BICOM Daily Briefing January 9 2004
Last updated: 2004-01-09
Israel-related coverage in the world media focuses on remarks made by Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Ala yesterday, regarding the possible imminent demise of the two-state solution, and a Palestinian return to a preference for a single state arrangement. The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press and BBC Online all report Abu
The Independent highlights a terror report published yesterday by the Israeli security services which reveals a 50% drop in number of Israelis killed by terror in 2003. The Times reports on the latest developments in the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting last April of British activist Tom Hurndall in
In the Israeli press, Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Maariv and Yediot Ahronot all afford major coverage to the remarks made by
Quotes of the Day:
Colin Powell (Haaretz, 09/01): Mr. Sharon ... is looking for reliable partners he can work with and his plans that he has spent some time presenting recently suggest what he feels he might have to do if he doesn't have a reliable partner. What we are trying to do is to get that reliable partner to stand up and start acting.
Colin Powell (Haaretz, 09/01): They've got to get going and they have got to wrest authority away from (Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser) Arafat that will allow (Qureia) to start taking action with respect to terror and violence.
MK Yuval Steinitz, Chair of Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, (Haaretz, 09/01):" Of course, in order to see that this is a strategic policy change and not just a tactical declaration, similar statements are needed from all Hamas leaders. What's even more important is a change in behaviour, and when on the one hand Sheikh Yassin expresses such readiness [for temporary peace], but on the other the terror continues, we need to remember that with all the excitement surrounding this development...that we are fighting Hamas not because of its ideology, but because it's a terror organization.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Haaretz, 09/01):
Behind the News:
Powell expresses opposition to one-state solution
US Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday expressed his opposition to the idea of the so-called one-state solution. This notion, support for which is being expressed with growing frequency by Palestinian leaders, envisages the replacement of the State of Israel with a single, bi-national state in the area currently encompassed by
Secretary Powells remarks came as a response to a statement made by Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (
Powell, speaking at a State Department press conference, said that the
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday expressed his preference for a measured response on the Syrian track: We must be realistic and, above all, cautious, the Prime Minister said, We want to investigate how serious the Syrians are, and we are not interested in being a 'springboard to the White House' [for the Syrians]. Instead of running or jumping, we must thoroughly examine their intentions. Prominent figures in the Israeli political establishment, however, including Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, are calling for a more pro-active Israeli response to the Syrian leaders remarks, which would include an early re-commencement of negotiations. President Moshe Katzav is also known to favour this view.
Hamas spiritual leader indicates willingness for temporary peace
Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin appeared to break new ground on Wednesday in an interview with the German DPA news agency. Yassin seemed to indicate a willingness to contemplate a de facto two-state arrangement between Israelis and Palestinians. He remarked that once a Palestinian state came into being, Palestinians would then leave the area of land remaining under Israeli control to history. Yassin nevertheless ruled out any recognition of
Israeli officials recommended against reading too much into Yassins remarks, noting that Hamas active current involvement in terror, rather than speculation on its historical and ideological conceptions, must of necessity be
Number of Israelis killed by terror in 2003 halved
According to information released by the Shin Bet security service yesterday, the number of Israelis killed in terror attacks last year dropped by more than 50% compared to the previous year, while the number of terror attacks dropped 30%. Haaretz reports that Shin Bet officials claim the main reason for the lower figures is the security services' success in thwarting attacks. Other reasons include the completion of the first stage of the Security Fence, and the six-week hudna that took place during the summer.
Comment and Opinion:
The Economist (09/01): Suicide terrorism, like the slippery concept of terrorism in general, is harder to define than it may appear The fact that Hizbullah started the trend, and that its spread has coincided with the rise of other Islamic groupsHamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), al-Qaeda and othershas led some to surmise that Islamic fundamentalism somehow explains it. Proponents of this theory can cite the lengths to which some terrorists go to justify their attacks in Islamic terms, manipulating the precedents set by the Prophet and his companions and finessing the meanings of three key concepts: suicide, martyrdom and jihad.
Another sort of explanation for suicide terrorism focuses on its practitioners' travails and poverty in this world, rather than their imagined delights in the next. It used to be the case that a Palestinian bomber conformed to a recognisable type: he was young, male, single, religious and unemployed But the affluence of many of the September 11th hijackers cast doubt on the notion that poverty was a necessary, let alone sufficient, condition for suicidal terrorism. And since the start of the second intifada in 2000, the profile of Palestinian bombers has changed: several have been well educated and less devout than those of the mid-1990s. Some Palestinian groups (though not al-Qaeda) have also used women, conjuring up fresh religious sophistries to justify female martyrdom. Globally, says Yoram Schweitzer, an expert in suicide terrorism at the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, the bomber has no clear profile.
A better way to understand the popularity of suicide attacks may be to focus on their advantages for the groups who commission them. Such operations are rarely, if ever, the work of lone lunatics. Hamas, PIJ and the other Palestinian groups who practise suicide terrorism recruit, indoctrinate and train their bombers. They write the texts for the video testaments filmed shortly before each self-immolation (making them unreliable records of the true motives of the martyr), which the bombers themselves watch to redouble their resolve. They take the photographs that will later appear on propaganda posters. Then they deliver their foot-soldiers to pre-identified targets. Al-Qaeda is remarkable for the expertise and independence of its agents, but they too are trained and primed for their missions.
Counter-intuitive though it may seem, terrorists also regard suicide attacks as low-risk, given the scale of devastation they can inflict. As Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, has put it, the method of martyrdom operations [is] the most successful way of inflicting damage against the opponent and least costly to the mujahideen in terms of casualties. No accomplices are needed for rescues or getaways. Nor is there much danger of bombers betraying their comrades As well as these tactical benefits, suicide terrorism offers a strategic one... Suicide bombings juxtapose these groups' disdain for life with their victims' supposed love of it. This helps to create the impression of an undeterrable enemy, one freed by his self-disregard to strike anywhere.
How can the targets of such attacks protect themselves? By picking on democracies, the terrorists can be reasonably sure that their adversaries will stop short of the Mongol method (ie, wholesale slaughter of the population from which the bombers derive). Even so, suicide campaigns are often designed to madden their victims into inflicting collective punishment, thus further radicalising the terrorists' actual or potential supporters, who might otherwise be repulsed by the carnage that such extreme violence causes.
But there are subtler methods. Because they are corporate enterprises, disrupting or preventing attacks is not just a question of catching the bomber: there are also recruiters, trainers, reconnaissance agents, bomb-makers and safe houses. Israel prevents many attacks by penetrating these networksthough as Shlomo Gazit, a former head of military intelligence, points out, Israel knows roughly where its enemies can be found, and so can monitor their movements and cultivate informers. Police in, say,
Such vigilance can make life grindingly tense. If possible, the best answer must be to choke the supply of the terrorists' prize assetthe bombersthrough political compromise. Yet against the ultra-extremists of al-Qaeda, intelligence, disruption and vigilance may be the only ways.
London Jewish News (09/01): Unlike rogue regimes in the middle east and elsewhere,
It would be naïve to be utterly convinced by the sudden enthusiasm on the part of pariah states to reinvent themselves as cuddly members of the global family. These new overtures are born out of strategic and economic necessity rather than the product of soul-searching or an ethical paradigm shift.
But the unpleasant realities with which
Ze'ev Schiff (Haaretz, 09/01): There is a common denominator between the sudden readiness of
We are now witnessing a ridiculous phenomenon, when a state like Iran, which has been caught out telling lies, is preaching to Israel because it is not giving up weapons of mass destruction in its possession.
The lies that have been exposed demonstrate that an extra measure of caution, close supervision and invasive inspection are needed in countries that have been involved in deception. The lesson for
- An opportunity for the region (The Guardian);
- Why we oppose the Geneva accord (The Guardian);
- Israeli hunt for suspect kills 19 (The Guardian);
- Palestinians may seek single state (The Guardian);
- Israeli 'refuseniks' begin jail term (Daily Telegraph);
- Kilroy-Silk lands in hot water over 'indisputably stupid' attack on Arabs (The Independent);
- Israel and Libya in secret talks to open relations (The Independent);
- How tyrant's fall is giving peace a little chance in Middle East (The Times);
- Ethiopia's last 20,000 Falashas are allowed to fly to Israel (The Times);
- Soldier who shot British peace protester faces cannabis charge (The Times);
- Leading article: After Saddam (The Times);
- Israel's secret talks with Gaddafi aimed at healing old wounds (The Times);
- LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Israel's Jews and ethnic diversity (Financial Times);
- OBSERVER: European safety (Financial Times);
- LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Distinguish between anti-Semitism and fair criticism (Financial Times);
- WORLD NEWS: UK urged to act over Mideast peace process (Financial Times);
- WORLD NEWS: Leak threat to secret Israeli talks with Libya (Financial Times);
- EU revives conference with Jews (International Herald Tribune);
- Palestinian PM says two-state solution in danger (Reuters);
- Two-State Mideast Solution Only Way Forward -Powell (Reuters);
- Israel Seeks to Step Up Ethiopia Resettlement (Reuters);
- ANALYSIS-Further Israeli budget cuts seen as ... (Reuters);
- Palestinian PM's 'one state' call (BBC Online);
- Israel ministers urge Syria talks (BBC Online);
- Israel to take all Ethiopian Jews (BBC);
- no disarmament (Totally Jewish);
- Martyrdom and Murder (The Economist);
- Rethinking Israel's policy towards Palestine (The Economist);
- The West versus al-Qaeda: a scorecard (The Economist);
- Powell says U.S. opposes one-state solution for Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Haaretz);
- United States leaving Syrian track to Israel's discretion (Haaretz);
- Qureia: Israel's unilateral moves are pushing us toward a one-state solution (Haaretz);
- Mofaz to ease grip on Palestinians, put Arabic-speaking troops at checkpoints (Haaretz);
- PM: No Syria talks with terror (Jerusalem Post);
- Powell rejects Qurei's 'bi-national' threat (Jerusalem Post);
- Palestinians dismiss Qurei's bi-national threat (Jerusalem Post);
- IDF arrests Hizbullah TV correspondent in Jenin (Jerusalem Post);
- Yassin says ready for temporary peace (Jerusalem Post);
- Mofaz orders IDF to ease restrictions (Jerusalem Post);
- Beyond unilateral withdrawal (Jerusalem Post);
- Qurei 'not serious' about binational state (Jerusalem Post);
- Hamas plays down Yassin peace offer' (Jerusalem Post)
Israel Briefing supplied by BICOM