Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 1, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Military Intelligence Chief: Arafat's Death Will Not End Conflict - Aluf Benn and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Military Intelligence chief Aharon Ze'evi told the Cabinet Sunday that he believes there would be a chance to bring about an end to the violence that began in September 2000 if Arafat dies, but his death would not lead to the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    Prime Minister Sharon said Sunday that Israel would continue moving forward with the disengagement plan despite the deterioration in Arafat's health.
    Sharon said if a new Palestinian leadership emerged that made a real effort to dismantle terror infrastructures, Israel would be willing to renew negotiations based on the road map plan.

    See also Arafat's Departure Not Enough to Transform Israeli-Palestinian Relationship - Greg Myre (New York Times)
    The departure of Arafat would not instantly transform the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, said Shlomo Avineri, a political science professor at Hebrew University.
    "It's not just a question of Arafat's personality, this is too simplistic....I believe there will have to be fundamental changes in Palestinian attitudes, and that is not going to happen overnight, even with a new leadership."

Iraqi Rebels Vow to Use Chemical Weapons (The Australian)
    Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah claim to have obtained chemical weapons and threatened to use them in any battle for control of the rebel stronghold.
    A military committee made up of former officers in Saddam Hussein's army, including experts on chemicals and guerrilla warfare, is said to have been organizing forces in Fallujah and planning tactics.

Iran MPs, Crying "Death to America," Pass Nuclear Bill (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
    To cries of "Death to America" and "God is Greatest," Iran's hardline-dominated parliament passed a bill on Sunday obliging the government to continue efforts to develop a civilian nuclear energy program.

Nearly 20% of Israelis Lost Family Member or Friend in Terror Attacks (Maariv International)
    Nearly one in every five Israelis has lost a family member or friend in a terrorist attack since the start of the violence, according to research conducted by Prof. Gabriel Ben-Dor and Dr. Dafna Kanti-Nissim of Haifa University.
    12.5% of the population reported an injury to a family member or friend as a result of a terrorist attack.
    12.1% of the population has witnessed a terrorist attack or were at a site in which dead bodies or casualties were present.
    See also Survey Data (IMRA/Haifa University)


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Suicide Bomber Strikes Tel Aviv Market
    A Palestinian suicide bomber blew up in a crowded outdoor market in central Tel Aviv on Monday, killing at least four people and wounding 32. (AP/ABC News)
  • Sharon Ready for Talks with Post-Arafat Palestinian Leadership
    Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has indicated he is ready to open negotiations with a new Palestinian leadership as the void left by Arafat's departure to Paris is filled by his closest lieutenants. With former Palestinian premier Mahmud Abbas now at the helm of the PLO and Arafat's Fatah faction, the prospect of a resumption of talks has grown sharply. "If a new Palestinian leadership which is both serious and responsible emerges, it is possible that there can be a resumption of negotiations on the roadmap" peace plan, Sharon told the Cabinet Sunday. "A new leadership must prove by its actions that it is fighting against terrorism," he said. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Powell: Disengagement Plan Part of Roadmap Process
    U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Egyptian Television on Friday: "We have said, for a long period of time, that we believe the Palestinian people would be better off with an empowered prime minister who has political authority and who has control of the security forces. And that individual, so empowered, would give the Israelis a partner for negotiations, and would give the Quartet a partner for negotiations."
        "In the understanding that we have with Prime Minister Sharon that was announced by Prime Minister Sharon and President Bush in April, this [the disengagement plan] is part of the roadmap process, to bring out the settlements in Gaza, start with four settlements in the West Bank, and get into the roadmap where both sides, the Palestinian side and the Israeli side, will negotiate further reduction of settlements in the West Bank and resolve all final status issues between the two of them, not the U.S. resolving them, but only the two parties negotiating with each other." (State Department)
  • "Ghosts" of Arafat's Compound Fade into the Night - Matthew Kalman
    Officially, the 20 wanted men of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades living in Arafat's compound did not exist. Reporters could see them, and they would sometimes wave back. But gun-toting guards forbade photographing or talking to them. Their ghostly presence was repeatedly denied by PA spokesmen. Some were officially employed by one of Arafat's myriad security forces. In their spare time, they went out and tried to kill people, usually Israelis. Sometimes they killed other Palestinians. Sometimes they simply provided muscle for security or political figures.
        On Thursday, the ghosts finally vanished, exorcised by the imminent departure of Arafat, their patron and protector. They walked out through the front gate carrying their weapons, and vanished into the night. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • Bin Laden Threatens U.S. in New Video
    Four days before the U.S. presidential election al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has threatened new attacks on the United States. He appeared in an 18-minute video broadcast on the Arab TV network Al Jazeera claiming responsibility for the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York. Bin Laden says al-Qaeda decided to destroy New York's World Trade towers in 2001 and listed several factors that motivated the attack, including frustration over what he called America's pro-Israeli Middle East policies. White House spokesman Scott McClellan says U.S. officials believe the tape is authentic and was made recently. This is the first video of bin Laden in more than a year. (VOA News)
        See also Text of Bin Laden's Message to U.S.
    "The reasons to repeat what happened [on 9/11] remain....I swear we never thought of attacking the towers, but when we saw the injustice and arbitrariness of the U.S.-Israeli alliance against our brethren in Palestine and Lebanon, it became too much and the idea came to me."  (AFP/Times of India)
  • Iraq Prime Minister Allawi Identifies Nationalities of Foreign Insurgents in Iraq
    Iraq's interim prime minister said Sunday that efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict in Fallujah have entered their final phase and warned that "our patience is running thin," vowing to clear the city of militants who have carried out some of the bloodiest attacks in Iraq. Ayad Allawi's strong comments signaled that the start may be near for a major assault on Fallujah that U.S. forces have been preparing. Allawi also said authorities have arrested 167 Arab foreign fighters, who are in Iraq's custody. Most came from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan. He said Iraqi officials are preparing lists of people living in other Arab nations that are wanted for financing and committing terrorism. "We will ask the (Arab) authorities to hand them to us," he said. U.S. commanders have estimated that up to 5,000 Islamic militants, Saddam Hussein loyalists, and common criminals are holed up in the insurgent bastion. (WCBS-TV)
        See also Iraqi Rebels in Syria Fire on American Forces in Iraq
    The border between Syria and Iraq has become a war zone, as Iraqi rebels fire from positions inside Syria on American forces in Iraq. While Syria recognizes the risk entailed in such activities, it has not put an end to the violence because the rebels have wide support within Syria. (Al-Hayat-London, 27Oct04/MEMRI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Mortar Wounds Israeli in Gaza Strip Synagogue - Amos Harel and Nir Hasson
    An Israeli was seriously injured at morning prayer Sunday when Palestinian mortars struck a synagogue at Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip. In all, 17 shells were fired at Jewish towns on Saturday night and Sunday morning, Army Radio reported. (Ha'aretz)
  • Arafat's Condition Serious
    Senior Palestinian Authority sources said Saturday that Arafat had lost some of his mental capacities and that he cannot function. Some sources voiced doubts that he will be capable of resuming his position as PA leader, even if his health recovers to some extent. (Ha'aretz)
        See also "He Won't Be the Same Arafat"
    Arafat aide Imad Shakur told Israel Army Radio Monday that Arafat has suffered irreparable damage. "Even if he returns, and I hope he returns, he won't be the same Arafat - not for us, not for Israel." Israeli intelligence sources doubt Arafat will recover. (Maariv NRG-Hebrew)
        See also Arafat Rejects Power Transfer - Ze'ev Schiff
    The blood transfusion Arafat received after leaving Ramallah made him feel better and his condition improved. Abu Mazen and Abu Ala visited Arafat and requested he transfer authority to them temporarily. A completely alert Arafat understood their demands, but responded that there was no need for such a significant change. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Arafat is Still in the Picture - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Sees Itself as Substitute for PA - Zvi Bar'el
    Hamas had long awaited this situation. If Arafat, whether alive or dead, is gone from the leadership, Hamas will share the status of anyone with pretensions to rule, whether he be named Abu Mazen, Fatah, or the PLO itself. When Hamas talks about a unified leadership, it means its own representation may even exceed that of Fatah. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Scale Down Anti-Terror Offensive - Amir Rapoport and Eliel Shahar
    Israel will scale down the offensive against Palestinian terror groups in order not to interfere with the inner Palestinian processes currently taking place in the PA in light of Arafat's illness, a senior Israeli official said Saturday night. The Israeli defense establishment believes that Arafat was the one who prevented the termination of the violent struggle against Israel. (Maariv International)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arafat's Illness - Editorial
    Arafat's journey to France was possible only because the Israeli government must, unlike Arafat, consider the opinions of the world and the best interests of its citizens. France's government has so far ignored the justified demands from some European terrorism victims that Arafat be subjected to questioning about his violent history and his links to decades of death and disruption in Western Europe. International politics, France's own delicate diplomatic situation, and the constraints of modern civility may prevent French authorities from interfering much with Arafat's treatment by allowing its chief terrorism judge to question him. Those are constraints, by the way, that Arafat and his allies have rarely considered. It's a pity that such considerations, and Arafat's fragile health, leave few options about how the Palestinian leader can be dealt with now. After all, few people have done so much to create danger and death in the world - and so little to atone for it. (Oregonian)
  • Arafat Long Ago Lost Status in Ramallah - Evan Osnos
    Four years ago, the walls of Ramallah's main mosque were plastered with posters of Arafat. Today, not a single Arafat sign is visible on the mosque or anywhere else in central Ramallah. Instead, the walls of the city are emblazoned with the faces of slain or imprisoned leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Osama's October Surprise - James S. Robbins
    One nugget is bin Laden's claim that U.S. support for the Israeli intervention in Lebanon in 1982 was what sent him over the edge, but this conflicts with his previous statements; he typically cited the U.S. deployment into Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield as the watershed event. (National Review)
       See also The Rantings of a Fugitive - Editorial
    The tape confirms a great deal we already knew about al-Qaeda's leader. It reveals him once again as deranged, evil, and deeply opportunistic. Bin Laden claims he cannot be an enemy of freedom, because only freedom-loving men would bring down skyscrapers filled with innocent civilians. And he appears to seriously believe we will accept his "painful feelings" from Israel's invasion of Lebanon 22 years ago as an excuse for this infamy. In fact, since September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda has been responsible for attacks in at least a dozen countries, costing a further 1,000 lives. (The Australian)
  • Observations:

    Mideast Contemplates Arafat Exit - Joel Greenberg (Chicago Tribune)

    • The long-term incapacitation or death of Arafat raises fears of division and chaos in the Palestinian territories, but it also offers the possibility of renewed peace efforts with a new Palestinian leadership and a more productive dynamic in the Palestinians' relations with Israel and the U.S.
    • "I believe that this will make it possible for a different Palestinian leadership to grow up free from the dark shadow of Yasser Arafat, who prevents any possibility of dialogue," Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio."
    • Some believe Arafat's Fatah movement would lose ground to more militant factions. The radical Hamas and Islamic Jihad, responsible for the bloodiest suicide bombings against Israelis, could increase their power, especially in the Gaza Strip.
    • "It is not at all clear that when he goes, so will Arafat-ism," said Mark Heller of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. "You have to ask why Arafat has been able to maintain his position if it does not represent some critical mass of Palestinian political thinking and culture."
    • Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian pollster and analyst, said he expected more of the problems that have plagued Arafat's style of government. "There will be a deepening of the paralysis, a deepening of the stagnation with no sense of direction," Shikaki said. "Just because Arafat is gone doesn't mean that all the problems of the old guard, the lack of capacity and dysfunction, will just disappear."

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