Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 24, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Gunmen Sought to Disrupt West Bank Pullout (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian gunmen opened fire at IDF troops patrolling near the village of Qabatiya near the site of Tuesday's West Bank pullout, sparking a gunbattle that left a member of the Islamic Jihad moderately wounded, Israeli and Palestinian security officials said.
    Army Radio said the attack was meant to disrupt the evacuation of four West Bank settlements.

PA Ministry of Culture Glorifies Suicide Terrorist (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The PA's Ministry of Culture released its "Book of the Month" Monday, a poetry collection Entitled "What Did Hanadi Say?" - honoring suicide terrorist Hanadi Jaradat, who murdered 29 Jews and Arabs in a suicide bombing in a Haifa restaurant in October 2003.
    Distributed as a special supplement in the daily Al-Ayyam, the collection includes a poem calling Jaradat's act of suicide terror "the highest goal."

Palestinians Sign Export Deal for Gaza Greenhouse Produce - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    PalTrade, the Palestinian company in charge of running the greenhouses that the Palestinians will inherit from Gaza evacuees, recently signed its first export agreement for the produce slated to be grown there.
    The produce will be marketed via the Israeli firm Agrexco, which already exports the produce of Palestinian farmers in the Gaza Strip under a special brand name.

Israel's Exports to Arab Countries Up 21% - Shira Horesh (Globes)
    Israel's industrial exports to Arab countries, excluding diamonds, grew 21% to $106 million in January-June 2005, compared with the corresponding period last year, Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute director Yechiel Assia said.
    1,800 Israeli exporters are currently operating in Jordan.
    Exports to Egypt grew 141% to $34 million, mostly chemicals, refined oil products, textiles, clothing, and leather.

Israel Boycotts Al-Arabiya after Israeli Diplomat Taken Off Program - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Foreign Ministry official Lior Ben Dor was taken off the air during an interview with the Arab satellite channel Al Arabiya on Thursday.
    Another interviewee, Hassan al-Juni, a Lebanese expert on international law, protested being interviewed side by side with a spokesman from Jerusalem.
    The Israel Foreign Ministry announced that Israeli spokesmen would not be giving interviews to the channel until it provided clarification of the incident.


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Latest News on Disengagement
(Conference of Presidents)
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Israel Campus Beat
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Completes Pullout Without Serious Violence - Steven Erlanger
    Completing an emotional pullout unmarred by serious violence, Israeli soldiers and police officers finished their evacuation of 25 settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on Tuesday. While the evacuation of four West Bank settlements on Tuesday pulled Jewish residents out of an area nearly twice the size of Gaza, Israeli troops will continue to patrol the area. (New York Times)
  • Israel Says Onus is Now on Palestinians - Steven Gutkin
    Israel has redrawn its borders before the world's eyes, completing with dazzling speed its pullout from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank. "We disengaged the people from the land in the Gaza Strip and the northern part of the West Bank. Now it's the Palestinians' turn to disengage themselves from violence and terror," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Gideon Meir. Once Palestinians begin reining in their militants, "we can start to talk about the final status of the territories," he said. If Gaza becomes Hamas-stan, as many Israelis fear, few will expect Israel to hand over more territory. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Bush: "Progress toward Peace Depends on an End to Terror"
    President Bush said Monday: "This past week, Prime Minister Sharon and the Israeli people took a courageous and painful step by beginning to remove settlements in Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. The Israeli disengagement is an historic step that reflects the bold leadership of Prime Minister Sharon. Both Israelis and Palestinians have elected governments committed to peace and progress, and the way forward is clear. We're working for a return to the road map. We're helping the Palestinians to prepare for self-government and to defeat terrorists who attack Israel, and terrorists who oppose the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state. We're providing $50 million in direct assistance to the Palestinians for new housing and infrastructure projects in Gaza."
        "We remain fully committed to defending the security and well-being of our friend and ally, Israel, and we demand an end to terrorism and violence in every form, because we know that progress toward peace depends on an end to terror. We'll continue working for the day when the map of the Middle East shows two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security." (White House)
  • Europeans Call Off Nuclear Talks with Iran - Paul Carrel
    European powers have called off Aug. 31 talks with Iran about its nuclear program, France said Tuesday, marking a breakdown in two years of negotiations with Tehran to halt its sensitive atomic work. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said talks on a formal European proposal made earlier this month would not go ahead because Iran had resumed certain nuclear work in breach of a promise to freeze it while talks lasted. (Reuters/Boston Globe)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel, Egypt Strike Border Deal - Diana Bahur-Nir
    Israel and Egypt agreed Tuesday on the deployment of 750 Egyptian security forces on the Gaza-Egypt border. The troops would act to prevent weapon smuggling in a manner that will allow IDF forces to leave the Philadelphi route. Under the deal, the Egyptians pledged to refrain from transferring weapons to the Palestinians. (Ynet News)
        See also Egyptian Troops Will Take Control of Egypt-Gaza Border
    Under the new agreement, Egyptian troops will be responsible for the security tasks Israeli soldiers used to conduct on the Gaza side of the border. (AP/New York Times)
  • Israel Wary of PA Deal with Terrorists - Herb Keinon
    Disarming the Palestinian terrorist groups is a prerequisite to a diplomatic process, Israeli officials made clear Tuesday, a day after Hamas and Islamic Jihad said the PA promised not to confiscate their arms. "If the process is going to move forward after disengagement, then we have to see the Palestinians fulfill their road map obligations and disarm the terrorist groups," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Prepares Separation Fence around Ma'ale Adumim - Meron Rapoport and Yuval Yoaz
    The IDF began issuing land expropriation orders this weekend for construction of the separation fence around Ma'ale Adumim, a city east of Jerusalem with a population of 30,000. The U.S. argues that a fence around the city would impede territorial contiguity between the southern and northern West Bank. However, Minister Haim Ramon (Labor) said this issue could be resolved if Israel simply built a new road connecting Bethlehem to Ramallah, thereby ensuring that the West Bank would not be cut in two. (Ha'aretz)
        Sharon plans to build a new road between Bethlehem and Ramallah that would pass east of the fence slated to be built around Ma'ale Adumim. (Ha'aretz)
  • High Court Orders Two Synagogues Moved from Gaza into Israel - Yuval Yoaz
    Synagogues in Tel Katifa and Slav in Gush Katif whose construction allows for their dismantlement and reassembly will be moved into Israeli territory, the High Court of Justice determined Tuesday. The High Court also ordered examining the possibility of fully or partially moving the Bedolah synagogue and the Yemenite synagogue from Neveh Dekalim into Israel, as well as moving the dome of the Netzarim synagogue.
        The state and Gush Katif rabbis agreed to evacuate not just the contents of synagogues (holy books, religious ritual items, furniture, memorial plaques), but also unique and symbolic items including doors, decorative design, memorials, stained glass, and paintings. Efforts will be made to make use of at least some of the building stones from the Gaza synagogues in new synagogues to be built in Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Gaza, the West Bank, and the Palestinians - Benny Morris
    The Gaza Strip and the coastal towns to its north, for most of the years between 1250 BCE and 135 CE - the era in which Jews lived in and often ruled the land of Israel - eluded firm Israelite or Judean control and, indeed, Jewish habitation. It is not even clear that the great Hebrew kings David and Solomon, under whom the kingdom reached its vastest expanse, ever directly controlled the Gaza area. These historical details are of little interest to the Islamic fundamentalists. Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader, said recently, the fundamentalists seek to control not just the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; as he put it, "All of Palestine is our land."
        Probably most Arabs would like to "de-Judaize" all of Palestine, and many, no doubt, see the Gaza evacuation as a first step. But that remains a distant dream. Gaza may be reverting to "gentile" rule, but whether the West Bank - in which lie the true historical roots of the Jewish people - will do so also is another, and far more painful, question. (New York Times)
  • What Happened to Fifty Years of Aid Money? - Frederick Forsyth
    I saw Gaza on my first visit to Israel in 1968. It was created in the same year as the UN created Israel: 1948. It was supposed to be a temporary camp for Palestinians displaced by the new Israeli state. Its inhabitants were supposed to be able to return to new plots of land inside Israel or accept a living space in the lands of their surrounding Arab "brothers." (This was 19 years before the 1967 war.) Alas, the "brothers" did precious little. Gaza had better propaganda value as a festering sore of human misery to be waved before the world. It soon became a sewage-smelling slum.
        But aid did pour in; billions of it, enough to make that tiny plot a mini Garden of Eden, a prosperous, healthy, thriving enclave beside the blue Mediterranean south of Ashkelon. Fifty years later, it was still a sewage-smelling slum, wreathed in chaos. What happened to all the money? Well, the Palestinian leadership embezzled half of it; the rest went on guns, bullets, and explosives. (Daily Express-UK, 24Aug05/BICOM)
  • Gaza Next, Gaza Last - Arnaud de Borchgrave
    Television images of desperate settlers forcibly evicted by Israeli soldiers caused a national trauma in Israel. For a growing number of Israelis, it's now Gaza last - the last time Israelis will be forced out of their homes anywhere, except for four tiny hilltop settlements with 700 inhabitants in the northern West Bank that are part of the Gaza package deal.
        The Bush Doctrine holds that democracy is the best solution for most problems facing the Muslim world. But throughout the Middle East, Islamists are emerging as the political mainstream. Is the U.S. prepared to deal with Islamist parties as the democratic alternative to presently friendly authoritarian regimes? Israel is not prepared to live cheek by jowl with an Islamist neighbor. A Palestinian state in the West Bank would be irredentist, seeking to recover Palestinian land to the west - i.e., Israel. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Gaza and the Next War - Editorial (Washington Times)

    • In the wake of the poignant images from Gaza, Prime Minister Sharon is under fire from those who cannot understand why he would withdraw from the territory, given the lack of a serious Palestinian peace partner, as well as those who see every unreciprocated Israeli concession to the Palestinians as insufficient. For example, the New York Times editorialized that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza can only be the beginning, and that Mr. Sharon must give up the West Bank next.
    • It would be difficult to find an argument more disconnected from reality; anyone who thinks that more Israeli concessions comprise the magic way to peace should look carefully at the experience of the past 12 years. In 1993, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin recognized Yasser Arafat and the PLO as the representatives of the Palestinian people. Over the next seven years, Israel ceded most of Gaza and nearly all of the major West Bank cities to Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Authority and overlooked the fact that he was arming terrorist militias in the West Bank, doing nothing to put Hamas's terrorist infrastructure out of business, and enabling raw anti-Semitic incitement in the PA-controlled media.
    • In July 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Mr. Arafat a Palestinian state that would have included Gaza, nearly the entire West Bank, and eastern Jerusalem. Mr. Arafat rejected the Barak offer and opened a war of terror that killed 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians.
    • Since February, Israel has scaled back its operations in PA-controlled areas against Hamas and other terrorist groups in the hope that Mr. Abbas will restrain the terrorists. In fact, he is doing precisely the opposite, permitting the terrorists to regroup and rebuild to target Israel on another day.
    • Israel should adopt a policy of relentless and massive deterrence, guaranteeing that Gaza-based terrorists will be hit very hard every time they fire rockets into Israel. For such a deterrence policy to work, it is essential that Washington support Israel when it defends itself against terror.

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