Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 20, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians Celebrate Ramadan with Anti-Israel TV Special - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    Expect more incitement in PA-controlled media.
    "The Canaanite," a new television series broadcast on Palestinian television over the holy month of Ramadan, is filled with biased scenes illustrating the brutal behavior of Israeli security officials against Palestinian prisoners.
    One scene depicts an IDF soldier happily shooting and killing a Palestinian bride.
    The presentation of IDF soldiers as blood-thirsty murderers is only a backdrop to the claim that Israelis "are willing to fight us (the Palestinians) with AIDS."

Abbas Protests French Role in Jerusalem Railway - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    During a visit to France this week, Mahmoud Abbas was to protest to French President Jacques Chirac over the participation of French companies in the Jerusalem light-rail project, which will connect the eastern Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev to western Jerusalem.

France Says Extremists Are Enlisting Its Citizens to Attack Paris - John Ward Anderson (Washington Post)
    French police investigating plans by a group of Islamic extremists to attack targets in Paris discovered last month that the group was recruiting French citizens to train in the Middle East and return home to carry out terrorist attacks, sources familiar with the investigation said.
    One French official said the extremists were using a virtual "underground railroad" through Syria to spirit European and Middle Eastern citizens into and out of Iraq.
    A senior French law enforcement official said French citizens had undergone terrorist training at camps in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

PA Tries to Bring Back Two Prisoners Who Broke Out of Jericho Prison (Palestine News Network)
    Palestinian sources revealed on Wednesday that the PA is negotiating with two members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades wanted by Israel to persuade them to return to the central prison in Jericho after escaping.
    The two activists escaped on Tuesday from Jericho Prison, under American and British supervision, and headed to a West Bank city.

Palestinians Refurbish Gaza's Greenhouses (AFP/Yahoo)
    Gaza Strip farmers have renovated more than two-thirds of the greenhouses left behind after Israel's withdrawal, creating jobs for some 2,500 agricultural workers, officials said.
    Just over half of the greenhouses were badly damaged and needed to be completely refurbished, while the remainder were only slightly damaged, the Palestine Economic Development Company said.


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  • Abbas Will Seek "Clear Statement" On the Road Map - Eli Lake
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will seek an endorsement from President Bush Thursday for the commencement of direct, final-status negotiations with Israel, according to the director of political affairs for the PLO in Washington, Nabil Abuznaid. While Abbas will be seeking American pressure to restart final status talks on creating a Palestinian state, diplomatic sources in Washington say most of the meetings will be focused on how the PA can make good on its promise to disarm Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
        "Israel believes the Palestinian Authority has the means to disarm these organizations, and every day that passes without them taking these steps will only make it more difficult as the terrorist organizations become more empowered and emboldened," said Israeli Embassy spokesman David Siegel. "The gunning down with impunity of teenagers in broad daylight has to stop; it can't be business as usual. Israel can't tolerate it; no country in its right mind would tolerate it." (New York Sun)
        See also Is the 'Road Map' at a Dead End? - Mahmoud Abbas
    The Israeli government has not fully cooperated with my government, created obstacles in the face of a full and unconditional return to the negotiating table, and acted as if Israel can resolve the Middle East conflict unilaterally. I am ready today to sit down with Prime Minister Sharon to resume bilateral negotiations on a permanent solution to our conflict. (Wall Street Journal, 20Oct05)
        See also Abbas May Get Little But Demands from Bush Summit - Wafa Amr
    Israeli officials said they expected "no surprises" from Bush and that the White House understood that since Sharon was facing elections next year he could do little more for now even if he was put under pressure. Palestinian officials said Bush was likely to tell Abbas he should at least start disarming militias from his own Fatah movement before addressing the powerful Islamic group Hamas. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Wants Abbas to Urge Non-Violence; PA Lobbyist Sticks to Hamas Participation
    The Bush administration is asking Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to require candidates in next January's election to renounce violence as a means of easing tensions with Israel, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday. But Edward Abington, a former U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem who advises the Palestinian leadership, said Abbas prefers bringing Hamas and other militant groups into the political process where he hopes to bind them to law-and-order legislation. "As far as running in an election, you cannot cherry-pick between those you like and those you don't like," Abington said. "But once they are in the legislature they will be bound by the decisions and the laws passed by the legislature." (AP/USA Today)
  • Rice Cites Progress in Iraq - Steven R. Weisman
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday that progress was being made in securing Iraq, but declined to predict when American forces could withdraw or to rule out widening the war to Syria. Rice said for the first time that the American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, had the "flexibility" to reach out to Iranian envoys to discuss the problem of insurgents entering Iraq from Iranian territory. There were also hints in her testimony of mounting American impatience with countries unwilling to support Iraq financially and politically, and the unwillingness of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated Arab countries to do more to encourage Iraqi Sunnis to work with Shiites. Asked about news reports that fighting on the border could spread to Syria, Rice repeatedly indicated that no options were being ruled out.
        Rice offered a cutting comment about Saudi Arabia, which administration officials say has not come forward with aid or debt relief commensurate to its wealth. Asked about the recent comments of the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, that Iraq was disintegrating, she said: "I really think that the proper role for Saudi Arabia or for any other country in the region is to help them, not critique them." Administration officials say Rice was incensed by Prince Saud's comment last month. (New York Times)
        See also Rice: Building in E1 Near Jerusalem "Contravenes U.S. Policy" - Nathan Guttman
    Rice also told the committee that Israeli building in the E1 corridor between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim was an act "that would contravene American policy." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Rice to Abbas: Show Leadership - Yitzhak Benhorin
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday that the PA should maintain law and order in the Gaza Strip to demonstrate its ability to exercise leadership. (Ynet News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli, Palestinian West Bank Traffic Not Separated - Amos Harel
    Officials in Jerusalem clarified on Wednesday that Israel has no new plans to separate Israeli and Palestinian traffic on the roads of the West Bank. Restrictions were put in place on Palestinian vehicular traffic following the terrorist attacks on Sunday at the Gush Etzion junction and near Eli, in which three Israelis were murdered. Israeli security forces have received warnings recently regarding plans on the part of Palestinian groups to carry out more attacks: both drive-by shooting on West Bank roads and also suicide attacks within the "green line." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel May Build New Roads to Keep Palestinians Away From Israelis - Julie Stahl
    Israel is preparing to build new roads in the West Bank to further separate Israeli and Palestinian traffic following terrorist attacks that left three Israelis dead. The army is planning to build new roads that would link Palestinian villages and would be used only by Palestinian drivers, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday. (CNSNews)
        See also A Solution for West Bank Roadblocks? - Amira Hass
    More than a year ago the defense establishment formulated a proposal for two separate transportation systems in the West Bank. The plan would build and upgrade some 500 kilometers of roads and 16 intersections, creating "traffic contiguity" for the Palestinians. The plan was presented as a solution to the closure problem in the West Bank, which the World Bank found to be the main cause for its economic deterioration. The plan's estimated cost is $200 million, but donor states said they would carry out no project against the Palestinians' will. In October 2004 the Palestinian cabinet adopted a resolution against the Israeli proposal. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Arrests Palestinian Boy Smuggling Mortar Shell - Amos Harel
    Israel Defense Forces soldiers arrested a 15-year-old Palestinian carrying a 52-milimeter mortar shell and two knives at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus on Thursday. The youth said he was asked to smuggle the mortar shell through the checkpoint by members of a Palestinian armed group. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Vote for Hamas? - Editorial
    With Palestinian legislative elections planned for January, Mr. Bush will press Mr. Abbas on his plan to allow candidates from the extremist Islamic movement Hamas to run and maybe even join the government that will be formed afterward - even though Hamas has refused to renounce violence as a means of establishing an Islamic state and extinguishing Israel. Israel and its advocates in Washington have launched an aggressive campaign to convince the administration that Hamas must be banned unless it disarms and modifies its ideology. The U.S. can more clearly articulate the principle that Islamic movements - including those with fundamentalist ideologies - must have a place in Muslim democracies, but that they must also check their guns at the door. (Washington Post)
  • Mobocracy vs. Xanadu - Arnaud de Borchgrave
    Mahmoud Abbas' huddle with President Bush this week appears to be detached from reality. The anarchy widely predicted in the wake of Israel's total withdrawal from Gaza quickly became mobocracy. Ski-masked Palestinian extremists battle it out daily with Palestinian security forces, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machineguns to settle accounts. Despite a ban on the public display of weapons, every other man and boy totes an M-16 or AK-47. There are an estimated 20,000 gunmen and 60,000 security forces on the government payroll. Abbas can't meet his security payroll so the U.S. advises him to reduce the size of his force. Trouble is laid-off security guards keep their weapons and walk across the street to join a group with cash - such as Hamas.
        The prospect of a Palestinian state in a West Bank evacuated by 240,000 Israeli settlers, with its capital in East Jerusalem, never more than a Quartet "road map" to Xanadu, has been given a proper burial by Israel. Whatever takes place on the West Bank will not be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinian government. The lamentable spectacle of Palestinian internecine warfare has convinced the government of Ariel Sharon that whatever it decides to do in the West Bank will be done unilaterally. (UPI)
  • Observations:

    Pretoria Calling - Dennis Ross (New York Times)

    • The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has a credibility problem that his visit with President Bush is unlikely to help: how to convince his people that violence against Israel will not lead to an independent Palestinian state.
    • Arafat loved to equate the Palestinian struggle for statehood with the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, but his was always a false analogy. In South Africa, less than 15% of the population controlled all the power and wealth and subjected the other 85% to a degrading, inhuman, and segregated existence. For the oppressed majority, the answer was not one state for non-whites and one for whites; rather, the goal was justice and majority rule.
    • Compare that to the Palestinian movement for self-determination. Arabs today remain a minority in the area that encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. To be sure, given demographic trends, Jews will become a minority in that area within this decade, but even by 2050, Arabs would outnumber Jews by only 60% to 40%.
    • The international community supports a two-state solution because it recognizes that there are two national movements with populations in rough equality. That was never the case in South Africa. And while Palestinians have endured occupation and a denial of their rights, their commitment to violent struggle has sadly perpetuated this condition and stymied their national aspirations.
    • The Palestinians urgently need a credible and effective role model for assuming responsibility and rejecting violence. Palestinians respect the South African model but are not learning from it. For all of Arafat's comparisons to the African National Congress, it did not have an ideology of violence: although the congress attacked the military and economic underpinnings of apartheid, it forswore attacks on civilians and generally expelled those members who violated that policy.

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