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  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 17, a gunman chanting Islamist slogans attacked the Turkish Council of State (the Danistay, or high court for administrative affairs) in Ankara. The gunman killed one judge and wounded four others who were sitting in the Council's second chamber, which has recently upheld Turkey's ban on “turbans” in schools. In accordance with the European and Turkish notion of secularism (laïcité in French) as freedom from religious symbols in the public sphere, Turkey bans public officials and school students wearing turbans—a specific style of women's headcover that emerged in the mid 1980s and that the courts consider an Islamist political symbol. (Turbans are distinct from traditional headscarves, which are not banned.) Photographs of the judges had earlier been published in Islamist newspapers with headlines targeting them.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas's surprise May 25 announcement that he would call for a national referendum should Palestinian factions fail to reach agreement during their national dialogue was wrongly interpreted as a peace plan by many in the press. The document Abbas threatened to put to a popular vote is intended to quell the daily gun battles, kidnappings, and assassination attempts among rival armed groups in Gaza. However, since each party will interpret the document to affirm its own interests, the vague language on relations with Israel could be interpreted either as advocating a one-state solution that would eliminate prospects for peace or as recognizing a two-state solution. Abbas and Fatah may view the “national accord,” negotiated earlier in May among prominent prisoners in Israeli jails, as a means of forcing Hamas into a corner on negotiating with Israel, but the text of the document much more closely resembles Hamas's own political program. (Read an English translation of the national accord in PDF format).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • 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: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 22, leaders from across the Lebanese political spectrum completed another round of the ongoing National Dialogue. The talks, which started earlier this month, have touched on some of the more salient topics in Lebanese politics. Conspicuously absent from the agenda, however, has been a discussion of disarming militias, such as Hizballah, a key element of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The indefinite postponement of this critical issue will make it difficult for the United States to continue to actively support its democratic allies in post-Syria Lebanon.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Yaaron Deckel
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 16, 2006, Yaron Deckel and David Makovsky addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Deckel is a leading political analyst in Israel and Washington correspondent for Israel Television and Israel Radio. Mr. Makovsky is a senior fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute. Mr. Makovsky's remarks were released in PolicyWatch no. 1086, “The Shape of Israel's Election Race.” The following is a rapporteur's summary of Mr. Deckel's remarks. In several recent interviews with the press, Israeli acting prime minister Ehud Olmert articulated a specific agenda for disengagement and the evacuation of thousands of additional settlers from the West Bank, distinguishing his campaign from the vague promises that have characterized past Israeli elections. Ariel Sharon campaigned in 2003 on eventual “deep and painful” future concessions, but did not specifically address disengagement until after the elections. It is therefore important to evaluate the prospect that Kadima will head the next government and what policies it would likely follow if in power.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In a surprise move prior to Israel's March 28 election, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert unveiled a proposal that Israeli settlers be consolidated into West Bank settlement blocs largely adjacent to the Green Line. A week after the announcement, Israeli public reaction suggests his gamble seems to have paid off. According to a Yediot Ahronot poll released on March 17, Israelis favor Olmert's unilateralist proposal by a margin of 52 percent to 45 percent. Moreover, Olmert's poll standing was not negatively impacted by the proposal, despite the fact that it could mean the removal of an estimated 60,000 settlers from dozens of settlements scattered across the larger part of the West Bank outside Israel's security barrier. (Inside the Israeli security barrier, there are approximately 193,000 settlers, mostly in blocs, in the 8 percent of the West Bank largely adjacent to the pre-1967 boundaries. By comparison, President Clinton's final proposal in 2000 involved Israel keeping 5 percent of the land.) An Olmert security advisor and former Shin Bet head, Avi Dichter, says the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will not be withdrawn from the West Bank. Olmert was able to use his commanding lead to answer critics who say that the new party leader lacks Ariel Sharon's track record and therefore the authority to ask the public to trust his decisions. In the March 17 poll, Olmert's Kadima stood to win 39 seats in the 120-seat Knesset; Labor was polling at 19 seats and Likud, 15 seats. Olmert's standing was undoubtedly assisted by Israel's March 15 operation to seize from a Jericho prison the assassins of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi. Olmert hopes the operation will burnish his security credentials and undercut Netanyahu's argument that he is uniquely tough enough to challenge Hamas. (Olmert needs to be concerned about the 22 percent of Israelis who are undecided—the equivalent of twenty-five Knesset seats.)
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky, Patrick Clawson, Marc Otte
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 3, 2006, Marc Otte, Patrick Clawson, and David Makovsky addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Otte is the European Union's special representative for the Middle East peace process. Dr. Clawson, The Washington Institute's deputy director for research, is author with Zoe Danon Gedal of the Institute monograph Dollars and Diplomacy: The Impact of U.S. Economic Initiatives on Arab-Israeli Negotiations. Mr. Makovsky is a senior fellow and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Khalid Mishal, a Hamas leader currently residing in Damascus, visited Ankara today. Despite fierce debate in the Turkish press and objections from the secular-minded foreign policy elite, Mishal's visit went ahead with backing from Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. From the American perspective, the visit is important for three reasons. First, it could potentially hurt Turkey's longstanding role as an honest broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Second, it serves as yet another foreign policy breech between Turkey and the West. Third, the visit is a telltale sign of the AKP's policy of “strategic depth” toward the Middle East, a policy that Washington needs to understand given U.S. objectives in Iraq, Syria, and Iran.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria
  • Author: Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 8, 2006, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon served until June 2005 as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. The following is a transcript of his remarks. “Hamas's recent victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections challenges all those actors currently invested in promoting change in the Middle East. These include Israel, Western nations, Arab democrats, and Palestinian moderates. Adding to this challenge is the perception of radical Islamists—Sunni and Shiite alike—that Hamas's victory is a defeat for U.S. policy in the region, a blow to democratization, and a victory for Islamist fundamentalism.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine