Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 29, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel, U.S. Resume Strategic Dialogue - Nathan Guttman (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel and the U.S. resumed their strategic dialogue Monday after a three-year hiatus.
    The talks held at the State Department in Washington focused on the Iranian nuclear threat and other regional issues that touched upon the interests of both countries.

EU: Hamas Must Recognize Israel - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas "will remain on the EU list of terrorist organizations" until it "recognizes the State of Israel" and "commits to solving the conflict through peaceful means," the EU's Ambassador to Israel Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal said Monday.

Gunmen Ransack Gaza Newspaper Office - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Gunmen on Sunday went on a rampage inside the offices of the online newspaper Donia al-Watan in Gaza City, destroying equipment and threatening to kill editor-in-chief Abdallah Issa.
    Donia al-Watan is an independent newspaper that has been reporting extensively on corruption and lawlessness in the PA - issues that the PA-controlled media often tend to ignore.
    Imtiyaz al-Mughrabi, who writes regularly for the paper, said the only way to deal with anarchy is by confiscating illegal weapons "that are being used against our children, women and elderly, as well as our writers."
    In more scenes of lawlessness, three Palestinians were murdered in Ramallah over the past week, one of them a 75-year-old woman.

Former PA Justice Minister Blames PA for Rampant Corruption (Palestine-Info-UK)
    Speaking at a political seminar in Gaza city, former PA justice minister Nahed Al-Rayes affirmed that the PA is responsible for the "mushrooming corruption" rampant in its institutions.
    "The PA security elements were setting up gangs inside their apparatuses in order to loot public and private funds, let alone terrorizing the citizens," the former minister charged.

Ancient Roman Anchors Found in Israel (AP/Newsday)
    Two ancient wooden anchors preserved by natural salt for more than 2,000 years have been discovered on the receding shores of the Dead Sea, Israel TV reported Monday.
    Archaeologist David Mevorach said one anchor dated back 2,500 years - the oldest ever found.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Block Judgment Against PLO
    The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to overturn a $116 million judgment against the Palestine Liberation Organization in the deaths of a Jewish couple near the West Bank. The PLO and the PA had been sued in federal court in Rhode Island over the 1996 drive-by shooting of Yaron Ungar, an American citizen, and his Israeli wife, Efrat, as the couple returned home from a wedding. The family's relatives argued that the PLO and PA provided a safe haven and operational base for the Islamic militant group Hamas, which was responsible for the attack. (AP/Washington Post)
  • EU and Muslim Countries Fail the Terror Test - Anton La Guardia
    European countries and their Muslim neighbors vowed to unite in the fight against terrorism Monday at the Euromed summit in Barcelona, but only after papering over a deep disagreement about who is a terrorist and who is a freedom fighter. The impact of the agreement was irreparably weakened by the absence or boycott of seven of the eight Arab leaders who had been invited. Moreover, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sharaa was among those demanding that the fight against terrorism had to protect "the right of peoples under foreign occupation to resistance" - a reference to insurgencies by Palestinians and Iraqis. In the end, the definition of terrorism was left undecided. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership - Israel's Perspective - Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Gaza Gets Ready for a Harvest of Produce and Promise - Greg Myre
    Amid the rubble of the former Jewish settlements, Palestinians have sown the first seeds of a modest economic revival. Less than three months after the Israelis departed, Palestinians have repaired scores of greenhouses, planted a fall crop, and are preparing to harvest an estimated $20 million worth of strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and sweet peppers. "We understand that a successful Gaza economy is a crucial ingredient in the overall success of what is now Palestinian Gaza," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry. "And the success of Gaza is a crucial factor in getting the peace process back on track."  (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Looks to Close Israel-Egypt Border to Terrorists - Ronny Sofer
    There have been repeated intelligence warnings regarding Palestinian terror groups' plans to take advantage of the recent opening of the Rafah crossing and the breached Egyptian border to transfer terror cells from Gaza into Sinai, and from there to Israeli population centers in the Negev region. During last Sunday's cabinet meeting, security officials spoke of attempts by Gaza suicide bombers to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing and then infiltrate into Israel. The prime minister is expected to instruct the security establishment on Tuesday to seal the border with Egypt. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Rockets at Israel - Hanan Greenberg
    Palestinians in Gaza once again fired rockets and mortars at Israeli targets on Monday. IDF gunners returned fire. (Ynet News)
  • Fatah Officials May Nullify Primary Election Results - Arnon Regular
    Senior Fatah officials are trying to nullify the recent primary elections in the West Bank and Gaza, and set up a committee to create a list of the movement's parliamentary candidates. Sources close to Mahmoud Abbas reported that he would head a 35-strong panel of Fatah leaders to determine the final list.
        The drive to cancel the primaries began after Monday's election fiasco in the Gaza Strip where gunmen took over several polling stations. Five polling booths were set ablaze and 10 others were fired at in Rafah. Mass brawls erupted between gunmen from various Fatah groups in Khan Yunis, Abasan, and Bani Suhila, while similar incidents took place in al-Bureij, Muasi, Dir al-Balah, Beit Lahia, and Beit Hanun. (Ha'aretz)
  • Baby Wounded by Palestinians Throwing Rocks at Car - Margot Dudkevitch
    An Israeli baby girl was lightly wounded by shattered glass Monday after Palestinians threw rocks at the car in which she was traveling on Highway 60 near Hebron. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • PA Commander Mourned But Not Missed - Arnon Regular
    Palestinians killed in the suicide bombings in Amman included Bashir Nafeh, who until recently was the commander of the Palestinian special forces, and Abed Allun, the liaison between the Palestinian Preventive Security Service (PSS) and foreign intelligence agencies. The death of the two, who in recent years were considered close allies, caused a sigh of relief among most of the heads of the West Bank security services.
        Nafeh and the apparatus that he headed - which the Americans and British generously supported, mainly with equipment - caused a serious headache both for Nasser Yousef, the PA interior minister appointed to command the Palestinian security forces, and for Mahmoud Abbas. It is a well-known fact that the vast majority of incidents that create the chaotic security situation in the territories originate with the security forces themselves. Nafeh's men, about 1,000 policemen in the West Bank, were involved this year in dozens of serious gunbattles with PSS policemen as well as other security forces.
        In practice, it turns out that Abbas is incapable of controlling the heads of the security services and imposing security reforms. One of the heads of the security forces said this week, only half jokingly, that the attacks in Amman and the deaths of Nafeh and Allun eliminated one of the main obstacles that prevented the PA from taking control of its security services. The assassination of Moussa Arafat in Gaza four months ago solved a problem with the security services in a similar manner. (Ha'aretz)
  • Once a Terrorist... - Editorial
    Last week's attempt by the Lebanese Hizballah to raid two military outposts and kidnap Israeli soldiers along the border - the worst clash there in five years - is a sobering lesson for those who insist that the best way to disarm terrorists is to welcome them into the political process. Hizballah, after all, is a part of the Lebanese government, having won seats in the last parliamentary election. And many now argue that Hamas should be allowed to participate in Palestinian elections - rather than being forcibly disarmed. Hmm. If turning a terrorist group into a political party is the path to disarmament, what accounts for Hizballah's continued, and increasing, terror attacks?
        The answer, of course, is that terrorists can't be tamed. Welcoming them inside the tent will only embolden those committed to violence - and threaten the long-term viability of governments. (New York Post)
  • Terrorists in Suits and Ties - Gil Troy
    When a terrorist organization decides to enter the political arena, does it automatically become legitimate? The truth is that terrorists by definition have entered the political arena from the start because terrorism is violence with a political agenda. Without the political context, bombing, kidnapping, and shooting are simply crimes. Terrorism, like war, is politics by other means.
        The Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, which has long confused Westerners by distributing free food to Palestinians while merrily slaughtering Israelis, is building up to Palestinian elections slated for January. Western diplomats are now pressuring Israel to accept representatives of an organization committed to its destruction, as long as they are democratically elected.
        Democracy requires more than periodic elections. It demands the rule of law, respect for others, basic rights for all. An organization that commits mass-murder with no compunction cannot wipe out its crimes by winning some votes. The writer teaches history at McGill University. (Montreal Gazette)
  • Observations:

    Dim Prospects for Palestinian Moderates - Barry Rubin (Turkish Daily News)

    • The Palestinian movement has no able leader today. The glorification of violence, disdain for compromise, and deep factionalism whose seeds Arafat planted have now come close to destroying it. As a result, the Palestinian leadership will be unable to develop a viable strategy for peace or getting a state. No order will be established in the Gaza Strip. The moderates will not be able to change any of this.
    • Yet the world hardly seems to notice what is going on. Rhetoric continues to be about "helping the moderates," brokering peace through road maps, or just blaming Israel for the lack of progress.
    • The latest sign of disaster is the resignation of PA Finance Minister Salam Fayad, a former International Monetary Fund official. He has been portrayed accurately as the most honest man in the PA, trying to curb corruption and create a system of accountability. Fayad's presence made donors believe they could give money to the PA without expecting it to be stolen or wasted.
    • The final round of Palestinian local elections will be held in December. Not only are these likely to see further advances by Hamas, but the number of Palestinians who will now be under Hamas local rule will probably exceed 40%. In the general Palestinian parliamentary election scheduled for January, Hamas is likely to do very well, changing the historic course of the Palestinian movement, even though it will not attain a majority. Hamas is clearly running on a platform of destroying Israel and escalating terrorism.

      The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of Turkish Studies journal.

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