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

September 18, 2003

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Saudis Consider Nuclear Bomb - Ewen MacAskill and Ian Traynor (Guardian-UK)
    Saudi Arabia has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons.
    A strategy paper being considered at the highest levels in Riyadh sets out three options:
    * To acquire a nuclear capability as a deterrent;
    * To maintain or enter into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection;
    * To try to reach a regional agreement on having a nuclear-free Middle East.
    UN officials and nuclear arms analysts said the Saudi review reflected Riyadh's estrangement with Washington and the weakening of its reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
    David Albright, director of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington thinktank, said he doubted whether the Saudis would try to build a nuclear bomb, preferring instead to try to buy a nuclear warhead.
    In 1988, Saudi Arabia bought intermediate-range missiles from China capable of reaching any part of the Middle East with a nuclear warhead.
    Four years ago, Saudi Arabia sent a defense team to Pakistan to tour its secret nuclear facilities and to be briefed by Abdul Qader Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb.


Powell Sued Over Jerusalem's Status (BBC)
    U.S.-born Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky were angered by the refusal of the American embassy in Tel Aviv to register their son's country of birth as Israel after he was born in Jerusalem.
    The country of birth on the baby's passport was left blank.
    The couple asked lawyers in Washington to take legal action against Secretary of State Powell, claiming the State Department is violating the Foreign Relations Authorization Act which stipulates that Jerusalem must be referred to as the Israeli capital in official U.S. documents.


Jordan Retracts Decision to Freeze Hamas Accounts (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Jordan's Central Bank has retracted a day-old decision to freeze the bank accounts of six leaders of the Hamas militant group and five related charity organizations, a minister said Tuesday.
    See also U.S. to Jordan: Refreeze Hamas Bank Accounts (Jerusalem Post)


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Russian Arms Maker for Sales to Tehran
    The U.S. on Tuesday imposed sanctions on the Russian state-owned arms manufacturer Tula Instrument Design Bureau for selling laser-guided artillery shells to Iran, sending a clear signal that the Bush administration is prepared to use economic muscle to prevent the transfer of new weapons technology to the Islamic Republic. Russian analysts said the Bush administration appears to be signaling that it will pursue all avenues to halt Russia's involvement in the nuclear power plant at the Iranian port of Bushehr, but U.S. officials denied any connection. (Los Angeles Times)
  • State Dept. Official Warns of Iran Threat
    Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, told the U.S.-Israel Joint Parliamentary Committee in Washington Wednesday that Iran is likely to develop missiles capable of reaching the U.S. or Western Europe. Israeli lawmaker Yuval Steinitz warned that Iran's nuclear program could reach the "point of no return" by next year. Iran has until the end of October to prove to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it does not have a nuclear weapons program. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Saudis Face U.S. Pressure Over Hamas Millions
    The U.S. has stepped up pressure on Saudi Arabia to halt financial support for terrorist organizations after fresh charges that millions of pounds have been sent to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group. (London Times-18Sep03)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Israeli Delegation to U.S. for Security Fence Talks - Aluf Benn and Moti Bassok
    Prime Minister Sharon's bureau chief Dov Weisglass and Defense Ministry director-general Amos Yaron are to meet National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Monday in Washington to try to persuade her that the separation fence is a security expense, rather than a civil one, and that the U.S. should not deduct the cost of the fence from U.S. loan guarantees. Sharon will withhold the decision on the fence's route until the U.S. clarifies its intentions. President Bush charged Secretary of State Powell to set the rules for deducting sums from the guarantees. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel, U.S. Wary of PA Cease-Fire Call - Aluf Benn
    Israel is basically afraid that another cease-fire will be a repeat of the failed hudna which was not accompanied by Palestinian moves against terror. "Their proposals do not mention any serious attempt to dismantle terror groups....We have seen what happens when we make concessions to terror and I am not prepared to repeat this and pay with more lives," Sharon said Wednesday. Sources in Jerusalem expressed satisfaction with the American stance - no support for the cease-fire and stringent demands of PA prime minister-designate Qurei. The U.S. has indicated that Qurei will not receive any credit until he has proven himself in the field. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Terrorist Killed in Gaza; IDF Soldier Wounded Seriously - Arieh O'Sullivan
    IDF troops in Gaza killed Jihad Abu Swerah, 34, a key Hamas terrorist, in a gun battle that wounded three soldiers, one seriously. The pre-dawn raid into the Nuseriat refugee camp in the center of the Gaza Strip Thursday indicates the army sees no restrictions on ground operations. But it also shows the vulnerability of ground forces attempting to arrest terrorists. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arafat Wins Again - Editorial
    Palestinians must choose a new leadership and commit themselves to ending violence and negotiating peace before they can expect cooperation from Israel and support from the West. And Palestinians themselves must carry out this change. It is painful for supporters of a peace settlement on all sides to endure Arafat's obstructionism and to contemplate that it could endure for years to come. But intervention by Israel, either to expel or kill Arafat, will only postpone the day when a positive change in Palestinian leadership can occur. (Washington Post)
  • Can Anything Change the Saudi Syndrome? - Jim Hoagland
    Saudi Arabia's royal family of more than 5,000 "princes" has once again regrouped and stabilized around its desire to hang on to power. The rulers see an urgent need to reform the perception of Islam in the U.S. and the West, but none to reform the Saudi-based religious practices and propagation that influenced Osama bin Laden and the other zealots of al-Qaeda. (Washington Post)
        See also Changing Saudi Arabia - Editorial
    Since a radical Islamist takeover in the kingdom would be as much a catastrophe for Saudis as for Americans, both countries share an interest in Saudi reform. The Saudi princes must permit more equitable participation in the economy. Saudi women and the 20% Shi'ite minority have to acquire equal rights. Governance must become transparent and accountable. And there must be a stop to the radical clerics' incitement of religious war. The Saudi princes have learned that al-Qaeda cannot be bought off or deflected to other targets; now they must learn to change their ways or be swept away. (Boston Globe)
  • A Common Enemy - Amit Cohen
    Steve Pomerantz, 60, former head of the FBI's Anti-Terror Unit, was in Israel for the third international conference on terror at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. In an interview, he said: We have a common enemy and the American public understands this. It understands that there is no difference between Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, and Hizballah. I don't believe in negotiating with terrorists. I don't believe in negotiating with a gun at your head. I don't believe in compromise with them. It's not possible to reach a ceasefire with terror organizations. All you can do is fight against them and take them apart. Unfortunately, Israel is the world's leading expert on terror, with regard to both prevention and reaction. After you've seen a bus that's been blown up, you don't want to hear about the difficult life and troubles of the person who blew up the bus. Nothing can justify this. (Maariv-Hebrew-12Sep03)
  • Observations:

    Sharansky: Israel More Sensitive to Human Rights than Any Other Democracy - Julia Duin (Washington Times)

    Knesset Minister and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, speaking at the University of Maryland Wednesday during a tour of 13 U.S. and Canadian college campuses, said:

    • Israel does not deserve its reputation on some college campuses as a human rights violator but should instead be lauded as the Middle East's lone bastion of democracy.
    • Arab countries can embrace democracy; political analysts used to say Japan and Russia were not capable of democracy either.
    • I know Israel demonstrates more sensitivity to human rights than any other democracy in the world.
    • Only in Israel, women have full rights; in the other countries of the region, women cannot travel without the permission of their husbands. People of different sexual orientations [are protected]. Only in Israel, Arab members of Parliament can freely criticize their country.


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