Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
PA Police Murdered Israeli in West Bank on Nov. 19 - Yuval Azoulay and Nadav Shragai (Ha'aretz)
Unpaid Bills, Not Israeli Policy, Creating Gaza Gas Lines - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Hamas Boycotts Palestinian Census (AFP/Yahoo)
Palestinian Opens Fire at Soldiers at Jerusalem Checkpoint, Wounds Palestinian Bystander - Efrat Weiss (Ynet News)
EU Trains Women for Palestinian Police - Dalia Nammari (AP)
Nasdaq Partners with Tel Aviv Stock Exchange - Laurie Kulikowski (TheStreet.com)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
In a sign that Iran has hardened its position on its nuclear program, its new nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said in talks in London on Friday that all proposals made in past negotiations were irrelevant and that further discussion of a curb on Iran's uranium enrichment was unnecessary, senior officials briefed on the meeting said. Representatives of the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany met in Paris on Saturday to discuss further punitive Security Council measures against Iran after the London talks failed to produce a breakthrough.
The London meeting was the first time that Jalili, a close ally of President Ahmadinejad, had led negotiations on the Iranian side. The first hour and a half of the meeting was described as a monologue, with Jalili speaking about the will of the Iranian people to support uranium enrichment, theology, God, and even his doctoral thesis. "Jalili said, 'Everything in the past is past, and with me, you start over,'" an official said. "He said, 'None of your proposals has any standing.'" (New York Times)
Israel on Monday began releasing 429 Palestinian prisoners in a gesture meant to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas. (AP/Washington Post)
The released prisoners signed a declaration committing to refrain from terror activities. Including the prisoners released on Monday, about 770 Palestinians will have been freed since July. (Ha'aretz)
State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday:
Q: What is your current understanding of this idea for the next conference being in Russia?
McCormack: "Foreign Minister Lavrov made a gracious offer to host a future international conference in Moscow....I don't think any of the parties are quite there yet. I think we're at the point of discussing it. It's an interesting concept. But the point of Annapolis isn't to just have another conference." (State Department)
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will ask donors at a Paris conference, scheduled for December 17, to provide $5.5 billion in aid over three years, Palestinian officials said on Sunday. (Reuters)
The U.S. is concerned that centrifuges sold to North Korea by Pakistan in the 1990s may have been passed on to Syria or another country, current and former U.S. officials said Thursday. Pakistan has acknowledged that scientist A.Q. Khan sold North Korea the centrifuges, but Pyongyang has told U.S. officials that it does not possess the centrifuges. (Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Four soldiers were injured Sunday evening when a mortar fired by Palestinians in Gaza hit an infirmary in an IDF base adjoining Kibbutz Nahal Oz, next to Gaza. At least 15 mortars were fired on Sunday from Gaza toward Israel. On Sunday night and Monday morning, five Palestinian gunmen were killed in two separate IDF actions: two who were trying to launch a mortar shell into Israel and three armed men attempting to reach the border fence. (Ynet News)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the cabinet on Sunday that there was no Israeli commitment at Annapolis to any timetable. "An effort will be made to hold accelerated negotiations in the hope that it will be possible to conclude them in 2008," Olmert said. "However, there is no commitment to a specific timetable regarding these negotiations."
Livni, who headed the Israeli negotiating team that worked out the joint understandings at Annapolis, said, "We want to negotiate...the start of negotiations is in our interest, and we want to finish it as quickly as possible. But we did not commit ourselves to a timetable that would bring with it indirect international pressure on Israel." Livni said, "It was important to create a distinction, whereby the track will now be bilateral, without any direct intervention from the international community." (Jerusalem Post)
See also U.S. Withdraws Draft on Mideast at UN - Colum Lynch
On Thursday evening, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, had all but persuaded the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution endorsing the agreement Israelis and Palestinians struck in Annapolis last week to work toward a political settlement before the end of 2008. But Friday, the Bush administration abruptly withdrew the text, while Israeli diplomats reiterated their decades-long opposition to a UN role in Middle East negotiations. (Washington Post)
At the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Prime Minister Olmert said: "Ahead of and during the Annapolis meeting, Israel insisted on several principles, the goal of which was to create the conditions for the success of the entire process. The most significant condition is that the implementation of the agreement will be conditional on the implementation of the first stage of the Roadmap, including the Palestinians' war on terrorism and the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructures in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Israel has thus made the entire process subject to the most important thing for its citizens - security. Whoever wants peace, and we very much want it, must assure the security component - even if this is difficult to achieve and even if it requires considerable time."
"It is possible to draw great encouragement from the Annapolis meeting, both from its content and from the considerable participation by Arab countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations. A window was opened at Annapolis, which could - in the end - lead to normalization between Israel and a series of moderate, peace-seeking Arab countries. After Annapolis, I am hopeful that these countries will - in the first stage - open interests sections in Israel and begin to have economic ties with us; I know that several of them are interested in this." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Last week's multi-national summit meeting in Annapolis was about many things, the least of which was the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace. While Annapolis is unlikely to succeed in bridging the gaps between Israeli and Arab positions, it effectively drew lines in the sand between those nations siding with America and the West and those allied with Iran. As a rule, international conferences have never served as effective frameworks in the search for Middle Eastern peace. Peace treaties in the past were forged by strong statesmen - Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt, Israel's Yitzhak Rabin and Jordan's King Hussein.
Yet Annapolis must be deemed a triumph - not of peacemaking, paradoxically, but of girding the region for conflict with a radical and relentlessly aggressive Iran. The Iranians reacted ferociously to Annapolis and Ahmadinejad pronounced it a "failure." But such rage merely betrays the anxiety induced by Annapolis in Tehran. For the first time a coalition of Western and modern Arab leaders has coalesced and declared its commitment to resist "extremism" in the Middle East - a well-known euphemism for Iran. (New York Times)
Rice began talking in January about a "realignment" in the Middle East that would bring together moderate Sunni Arab states to resist Iranian-backed radicalism. From the beginning, that approach included restarting an Israeli-Palestinian peace process. For Rice, the Annapolis meeting was a group snapshot of this realignment. American officials viewed the positive speech by Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, as a break in the ice of U.S.-Syrian relations. U.S. officials credit Syria for reducing the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, and they are planning regular security meetings with the Syrians. (Washington Post)
See also Signs of U.S.-Syria Thaw After Summit - Donna Abu-Nasr and Anne Gearan (AP)
See also Syria Reassures Iran After Annapolis
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, who represented Syria at the Annapolis peace conference, on Sunday reassured Iran that Syria's attendance at the conference would not harm relations between the two allies, the state news agency IRNA reported. (AFP)
Is Syria an Ally or Adversary of Radical Sunni Movements? - Eyal Zisser
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