Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Gaza Terrorist Groups Unite to Challenge Abu Mazen's Leadership After He Criticizes Rocket Attacks
- Gal Berger (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
India Uses Israeli UAVs to Locate Tsunami Victims - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
Israeli Company Offers Free Tsunami Alert System - Corinne Heller (Reuters)
Israel to Host Naval Exercise with U.S. and Turkey (AFP/Turkish Press)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Addressing a rally in Gaza City Monday, Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinian refugees and their descendants from the two-year war that followed Israel's creation in 1948 have the right to return to their original homes. "The day will come when the refugees return home," Abbas told the cheering crowd. The refugees and their descendants total about 4 million people. Almost unanimously, Israeli Jews reject the claim, warning that resettling so many Arabs would undermine the Jewish quality of their state, where about 5 million Jews and 1 million Arabs now live. (AP/San Diego Union Tribune)
See also Abbas Insists on End to Rocket Fire
PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday reiterated a demand for an end to rocket attacks against Israeli targets. "The firing of the rockets is a mistake," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Abbas Calls Israel "The Zionist Enemy"
Mahmoud Abbas told a campaign rally in Khan Yunis Tuesday, "We are praying for the souls of our martyrs who fell today to the shells of the Zionist enemy." Ha'aretz)
The several thousand people listening Abbas in Kalkilya last week offered only polite applause. When egged on by campaign workers, they shouted his name and sang old Fatah anthems. Arafat used to come alive in front of adoring crowds; Abbas seems to cower.
Edward Abington, a former U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem and a registered lobbyist in Washington for the Palestinian Authority, said Abbas' campaign platform should come as no surprise. "Those are Palestinian positions, not Arafat's positions," he said. "It is a mistake to think that because Arafat is dead that there is going to be sudden change in the Palestinian views." (Baltimore Sun)
The suicide bomber who killed 22 people in a U.S. mess hall near the Iraqi city of Mosul on Dec. 21 was Saudi medical student Ahmed Said Ahmed Ghamdi, the Saudi-owned Asharq al Awsat Arabic newspaper reported Monday. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The withdrawal of IDF control from the Philadelphia Corridor separating Gaza from Egypt "will bring southern Lebanon to southern Israel," General Security Services head Avi Dichter told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. Dichter emphasized that arms smuggling was continuing all the time, and that recently five shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles had been smuggled into Gaza.
Relating to the upcoming PA elections, Dichter said he does not foresee dramatic changes by the other side with regard to the war on terror, and that the PA "was and remains a sanctuary for terrorists." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
IDF tank fire targeted a rocket-launching terror cell near the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya Tuesday, killing at least seven Palestinians, Palestinian sources said. The army said that most of those killed were members of the military wing of Hamas. A Palestinian farmer said militants had been firing mortar shells from among strawberry patches and potato fields when IDF troops returned fire. Palestinian sources said civilians were among the dead and wounded, but David Baker, an official in the Prime Minister's Office, responded, "Palestinian terrorists continue to not only target Israeli civilians, but have no qualms hiding behind their own civilians." (Ha'aretz)
See also Kassam Rocket Launcher Explodes in "Work Accident" - Eli Vaked and Hanan Greenberg
A Kassam rocket launcher exploded as the result of a "work accident" in Beit Lahiya, killing one Palestinian, IDF sources said. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
See also Palestinian Mortar Hits Israeli School Bus, Two Wounded
Palestinians fired two mortar shells at the Gaza Strip settlement of Nissanit Tuesday. One of the mortars hit a school bus, wounding two adults. None of the students were wounded. Also Tuesday, a Kassam rocket landed in the western Negev town of Sderot. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Even Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), after Arafat's death the acting chairman of the PA and perhaps the foremost symbol of supposed Palestinian moderation, has not shied away from denying the existence of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem (or for that matter, the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to Palestine) or from hinting at Israel's eventual destruction. In an interview in 1996, for example, Abu Mazen restated the PLO's old formula of a democratic state comprising the whole of Palestine, expressing the hope that in the future Jews and Palestinian Arabs "will reach a state of complete mixture" in Palestine. This thinly veiled call for Israel's disappearance was repeated last October in a New York Times op-ed by the PLO's legal adviser, Michael Tarazi.
In the wake of the failed Camp David summit of July 2000 and the launch of Arafat's war of terror two months later, Abu Mazen went to great lengths to explain why the "right of return" was a non-negotiable prerequisite for any Palestinian-Israeli settlement. The writer is head of Mediterranean studies at King's College, University of London. (Commentary)
A visible change occurred in the territories in the past week as the election due to take place on Jan. 9 moves into high gear. Palestinians woke up this week to huge signs of the leading candidates replacing the posters of martyrs and intifada graffiti. The posters of Tayseer Khaled, the candidate of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, focus on Jerusalem with slogans like "No peace without Jerusalem which is the jewel of the nation." Traveling from Ramallah to Jerusalem, you are greeted by the face of Bassam Salhi, the candidate of the People's Party (formerly the Communist Party), with Jerusalem in the background, and the slogan "Jerusalem is ours." Unlike in 1996, this time Palestinians in Jerusalem seem much more interested in voting.
In one closed meeting with 160 businessmen in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas said there must be a clear end to the intifada. The writer is director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University in Ramallah. (Jerusalem Post)
Nicolas Sarkozy, the former finance minister of France, and - since last November - the leader of UMP, the French conservative party, is distancing himself quietly but rather quickly from the conservative president, Jacques Chirac. One issue is Turkey. Chirac is extending qualified support to Turkey's membership in the EU. Sarkozy would rather keep that country out. On Israel, Chirac is known to be siding with the Arab camp and the Palestinian Arabs (he accorded state honors to Yasser Arafat after his demise in a French military hospital). Sarkozy, however, is quite unabashedly pro-Israel. He even thinks the Jewish state would be a more suitable partner for the Europeans than Turkey and many other countries. (New York Sun, 3Jan05)
Intifada Fatigue Among Palestinians, More Than Upcoming Elections, May Shape Events - Larry Derfner and Khaled Abu Toameh (U.S. News)
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