Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 22, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Asking: Can Abbas Deliver? - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
    The weakening of PA Chairman Abbas is very troubling to the American administration.
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who came to the area last week, was impressed by the seriousness of a report she received from her security coordinator, Gen. William Ward, who described the crumbling of the PA, power struggles, and infighting at senior levels of Fatah.
    Washington understands that Abbas' fall would be considered a failure of President Bush's policy of democratization.
    But even the Americans are wondering whether to continue assisting Abbas or if the time has come to realize that nothing will help him, and even if he gets extra assistance, he won't be able to give anything in return.
    See also below Commentary: Abbas' Weakness Rocks the Road to Peace - Editorial (Telegraph-UK)

PA Still Encouraging Child Martyrdom - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    In this week's prime time PA TV broadcast of "The Palestinian Diaspora," a 12-year-old reads his uncle a story he wrote:
    "Don't cry, my mother! Let me go and fight for the sake of the homeland. The enemy stole our beautiful land....We all must fight in order to redeem the lost paradise....We lived in joy and happiness, until the foreign enemy [Israel] came and expelled us from our land, and we became refugees in tents. But we will return, by Allah's will!"
    "His mother told him, 'Farewell, my son. Allah be with you.' He kissed her and left to fight, and fought until he became a Shahid [martyr for Allah]."
    Play the Video

Ecuador Drug Ring Suspected of Funding Hizballah (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Ecuadorean police Tuesday broke up an international cocaine ring led by a Lebanese restaurant owner suspected of raising money for Hizballah.
    A police report said preliminary evidence "confirms the relationship between this organization and the terrorist movement Hizballah."
    The document said the gang sent "up to 70% of its profits to the Islamic group."

30% Rise in Tourist Entries - Shani Rosenfelder (Jerusalem Post)
    Over 172,000 tourists visited Israel in May - a 30% rise over the same period last year - the Central Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Eight Dead, 195 Hurt in Israel Train Crash
    An Israeli passenger train collided with a truck in a remote field Tuesday, killing 8 people and injuring 195. Police said the crash appeared to be an accident. The train, carrying 300 to 400 people from Tel Aviv to Beersheba, was traveling at 80 mph when it hit a 40-ton coal delivery truck. (AP/MSNBC)
  • Rice Links Syria to Lebanon Assassination - Anne Gearan
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice linked the assassination Tuesday of anti-Syrian politician George Hawi in Lebanon with the continued activities of longtime overlord Syria. "There is a context and an atmosphere of instability. Syria's activities are a part of that context and that atmosphere and they need to knock it off....Their visible forces are gone but they clearly are still Lebanon," she said. U.S. officials claimed this month that Syria may be running down a hit list of opposition figures. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Iraqi Rebels Refine Bomb Skills - David S. Cloud
    American casualties from bomb attacks in Iraq have reached new heights in the last two months as insurgents have begun to deploy devices that leave armored vehicles increasingly vulnerable, according to the U.S. military. There were 700 attacks in May against American forces using improvised explosive devices (IED), which caused 33 American deaths, and there have been at least 35 fatalities so far in June. IEDs account for 70% of American casualties in Iraq.
        The surge in attacks, the officials say, has coincided with the appearance of significant advancements in bomb design, including the use of "shaped" charges that concentrate the blast and give it a better chance of penetrating armored vehicles. Another change, a senior military officer said, has been the detonation of explosives by infrared lasers, an innovation aimed at bypassing electronic jammers. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon, Abbas Meet in Jerusalem - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Prime Minister Sharon Tuesday hosted PA Chairman Abbas at his Jerusalem residence for their first working meeting since the Sharm el-Sheikh summit. Abbas said there would be security coordination between the sides and the PA would deploy 5,000 policemen in the Gaza Strip. He also accepted the plan according to which Israel would destroy settlers' homes and the PA would remove the debris using international funding. Sharon announced a number of goodwill gestures. Bethlehem and Kalkilya are to be handed over to PA control within two weeks; the number of Palestinian workers allowed in Israel will be increased; the checkpoints will be improved; and some frail veteran Palestinian prisoners - with "blood on their hands" - will be released. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Sharon to Abbas: Islamic Jihad Endangers You - Eliel Shachar
    Sharon told Abbas at their meeting: "The situation as it is today cannot continue. We will have to act to stop the terror. Under the current situation, the chance of progress on the political front is slim. I am informing you that we will act against Islamic Jihad with full force. Islamic Jihad also endangers you, and if the situation continues, you will miss the opportunity."
        Referring to the young Palestinian woman suicide bomber caught at the Gaza border crossing Monday, Sharon said to Abbas: "This is a human tragedy, to see this scarred young woman [burned in a cooking accident] seek to attack those who treated her. I don't want to act in your place, but the terror is the central threat to the political process. We can't ease conditions or offer aid while the terror continues. You have to stop the terror immediately." (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • IDF to Target Senior Islamic Jihad Leaders - Amos Harel
    Senior Israel Defense Forces sources said Tuesday that in the wake of recent terrorist attacks orchestrated by Islamic Jihad, it has been decided to resume targeted interceptions of senior leaders of the group, which were stopped after the February Sharm el-Sheikh summit. The IDF intends to act also against those assisting to carry out terrorist attacks and not only pursue militants referred to as "ticking bombs." If necessary, the military will also enter West Bank cities under Palestinian control. "Islamic Jihad has taken itself absolutely out of the [cease-fire] agreement with its attacks, and so from our view, we are operating fully against them, as we did before," said Lt. Col. Erez Winner, a senior commander in the West Bank. "Anyone we know who is affiliated with this organization is a legitimate target."
        More than ten mortar shells and one Kassam rocket were fired at Gaza Strip settlements on Tuesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Abbas' Weakness Rocks the Road to Peace - Editorial
    In defiance of a ceasefire declared by the two sides in February, Islamic Jihad has recently launched attacks on targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel proper. On Monday, a young woman sent by the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades to bomb a hospital in the Negev was intercepted at a Gaza Strip crossing point, explosives sewn into her underwear. Security camera footage of her trying to detonate the bomb has riveted Israeli viewers. All in all, Abbas is proving a very disappointing successor to Arafat. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Condi in Cairo - Editorial
    On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Cairo and then Riyadh and, in soft tones, delivered a stark message: America would no longer pursue "stability at the expense of democracy." The U.S. will now notice when peaceful Egyptian protestors are brutalized by government security goons, or when Saudi citizens are imprisoned for "peacefully petitioning the government"; and the future of both countries as American allies rests on the seriousness of their commitment to democratic reform.
        Egypt's economy is underwritten by $1.8 billion in annual American aid, while its military is supplied with advanced U.S. weaponry. We do not see that continuing if the Mubarak regime attempts to steal or subvert September's presidential elections. Nor do we see the relatively indulgent line pursued by the administration so far toward the House of Saud carrying on forever. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Democracy in the Middle East - Secretary of State Rice at the American University in Cairo (State Department)
        See also Arabs Unimpressed by U.S. Vow of Mideast Policy Change (AFP/Yahoo)
  • A Gaza Pull-Out Does Not Reward Terror - David Makovsky and Dennis Ross
    The criticism taking the greatest toll on support for the withdrawal plan is that it rewards the terrorists and will only invite more terror. Technically speaking, the terror has come from the West Bank and not Gaza. Nearly 100 suicide bombers infiltrated into Israel during the intifada, only two of them from Gaza, and it is Gaza that Israel is leaving, not the West Bank. The fact that Hamas, whose leaders were killed in the intifada, never made Gaza disengagement an objective, is another reminder that this is hardly a victory for them.
        Ultimately, Gaza disengagement will be the prism through which to look at the future of revived peacemaking. Palestinians have the opportunity to prove to the world and Israelis that they can govern themselves and fulfill their obligations, including on security. Making Gaza work is essential to being able to demonstrate that what works for Gaza can also be applied to the West Bank. The writers are fellows at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Financial Times-UK)
        For a contrasting view, see Jailed Fatah Leader Says Israeli Pullout Outcome of Armed Resistance
    Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghouti, who is currently jailed by Israel, has said the coming Israeli Gaza pullout was an outcome of the Palestinian armed struggle, the daily newspaper al-Ayyam reported Monday. (People's Daily-China)
  • Observations:

    Democracy as a Component of Security - Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Despite the popular assumption that simply holding elections is a guarantee of moderation and responsible government, history is full of examples where democratic processes have been exploited by despots for very non-democratic purposes.
    • We must all reject the inclusion of Hamas in the Palestinian political system. There can be no place in a democratic society for a political party which bears arms, for a political party engaged in terrorism against the citizens of a neighboring country. No democratic regime can survive if it lets terrorism and politics proceed side by side.
    • Israel is working to implement as many steps as possible to ease conditions for the Palestinian population, and is working with the donor community, the World Bank, and the Quartet's Special Envoy for Disengagement, James D. Wolfensohn, to ensure that the maximum number of international actors are involved in the collective effort to rebuild the Palestinian economy.
    • There are some in the Arab world who see normalization of relations with Israel as a "prize" for Israel, but this is mistaken. While Israel can benefit from improved relations with its neighbors, Israel's standing in the international community and its economic well-being are not determined by its Arab neighbors.
    • The real and crucial benefit of the normalization process we seek will be felt on the Palestinian side - where it will strengthen the moderates and weaken the extremists, helping to expand constituencies for peace and build the necessary critical mass for further progress.

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