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  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat is facing a serious challenge to his authority, perhaps the most serious since he arrived in the territories from Tunis a decade ago this month. Yesterday, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) voted by a 43-4 margin to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (a.k.a. Abu Ala), who earlier this week warned he would quit due to the lack of reform in the PA and the lack of authority granted him to halt chaos in the West Bank and Gaza. In doing so, the PLC called for the formation of a new reform-oriented government, a move that could actually serve to strengthen Qurei's position in a power struggle with Arafat. The resignation marks the second time in ten months that a Palestinian prime minister has resigned due to complaints about lack of authority.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Dennis Ross, Wendy Sherman
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: There is no doubt that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is absolutely determined to carry out disengagement despite the political problems within his own party. The demographic issue of ensuring a long-term Jewish democratic majority in Israel and the associated political pressure has fueled his determination to proceed with disengagement.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Zohar Palti
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The International Court of Justice is expected to rule this Friday, July 9, on the legality of Israel's security fence. The Palestinians strongly oppose the security fence, claiming that the fence negatively affects them. Israel is now seeking to address their concerns through a variety of means relating to the route of the fence and to the creation of a humanitarian office to minimize the impact of the fence on the Palestinians. At the same time, it is indisputable that the fence is succeeding in its main objective of minimizing the risk of infiltration to Israel by suicide bombers in the northern West Bank. The entire fence is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Zohar Palti
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When the IDF withdrew from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Hizballah realized that it had to change direction somewhat, primarily because it had lost its avowed justification (and any hint of international legitimacy) for carrying out attacks from Lebanon. Accordingly, Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah, the group's secretary-general, instantly changed his rhetoric, focusing less on Lebanon and more on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In one speech, for example, he told Palestinians that it took Hizballah eighteen years to force Israel out of Lebanon, and that they could accomplish the same feat in even less time through armed struggle and suicide bombings.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Zalman Shoval
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 6, the Israeli government approved a plan for unilateral separation by a 14 to 7 vote. The plan includes complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip (with the exception of the so-called "Philadelphi Corridor" on the Egypt-Gaza border) and from certain West Bank settlements. It is scheduled to be implemented beginning in March 2005 and should be completed by the end of that year.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 6, 2004, the Israeli cabinet authorized (by a 14-7 margin) preparations for a possible Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The authorization called for a final decision to be made about the Gaza settlements by March 2005. In the meantime, Israeli national security advisor Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland is heading a ministerial panel to discuss different aspects of withdrawal. The cabinet vote has triggered changes in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government. On the eve of the vote, Sharon fired two ministers from the National Union Party (NU) for opposing the plan. That move led the staunchly pro-settler NU to withdraw entirely from Sharon's government, decreasing his coalition's 68-seat Knesset majority by 7 seats. Following the cabinet vote, a minister and a deputy minister from the pro-settler National Religious Party (NRP) resigned, and both have stated that they would individually leave Sharon's coalition as well. If they do so, Sharon would for the first time preside over a minority coalition of 59 in the 120-member Knesset.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Yosef (Tommy) Lapid
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 17, 2004, Israeli justice minister Yosef (Tommy) Lapid addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Lapid became head of the Shinui Party in 2000. Under his leadership, Shinui has rapidly grown in popularity and is now the third-largest faction in the 120-member Knesset and the second-largest in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coalition. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. Recent polls show that 70 to 80 percent of Israelis support Sharon's Gaza withdrawal initiative. Therefore, they are unlikely to accept the Likud Party referendum of May 2, 2004, rejecting this initiative. At the same time, Israel cannot afford to allow a post-withdrawal vacuum to emerge in the territories, which the Iranians could potentially fill (Tehran supports Hizballah, which in turn supplies Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ]). Therefore, the withdrawal initiative must be altered somewhat from its original concept. Such a change would allow Sharon to say that he is accepting the ruling of his party while nevertheless moving forward with disengagement. His Gaza plan may turn out to be a three-stage process that is acceptable to Shinui. In any case, if an alternative formula is not proposed soon, Shinui will be forced to reconsider its participation in the government. We cannot sit idly and hope that Washington holds out on Israel's behalf against the interventionist tendencies—or so-called "goodwill"—of the Quartet. Shinui's formula for conflict management differs from that of both Sharon and the Israeli left, coming as it does from the center of the Israeli political spectrum. Shinui is well aware of the Roadmap's stipulation that measures must be taken against terrorism. Although Israel should indeed resume the reciprocal processes outlined in the Roadmap, it must also recognize that Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister Abu Ala cannot dismantle Hamas and PIJ under the current circumstances without causing a civil war. Yasir Arafat does not want to make peace. Hence, Abu Ala must unite the PA's sixteen security organizations under one entity, which he should then head rather than allowing these forces to remain under Arafat's leadership. In the past, Shinui opposed talking to Abu Ala until he put a stop to terrorism, but the party has changed its stance for the time being. When Likud rejected Sharon's initiative, Shinui realized that the right was attempting to create a stalemate. Shinui cannot subscribe to any such policy. If these delay tactics continue, international parties may attempt to enter the arena both politically and physically. Israelis must therefore take the initiative to speak with Abu Ala based on the acknowledgment that he is unable to wage a comprehensive fight against terrorist organizations. If Likud does manage to move forward with disengagement in the near term, however, Shinui will rethink its policy toward Abu Ala.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Pemra Hazbay
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Following Israel's recent raid in Rafah, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel's actions as "state terrorism" while Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul hinted that strains had emerged in the Turkish-Israeli relationship. In general, Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has lately adopted an alarmingly critical attitude toward Israel. Will Turkey seek to alter its ties with Israel? From an economic point of view, such a development would seem highly unlikely; Turkey ranks thirteenth on Israel's list of trading partners, while Israel ranks ninth among Turkey's trading partners. Yet, the question remains: do the deep economic ties between Turkey and Israel (which also share close political and military relations) provide a reason for optimism that economic initiatives can help improve political relations elsewhere in the region?
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Ben Thein
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Amid anticipation that Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon will soon get his Gaza withdrawal plan back on track, it is important to examine the only other instance of Israeli settlement evacuation—namely, Israel's withdrawal from Sinai in the wake of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. How was evacuation handled at that time? Where did the settlers go? What were their options? Moreover, in light of the Sinai withdrawal, what role, if any, might the international community play in a Gaza withdrawal? What legal factors will the Israeli government face in its efforts to move settlers from their homes?
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: Nabil Amr
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On May 13, 2004, Nabil Amr addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Amr, an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, served in previous Palestinian Authority cabinets as minister of information and minister for parliamentary affairs. A former member of the Palestinian delegation to peace talks with Israel, he is currently a visiting fellow at the Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Norway, Palestine, Arabia