Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 28, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Israeli Troops Essential in West Bank - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    "There's no way to control terror without a persistent physical presence," said Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, the recently retired head of Israel's Central Command with responsibility for the West Bank and Jerusalem.
    "I don't want to control the population, but I do want to control terror. And that requires presence in the sector at all times," Naveh said.
    Last week IDF leaders conducted the largest counterterrorist command post exercise in eight years. Dubbed "Bright Summer," the exercise was designed around a scenario in which significant Israeli force strength was committed in Gaza, where air, land and sea forces waged high-intensity operations against Palestinian fighting formations and rocket-launching squads.
    At the same time, the IDF had to respond to "suicide bombers in Ramat Gan [a Tel Aviv suburb], multiple roadside shootings in the West Bank, and coordinated infiltrations of some settlements beyond the Green Line," an Israeli military officer said.

Bush Will Not Be "Mr. Palestine" - Shmuel Rosner (Ha'aretz)
    Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, this week met with Jewish and Christian leaders from the concerned opposition and even succeeded in calming their fears. He sounded to them sober and without illusions.
    Whoever heard him talk this week about the long and arduous and boring road to building a Palestinian state understood that Bush will not be "Mr. Palestine."

Rioting Continues in French Immigrant Suburbs for Third Night - Elaine Sciolino (New York Times)
    While the scale of the unrest of the past few days among the offspring of Arab and African immigrants in France does not yet compare with the three-week convulsion in hundreds of suburbs and towns in 2005, a chilling new factor makes it more menacing.
    The one-time rock throwers and car burners have taken up hunting shotguns and turned them on the police.
    More than 100 officers have been wounded, several seriously. Thirty were hit with buckshot and pellets from shotguns, said Patrice Ribeiro, a police spokesman.

For Gaza Rocket Crews, Violence Is a Way of Life - Paul Martin (Washington Times)
    Four armed men joined Abu Haroon, prayed on mats stretched out beside their weapons, and climbed into a white jeep, an al-Samoud rocket carefully concealed with an oily cloth in the back of the vehicle.
    "We have orders not to fire any rockets on Tuesday because of the Annapolis summit, but we can resume normal activities after the summit ends," Haroon explained, claiming he is totally loyal to the political leadership of Fatah.
    Inside a safe house, Mohammed, a 23-year-old computer specialist, was using Google Earth to locate targets on the Israeli side of the fence.
    See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that landed in Israel's western Negev Wednesday morning.

Israel's Credit Rating to Be Upgraded - Gad Lior (Ynet News)
    Israel's international credit rating will be upgraded in early 2008, for the first time in 13 years, Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday.
    Standard & Poor and Fitch have tipped off the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel to the coming move, which is expected to upgrade Israel's international credit rating from A- to A.
    See also Standard & Poor Raises Israel's Credit Rating (Globes)

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  • Bush at Annapolis: Two Democratic States Living Side by Side
    President Bush said Tuesday at Annapolis: "We meet to lay the foundation for the establishment of a new nation - a democratic Palestinian state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and security. We meet to help bring an end to the violence that has been the true enemy of the aspirations of both the Israelis and Palestinians....Our purpose here in Annapolis is not to conclude an agreement. Rather, it is to launch negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians."
        "The emergence of responsible Palestinian leaders has given Israeli leaders the confidence they need to reach out to the Palestinians in true partnership. Prime Minister Olmert has...made clear that the security of Israel will be enhanced by the establishment of a responsible, democratic Palestinian state."
        "President Abbas and his government...are offering the Palestinian people an alternative vision for the future - a vision of peace, a homeland of their own, and a better life. If responsible Palestinian leaders can deliver on this vision, they will deal the forces of extremism a devastating blow....By contrast, if Palestinian reformers cannot deliver on this hopeful vision, then the forces of extremism and terror will be strengthened....We cannot allow this to happen. Now is the time to show Palestinians that their dream of a free and independent state can be achieved at the table of peace - and that the terror and violence preached by Palestinian extremists is the greatest obstacle to a Palestinian state." (White House)
        See also Joint Israel-PLO Understanding Read by President Bush at Annapolis Conference
    "The representatives of the government of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence; to confront terrorism and incitement."
        "We agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty, resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements....[We] shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008....Implementation of the future peace treaty will be subject to the implementation of the road map, as judged by the United States." (White House)
  • Bush Pushes Arabs to Reach Out to Israel - Sue Pleming
    U.S. President George W. Bush urged skeptical Arab states on Tuesday to reach out to Israel whose prime minister urged Arab nations not to "watch the peace train go by." For months, Bush has been pushing for greater Arab buy-in for revived Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which were officially launched at a Middle East conference in Annapolis. About a third of the participants at Tuesday's conference were Arab states, including key players Saudi Arabia and Syria who do not recognize Israel.
        "We have come to support the launching of serious and continuing talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis that will address all the core and final status issues. These talks must be followed by the launching of the Syrian and Lebanese tracks at the earliest," said Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal. (Reuters)
  • Hamas Slams Annapolis, Vows to Keep Fighting Israel - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Vowing to go on fighting the "Zionist enemy," Hamas called Mahmoud Abbas the worst leader in Palestinian history on Monday and said he had no right to make concessions to Israel at the Annapolis peace conference. Speaking at an "anti-Annapolis" conference in Gaza, Hamas leaders said Abbas did not represent the Palestinian people and vowed never to recognize Israel. "We say (to Abbas) that any concessions will not be binding on our people and on future generations," said Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert at Annapolis: We Want Peace; We Demand an End to Terror, Incitement and Hatred
    Prime Minister Olmert said Tuesday at Annapolis: "I came here today from Jerusalem on behalf of the people of Israel and the State of Israel to extend a hand in peace to the Palestinian people and to our neighboring Arab states."
        "The memory of the failures of the near and distant past weighs heavy on us. The dreadful terrorism perpetrated by Palestinian terrorist organizations has affected thousands of Israeli citizens....The continued shooting of Kassam rockets against tens of thousands of residents in the south of Israel, particularly in the city of Sderot, serves as a warning sign - one which cannot be overlooked. The...rule of Hamas in Gaza, the ongoing activity of murderous organizations throughout all the territories of the Palestinian Authority...are factors which deter us from moving forward too hastily."
        "The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap, and the April 14, 2004, letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel."
        "There is not a single Arab state in the north, east or south with which we do not seek peace. There is no Muslim state with which we do not want to establish diplomatic relations. Anyone who wants peace with us, we say to them, from the bottom of our hearts: welcome!" (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Israel to Set Up 14 Negotiating Teams for Talks with PA - Barak Ravid
    The Israeli cabinet is expected to approve shortly the establishment of a "negotiations administration" that will include 14 working groups, before negotiations start on December 12. (Ha'aretz)
  • Saudis: No Normalization Until Israel "Meets All the Conditions" - Lydia Georgi
    Saudi participation in a U.S.-hosted peace meeting does not mean that Riyadh is normalizing relations, Saudi analysts said on Monday. It was natural that Saudi Arabia should attend Tuesday's conference at Annapolis since it was the author of the Arab peace plan serving as one of the bases of the meeting, the pundits said. Normalization will come only after peace negotiations are completed, but at the same time Riyadh's attendance alongside more than a dozen Arab countries "will show the Israeli side that we are ready for normalization if (Israel) meets all the conditions," said Anwar Eshki, who heads a Jeddah-based private think tank. (Kuwait Times)
  • PA Police Kill Anti-Annapolis Protester - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza Tuesday to express their opposition to the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis. Demonstrations in Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus and Tulkarm were organized by Hamas and the radical Islamic group Hizb al-Tahrir. Hisham al-Baradi, 37, was killed in Hebron and dozens were injured during clashes between the demonstrators and security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas. Several journalists covering the protests were beaten by PA policemen.
        Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar told demonstrators in Gaza City that any Palestinian who gives up one inch of the land of Palestine would be tried as a traitor. "Palestine, from the sea to the river, is all Muslim-owned," he said. "The right of return to Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem is non-negotiable." Nabil Amr, a top advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, said that any agreement reached with Israel would be presented to the Palestinians through a referendum. "Palestinians living outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip will also have the right to vote," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Oasis or Mirage? - Thomas L. Friedman
    The Middle East is experiencing something we haven't seen in a long, long time: moderates getting their act together a little, taking tentative stands and pushing back on the bad guys. If all that sounds kind of, sort of, maybe, qualified, well ... it is. But in a region in which extremists go all the way and the moderates usually just go away, it's the first good news in years - an oasis in a desert of despair.
        The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, announced even before he got to Annapolis that there would be no handshakes with any Israelis. Too bad. A surprising gesture of humanity, like a simple handshake from a Saudi leader to an Israeli leader, would actually go a long way toward convincing Israelis that there is something new here, that it's not just about the Arabs being afraid of Iran, but that they're actually willing to coexist with Israel. (New York Times)
  • Gathering Israelis and Arabs May Have Been the Real Feat - Michael Abramowitz
    Some experts suggested that getting 16 senior Arab officials into the same room as the Israeli leader might have been the signal achievement of Tuesday's peace conference. The conference's joint paper skirted the toughest issues and essentially codified existing efforts by Olmert and Abbas to negotiate the contours of a Palestinian state. "The meeting was the message," said Martin S. Indyk of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The last time such a large number of Arab officials appeared with their Israeli counterparts was at the 1991 Madrid peace conference.
        "We've seen plenty of promising initial discussions regarding progress between the Israelis and Palestinians. The devil is in the details, and every process has broken down. So it's very dangerous to read too much into these processes too early," said David Rothkopf of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Washington Post)
        See also The Day after Annapolis - Dennis Ross
    There is value in having a show of international support for the resumption of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process. And that is what Annapolis is about. After nearly seven years of no peace process, this is a welcome development. (USA Today)
  • Peace Parks and Pipedreams - Dan Diker
    Quartet envoy Tony Blair has announced a major initiative to create thousands of jobs for unemployed Palestinians. However, since Oslo's inception in 1993, the often naive enthusiasm for these types of economic projects undertaken on behalf of the Palestinians has killed most of the projects while they were still on the drawing board. Other forms of economic cooperation have frequently ended up enriching local business warlords and terror groups. For example, Israeli business magnate Stef Wertheimer's multi-million dollar project in the mid-1990s to develop an industrial park near Rafiah in southern Gaza crashed and burned when Arafat's local financial warlords got involved demanding their share of the action. Other Israeli-led initiatives between 1995 and 2000 to build industrial parks in West Bank cities such as Tulkarm and Kalkilya also failed.
        The idea of Israeli and international investment and ownership and cheap Palestinian labor has been a fatal flaw. This master-servant business structure reinforces a Palestinian sense that Israel is creating a New Middle East by "conquering" the Palestinian economy and creating an economic "occupation" in the name of the peace process. Finally, Hamas and Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigade will not accede to Israeli- and Western-owned factories or businesses operating in the Palestinian areas. Hamas and Fatah's destruction of the Erez and Karni industrial zones in Gaza illustrate their intentions. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Challenge of Annapolis - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

    • PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad is regarded as a sober, worldly and professional leader of a standard quite unlike any previous Palestinian politician. But the Palestinian public is more extreme than it was seven years ago.
    • That Secretary of State Rice believed, in the earlier Annapolis planning stages, that it might be possible to make dramatic progress on the core final-status issues in the weeks preceding the summit is dismaying testament to American misassessment of the Palestinian mood and the room for maneuver of its leadership.
    • Those around Fayad believe the summit is premature. Fatah is not reformed. The PA cannot provide effective security in the West Bank. The Palestinian public is in no mood for concessions, and even raising final-status issues is playing with fire. These voices are talking about the need to supplant whole generations raised on a diet of hatred and martyrdom.
    • There is a second line of thinking - among Palestinians who discern a pattern of unilateral concession from Israel and see no incentive or imperative to compromise at all. Israel has left Gaza. It is talking about leaving all of the West Bank, albeit with settlement bloc adjustments. It is talking about unprecedented concessions in east Jerusalem. It is finding no answer to rocket attacks from Gaza and proved vulnerable to attack from south Lebanon. So why hurry, they ask, to compromise on the refugee issue and other maximalist demands?

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