BICOM Daily Briefing December 19 2003
Last updated: 2003-12-19
The policy speech given at the Herzliya Conference by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is prominently featured in The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times and The Scotsman. Labour MP Louise Ellmans speech in Parliament yesterday, in which she accused Dr. Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain of racism, is also covered in The Guardian. The Economists cover story this week is on the connection between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Quotes of the Day:
Excerpts from the Herzliya speech:
For a full copy of
Moshe Katsav, President of Israel (Reuters, 18/12): We must do something for preventing the continuity of bloodshed against us. We are calling to the Palestinian leadership to stop the violence immediately, to renew the peace talks immediately and to start to implement the road map immediately -- tomorrow morning, tonight, now. The announcement of the Israeli prime minister last night is not an expression of any kind of rejection or hesitation about the road map. The Palestinian prime minister has not done enough for stopping the violence, or stopping terrorism. He must do something for creating a good atmosphere, for creating the possibility of negotiation.
Tommy Lapid, Minister of Justice (Reuters, 18/12): I think that within three months we will have to act unilaterally if the Palestinians do not what is necessary, including dismantling the terrorist organizations.
Shimon Peres, leader of the opposition (AP, 18/12): What is clear from this speech is that there is no real decision, there are just a few linguistic changes that don't ease the situation or solve anything. I don't see anything that he mentioned happening right now. ... I am very frustrated.
Ahmed Qureia, Palestinian Prime Minister (AP,18/12): The language of threats that was evident in the speech -- that ... if things don't work, we will take unilateral steps, draw lines -- these are ultimately dangerous words, and this type of talk is simply not acceptable.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office press release (18/12): The British government welcomes the commitment to implement the road map and the determination to resume negotiations with the Palestinians.
Louise Ellman, Member of Parliament (The Guardian, 18/12): [Azzam Tamimi] is not a man of peace. He and his arguments incite hatred against Jews. Messages put out by this association and other Islamist groups, together with the far right, the traditional anti-Semites, incite growing violence against Jews in the
Behind the News:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon delivers policy speech at Herzliya conference:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last night delivered his much-anticipated speech at the Herzliya policy conference.
For a full copy of
European Union member countries have prevented an initiative which would have challenged Israel's credentials at the United Nations. The PLO delegation to the UN distributed a draft resolution early this week that said: "The PLO representative in the UN is the representative of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including East Jerusalem." However, ahead of a routine affirmation of the credentials of countries represented in the UN, EU representatives met with PLO representative at the UN,
Israeli Ambassador Danny Gillerman said "the Palestinian failure to challenge
Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside yesterday claimed that the Muslim Association of Britain, which helped to organise this year's anti-war marches, supports terrorism. In a Commons speech, which is protected from libel proceedings, Ms Ellman accused Dr. Azzan Tamimi, the association's senior spokesman, of inciting racial hatred against British Jews after he voiced strong support for Palestinian suicide bombers. He and his arguments incite hatred against Jews, said Ms Ellman, Messages put out by this association and other Islamist groups, together with the far right, the traditional anti-semites, incite growing violence against Jews in the
According to The Guardian, Ms Ellman cited a series of speeches in which Dr Tamimi, who describes himself as a "sympathiser and supporter" of the terrorist group Hamas, attacked
Dr Tamimi reacted angrily to Ms Ellman's speech, but declined to disassociate himself from the quotes attributed to him.
Comment and Opinion:
Uzi Baram (Former Labour MK, Yediot Ahronot, 19/12): The Prime Ministers speech was preceded by a great deal of preparation - public opinion was readied for a landmark speech and the local foreign television stations broadcast the speech like the Israeli Prime Minister were Churchill.
Sharon may have surprised those who hoped that he would propose a strategic plan for the State of Israel and not a string of tactical moves that he has always agreed to.
There were two positive parts to the speech: firstly, the clear and unequivocal declaration that a Palestinian state would be created alongside Israel. The second thing was the redeployment that will take place in the absence of agreement, and that Israeli settlements in the heart of Arab population concentrations will be moved. The rest was banal and repeated cliches that the Prime Minister has already used.
I am not thrilled by unilateral withdrawal because any agreement, even deep withdrawal, it is preferable to no agreement at all, which keeps Palestinian claims alives and maybe even Palestinian terrorism. But in the reality in which we live, a statement such as this is positive because it creates fissures in the right-wing camp, which in my humble opinion is endangering the resolve of the State of Israel.
Luckily, Sharons policy will be quickly tested. The test will be the evacuation of the settlement of Migron. Evacuation could have been implemented without international eyes, and without any reverberations within Israel. But the radical right has turned Migron into the litmus test of its strength. So Sharons immediate problem is the specific question of Migron, and his ability to continued to hold together a right-wing government through this charged atmosphere.
So, too little and too mean-spirited but when I see Arieh Eldad, MK starting to tremble, I begin to look for the good and important bits in the banal speech that the Prime Minister gave at the Herzliya conference.
Adi Mintz (Head of Council of Jewish Communities in the
The People of Israel, through all the years of Zionism, knew how to deal with this. Its answer was more illegal immigration, and the age-old answer to terrorism was settlement. In every place where we ploughed the land, there were the borders of the state. Waves of immigration balanced the demography, from the East and from Russia. Terror was always defeated by a defence force, together with the settlement.
Arik Sharon, together with the settlers, has always had the plough and the sword in his hand, but in old age, his strength has waned.
The inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and Gaza settled the land on the order of Israeli goverments over the years, in the heart of the Land. They took nothing from the Arabs. Settlements were established on State land in the most moral and just way possible. These settlemetns, like Metulla and Hanita, define the future of Zionism and of the existence of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel.
Unilateral withdrawal means the destruction of Zionism and the future of the Jewish People on the Land of Israel.
Yossi Beilin (Maariv, 19/12): In his Herzliya speech, Sharon gave a third prize to terrorism. The first prize he gave was when he was elected in 2001, when he declared that there would be no negotiation so long as there was terrorism. He thus changed Rabins policy which said that we would fight against terrorsm as if there were no negotiation, and proceed with negotiation as if there were no terroroism. Sharon gave the right of veto to every single Palestinian terrorist. Those who wanted to prevent negotiation knew that they could do that by continuing terrorism, and thus ensured that during his term of office more Israeli citizens have been killed than ever before.
The second prize was pushing Abu Mazen and
Instead of helping them, holding political negotiations and security coordination, he sent them to negotiate with the heads of Hamas in Cairo and Syria about an internal ceasefilre. Sharon made the Hamas the most influential element in the Palestinian camp. In yesterdays Herzliya speech, Sharon said to the Palestinians: If there is terror there will be no negotiation, but I will get out of the territories and relieve you of my presence unilaterally. That is the third prize.
Is this planned? Does Sharon really prefer a PA under Hamas leadership over pragmatic Palestinians prepared to agree with Israel in a Geneva-style accord with two states for two people, in a full and final agreement to the refugee question which guarantees a stable state with a guaranteed Jewish majority? Its difficult to tell. Because I am no great beleiver in conspiracies, I think that it is just ongoing nonsense, the damage of which Sharon does not understand.
Sharon is not going to change the settlement map. In his map he has done all the damage he is going to, but he continues to play for time and put off the moment of truth for as long as possible. The conditions he places on implementation of his new dream are so many that there is too much space to say that they have not been realised. Sharon will still have plenty to say in the next Herzliya speech. The question is how much blood will be shed until then, how far do we have to go away from the only serious chance to save the Zionist dream: a final agreement between us and the Palestinians.
- Sharon: act now or we go it alone (The Guardian);
- Palestinians scorn Sharon's words (The Guardian);
- Some Jewish outposts to go (The Guardian);
- Tranquil hilltop a focus of struggle (The Guardian);
- US rebukes Israel for threat to go it alone (The Times);
- Sharon gives Palestinians ultimatum to comply with road map (The Times);
- Sharon warns he will 'sever' Israelis from Palestinians (The Independent);
- Israel gives Arafat reform ultimatum (The Daily Telegraph);
- Sharon's ultimatum to Palestinians: negotiate or be cut off by the wall (The Financial Times);
- Israel conducts raid ahead of Sharon speech (The Financial Times);
- Editorial: No time to feel secure (The Financial Times);
- Sharon: Move towards peace or we'll divide the Holy Land (The Scotsman);
- Christianity's Jewish roots (The Economist);
- Israel again calls for progress on road map (Reuters);
- Sharon Issues Separation Ultimatum to Palestinians (Reuters);
- U.S. Opposes Unilateral Steps by Israel (Reuters);
- Israel May Begin 'Disengagement' Within 3 Months (Reuters);
- Expellee House (Associated Press);
- Israeli soldiers kill four Palestinian gunmen (Reuters);
- PM's initiative includes redeploying troops, relocating settlements (Haaretz);
- White House opposes Israeli effort to impose settlement on Palestinians (Haaretz);
- Future National Security Council head to lead PM's disengagement plan team (Haaretz);
- Lapid lambastes barbaric' settlers (Haaretz);
- Four Palestinians killed in IDF operation in Nablus (Haaretz);
- EU to hold conference on anti-Semitism (Haaretz);
- Long division (Haaretz);
- Britain responds cautiously to PM's talk of unilateral steps (Jerusalem Post);
- Lapid: Shinui will back Sharon (Jerusalem Post);
- PA rejects Sharon's plan for unilateral separation (Jerusalem Post);
- NRP: Sharon's speech harms Israel (Jerusalem Post);
- White House warns Israel of taking unilateral steps (Jerusalem Post);
- National Union says will bolt if settlements uprooted (Jerusalem Post);
- Peres: "Sharon still has not made a decision" (Jerusalem Post);
- Lapid: time is not working in Israel's favor (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Briefing supplied by BICOM