Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Gaza's Security Chaos - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
See also Israel Doesn't Have Time to Wait for Abbas - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
The Coming Wars - Seymour M. Hersh (New Yorker)
Al-Zarqaa in Jordan, Birthplace of al-Qaeda Leader Al-Zarqawi, the Capital of the Salafi Jihad Movement in Jordan
Israel Continues to Aid Tsunami-Stricken Areas - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel suspended contacts with the PA on Friday after a deadly attack at the Karni border crossing between Gaza and Israel on Thursday killed six Israelis - four employees of the Israel Ports Authority and two truck drivers. Israeli officials also accused the PA of complicity in the attack. A senior Israeli official said the PA's Preventive Security Service "was to the best of our knowledge involved" in the attack. Assaf Shariv, a spokesman for Prime Minister Sharon, said the attack had been launched from a PA base. "Abbas knows who carried out the attack," he said.
"There's a great deal of skepticism in security circles about Abu Mazen's ability to deliver a genuine end to violence," said Yossi Alpher, an Israeli political analyst. The attack "happened under the noses of Abu Mazen's own loyal security people, and they were not able to stop it or didn't want to stop it," he said. (Washington Post)
See also No Honeymoon for Palestinian Chief - Steven Erlanger
Sharon was troubled by the Western euphoria over Abbas and concerned that Israel would be pushed into concessions about a Palestinian state before the whole issue of Palestinian terrorism against Israel was dealt with seriously. That choice, which is what his aides think characterized the 1990s and the Oslo process, Israel does not intend to make again. More important, his own Gaza disengagement plan depends on quiet in Gaza. He has stated many times that Israel will not evacuate settlers under fire or allow the militants to make it seem that Israel is pulling out of Gaza defeated.
Sharon, who ordered Israeli troops into the West Bank in the spring of 2002 to stop an increase in suicide bombings, is considering doing the same in Gaza. It would be costly for the army but extremely popular at home. It may be the only way for Sharon to pull out of Gaza cleanly. And in private, some Israeli officials say, it might be the best wedding present he could give Mahmoud Abbas. (New York Times)
Forty-six members of the Palestinian election commission resigned Saturday, saying they were pressured by Mahmoud Abbas's campaign and intelligence officials to abruptly change voting procedures during the Jan. 9 poll. Baha al-Bakri, a senior member of the commission, said, "We were visited by senior officials from Abu Mazen's campaign." During the meeting, shots were fired, and electoral officials said they recognized at least one gunman as a member of Palestinian intelligence services. The commission extended voting by two hours and allowed voters to cast their ballots in any location, enabling thousands of security force members, most of them Abbas supporters, to cast ballots near their posts. (AP/Washington Post)
Hossam Armanious, 46, his wife, Amal Garas, 36, and their two young daughters - Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8 - were found gagged with their throats slit in their Jersey City home early Friday. Armanious "had the reputation for being one of the most outspoken Egyptian Christians" on the Web site paltalk.com and had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a source. They told him, "You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," according to a fellow Copt who saw the online exchange. The FBI has been called in to help with the case. (New York Post)
A Berkeley rally against terrorism that featured a bombed Israeli bus turned briefly violent Sunday when counter-demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags marched into the mostly pro-Israel crowd. More than 500 people, mostly Jews from throughout the Bay Area, gathered in Martin Luther King Jr. Park to hear speakers denounce terrorism. More than 200 counter-demonstrators gathered across the street, including some 40 men of Middle Eastern descent, most of whom wore kaffiyehs, who yelled, "Two, four, six, eight, we are martyrs, we can't wait.'' "They attempted to disrupt the rally through the same kinds of intimidation and indiscriminate violence that are the hallmarks of our 21st century scourge, global terrorism,'' said David Meir-Levi. (San Francisco Chronicle)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
"Notwithstanding the leadership change in the Palestinian Authority, we see that those standing at its head have not even begun to take any sort of action to halt the terror," Prime Minister Sharon said at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday. "The IDF and the security forces have been directed to boost operational activities aimed at halting terrorism and they will continue doing so on an unrestricted basis so long as the Palestinians refrain from lifting a finger," he said.
Sharon adviser Dov Weisglass contacted U.S., British, and EU officials to tell them that Israel expects Western countries to freeze their ties with the Palestinians if terror continues. (Ha'aretz)
See also Israel: "It's All Words" - Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Toameh
The Prime Minister's Office on Sunday dismissed the PLO executive committee's endorsement of Abbas's call for an end to terrorist attacks on Israel and for immediate talks between Palestinian factions to achieve a cease-fire. A senior source in the Prime Minister's Office said, "It's all words. We are looking at their actions, not their words. The Palestinian leaders will be tested by what they do." He added that even their own military groups were not paying attention to them.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said, "This is the moment of truth. We expect real action, not just talk. We will not talk with the Palestinians and endure terror from them at the same time." Former PA security minister Muhammad Dahlan, who is widely tipped to play a major security role in the new PA cabinet, said Sunday that Abbas has no intention of using force to disarm Palestinian groups involved in the fighting with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Ella Abukasis, 17, is fighting for her life after being critically wounded in a Kassam rocket attack in Sderot Saturday, and her 10-year-old brother was also badly hurt. In addition, doctors were trying to save the hand of a seven-year-old boy wounded by shrapnel when two mortar shells hit Netzarim. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel is refraining from carrying out a widespread military operation in the Gaza Strip in order to give Abbas a limited amount of time to stop the rocket and mortar fire coming from Gaza. At the same time, the IDF is preparing for the possibility of a widespread operation that would include capturing a "security strip" in Palestinian towns in an attempt to improve security for the Katif settlement bloc in Gaza and for Sderot. "Regarding Kassams and mortars, no exceptional effort is needed," a senior IDF officer said. "This fire is taking place right under their noses. All they need to do is deploy forces, and the fire will diminish immediately." (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The three Palestinian gunmen who attacked the main cargo crossing point between Israel and Gaza on Thursday night killed six Israelis and tried also to destroy any hopes of future peace. The challenge cannot go unchallenged. If Mr. Abbas is to have any authority or credibility, he must not only respond forcefully to the militant groups determined to undermine him but must adopt a tone and posture that mark a decisive break with the evasions, deceptions, and double-dealings of his predecessor. Israel will not be satisfied with words of regret, even if more forcefully expressed. It wants, rightly, to see the kind of crackdown on militant groups that Arafat never seriously attempted. Mr. Abbas must tell the Palestinians some home truths. Violence leads only to retaliation, closure of crossing points, and further hardship. If he is to lead a new era with Israel, he must begin with an uncompromising exercise of steely authority - starting now. (Times-UK)
If the fact that American soldiers have risked their lives to save the Muslims of Bosnia, the Muslims of Kuwait, the Muslims of Somalia, the Muslims of Afghanistan, and the Muslims of Iraq has earned the U.S. only the false accusation of being "anti-Muslim," trust me, U.S. troops passing out bottled water and Pop-Tarts in Indonesia are not going to erase that lie. If you throw in the Oslo peace process, U.S. foreign policy for the last 15 years has been dominated by an effort to save Muslims from tyrannies, mostly their own theocratic or autocratic regimes. It clearly has not made much of an impression.
I believe the tensions between us and the Muslim world stem primarily from the conditions under which many Muslims live, not what we do. I believe free people, living under freely elected governments, with a free press and with economies and education systems that enable their young people to achieve their full potential, don't spend a lot of time thinking about who to hate, who to blame, and who to lash out at. (New York Times)
Time for a Reality Check - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (U.S. News)
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