Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 16, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Follow the Money - Edward S. Walker, Jr. (Boston Globe)
    In the mid-1980s Arafat was estimated to control some $7 billion in numerous secret bank accounts and in widespread commercial investments.
    By 2003 the estimate had been lowered to about $1.3 billion - funds that could feed the Palestinian population for over a year with a considerable amount left over for social welfare projects.
    It is not unreasonable to conclude that up until his death, Arafat continued to hold well in excess of a billion dollars - and perhaps even more - that had been donated for the good of the Palestinian people and that he had diverted to his personal accounts to cement his authority.
    This is the money that helped finance the Al Aqsa Martyrs organization and its terrorist activities.
    According to Palestinians who sat in on decisive meetings with Arafat, it was Arafat's design and money that triggered and sustained the intifada after the Camp David failure, not the visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount.
    It is imperative for the U.S., working with responsible Palestinians, to trace this money, identify it, freeze it, and safeguard it for the Palestinian people.
    The writer is president of the Middle East Institute, former assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, and former ambassador to Israel and Egypt.

Iraq Illicitly Earned $21.3 Billion from UN Oil-For-Food Program - Judith Miller (New York Times)
    The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found that Saddam Hussein's government made at least $21.3 billion illicitly from the UN oil-for-food program during 13 years of international sanctions - more than double previous estimates.

Report: Dutch Muslim Extremists Planned to Murder Deputies (AFP/ChannelNewsAsia-Singapore)
    Two suspected Islamic extremists arrested this week are suspected of plotting to assassinate two Dutch lawmakers known for their critical stance towards Islam, the Dutch press reported.
    One of the deputies targeted was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a lawmaker of Somali origin who co-wrote a film about the place of women in Islam along with Theo van Gogh, the outspoken filmmaker who was murdered by a Muslim radical on November 2, the NRC Handelsblad reported.
    See also Submission (IFILM)
    View the film by the late Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh (new link)

    See also Mini Clash of Civilizations - Arnaud de Borchgrave (Washington Times)
    Dutch tolerance, pragmatism, and guilt about the country's colonial past allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Muslim Indonesia to flood into tiny Holland, which today hosts 1 million Muslims (6% of the population).
    Some 30,000 new Muslims arrive every year. They tend to live among themselves and their imams speak no Dutch.
    Western Europe as a whole gets about half a million new Muslims a year. Thus, Europe's Muslim population has doubled to 20 million in the last 10 years.
    Hundreds of thousands of young Muslims in Europe are potential jihadis, according to European intelligence chiefs.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Powell Resigns; Rice to Replace Him
    Secretary of State Colin Powell announced his resignation on Monday, and administration officials said his successor would be national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Administration officials said Rice would probably be succeeded by her deputy, Stephen Hadley. (New York Times)
        See also Powell to Visit West Bank Next Week
    Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to visit the West Bank for talks next week to capitalize on new peace opportunities after Arafat. (Reuters)
  • Powell, Israel's Shalom Consult on Aiding Palestinian Election
    Secretary of State Colin Powell and Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met in Washington on Monday. Shalom said Israel hopes that a more responsible and moderate Palestinian leadership will emerge from the election to replace Arafat on January 9, 2004. He said Israel will facilitate the election by allowing Palestinians freedom of movement to the extent that Israel's security is not compromised. He said he expected that elections would not be held in eastern Jerusalem but the Palestinians living there might be allowed to cast ballots by mail, as they did in the Palestinian elections of 1996. (State Department)
  • Europeans Say Iran Agrees to Freeze Uranium Enrichment
    Javier Solana, the EU's senior foreign affairs official, said the deal could open the way for "a solid, long-term agreement" with Iran if there could be "lasting confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program." Administration officials, most notably John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, were highly skeptical that Iran would carry out the accord without cheating. Officials were also said to be concerned that by itself the deal might lead to complacency that the problem of Iran's suspected nuclear arms program was being addressed. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Two Rockets Fired at Israel from Lebanon - Jack Khoury, Amos Harel, and Eli Ashkenazi
    Two katyusha rockets were fired toward Israel from inside Lebanon Monday, one landing in the sea and the other in the Israeli town of Shlomi, without causing any damage, Lebanese security sources said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel: Lebanon Responsible for Attacks from its Territory - David Rudge
    Security officials said the katyusha attack was likely carried out by Palestinians. A senior commander in the Northern Command told Army Radio on Tuesday that Israel views Lebanon as "having sole responsibility" for the firing of the rockets. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Action in Territories Down to a "Minimum" - Herb Keinon
    The IDF has reduced its activities in the territories to a minimum and is limiting its actions to thwarting "ticking bombs" since Arafat flew to France on October 29, a senior government source said Monday. The reduction in military action is one of the gestures the government has quietly taken over the last few weeks to try to help the emerging PA leadership, the official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Fears Extremists Backed by Iran May Try to Kill Abbas - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    The defense establishment is worried that extremist Palestinians under Iranian influence might try to assassinate Mahmoud Abbas in the near future. The chances will increase the closer the new Palestinian leadership comes to an agreement to end the terror and resume diplomatic negotiations with Israel, an official said. Iran, Syria, and Hizballah are vehemently opposed to even a temporary Palestinian reconciliation with Israel, and are pressing terrorist organizations in the territories to step up attacks. (Ha'aretz)
  • One-Candidate Democracy? - Aluf Benn
    The U.S. views democracy as an essential condition for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and it pledged to help hold elections in the territories which are meant to legitimize Mahmoud Abbas as Arafat's heir. Israel expects Abbas to be the only candidate. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Fatah Members Angered at Abbas Candidacy - Lamia Lahoud
    Many members of Fatah are angered at the news that the Fatah Central Committee is likely to nominate Mahmoud Abbas as its candidate for the planned PA general elections, according to a source close to Palestinian Prime Minister Qurei. "In Fatah, they know that Arafat never forgave Abbas; now Abbas wants to take Arafat's place, and many don't like it," a PA source said. "There seems to be a consensus in the Central Committee of Fatah to nominate Abu Mazen (Abbas) as Arafat's successor. It is unlikely that anyone would run against him," said Bassam Abu Sharif, an advisor to Arafat. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Concern for Israel's Security Unites American Jewish Community - Nathan Guttman
    As the opening events at the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities demonstrated, a complete consensus exists on one issue - unqualified support for Israel. Despite a variety of opinions on Israel's political path, concern for Israel's security unites the entire community. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arafat's Troubled Legacy - David Makovsky
    For the world, Arafat's success is about what he gained, territorially and economically. But for Arafat, success was about what he did not give away so as not to be accused by Arab history of undue compromise. He preferred the politics of grievance over the politics of governance. His strategic refusal to equate peace with reconciliation gutted any hopes that a deal between governments could be transformed into a more meaningful - and lasting - peace between peoples. This failure was critical, for arguments over the permanence and legitimacy of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East remain at the very heart of the Arab-Israel conflict. The writer is senior fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Chicago Tribune)
        See also A Window of Opportunity - David Makovsky
    President Bush's decision in 2002 to make clear that Arafat was beyond American diplomatic engagement since he was incorrigible in support for terrorism was the correct decision. The U.S. challenge is to support Abbas without giving him a made-in-America "bear hug." (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Window for War - Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
    President Bush has qualified his readiness to endorse a Palestinian state on the premise that such an entity will be democratic and willing to live in peace with its neighbors. Yet the Palestinian Arab community has been subjected for three generations to the most coercive and hateful mass indoctrination known outside of North Korea. While there are surely Palestinians willing to live side-by-side in peace with Israel, they know that to say so publicly is to invite swift retaliation, if not summary execution as a collaborator with the Jewish state.
        In the absence of genuine democratic institution-building and socialization in the practice of representative government that is respectful of minority rights, the Palestinian elections will amount to little more than one-man, one-vote, one-time. The writer is president of the Center for Security Policy. (Washington Times)
  • Now the Legacy - Ehud Ya'ari
    Arafat's legacy is a mixture of the chaos he encouraged, the commitment to continuing the struggle, and the rejection of a settlement, while shrinking the PA to proportions that just about allowed it to exist alongside armed and independent terror organizations. It may yet end up that Arafat's legacy is even stronger than Arafat in the flesh, and that Arafat's memory will be enshrined in the monument of an ongoing intifada. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Shootout in Gaza - Editorial
    Gaza needs to be opened up to the legitimate Palestinian Authority, and that requires disarming of the various armed groups that act as mini-states where violence and racketeering are twins. According to most estimates, there are more than a million weapons in Gaza for a population of 1.8 million. A full disarmament, therefore, may not be achievable in the immediate future. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Observations:

    Palestinian Reality Dims Prospects of Peace - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • The moderates (Abbas, Qurei, Dahlan) are the weakest faction among the Palestinian nationalists. A pragmatic point of view is unpopular among activists who have been indoctrinated to glorify violence, hate Israel, and define moderation as treason. They also face the movement's dominant ideology, which still hinges on Israel's destruction, and the men with guns.
    • The moderates have no charismatic leader, are heretics to the Islamists, and will be seen as puppets of Israel and America. Consequently, they are likely to survive by not doing much. The moderates know it is in the Palestinians' interest to end terrorism against Israel - but attempts to prevent Hamas or their Fatah attacks will be laughed at, ignored, or bring violent retaliation.
    • Veteran Fatah hard-liners led by Farouk Kadoumi see no reason to change their view that the only acceptable outcome is a Palestinian state in place of Israel. They will allow no compromise solution and they have a big majority in Fatah. Fatah will maintain a veto over all policies, blocking any real progress toward a peace agreement.
    • Best-known among the young Fatah hard-liners is Marwan Barghouti - the main architect of the post-2000 intifada - currently serving multiple life sentences for terrorist activities. The young hard-liners believe there is no need for political compromise because they will drive Israel out of the territories, and they are ready to fight on for decades.

      The writer is director of the Global Research in International Relations (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) journal.

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