BICOM Daily Briefing December 5 2003
Last updated: 2003-12-05
The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mirror carry details of a report by Tel Aviv Universitys Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies, which claims that Israel was part of the US and UK intelligence failure surrounding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. This story is also reported in the Israeli press, with the Jerusalem Post noting that the think tank also published a counter-argument to the piece. The Independent features a piece on the young Arab-Israeli musicians of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. In the Jewish Chronicle, Jonathan Freedland suggests that the documentary Clubbing on the Front Line, which will be broadcast tonight on Channel 4 and which shows life of young people in Israel today, gives a picture of Israel that is difficult to get from the daily news. The Economist contains a piece entitled Blessed are the Peacemakers, that focuses on the Geneva Accords.
The Israeli press focuses on fast-moving developments with
Quotes of the Day:
Faisal Maqdad, Syrian Ambassador to the UN (Yediot Ahronot, 4/12): These are big lies. Islamic Jihad and the other organisations do not have the military potential to mount such attacks from
Silvan Shalom, Foreign Minister (Al-Jazeera TV, 4/12): We are willing to do everything to narrow and bridge the gap between the Palestinians and us. I think that if the Palestinians were serious about work and peace they would find in us a serious peace partner.
Silvan Shalom, (Al-Jazeera, 4/12): As long as Arafat is still around, there is no possibility that a moderate Palestinian leadership will emerge. We were talking with a number of Palestinians and several of them told us that they were willing to accept compromise solutions in order to achieve peace with
George W. Bush (BBC Online, 4/12): We appreciate people discussing peace; we just want to make sure people understand that the principles to peace are clear.
Colin Powell, Secretary of State for Defence (BBC Online, 4/12): [The roadmap is] the only real plan that is out there that has been adopted by the parties.
Ahmed Maher, Egyptian Foreign Minister (Haaretz, 4/12): The chances are good provided there is reciprocation on the part of
Ze'ev Boim, Deputy Defence Minister (Kol Israel Radio, 4/12): If the Palestinians agree to a cease-fire in
General Omar Suleiman, Egyptian Intelligence head (Maariv, 4/12): We must establish political objectives for the year ahead to rid ourselves of the tag of terrorists that has been stuck to us. The Americans support
Behind the News:
Syrian air force moves to higher alert status; claims fears of Israeli attack:
The Syrian air force has received orders to prepare for an Israeli military strike, according to a briefing by IDF Intelligence. A senior officer told military reporters that it is Syria which stands in the way of peace efforts, and the IDF would have recommended striking targets in Syria had Israeli children been killed in yesterdays foiled attempt to place a bomb in a Yokneam school.
The Syrian moves follow
According to defence sources, the Syrian Air Force has raised its level of alert and has been patrolling the border with
There are encouraging signs from the meeting of more than a dozen Palestinian factions in
Egyptian officials close to the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Egypt is pushing the idea of a broader truce that would not only halt attacks on civilians in Israel but also on soldiers and Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza. However, officials from Fatah and smaller groups said taking such a step would require
Palestinian sources on Wednesday said Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia intends to present Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with the terrorist groups' agreement for a ceasefire, if it is achieved, along with further steps to be taken by the PA to complement the initiative, including sealing Rafah weapon smuggling tunnels, collection of illegal arms and arrests of those who violate the agreement.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera correspondent Walid al-Umari on Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the pan-Arab satellite television station that Israel will do all it can to achieve peace with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world, but that they would not negotiate while terrorism continues. He said that
Comment and Opinion:
The Economist (5/12): Listen to the fulminations of the critics and you might conclude that the Israelis and Palestinians who unveiled a freelance peace plan at a media event in
In point of fact, the
The Independent (05/12): In August, as the intifada was raging in the
This affecting image had its origins in a project begun four years ago. At that time, Barenboim, the acclaimed Argentine-born, Israeli conductor, teamed up with his old friend, the now deceased Palestinian philosopher Edward Said, to bring to life a concept that sceptics on both sides of the political divide derided as impossibly misguided: a youth orchestra consisting equally of Jews and Arabs. After trawling the
He continues, saying that the orchestra, which is the subject of an absorbing edition of ITV1's The South Bank Show this Sunday, is "a musical version of what I think about the Middle East, a vision I can have of the Middle East where everyone is able to contribute and where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts".
That's all very well, but isn't the entire idea absurdly idealistic? Very possibly. And yet the players who have been to Barenboim's workshops attest to the unifying force of the music. Mina Zikri, an Egyptian violinist, reckons that getting to know Israeli members of the orchestra "humanises the other party. Images can be very misleading. The suicide bomber brings to mind a certain image. So does the [Israeli] military operation. But these must not be fixed in one's brain."
Through the orchestra, he has befriended Israelis, including a bassoonist called Ayelet Ballin. "Now, when I see her," Zikri carries on, "I think: 'Here is my friend,' not: 'Here is the Israeli person.'"
Yoni Etzion, an Israeli member of the orchestra, takes up the theme. "Here we get to understand that life isn't about territory and war. We all have the same purpose - to make music - and that brings us together." There is certainly no favouritism on Barenboim's part. He says that he loses his temper just as easily with musicians from both sides of the divide, and that nobody takes it personally.
Zvi Bar'el (Haaretz, 5/12): Which Assad should be believed - the one who says that Israel is behind all the troubles that befall the Arab states, as he told Al Safir in March, or the Assad who is sending up balloons of normalization and full relations in the interview to The New York Times - an interview that has been kept from the eyes of Syria's citizens?
Political leaders tend to change their positions according to circumstances, and diplomacy is an especially flexible business. Bashar's father, too, had his share of statements deploring
But it seems that Assad is sometimes alarmed by his own positions. He did not formally object to the road map, but attacked it publicly as "an American bribe to the Arabs." He did not participate in the Sharm el-Sheikh and Aqaba summits, but he allowed the leadership of the Palestinian organizations that enjoy his protection to take part in the hudna (truce) talks in
- Israelis defy 'illegal' orders (The Times);
- Palestinian debate (The Times);
- Israeli agents "talked up threat" (The Daily Telegraph);
- Israeli forces 'foil suicide bomb attack on school'; (The Independent);
- The sound of peace-making (The Independent);
- Palestinian factions meet to discuss truce (The Financial Times);
- King of Jordan 'encouraging Qurei' (The Financial Times);
- Palestinian factions meet to hammer out ceasefire (The Scotsman);
- Israelis and Palestinians (The Economist);
- Interview: Prince Hassan of Jordan (Jewish Chronicle);
- Israeli reality beyond buildings and bullets (The Jewish Chronicle);
- Powell to meet Mideast peace plan authors (Reuters);
- Bush Backs Talks with Doves Despite Israeli Ire (Reuters);
- Israel expels eight Palestinians to Gaza - sources (Reuters);
- Palestinian Militants Police West Bank (Reuters);
- Palestinians hold talks (Sky News);
- US mulls unofficial Mid-East plan (BBC Online);
- Egypt presses militants for truce (BBC Online);
- Israel expels twelve Palestinians from West Bank to Gaza Strip (Haaretz);
- Army cautiously optimistic despite Arafat's resurgence (Haaretz);
- Greece: Israel has key role in Olympics security (Haaretz);
- Sarid calls for inquiry into Iraq intelligence flop (Haaretz);
- Delusional disorder (Haaretz);
- Where right meets left (Haaretz);
- President Bush says Geneva Initiative is 'productive' (Jerusalem Post);
- IDF: School bombing could have drawn strike on Syria (Jerusalem Post);
- Qurei heads to Cairo; Groups said close to reaching deal (Jerusalem Post);
- Qurei joins truce talks (Jerusalem Post);
- Contradictory reports on Saddam's threat to Israel (Jerusalem Post);
- Bombing might have led to attack on Syria (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Briefing by BICOM