Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 9, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Denies Report of Agreement to Transfer Temple Mount to Jordanian Custody - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    The Prime Minister's Office denied a report in the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi that Olmert and Abbas had agreed to transfer the Temple Mount's holy sites to Jordanian custody.
    Israeli government officials warned there would likely be a torrent of reports over the next few weeks about the content of negotiations with the Palestinians, with much of it either trial balloons or wishful thinking by interested parties leaking information.

Poll: Most Israelis Oppose Changing Jerusalem's Status (Ynet News)
    According to a poll by the Dahaf Institute published by Yediot Ahronot Tuesday, when asked if Israel should compromise Jerusalem's status as part of any future peace agreement with the Palestinians, 63% said Jerusalem should not be included in a peace agreement, 21% thought it should, and 16% would agree only if the changes were approved in a referendum.
    As for handing over Palestinian neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority, 68% were against, 20% agreed, and 11% said they would agree if a referendum supported the idea.
    When asked who should remain sovereign of the Western Wall and Temple Mount, 61% said Israel should be sovereign, 16% favored joint Israeli-Palestinian sovereignty, 21% said the holy places should be under international rule, and 1% said Jordan should be named the holy places' sovereign.

Israeli "Smart Bomb" Silently Seeks Target - Ehud Zion Waldoks (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israeli-made "Spice" precision-guided munition has no engine to give it away to sensors and does not rely on global positioning systems to guide it to its target, making it very hard to detect or deflect, the IDF officer in charge of the project said Monday.
    A fighter plane can be loaded with several Spice bombs which can be programmed to hit different targets despite being launched from the same spot.
    Once released, Spice glides in to destroy its target, which can be dozens of kilometers away, with twice the range of the American-produced JDAM.

Errors and Distortions in CNN's "God's Jewish Warriors" (CAMERA)
    A CAMERA video discusses serious problems with CNN's documentary about "God's Jewish Warriors," including false and misleading statements by host Christiane Amanpour.

Useful Reference:

Video Report: An Israeli Journalist Tours Syria - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    Ron Ben-Yishai, defense commentator for Yediot Ahronot and Israel Television, speaks with Syrian students and taxi drivers about Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Olmert Sees Long Road to Peace Deal with Palestinians - Adam Entous
    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Monday he was determined to advance the peace process with the Palestinians but that an accord was a long way off. (Reuters)
        See also Olmert Pledges Major Peace Push (AP/CNN)
        See also below Observations: Israel Wants to Negotiate with Palestinian Leaders Not Involved in Terrorism - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Student Protest Targets Iranian President - Ali Akbar Dareini
    About 100 students staged a protest Monday against Iranian President Ahmadinejad, calling him a "dictator" as he gave a speech at Tehran University. Ahmadinejad ignored chants of "Death to the dictator" and gave his speech on the pitfalls of Western-style democracy. Hard-line students chanted "Thank you, president" and police looked on from outside the university without intervening. In recent months, hundreds of dissenters have been detained on accusations of threatening the Iranian system. Numerous pro-reform newspapers have been shut down and those that remain have muted their criticism. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA Says Pre-Summit Document to Anchor Final Settlement - Avi Issacharoff
    The joint document Israel and the Palestinians are negotiating will be the basis for the final settlement between the two sides, Ahmed Qureia, head of the Palestinian team, said Sunday. Qureia said that unless the document is ready by the scheduled date of the summit in Annapolis, the Palestinians will have to reconsider whether they will attend. "If the document is drafted with ambiguities, it is not necessary. Every discussion must include the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem," he said. Qureia offered an example of the kind of detail he expected in the document: "The border [between Israel and the PA] will be on the basis of the 1967 lines, with the possibility of making limited changes that will not undermine the natural resources and territorial contiguity." He said that "this also applies to Jerusalem, the refugees, the settlements, water and all the other issues in the final settlement." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Opposes Discussion of Syrian Track in Annapolis - Barak Ravid
    The fate of the Golan Heights will not be raised at the Annapolis peace summit, Prime Minister Olmert said Monday during a meeting with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan. "I am happy with Syria's invitation to the summit, but only if it wants to be involved in our negotiations with the Palestinians. It would be wrong to include other issues," Olmert said. He said that dialogue with Syria can only take place when it stops supporting terror. "If Syria's isolation is lifted, will it stop assassinating Lebanese members of parliament?" he asked. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Urges Conference Boycott
    The Palestinian Hamas movement has urged Arab countries to boycott a U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference planned for next month. (BBC News)
  • Israel, U.S. Change Terms for Egyptian Exports to U.S.
    Israel and the U.S. have accepted Egypt's request to reduce the minimum Israeli input required for goods Egypt can export to the U.S. on preferential terms, Israel's ambassador to Egypt Shlomo Cohen said on Monday. Cohen said the minimum percentage would be 9.25%, instead of the 11.7% set when the three countries signed a Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) agreement in 2004. (Reuters/Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket into Israel's western Negev on Monday evening. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Removing the Time Cap - Hillel Halkin
    Summits, as is well known in the diplomatic trade, should never be counted on to negotiate anything. Indeed the only good reason for summits, as the diplomats also know, is to provide gala occasions for celebrating what negotiations have already concluded. Negotiating and deadlines do not go well together. When two sides negotiate under time pressure, time itself inevitably becomes a weapon in the hands of one, if not both, and is used to bludgeon the other into submission. The Palestinians are telling Israel that they are not coming to the conference at all unless agreement has been reached on the core issues "in principle," if not in precise detail. And if Israel doesn't agree, concede, or accept? Then, say the Palestinians, we're not coming to the Annapolis party - and George and Condi aren't going to like that one bit. The Palestinians also demand that Israel must agree in advance to set a six-month time limit on how long negotiations will take. And if negotiations take longer? Presumably, we then can have the pleasure of another intifada. (New York Sun)
        See also Annapolis Conference a Failure Foretold - Yossi Alpher
    I have supported a negotiated two-state solution for the past 20 years. Why, then, do I remain skeptical - nay, fearful - regarding the outcome of the American-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian conference to be held in Annapolis? Everything points to a failure foretold. The Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas lacks the authority to enforce its writ. It has lost Gaza and only manages to control the West Bank thanks to Israeli military backing. It is in no position to make constructive concessions on the major issues of territory, refugees and Jerusalem, let alone deliver on them in terms of public support. It is not significantly reforming its corrupt and inept institutions - the definitive step that must precede progress toward peace.
        Better to postpone Annapolis and concentrate first on building Palestinian security and governmental institutions and rebuilding confidence between Israelis and Palestinians. That's what the Quartet appointed Tony Blair to do. (
  • Reporting the (Bad) News - Frida Ghitis
    News coverage from Israel in the European press is often little more than a parody of honest journalism. To highlight at least one of the techniques used by European - and some American - news organizations, one Israeli has launched his own news parody. ''Bad News from the Netherlands,'' run by Manfred Gerstenfeld, reports on the Netherlands focusing exclusively on negative news. By the time you run through the clippings - all real news stories - the usually placid Netherlands sounds like the abode of the devil himself: Dutch soldiers suspected of torturing prisoners and killing civilians; soldiers beating an immigrant to death; Dutch politicians guilty of incitement against foreigners. His point? You can make any country look bad by the way you report about it. (Miami Herald)
  • Observations:

    Israel Wants to Negotiate with Palestinian Leaders Not Involved in Terrorism - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Olmert told the opening of the winter session of the Knesset on Monday:

    • I made a commitment to place on the public agenda a political process which would generate a deep and fundamental change in the pattern of relations between us and the Palestinians. The first stage in such a process is a serious effort to conduct negotiations with the authorized representatives of the Palestinian Authority, on condition that they would not include any elements involved in terrorist activity. President Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Salem Fayyad are committed to all the agreements signed with Israel, and I believe they want to move forward with us on a track which will change the reality between them and us.
    • I know that the proof on the ground is the essential precondition for any possibility for progress in the relations between us and the Palestinian Authority. I also know that the gap between the honest and fair will of Abu Mazen and Salem Fayyad, and their ability at this time to translate it into a reality, is troubling and alarming.
    • This November, an international meeting is expected to be held in the United States, with the aim of providing a backing to the process of dialogue between us and the Palestinians. The November meeting is not a conference which will replace bilateral, direct negotiations between us and the Palestinians. This meeting is intended to provide backing and encouragement and create a comprehensive umbrella of support for the direct process between us and them.
    • The road to an agreement is still far and it is rife with pitfalls and difficulties. Terror from Gaza continues to run rampant. The terror organizations remain active in Judea and Samaria, and there will be no Israeli withdrawal whatsoever before it is eradicated there as well.
    • We understand the hardship of the Palestinians and feel a deep empathy to the distress that many of them experienced as a result of our conflict. But they, too, will have to confront the need to relinquish the fulfillment of some of their dreams in order to create with us a reality that might not be ideal, and might not be perfect, but one that will give us all stability, security, happiness and peace.

          See also Netanyahu Warns Against Dividing Jerusalem, Calls for Defensible Borders
      Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Monday: "Giving Hamas half of Jerusalem will make the rest of Jerusalem unlivable....Giving up Judea and Samaria will transfer the areas controlling the coastal plain into the hands of Hamas, leading to Kassams…on Tel Aviv." (Jerusalem Post)

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