Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 2, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Syrian Mosques Sending Fighters to Iraq - Jack Fairweather (Telegraph-UK)
    A network of Syrian mosques is sending several hundred men, money, and weapons to Iraq each month, despite Damascus government claims that it is curbing cross-border terrorism.
    Much of the traffic is financed by former members of Saddam Hussein's regime living in the Syrian capital and has the backing of prominent tribal leaders.

    See also Pressure Works - David Frum (National Review)
    Is Syria the next Libya? Immediately after 9/11, the Syrian regime stepped forward to offer various kinds of cooperation.
    The U.S. responded by reassuring Syria that they were not going to be a target of U.S. action in the region - after which the cooperation gradually dribbled away.
    By 2003, Syria was acting as an ally of Saddam's - and a safe area for the post-Saddam insurgency.
    Pressure works on a government like Syria's. Let's have more of it please.

FBI Subpoenas AIPAC Officials, Searches Office - Curt Anderson (AP/Washington Post)
    FBI agents searched files and served subpoenas Wednesday at the offices of AIPAC, the major pro-Israel lobbying organization, as part of an investigation into whether Israel improperly obtained classified U.S. information on Iran from Defense Department analyst Larry Franklin.
    The organization said it is cooperating "in order to get these false and baseless allegations put to rest fully and swiftly."

French Try Once Again to Ban Hizballah TV (Reuters)
    France's broadcasting authority (CSA) called for a ban on television broadcasts to Europe by Lebanon's Hizballah terror group Tuesday.
    The CSA said it would ask a court to ban al-Manar TV for breaking its pledge not to incite hatred among religions.

Sharon Seeks New Coalition - Zvi Zrahiya and Mazal Mualem (Ha'aretz)
    After the 2005 budget failed to pass in the Knesset Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharon fired five cabinet ministers from the Shinui party for voting against it, leaving the government coalition with only 40 MKs out of 120.
    Sharon plans to begin negotiations with other parties in order to form a new coalition.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Decides to Focus on Palestinian Reform - Eli Lake
    After the death of Arafat, the Bush administration intends to press the next Palestinian leader to make key structural changes to insure the rule of law, effective counterterrorism, and transparency before reviving final-status negotiations with Israel. On Monday, the president's nominee for secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, promised that America would not send a new envoy or endorse a peace conference after the January 9 Palestinian elections. Last week, the national security council's senior adviser on the Middle East, Elliott Abrams, met with European ambassadors at the White House where he stressed the president's statement that an eventual final settlement would have to acknowledge Israel's claim to the territory on the West Bank that hosts the majority of settlements.
        An administration official familiar with the president's policy said Tuesday, "There will not be a round of shuttle diplomacy and there will not be efforts to push final status issues. But there will be increased diplomatic efforts to help the Palestinians succeed in their reforms and help Prime Minister Sharon succeed in the Gaza disengagement." (New York Sun)
  • Iran Trying to Foil Peace Prospects, Israeli Envoy Charges
    Iran is increasing support for anti-Israel terrorists to jeopardize chances for successful Palestinian elections and a resumption of the peace process after the death of Arafat, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Ayalon charged Tuesday. Ayalon said Iran has increased funding for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, providing 70% of its budget. "The Iranians have played an extraordinarily negative role throughout" the 4-year-old Palestinian uprising, said Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who heads the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. (USA Today)
  • Ottawa Assails Israel's UN Foes
    Canada's Ambassador Allan Rock on Tuesday delivered a scathing denunciation of the General Assembly's resolutions isolating and attacking Israel, confirming a shift in Canada's approach to the Middle East. "References to Israeli security needs are often overlooked in the General Assembly. Repeatedly emphasizing Israel's responsibility under international law obscures equally important responsibilities of other parties to the conflict," Rock said. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Barghouti to Run for PA Chairman - Arnon Regular
    Marwan Barghouti Wednesday filed the necessary papers to run as an independent candidate in the January 9 election for PA chairman, throwing Palestinian politics into disarray. Barghouti is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail. In addition, Hamas announced it would not take part in the elections.
        Senior Fatah officials expressed concern about Barghouti's candidacy. "We will do all we can in the coming days to convince Marwan to remove his candidacy to avoid a split in Fatah," Barghouti associate Hatem Abdel Kader said Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • New Security Arrangements on Israel-Egypt Border - Aluf Benn and Yoav Stern
    Israel has consented to the deployment, beginning in January, of 750 "high-quality" Egyptian troops on the western side of the border between Gaza and Sinai. In talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Jerusalem Wednesday, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz presented Suleiman with data showing that smuggling had increased since his previous visit to Israel, when he had promised to rein it in. Suleiman said in response that "replacing the policemen with quality soldiers will alter the picture." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: Syria's Assad is No Sadat - Herb Keinon and Nina Gilbert
    Were the Syrian president to declare he wants to come to Jerusalem tomorrow, "we would say to Assad, 'By all means you are most welcome, but you have to start to move Hizballah away from our border,'" a senior diplomatic official said Wednesday. When Egyptian President Sadat made his dramatic visit to Israel in 1977, "all hostilities between Israel and Egypt ceased, all incitement stopped," he added.
        The official's comments came in the wake of reports claiming that Assad signaled he was interested in making a Sadat-like trip to Jerusalem. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said the Syrians know how to contact Israel if they are genuinely serious about opening up a dialogue. "They don't call us, they call the media, which makes me believe that this is all designed to get the U.S. off their back," said one official. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Mofaz Blasts Syria on Terror - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Promoting a Ceasefire on the Palestinian-Israeli Front - Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog
    In Israeli eyes, a ceasefire should be no more than a relatively short corridor leading the PA towards fighting terrorism and dismantling the terror infrastructure. Combating terror is perceived as both a practical necessity and an essential litmus test as regards the prospects of future peace. For its part, the new Palestinian leadership will probably argue that they are not strong and popular enough to undertake a comprehensive battle against terror so soon after assuming power. In reality, the PA does have enough armed elements to successfully confront the terror groups, certainly in Gaza, but does not command enough popular support, and hence political will, for such a move.
        The U.S. should monitor the fulfillment of a Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire based on its intelligence capabilities. In so doing, it should encourage the development of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian security exchanges rather than revert to a trilateral (Israeli-Palestinian-U.S.) security framework that has proven problematic in the past since it made it easier for the parties to project their problems on the third party rather than try to solve them bilaterally. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Islamization of Europe? - David Pryce-Jones
    In the opinion of Bassam Tibi, an academic of Syrian origins who lives in Germany, Europeans are facing a stark alternative: "Either Islam gets Europeanized, or Europe gets Islamized." Institutions that have been affected by Islamophile correctness run the gamut. In Britain, a judge has agreed to prohibit Hindus and Jews from sitting on a jury in the trial of a Muslim. A British bank boasts that it will comply with shari'a prohibitions on the uses of money.
        Or consider the European reception of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the religious authority of the Muslim Brotherhood who is wanted on charges of terrorism in his native Egypt. Like Tariq Ramadan in Switzerland, he emphasizes that Muslims must keep apart from liberal democracy as it is practiced in the West while also availing themselves of its benefits and advantages. But unlike Ramadan, he approves of wife-beating in the forms sanctioned by the Qur'an; as for homosexuals, he is agnostic on whether they should be thrown off a high cliff or flogged to death. Yet this year, in an official ceremony at London's City Hall, al-Qaradawi was welcomed as "an Islamic scholar held in great respect" by the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, an enthusiastic supporter of gay pride. (Commentary)
  • Observations:

    Disengagement's Architect - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

    Brig.-Gen. Eival Gilady, until recently the head of the IDF's Strategic Planning Division, two years ago initiated what Ariel Sharon came to adopt as his disengagement plan.

    • According to Gilady, the assessment that the prospect of peace and economic improvement for the Palestinians would reduce the motivation for terrorism proved false. The logic behind the concept of separation is the reverse of the Oslo mind-set. Rather than peace bringing security, it aims for security to ultimately yield peace.
    • "The whole vision of the security fence and disengagement is based on the premise that no final-status agreement is feasible," at least not in the foreseeable future. For now, "we'll separate."
    • Gilady spent long hours negotiating with some of the younger Palestinian leaders and believes they have a different mind-set from that of Arafat. He named Kadoura Fares, Hassan Asfur, Muhammad Dahlan, and Jibril Rajoub. "Some say [Marwan] Barghouti," he added. "I say no."
    • Gilady was adamant that Arafat's malevolent positions, rather than any Israeli failures, doomed the efforts by Abu Mazen last year to begin a process of reform. He said that Abu Mazen has learned "that support from the U.S. and Israel is not enough. He needs domestic support."
    • Abu Mazen and those around him "underestimated their ability to act last time....The armed groups are waiting to see how they are going to act. If those groups see that it's business as usual, they'll be emboldened." Gilady recalled that, last year, Abu Mazen expended 100% of his efforts trying to negotiate with Hamas and the other terror groups, and 0% trying to thwart the terrorism.
    • With Arafat gone, Gilady indicated that the disengagement plan would be carried out with greater coordination with the PA. But "there won't be direct talks - negotiation - on the terms of the pullout....There's some indirect and some direct coordination already. There's high-level coordination and there's coordination in the field."
        For an alternative view, see Talking Our Way to Peace - James A. Baker III (New York Times)

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