Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Israeli Armor Saves American Lives in Iraq
David Brinn (Israel21c)
Terror Plot to Cripple UK in Cyber Attack - James Kirkup (Scotsman-UK)
French Anti-Semitism Hits 10-Year High(AP/Ynet News)
NATO Ships to Visit Eilat (People's Daily-China)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Arab leaders arrived Monday in the Algerian capital for a summit meeting that will include a statement of solidarity with Syria and a rejection of any further "foreign intervention" in that country's promised pullout from Lebanon. Arab leaders quashed a Jordanian proposal to normalize relations with Israel with few conditions, opting instead to resurrect a Saudi peace effort put forward in 2002. (New York Times)
Palestinian militant groups, weakened by more than four years of fighting against Israel, are capitalizing on the relative calm of an informal truce to strengthen their political and military clout. "This calm is not a gift to the occupation. We will work on and prepare ourselves. Disbanding the armed wing of Hamas is absolutely out of the question," said Abu Ubada, spokesman for the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades.
A spokesman for Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated to the mainstream Fatah party, said its militants would integrate into PA security forces without sacrificing the "resistance." "A large number of our fighters already belong to the security services. Joining the security services does not at all signify the end of resistance," said Abu Qussay. "We are ready to fight back at any moment," he warned. "Weapons will remain in the hands of the resistance and we will direct them only against the Israeli enemy." Abu al-Walid from the leadership of Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said the faction aimed to take advantage of the lull "to prepare our military apparatus to confront any eventuality." (AFP/Relief Web-Switzerland)
Five weeks after the Valentine's Day explosion that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and 17 others, the balance of evidence appears to point to the explosion being caused by a bomb under the road, where workmen dug a hole a few days before - a method that some analysts are suggesting points conclusively to Syrian involvement. Whatever the actual method, making a bomb to kill Hariri needed careful planning and a lot of expertise. His Mercedes was heavily armored with a titanium/steel alloy and also had an electronic jamming system designed to frustrate a remote-controlled detonation. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Tulkarm was handed over to PA security control on Monday, the second city to be handed over in less than a week. Palestinians in Tulkarm celebrated, with masked gunmen firing in the air as PA police watched without taking action. The transfer of Kalkilya, the next city, will be implemented only after the situation has been carefully monitored and the PA takes action on the ground to quell terror, Israeli security sources said. (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas is planning a series of rallies in the West Bank and Gaza over the next few days under the banner, "The Week of the Martyrs," to mark the first anniversary of the killing of its leaders, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Hamas leaders said Monday that the events will include paramilitary parades and public rallies, in a show of strength ahead of forthcoming municipal and legislative elections.
Hani al-Masri, a political analyst from Ramallah, says Hamas's new approach is the result of changes on the Palestinian street, where support for the armed struggle and suicide bombings appears to be dwindling. The international community's decision to include Hamas in the list of terror organizations and the drying up of its resources and funds had also contributed to the movement's decision to endorse a more pragmatic line, he explained. "Most of Hamas's friends in the Arab world are now on the defensive," Masri notes, referring to Syria and Iran. "All these factors prompted Hamas to move toward controlling the damage and hiding from the storm until it withers away." (Jerusalem Post)
According to the London newspaper al-Quds al-Arabiya, Palestinian Minister of Interior Nasser Yousef has been asking armed terrorists to sign contracts that would limit their use of weapons. Yousef has issued orders barring unlicensed weapons and carrying weapons in public. (Maariv-Hebrew)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Syria's surprisingly swift acceptance to withdraw its troops and intelligence units from neighboring Lebanon after nearly 30 years came about so suddenly, and unfolded so smoothly, that some analysts suspect it might be just a little too easy. What really drives Syria's ambitions to remain in Lebanon is as much economic as it is political. For the past 30 years, Lebanon has represented a sacred cash cow for the limping statist Syrian economy. "The revenue generated from Lebanon is as important to the Syrian economy as oil is to Saudi Arabia," said a European diplomat. (UPI/Washington Times)
In the Shiite-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut, the streets are more crowded, the cars older and shabbier; many women are modestly veiled or cloaked in long black chadors and the stern portraits of turbaned Shiite clerics gaze down from huge billboards. Hizballah, a group funded by Iran and branded by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, claims the support of a majority of Lebanon's largest community, maintains the country's only private army, and cannot be ignored as Lebanon gropes its way toward a new political accommodation. "If Shiites are not part of the Lebanese formula, the situation will not work," said Nizar Hamzeh, a political scientist at the American University of Beirut. (Chicago Tribune)
As Aaron D. Miller, a long-time veteran of Middle Eastern affairs, put it on Fox News, "it would take an atomic crowbar to pry Lebanon loose from Syria." About 20% of Syria's gross domestic product is derived from Lebanon. The Syrian intelligence network in Lebanon, which includes thousands of local informants, is well concealed and deeply entrenched. The buildings they are giving up in Beirut are an optical illusion. The Syrian intelligence establishment is quite capable of triggering resumed civil strife.
Talk of a democratic surge sweeping the Middle East is yet another case of mistaking wishes for reality. It is tempting to connect the dots between the Iraqi elections, Palestinian elections, and Lebanon, and describe the overall picture as the inexorable march to democracy. But the strengthening of Hamas in the Palestinian municipal elections, a harbinger of how it will do in next July's legislative elections, and Hizballah's unchallenged position in Lebanon, should remind the White House these two organizations, along with Islamic Jihad, are now part of al-Qaeda's support group.
Turkey elected a democratic government democratically - and an Islamist party won and now governs. Its first important act was to deny transit rights across Turkey for the U.S. 4th Infantry Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Washington Times)
Don't Wait for the Next Attack - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
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