Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

July 2, 2003

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

First Fatah, Then Hamas - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Fatah is posing the biggest challenge to the PA. In the territories, primarily in Samaria, there are some 10-20 cells that do not heed PA directives.
    Dahlan and his people are in contact with the leaders in an attempt to harness them to the truce. Some of them are opposed to the truce, particularly because of the money they receive from Iran and Hizballah.
    On Monday, Channel 10 interviewed Zakariye Zweidi, one of the heads of the Tanzim's Shuhada al-Aqsa cell in Jenin. Zweidi expressed open contempt for Dahlan's people: "We will shoot anyone who tries to come in here," he promised.
    "Yasser Arafat is my commander, and I fulfill his directives. His mouth may speak of a hudna, but his eyes tell me the opposite," he said.
    According to Col. (res.) Shalom Harari, a top specialist on Palestinian affairs, the PLO had lost its status as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Hamas has turned itself into an equal-footing competitor of the PA.
    In a sign of cooperation, Taufik Tirawi's men arrested two terrorists from Bethlehem who were planning a suicide bombing in Jerusalem (and transferred them, in coordination with Israel, to the Palestinian prison in Jericho).


Bin Laden Still Wins Hearts in Saudi Arabia - Dominic Evans (Reuters/MSNBC)
    Abdullah, a 40-year-old trader in Riyadh and a Saudi admirer of Osama bin Laden, said bin Laden had overwhelming backing in Saudi Arabia. ''The level of support is 90 percent,'' he said.
    Other Saudis say backing for bin Laden has fallen sharply since the May 12 bombings of Western compounds in Riyadh.
    Abdullah said the September 11 attacks, which killed 3,000 people and were carried out by mainly Saudi hijackers, should be celebrated by a new Muslim festival. And he looked forward to fresh attacks on U.S. territory.
    ''What happened in Riyadh I hope won't be repeated....We hoped these operations could be carried out in the soil of the enemy's country. I expect an operation soon in the heart of America,'' he said.


Israel Freezes Out BBC Over "Biased" Reporting - Gwen Ackerman (Reuters)
    Israel said on Monday it had severed contacts with the BBC. One official described as the "last straw" a documentary called "Israel's Secret Weapon" on alleged nuclear and chemical arms programs.
    "In the guise of journalistic integrity [the BBC] lends support to evil portrayals of Israel and the Jewish people which has been done before in the gravest of circumstances," said GPO head Danny Seaman.
    Officials said the Government Press Office, Foreign Ministry, and Prime Minister's office would no longer grant BBC correspondents interviews or offer them services usually provided to foreign journalists.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Powell: Terror Groups Retain Attack Capability
    Secretary of State Powell said Tuesday: "What I'm worried about is remaining terrorist organizations that have not given up the quest to destroy the state of Israel and do not want peace. I'm talking about Hamas. I'm talking about the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. I'm talking about the Al-Aqsa Brigades. They have entered into a cease-fire. But as long as they have the capability to conduct these kinds of attacks, they can come out of a cease-fire at some time in the future. So we hope they'll stay with the cease-fire, but ultimately, we are going to have to convert this kind of organization into organizations that no longer are interested in using terror as a political weapon." (FOX News/State Department)
  • The Subtle Campaign to Bolster Abbas
    The White House is increasing its efforts to try to help a person it considers indispensable to Middle East peace: Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Of necessity it's a subtle campaign, as Mr. Abbas would lose support at home if he's judged to be too close to Washington. On Monday Secretary Powell appeared on five different television morning shows, and on each he took time to give at least one Abbas plug. In the wake of the Israeli pullout from Gaza, "we hope that...the Palestinian people will realize that Prime Minister Abbas is producing for them and thereby they will empower him even further," said Secretary Powell. "Producing" is the key word. Washington hopes that ordinary Palestinians will become convinced that there are real gains to be made in a peaceful environment. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Pakistan President: "What is Our Dispute with Israel?"
    Two days after meeting President Bush at Camp David and receiving a £2 billion U.S. aid package for the next five years, Pakistani President Pervaiz Musharraf said the media should have an open debate about the merits of recognizing Israel. He said: "There should be no emotionalism of the extremists. What is our dispute with Israel? We should think." Maulana Fazlur Rehman, secretary-general of the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of six Islamic parties, said: "Gen. Musharraf has no right to recognize Israel and if any action is taken at any level, the MMA would launch a mass agitation to overthrow him." (Telegraph-UK)
  • Suicide Bombings Are Against Islam, Says Leading Iranian Cleric
    An influential Iranian cleric connected to hardliners in Teheran denounced suicide bombings against civilians Sunday as a "crime." Sayed Safavi, brother of the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, also called for a dialogue of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian religious leaders to help to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute. Safavi said that even in a military "jihad," or holy war, Islam does not permit the targeting of the innocent. "For Muslims to kill civilians unconnected with any attack on them is a crime. This is not in accordance with Islam," he writes. "The principal law of Islam is, 'Don't attack civilians.' This includes Jewish, Muslim, or Christian civilians."
    (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Sharon Meets Abbas in Jerusalem - Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, Nathan Guttman, and Arnon Regular
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met with Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Sharon told Abbas that Israel would consider releasing Palestinian prisoners who are not connected to the murders of Israelis. The Shin Bet security service has begun drawing up a list of Palestinian prisoners whom Israel could free without endangering its security. Sharon also told Abbas that Arafat may leave Ramallah to go to the Gaza Strip - "as long as he stays there." Abbas warned Sharon that Iran is planning to revive terror attacks against Israel. The two men agreed on the establishment of four joint committees: to deal with Palestinian prisoners, trade, security, and an end to incitement. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Hands Bethlehem Over to PA - Amos Harel
    The IDF will transfer security responsibility for Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday. The transfer of authority will not require any redeployment of IDF troops, since the army has no fixed presence in Bethlehem. However, the move will prevent the IDF from entering the city to arrest wanted men, which it has done freely until now. Israel will continue to control the area around Rachel's Tomb, as stipulated in the Oslo Accords.
        In Gaza, there have been occasional shooting incidents - including three directed at IDF outposts in the Gush Katif bloc Tuesday and an attempt to fire a mortar at settlements in the area. In security meetings with their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian officers said they were having trouble imposing control in the Khan Yunis area and in Rafah, and that it would take time before they stopped the attacks in those areas. (Ha'aretz)
        Palestinians opened fire Wednesday on workers building the separation fence near Tulkarm in the West Bank, injuring two. Also Wednesday, a bomb was detonated near a separation fence worksite on the outskirts of Kalkilya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hudna - A Dangerous But Interesting Experiment - Felix Frisch
    Ephraim Halevy, head of the National Security Council and former head of the Mossad, told a meeting at Tel Aviv University Tuesday that Israel has clarified that it is not a party to the Hudna agreement and that Israel requests the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure and the confiscation of illegal weapons in the PA. He then asked: "Is Hamas beginning to change in response to the pressures of a new reality within Palestinian society? Will the PA's threat to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure lead Hamas into a period of absorption within the PA, where as a political movement it will seek to build its strength until it can take over the government?" He emphasized that the hudna might have begun as a temporary cease-fire to regroup, but if it should be extended and should last two years, "two years in the Middle East is a long time. For Hamas, it's a hudna, and for Israel, it's an interim agreement."
        Halevy predicted that the intifada is nearing its end, though there is a list of additional concerns on Israel's security agenda. According to Halevy, in the coming year Israel will have to deal "one way or another" with dismantling the threat on its northern border from Hizballah's long-range rockets. Halevy raised the possibility that the Iranians and Syrians may prefer to abandon Hizballah in order to escape the political isolation in which they find themselves in the wake of the Iraq war, a possibility that greatly concerns Hizballah secretary Sheikh Nasrallah. (Yediot Ahronot - Hebrew)
  • Amidror: Incitement Can Be Halted Immediately - Diana Bachor-Nir
    Maj. Gen. (res.) Ya'akov Amidror, former head of the IDF's research and assessment division, begins this week as head of the committee on Palestinian incitement. "The language used in the internal Palestinian dialogue is what will decide whether we receive security or the terror returns. No war on terror will succeed unless the whole Palestinian dialogue changes," said Amidror. "Our purpose is to see if the Palestinians have internalized, at least publicly, the need to move toward a political solution instead of toward war," he said. "There are things that need to be halted immediately. There is incitement toward Israelis that borders on the anti-Semitic and that rejects the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel. There is no place for such things even 24 hours after the time the Palestinians decide to change their approach," he said.
        "From the moment the State of Israel decided to go with the road map, all those who opposed it need to give this experiment a chance. Everyone understands that if we give it a chance, it could perhaps bring us to better places than in the past....We need to help the State of Israel go in the right direction, without losing its compass," he said. (Yediot Ahronot - Hebrew)
  • Observations:  

    Sharon to Abbas: "We Have No Quarrel with You" (Prime Minister's Office)

    From Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's speech Tuesday before meeting with Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas:

    • I warmly welcome Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, and his Cabinet ministers who are with us here. I have no doubt that the message projected from here today to the people of Israel, the Palestinian people, and the entire world, is one of hope and optimism.
    • Prime Minister Abbas, Israel is a peace-seeking nation. Israel's hand has always been extended in peace to all Arab states and to our Palestinian neighbors. The yearning for peace by Jews in the land of Israel and the entire world finds expression in every aspect of our lives. Generations of Jews were taught to seek, aspire to, and pursue peace. Therefore, even if the price is painful, even if we are required to make painful compromises, I will be willing to make them for the sake of true peace - a peace for generations, the peace that we all yearn for.
    • However, we must never forget that there are still many who would like to see the process - any process - collapse. There are still those: terrorists, their abettors, dispatchers, those who finance them, and those who encourage them, through virulent incitement, the sole purpose of which is the murder of innocent people. There will be no compromise with terror. And Israel, together with the nations of the Free World, will continue fighting terrorism until it is completely defeated. There can be no peace with terrorism.
    • In my address to the Knesset on April 8, 2003, I called on the Palestinians as follows: "On behalf of the people of Israel, I tell you: we have no quarrel with you. We have no desire to control you or to dictate your fate. We want to live side by side with you in peace, as good neighbors, helping and respecting each other."
    • We are happy to welcome you here in peace. I am convinced that together we will achieve our mutual goal: peace and security for both peoples.

        See also Abbas' Speech (BBC)


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