Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 28, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

The Day After Disengagement - Ben Caspit (Maariv-Hebrew, 25Mar05)
    The Palestinians are turning a cold shoulder to Israel on everything related to negotiations to coordinate the disengagement.
    Quietly and carefully, an Israeli team including Dov Weisglass and Haim Ramon is planning for the "day after."
    One principle: no further removal of settlements prior to a permanent agreement.
    There will be further withdrawals to return to the lines of 28 Sep 2000 and investment in infrastructure (tunnels and bridges) to create as much territorial contiguity as possible.

Gaza Terrorist Commander: We're Having "a Warrior's Rest" - Ali Waked (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
    Abu-Musab, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander in the northern Gaza Strip, said Saturday, "What's happening now isn't considered a calm. It's merely a warrior's rest....When the confrontation renews, we'll be back with methods and tools never before seen."

Dahlan Calls for Faster Reform to Prevent Hamas Election Win - Marie Colvin (Sunday Times-UK)
    In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mohammed Dahlan, the new PA minister in charge of negotiations with Israel, said reforms were not being implemented quickly enough for Fatah, the ruling party, to confront a growing challenge from the most powerful Islamic fundamentalist group, Hamas, in elections this summer.
    "There have not been elections in Fatah for 15 years! The old guard blamed the occupation, but Hamas has held them every year. Even in prison we held them every six months. This is a catastrophe for us!"

New Details on FBI Aid for Saudis After 9/11 - Eric Lichtblau (New York Times)
    In the frenzied days after Sep. 11, 2001, when some flights were still grounded, dozens of well-connected Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, managed to leave the U.S. on specially chartered flights.
    Newly-released government records show previously undisclosed flights from Las Vegas and elsewhere and provide details about the FBI's interaction with at least 160 Saudis who were allowed to leave the country.

Israeli Arab's Goal Keeps Alive Israel's World Cup Chances (CNN)
    Israeli Arab Abbas Suan is a national hero after his stunning last-minute soccer goal earned Israel a 1-1 draw with Ireland in a World Cup qualifier in Tel Aviv on Saturday.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Accuses Palestinian Agents of Smuggling Anti-Aircraft Missiles into Gaza - Josef Federman
    Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told a Cabinet meeting Sunday that Palestinian intelligence agents were involved in bringing Strella anti-aircraft missiles into the Gaza Strip from Egypt through smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border. "Last week, several Strellas were smuggled in by Palestinian military intelligence. If the Palestinians don't get a hold of the Strellas, we will," Mofaz said. Israel Radio quoted Mofaz as saying the presence of the missiles in Palestinian hands would cross a red line. Israel's military chief, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, has accused militants of using the cease-fire to rebuild their arsenals after more than four years of fighting with Israel. (AP/ABC News)
  • Christian East Beirut Rocked by New Explosion, Two Killed
    A huge car-bomb explosion rocked an industrial area in east Beirut Saturday, killing two people in the third blast in a Christian district in a week. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Lebanon Opposition: Hizballah Can Keep Arms
    Lebanon's most prominent anti-Syrian opposition leader, Walid Jumblatt, said Sunday he would not press for Hizballah to be immediately disarmed. After a surprise meeting with Hizballah head Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Jumblatt said, "The arms issue is not proposed, it is not open to discussion at this stage." "When our ambitions are met, in agreement with the resistance, over Shebaa Farms, then we will talk about arms," he said. (Reuters)
  • Playing Both Sides in Jordan - Jim Hoagland
    While Abdullah, the Jordanian monarch, seizes every opportunity to see and be seen with the U.S. president and his senior aides, he works against U.S. interests in Iraq and elsewhere while pretending otherwise. A few senior U.S. officials point to the nasty public row between Iraq and Jordan over a suicide bombing and to the apparently protected presence in Jordan of key operatives in the Iraqi insurgency. When Iraqis heard on March 14 that the Jordanian family of Raed Banna had thrown a huge party to celebrate their relative's "martyrdom" - which consisted of killing himself and 125 Iraqis in the Shiite town of Hilla - angry crowds sacked the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad. Former Baathist lieutenants who are now key operatives in the Iraqi insurgency still move themselves and money around Jordan without interference. (Washington Post)
  • Saudi Writers Risk Flogging to Challenge Islamists
    For a man just sentenced to 200 lashes and four months in jail by an Islamic court, Saudi academic Hamza al-Mozainy is strikingly cheerful. The 57-year-old professor is confident he will not serve his punishment. Just hours after the verdict, de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah issued a strong letter saying this judgment is null, void, and baseless and the court does not have jurisdiction over this case.
        The showdown was triggered by an article Mozainy wrote about the spread of religious "fanaticism" at King Saud University. "I wrote that something happened to the university in the last 20 years with the Muslim Brotherhood coming into the kingdom," Mozainy said, referring to an influx of Islamists to Saudi Arabia in the 1960s and 1970s, many of them from Egypt. "There was an explosive chemistry between a fanaticism here and the Muslim Brotherhood. That introduced a brand of fanaticism which used not to be the case in Saudi Arabia."  (Reuters/Khaleej Times-UAE)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon: Israel Will Retain Settlement Blocs - Aluf Benn
    "We can't expect to receive explicit American agreement to build freely in the settlements," Prime Minister Sharon said at Sunday's cabinet meeting. The large blocs of settlement in the West Bank "will remain in Israel's hands and will fall within the (separation) fence, and we made this position clear to the Americans. This is our position, even if they express reservations," he said. "The Americans always expressed criticism about construction in the settlements, and they have done so now, too," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rice Confirms Understandings on Settlement Blocs - Aluf Benn
    The American administration reiterated the promises Bush had given Sharon in April 2004, which recognized that the settlement blocs would remain in Israel's hands in a future final status agreement with the Palestinians. Speaking to Israel Radio on Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "While we will not prejudice the outcome of final status negotiations, the changes on the ground, the 'existing major Israeli population centers,' will have to be taken in account in any final status negotiations." Rice made it clear that the term "Israeli population centers" refers directly to the "large settlement blocs." "No one should say there's no agreement between our two governments. That's wrong. There is; it was reached on April 14 last year and it's clear," Rice said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Washington Post)
  • Five Molotov Cocktails Thrown at Israeli Cars
    Three Molotov cocktails were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near the village of Salim, east of Nablus, and two more at another Israeli vehicle near Halmish, northwest of Ramallah, Sunday evening, Army Radio reported. No one was injured. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel to Take Painful Steps to Peace - Yael Ravia-Zadok
    In the coming months, with the implementation of the disengagement plan, Israel will embark on a path marking a new chapter in the Middle East. This plan is intended to reduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians, improve Israel's security situation, provide the Palestinians an opportunity to manage their own lives and design their own future, and establish conditions that will be conducive to the renewal of the peace process.
        Under the disengagement plan, more than 8,000 Israelis will have to leave the homes where they have lived for three decades; families that have never lived in any other place will need to be uprooted from the only place that was home. They leave the communities they have built, and the businesses and farms they have long nurtured. It is imperative to show solidarity with those Israelis who are forced to give up their homes. The writer is consul general of Israel to the Southwest U.S., located in Houston. (Houston Chronicle)
  • Arabs Looking Backward - Editorial
    If liberal forces eventually replace the authoritarian political order that prevails in most Arab states, future generations in those countries will look back on the Arab League summit meeting last week in Algiers as a display of extraordinary obtuseness by rulers who refused to heed the tremors under their feet. The league rejected a proposal from King Abdullah II of Jordan to begin establishing normalized relations with Israel. He had argued that by recognizing Israel now, Arabs could help extract meaningful concessions from Israel, thereby hastening the creation of a Palestinian state and a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. (Boston Globe)
        See also Arabs Fail to Face the Facts - Editorial
    Another meeting of Arab leaders has let down the Middle East and their own people with platitudes so vacuous they appalled even the notoriously obsequious local media. The summit last week in Algiers kissed off the Israel-Palestinian problem with a rehash of an old plan that is unacceptable even to the Palestinians. (Bangkok Post)
  • Is a State Sponsor of Terrorism Winning? - Richard A. Clarke
    Iranian aid, estimated at many hundreds of millions of dollars per year, is buying Tehran influence in Shiite communities. Intelligence sources report that Iran's secret service and Revolutionary Guards have infiltrated Iraq with as many as 5,000 personnel. Iran's goal is to have a government in Baghdad under strong Iranian influence. With oil costing more than $50 a barrel, the money keeps on flowing into Tehran's treasury. Western oil companies work with the Iranians planning new oil pipelines to increase their output. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Settlement Blocs Part of a Package Deal - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • The U.S. is saying to Israel and the Palestinians, it is up to you to negotiate on borders and refugees, but if anyone asks us, we will probably back Israel on not returning completely to the 1967 lines and on not settling Palestinians in Israel.
    • Sharon's disengagement plan has been a package deal: Israel unilaterally withdraws from some areas that it does not expect to retain in any final-status agreement, while consolidating control over other areas that it must retain under any conceivable peace accord.
    • The international community should understand that there is no free lunch, even when it comes to unilateral concessions. If Israel is to make a very real, wrenching, and painful down-payment on a final-status arrangement, it needs a parallel diplomatic down-payment now, setting lines it will not be pressed to cross when final-status talks come.
    • If Israel cannot show a tangible diplomatic reward for disengagement, then disengagement can only be perceived as a reward for four years of terrorist attacks. Is it in the American interest, let alone Israel's, to fuel such a perception, much less such a reality?

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