Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran Announces New Long-Range Missile - Reza Derakhshi (Reuters)
Hope for Leaders' Cooperation, But Little for Results - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
U.S. Is Dragging the Arabs to Annapolis - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Court Says U.S. Border Inspections of Muslims Allowed (AP/International Herald Tribune)
Rights Group Slams Iran Crackdown on Activists (AFP)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
President Bush and his aides still deplore what they view as President Clinton's disastrously hands-on involvement in the peace process in 2000. They insist that Bush does not intend to negotiate personally the two-state peace he has pronounced as his vision. "The United States cannot impose our vision," Bush told Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office on Monday. The White House is not calling the Annapolis gathering a summit meeting or anything else suggestive of substantive progress.
A view held by conservatives in the administration, and probably by Bush, is that the U.S. should not impose terms on Israel, America's closest ally in a troubled region. "They're extremely cautious," Martin S. Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel who worked in the Clinton administration, said of Bush and his aides, and of the inevitable comparisons to Clinton's final push for peace as his term neared an end. "They don't think it's a good idea to drive it to a conclusion." As a result, Bush has given every indication that once the diplomats leave Wednesday, he will again leave any talks to come to Secretary of State Rice and, more important, to the Israelis and Palestinians. (New York Times)
See also U.S. Plans Hands-Off Approach at Meeting - Michael Abramowitz and Glenn Kessler
The Bush administration has been reluctant to offer its ideas for bridging disagreements or to impose its version of a settlement, and U.S. officials indicated this week that that is unlikely to change. "The notion that somehow the key to success is simply for the U.S. to lean on one side or another and jam a settlement through is just not what history has suggested," national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley told reporters Sunday. "Those efforts to jam have not worked." Aides said Bush will not be dictating terms or imposing his own ideas for a settlement. (Washington Post)
The nights in Gaza belong to the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades. The militia that was once the underground military wing of Hamas has become a feared unofficial army controlling Gaza. Every night they patrol the streets and the border with Egypt. Each six-man unit travels with rocket-launchers, machineguns and grenades and carries a locally made antitank mine similar to the explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) that have wreaked havoc against allied armored vehicles in Iraq.
Hamas-imposed security has come at huge cost. Only believers feel safe; supporters of Fatah are routinely arrested and tortured. Journalists are harassed and unIslamic dress can result in a beating as well. More and more women in Gaza are covering not just their hair but their faces. Many bitterly resent Hamas. (Sunday Times-UK)
Fort Huachuca, the nation's largest intelligence-training center, changed security measures in May after being warned that Islamist terrorists, with the aid of Mexican drug cartels, were planning an attack on the facility. Sources warned that possibly 60 Afghan and Iraqi terrorists were to be smuggled into the U.S. through underground tunnels with high-powered weapons to attack the Arizona Army base, according to multiple confidential law enforcement documents. An FBI advisory stated: "The Afghanis and Iraqis shaved their beards so as not to appear to be Middle Easterners." According to the FBI, each Middle Easterner paid Mexican drug lords $20,000 "or the equivalent in weapons" for the cartel's assistance in smuggling them and their weapons into the U.S. (Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday that he expects Arab states to open consular offices in Israel following the Annapolis summit. Olmert told Ban that "every Arab or Muslim state which participates in the Annapolis summit should demonstrate its support of the process in this way." (Ha'aretz)
The head of the General Security Services (Shabak), Yuval Diskin, and the head of Israeli Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, warned the political echelon that the timetable which the Americans seek to dictate to Israel and the Palestinians - to reach a permanent status agreement in a year - endangers Israel. In the course of the security cabinet meeting, the two officials warned that Abbas is weak and is not yet ready to implement a peace agreement with Israel; his operational capabilities approach zero. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 26Nov07)
See also U.S. Clock Ticking Too Fast - Eytan Gilboa
As was proven by Clinton's similar attempt, the pace of the American political clock is incommensurate with the negotiation and political clocks of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The setting of an artificial target date such as the end of Bush's term is not a serious move. The writer is a senior researcher at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center. (Ynet News)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed in Israel's western Negev on Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Since June, Every Three Hours Palestinians Fire Rocket into Israel (IDF Spokesperson's Office/IMRA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal was interviewed by TIME about the Annapolis peace conference:
Q: Are you optimistic about Annapolis?
Saud: One of the elements of optimism is the sense of determination of the United States to see this through. Peace without the complete and direct involvement of the United States is impossible. The assurance that it is going to be a comprehensive peace that is pursued, to tackle the main issues of borders, Jerusalem, refugees, is certainly one of the elements.
Q: Have Olmert and Abbas achieved anything in their talks?
Saud: No, that is one of the great disappointments....Here is an obvious area where an intermediary has to step in and say, "No, this can't be." (TIME)
See also Saudi Normalization with Israel Forgotten - David Horovitz
As Arab League foreign ministers and officials were convening for consultations ahead of the Annapolis summit at the Saudi Embassy in Washington on Monday, Israeli journalists were somewhat unceremoniously escorted off the premises. At a press briefing held at the embassy by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, the best I could do was to ask one of the American reporters to put a question on my behalf to Faisal: "What steps are you prepared to take right now toward normalizing ties with Israel?" His answer: "None." Faisal elaborated that the Arab peace plan makes plain that "normalization will come after peace is established." And peace, he went on, entailed full Israeli withdrawal. The Saudi foreign minister also said the Arab presence at Annapolis was not about producing a concerted front against Iran. "We have to worry about Israel first," he said.
Diplomatic sources have said that the Saudis don't want any contact whatsoever with the Israeli delegation at Annapolis, and therefore the respective delegations will even use different doors to enter the meeting room. (Jerusalem Post)
At President Bush's first National Security Council meeting in January 2001, he announced that he did not want to be drawn into the shattered Middle East peace process, people at the meeting recalled, because he believed that former President Bill Clinton had pushed so hard for an Israeli-Palestinian accord that he made the situation worse. Seven years later, Condoleezza Rice, as secretary of state, has led the Bush administration to a startling turnaround and is now thrusting the U.S. as forcefully as Mr. Clinton once did into the role of mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians. Annapolis reflects her evolution from passive participant to activist diplomat who has been willing to break with Vice President Dick Cheney and other conservatives skeptical of an American diplomatic role in the Middle East.
Rice's thinking on the Middle East changed for several reasons, her aides said. She has been under increasing pressure to get involved in the peace negotiations from European and Arab leaders whose support she needs for the campaign of diplomatic and economic pressures on Iran. She considers it equally important, her aides said, to shore up the moderate leadership of Abbas, who is facing a sharp internal challenge from the more militant Hamas. (New York Times)
See also President Bush and 'Madame Rice': A Personal Bond Helps Align Policy - Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times)
See also Humoring Condi - Dan Froomkin
President Bush's indolent approach to the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis suggests that he's just going through the motions to make his beloved secretary of state happy. (Washington Post)
Council on Foreign Relations President Richard N. Haass repeatedly has warned that the time may not be ripe for such an effort as the Annapolis conference, and of the very real cost of failure. "Ripeness has several elements: there must be a formula for the parties involved to adopt, a diplomatic process to get them to that point, and protagonists who are able and willing to make a deal." Haass sees none of these elements in place. (Council on Foreign Relations)
The Price America Will Pay for Condi's Syrian Photo-Op - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)
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