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  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt caught Israel by surprise. Awe-inspiring as they are to Israel's government and people, these revolutions and the ongoing troubles in Bahrain and Libya are also of immense concern to Israel because of their potential strategic ramifications. Going forward, developments in Egypt will be particularly important given Cairo's traditional role in the region and the special nature of its diplomatic, security, and economic relations with Israel.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Israel, Libya, Arabia, Arab Countries, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Egypt has been scrambling to formulate a new policy toward the Gaza Strip this week after being challenged by Hamas, which opened more than eleven crossings along the Israeli-constructed wall that serves as the Egypt-Gaza border. Up to 750,000 Palestinians have flooded the northeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula since January 23, spending approximately $130 million in local markets, while tens of thousands of Egyptians took advantage of the lack of immigration, customs, and security controls to cross into Gaza. This massive movement of people caught many by surprise and may have serious ramifications for Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: David Schenker, Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, Jordan's minister of information publicly confirmed that senior Jordanian officials have been meeting with Hamas in an effort to "solve pending security issues." These talks represent a significant shift for Amman, since relations between Jordan and the Palestinian group had been frozen for two years, following the arrest of three Hamas members in the kingdom on terrorism and weapons charges. Although the decision to renew contacts with Hamas suggests that Amman remains concerned with Hamas-related activities in the kingdom, the timing also highlights domestic and regional pressures on King Abdullah and the Jordanian government.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries, Jordan
  • Author: Hassan Barari
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Almost a decade after expelling Hamas from its territory, Jordan is in the process of reassessing its ties with the militant Palestinian group, an organization dedicated to undermining the two-state solution. Although Jordanian officials repeatedly have stated their aversion to dealing with non-state actors, recent discussions with Hamas suggest that Jordanian policy is driven more by pragmatism than principle. Current realities, including the growing strength of Hamas and the waning prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, are propelling Amman to engage in tactical shifts in its foreign policy to protect its national interests. How this will affect the peace process and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas remains to be seen.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Yoram Cohen
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, Israeli forces entered Gaza, destroyed an underground border tunnel, and battled Hamas fighters, leaving several militants dead. In response, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired around eighty rockets into southern Israel, including the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Despite this breach of the tahdiya, or ceasefire, both Hamas and Israeli leaders have stressed their desire to deescalate the situation. But considering Hamas's history of violence against Israel, the organization's commitment to the tahdiya is open to serious question.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: David Schenker, Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: High on the agenda of the November 27-28 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors (BOG) will be the November 19 report from Director General Mohammed ElBaradei about Syria. How the IAEA responds to the Syrian challenge may determine whether future urgent proliferation concerns are taken to the IAEA and UN Security Council or resolved through military force, such as Israel's airstrike last year on Syria's Dayr al-Zor site.
  • Topic: Security, International Organization, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Nick Francona
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Hamas's June 2007 victory over Fatah was more than a political achievement -- it was a military bonanza. From its capture of Fatah's security headquarters, Hamas acquired stockpiles of American-made small arms and ammunition as well as a wide range of military equipment and vehicles originally transferred to bolster Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas. In addition, increased smuggling activity since June has reportedly provided Hamas with Russian-made weapons, including antitank and antiaircraft missiles. Israel's Shin Bet estimates that forty tons of explosives entered Gaza in the two months following Hamas's takeover, along with 150 rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers in August alone. In all, according to Israeli public security minister Avi Dichter, it would have taken Hamas approximately one year to obtain the amount of weaponry seized during the Gaza takeover through smuggling or other means.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement reached in Mecca last week has powerful implications for all regional players. The most serious challenge it poses is to U.S. diplomacy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Mecca
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The first annual International Media Forum on the Golan Heights, held November 5-7, 2006, in the city of Quneitra on the Syria-Israel border, highlighted Syria's stated desire for the return of the entire Golan. The forum's backdrop was a litany of controversial statements made by Syrian president Bashar al-Asad about his next moves in relation to Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Dvorah Chen
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israel's summer war with Hizballah has again raised legal questions about the imprisonment of terrorists in Israel. From its founding, the state of Israel has been forced to confront belligerent activities by hostile states and organizations seeking to destroy it. The struggle against Palestinian terrorism has taken an enormous toll over the course of the second intifada, during which time more than one thousand Israelis have been killed and thousands more wounded. Enemy combatants are imprisoned in order to prevent them from causing further destruction. Therefore, terrorist detentions play a central role in the struggle to prevent terrorist activities, and the legal issues surrounding these detentions pose crucial concerns for the entire international community. There are two major processes for the prosecution of terrorist detainees in Israel: (1) through the normal civilian criminal track based on penal legislation, and (2) through special administrative measures under the minister of defense.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Barak Ben-Zur
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier this week, Israel began its long-anticipated ground offensive in Lebanon intended to degrade Hizballahs military apparatus, pacify Israels northern border with Lebanon, and lay the foundation for what is now frequently referred to as a sustainable ceasefire. Reaching a consensus on the precise meaning of the term sustainable will be a difficult prerequisite. But however such a ceasefire is defined beyond the presence of a robust international force, there is widespread agreement that it must include the participation of Syriaparticularly a commitment by Damascus to adhere to UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680. So far, Syria has given no indication that it will agree to such a course, and, given the events of the past several weeks, it is difficult to imagine the circumstances under which Syrian president Bashar al-Asad might change his mind. That said, Israels new ground offensive in Lebanon represents a significant change in the status quo, one that may force Syria to reconsider.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As diplomacy to end hostilities between Israel and Lebanon intensifies at the United Nations, with a first resolution passed perhaps on Monday, conceptual gaps between the parties remain. The differences range from substantive to procedural. France has been at the center of diplomacy surrounding the passage of a UN Security Council resolution, since it is expected to lead the multinational force to southern Lebanon. From the outset of its consultations with the United States, which are at the center of UN diplomacy, France has sought two Security Council resolutions; this plan has won the backing of U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. The first resolution would declare an immediate ceasefire and establish general principles to guide the period after the ceasefire. The second resolution would, among other things, define the scope and mission of the multinational force.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, France, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Wednesday, an international conference will open in Italy to discuss the state of Lebanon and explore potential formulas for an Israeli-Hizballah ceasefire. Current conditions make an immediate ceasefire unlikely, but should changing events make a ceasefire possible, one of the first priorities for the Bush administration and the international community will be to find a mechanism to reinvigorate and implement the remaining stipulations of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. In particular, that means disarming Hizballah. The group will no doubt oppose international and domestic efforts to disarm it, but the Lebanese government and the international community can take steps in the context of a ceasefire to consolidate Lebanese resentment toward Hizballah and press ahead with Resolution 1559.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker, Dennis Ross, Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 19, 2006, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, David Schenker, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon, a distinguished military fellow at the Institute, is the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff. Mr. Schenker, a senior fellow in Arab politics at the Institute, served until 2005 as Levant country director of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier today, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashal held a press conference in Damascus broadcast live on al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, and Syrian state television. During the broadcast, Mashal described kidnapped Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit as a “prisoner of war,” said that prisoner exchange was the only solution to the crisis, and appeared to recommend direct negotiations between Israel and Hamas. The press conference was significant, not only for its content, but because it was held in a Damascus hotel: typically in the past, when Syria-based terrorist organizations took responsibility for operations, they did so from Beirut. The high profile Mashal statement from Damascus suggests that the Asad regime has changed its rules of engagement from tacit to explicit support for Hamas. The shift highlights Syria's emboldened foreign policy a year and a half after the assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Syria
  • Author: Efraim Halevy
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the current global circumstances, the role of intelligence gathering and analysis in policymaking has become increasingly important. As a result, intelligence leaders have ever more influence in the policymaking process. This is particularly the case in Israel, where some of the political leadership's most significant decisions came on the heels of Mossad and Military Intelligence initiatives and assessments.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Jerusalem
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Ehud Olmert is proposing a plan to withdraw 60,000 settlers from the West Bank and consolidate Israel's borders. His reasoning is that these settlers have been in limbo for thirty-nine years. He does not want their presence in the West Bank to jeopardize Israel's democratic nature, nor to use them as human bargaining chips in negotiations. He is looking at the issue from the perspective of security instead of ideology.
  • Topic: Security, Migration, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Dennis Ross, Moshe Yaalon, Avi Dichter
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 15, 2005, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Avi Dichter, and Ambassador Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon, a distinguished military fellow at the Institute, is the former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff. Mr. Dichter, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, is the former head of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet). Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (2004). The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Ten years ago today, the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated. This was one of the darkest days in the history of the State of Israel, the Israeli democracy, and the Jewish people. Prime Minister Rabin, who had also previously served as the IDF's chief of the General Staff, was born in Jerusalem in1922—perhaps symbolically, during the days of the first significant Arab murderous attacks against there established Israeli settlements in the land of Israel. In January 1964, Yitzhak Rabin was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general, becoming the seventh IDF chief of the General Staff. After war broke out in 1967, General Rabin led the IDF to the decisive victory in the Six Day War and, on December 31, 1967, stepped down from his command with Israel enjoying, for the first time since its establishment, defensible borders.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Jamie Chosak
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Now that Israel has disengaged from the Gaza Strip and four settlements from the northern West Bank, the international community has a clear interest in doing all it can to see that the post-withdrawal security situation remains stable so that the exit from Gaza leads to further steps along the path laid out in the Quartet's Roadmap to Middle East peace. As former World Bank leader James Wolfensohn, now Washington's special envoy for disengagement, lobbies world leaders to offer significant support for Palestinian development projects, a parallel effort is necessary to create new, transparent public and private social-service organizations unaffiliated with Hamas or other groups engaged in terrorism or political violence.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Humanitarian Aid, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The June 21 meeting between Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas highlighted the widening expectations gap between the two parties. Less than two months before Israel commences its pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, the security situation is worsening, while the PA appears largely unprepared to assume effective security control over these areas. Without an urgent predisengagement "crash program" to improve security, the opportunity afforded by Yasser Arafat's departure from the scene and Israel's departure from Gaza will be lost.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Minda Lee Arrow
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Among the challenges facing the Israeli government in the weeks before the Gaza disengagement commences are relocating evacuated settlers and determining the future of settlement assets. This Peace Watch will examine the former issue; a future Peace Watch will address the latter.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank beginning this summer has earned him the ire of the 8,000 people living in the twenty-five settlements scheduled for evacuation. It has also generated opposition among the quarter-million settlers living in the remainder of the West Bank and their sympathizers within Israel proper. This PeaceWatch seeks to analyze the ideological and political challenges that disengagement poses to these settlers. Future PeaceWatches will examine other aspects of disengagement, including the challenge that settlers pose to disengagement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Israel, Gaza, Czech Republic
  • Author: Isaac Herzog
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 4, 2005, Isaac Herzog addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Herzog was recently named Israel's minister of housing and construction when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon broadened his government to include the Labor Party. Heading a ministry that was key in backing past settlement activity, Mr. Herzog has called for a thorough ministerial review of Israel's settlement policy. A Labor member of the Knesset since 2001, Mr. Herzog previously served as cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 11, 2005, President George W. Bush will host Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. The meeting comes at a key juncture, given Israel's planned disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank. Mr. Makovsky, who recently returned from a ten-day trip to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, and Jordan, discussed the upcoming summit at The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum on April 7. This PeaceWatch is based on his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Egypt, Czech Republic
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 24, 2005, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved the new cabinet proposed by Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. Often described as technocratic and progressive, the cabinet is widely seen as fitting the Bush administration's requirement of being "untainted by terror." Indeed, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighted the new cabinet as one of the "important steps" the Palestinian Authority (PA) had taken toward reform and described this week's London conference, held in support of the PA, as an opportunity to express "international support for their extremely important reform movement." Yet, one cabinet appointment gives reason for concern: the new minister of economy, Mazen Sunuqrut, has close, longstanding ties to Hamas.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky, Anna Hartman
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, the Israeli cabinet approved modified routing of the security fence, the first officially sanctioned changes since the cabinet approved construction in October 2003. The modifications, prompted by an Israeli supreme court decision last summer made to avert Palestinian hardship, are characterized by four major adjustments: (1) revised routing in several areas that will bring the fence closer to the Green Line (pre-1967 boundaries); (2) the elimination of all fence routes that create Palestinian enclaves or "double fences" (areas where Palestinians would have been completely encircled by the security fence); (3) the addition—for the first time on any official Israeli map—of fence around the Maale Adumim settlement bloc; and (4) final authorization of fence routing and construction near the Etzion bloc.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 1, British prime minister Tony Blair will host a conference in London dedicated to garnering support for the Palestinian Authority (PA). The summit is intended to help the new Palestinian leadership strengthen PA institutions, with a special focus on facilitating economic development, encouraging donor pledges, and identifying investment opportunities. Israel will not be participating, but Saudi Arabia and several other oil-rich Arab countries will attend. These countries reaped unexpectedly high government revenues in 2004 due to increased oil prices—excluding Iraq, the Arab members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) saw $45 billion in additional revenue compared to 2003. How much of this windfall is offered to bolster the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will be seen, at least in Washington, as a key indicator of the willingness of the Arab world to secure a settlement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The February 8 Sharm al-Shaykh summit may have marked the definitive end of the Arafat era. Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders issued orchestrated parallel statements declaring cessation of hostilities and highlighted the resumption of bilateral engagement after almost four and a half years of armed confrontation. Within hours, however, militant Palestinian groups challenged these commitments through attacks on Israeli targets. To take full advantage of the opportunities now available will require active effort to consolidate the fledgling ceasefire. This includes imposing the full force of the Palestinian central authority against rejectionists, clarifying the ambiguities in the parallel commitments, and enlisting key states and international actors in the campaign to combat Iranian and Hizballah designs to undermine this fragile process.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire announced on February 8 in Sharm al-Sheikh created a window of opportunity that will slam shut quickly if terrorists resume attacks against Israel. After four-and-half years of incessant terrorist activity, Israeli tolerance for negotiating peace in the face of ongoing attacks is nil. The entire project, therefore, is premised on the assumption that the ceasefire will hold. But will it? Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have so far dismissed it, and previously negotiated ceasefires have all failed. Moreover, Iran and Hizballah are more proactively involved in recruiting, training, and financing Palestinian suicide bombers than ever before.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The newly announced ceasefire provides an opportunity for progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations, especially with the newly elected Palestinian leadership and the new Israeli coalition government. The time has come for both Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen) to roll up their sleeves and, with international support, get down to the formidable tasks facing them in the coming months: stabilization of the security situation, Palestinian institution-building, Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank, and Israeli-Palestinian reengagement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The announcement Sunday that Israel would release 170 Palestinian prisoners as a "gesture of goodwill, friendship, and gratitude" to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is the latest in a series of events, statements, and diplomatic activity over the past several weeks that has signaled a warming in Egyptian-Israeli relations. While it is too early to tell whether this thaw can be transformed into a fully constructive relationship, after the death of Yasser Arafat both sides are attempting to work together more closely, at least for now.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Avi Jorisch, Salamech Nematt
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Al-Manar, the official television station of Hizballah, is cited in public opinion polling in some Arab countries as one of the most widely used sources of news on the Arab-Israeli conflict. With ground stations in Lebanon and programming broadcast on seven satellites worldwide, al-Manar is watched by fifteen million viewers daily and has the look of an advanced television network. The professional appearance, however, is not at all complemented by professional, fair, and balanced journalism.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: Martin Kramer, Gilles Kepel
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During the Cold War, Washington reached out to some Islamists in order to counter the Soviet threat. Some claim that engaging so-called "moderate" Islamists would serve U.S. interests today. But in any U.S.-Islamist dialogue, the Islamists are certain to demand concessions from the United States, including visas, freedom to raise money for their organizations, U.S. support for their participation in the politics of their home countries, and a reassessment of U.S. policy in the Middle East, including support for Israel. In return, Islamists would propose to condemn terrorist attacks against the United States, and discourage new attacks on American soil.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Cold War, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Soviet Union, Arab Countries
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay, Nazli Gencsoy, Beril Unver
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 6, the European Union (EU) Commission, the executive arm of the EU, issued its report on Turkey's progress toward satisfying the Copenhagen Criteria, the union's membership rules that mandate "rule of law, institutions guaranteeing democracy, and respect for minorities." Although the commission praised Turkey's dramatic reform efforts since 1999, it stopped short of suggesting a date for accession negotiations with Ankara. This represents a departure from established traditions -- apparently only for Turkey, since the commission also reviewed Croatia's candidacy, suggesting a 2005 date for accession talks with that country. In another departure from tradition -- accession talks are normally only close-ended -- the report stated that any negotiations with Ankara "would be open-ended" and that their "outcome cannot be guaranteed." Finally, the report suggested that Turkey further improve its democracy, leaving the final decision on Ankara's membership to the December 17 meeting of the EU Council of Ministers, the union's highest decisionmaking body.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Morocco is a nation of nearly 30 million people, part Arab, part Berber, and overwhelmingly Muslim, yet distant enough from Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian arena so that those issues, while relevant, are not all-consuming. Hence, it provides an excellent vantage point from which to assess the ideological battle between radical Islamists, on the one hand, and non- and anti-Islamists on the other.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Morocco
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The first round of West Bank municipal balloting occurred on Thursday, December 23. Voting was held in twenty-six locations, ranging from Jericho to smaller towns and villages. This was the first round of local voting since 1976. The results—a Fatah victory but Hamas gains—have important implications for the next Palestinian elections.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Eisenstadt, Neri Zilber
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The death of Yasser Arafat and the approach of Palestinian elections on January 9 have rekindled hopes for the peace process. However, if history is a guide, Hizballah and Iran—which worked tirelessly to undermine the Oslo Process—will try to sabotage such efforts. (Indeed, Israeli intelligence reports cited in the Israeli press indicate that they are preparing to do so.) Having emerged from the al-Aqsa Intifada as the principal outside actors in Palestinian politics and emboldened by what they see as recent successes, Hizballah and Iran could pose major obstacles to efforts to defuse the conflict and promote Israeli-Palestinian reengagement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Czech Republic
  • Author: Ehud Ya'ari
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On December 6, 2004, Ehud Ya'ari addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Ya'ari is chief Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel 2 Television News, Middle East editor of the Jerusalem Report, and an associate of the Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Khaled Abu Toameh
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 29, 2004, Khaled Abu Toameh addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Toameh, the West Bank correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and a special correspondent for U.S. News World Report, is the 2004 Ira and Betty Weiner visiting fellow at the Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Common wisdom holds that Arafat's departure from the scene opens promising new horizons to the future of the Palestinian people as well as to Palestinian-Israeli relations. But horizons, by definition, have the tricky nature of distancing themselves from you as you approach them, leaving you with the gloom of day-to-day reality. How, then, should the parties involved go about the mission of making the promises inherent in the new situation a reality rather than a Fata Morgana? The two first steps are: empowering the emerging new-old moderate Palestinian leadership through free democratic elections and creating a significantly improved security environment, free of the devastating effects of terror. Indeed, the security and political challenges need to be addressed simultaneously since they are intertwined. This article will discuss in detail the latter challenge and will suggest a phased approach toward a stable calm. Securing a violence-free environment (in relative, Middle Eastern terms) is essential. We have witnessed time and again how violence cripples Palestinian politics and undermines the prospects of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A violence-heavy environment puts tremendous pressure on both Palestinian and Israeli decisionmaking, narrowing the leeway for any compromise, and forcing short-term, emotionally-driven decisions over long-term, rationally-driven ones. Holding free, fair Palestinian elections, enabling smooth Israeli disengagement from Gaza and northern West Bank, and giving a chance to Israeli-Palestinian re-engagement and future relations all require a violence-free environment.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As the Palestinians seek to sort out the post-Arafat succession, ostensibly the first order of business is presidential elections. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has said it would hold presidential elections on January 9, 2005. However, making the election successful may require prior commitment to a cease fire, which in turn requires understandings among Palestinian factions accepted by Israel; this would be necessary to ensure peaceful conditions on the ground and the absence of Israeli military interruption during the election itself and the preceding campaign. According to the London-based Arab daily al-sharq al-Awsat, Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen), former Palestinian premier and newly named chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization drove home this point in two rounds of talks with Palestinian rejectionist groups over the last week. Abu Mazen is quoted as saying, "We need a safe, secure and calm internal situation, so we can hold elections. There is no possibility of holding elections while we are in a state of war and violent struggle. Elections need a secure environment that will allow for it to be done in a free and fair manner. Elections require freedom of movement and transportation to reach the ballot boxes and ensuring the participation of citizens." Indeed, there have been a variety of quotes from rejectionist leaders saying they may be willing to adhere to a unilateral ceasefire, but so far, there has been no definitive word from the main rejectionist group, Hamas. There have been a variety of reports that Hamas would agree to a ceasefire, but it seems that it will only if Israel accepts it as well. Israel may respect a truce brokered by Egypt among the Palestinian factions just as it consented to one during the summer of 2003. At the same time, it will be concerned that its acceptance not be exploited by undisciplined radicals in a way that ties Israel's hands and makes it vulnerable to attack. The last ceasefire fell apart because of differing understandings of its terms among the key protagonists. Unless that lesson is learned another truce is likely to fall apart, too. Another prerequisite for elections is that Abu Mazen needs to receive the nomination of the dominant Fatah party. Abu Mazen's nomination could easily be a formality, since so far, there is no real opposition. Yet, Fatah elections, while recognized by many as necessary, might be resisted by an Old Guard seeking to preserve its power. The issue of Fatah elections has been a dominant motif of the Young Guard. They believe that a combination of elections on all levels will have the cleansing effect of ridding the PA of old cronies of Yasser Arafat, who were beneficiaries of corruption. Moreover, it will inject new blood into a calcified system.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, London, Palestine, Czech Republic
  • Author: David Makovsky, Aaron David Miller, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A transfer of power within the Palestinian Authority, coupled with the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, presents both challenges and opportunities for reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The preconditions of past peace treaties between Israel and its Arab neighbors have demonstrated the necessity for calm on the ground and strong leaders who can force their constituents to accept peace. Unfortunately, the past four years of fighting, the lack of strong leadership, and the asymmetry of power between the Israelis and Palestinians all act as bulwarks against necessary change. The situation is complicated by the need to prevent Hamas and local warlords from expanding their power. Nevertheless, from the Israeli perspective, there are some opportunities for change. The disengagement plan proves that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon understands that Israel cannot sustain the settlements, while the continued construction of the West Bank fence presents opportunities for new negotiations.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The convergence of Yasser Arafat's departure from the scene after four decades of domination and the imminent Israeli disengagement from Gaza (which will include the removal of settlements for the first time since 1967) represents a unique opportunity for Israeli-Palestinian relations. Arafat leaves behind a huge leadership void. With such prolonged centralized control over Palestinian affairs, he was everything in one man. He was the glue holding together all strata of Palestinian society—those living inside and outside the territories, Gazans and West Bankers, older and younger generations of activists, Islamists and leftists. He was the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Authority, and the Fatah movement, and he personally controlled political, security, and economic decisionmaking as well as enormous funds. Many forces are likely to attempt to fill the vacuum and share in the inheritance. There are already signs of the emergence of a collective leadership composed of the veteran Fatah leadership, headed by Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a. Abu Mazen) and Ahmad Qurei (a.k.a. Abu Ala) and supported by Fatah activists of the intermediate generation. They will divide Arafat's powers and responsibilities among themselves and seek to stabilize their rule based on the collective desire to preserve national unity. Over time, however, the internal contest over spoils and policies is likely to surface and threaten the new leadership. The imminent Israeli disengagement from Gaza, which is deeply dividing Palestinian society, will only add to the challenge.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Two major developments have occurred within the past week in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. First, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon achieved an initial victory on October 26, when the Knesset voted in favor of disengagement from GazaNa significant step that has already created both opportunities and challenges. The vote was the first of many to come on the subject of Gaza withdrawal; the next such item on the parliament's agenda will be addressed on November 3, with a preliminary reading of a bill regarding compensation for Gaza settlers. Second, Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat's sudden hospitalization in Paris has raised new questions about Palestinian succession.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Ten years on, the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan has weathered a number of storms, including the passing away of King Hussein, four years of Israeli-Palestinian armed struggle, and war in Iraq. Despite considerable domestic anti-peace pressure on the Jordanian regime (nurtured by Islamist elements) and strained Israeli-Jordanian political relations, the two countries have developed impressive security and economic relations. The economic field in particular offers a ray of hope for the future, exemplifying how things could and should be done to enhance peace.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Efraim Halevy, Fayiz Tarawneh
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Jordan's ultimate strategic objective is peace in the Middle East. While the Jordan-Israel treaty remains seminal in importance for the Middle East and beyond, the continued bloodshed in the region sobers the anniversary celebration. The Jordan-Israel treaty reflected the courage and vision of King Hussein and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Reaching agreement on this treaty was not always an easy process. The initial talks between the two countries in September 1993 resulted in a stalemate. The second round of talks in April 1994 was more successful, but when the United States was invited to serve as a guarantor, Washington balked at the idea of a Jordan-Israel treaty. Nevertheless, throughout the negotiations, Hussein and Rabin both demonstrated farsighted leadership and deep convictions about the absolute necessity of peace. They understood that they had to view each other as partners, not adversaries, and deal with each other directly. There is a place for third-party mediation and negotiation, but only when all other options have been exhausted and talks are at a standstill. The Jordan-Israel treaty and the Oslo negotiations are good examples of the efficacy of direct communication in peace talks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In late October 2004, the Israeli parliament will debate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for "disengagement" from Gaza and the northern West Bank. This plan was born of Israel's experience over the course of the four-year-old Palestinian intifada. Understanding the rationale for disengagement requires a review of the lessons that Israel has learned from this conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 4, 2004, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Peter Hansen unapologetically admitted to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that the UN employs members of Hamas. "Oh, I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll," Hansen stated, "and I don't see that as a crime." The fact that Palestinian terrorist groups have increasingly used civilian cover to facilitate their activities remains undisputed (notwithstanding the recent spat between Israel and the UN over drone reconnaissance pictures depicting what Israeli officials claimed were Hamas operatives transporting Qassam missiles in a UN ambulance, but which now appear to have been merely stretchers). In several documented cases, Palestinian terrorists have exploited employment with UN and other agencies to support their groups' activities.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Palestinian intifada against Israel, this week entering its fifth year, has wreaked havoc on both Israelis and Palestinians. In Palestinian quarters, it has provoked considerable soul-searching about the wisdom of resorting to terrorism as a tool in the confrontation with Israel. Yasser Arafat remains the Palestinians' paramount political leader, though his standing is diminished at home and abroad. Israel managed to considerably reduce the level and volume of terror against it, but also decided to disengage from Gaza.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza