ROUND-UP: MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
According to reports, it is unlikely Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who suffered a massive stroke, will return to power. Following are experts in politics, government and international affairs who can comment on Sharon's health and other aspects of the Middle East peace process. [The round-up originated with a focus on Yasser Arafat's legacy, and was updated after the election of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.] To view the full round-up: http://profnet.prnewswire.com/organik/orbital/thewire/lst_leads.jsp?iLRTopicI D=6537
**1. YEHUDA LUKACS, director and associate provost of international programs at GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: "The situation with Sharon is a developing story. There is a great deal at stake. Sharon's hospitalization last night means the end of his long political career, irrespective of the medical outcome. The Israeli political system is now entering a very uncertain period. The entire future of Kadima (which means 'forward'), the party that Sharon established after leaving Likud, is now under a cloud --especially for the individuals who left other parties to join with Sharon. They will be viewed as traitors. Both Israel and Palestine are equally concerned. The end of Sharon's career leaves the future of the peace process in question."
**2. BRYAN ROSS DAVES, professor of Israeli and Middle East politics at YESHIVA UNIVERSITY: "Prime Minister Sharon's second stroke has the potential of re-scrambling politics in Israel yet again. His popular policy of disengagement from the Palestinians is, in large part, connected to his own personal leadership and history. It is uncertain whether his policies would triumph in an election with the Kadima party under someone else's leadership. There is no one in the party leadership with the same reputation for security as that of Sharon. Sharon's second-in-command, Ehud Olmert, is a political insider, but he does not have wide popular appeal and would not likely make a strong candidate against Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud or Amir Peretz of the Labor Party. Indeed, Sharon's illness could very well bring the political campaign back to a struggle between Likud and Labor."
**3. MUQTEDAR KHAN, assistant professor of political science and international relations at the UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE: "The road map to peace must first work towards fostering a willingness and urgency to make peace. Unless there is a will to peace, there can be no way to peace. Three necessary changes must occur in the mindsets of the major players before a genuinely lasting peace can be achieved. First, the U.S. must adopt a sincerely evenhanded approach to the issue. Second, the people of Israel must recognize Palestinians as their moral equals. Finally, Muslims and Arabs must advance a vision of Israel that appeals to the Jewish community at large. So far, all they have done is demand justice for Palestine without directly addressing the future of Israel."
**4. GHASSAN SHABANEH, Ph.D., assistant professor of Middle East and international studies at MARYMOUNT MANHATTAN COLLEGE, is an authority on Palestinian-Israeli relations and a native of Hebron. He can discuss the likely reaction among Palestinians to a new Israeli leader following Sharon's illness. He can discuss Amir Peretz, head of the Labor Party, Benjamin Netanyahu, their chances of replacing Sharon and how they might fare: "Sharon's illness will likely put the peace process in jeopardy for the next six months to a year, with no Israeli leader with the security or political credentials to move things forward. The U.S. has invested so much in its relationship with Sharon, and, therefore, stands to lose the most."
**5. RONN TOROSSIAN, CEO of 5W PUBLIC RELATIONS and former spokesperson for Israel's Likud party, is available to discuss the chaos that has befallen the Israeli government. Torossian, who has worked closely with the acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Likud frontrunner Bibi Netanyahu, believes Israel's political crisis will erupt like never before. With Ariel Sharon in a coma, Torossian can comment the players that are making a power grab for the now vacant prime minister post: "Right now, we are seeing a political landscape in flux. It used to be the left vs. the right, and now it is an absolute free for all."
**6. DR. ROBERT A. FELBERG, neurologist and director of the Stroke Program at OCHSNER CLINIC FOUNDATION in New Orleans, can discuss cerebral hemorrhage and the neurological issues surrounding Ariel Sharon's condition: "This is among the most dangerous of all types of strokes, with half of victims dying within a month. However, bleeding in some areas of the brain, if caught early enough, can actually have a fair outcome."
**7. MORTON KLEIN, national president of the ZIONIST ORGANIZATION OF AMERICA (ZOA), the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel groups in the country, is available for comment on Sharon's health. Klein is nationally regarded as one of the foremost experts on the American Jewish scene on the Israeli-Arab conflict, and has led a series of high-profile campaigns on Capitol Hill regarding Israel. He is a former economist who served in the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations. Klein is widely regarded as one of the foremost Jewish leaders in the U.S. The Forward, a national Jewish weekly, named him one of the top five Jewish leaders in the U.S.; The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent named him one of the top dozen "Jewish activists of the century"; and a slew of other newspapers have recognized his leadership.
**8. S. AZMAT HASSAN, senior faculty associate at SETON HALL UNIVERSITY's Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, is an expert on Israel and the Middle East. He can offer insights into what Sharon's unlikely return to power will mean for the future of the Middle East process. Media- savvy, Hassan has offered his insights on Middle East affairs to Fox News, National Public Radio, Washington Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Hassan has over three decades' experience with Pakistan's Foreign Service, including nearly a decade of service as former Pakistani ambassador to Morocco, Syria, Lebanon and Malaysia.
**9. KENNETH W STEIN, Ph.D., director of the EMORY UNIVERSITY Institute for the Study of Modern Israel and director of the Middle East Research Program, has been a Carter Center fellow for Middle East affairs since 1983. His specialties include the cultural and political history of Israel, American foreign policy towards the Middle East, social and economic history of Palestine in the 20th century, inter-Arab political history and the Arab- Israeli negotiating process. He has commented extensively on the Sharon government, including the withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank and the country's relations with its Arab neighbors.
**10. STEVE CASTEEL, international security expert at VANCE, an investigation and security consulting firm, has real-time experience in the Middle East. Casteel can comment on the evolving intelligence landscape in the area and the implications of Sharon's deteriorating health. The White House selected Casteel to be senior advisor to Iraq's Ministry of Interior under the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Department of State. He advised former Ambassadors Bremer and Negroponte on non-military security matters, and led the creation and operations of the ministry's critical services.
ROUND-UP: DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE (continued)
We've added the following to items posted previously at http://profnet.prnewswire.com/organik/orbital/thewire/lst_leads.jsp?iLRTopicI D=12436
**1. LESLIE LENKOWSKY, professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at INDIANA UNIVERSITY: "While we don't know all the details of the wiretaps operated by the National Security Agency, as long as they were clearly related to conduct of the war and were periodically reviewed by appropriate law enforcement officials (including the president), there's no reason to conclude they were improper. To the extent Congress or the courts disagree, they have the ability to restrict the agency's activities by limiting the president's powers."
**1. GOVERNMENT: CHANGES TO THE MAGNUSON-STEVENS FISHERY ACT CONSIDERED. DAVID FESTA, program director of the ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE OCEANS: "The Senate is moving forward with reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens bill -- language to be included was voted on Dec. 15. The Commerce Committee's action takes the country a step closer to a new era for ocean stewardship in which conservation can make good business sense for fishermen. This will lead to economically viable fishing communities, better recreational opportunities and supplies of fresh seafood. Environmental Defense commends the Senate for working actively with fishermen and the conservation community to craft a workable solution."
**2. WORLD AFFAIRS: UKRAINIAN GAS CRISIS. CHARLES R. WISE, professor at INDIANA UNIVERSITY's School of Public and Environmental Affairs: "While Russia's move is political, it is not being done to 'punish' Ukraine for the Orange Revolution. Rather, the government is trying to exercise leverage in the March 26 Parliamentary elections by bolstering the chances of the Moscow- supported party. With changes in Ukraine's Constitution that took place Jan. 1, the Parliament gains power from the president and Moscow sees the opportunity to reverse Ukraine's Revolution. By shutting off the gas, Moscow is sending a message to Ukraine that the price for independence is not only to be paid in higher prices, but also in losing control of their own domestic politics."