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  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Former Israeli prime minister and recently resigned finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the Likud leadership primary on December 19, beating the foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, by a margin of 45 percent to 33 percent. Netanyahu returns to the leadership of Likud, which he vacated after his loss in the 1999 election. Netanyahu's victory comes a day after Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffered what his doctors called a mild stroke; he was released from the hospital within forty-eight hours. At seventy-seven, Sharon already shares the record for the oldest Israeli prime minister; David Ben-Gurion was seventy-seven when he resigned in 1963. Sharon turns seventy-eight in February.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After a relatively calm first round of Fatah primaries in five of the West Bank's eleven electoral districts, a second round of primaries in five additional districts—four in the West Bank and one in Gaza—held between November 28 and December 3 have caused increased tensions within the movement. Where the victories by the younger generation of Fatah leaders in the primaries could have represented a watershed moment in Fatah's evolution, they have been marred by a haphazard system of voting and numerous accusations of fraud. Moreover, repeated incidents of violence at polling stations demonstrate Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas's difficulty in enforcing his principle of One Authority, One Gun even within his own movement. Rather than unifying Fatah, the primaries have highlighted the party's disorganization and divisions. The old guard represented by Fatah's Central Committee, which dominates a committee of the wise tasked to determine Fatah's final electoral lists, will now have greater leverage in that process to place its own members high on Fatah's national list of candidates in Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections scheduled for January 2006.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In preparation for January elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian faction that dominates the current council, held its first ever primaries on November 25.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Amir Peretz's decision to pull the Labor Party he leads out of its national unity government with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon set Israel's new political calendar and precipitated Sharon's decision to bolt the Likud Party and consent to elections in March 2006. Peretz is a veteran labor union leader who won the leadership of the Labor Party on November 10, defeating Shimon Peres, a dominant force in the party since 1974.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Monday, November 21, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon announced that he is bolting the Likud Party and forming a new National Responsibility Party. The Knesset took a preliminary vote to dissolve itself. While wrangling may continue, a final date will soon be set for elections in March 2006. Sharon remains prime minister during the interregnum.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the leadup to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's October 20 visit to Washington, the Bush administration urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to tighten rules enacted in 1995 and change the law governing upcoming Palestinian legislative elections to make it clear that candidates, even those backed by Hamas or other militant groups, could not incite violence or keep ties with militias. However, the PA seems unlikely to adopt this approach, in part because the administration reportedly backed away from its position. What alternative strategies exist for limiting Hamas's political influence?
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 4, 2005, Dennis Ross, Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, and David Makovsky addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and former U.S. Middle East peace envoy, has just returned from a month in the region. General Herzog of the Israel Defense Force is a visiting military fellow at The Washington Institute. Formerly the senior military aide to the minister of defense, he was also an Israeli peace negotiator. Mr. Makovsky, senior fellow and the director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Aviezer Ravitsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 24, 2005, Aviezer Ravitsky, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an expert on religious Zionism, addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. The impending Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the northern West Bank threatens the ideological foundations of many settlers. This is particularly true for religious settlers, most of whom view Israeli habitation of the West Bank as the fulfillment of a biblical mandate initiated by the Hebrew patriarchs. The fact that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a prime architect of the settlement movement during his tenure as housing minister in the late 1970s, unilaterally proposed the disengagement epitomizes what many settlers see as their abandonment by the political establishment. They fear that Israel will eventually withdraw from most, if not all, of the West Bank. That prospect threatens to undermine the cause of the national-religious camp in Israel, which has championed the settlement movement above all else since Israel assumed control over the territories in 1967.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Ammar Abdulhamid
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When discussing the topic of "minority rule," it is worth remembering that all dictatorships in fact are a form of minority rule, whether it be ethnic, religious, or bureaucratic. Once a minority establishes control over a nation, a crisis of legitimacy for the government will naturally arise. However, after the initial crisis fades, the main objective of those rulers is to establish representative coalitions that function under their control and rules. The norm is that nearly everybody is eventually represented within a system of parochial interests. In order to democratize one cannot champion the cause of the majority, but must instead champion the cause of civic education and citizenship -- otherwise, the country will fall into the trap of sectarian politics.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: British prime minister Tony Blair arrives in Washington on November 11 -- the first foreign leader to visit following President George W. Bush's reelection. The visit confirms Britain's status as America's most supportive ally and Blair's status as the president's closest foreign confidant. But the British leader is likely to use the two days of talks to place distance between himself and Bush. Unless obscured by diplomatic platitudes, the public differences will be most acute over the pace and direction of the Middle East peace process.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: America, Washington, Middle East, Arab Countries