Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 3, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas: Any Cease-Fire Would be Temporary (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas's political leader Khaled Mashal said Wednesday that any calm could be considered temporary, and the resistance against occupation would continue, Army Radio reported Thursday.

Abbas to Visit Iran - Wafa Amr (Reuters)
    Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has accepted an invitation to pay an official visit to Iran, Palestinian officials said Wednesday.

Jordan Offers Troops to Patrol Northern Samaria After Disengagement - Ben Caspit (Maariv-Hebrew)
    The Jordanians have offered to send the "Badr" brigade to northern Samaria to maintain order after the disengagement.
    Abu Mazen is said to have approved the plan to deploy the brigade, comprised of 1,000 Jordanian soldiers of Palestinian origin.

Palestinian Woman Caught Smuggling Bullets - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Soldiers deployed at the Tufah workers crossing in southern Gaza foiled an attempt by a Palestinian woman to smuggle in 100 bullets hidden in a crate of apples.

Israel Finds a Defender in Denmark - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    During an appearance at the University of Aarhus, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, "Israel is surrounded by enemies that want to throw it into the sea, and we should recognize that it has a special history. Israel must use somewhat tough measures to defend itself."
    Rasmussen, head of a center-right coalition in Denmark that is pro-American, faces re-election on February 8, with polls showing he is comfortably leading the race. Yet the Muslim community in Denmark is mobilizing to unseat him.
    There are an estimated 170,000 Muslims and 6,500 Jews in Denmark out of a population of 5.4 million.

Useful Reference:

"Democracy is the Essence of Heresy" - Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi (MEMRI)
    In a taped speech from January 23, al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq raised seven arguments for why democracy equals heresy.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Proposes Aid for Palestinians, Warns Syria
    In his State of the Union address, President Bush said: In her upcoming trip to the Middle East, Secretary of State Rice will discuss "how we and our friends can help the Palestinian people end terror and build the institutions of a peaceful, independent democratic state. To promote this democracy, I will ask Congress for $350 million to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms. The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace, is within reach - and America will help them achieve that goal."
        "To promote peace in the broader Middle East, we must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and pursue weapons of mass murder. Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region....We expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom." (New York Times)
  • Sharon and Abbas to Meet Tuesday in Egypt - Steven Erlanger
    Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Chairman Abbas were scheduled to meet Tuesday in Jerusalem, but President Mubarak of Egypt invited them to Sharm el Sheik instead. Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan will also attend the meeting. (New York Times)
        See also A Bid to Create Momentum - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon
    "Mubarak is trying to create regional momentum for the process," one senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said. "He wants to show everyone that there are not only those opposed to the process, like Hizballah and Iran, but also those who support it." The official said that Israel agreed to hold the meeting in Egypt as a show of appreciation to Mubarak for playing an active role in encouraging Abbas to deploy forces in Gaza and calm down the situation. Israel also wants to see Egypt actively involved in patrolling its border with Gaza and preventing the smuggling of terrorists and arms. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Says It Will Never Scrap Nuke Program - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iran will never scrap its nuclear program, and talks with Europeans are intended to protect the country's nuclear achievements, not negotiate an end to them, Ali Agha Mohammadi, spokesman of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Wednesday. A summary of the negotiations leaked last week showed Europe had made little progress in convincing Iran to make permanent its temporary suspension of uranium enrichment activities. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • Palestinian Fugitives Ready for Amnesty - Ali Daraghmeh
    Under an emerging deal, Israel would grant conditional amnesty to fugitives in areas handed back to Palestinian security control. Abu Rob, cradling an M-16 with a Yasser Arafat sticker on the rifle's butt, shows no regret for killing three Israelis and two alleged Palestinian informers in the past four years, and hopes to run in Palestinian parliamentary elections in July. "Now there is a chance for all of us to rest and consider our choices," said Kamel Ghanem, in hiding in Ramallah.
        "We are not talking about pardoning," senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad told Army Radio Wednesday. "If they return to terror and if the attacks and the murders continue, then in the end we will return to a different type of vigorous activity." (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Fire Mortars at Gush Katif
    Palestinians fired two mortar shells at settlements in Gush Katif on Wednesday. There were no injuries or damage. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF to PA: Halt Mortar Fire - Hanan Greenberg and Roni Sofer
    Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, commander of IDF forces in Gaza, on Wednesday told Mousa Arafat, responsible for Palestinian security forces in Gaza: "I call on you and the Palestinian security organizations to act against mortar fire from the places you have deployed." A total of 15 mortars were fired by Palestinians this week against targets in Gush Katif. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • German President Addresses Knesset in Hebrew and German - Nina Gilbert
    German President Horst Koehler, addressing the Knesset on Wednesday to mark the 40th anniversary of ties between Israel and Germany, stunned the parliament when he began his speech in Hebrew. "Germany will always stand by Israel and its people," he said in a gentle voice that shook when he spoke about the victims of the Holocaust. He said Germany would ensure that Israel can "live within internationally recognized borders, free of fear and terror." The German president noted there could never be "normality" in ties between the two countries.
        MK Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor, noted that while Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf was written in German, it was also the language of Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, and his work Der Judenstat (The Jewish State). "A language is not to blame, but those who misuse it," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Reformists, Ever Bolder, Take on Mubarak - Orly Halpern
    In a spontaneous show of support, more than a thousand Egyptians calling for change showed up Wednesday at an ad-hoc rally calling for the release of Al-Ghad party leader Ayman Nur, arrested Sunday for allegedly forging nearly 2,000 signatures to secure a license for his political party. Al-Ghad spokesman Walid Riyad said Nur was arrested because "his aim is to change the system of government, so a president can only serve for two terms and no more." "There are still serious problems in accepting the existence of opposition parties," said former U.S. ambassador to Egypt Edward Walker. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How Arab Newspapers Spun the Iraqi Election - Joseph Braude
    How do you spin democratic elections in Iraq when your boss is an authoritarian ruler with a restive population? Libyan and Sudanese papers pretended the elections never happened. In Tunis, Al Sabah led with the headline, "Bloody Election Day." Syria's establishment daily Teshreen emphasized Sunni disenfranchisement. The press in Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia played up the threat of Iranian regional dominance posed by a Shia victory in Iraq's elections. In the Gulf, the little oil-rich monarchies staunchly aligned with the U.S. for the most part hailed the Iraqi elections as an historic first step on the long road to real democracy - a road they all claim to be traversing themselves. (New Republic)
        See also Bush Vision of Iraq at Odds with Arab Allies - Dan Murphy and Nicholas Blanford
    Salah al-Din Hafez, a columnist for Egypt's government-owned Al-Ahram daily, wrote on Monday that "whatever the final outcome of the elections...they lack legitimacy and credibility. First, because the elections took place under the supervision, control, and protection of a foreign occupation force, and second, because the majority of Sunnis boycotted the elections." Without the Sunnis, "the fate of Iraq cannot be decided nor can there be any talk of a legitimate government or a meaningful constitution," he wrote. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Evaluating Muslim-Jewish Relations in Britain - Ben Cohen
    The key issue which divides the British Jewish and Muslim communities is the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Jews are confronted with a rigid Islamist standpoint which concedes no legitimacy to the State of Israel and which justifies terrorist violence against Jews in the name of Palestine, regardless of whether the victims carry Israeli passports.
        The separation of the secular and religious domains is a prerequisite for both successful Muslim participation in the institutions of Europe and for reform of the Muslim world itself. At the present time, Britain and other EU states are trying to reach a modus vivendi with an Islamic communal infrastructure that does not accept this separation. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Saudi Arabia and Oil: Coping with the Challenge of Osama bin Laden
    - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • On Jan. 26, 2005, Riyadh announced that Prince Nawaf, head of the Saudi General Intelligence Department, had been relieved of his post. The prince reportedly never fully recovered from a brain hemorrhage he suffered at the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut.
    • An underlying theme in bin Laden's statements is that the oil riches of the region are being stolen by the non-Muslim West. In 2004, al-Qaeda began to deliberately target oil-related facilities in Saudi Arabia for the first time. Seven people were killed in a May attack at Yanbu on the Red Sea coast, and thirty died in a similar outrage at al-Khobar on the Persian Gulf coast later the same month.
    • The Saudi authorities claim that the oilfields are well protected - the state oil company Saudi Aramco employs what amounts to its own private army, backed by the paramilitary Saudi National Guard commanded by the de facto head of state, Crown Prince Abdullah. Whenever potential problems seem to emerge in Saudi Arabia, the markets get nervous.
    • Alternative technologies might eventually reduce the role of oil in the world economy. In the short term, however, bin Laden's threats should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers, spurring them to institute mechanisms now that reduce Saudi Arabia's pivotal and threatened role.

      The writer is a London-based associate of the Washington Institute.

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