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 14, 2003

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Israel Apprehends IRA Bomb Expert in West Bank - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    John Morgan, a member of the dissident splinter group known as the Real IRA (Irish Republican Army), was arrested on Saturday at a checkpoint south of Ramallah on suspicion that he had come to Israel to teach Palestinian terrorists how to upgrade their explosives.
    Meanwhile, Israel and Britain are checking a lead indicating that one of the two Palestinians who were deported to Dublin a year ago as part of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement to end the siege on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is in touch with the Real IRA and is trying to establish ongoing cooperation between the organization and the Palestinians.

    See also Manhunt for Real IRA's Bomb Expert in West Bank - Henry McDonald (Observer-UK)
    The man arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport three weeks ago, traveling on a British passport.
    IRA and Real IRA engineers are regarded as among the world's leading experts in both bomb- and mortar-making technology.
    Links between Irish republican terror groups and Palestinian and other Middle Eastern terrorist organizations have existed since the Ulster Troubles began more than three decades ago.
    The IRA learned the art of mortar-making in Lebanon, where their members trained with groups such as Hizballah.


Mob Attacks Pollsters Who Found Few Palestinians Want to Go Back to Israel - Eric Silver (Independent-UK)
    A mob stormed the office of a Ramallah polling organization Sunday to stop it publishing a survey showing that most Palestinian refugees were ready to abandon claims to return to what is today Israel.
    The crowd pelted Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, with eggs, smashed computers, and assaulted nine staff members.
    The poll, conducted among 4,500 refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Jordan, asked where they would want to live if Israel recognized a right of return.
    Only 10% chose Israel, even if they were allowed to live there with Palestinian citizenship; 54% opted for a Palestinian state; 17% for Jordan or Lebanon, and 2% for other countries.
    Another 13% rejected all these options, preferring to sit it out and wait for Israel to disappear.
    See also Survey: Many Palestinians Not Anxious to Return to Israel - Irris Makler (VOA)


PA Police Search for Illegal Weapons - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    On Saturday, the Palestinian Police launched an operation in Gaza aimed at confiscating illegal weapons.
    Some 600 policemen set up checkpoints and searched vehicles for weapons.
    Palestinians said at least 20 people were taken into custody.
    However, Palestinian security officials in Gaza City said the campaign is directed more against "criminal elements" and not Hamas and Islamic Jihad.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Suspects Saudi-Backed Wahhabis of Role in Iraq Attacks
    U.S. officials say they are concerned about growing activity by Wahhabi Muslim groups in Fallujah, a center of anti-American disturbances, some of whom may have direct or indirect backing from factions in Saudi Arabia. The activity coincides with more-benign charitable work in the area by the government of Saudi Arabia, home of the Wahhabi movement. Capitol Hill sources said that a congressional probe had focused on unpublished U.S. intelligence information stating that Wahhabi agents from Saudi Arabia were responsible for some terrorist attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. (Washington Times)
        See also U.S. Forces Kill 4 Insurgents in Offensive Against Baathists and Wahhabis
    American forces killed four suspected insurgents and arrested more than 50 people as they launched a fourth major offensive in central Iraq. "The goal is to knock the Baath Party and the Wahhabi elements off balance,'' said Lt. Col. Nat Sassaman, a battalion commander. Wahhabism is the fundamentalist type of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and in parts of central Iraq. (AP/Austin American-Statesman)
  • Iraq Governing Council Begins Rule
    A U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council held its inaugural meeting Sunday, stressing the start of a new era by abolishing national holidays that honored Saddam Hussein and creating a new one to mark his downfall. The 25-member interim council has the ability to appoint ministers, approve the national budget, and review laws, although ultimate authority remains with the occupying powers. (Reuters)
  • Belgium to Drop Controversial War Crimes Law
    Belgium is to repeal a controversial war crimes law that has embarrassed the government and angered foreign heads of state by allowing cases to be brought against George W. Bush, Tony Blair, and Ariel Sharon. The law gives Belgian courts "universal jurisdiction" over war crimes and genocide cases, which means they can try any person suspected of having committed such crimes anywhere in the world. "Changing the universal competence law is a priority of this government," said Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, hours after his new government was sworn in. The revised legislation will only allow Belgian nationals or residents to be tried in the future. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Sharon: Without Arafat "We Could Have Had Peace Years Earlier"
    In an interview with FOXNews Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, "It's very, very important to understand that Yasser Arafat is making every effort to undermine him [Abu Mazen]. It's very, very important that Abu Mazen will be able to continue his work. He understands that Israel, the Jews, cannot be defeated by terror. And he understands also that the suffering of the Palestinians is the result of Yasser Arafat's strategy, a strategy of terror." "If you ask me if he [Arafat] would not have been part of our society, would things have been different, yes, it could have been different. Maybe we could have had peace years earlier." "Money is coming from Arab countries, no doubt from Iran, and I think also maybe still from European countries, directly to Arafat." "The problem that we have is with some of the European countries that still support and back him. And by that, they are postponing the possibility to reach peace here."
        "Arafat should be removed from any position of influence. The problem now is that Arafat still controls most of those armed Palestinian forces, and the security organization or one can say security/terrorist organizations. And the Palestinians themselves must understand that they have to act and struggle against the terrorist organizations. Their weapons should be taken from them and given to a third party. That, I believe, only the Americans can do that." "I don't think that American forces should be involved here. I would say, enough burden on American forces. I believe that the peace process should take place between the sides, Israel and the Palestinians." (FOXNews)
  • Sharon: Jerusalem Will Remain Undivided
    In an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated that he will never agree to divide Jerusalem. Sharon will visit Norway on Wednesday to discuss the peace process in the Middle East with Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. (Norway Post)
        See also Sharon Interview Before Meeting Tony Blair in London (Telegraph-UK)
        Sharon to Meet Bush in Washington on July 29 (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Israeli Cabbie Feared Kidnapped by Palestinian Terrorists - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Taxi driver Eliyahu Gurel, 61, who has been missing since Friday night, is believed to have been kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. His cab was found abandoned, with the engine running, in the village of Beit Hanina, north of Jerusalem, and Israeli and Palestinian security forces were focusing their search effort in the Ramallah area. Since money and documents were found in the car and the keys were left inside, the police believe that Gurel was not likely to have been a robbery victim. On Saturday morning he contacted his daughter, managed to say "I'm alright," and then the call was disconnected. (Ha'aretz)
  • Senior IDF Officer: Hamas is Exploiting the Hudna in Order to Upgrade the Kassam - Amos Harel
    A senior IDF officer said Sunday that Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip are engaged in an effort to complete the production of 1,000 Kassam rockets during the period of the hudna that is intended to last three months. During recent weeks, the organizations in Gaza, and above all Hamas, have been making an effort to increase the range of the rockets in their possession. The main objective of the rocket industry is to reach a range of nearly 20 km. and thus place the city of Ashkelon in striking range. Currently, the Kassam-2 being used by Hamas reaches a range of 8 km. (Ha'aretz-Hebrew)
        See also Mofaz: A Drop in Attacks and Incitement - Yehonatan Lis
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday that there was a significant reduction in the number of attacks and warnings, but the attacks have not ended. According to him, most of the terrorist organizations are adhering to the cease-fire, however, they seek to exploit it in order to resurrect their infrastructures. (Ha'aretz-Hebrew)
  • IDF Mistrusts Calm in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    Though there has been a marked drop in violence in the Gaza Strip since the IDF pullout from Beit Hanun two weeks ago, terrorist organizations are simply preparing for the day they receive orders to resume attacks, a senior IDF officer said Sunday. He claimed that out of 1.3 million Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip, close to 5%, or more than 60,000, are involved in terrorist activities. Rafah on the Egyptian border remains the "hard nut to crack," the officer said, as Palestinian security officials are hesitant to deal with the clans living there who continue to smuggle weapons both over land and through tunnels from Egypt. The same terrorist elements also continue to perpetrate bombings and grenade and shooting attacks against troops deployed in outposts near the city, taking advantage of the fact that the IDF is no longer initiating operations in the area. Palestinian security officials have not acted to quell the terrorist activities there, the officer said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinians Recharging their Batteries - Amir Oren
    This is not a return home of prisoners of war, who are banned by custom enshrined in treaties from taking up arms again against the adversary who released them from captivity. If Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his security chief, Mohammed Dahlan, continue to evade a frontal clash with Hamas, the cease-fire will collapse, either when Hamas, or someone in Tehran, picks a convenient date after the three-month period expires, or when Israel decides that it will not wait for that to happen. The only action that will prevent a disaster, security personnel have warned, will be a clear decision over Hamas by Abu Mazen and Dahlan. Once again the Oslo syndrome is visible within the Palestinian leadership: weakness, self-indulgence, evasion of commitments, a projection of wretchedness aimed at the generosity of the strong. However, in previous cases, one of every two released prisoners returned to anti-Israel activity. The Israelis have no intention of falling for this again. (Ha'aretz)
  • Prisoner Release - Veering Off the Roadmap - Eli Kazhdan
    The first sentence of Phase I of the roadmap is crystal clear, demanding that "the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence." The roadmap's cease-fire is not contingent upon Israeli performance on any other issue. Any linkage between the question of Palestinian violence and Israeli implementation of the roadmap makes violence part of the negotiating process. Not a single mention of Palestinian prisoners or their release is to be found in any of the three phases of the roadmap. The Tenet Plan, to which the roadmap refers, only called upon Israel to release Palestinians "arrested in security sweeps, who have no association with terrorist activities." (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Concessions a 2-Way Street on This Road Map - Editorial
    It's time to take note of disturbing developments in the road map process. Demands for concessions are raining down on the Israelis, while the Palestinians are doing nothing to dismantle or even disarm the terrorist network. Chief among the demands on Israel is one to free 7,000 prisoners. Prisoner release is not a road map requirement, but as a goodwill gesture Israel freed several hundred prisoners and may let others out. Focusing on Israeli concessions while not demanding the Palestinians live up to their end of the road map is a sure formula for disaster. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Observations:  

    Truman on Underdogs - William Safire (New York Times)

    • A 5,500-word diary in President Harry Truman's handwriting, unnoticed for decades, recently turned up at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo. Three pages were mysteriously loose and interleaved in the journal, with the entry: "6:00 P.M. Monday July 21, 1947. Had ten minutes conversation with Henry Morgenthau about Jewish ship in Palistine [sic]. Told him I would talk to Gen[eral George] Marshall about it."
    • On that day, news reached the world that 4,500 Jewish refugees seeking entry to Palestine aboard the ship Exodus 1947 had been seized by British soldiers. These "displaced persons" had been placed on three vessels ostensibly headed to nearby Cyprus for detention until permitted entry to the Holy Land, where other Jews waited to welcome them. Instead, the homeless families, including a thousand children, were encaged on decks being taken back to a hostile Europe.
    • "He'd no business, whatever to call me," Truman wrote. Morgenthau, who had served as FDR's treasury secretary, was telephoning Truman as chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, and had an obligation to get through to the president to stop this further atrocity.
    • "The Jews have no sense of proportion," wrote the incensed Truman after he hung up, "nor do they have any judgement on world affairs. Henry brought a thousand Jews to New York on a supposedly temporary basis and they stayed."
    • Truman wrongly assumed that the plight of all of Europe's displaced was the same - ignoring the "special treatment" Hitler had inflicted on the Jews of the Holocaust, resulting in six million murdered, genocide beyond all other groups' suffering. The homeless survivors now faced sullen populations of former neighbors who wanted no part of the Jews' return.
    • I asked Robert Morgenthau, the great Manhattan D.A., about Truman's angry diary entry, and he said, "I'm glad my father made that call."


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