Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 21, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Plans Secret "Nuclear University" to Train Scientists - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)     The Iranian government has given approval for the establishment of a secret nuclear research center to train its scientists in all aspects of atomic technology.
    The establishment of Iran's first post-graduate nuclear research faculty is seen as evidence that the Iranians are pressing ahead with their secret program to become self-sufficient in the production of nuclear weapons.

One Dead in Blast at Qatar Theater Packed with Westerners - Sean Rayment and Peter Zimonjic (Telegraph-UK)
    A car bomb in Doha, the capital of Qatar, demolished a theater packed with Westerners watching a performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, leaving one person dead and up to 50 injured Saturday.
    The suicide bomber was Egyptian.
    See also Qatar Bomb Shows Al-Qaeda Targeting the Gulf - Editorial (Times-UK)

Dutch "Chemical Ali" on Trial for Genocide - Ian Traynor (Guardian-UK)
    Dubbed "Holland's Chemical Ali" by the Dutch media, Frans van Anraat, 62, a businessman who is alleged to have helped Saddam Hussein to gas the Kurds of Halabja in 1988, appeared for a pre-trial hearing in Rotterdam Friday, facing charges of complicity in genocide and international war crimes.
    Fred Teeven, the prosecutor, told the hearing that "Van Anraat was conscious of...the fact that his materials were going to be used for poison gas attacks."

PLO Envoy: Arafat Killed By High Tech Laser Attack - Feizal Samath (Malaysian News Agency)
    Attallah Quiba, the Palestinian ambassador in Sri Lanka, believes Arafat was killed by unnamed Israelis using advanced technology, the Island newspaper said.
    In Colombo on Friday, Quiba claimed that two Israelis who met Arafat on the day he was taken sick "used a laser device to attack Arafat."
    Samples of Arafat's blood were tested in 16 countries and it was revealed that he had been poisoned by high technology, he said.
    Asked about reports that Arafat's meals had been poisoned, Quiba said it was not possible since Arafat always shared the food served to him and was the last to partake of it.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Ukraine Supplied Nuclear-Capable Missiles to Iran and China - David Holley
    Smugglers in Ukraine shipped 18 cruise missiles, each capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, to Iran in 2001 and China in 2000, Ukrainian prosecutors said Friday. Iran received 12 Soviet-era Kh-55 cruise missiles, which have a range of 1,860 miles. Each missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with a 200-kiloton yield at altitudes too low to be detected by radar. If the missiles were made operational, they could strike Israel if launched from Iran. The sales have been portrayed as a significant leak of Soviet-era weapons technology. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iran Weighs Western Demands - Gareth Smyth
    Iranian officials have pledged they would never abandon uranium enrichment in the long-term, but some now suggest privately that Tehran's offer of "objective guarantees" as to the peaceful nature of its nuclear program could entail a limit in its number of centrifuges, the central enrichment device. "The minimum is a certain number, let's say 500 out of the 7,000-8,000, for enrichment, and then the Europeans can build up economically viable power plants [in Iran] and give us fuel," said a senior official. "It's clear Iran will be attacked if it doesn't give up the fuel cycle," said a second senior official. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Arab Summit Rejects Jordan Proposal - Salah Nasrawi
    The Arab summit formally rejected on Sunday a proposal by the Jordanian king that would have revised Arab conditions for normalizing relations with Israel. The original plan by Jordan's King Abdullah II had dropped the traditional Arab call for recognizing Israel in exchange for the Jewish state's withdrawal from land it has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Pro-Syrian Lebanese Warned Over Civil Strife - Roula Khalaf
    Lebanese opposition leader Walid Jumblatt, chief of the Druze minority, said some pro-Syrian groups had received weapons and explosives recently, after a bomb explosion in the Christian Beirut suburb of New Jdeidah left 11 people wounded. "We are...opening...a new page in relations with Syria, but if some elements who are close to Syria lead us to security chaos, then this will backfire on Syria," he warned. Opposition leaders in Beirut fear that some of Syria's allies in Lebanon are seeking to provoke violent unrest to justify the need for some Syrian troops to remain in Lebanon. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Signs the Tide May Be Turning on Iraq's Street of Fear - John F. Burns
    Haifa Street runs for two miles through Baghdad; American soldiers call it Purple Heart Boulevard. American officers say that on Haifa Street, insurgents are attacking in smaller numbers, and with less intensity; mortar attacks into the Green Zone have diminished sharply; major raids have uncovered large weapons caches; and some rebel leaders have been arrested or killed. Last month, an Iraqi brigade with two battalions garrisoned along Haifa Street became the first homegrown unit to take operational responsibility for any combat zone in Iraq. So far, American officers say, the Iraqis have done well, withstanding insurgent attacks and conducting aggressive patrols and raids, without deserting in large numbers. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Wound Four Israeli Troops - Efrat Weiss and Ali Waked
    Three soldiers and a border policeman were wounded by Palestinians in Ramallah Sunday. Border Police were carrying out routine operations, with IDF soldiers providing cover, when armed Palestinians opened fire at the troops. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the shooting. (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
  • Israel, PA Discuss Tulkarm Handover - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Israel and the PA failed to reach agreement Sunday on the handover of security responsibility for the West Bank town of Tulkarm. The dispute centered on control of villages north of Tulkarm. IDF Col. Tamir Heyman said the Islamic Jihad cell responsible for the Feb. 25 suicide attack in Tel Aviv is based in those villages.
        Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday that, together with the handovers, the PA needs to monitor wanted individuals in the towns where it assumes responsibility, disarm the terrorist organizations, and prevent terrorist cells from attacking Israel from the towns. Mofaz said that handing over additional towns depends on how the Palestinians deal with terrorism in the towns already under their control. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Peres Views Middle East Trends - Steven Erlanger
    In the post-Cold War world, the old divisions have largely disappeared, so the primary divide is now "terror and anti-terror," says Shimon Peres, 81, Israel's vice prime minister. "This forces the Palestinians and Arabs to take sides. They cannot remain neutral." Peres says the larger trend away from authoritarian rule is clear. "Even if you don't know who won in Iraq, you know that Saddam lost," he said. "He was the Stalin and Hitler of the Middle East, and you can't go back to Stalin and Hitler." Among Israelis, support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq was overwhelming. Peres views it as a catalyst, forcing countries like Syria to pay more attention. "If the Americans just make declarations, the Middle East would swallow them," he said. "But they are afraid that behind these declarations there may be a stick." (New York Times)
  • Syria's Leader Moves to Consolidate His Power - Hassan M. Fattah
    Beginning last summer Bashar Assad purged the ranks of the military, sidelined prospective opponents, and wrested control of foreign policy, especially the "Lebanon file," from his vice president. Assad has promised to withdraw troops from Lebanon and has begun the withdrawal. Whether he will complete it and whether Syria will simply maintain its control through other means remain matters of keen debate in Damascus. It is widely felt that maintaining control is central to his long-term survival because of Lebanon's importance to Syria's economy. (New York Times)
  • Questions Build as Democracy Stirs in Mideast - Nadia Abou El-Magd
    Just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Arab League chief Amr Moussa warned it would ''open the gates of hell.'' Two years later, many are asking whether the U.S. actually opened the doors of democracy in the Middle East. (AP/Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Observations:

    Can Abbas Deliver? - Editorial (Washington Times)

    • If the Palestinians are successful in policing the cities, Israel will be relinquishing more territory. Israel's willingness to continue doing this will depend to a great extent on Abbas's ability to disarm Palestinian terrorists operating out of territory he controls.
    • To his credit, Abbas has ended the poisonous relationship with the Israeli government that was the legacy of Arafat. He has done this by laboring to persuade Palestinians to end attacks against Israel and by firing PA security officials who failed to prevent attacks. The problem is that Abbas has barely begun to do all that will be necessary.
    • Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and 11 other Palestinian radical groups stopped short of a complete cease-fire. and disagreed among themselves over its duration.
    • Even more ominous are reports that Hamas and like-minded groups are taking advantage of the current period of relative quiet to rebuild their forces. Hamas is said to be working at a heightened pace in covert metal workshops in Gaza to produce new weaponry, and there are reports that it has secretly test-fired rockets into the Mediterranean Sea.
    • "Do not get intoxicated by the current calm in the region. As long as Abbas fails to collect arms from the terror groups, the conflict will not end," the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, said on Friday. "These groups are utilizing the calm to further arm themselves as well as produce explosives and build up their depleted ranks."
    • Under Sharon's leadership, Israel is taking the necessary steps to give peace a chance. No final settlement, however, is possible unless Abbas disarms the Palestinian terrorists.

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