Israel Resource Review 27th April, 2005


Palestinian Leader Abbas Signals Mild Disapproval of Rocket Attack on Israel, But Does Not Condemn It
Dr. Michael Widlanski

The official Palestinian Auhtority media reported today (Wednesday) Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was not pleased with the rocket attack Tuesday night on the Israeli town of Sderot, but no Palestinian official, including Abbas condemned the attack.

"This was an unapproved operation," declared PLO Chairman Abbas in a quick response to a reporter's question about the Tuesday night attack, which did not injure anyone.

Dr. Abbas used a somewhat arcane Arabic term "'amaliyya munfalita" which may be translated as "unusual operation" or "operational deviation" or even "rogue operation" to describe the rocket attack from PLO-controlled Gaza into the southern Israeli town.

"This is outside the consensus," said Abbas, whose brief comment was carried at the start of the Wednesday morning news summary on Voice of Palestine Radio from Ramallah and as a brief low-level item on Palestinian television from near Abbas's headquarters in Gaza.

The Palestinian leader said such an attack in the future would be "stopped by all means," but he gave no details of how he would carry out the same promise that he has made before. As has been the pattern in previous attacks, Abbas also declined to condemn those who carried out the attack.

Abbas's comment that the attack was "outside the consensus" was an apparent reference to the informal ground-rules for the "tahdiyya"-the one-sided "lull" or "cooling-off" declared last month in a summit in Cairo between the PLO and the Islamic terror groups HAMAS and Islamic Jihad.

Both Islamic groups have agreed in principle to join Abbas's PLO as well as the Palestinian National Authority (PA), citing their similar strategic goals.

During the post-Cairo summit period, there have been more than 30 Palestinian attacks-ranging from shootings and road-side bombs to rocket launchings-- as well as more than a dozen abortive attempts at suicide bomber attacks, some of the latter involving Palestinian children.

Speaking in a brief "stake-out"-type interview in Arabic as he was entering his car, Dr. Abbas did not condemn the attack or issue a call not to attack Israeli civilians, but he stressed that such actions did not serve Palestinian purposes.

"This does not serve the Palestinian cause," declared Abbas, using a formulation that was often used by Palestinian officials during the tenure of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died in November.

In a step-or lack of steps-similar to Arafat's policy, the rocket attack was not condemned or criticized in any prepared speech or in any official statement issued by the PLO or the Palestinian National Authority (PA), both headed by Abbas, and the attack itself was largely ignored.

In what may also be seen as another return to the Arafat media profile, Palestinian television has regularly been showing Abbas in largely ceremonial functions such as reviewing troops and holding meetings.

In today's broadcasts, for example, Abbas's short disapproving comment on the rocket attack was preceded by several minutes of film footage showing Abbas handing out "Star of Jerusalem" medals to old Palestinian generals.

Although Abbas has tempered some forms of Palestinian incitement against Israel in his state-controlled media-such as "martyr films," he has allowed other forms of incitement against Israel and the United States to go largely unchecked, such as virulent mosque speeches and the wholesale publication of phony atrocity stories.

"Our enemies want to occupy Arab and Islamic lands under their leadership," declared last Friday Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris, a charismatic mosque speaker employed and paid by the Palestinian Authority.

In recent weeks, Mudeiris and other mosque speakers (among them Jerusalem preacher Yousef Abu Sneina and Mufti Ikrema Sabri) broadcast by the PA official media have also recalled the need to recapture Arab population centers inside post-1949 Israel such as Haifa and the Gaililee.

Dr. Abbas, who is expected to visit the United States within a month, had promised both the United States and Israel that he would eliminate incitement against Israel and the United States. He has not done so.

The repetitive, gory and sensational films of bloodied real-life "martyrs" or of beautiful women coaxing young boys to die as "martyrs" has largely been taken off Palestinian television, but there are still regular showings of children in caskets or the lionizing of young men killed while trying to infiltrate into Israeli-held territory.

In addition, Palestinian radio and television continue to promote the idea that Israeli government officials are plotting with "Jewish extremists" to destroy Islamic holy places, even as the Palestinian media and official PA textbooks scoff at the idea that there was ever a serious Jewish presence in Jerusalem.

The Jewish temples of Solomon and Ezra are regularly dismissed by the Palestinian media with the Arabic phrase "al-heikal al-maz'oum": "the supposed temple."

Similarly, the Palestinian media and Palestinian text books (introduced in 1996 and 2000) refer to the Tomb of Rachel (recorded as a Jewish matriarch in the Bible) as being the tomb of "Bilal bin-Ribah."

Since his selection in January as Palestinian successor to Yasser Arafat, Abbas has let certain kinds of incitement-such as broadcast mosques speeches-go unchecked.

"Our enemy has become strong and fed on us like prey in our lands in the East and in the West because we are weak, and our only strength lies in the Quran." declared Sheikh Mudeiris in his mosque speech in Gaza.

The mosque preacher declared that the un-named enemy-which was clearly meant to be America and Israel-had deliberately tried to cause "civil war" among the Arab world. Abbas himself told Egyptian journalists last month in Arabic newspaper interviews that any attempts by him to rein-in Palestinian militants would lead to "civil war."

"Our enemies have succeeded in stirring up strife between us and our Arab brothers," asserted Sheikh Mudeiris. His comments seemed an extension of Abbas's retort to American and Israeli complaints about Palestinian incitement and lack of serious action against Palestinians amassing arms and explosives.

In recent speeches, Sheikh Mudeiris has also repeated charges that Israel is plotting attacks on Islamic holy places-a theme he mentioned tangentially last Friday in a speech dedicated to the birthday of Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

Similar comments have been voiced repeatedly by Prime Minister Ahmad Qreia (also known as Abu 'Ala) and chief PA negotiator Saeb Arikat.

Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post.

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Rand Studies Make Recommendations for a Successful Palestinian Arab State and Forget Major Detail:
the PLO Rejects Any Notion of a West Bank/Gaza State
RAND Corporation Release: April 27th, 2005

The Rand Corporation has ignored one basic fact of life: The PLO is at war with the state and people of Israel.

The purpose of the PLO is to create a state of Arab Palestine in all of Palestine, and not only in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The 1974 amendment to the PLO Covenant enables the PLO to establish its state in any part of Palestine that has been liberated.

Please note that Jerusalem is described as a city in Palestine.

The RAND Corporation today issued the most comprehensive recommendations ever made for the success of an independent Palestinian state.

The proposals, including a landmark rail, highway and infrastructure link between the West Bank and Gaza that would open the door to dramatic new development in Palestine, would give Palestinians new access to jobs, food, water, education, health care, housing and public services.

Many of the actions proposed by RAND can get underway now to begin improving the lives of Palestinians and begin laying the groundwork to sustain long-term development in a future state.

A report produced under the oversight of RAND Health titled "Building a Successful Palestinian State" describes many of the proposals. A companion volume by the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy titled "The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State" proposes a new corridor from the northern West Bank to Gaza that would help achieve the goals of the first report, enabling Palestinians to build a more prosperous future and cope with rapid population growth.

The corridor, called the Arc, would support a high-speed 140-mile interurban rail line, highway, aqueduct, energy network and fiber optic cable linking Palestine's major towns and cities. This would act as a catalyst to generate housing, jobs and business development. Construction of the Arc would create an estimated 100,000 to 160,000 jobs for Palestinians over five years, on top of thousands more jobs in new businesses built along the corridor. It would also foster revitalization of historic city centers and preserve forests, nature reserves and agricultural land.

"Creating a state of Palestine does not ensure its success," according to the first report. "But for Palestinians, Israelis and many around the world, it is profoundly important that the state succeed." A failed Palestinian state, or one so weak that it must be sustained and policed by others, would endanger international security, the report says.

The reports do not discuss how Israelis and Palestinians can reach a settlement to create a Palestinian state. Instead, they focus on what would happen if such a state is created, recommending actions that Palestinians, Israelis and the international community can take to increase chances a new state would be successful. An upcoming RAND report will examine security issues and multinational military participation.

Rather than being a blueprint to be followed in every detail, the reports are designed to provide helpful ideas that Palestinians and other involved parties can study and develop further to best meet the needs of the Palestinian people. They are also designed to help a new Palestinian state avoid some of the problems encountered in nation-building initiatives in Iraq and elsewhere.

"These studies spell out practical steps that can help make the goal of a Palestinian state living in peace and prosperity alongside Israel a reality," RAND President and CEO James A. Thomson said.

"We hope RAND's two years of rigorous and objective problem-solving research will point the way to a better future for the people of the region," said RAND Executive Vice President Michael Rich.

Recommendations in the reports could be implemented for approximately $33 billion in capital investment in the first 10 years of a new state. This represents an annual average of about $760 per person - a level that is broadly comparable with other recent nation-building efforts. An estimated $6 billion of the investment would be used to build the core rail and road infrastructure of the Arc. Billions of dollars would need to come from international assistance and investment, combined with Palestinian spending and private investment. Security arrangements for Palestine would also need international financial commitments.

The studies say the chances of success of a Palestinian state will increase with a high level of territorial contiguity of Palestinian lands (apart from the separation of Gaza from the West Bank); relatively open borders allowing movement of people and goods between Palestine and its neighbors, especially Israel; and security within Palestine and for its neighbors. Here are highlights:

GOVERNANCE: A precondition to good governance is that Palestinians view their leaders as legitimate and effective. This will depend on terms of the final peace settlement, including the size and contiguity of territory, status of Jerusalem, and freedom of refugees to resettle in the new state, along with actions of the Palestinian government. Good governance will be more easily achieved if Palestine's borders are open, its economy is prosperous, its refugee absorption is manageable, its security is guaranteed, and its early years are bolstered by significant international assistance. This assistance should be invested to ensure long-term economic growth. Good governance and legitimacy also require that Palestine fight corruption and authoritarian practices, promote the rule of law and empower the judiciary, give more power to a parliament, promote meritocracy in the civil service, and delegate power to local officials. The more the international community and Palestinians insist on good governance, the more likely good governance will be practiced.

INTERNAL SECURITY: The first report says "the success of an independent Palestinian state is inconceivable in the absence of peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike…. An independent Palestinian state must be secure within its borders, provide for the routine safety of its inhabitants, be free from subversion or foreign exploitation, and pose no threat to Israel." The most pressing internal security concern will be to suppress militant organizations that would undermine stability of the new Palestinian state and threaten Israel. Public safety, routine law enforcement and the administration of justice will also need to be put on a sound footing as quickly as possible. At a minimum, this will require funds for rebuilding courthouses and police stations, buying legal texts and computers, obtaining training and purchasing police equipment. Internal security services will need to be restructured and will need monitoring, training and analytical support.

THE ARC: The Palestinian population of about 3.6 million in the West Bank and Gaza is expected to grow to roughly 6.6 million by 2020 due to natural population growth and immigration. The Arc would link the major towns and cities of Palestine, including Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Hebron, and Gaza City, making it possible to travel from southern Gaza to the northern West Bank in less than 90 minutes. Each rail station, located several miles from existing historic urban cores, would create a focal point for new development and would connect to a historic core via a new boulevard and an advanced form of bus rapid transit. Along each boulevard, new commercial and residential neighborhoods would be developed, largely by private sector investment, to accommodate population growth. Housing and jobs would be created within walking distance of the transit system. New building design would incorporate sustainable systems using solar energy and recaptured water. Development along each boulevard would pump economic activity into the historic centers of Palestinian cities and assure their preservation and revitalization, an essential strategy for creating a much-needed tourism industry. In addition to creating a ladder of linear cities along the defining mountain ridge of the West Bank, the Arc would preserve open land for agriculture, forests, parks and nature reserves. A national park following the line of the Arc would provide needed recreation space within each city, and a path for hiking and biking between municipal areas. A parallel toll road would provide access for trucks and other vehicles for people and freight, linking the country to its economic gateways at a possible airport and seaport in Gaza.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Successful economic development in Palestine will require adequate security, good governance, contiguous territory, stable access to necessary supplies of power and water, and a transportation infrastructure that meets the needs of Palestinians. "In a territorially non-contiguous state, economic growth would be adversely affected and the resulting poverty would aggravate political discontent and create a situation where maintaining security would be very difficult, if not impossible," according to "Building a Successful Palestinian State." Economic development will depend on human capital, with stronger systems of primary, secondary and vocational education. Other important conditions include Palestinian access to the Israeli labor market to get jobs, and substantial freedom of movement of people and products across Palestine's borders, including the border with Israel. Economic activity would also be strengthened by improvements and investment in the transportation, water, power and communications infrastructure of Palestine. Equally important, the government will need to adopt appropriate monetary and fiscal measures and open trade policies.

WATER SUPPLY: A successful Palestinian state will need adequate supplies of clean water for domestic consumption, commercial and industrial development, and agriculture. Today Palestinians have only half the minimum amount of water per person established by the World Health Organization. Coping with a severe and worsening water shortage will require a combination of measures to enhance supply and restrain demand. One way to provide Palestinians with enough water to meet World Health Organization standards would be for Israel and Palestine to renegotiate the allocation of existing water resources. Removing water from aquifers beyond sustainable limits must be halted to avoid creating worse shortages. Increased efficiencies, water re-use, and irrigation management should be used to deal with part of the water shortfall. The international community should be ready to finance construction of desalinization plants and infrastructure improvements.

HEALTH: Palestine has a relatively healthy population, many highly qualified health care professionals, national plans for health system development, and a strong base of governmental and health care institutions. There is poor coordination, however, in the health care system and too many under-qualified health care providers. Health system planning and policy development should be better integrated and planned. Public and primary health care also need to be expanded to include programs for immunizations, nutrition, preventing and treating chronic and noninfectious diseases, and treating developmental and psychosocial conditions.

EDUCATION: Schools should offer a quality education accessible to girls and boys. The education system should be open to reform, enroll more students in secondary schools, expand early childhood programs, make special education available, and stress development of student civic skills and social responsibility. Vocational education should be redesigned, expanded and modernized to produce workers with needed skills. Universities should reduce an over-emphasis on humanities and social sciences, and expand science and engineering programs. This will require increased funding, higher quality standards, better-paid teachers, and new and renovated facilities.

Lead authors of "Building a Successful Palestinian State" are Steven N. Simon and C. Ross Anthony. Others who worked on the study include Glenn E. Robinson, Jerrold D. Green, Kenneth J. Shine, Michael Schoenbaum, Jack Riley, Justin Adams, Mark Bernstein, Keith Crane, Adel K. Afifi, Rachel Christina and Charles Goldman. Doug Suisman is lead author of "The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State." Other authors are Simon, Robinson, Anthony and Schoenbaum.

A donation by David and Carol Richards initiated and funded "Building a Successful Palestinian State." A donation by Guilford and Diane Glazer initiated and funded "The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State." Both studies were also funded directly by RAND from philanthropic donations and fees earned on client-funded research.

RAND Health is the nation's largest independent health policy research program, with a broad research portfolio that focuses on health care quality, costs, and delivery, among other topics.

The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy provides objective analysis to promote greater understanding, political and social reform, peace and well-being in the Middle East.

Copies of Building a Successful Palestinian State, (ISBN: 0-8330-3532-0), The Arc: Formal Structure for a Palestinian State, (ISBN: 0-8330-3770-6), and a summary of the reports titled Helping a Palestinian State Succeed: Key Findings, (ISBN: 0-8330-3771-4) can be ordered from RAND's Distribution Services ( or call toll-free in the U.S. 1-877-584-8642).

About the RAND Corporation

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world.

See: Helping a Palestinian State Succeed

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