Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Fatah Policemen in Gaza "Defect to Al-Qaeda" - Khaled Abu Toameh
Expert: Hamas, Hizbullah Cells May Be Active in Mexico - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
Coffee at Claridge's with Prince Saud - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
Bomb Detector (Engineer-UK)
Iraqis Use Google Earth to Report on Militants - Michael Yon (New York Post)
Hamas Boy Band in Camouflage Blue Fatigues - Tim Butcher (Telegraph-UK)
Yad Vashem to Open Muslim Exhibit - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Doctors Prep for "Whatever Israel Needs" in Next Emergency - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
French Trade Minister: "We've Come to Learn from the Israelis about Innovation" - Ora Koren (The Marker-Israel, 1Nov07)
Fifteen Years of China-Israel Talent Exchanges (People's Daily-China)
Israel Gets "Chinese" Admiral (JTA)
Israel Building a National Bike Trail - Yoav Kaveh (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israeli incursions into Gaza now encounter increasingly effective resistance from forces organized by militants trained in Iran and by Hizbullah in Lebanon, Israeli officers say. Israel has resumed almost daily operations in Gaza in recent months in what it calls the "security zone," a two-mile-wide swath on the Palestinian side of the fence separating Gaza from Israel. The object of these sweeps is to prevent the militants from digging tunnels underneath the fence or from firing mortars or rockets within the zone. These incursions now are met by forward Hamas units, supported by auxiliaries from other militant groups. Hamas has organized every area with a coordinated network of observation posts and forces that include riflemen and anti-tank units whose rockets also are effective against infantry.
"They are building an army," said Gen. Moshe Tamir, commander of the Israeli division assigned to Gaza, "and are trying to build bunkers and mortar positions along the border." He said more than 200 militants have been killed since the beginning of the year. The head of Israel's Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, said Monday that Hamas has smuggled in more than 70 tons of explosives from Egypt since it took control of Gaza in June, bringing the total in its possession to 112 tons. He told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hamas forces in Gaza now totaled 15,000 trained men in a military-style structure. (Washington Times)
Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will not attend the Middle East peace conference scheduled by the U.S. for this month unless there is significant agreement in advance on the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. (Guardian-UK)
Setting a deadline for a peace deal would be counterproductive, the chief Israel negotiator, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, said Thursday after her Palestinian counterpart made a timeline a precondition for talks. The two sides are trying to write a joint document of principles for a future peace deal, as a basis for a U.S.-hosted Mideast conference this fall. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
The Fatah-led West Bank government has mounted a crackdown on preachers from the rival Hamas movement, arresting or sacking clerics accused of spreading political dissent. In Nablus, a major Hamas center of power, police have arrested Sheikh Maher Kharas, a prominent and radical Hamas cleric, and replaced several other clerics who are either members of Hamas or close to the movement. The crackdown follows a wave of arrests of Hamas politicians and the closure of several Hamas-linked charities across the West Bank. It comes at the same time as a new U.S.-backed Fatah security plan for Nablus.
"This campaign is just one of many steps they are taking to reduce the popularity of Hamas," said Kholood al-Masri, a Hamas member and the acting deputy mayor of Nablus. "There is a real war against Hamas in the West Bank," she said. (Guardian-UK)
See also Abbas Meets Hamas Leaders in West Bank
Mahmoud Abbas met delegates of Hamas in the West Bank for the first time since the Islamist movement routed his forces in Gaza, an official said Friday. (AFP/Yahoo)
Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in an interview with The Times has become the first Arab leader to jettison the language of diplomacy and directly accuse Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons. "While they don't have the bomb yet, they are developing it, or the capability for it," he said - the first time one of Iran's Gulf neighbors effectively has accused it of lying about its nuclear program. The U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, its main carrier battle group tasked with securing the Strait of Hormuz. The King Fahd causeway to Khobar makes Bahrain a gateway to the richest oil reserves on Earth in eastern Saudi Arabia.
The Iranian coast is ten minutes away by fighter or medium-range missile. And this week a senior Iranian general said that suicide bombers were ready to strike at targets throughout the Gulf "if necessary." Such rhetoric will focus minds in Qatar, Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates. But its effect is especially chilling in Bahrain as the only Sunni-led country with a Shia majority that is not at war or on the brink of war.
In a newspaper editorial this summer, a close associate of President Ahmadinejad rekindled an old claim on Bahrain as Iran's 14th province, with echoes of Saddam Hussein's designs on Kuwait in the late 1980s that were picked up from London to Washington. The claim "touched on the legitimacy of our country," said Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifa. (Times-UK)
See also Germany Backs Tougher Sanctions Against Iran - Mark Weiss
Speaking in Tel Aviv after talks with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "Germany's position does not differ from that of the U.S. or some other European countries. If Iran refuses to provide answers, we should think about the possibility of European sanctions." (Jerusalem Post)
Hizbullah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group, is expanding its military power by recruiting Sunnis, Christians and Druze in preparation for another conflict with Israel, according to sources close to Hizbullah. In addition to its year-long political campaign to bring down Lebanon's pro-Western government, Hizbullah has ignored UN and Lebanese government calls for disarmament and remains focused on bolstering its military strength by recruiting non-Shiites. Moreover, Hizbullah is arming and training a Sunni militia group inside the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near the southern port of Sidon. Sheikh Abu Ayoub, the commander of some 300 Sunni Palestinian fighters of Ansar Allah (Followers of God), acknowledges his group's affiliation with Hizbullah. (San Francisco Chronicle)
See also Hizbullah Says It Has Grown Stronger - Bassem Mroue
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said Thursday that his organization has grown stronger as Israel has weakened. His comments came a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a new report that said Israel claims that Hizbullah has rearmed with new long-range rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv. (AP/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The Palestinian Authority has demanded that Israel formally sanction a document in which it promises to permit Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem to continue to operate, the Shin Bet security service has told the government in recent days. The Shin Bet - which is presenting its analysis of the negotiating stance the Palestinians are expected to put forward at next month's Annapolis peace conference - has also warned Prime Minister Olmert against falling into the trap of declaring Israeli recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The warning points especially to the fact that "East Jerusalem" is understood to encompass both the Old City and the Western Wall. (Ha'aretz)
Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades on Thursday announced the launch of a military campaign called "The Autumn of Gaza." "The campaign will shower the Israeli towns around the Gaza Strip with hundreds of rockets every day as the Palestinian resistance is fed up with the 'peace lie' and the news about conferences here and there," a Brigades statement said. The campaign began on Thursday morning with the launching of a barrage of 20 rockets toward Israeli towns bordering Gaza. (Maan News-PA)
See also Al-Aqsa Brigades in Gaza Doesn't Take Orders from Abbas - Avi Issacharoff
On Thursday, it was the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades that fired a heavy salvo of rockets at Sderot. But despite their affiliation, the men who launched the rockets are not taking orders from Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas. They are a group of militants embroiled in a protracted conflict with Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
"The Annapolis peace parley is not a scientific experiment and the Israeli people are not guinea pigs," Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told an AIPAC conference in Philadelphia last week. He added that the Palestinians must establish law enforcement bodies such as police forces, courts and "real prisons," before negotiations on a final status agreement can begin. Without such bodies, Dichter said, any declarations by the Palestinians have no merit. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Peace Process
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is traveling in the Middle East this week to promote an "action plan" of the European Union that provides for an international military force to serve in the Palestinian territories. The European Council agreed last month to develop an action plan based on Steinmeier's initiative. In an article laying out his plan, Steinmeier said an international force could serve to protect Palestinians from crime while safeguarding Israelis from suicide bombings and terrorism. The force would serve until the Palestinians are able to handle their own security responsibilities. (Washington Times)
PA officials said they plan to deploy 500 security forces in Nablus, the largest city in the West Bank, in an effort to end the anarchy there. U.S. security coordinator Gen. Keith Dayton was quoted as saying, "This is where the Palestinian state will get its first real test." Actually, this will be the fourth "real test" for the PA security forces. They have already had at least three such tests in the past two years, and flunked them all. In September 2005, after Israel withdrew from Gaza, the PA security forces stood by as the former Israeli synagogues, which could have been used as schools, were burned and as Israeli greenhouses, which could have provided jobs, were looted. Security at the Gaza-Egyptian border collapsed within three days.
Over the succeeding two years, the PA forces proved unable to prevent massive smuggling of weapons and terrorists across the border from Egypt, or stop the daily firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza, or prevent tunneling under the border and the kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldiers. Finally, in June 2007, the PA forces were routed from Gaza by Hamas forces they outnumbered.
Secretary of State Rice is seeking to convene a conference to negotiate a Palestinian state "as soon as possible," even though the PA has been unable to enforce basic civic order, much less meet its Phase I Roadmap obligation to engage in "sustained, targeted, and effective operations" to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Gen. Dayton's "test" for the PA reflects the continuing process of defining down the conditions for a Palestinian state, consistent with Secretary Rice's waiver of Palestinian compliance with Phase I and II obligations as a precondition to Phase III final status negotiations. (New York Sun)
While the Annapolis meeting is, on the surface, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and President Bush's efforts in his last year in office to put his two-state vision on track, it is not solely - or even primarily - about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is also about American needs, and American interests in the Middle East. With the U.S. experiment in Middle East democracy-building not exactly a resounding success, its eyes now are set on creating an arc of moderate Arab regimes, from the Persian Gulf to North Africa, to act as a bulwark, when it withdraws from Iraq, against Iran and marching Shi'ite extremism. The two major issues concerning the U.S. in the region right now are Iraq and Iran - not necessarily in that order - and then Israel.
If the Saudis do show up at Annapolis, and if the Syrians decide to come as well, Israel will be expected to pay the price for getting them there. And that price will be paid to a Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who represents - at best - only half the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
Fatah's forced flight from Gaza not only highlights the difficulty the Palestinian Authority has establishing control over many Palestinians, but that hardliners are consolidating their control over Hamas. Israelis are stung that their withdrawal from Gaza has not meant an end to rocket fire from there. Israelis also believe that they have fought, negotiated and unilaterally withdrawn for peace, all to no avail.
Rice's conference does nothing to move the debate forward. Instead, it seeks to bring together people already on record as favoring a negotiated solution to rehash their stated positions. Rather than move the parties toward peace, it will demonstrate how difficult it is even for those leaning toward peace to make such a peace. In so doing, it will strengthen the rejectionists. The writer is director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. (Financial Times-UK)
Not only do Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad lack control over the Gaza Strip, they have little loyalty within their own Fatah party even in the West Bank. Any agreement they sign that falls short of the full Palestinian demands, many of which are simply impossible for any Israeli government, of whatever stripe, to accede to, will likely cause a revolt in the Palestinian national movement. Nor is the politically weak PA in a position to coerce or entice dissenters to abandon violent opposition.
Annapolis must begin a process which can help bring about the conditions where such a final resolution becomes feasible. This means the best way forward is, as Israel proposes, an agreement on general principles for a peace settlement, including a program of confidence-building measures and interim arrangements, leading to a negotiation process alongside Palestinian reform and institution-building (which U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has stipulated is the main purpose of the Annapolis meeting and which is the primary task of new Quartet envoy Tony Blair). (Australia/Israel Review)
Comparing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Northern Ireland is "misleading and demonstrably false," said Lord David Trimble, a 1998 Nobel Peace Laureate for his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. He spoke at the launch in Parliament of his report entitled "Misunderstanding Ulster," published by Conservative Friends of Israel. The lessons of the Northern Ireland peace process had been misunderstood, Trimble said, adding that Israel "is not Ulster."
"If there is one lesson to learn from Northern Ireland's experience - contrary to what is often recommended in relation to dialogue with Hamas - it is that preconditions were crucial to ending the violence and in producing a settlement," he said. In the 24-page report, Trimble cites the near total collapse of the Northern Ireland peace process on "Bloody Friday" in 1972, when the IRA killed nine people and wounded 130 in a bombing, as evidence that weakening preconditions to dialogue made increased violence more likely. (Jerusalem Post)
The U.S. ratcheted up the financial pressure against Tehran last week, unilaterally slapping sanctions on Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp and three state-owned banks. Realizing the leverage that American financial markets give Washington, senior U.S. Treasury officials have been telling global financial institutions in the last couple of years that doing business with Iran could do great harm to their reputation and complicate their access to the U.S. market.
There are limits to this unilateral strategy, though. Companies and financial institutions that do not operate in the U.S. may be willing to ignore Washington's warnings. But being cut off from New York and the world's other leading financial capital, London, is a risk not too many of these firms would be willing to take. If the British government were to send a similarly strong warning to banks, it could dramatically increase the financial pressure on Iran. A combined initiative by the U.S. and individual European countries to press Iran may strengthen the hand of those in Tehran arguing for accommodation. It would also be a good way to show China, Russia and laggard European governments that with or without them, action will be taken against Iran. Mr. Clawson is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's deputy director for research. Mr. Jacobson is a senior fellow in the institute's Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence, and Policy. (Wall Street Journal)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu preached in Boston on Saturday about the evil the Jews are inflicting on the Palestinians. You wonder why a South African cleric of the Anglican Church is fixated on Israel, or at least I wonder. It could be for the same reason that many Christian clerics have always found reason to damn the Jews. With his characteristic sneer he actually threatened Israel - and not just the state but the whole people. "Remembering what happened to you in Egypt and much more recently in Germany - remember and act accordingly." Tutu has outdone even Jimmy Carter by charging that the Israeli government is worse than the apartheid government, and there is a certain gall to this since Israel's actions are a response to the refusal of most Palestinians to talk peace, let alone act peacefully.
Of course, Tutu's moralizing is historically blind. The Arabs started every war in the modern Holy Land, and each loss has emboldened them to expect more from any settlement. This is just nonsense. And Tutu knows it. Why is he encouraging such self-deception at the price of bloodshed and Palestinian blood, particularly? (New Republic)
In England today anti-Semites read poetry, enjoy fine arts and sip fine wines, sneering at Jews with haughty abandon. Anti-Jewish themes gain acceptability. Melanie Phillips, author of Londonistan, documents how rife the Jew-hating disease is in the growing Muslim communities of England. But she shows how it also permeates the elite cultures of the media, and even the Church of England. The targeting has been recalibrated from the Jewish race to the Jewish state.
The ghost of Winston Churchill, who admired Jews for their energy, their intellect and their creative drive, is surely spinning in a narrow English coffin. "He was both a friend in their hours of need and a friend in deed," writes British historian Martin Gilbert in his new book Churchill and the Jews. Churchill couldn't understand why the Arabs refused to learn agricultural techniques from the Jews of Palestine eight decades ago. He couldn't understand why the presence of Jews was considered an injustice to Arabs, nor why certain Englishmen thought they had more to gain from the Arab occupation of the unworked arid land than the Jews who transformed the desert into a vast oasis.
"Why is there harsh injustice done if people come and make a livelihood for more and make the desert into palm groves and orange groves?" Sir Winston asked. "Why is it injustice because there is more work and wealth for everyone? There is no injustice. The injustice is when those who live in the country leave it to be a desert for a thousand years." He defended the Jewish presence in Palestine as historical precedent. Jews arrived before the Arabs, who arrived as outsiders and conquerors. "In the time of Christ," Churchill observed, "the population of Palestine was much greater when it was a Roman province." The majority in that Roman province were Jews. (Washington Times)
For Arab investors, another upside to buying into Hollywood is the ability to influence the way Muslims are shown in the movies. Christopher Davidson, a Middle East expert at Britain's Durham University, predicts Arab money will bring "more and more Arab heroes in Hollywood movies." American media analyst Harold Vogel says Middle Eastern investments "are already influencing" plots and projects, noting that Peter Berg's new thriller about Islamic extremism, "The Kingdom," is the first Hollywood blockbuster to gain permission to film in Abu Dhabi, and features Palestinian actor Ashraf Barhom as a heroic Saudi Arabian police officer. (Newsweek)
On Wednesday, 50 descendants of the men of the 12th Australian Light Horse Brigade donned the 1917 period costume of their forebears and re-enacted their gallantry in a death-defying gallop across the sands of Beersheba that was to change the course of World War I in the Holy Land. (Australian)
See also Beersheba's Message - Editorial
Ninety years ago, on October 31, 1917, the Australian Light Horse Brigade charged into history. Few are aware of the sunset charge by 800 Anzacs, mounted on horses, that defeated 4,000 Turks, captured Beersheba, and led to the liberation of Jerusalem and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The Battle of Beersheba was part of a chain of events that changed the course of history. It was conducted on the same day as the British War Cabinet formulated the Balfour Declaration, the formal statement of its intention at the end of World War I to establish a Jewish homeland. The declaration was incorporated into the peace treaty with Turkey, the British Mandate in Palestine, and led in 1948 to the establishment of the State of Israel.
Yet the outcome of the battle was anything but a foregone conclusion. The bravery of the Anzacs was fuelled by desperation. The horses had marched for three days and were desperately short of water. If the wells in Beersheba hadn't been captured, the horses would have died in 24 hours. Australian casualties were low at Beersheba with 31 killed and 36 wounded, but the strategic significance of the battle was great. (Australian)
Since Israel's establishment in May 1948, Pakistan, being a Muslim country, has refused to establish diplomatic relations with it. The agreements that Israel signed with Egypt in 1978, the PLO in 1993, and Jordan in 1994 brought no change in Pakistan's policy. However, Israeli and Pakistani officials maintained clandestine contacts over the years. The main reasons for Pakistan's policy toward Israel are: (1) religious solidarity with the Arab-Muslim countries; (2) fear of an adverse response by radical Islamist groups throughout the Muslim world; and (3) concern that establishing diplomatic relations with Israel may cause instability within Pakistan.
Pakistan's political and military leaders have always striven to get along with its radical clergy and likely will remain committed to the country's Muslim identity. Only significant progress in relations between Israel and the Arab states could lead to a change in Pakistan's position. The writer, author of three books on Islam in Southeast Asia, served as Israel's consul-general in New York (1985-1988), ambassador in Stockholm (1988-1990), and ambassador in Prague (1993-1995). (Jewish Political Studies Review)
Starting a business or angling for a government contract can call for sometimes astronomical under-the-table outlays in cash or kind in much of the Middle East. "Corruption and lack of transparency still constitute a very important challenge for the development of the region," reports Transparency International (TI), a Berlin-based anticorruption organization, in its latest annual report. (Christian Science Monitor)
Ethical Dilemmas in Counterterrorism - Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Moshe Yaalon (Azure-Shalem Center)
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