Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 15, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Report: Foreign Submarine Entered Israeli Waters (Jerusalem Post)
    An unidentified submarine from an unknown nation entered Israeli territorial waters off the coast of Nahariya last Wednesday, November 10, Army Radio reported Monday.
    Iran, Egypt, and Syria have submarines, and the incident may have been an attempt to test Israel's sea defenses.
    Israel's Navy immediately dispatched surface vessels to intercept the submarine, but it slipped out of Israeli territorial waters before the confrontation.
    The IDF reacted to the incident as a "hostile act," and helicopters and other measures were deployed.
    See also Submarine May Have Been Western - Hanan Greenberg (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    The IDF now estimates that the submarine was Western and not from a hostile country.

Al-Aksa: New "Yasser 1" Rocket Can Reach Ashkelon - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    The Aksa Martyr's Brigades in Gaza announced it has developed a new "Yasser 1" rocket capable of reaching the Israeli city of Ashkelon, Army Radio reported Sunday.

Suha Heeds Warnings to Avoid Ramallah - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Arafat's widow, Suha, was advised on Friday not to come to Ramallah for her husband's funeral for fear that she would be attacked by angry Palestinians, a Palestinian cabinet minister said on Saturday.
    Suha on Friday attended Arafat's state funeral in Cairo, but shortly before she boarded the Egyptian plane that carried the coffin from Cairo to al-Arish on its way to Ramallah, Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman reportedly told Suha that the Palestinians would not be able to guarantee her safety in Ramallah.

Inflammatory Legends - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    Many among the Palestinian public, and perhaps among its leadership as well, believe that the reason for Arafat's death was poisoning by Israeli secret agents.

Arafat's Brother Dies in Cairo (Albawaba-Jordan)
    Dr. Fathi Arafat, 71, the brother of Yasser Arafat, died on Sunday in a Cairo hospital of cancer.

Report: Al-Qaeda to Attack U.S. with Weapons of Mass Destruction - Adam Zagorin (TIME)
    A key al-Qaeda operative seized in Pakistan recently told of the group's potential plans to target the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction.
    U.S. and Mexican intelligence officials have conferred about reports from several al-Qaeda detainees indicating the potential use of Mexico as a staging area "to acquire end-stage chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear material."

General Assembly Opens in Cleveland - Nathan Guttman (Ha'aretz)
    The General Assembly (GA), the annual conference of North American Jewish communities, opened on Sunday with 2,850 delegates.
    In addition to decisions regarding the distribution of funds raised this year, another issue on the agenda will be North American immigration to Israel.

Israeli Group Trains South African Leaders (IsraAID, 13Nov04)
    The Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (NISPED) has welcomed a delegation of South African leaders for a two-week workshop on Paths to Development: The Israeli Experience.
    NISPED will spell out the special characteristics, approaches, and methods which have enabled Israel to move forward rapidly and successfully in development despite a lack of natural resources, difficult climactic conditions, and the complexities of massive immigrant absorption.


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  • Abbas Escapes Injury in Gaza Gunbattle
    Palestinian militants burst into a mourning tent set up in Gaza for Arafat on Sunday and fired shots in protest at the presence of moderate successor Mahmoud Abbas, who was unhurt in a clash in which two security men were killed. Fatah gunmen shouting "No to Abu Mazen" walked by Abbas as he stood outside the tent and began firing shots into the air. Chaos ensued as gunmen and bodyguards began shooting at each other. (Reuters/ABC News)
        See also Dozens of Fatah Gunmen Open Fire on Abu Mazen - Arnon Regular and Jack Khoury
    The group subsequently published a leaflet saying, "We warn the pretenders to the legacy of Yasser Arafat, no matter how senior they are, not to think of stopping the intifada and betraying Yasser Arafat's legacy." Abbas and Dahlan both denied it was an assassination attempt. Al Jazeera TV interrupted regular broadcasting to transmit pictures with large captions describing the incident as an assassination attempt. (Ha'aretz)
  • Bush Goal: Palestinian State by 2009
    President Bush set a goal Friday of ensuring the creation of a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state alongside Israel before he leaves office in 2009. With British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his side, Bush pledged to put the resources of the U.S. and the prestige of his presidency behind the quest. Bush did not endorse any of the specific measures that Blair proposed - including an international peace conference and the designation of a U.S. envoy to the Middle East. Blair told ABC's "Nightline" that a key part of the plan is to make sure that international donations to the PA are used "for the good of the Palestinian people" and not diverted to secret bank accounts. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Pleased with Bush's Remarks - Aluf Benn
    Senior Israeli government sources were pleased with Bush's remarks, saying they upheld the understandings between Washington and Jerusalem and underscored the disengagement plan's diplomatic achievement - preventing an imposed settlement. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Bush and the Case for Democracy - Editorial
    Bush recently had a private meeting with Natan Sharansky, once a leading Soviet dissident and now a minister in Israel's government. Sharansky has written a powerful book, The Case for Democracy, in which he argues that the democratization of the former Soviet bloc establishes the model for the Middle East. Bush had been reading the book and it showed. In his press conference with Blair, many of his answers could have been lifted directly from its pages. (Times-UK)
  • The U.S. View of Palestinian Reform
    A senior administration official explained: "Reform means that some people who have had power are going to lose some of it....Some people who have made a lot of money are going to find their opportunities to make money corruptly have disappeared. Some people who have had guns are going to have to turn in their guns." (Washington Times)
        See also Bush-Blair Joint Statement (White House); Bush, Blair Press Conference (White House)
  • Rebels Routed in Falluja
    American forces overran the last center of rebel resistance in Falluja on Sunday after a weeklong invasion that smashed what they called the principal base for the Iraqi insurgency. American commanders said 38 American servicemembers had been killed and 275 wounded in Falluja, and estimated that 1,200 to 1,600 insurgents had been killed. (New York Times)
        There was a recognition by military commanders that many leaders of the fighters in the city had fled and planned to fight another day. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Iran Vows To Freeze Nuclear Programs
    Iran agreed Sunday in a meeting in Tehran with French, German, and British ambassadors to immediately suspend its nuclear programs in exchange for European guarantees that it will not face the prospect of UN Security Council sanctions as long as their agreement holds. The European deal will require months, and possibly years, of further negotiations before Iran agrees to permanently end its nuclear work and falls far short of the strategic decision the Bush administration said Tehran needs to make to convince the world it is not a danger. Washington's push for Security Council action is unlikely to succeed as long as Iran and the Europeans continue to work together. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Foreign Minister: If PA Fights Terror, Israel Could Coordinate Disengagement - Arnon Regular
    Israel is formulating a new diplomatic policy for the post-Arafat era which may include a coordinated, rather than unilateral, disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. Speaking to the General Assembly of North American Jewish communities in Cleveland, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that if the new Palestinian leadership fights against terrorism, Israel will agree to conduct negotiations over coordinated implementation of the disengagement plan.
        Shalom warned that Israel would be strict in judging whether the PA had taken actual steps against terrorism. "The possibility of change on the Palestinian side is not enough. We need to see a change on the ground." Israel's National Security Council is preparing a program to turn the pullout plan into a process that would be coordinated with the newly emerging Palestinian leadership. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Address by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom to the 2004 United Jewish Communities General Assembly (Foreign Ministry)
  • IDF Warns of New Wave of Terror to Derail PA Moderates - Herb Keinon
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told the cabinet Sunday that Palestinian terror organizations are likely to step up attacks against Israel in an effort to keep a moderate Palestinian leadership from establishing itself. He attributed a slight decrease in the number of attacks recently to Arafat's death and the Id al-Fitr holiday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Terror Groups Vow to Escalate the "Struggle" - Margot Dudkevitch and Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other groups issued separate leaflets calling on the Palestinians to escalate the "struggle" against Israel in the post-Arafat era. "We must continue the fight in order to fulfill President Arafat's dream," read one of the leaflets. Calls for continuing the intifada were heard in rallies across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets, mourning their leader and torching tires. Top Fatah operative Hussein al-Sheikh confirmed that the Palestinians were headed toward an escalation. "We will continue to believe the gun is the way to get rid of the occupation," he said. "This is Abu Amar's promise and this is his will and we will continue to be true to them." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fatah Sources: Barghouti Will Not Run for PA Chairman - Arnon Regular
    Fatah officials believe Marwan Barghouti, a West Bank leader currently serving life imprisonment in Israel for ordering and funding terror killings, will refrain from entering the race to succeed Arafat. Sources in Fatah said over the weekend that Barghouti would not challenge the present veteran PA leadership. Abbas is almost certain to win the vote; Hamas is unlikely to field a candidate, since the chairman's position was created by the Oslo Accords, which Hamas does not recognize. Previously scheduled municipal elections will take place on December 20, but PA sources said parliamentary elections will be held only once Fatah has rehabilitated itself and feels ready to compete against opposition groups such as Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon Sees Eastern Jerusalem Arabs Voting in PA Elections - Gideon Alon and Mazal Mualem
    The government will soon hold a comprehensive debate on the participation of eastern Jerusalem's Arab residents in the upcoming PA elections, Prime Minister Sharon told the cabinet Sunday. "I don't know whether their voting can even be prevented after they already voted in the previous elections in 1996," Sharon noted, when Arab Jerusalemites voted via mail-in ballots. (Ha'aretz)
  • When Arafat's Foes Inherit - Danny Rubenstein
    The theory prevalent among Palestinians is that the incident at the mourner's tent in Gaza was a sign that broad circles in the West Bank and Gaza refuse to accept Abu Mazen as Arafat's heir. Opposition to Abu Mazen and Dahlan is rife among young Fatah members, known as the Tanzim, as well as in the military wing of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (now named for Arafat). The current impression in the territories is that Arafat's adversaries are now succeeding him, prompting angry responses. Abu Mazen is held as being prone to capitulation and compromise because he was the only senior Palestinian leader to publicly condemn "the intifada's militarism." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: Attack Proves Factions' Danger - Herb Keinon
    Discussing the shooting attack against Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza, a senior Israeli government official said Sunday, "The real problem is the renegade groups, the extremists, all vying for power, who want a piece of the action and are being directed by Hizballah and Iran....Abu Mazen [Abbas] is going to have to take them on....The copout would be if he decides to negotiate and reach an agreement with these groups. If he succumbs to them, if he starts to negotiate with them, then he is in their hands and will be unable to change anything....Any future Palestinian leader will be unable to hide from them, and sooner or later will have to prove that he has the muscle to impose law and order." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arafat's Legacy - Charles Krauthammer
    If Arafat was such a great leader, how is it that he left his people so destitute, desperate, wounded and bereft that only his passing gives them a hope for a fulfillment of their deepest aspirations? He signed interim deals to get a foothold in Palestine, but always with the objective of continuing the fight from a better strategic position, never to conclude a lasting compromise or real peace with Israel. Arafat founded Fatah in 1959 - eight years before Israel acquired the territories. His objective then, and until the day he died, was a Palestinian state built on the ruins of an eradicated Israel. Arafat didn't just reject any settlement that would leave Israel intact, thereby setting a precedent that any successor dare not violate. He also raised a new generation to ensure that rejection. (Washington Post)
  • The Arafat Voids - Thomas Friedman
    You will pardon me if I don't join in the insipid chorus about how Arafat's great achievement was the way he represented the "aspirations" for statehood of the Palestinian people and, through terrorism and resistance, put the Palestinian cause on the world map. If all you do is express the aspirations, but never produce the reality, then history will judge you very harshly. And any honest history of Yasser Arafat will judge him on his voids, not his visions. (New York Times)
        See also Arafat Without Tears - Michael Oren (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    A Democratic Palestine - Robert Satloff (Weekly Standard)

    • Traditionally, Arab states have had coups and assassinations but rarely revolutions or civil wars. When faced with the prospect of radical change that could bring down an entire ruling system, elites have more often than not found a way to produce suitable (or at least sustainable) successors. There is no example of an Arab state disintegrating when the leader, even the paramount leader, leaves the scene.
    • Arafat's collective heirs will leaven his legacy with pragmatism. While offering no political concessions that Arafat was unwilling to countenance, they are also likely to go further than Arafat toward meeting Israel's immediate security concerns.
    • Optimists believe that Arafat's passing will unleash centrifugal forces that will send Palestinians in different directions: West Bankers and Gazans asserting their own "insider" interests, refugees asserting refugees' interests, and Palestinian citizens of the two key neighboring states - Jordan and Israel - asserting their own interests apart from the larger nationalist cause.
    • A possible negative side effect of this process is that the assertion of a post-Arafat Palestinian identity within Jordan and Israel may very well complicate politics in those countries. Along with that, the Palestinian cause in general will lose some international visibility, though it may eventually gain more in terms of legitimacy without Arafat as its symbol.
    • According to a more pessimistic scenario, Arafat's failure will leave secular nationalism leaderless and deflated. After an interregnum, the vacuum could be filled by the Islamist alternative, which appears more responsive to popular needs and unburdened with the failed strategies of the past.
    • With Palestinian politics inwardly focused in the immediate aftermath of Arafat's death, promoting an early resumption of high-level Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy is the wrong approach.

      The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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