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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 24, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas: Liberate Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Nizaar Rian, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, told supporters Thursday diplomacy with Israel was a "failure" and encouraged them to redouble efforts to "liberate" Palestine.
    "All of Palestine, from the river to the sea, will be liberated by the mujhadeen and their rifles, not by pointless diplomatic meetings," he said.

Islamic Jihad Obtains Hamas Missiles (Middle East Newsline)
    Palestinian sources said Islamic Jihad has for the first time deployed Kassam missiles purchased from Hamas and produced in workshops in Gaza City and Khan Yunis.
    On June 16, Jihad claimed responsibility for the launch of two Kassam missiles at the Israeli city of Sderot, causing damage but no injuries.
    Prior to this attack, Jihad claimed responsibility for mortar attacks on Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip.

Israel HighWay
- June 24, 2005

Issue of the Week:
    Does Israel Have a Partner for Peace?

Palestinian Gunman Kills Palestinian Cop in Jenin - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    A Palestinian police officer was killed and another wounded Thursday by a wanted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror suspect in the West Bank town of Jenin.
    The latest incident further demonstrates the PA's inability to control the thousands of armed gunmen operating in its territory.

Toronto Paper Relocates Sharon-Abbas Meeting - Uriel Heilman (Jerusalem Post)
    Readers of Toronto's Globe and Mail were told by reporter Carolyn Wheeler that this week's meeting between Prime Minister Sharon and PA Chairman Abbas took place in "Mr. Sharon's flag-draped residence in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City," on "disputed home turf."
    Wheeler then waxed for two paragraphs about the alleged site of the meeting.
    In fact, the meeting was held at the prime minister's residence in the Rehavia neighborhood of the capital, where there is no dispute over sovereignty.
    After outraged readers pointed out the error, the Globe and Mail issued a correction.

Palestinian Students Riot in Hebron - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    In Hebron, about 100 high school students, angry that their physics final exam was too difficult, attacked the offices of the PA Ministry of Education, throwing stones at the building and burning tires in the streets.
    The students hurled rocks at PA policemen and damaged a fire truck trying to put out the burning tires.

Saudi Terror Suspect Said Killed in Iraq - Frank Griffiths (AP/Guardian-UK)
    One of Saudi Arabia's most-wanted militants, Abdullah Mohammed Rashid al-Roshoud, was killed by a U.S. airstrike near Qaim, on the border with Syria, according to a statement signed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
    The statement said al-Roshoud slipped into Iraq in April, and "killed some of the Crusaders until the enemies of God had to withdraw."
    "When the Crusaders could not enter the area, the only thing they could do was bombard the mujahedeen with warplanes."
    "Our sheik (al-Roshoud) got what he wished" - martyrdom.
    Al-Roshoud had been No. 24 on a list of most-wanted terrorist leaders put out by Saudi Arabia two years ago and was one of only three militants on the list still at large.
    He was one of the main theologians for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.

"Science" of Terrorism - Ann Geracimos (Washington Times)
    Terrorism globally is rapidly becoming a new science.
    The University of Maryland has been awarded a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to set up a research center for studying behavioral and social aspects of terrorism with a view to learning how to counter it.
    Gary LaFree, a professor of criminology, is head of the newly established National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
    "I would say definitely we are creating a science," he says, "very much like criminology."
    The center has a database compiled by Pinkerton Corp.'s Global Intelligence Service that contains more than 70,000 terrorist incidents from the past 25 years.

Looted Art Said Used to Fund Terrorists - Sophie Nicholson (AP/Washington Post)
    Wealthy art patrons are buying stolen artifacts from Iraq and inadvertently funding terrorist activity, Donny George, the director of Iraq's National Museum, said Thursday.
    Some of the objects are entering the U.S., he said.
    "People in the international community must stop buying these things....This money is going to the terrorists," he said at a UNESCO conference on Iraq's cultural heritage.

Reawakening the Teachings of Contempt for Jews - Robert Everett and Dexter Van Zile (Jerusalem Post)
    Despite repeated assertions that they have removed all traces of anti-Semitism from their theology, the leadership of mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. have helped breathe new life into the teachings of contempt for Jews in their indiscriminate support for Palestinian theologians such as Naim Ateek, a former Anglican canon who serves as president of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center.
    Ateek is regarded as a "peacemaker" in the U.S., even as he recycles the deicide charge against Jews.

Test of Anti-Semitism: Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization - Natan Sharansky (Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism)
    A simple "3D" test can help distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism.
    The first "D" is demonization. The second "D" concerns double standards. The third "D" is the test of delegitimization.
    Anti-Semitism is not a threat only to Jews. History has shown us that, left unchecked, the forces behind anti-Semitism will imperil all the values and freedoms that civilization holds dear.

Israeli Student Film Wins Award - Gila Babich (Ynet News)
    Matan Guggenheim, a 28-year-old film student at Tel Aviv University, recently won first prize for Best Short Film at the Brooklyn International Film Festival with "Crickets," a 16-minute film that tells about Ido, a young man whose parents were killed in a terrorist attack.
    To deal with the trauma, Ido gets involved with an underground movement in which people place bets on terrorist attacks.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • White House Escalates Its Campaign to Isolate Syria - Steven Weisman
    Bush administration officials asserted Thursday that an international consensus had emerged that Syria had been stoking the violence in Lebanon and Iraq and against Israelis, and they said they are now certain that Syrian agents have been operating in Lebanon. The comments represented an escalation of the campaign by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to isolate Syria diplomatically as the administration has faced mounting violence against its interests throughout the Middle East.
        "Let's not have more words about what they are prepared to do," said Rice, regarding Syrian promises to help Iraq with security on their mutual border. "Let's have action. If they're prepared to do it, they should just do it." A senior State Department official said there was "widespread agreement" at a meeting of leading foreign ministers in London, and among the delegates at a conference on Iraq in Brussels on Wednesday, that Syria bore major responsibility for instability in the region. (New York Times)
  • Middle East Envoy Wolfensohn "Optimistic" as Israeli Gaza Pullout Talks Progress
    James Wolfensohn, the international envoy to the Middle East, said he was "optimistic" about the progress made on the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, noting the process had now moved on to "deal with real issues." "The Israelis and the Palestinians are now very much engaged on very practical aspects of withdrawal and dealing with the crossing points of Gaza and the West Bank (and) the linkage between the Palestinian territories, the outside world, and Israel," Wolfensohn said. (AFX News/Forbes)
  • CIA Says Iraq is Now a Terrorist Training Ground
    A classified CIA report says once the Iraqi insurgency ends, Islamic militants are likely to disperse as highly organized battle-hardened combatants capable of operating throughout the Arab-speaking world and in other regions including Europe. Fighters leaving Iraq would primarily pose a challenge for their countries of origin including Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The report, which has been widely circulated in the intelligence community, also cites a potential threat to the U.S. (Reuters/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Terrorist Wounds Israeli Driver in West Bank
    An Israeli man was wounded when Palestinians shot at his car in the West Bank on Friday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Mortar Fire Wounds Israeli in Gaza
    One Israeli was wounded Thursday night when Palestinians fired mortar shells at a settlement in the southern Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Bethlehem to be Handed Over to PA Next Week - Margot Dudkevitch
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Thursday ordered the army to prepare to hand over to Palestinian security control the West Bank cities of Bethlehem next week and Kalkilya the week after. Mofaz stressed the need for the Palestinians to disarm all fugitives and ensure they sign a pledge to refrain from terrorist activities.
        Palestinian officials said on Thursday that hundreds of Nablus gunmen would move into the Palestinian police forces as a way of bringing them under control. The officials said that under the tentative agreement, 700 gunmen would be absorbed into the security services. However, Palestinians admitted that even with the Nablus accord, large-scale collection of weapons is not on the horizon. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Palestinian Responsibility

  • Assessing Palestinian Security Reform - Mohammed Yaghi
    A spike in armed clashes, crime, and demonstrations in the territories has highlighted the issue of law and order among the Palestinian people, who are increasingly concerned about their daily security. While several important steps have already been taken in the area of restructuring and reforming the security forces, much remains to be done before the PA can instill law and order. The new security chiefs share much in common. All were deputies of their dismissed superiors and most served with PLO forces in Lebanon. This suggests that the new leaders are unlikely to behave in a significantly different manner, given their intimate associations with the old system. Although the PA allocates $504 million (24% of its budget) to its security forces, Palestinians have yet to see tangible improvements in their daily security.
        Additional personnel reforms beyond the highest leadership levels are urgently needed. The existing force of 58,000 security personnel is well in excess of what is needed. The more acute problem is one of effectiveness rather than numbers. In a recent recruitment drive, the Interior Ministry received nearly 60,000 applications for 5,000 available positions that required no specific qualifications other than age. Although Abbas issued his unification orders more than two months ago, frequent clashes are still occurring between forces contending for territory and authority. The writer is executive director of the Palestinian Center for Mass Communication and a columnist for al-Ayyam. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Who Recruited the Palestinian Woman to Bomb the Israeli Hospital? - Editorial
    After a frosty Mideast summit this week in Jerusalem, Abbas was quoted as complaining that Sharon is "punishing us because there is terror, as though I am though I carry it out." Unlike his predecessor Yasser Arafat, Abbas sees no point to prolonging a self-defeating conflict. But then there is Wafa al-Biss, who was caught on Monday trying to bomb the very hospital in Beersheba in southern Israel that had been helping her. While Abbas cannot be blamed for recruiting her, who did? She says it was the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed faction with links to the mainstream Palestinian Fatah movement. This is a group that Abbas should be able to control, if he can control anyone. (Toronto Star)
  • An Attack Against a Hospital is an Act of Evil - Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish
    As a Palestinian doctor who has worked at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for eight years, I was outraged at the cynical and potentially deadly suicide bombing attempt by Wafa Biss on Monday. I conduct research at the hospital's Genetic Institute, and Soroka has become my home away from home. I have built warm and professional relations with my colleagues, and bring medication from Soroka to needy patients in the Strip.
        On the very day that Wafa Biss planned to detonate her bomb, two Palestinians in critical condition were waiting in Gaza to be taken for urgent treatment at Soroka. Biss was sent to kill the very people in Israel who are healing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. What if Israeli hospitals now decide to bar Palestinians seeking treatment? How would those who sent Biss feel if their own relatives, in need of medical care in Israel, are refused treatment? (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mixed Message - Robert Satloff
    Elected with a resounding 62% of the vote just six months ago, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas enjoys a mandate to lead, but so far his government has put a higher premium on consensus than leadership. Unfortunately, rule by consensus can never work if the consensus is abused by a few at the expense of the many. Unless Abbas is prodded to use the power of his position to impose - through force, if necessary - the principle of "one authority, one law, one gun," then Palestinian statehood stands no chance. Down the drain too would go the much-prized Palestinian democracy, the nurturing of which has been a signal achievement of the Bush administration. (New Republic)
  • Abbas Loves Looking Weak - Ruthie Blum and Gil Hoffman
    Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview: PA Chairman Abbas "has the Arab countries solidly behind him. He has the majority of Palestinian public opinion solidly behind him. All of the strongest men in the PA are behind him: Muhammad Dahlan, Jibril Rajoub, and all the security organizations. But he's in love with his image of weakness, because he believes that this helps him mobilize international pressure on Israel to make more concessions."
        The Sharon-Abbas meeting "was much more serious and fruitful than it appeared. Sharon was very flexible and forthcoming....Sharon proposed relinquishing control of two more cities to the PA. He also said he would seriously review the release of additional prisoners. And he's prepared to go ahead with the removal of more roadblocks."
        "If the Palestinians do not restrain terror, the expectation for a major breakthrough after disengagement will not materialize. If there is an effective control of terror, then maybe disengagement will be very meaningful toward the next step....I don't envision a honeymoon the day after disengagement."  (Jerusalem Post)

    Other Issues

  • Regimes Use Arab-Israeli Conflict as Pretext to Avoid Reform - Frida Ghitis
    The unchallenged conventional wisdom in Europe is that the indispensable prerequisite for solving nearly every problem in the Arab and Muslim world lies in ending the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, a new survey of Arab - rather than European - opinion shows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is nowhere near the top of the list of reasons given by Arabs for what's wrong with their countries. The claim that the suffering of Palestinians is the principal cause of international terrorism, Islamic extremism, and Arab political instability is as false now as it was on Sept. 12, 2001. The real causes of extremism are political repression coupled with economic stagnation in much of the region.
        As part of a survey conducted by the Arab television network Al-Arabiya, people said their problems come from the ruling regimes, the same governments that have received support from Europe and the U.S. When asked, ''What is stalling development in the Arab world?'' only 8% blamed the Arab-Israeli conflict. More than 80% blamed "governments that are unwilling to implement change and reform.'' (Miami Herald)
  • Why the Rebels in Iraq Will Lose - Max Boot
    Most of the conditions that existed in previous wars won by guerrillas, from Algeria in the 1950s to Afghanistan in the 1980s, aren't present in Iraq. The rebels lack a unifying organization, ideology, and leader. The top militant is Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian who has alienated most of the Iraqi population, even many Sunnis, with his indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Support for the insurgency is confined to a minority within a minority - a small portion of Sunni Arabs, who make up less than 20% of the population. Most of the terror has been confined to four of 18 provinces. The only prominent non-Sunni rebel, Muqtada Sadr, has quietly joined the political process.
        The biggest weakness of the insurgency is that it is morphing from a war of national liberation into a revolutionary struggle against an elected government. Successful uprisings against elected governments are much rarer because leaders with political legitimacy can more easily rally the population and accommodate aggrieved elements. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Not Bad for a Terrorist Godfather - Dean Godson
    Hojatoleslam Hashemi Ali Akhbar Rafsanjani is the front-runner in Friday's Iranian presidential run-off. This terrorist godfather - once wanted by a German court for his role in authorizing the murder of Iranian dissidents in Berlin - has gone overnight from bad memory to a "pragmatist" and even a "moderate." Western journalists seem too rarely to escape from occidental categories of thought and terminology (interestingly, there is no indigenous word in Farsi for "pragmatist"). In this world of mirror-imaging, they are always on the search for struggles pitting easily identifiable wets versus dries, hardliners versus softliners, and secularists versus theocrats.
        The West keeps getting it wrong because we underrate the importance of ideology to these regimes. Ideology is often seen as the antonym of pragmatism, even though the two frequently go hand in hand. After all, tyrants such as Milosevic and Stalin were often highly "pragmatic" in their modus operandi - often engaging in tactical retreats to perpetrate even greater evils further down the pike. Curiously, it was left to a senior Foreign Office mandarin at a briefing this week to dampen journalistic high spirits about Iran. British diplomats remember the paroxysms of excitement that greeted Rafsanjani's first election victory in 1989 - and how he failed to live up to expectations of better relations with the West. (Times-UK)
  • Ending the Saudi Double Game - Robert Spencer
    When American soldiers raided jihadist hideouts in northeastern Iraq this week, they found a number of foreign passports, including two from Saudi Arabia. Several weeks ago the Syrians arrested 300 Saudis before they could cross into Iraq and join the jihad against America. The Saudis have been playing a double game since 9/11, maintaining their alliance with the U.S. while aiding the jihad worldwide; now sponsors of the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act are trying to put a stop to the duplicity. The Saudis are not only financing terrorist groups, but they are also aggressively spreading the jihad ideology that fuels terrorism. And they're doing so right in the U.S.
        Jihadist sentiment, fueled by the most outlandish conspiracy-theory paranoia, permeates Saudi society. Jews aren't even allowed into Saudi Arabia, but Christians are - as long as they do not bring with them any physical evidence of their faith (Bibles, crosses) and do not observe it while in the Kingdom. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • The Anti-Semitic Disease - Paul Johnson
    As a historian, I would call anti-Semitism an intellectual disease, a disease of the mind, extremely infectious and massively destructive. It is a disease to which both human individuals and entire human societies are prone. Anti-Semitism is very ancient, has never been associated with frontiers, and seems impervious to change. What strikes the historian is anti-Semitism's fundamental irrationality. It seems to make no sense, any more than malaria or meningitis makes sense. In the whole of history, it is hard to point to a single occasion when a wave of anti-Semitism was provoked by a real Jewish threat (as opposed to an imaginary one). (Commentary)
  • The EU Constitutional Crisis, the Middle East, and Israel - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    The rejection of the proposed EU constitution in France and the Netherlands has weakened Europe's overall status and, as it enters a period of disarray, EU policies may become less threatening to Israel. Israel's bilateral political relations with individual EU members are often much more positive than with the EU. The more the EU becomes the final arbiter of European foreign policy, the more these positive trends are put at risk. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw clarified British policy ruling out diplomatic contacts with Hamas on 7 June 2005. Less than two weeks later, the EU notified the U.S. of a policy that permits European diplomats, below the ambassadorial level, to maintain contacts with Hamas members seeking election to the Palestinian parliament. The EU position had again watered down the British one.
        France's overall frustration about its reduced European role may well make it even more biased in its Middle East policies. While confronting France on more important issues, other EU members may, as a payoff, still be willing to go along with France's leadership in EU Middle East policy, which is a secondary matter for most EU members. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Weekend Features

  • Pass the Fault - Michael B. Oren
    Oliver Hirschbiegel's docudrama about the Third Reich's closing days, "The Downfall," is not about Hitler, human or otherwise, not about Nazism and evil. It is about letting Germany off the hook. "The Downfall" is concerned with exoneration, not penance, and realizes it through manipulation and deceit. Clearly, "The Downfall" is distinguishing between bad Germans (a small band of Nazis) and good (everyone else), wanting to demonstrate how the German people, too, were victimized by Nazism, absolving them of any moral culpability for perpetrating World War II and destroying European Jewry.
        Twentysomething Germans have made it the most popular film in their country's history. And understandably so, for they emerge from the theater convinced that their grandparents were valorous, victimized, and naive, and that Germany can unreservedly take its place in a post-nationalist, post-psychotic Europe. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (New Republic)
  • A Study in Irony: Arab Students at College of Judea and Samaria - Shira Philosof
    Near the end of his third year of study for a degree in electronic engineering, Ala Fakhory, one of 250 Arab students who attend the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, says he experienced no racism on the part of students or faculty. In fact, he says, "Everyone treated me well." When Mahmoud Amash, 22, from Jisr al-Zarqa, wants to describe his satisfaction with the college, he says he often stays there on weekends.
        Soon-to-be-published research examining the feelings of students in Ariel College and Western Galilee College indicates that Arab students have a positive sense of belonging. According to Dr. Nitza Davidovich, "The Arab students defined themselves as Israelis. They expressed a sense of equality in the institution and a sense of fairness and consideration on the part of the faculty." (Ha'aretz)
  • Murdered in Name of Family Honor - Chris McGreal
    The murders of Faten Habash and the Shakirat sisters last month in Ramallah and eastern Jerusalem were the latest in a series of brutal "honor killings" that have shaken the Palestinian community. The deaths have prompted demands for a change to laws inherited from the days of Jordanian rule that deem all women to be "minors" under the authority of male relatives and that provide a maximum of six months in prison for killings in defense of "family honor." Those calls have met with resistance in parliament where religious Palestinian MPs argue that reform will lead to a collapse in the moral fabric of society.
        According to the Palestinian women's affairs ministry, 20 girls and women were murdered in honor killings last year and about 50 committed suicide - often under coercion - for "shaming" the family. Another 15 women survived attempts to kill them. Dozens of other killings are covered up each year. "Putting 'falling into well' on the death certificate is very common," said Maha Abu Dayyeh Shamas, director of the Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counselling. "We find that the women were strangled and then dumped in the well." (Guardian-UK)
  • Robert F. Maguire Jr., 94: Helped Airlift Thousands of Jews to Israel - Dennis McLellan
    Robert F. Maguire Jr., the commercial pilot from Oregon who was dubbed the "Irish Moses" for helping fly tens of thousands of Jewish refugees through hostile territory from Yemen to Israel in 1949, has died at 94. The World War II veteran was working for Alaska Airlines in 1948 when the company was contracted by the American Joint Distribution Committee. As the chief pilot of Operation Magic Carpet, Maguire helped transport more than 40,000 refugees on nearly 400 flights. The operation was a secret one, but while the planes were often shot at, none of the planes crashed and no lives were lost. Maguire never forgot the Yemenites' singing and blessing as they flew into Israel, nor the grateful expressions on their faces.
        Maguire also flew Jewish refugees from China to Israel, and transported thousands of Iraqi and Iranian Jews to Israel. A vaguely fictionalized version of Maguire appears in Exodus, Leon Uris' 1958 novel about the birth of the modern nation of Israel. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Out of Character for Egyptian TV - Zvi Bar'el
    The adventures of an Egyptian spy in Israel are related in the new Egyptian TV series "Agent 1001," which is now being filmed in Taba, and will be screened in the fall during Ramadan. Some of the characters in the film are peace-loving Israelis; there are of course bad Jews as well. Actor Riad al-Khouli, who plays an Egyptian intelligence officer in the series, explained in an interview in the newspaper Al Wafed that "works of this kind create a strong echo in the heart of the Egyptian spectator. The citizen is always excited by a work that demonstrates power and strength, and emphasizes the Egyptian's loyalty when confronting the dangers threatening him or the country." (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    A Turning Point? The National Dialogue between Fatah and Hamas - Danny Rubinstein (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)

    • While the idea of a political discussion among the various Palestinian factions generally assumes twelve or even fourteen factions, most of them are small leftist organizations and fronts established more than thirty years ago. Consequently, during the last ten years, the debate between the Palestinian factions is in fact a dialogue between Fatah and Hamas.
    • As far as most Palestinians are concerned, and certainly from the Hamas viewpoint, the Sharon government drafted the disengagement plan solely because of the Palestinian violent struggle. They regard it as a tremendous Palestinian victory. All the opinion polls in the territories testify to this sentiment. Palestinian spokespeople share the view that this is an Israeli retreat, and the uprooting of settlements represents an Israeli national humiliation and a violence-induced surrender.
    • The sense of victory and Hamas strength allows the heads of the movement in the territories and abroad to adopt more flexible positions from a feeling that the possibility now exists to assume control of the Palestinian national movement and perhaps the governing authority of the West Bank and Gaza. The internal disputes in Fatah between the older veterans of Tunis, who control the movement's central committee, and the younger veterans of Israeli jails and the first intifada encourage Hamas activists to believe that their aim lies within their grasp.
    • It is very likely that Fatah will sustain a real blow in the elections. If this forecast comes true, we shall witness a real turning point in the Palestinian political scene. It is doubtful if Israeli policy can significantly influence the results of the elections and prevent Hamas from becoming an official partner in the Palestinian regime. In that case, we may witness a more antagonistic and violent Israeli-Palestinian confrontation than we have known thus far.

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