Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 5, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Why Bush is Likely to Ignore Letter by Former U.S. Diplomats - Paul Reynolds (BBC)
    Several of the former American diplomats who wrote a letter to President Bush complaining about U.S. policy towards Israel are connected to a lobby group active in Middle East affairs, often as a voice for the Palestinians.
    The lobby group behind the letter carries the bland name of the American Educational Trust (AET), founded in 1982.
    The AET's founding chairman was actually a former British diplomat, an Arabist named Edward F. Henderson who was the first British ambassador to Qatar and subsequently became head of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding in London, a lobby group promoting the Arab world.
    The retired American diplomat who helped to organize the letter, Andrew Killgore, was a U.S. Ambassador to Qatar himself who also helped found the AET.

    See also UK Diplomats Failed to Disclose Their Own Arab Links - Chris Hastings, David Bamber, and Roya Nikkhah (Telegraph-UK)
    Some of the 52 former British diplomats who condemned Tony Blair's policies in the Middle East have business links with Arab governments.
    Several of the key signatories, including Oliver Miles, the former British ambassador to Libya who instigated the letter, are paid by pro-Arab organizations.
    Some of the others hold positions in companies seeking lucrative Middle East contracts, while others have unpaid positions with pro-Arab organizations.
    Sir Archie Lamb, a former ambassador to Kuwait, is a paid director of the international section of the Bank of Kuwait.
    Sir Graham Boyce, another former ambassador to Kuwait, is vice-chairman of VT International Services, part of the VT group, which has contracts with the Qatar navy, the United Arab Emirates, the Jordanian navy, and the Egyptian navy.
    Sir Alan Munro, a former British ambassador to Algeria, admitted that he had a "salaried position" advising companies on how to break into the Saudi Arabian market.

Saudi Attack on Westerners an Inside Job? (Reuters/Saudi Gazette)
    Militants who killed five Westerners at the ABB Lummus engineering facility in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, Saturday were workers there and had targeted the top three officials.
    Security officials said the shooting was carried out by workers who used their passes to access the tightly secured site, and an oil official said the fact that the gunmen went for top executives indicated they could be insiders.
    See also Saudis ID Mastermind of Yanbu Attack - Adnan Malik (AP/Washington Post)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Retreats from Bush Remarks on Sharon Plan; Effort is Intended to Placate Arabs - Glenn Kessler
    The Bush administration on Tuesday joined in a high-level diplomatic statement that stressed that the key issues dividing Israelis and Palestinians must be negotiated by both sides, just weeks after President Bush pronounced that Israel could keep some West Bank settlements and Palestinian refugees should not resettle in Israel. U.S. officials and foreign diplomats described the statement as an effort by the Bush administration to repair the international damage from the president's remarks last month, which had drawn sharp criticism in the Arab world and from European allies. Secretary of State Powell said, "We are in conversation with our other Arab friends to see what assurances and comments they may need from us to make sure that they know that the president has not abandoned them." (Washington Post)
        See also Quartet Calls for Reorganized Palestinian Leadership, Transfer of Territory - Barry Schweid
    After a meeting on Tuesday at the UN, representatives of the Quartet (UN, U.S., EU, and Russia), including Secretary of State Powell, called for reorganizing Palestinian leadership to counter terror attacks on Israel and said territory evacuated by Israel should be turned over to the PA. They endorsed again establishment of a Palestinian state and "took positive note" of a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to withdraw Israeli troops and all 7,500 Jewish settlers from Gaza - a plan that the Israel leader's own Likud political party rejected on Sunday.
        Powell said Sharon's proposal, which the prime minister may revise in a bid to gain approval in Israel, is "an opportunity that ought to be seized." On Monday, a senior Bush administration official said Bush would not try to put Sharon's Gaza plan back on track. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
        See also Full Text of Middle East Quartet Communique (United Nations)
  • Report Warns of Infiltration by Al-Qaeda in U.S. Prisons - Eric Lichtblau
    Groups promoting extremist brands of Islam have gained a foothold in American prisons, and counterterrorism officials believe al-Qaeda is likely to try to use the prisons "to radicalize and recruit inmates," according to a report from the Justice Department inspector general's office. Investigators said that inmate chapels "remain vulnerable to infiltration by religious extremists," with volunteers who lead prayer services linked to people who showed up on terrorist watch lists. (New York Times)
  • An Al-Qaeda "Chemist" and the Quest for Ricin - Joby Warrick
    Menad Benchellali was known as "the chemist" because of the special skills he learned at al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. When he returned to his native France in 2001, according to investigators, he set up a laboratory in his parents' spare bedroom and began to manufacture ricin, one of the deadliest known substances. Today, exactly how many jars of ricin Benchellali may have produced - and their whereabouts - is an urgent question for European governments facing a wave of terrorist attacks and threats.
        U.S. forces invading Afghanistan in 2001 discovered and destroyed two production centers that were preparing to manufacture cyanide and the botulinum and salmonella toxins, and possibly anthrax. In the past 2 and 1/2 years, ricin-making equipment or traces of the toxin have been discovered during police raids on al-Qaeda-affiliated cells in Britain, France, Spain, Russia, Georgia, and Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Expects Sharon to Deliver - Janine Zacharia
    The Bush administration is counting on Prime Minister Sharon to figure out how to push forward with his unilateral disengagement plan - which President Bush warmly endorsed last month - despite Sunday's rejection of the initiative in a Likud Party referendum. In the past few days, U.S. officials have repeatedly pledged to continue to support the plan. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Boy Killed by Palestinian Bomb
    A nine-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and two others were injured in the village of Deir Jusun near Tulkarm by an explosive device, Israel Radio reported Tuesday. The boys apparently picked up a pipe bomb that was lying on the ground that had been prepared by Palestinians, perhaps to be used against Israeli targets. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Comeback Likudnik - William Safire
    Here is what I imagine Arik Sharon is thinking: I have to take more care to convince my old comrades in Gaza, Judea and Samaria that building a defensible national perimeter is the road to security now and to peace later.
        President Bush turned American policy away from Ehud Barak's dangerous concessions and toward realism in creating two separate states. His policy letter of last month will be remembered as historic and helpful when Jews and Arabs reach a final agreement someday. Despite criticism from leaders in Europe and the Middle East, Bush lets nobody - including the king of Jordan this week, who requested a letter weakening the U.S. letter to Israel - drive a wedge between our two democracies. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Actions in Middle East Affect Israel - Yossi Alpher
    America's actions in the Middle East over the past two-and-a-half years have been good for Israel. They have eliminated any vestige of a coordinated Arab military threat against Israel, begun the rollback of the weapons of mass destruction threat (from Libya, hopefully from Iran, and from Pakistani proliferation), and provided Israel with a powerful ally in its struggle against Islamic radical movements. After Sept. 11, Israel joined America's "good guys," while Arafat maneuvered himself into the ranks of the "evil ones."
        Even the uglier aspects of the U.S. war on terrorism - regrettable civilian casualties and damage in Iraq, the daunting specter of the Guantanamo detention facility, and the recent revelations regarding U.S. and British torture of Iraqi prisoners - reflected favorably on Israel, by demonstrating to its critics in the West that its treatment of Palestinians in wartime, however problematic, is probably more humane than the "dirty war" norms of some other civilized countries. The writer is a former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Through Sharansky's Eyes - What Freedom Means - Rachel Zabarkes Friedman
    Former Soviet dissident and political prisoner Natan Sharansky, currently minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, is working on a book about the need to promote liberal democracy in the Middle East. Sharansky's opinions about contemporary Arab dictatorships are rooted deeply in his dissident experience. He believes that all people want freedom, understood first and foremost as the ability to express one's opinions without fear. This freedom is the essence of democracy, he says, and if given the choice, all people will choose it. (National Review)
        See also Diplomat of Democracy: Natan Sharansky - Lee Kaplan (FrontPageMagazine)
        See also Sharansky's Speech at the OSCE Conference Against Antisemitism (Die Judische-Austria)
  • Observations:

    Who Among the Palestinians Can Deliver? - Zohar Palti
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Parallel to the weakening of the old guard, new generations of leaders are emerging that have already become integral to the processes shaping Palestinian politics.
    • The generation that led the first intifada in the 1980s gained credibility as local leaders primarily by carrying out successful terror activities against Israel; many served Israeli jail terms, and, accordingly, gained greater familiarity with Israeli society, politics, and culture. Members of this generation, who are generally opposed to using terror as a political tool, include Hussein al-Sheikh, Abed Elfatach Hamil, Qadura Fares, Hani al-Hasan, and more prominent figures such as Muhammad Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub.
    • In the course of the present conflict, a younger generation of leaders has arisen, consisting of the children of the first intifada who grew up and matured into the current conflict as terrorist leaders. Many have criminal backgrounds, and most are poor and largely uneducated. Members of the "young generation" such as Zachrya Zbidi from Jenin, Naef Abu Sharh from Nablus, Nasser Masuda from Hebron, Khaled Shawish from Ramallah, Nasser Awis from Nablus, Muhammad Naifa from Tulkarem, and Abdel Karim Awis from Jenin have become local heroes, mainly due to their involvement in terrorist activity. Hizballah is controlling the young generation from outside the West Bank through money and operational instructions.
    • A new tier of middlemen has also emerged, serving to mediate between the young and the intermediate generations. Most are political activists whose link to terrorism is weaker and most hold political posts at Fatah regional offices. Hussam Shahin, head of the Jerusalem Fatah Youth; Abdel Wahab Shada, secretary of Fatah's Tulkarem headquarters; and Ita Abu Ramila, secretary of Fatah's Jenin headquarters could eventually combine their local political power with access to field activists and financial aid from the intermediate generation to curb Palestinian radicals.
    • At present, no one in the PA seems to be able to control the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Dahlan lacks meaningful influence in the West Bank, and Rajoub has no real hold in Gaza. Because of the fragmented layout of the West Bank, it is doubtful whether a single figure exists that can control the Palestinian cities. The current Palestinian leadership is fragmented, weak, uncoordinated, and primarily preoccupied with personal infighting.
    • With the old guard still around - and with money and institutions remaining subordinate to Arafat and his loyalists - there will be no real possibility for fundamental change.

      IDF Col. Zohar Palti is a visiting military fellow at The Washington Institute.

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