Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 11, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Accuses Israel of Killing Arafat (Ha'aretz)
    In Beirut, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal told Al Jazeera television, "I hold Israel responsible for the crime of the death of Arafat....All reports by doctors in the last two weeks indicate he was poisoned."
    On Tuesday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath told reporters that the doctors' diagnosis "rules out poisoning totally."

    See also Jihadis Accuse Israel of Arafat's Death (UPI/Washington Times)
    Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al Batesh said Thursday that Arafat's illness did not result from natural causes, and that "Sharon had a hand in killing Arafat."

Protest Tags Abbas, Dahlan as Traitors - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Some 100 Fatah activists demonstrated outside Arafat's compound in Ramallah on Wednesday, chanting slogans against PLO Secretary-General Mahmoud Abbas and former security minister Muhammad Dahlan, condemning them as U.S. "agents."
    "Dahlan, hey, hey, you are an agent of the CIA," the protesters shouted.
    One of the demonstration's leaders, Fadi, said the protest was aimed at sending a message to Abbas and Dahlan that the Palestinians won't allow them to succeed Arafat.
    Fatah leaflets distributed in the West Bank called on Palestinians to "liquidate all those involved in the plot to poison Arafat, who are most likely Israeli and American agents."

PLO's Kaddoumi Challenges PA Leadership - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO's political department, challenged the emerging Palestinian leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei on Wednesday.
    "Anyone who thinks that I have abdicated my authority is mistaken," said Kaddoumi, one of the founders of Fatah, who is known to have many supporters both on Fatah's Central Committee and among Fatah activists in the territories.
    Kaddoumi, who did not return to the territories in 1993 because he opposed the Oslo Accords, said he thought Fatah, the main PLO faction, should wage guerrilla warfare against Israel.

Iran Able to Churn Out Medium-Range Missiles (Reuters)
    "We have the capability to mass-produce Shihab-3 missiles," Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said Tuesday.
    The Shihab-3 is capable of hitting Israel or U.S. bases in the Gulf.

Useful Reference:

Arafat's Dark Legacy (
    An online video

Yasser Arafat, 1929-2004 (
    A biography, with links to important sources


Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat Israel HighWay

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Arafat Pronounced Dead in Paris
    Yasser Arafat, 75, died Thursday in Paris. The doctors treating him in France never said publicly what caused the illness that led to his death. His body will be flown to Cairo for a state funeral on Friday, and then will be buried at his headquarters compound in Ramallah. (Washington Post)
        See also Experts: Doctors Won't Reveal Arafat's Illness
    Zoning in on a diagnosis for Arafat should be a fairly straightforward task, medical experts say. Tests can diagnose the majority of diseases within 48 hours. Since no diagnosis has been revealed, the most likely explanation, experts say, is that doctors know what's wrong but aren't being allowed to disclose it. (AP/MSNBC)
  • Bush: Arafat's Death a Significant Moment in Palestinian History
    President George Bush said: "The death of Yasser Arafat is a significant moment in Palestinian history. We express our condolences to the Palestinian people." (White House)
        See also Blair: Arafat Led His People to Accept a Two-State Solution
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that Arafat "led his people to an historic acceptance of the need for a two-state solution." (Guardian-UK)
        See also Annan: Arafat Symbolized the National Aspirations of the Palestinian People (BBC)
        See also Australian PM: History Will Judge Arafat Harshly
    Australian Prime Minister John Howard said many people regard Arafat as a terrorist and it is hard to believe that he could not have done more to restrain militant Palestinian groups. "I think history will judge him very harshly." (ABC-Australia)
  • U.S. Sees No Dramatic Change After Arafat's Death
    U.S. officials hope Arafat's death will offer a new chance for Middle East peace but said it depends on who replaces him, how much power they wield, and whether they have the legitimacy to strike a deal. U.S. officials played down the idea of any quick, dramatic change in their policy with the demise of the Palestinian leader whom the Bush administration viewed as a corrupt, untrustworthy failure and an obstacle to peace. "No matter how creative or how bold you want to be, as long as there continue to be suicide bombers blowing up buses in Israeli cities there's a limit to what can be accomplished,'' said one official. (Reuters/New York Times)
        See also U.S. Seeks Election After Arafat's Death
    The Bush administration has conveyed its strong support for elections within 60 days of Arafat's death as a way of ensuring a legitimate transfer of authority to new Palestinian leaders. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Palestinians Attack Settlement After Arafat Dies
    Palestinian militants angry over Arafat's death on Thursday attacked Netzarim, a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, in what they said signaled the start of a new round of clashes against Israel. The gunmen opened fire at the settlement, detonated a bomb, and attempted to fire a rocket-propelled grenade, an army spokeswoman said. Five gunmen had been hit in an exchange of fire, she said.
        Abu Qusai, a spokesman for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said it held Israel responsible for Arafat's death, adding: "The next days will witness violent clashes with the Zionists everywhere." Sporadic stone-throwing clashes took place throughout the West Bank. (Reuters)
  • 70 Insurgents Killed in Iraqi Mosque Battle
    70 foreign fighters were killed in a massive precision artillery strike on a building in a mosque complex in Falluja Tuesday. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Troops Find Hostage Slaughterhouses in Falluja
    American and Iraqi military commanders said Wednesday that troops had found houses in Fallujah that appeared to be the base of some of the hostage-takers who have terrorized foreigners and Iraqis for months with their gruesome, filmed beheadings. "They found a room they suspect was used for the executions," said one U.S. commander. "They found dried blood, banners up on the wall, a wheelchair used to restrain hostages. They found a guy who was still restrained down in a tunnel."
        Maj. Gen. Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassem Mohan, chief of the Iraqi forces in Falluja, said, "We have found hostage slaughterhouses in Falluja that were used by these people and the black clothing that they used to wear to identify themselves, hundreds of CDs, and whole records with names of hostages." Meanwhile, insurgents in Baghdad kidnapped three members of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi's extended family Tuesday, threatening to kill them within 48 hours unless the attack on Falluja ended. (Newsday)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon: No Immediate Gestures to PA - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Prime Minister Sharon believes that Israel should not rush to offer gestures to the PA, but should wait until the new leadership has proven its ability to control the territory, government sources said Wednesday. If the new leadership appears stable and begins fighting terror, they said, Sharon would be willing to return to diplomatic negotiations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: Arafat was the Obstacle to Peace - Gil Hoffman
    Arafat was the obstacle to peace, Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said Thursday. "It is one of the tragedies of the world that he didn't understand that the terror that began here would spread to the entire world," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Navy Thwarts Terror Attack by Sea
    The Israeli Navy killed a Palestinian terrorist trying to infiltrate into Israel via the sea Tuesday night. The terrorist, wearing a diving suit and diving fins, was carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, an explosive device, four hand grenades, five magazines, and a knife. (IDF)
  • Child Wounded by Mortar in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    An Israeli child was lightly wounded by shrapnel when three mortar shells fell in Gush Katif Wednesday. On Tuesday in Nisanit in northern Gaza, three members of the Damari family were treated for shock after their house was hit directly. Liron Damari said that her husband was playing with their five-month-old daughter in the living room when the mortar shell smashed into the entrance of their house. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why a Post-Arafat Palestine Will Mean More of the Same - Yossi Klein Halevi
    The new Palestinian leadership that succeeds Arafat almost certainly won't deliver on Israel's nonnegotiable demands for renewing peace talks: disarming terrorists and dismantling their operational command. True, former Palestinian prime minister Abbas has called the intifada a tactical, if not a moral, mistake. But the post-Arafat PA won't disarm Hamas and Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
        The Oslo process failed because Palestinian society denies the legitimacy of a Jewish state in any borders. Beyond controlling terrorism, the real challenge of the post-Arafat era will be nurturing a changed Palestinian debate over Israel's legitimacy. So far, aside from tactical shifts, Arafat's heirs show little sign of withdrawing from maximalist Palestinian dreams. (Jewish World Review)
  • May He Rot in Peace - Editorial
    The man who single-handedly wrecked peace prospects in the Middle East was long ago finished. With Arafat's death, the long wait for new Palestinian leadership is coming to an end. There will be no place at the table for a successor cut from the same cloth, and it will take time for a new Palestinian leadership to demonstrate that it has the strength and bona fides to merit a resumption of a peace process. Nothing would build trust better than halting the wave of terror that Arafat fomented. Arafat was just another terrorist, as well as a dictator and a thief who stole billions of dollars from his people. After decades of escaping one violent dispatch after another, Arafat's greatest achievement will simply be dying in bed. (New York Daily News)
  • Destructive Legacy - Editorial
    Arafat was a destroyer, not a builder. He was the father of modern terrorism. Arafat leaves another legacy: the first society in history to have glorified suicide-murders on a national scale, starting from grade-school children. It remains to be seen how that society - brought up on the fantasy of "return," on the notion that every Israeli city is a "settlement," and on the idea that Israel exists entirely on "stolen Palestinian land" - will inculcate a nationalism that is not based on Israel's destruction.
        It is widely alleged that Israel missed an opportunity with Arafat, since he was the only leader who could have permanently shut down the Palestinian war against Israel. The opposite is the case: it was only Arafat's charisma, status, and Herculean efforts that were able to keep the war with Israel alive. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Tired Assumptions About the Peace Process - Michael Gove (Times-UK)

    • There is a widespread sense that a new opportunity exists to provide the Palestinian people and the Israelis with fresh hope for the future. But that fresh hope is compromised by the tired assumptions with which it is accompanied.
    • The belief that America is to blame for neglecting to engage; the conviction that the President must display neutrality; the judgment that Ariel Sharon's current tactics are folly; and the idea that the peace process is the principal solution for the region's woes are almost totally wrong. These assumptions have underpinned the policies that were followed for 30 years in the Middle East, and they have been responsible for our current misery.
    • The demand that Bush "re-engage" with the Middle East peace process springs from a misplaced faith that major conflicts can be resolved if only outside figures apply themselves to brokering negotiations. The truth about peace processes is that outside brokers can achieve something only if the parties to the conflict want out. And that wasn't the case with Arafat.
    • George Bush could not remain impartial between a terrorist entity prosecuting a campaign that targeted innocents and a democracy defending itself, any more than a policeman can be even-handed between burglar and householder.
    • Arafat was not the only Arab leader to blame his people's problems on the Jews, to prefer the romance of the liberation struggle to the hard work of democratic modernization, and to line his own pockets while his citizens scrabbled for survival.
    • The root cause of violence, poverty, and division in the Middle East is not a failure to solve the peace process. The failure of the peace process stems from the continuing addiction of so many of the Arab world's leaders to fomenting violence, presiding over poverty, and indulging in the politics of division.

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