2000 and that it is highly probable he is still alive. (Ha'aretz)
  • Powell: Road Map Only Way to Go - Janine Zacharia
    In a written response to a letter from Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo, architects of the "Geneva Initiative," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed appreciation for the effort at dialogue, but made clear that Washington sees the U.S.-sponsored road map as the only way forward in negotiations. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday that Powell "expressed appreciation for projects such as these, expressed appreciation for their efforts to sustain an atmosphere of hope. He also in that letter reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the road map as the way forward." "We don't see Powell's statement as an endorsement of the initiative," Beilin's spokesman Uri Zaki said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rajoub to Arabs: Resist U.S. in Iraq - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA National Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub on Sunday launched a scathing attack on the U.S. and called on Arabs to support "resistance operations" against American troops in Iraq. "It's time for the Arabs to wake up and rise. They must strengthen the Iraqi resistance against the American occupation," Rajoub told the Saudi daily Al-Jazeera. Rajoub's anti-American sentiments follow attacks by PA commentators and officials on President Bush for calling for greater democracy in the Middle East. Palestinian newspapers are full of cartoons and articles mocking the U.S. losses in Iraq and praising the attacks on U.S. soldiers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Holding Iran's Feet to the Fire - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Washington has looked to the IAEA to condemn Iran and trigger a UN Security Council resolution of condemnation and sanctions. To circumvent this, Iran did its deal with the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany, whereby it signed up for a tougher inspection program and agreed to "suspend" the enrichment of uranium. Yet the agreement is full of holes, imposing no schedules or deadlines, as the chief of Iran's national security council glibly admitted. To test this new agreement, first, Iran must hand over to the UN's nuclear watchdog agency a complete, nondoctored account of all of its nuclear activities over the past several years. Second, it must adhere to a tight schedule on the promises it has made in the accord. Third, it must be held to a precise definition of every obligation it has undertaken. Last, inspection and monitoring must be unconditional and implemented quickly. If these steps are not taken, America will face the same situation in Iran we face now with North Korea. It agreed to suspend all its nuclear activities, then promptly began concealing its work building bombs. It's bad enough to make a big mistake once. We don't have to follow it with an encore. (U.S. News)
  • Iraq Seen as al-Qaeda's Top Battlefield - Richard C. Paddock, Alissa J. Rubin, and Greg Miller
    Answering Osama bin Laden's call for holy war in Iraq, as many as 2,000 foreign Muslim fighters are operating in Iraq, officials say. The largest group is from neighboring Syria, while others come from Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Palestinian territories. During the war, at least 5,000 foreign fighters came from abroad to aid the regime, Iraqi officials estimate. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Duality of Iraq - Fouad Ajami
    The insurgency in the Sunni triangle is the rebellion and the rear-guard action of a terrible breed of people eager to restore their own hegemony and the reign of terror that came with it. To a great, liberal country free of tribal and sectarian feuds now falls the grim task of quelling a rebellion of the darkest atavism. Imperial power has always carried with it heartbreak. In the shade of these palm trees of Mesopotamia, the best of our young people give the Iraqis their first exposure to an army that does not plunder and terrorize. (U.S. News)
  • Observations:

    An Answer to the New Anti-Zionists: The Rights of the Jewish People to a Sovereign State in their Historic Homeland - Dore Gold and Jeff Helmreich (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • A new critique of Israel proposes its elimination and replacement with a bi-national Palestinian-Jewish state. Israel's new detractors doubt the legitimacy of Jewish statehood, though they say nothing about the validity of dozens of new states that have emerged in the last half century, many of which lack any firmly rooted national identity. The new attack on Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state is particularly ironic since Jewish nationhood preceded the emergence of most modern nation-states by thousands of years.
    • Israel is the only state created in the last century whose legitimacy was recognized by both the League of Nations and the United Nations. The League of Nations Mandate did not create the rights of the Jewish people to a national home in Palestine, but rather recognized a pre-existing right - for the links of the Jewish people to their historic land were well-known and accepted by world leaders in the previous century.
    • By 1864, a clear-cut Jewish majority emerged in Jerusalem - more than half a century before the arrival of the British Empire and the League of Nations Mandate. During the years that the Jewish presence in Eretz Israel was restored, a huge Arab population influx transpired as Arab immigrants sought to take advantage of higher wages and economic opportunities that resulted from Jewish settlement in the land. President Roosevelt concluded in 1939 that "Arab immigration into Palestine since 1921 has vastly exceeded the total Jewish immigration during the whole period."
    • Israel's new detractors seek to delegitimize Jewish national rights by arguing that their assertion was an extension of European imperialism. In fact, Jewish underground movements waged an anti-colonial war in the 1940s against continuing British rule. Israel was an anti-imperialist force when it first emerged, while the Arab states were aligned with the imperial powers, their armies trained and supplied by the French and British Empires.
    • There was no active movement to form a unique Palestinian state prior to 1967. In 1956, Ahmad Shuqairy, who would found the PLO eight years later, told the UN Security Council: "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria." In the early 1960s, many Palestinians looked to Egypt's Abdul Nasser as their leader as much as to any Palestinian. Given the historical background, it is impossible to argue that the Palestinians have a claim to the Land of Israel superior to that of the Jews, as Israel's detractors contend.
    • The new assault on Israel is partly based on ignorance of Jewish history in today's highly secularized world. But it also emanates from a new anti-Semitic wave reflected in a public opinion poll by the European Commission showing Israel as the country most regarded by Europeans as a threat to world peace. The president of the European Commission, Roman Prodi - alluding to the anti-Semitic underpinnings that led to the poll's results - said, "to the extent that this may indicate a deeper, more general prejudice against the Jewish world, our repugnance is even more radical."

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