Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


November 27, 2007

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Announces New Long-Range Missile - Reza Derakhshi (Reuters)
    Iran has built a new missile - the Ashoura - able to hit targets 2,000 km (1,250 miles) away, Iranian defense minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Tuesday.

Hope for Leaders' Cooperation, But Little for Results - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
    With regard to the Annapolis meeting, "There's never been less skepticism about the peaceful intentions of the leadership of the other side," said David Makovsky, an analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "But there's never been more skepticism about their capabilities to deliver."
    "If you don't control the guns and a monopoly on force, people don't respect you," said former American negotiator Aaron David Miller. "Will an Israeli prime minister make existential concessions to a man who doesn't control the guns?"
    So long as Hamas controls Gaza, suggests Robert Malley, another former U.S. negotiator, it also controls the timetable for peace. "All this is a fantasy unless internal Palestinian divisions are healed," he said.

U.S. Is Dragging the Arabs to Annapolis - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The overall feeling in the Arab world and among the Palestinians in particular is that the U.S. is dragging the Arabs to the Annapolis peace conference against their will.
    Several Arab leaders, including PA representatives, tried to persuade the Americans that this is not the appropriate time for such conferences.
    Divisions and internal squabbling in the Arab world are so strong that it would have been better to hold a conference on making peace among the Arabs themselves, rather than with Israel.
    See also Same Palestinian Negotiators, Same Positions - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Seven years after the failed Camp David summit, there is no reason to believe that the Palestinian negotiators are about to soften their position and offer major concessions. It's also unlikely that the Palestinian negotiators would accept anything less than what they and Arafat rejected at Camp David.
    Even if they wanted, these negotiators wouldn't be able to present different views because they would be immediately condemned by the Arab and Islamic masses as traitors.
    With Hamas breathing down their necks, Abbas and his negotiators are even likely to toughen their stance to prove that they did not compromise the rights of the Palestinians.

Court Says U.S. Border Inspections of Muslims Allowed (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    U.S. immigration authorities acted constitutionally when they subjected dozens of people returning from an Islamic convention in Canada to frisking and fingerprinting, screening tactics usually reserved for people suspected of being terrorists, a three-judge appeals court said Monday in New York.

Rights Group Slams Iran Crackdown on Activists (AFP)
    The government of Iranian President Ahmadinejad has stepped up a crackdown on students, unionists and teachers in the past months, Nobel winner Shirin Ebadi's Center for the Defenders of Human Rights said Monday in Tehran.
    "The crackdown on political activists intensified in summer and the number of detainees increased," its report said.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
G-Alert (Hebrew)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: U.S. Cannot Impose Its Vision of Peace - Steven Lee Myers
    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)
  • Defiant Hamas Rules by Fear in Isolated Gaza - Marie Colvin
    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)
  • Islamic Terrorists Target U.S. Army Base in Arizona - Sara A. Carter
    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:

  • Olmert: Arabs Should Open Consular Offices in Israel Following Annapolis Meeting - Barak Ravid
    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)
  • General Security Services Head Diskin and Military Intelligence Chief Yadlin: Timetable for Permanent Status Agreement with Palestinians Endangers Israel - Itamar Eichner and Itzik Saban
    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)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    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):

  • What the Saudis Want from Annapolis - Scott Macleod
    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)
  • Rice's Turnabout on Mideast Peace Talks - Elisabeth Bumiller
    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)
  • Peace and Politics in Annapolis - Michael Moran
    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)
  • Observations:

    The Price America Will Pay for Condi's Syrian Photo-Op - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)

    • When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid Syrian strongman Bashar Assad a call back in April, President Bush denounced her for sending "mixed signals" that "lead the Assad government to believe they are part of the mainstream of the international community, when in fact they are a state sponsor of terror." On Tuesday, said sponsor of terror will take its place at the table Rice has set for the Middle Eastern conference in Annapolis.
    • Some believe that after accepting the administration's invitation to Annapolis, Syria can be persuaded to abandon its 25-year-old ties to Iran and return to the Arab fold. Yet the Syrian information minister told Al Jazeera that Syria's attendance would have no effect on its relations with Iran or its role as host to the leadership of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.
    • Contrary to popular belief, recovering the Golan Heights is neither Syria's single nor primary goal; if anything, the regime derives much of its domestic legitimacy by keeping this grievance alive. What's urgently important to Damascus is that the UN tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri be derailed, before the extensive evidence implicating Assad and his cronies becomes a binding legal verdict.
    • No less important to Assad is that his grip on Lebanese politics be maintained by the selection of a pliant president to replace his former puppet, Emile Lahoud.
    • Put simply, there is nothing the U.S. can offer Assad that would seriously tempt him to alter his behavior in ways that could meaningfully advance U.S. interests or the cause of Mideast peace.
    • So look out for more aggressive Syrian misbehavior in Lebanon, including the continued arming of Hizbullah; the paralysis of its political process; the assassination of anti-Syrian parliamentarians and journalists; the insertion of Sunni terrorist cells in Palestinian refugee camps, and the outright seizure of Lebanon's eastern hinterlands. Look out, too, for continued cooperation with North Korea on WMD projects. And don't hold your breath expecting Syria's good behavior on its Iraqi frontier to last much longer.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert