Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
PA Fears Hizballah to Target Abbas - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Terror Fronts Got Money from Olajuwon's Mosque (AP/New York Times)
PA Banned Palestinian Journalists from Summit - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians Attack Gaza Jail, Murder Three Prisoners - Eli Vaked (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
Hamas Man is Killed in "Work Accident"
- Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinian militants fired a series of mortar bombs and rockets into Jewish settlements in Gaza on Thursday, two days after Palestinian and Israeli leaders declared a halt to violence at a summit meeting. Hamas said it launched 46 mortars and rockets over a two-hour period at daybreak on Thursday. (Reuters)
See also Israeli-Palestinian Security Talks Postponed
Israeli-Palestinian talks on security coordination were postponed on Thursday. Palestinian officials said the Israelis asked to cancel the meeting "because of mortar firing in Gaza." (Reuters)
More than 3,000 Palestinian troops have been deployed in the Gaza Strip to prevent attacks on Israel and its settlements, a move widely hailed as an important step in a regional peace process. But among the troops, it is clear there is an informal, almost halfhearted, quality to their efforts. In one incident in southern Gaza, troops patrolling at night came upon two black-masked Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade gunmen preparing to fire mortars toward a Jewish settlement. The gunmen "cooperated well with us," said platoon leader Jamal Abu Ziad, 41. "We told them to move and they left." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Saudi leaders bolstered their credentials as willing partners at an anti-terrorist conference in Riyadh, only to undermine their progress by subsequently giving a top cabinet post to an official enmeshed in a terror financing controversy. The appointment as education minister of Abdullah al-Obeid, a former director of the Muslim World League, branches of which the U.S. government is investigating to learn if they had financial ties to al-Qaeda, struck a jarring note.
In an essay on terrorism that is part of a 2002 book on Islam the Saudis distributed to media members at the conference, Obeid blamed "some mass media centers that are managed and run by Jews in the West" for reports linking terrorism and Islam. Under his leadership, Obeid added, the Muslim World League organized symposiums to explain that Palestinian attacks on Israelis "are conducted in self-defense and they are lawful and approved by all religious standards." The MWL is the parent of the International Islamic Relief Organization, a charity that current and former U.S. officials say the Treasury Department has proposed for designation as a terrorist entity. (Wall Street Journal, 10Feb05)
When Hosni Mubarak's car came under a hailstorm of bullets in Addis Ababa nearly 10 years ago, the Egyptian president survived the assassination attempt thanks to Omar Suleiman. Intelligence chief Suleiman had persuaded Mubarak to fly his armored Mercedes from Cairo to Ethiopia rather than ride in the unarmored vehicle offered by his hosts. Suleiman was sitting next to the president when Islamist gunmen opened fire. The spy chief, now 68, who has become one of the country's most powerful figures, quietly brokered the Sharm el-Sheik summit. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Prime Minister Sharon on Thursday named Yuval Diskin the next head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), replacing Avi Dichter. Diskin, 49, served as deputy head of the Shin Bet from 2000 through September 2003 and is said to have been the driving force behind perfecting the policy of targeted interceptions of Palestinian terrorists. (Jerusalem Post)
As Israel continues preparations for withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, a senior military source said a key goal was to encourage the transfer of Israeli businesses slated for evacuation to Palestinian ownership as going concerns, including the greenhouses in Gush Katif and factories in the Erez industrial zone. Under the evacuation-compensation bill passed Tuesday by the Knesset Finance Committee, a business-owner who sells the business to a Palestinian may make a handsome profit over and above compensation received from the state, in contrast to business-owners who decide to dismantle their greenhouses and factories. (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
What the world finds so hard to acknowledge is that the source of this terrible conflict is not Israel's behavior. It is not the settlements, the roadblocks, the prisoners. It is not, despite the near-universal assumption, the absence of a Palestinian state. The source is the Arab world-backed Palestinian terror war against Israel's existence. The onus is on Abbas to end that war by dismantling the entire infrastructure of Palestinian terror, and to give his own community an identity other than the impulse to destroy another people. But the signs are not auspicious.
What looks rather more likely is that Abbas is instead a world-class tactician, who will be able to pose with ostensibly clean hands disclaiming the murderous terrorism that Hamas will continue to inflict upon Israel, thus forcing Israel to react and casting it even more decisively as the regional bully. If this is so, then Israel is in even more danger now than it was in before. (melaniephillips.com)
According to senior Jordanian diplomats, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak convened the Israeli-Palestinian summit in Sharm el-Sheik to strengthen U.S. political and economic support for his regime and help pave the way for his son, Gamal, to succeed him as president in another year or two.
The involvement of the Egyptian intelligence services, headed by General Omar Suleiman, in an attempt to curb the Palestinian terrorist organizations, is causing concern to the Jordanian Royal House. Cairo intends to open a diplomatic representation in Ramallah, in addition to its Gaza offices, which Jordan sees as facilitating an Egyptian intelligence presence in the West Bank close to its border. (Jerusalem Post)
Why has it proved so hard to reconstitute the Iraqi army if, as the elections suggested, the insurgency lacks broad-based popular support? According to Maj. James Lechner, who commanded a unit responsible for training and then leading the 7th Battalion of the new Iraqi army in Samarra last October, the main problem was not with Iraqi soldiers. It was with their officers and their loyalty to the way Saddam ran his army.
Maj. Lechner noticed that the Iraqi commanders in his battalion tended to equate rank more with privilege than with responsibility. They were reluctant to stay on duty with their units for any length of time without "special passes or extended leaves," and the higher up the chain of command, the worse the problem. Just prior to going into action in Samarra, the Iraqi battalion commander took a leave and didn't return until the city was secured. Up and down the officer ranks Maj. Lechner found a marked propensity to steal from their units, falsify records, embezzle funds, and even extort money from their own men.
It has become generally accepted wisdom that it was a mistake to disband Saddam's army. If Maj. Lechner's experience is typical, then retaining the old force would have just created a whole different set of problems, and might well have further set back efforts to create a flexible, effective Iraqi army. Solving the problem in the 7th Battalion ultimately required rooting out nearly all of those officers who had served under the old regime. (Wall Street Journal)
Prospects for Security, Peace, and Reform in the Abbas Era - Khalil Shikaki and Michael Herzog (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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