Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

April 21, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Putin: Syrian Missile Deal to Block Israel Air Force - Aluf Benn and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The SA-18 missiles Russia is selling Syria "will of course make it difficult to fly over the residence of the Syrian president," Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israel TV Channel One on Wednesday ahead of his visit to Israel next week.
    "It will make flying low difficult," he said, referring to Syrian embarrassment over Israeli air force planes "buzzing" presidential palaces in Syria to issue warnings to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
    Putin insisted that the sale of the missiles to Syria would not upset the balance of power in the Middle East.
    Prime Minister Sharon said in response that he does not accept Putin's assessment that the weapons do not threaten Israel, Israel Radio reported.
    A government source in Jerusalem said Wednesday that "Russia, which is fighting terror with one hand, is helping a state that supports terror with the other hand."
    Israeli defense sources say that even if the missiles sold to Syria are vehicle-mounted, the launchers could easily be dismantled and transformed into shoulder-launched rockets.
    See also Russian Companies Hope to Prosper in Syria (Novosti-Russia)


Iranians Volunteer for Suicide Attacks Against U.S., Israel (AP/ABC News)
    More than 400 young men and women have volunteered to carry out suicide bombing attacks against Americans in Iraq and targets in Israel, a militant group in Tehran, the Headquarters for Commemorating Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement, said Wednesday.


French Police Probe Transfer of $7M to Suha Arafat (AFP/Times of India)
    French investigators are tracking $7 million transferred by PLO treasurer Nizar Abu Ghazaleh to the Paris bank account of Suha Arafat, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.


Turkey to Buy Israeli Unmanned Surveillance Drones - Amnon Barzilai (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Aircraft Industries and Elbit Systems signed a $200 million contract Monday to supply unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the Turkish military, beating out competition from the U.S. and France.
    The Israeli companies will supply 10 ground stations and 30-40 UAVs.


U.S. Marines Storm Ashore in Israel - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    Hundreds of U.S. Marines from the Sixth Fleet riding hovercrafts stormed ashore on the beaches of Nitzanim Wednesday as part of joint maneuvers being quietly held between the U.S. and Israeli militaries.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bodies of 50 "Shia Hostages" Found in the Tigris - Patrick Cockburn
    Iraq slid towards deepening sectarian violence Wednesday after the bodies of 50 people, believed to be Shia hostages, were found in the Tigris River. Shia officials claimed that 50 Shia had been taken hostage by Sunnis in Madain, south of Baghdad. The militants allegedly threatened to kill them unless Shias in Madain, where they comprise half of the population, left the town. The insurgency is wholly Sunni Arab. Sunni religious fanatics, called Salafi or Wahhabi in Iraq, see Shia as infidels just as much as the U.S. soldiers. From early last year there was evidence of Shia being killed because of their beliefs. (Independent-UK)
  • U.S., Allies Upset by Delay of UN Report on Syrian Withdrawal from Lebanon - Robin Wright
    The U.S., France, and Britain have expressed alarm at a decision by Secretary General Kofi Annan to delay a final report on whether Syria is fully complying with a Security Council resolution calling for its withdrawal from Lebanon. Secretary of State Rice and French President Chirac telephoned Annan on Monday to urge him not to agree to a request from Syrian President Assad to delay the report. "We want to see Syria's feet held to the fire, and delaying the report doesn't help us keep the fire hot," said a senior State Department official. The report, written by UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, says Syria has not fully complied, particularly on withdrawal of its intelligence agents in Lebanon. (Washington Post)
  • Arab Bank's Link to Terrorism Poses Dilemma for U.S. Policy - Glenn R. Simpson
    Jordan's Arab Bank is now at the center of a diplomatic dilemma for the U.S. In lengthy dossiers, the Israeli military and U.S. bank regulators have traced how large sums often flowed from suspected terrorist fund-raisers through the bank's New York branch into accounts at the bank's Mideast branches. Arab Bank's New York branch was involved in the transfer of more than $20 million to or from more than 45 suspected terrorists or terrorist groups. Over more than a decade, it transmitted money for more than 20 Islamic charities identified by the U.S. government as conduits for al-Qaeda, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terror groups. The bank's biggest stockholders include the governments of Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
        Top Jordanian and Palestinian officials have pleaded that U.S. regulators look favorably upon Arab Bank in a series of private talks with senior Bush administration officials. The Treasury Department has responded by demanding that Jordan install new oversight mechanisms for Arab Bank. Senior policy makers at the State Department and the White House debated whether to intervene with regulators but decided against it. (Wall Street Journal, 20Apr05)
        See also Palestinian Terrorist Organizations Make Extensive Use of the Arab Bank (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
  • Hopes Dim as Abbas Struggles to Maintain Control - Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
    Young Palestinians, who'd hoped that Mahmoud Abbas's victory in the Jan. 9 election would infuse new blood into his Fatah political faction, rarely talk about him these days. During a pre-election rally on Saturday at Al Quds University in Ramallah, students hung posters of Arafat, not of Abbas. Hopes that Abbas would lead Palestinians where Arafat either couldn't or wouldn't - to a final peace agreement between Israel and an independent Palestinian state - have diminished to hopes that he can maintain his grip on power. (Knight Ridder/Kansas City Star)
  • Two Senior AIPAC Employees Ousted - Dan Eggen and Jerry Markon
    Two senior employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee have left their jobs amid an FBI investigation into whether they passed classified U.S. information to Israel, a source close to the organization said Wednesday. Lawyers for policy director Steve Rosen and senior analyst Keith Weissman released a statement saying "they have never solicited, received, or passed on any classified documents." (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Officials to Push PA More Than Sharon - Herb Keinon
    Senior U.S. officials Elliott Abrams and David Welch, who are scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sharon on Thursday, are here primarily to gauge what is going on in the PA, and why nearly two months after U.S. Gen. William Ward arrived to monitor the security situation, he is sending back pessimistic reports to Washington regarding the steps - or lack of steps - PA Chairman Abbas is taking to consolidate the PA security apparatus or to dismantle the terror organizations.
        In addition, they are here to urge the Palestinians to coordinate the disengagement plan with Israel, something both Sharon and Bush have said they wanted to see, but in which the Palestinians have not shown much interest. No date has yet been set for Abbas's upcoming visit to the U.S. and, according to assessments in Jerusalem, Bush is not interested in hosting Abbas until he shows some concrete results on the ground. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon Expects Settlements to be Looted After Pullout
    In a closed-door meeting of senior cabinet ministers Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharon said he expects Palestinians to loot the Jewish settlements immediately after Israeli forces leave Gaza this summer. "Immediately after the Israeli army leaves there, everything will be looted," Yediot Ahronot quoted Sharon as saying. "The guys from Khan Yunis will storm (the settlements) from one side, and the guys from Rafah from the other side." "One will take a window, another will take a door, a third will take sprinklers, and yet another will take the greenhouse," Sharon said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Navy Saves Syrian, Egyptian Sailors - Hanan Greenberg
    Israeli, American, and French naval forces assisted Wednesday in the rescue of Egyptian and Syrian sailors whose ship sank in international waters 35 miles from the Nahariya coastline as it was making its way from Egypt to Syria. Three crew members were saved but four are missing. The ship, carrying cement, apparently sank due to excess cargo weight. Three months ago the Israeli Navy conducted a joint exercise with Turkish and American naval units to practice rescuing crew members from sinking ships. (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Europe's Misspent Influence - Nir Boms
    European states provide 55% of the total international aid flow - about €30 billion a year - to more than 160 countries and organizations worldwide. The Palestinian Authority has benefited particularly from Europe's largesse, having received €2 billion since 1993. Yet the actual results are discouraging. Under the corrupt leadership of Arafat, a significant part of the money simply disappeared and is still unaccounted for today. Even worse, evidence shows that part of the money was used to finance paramilitary groups like the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades. The writer is vice president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal, 21Apr05)
  • "The Hell of Israel Is Better than the Paradise of Arafat" - Daniel Pipes
    In mid-2000, when it appeared that some Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem would be transferred to Palestinian Authority control, Muslim Jerusalemites expressed less than delight at the prospect. In the view of Fadal Tahabub, a member of the Palestinian National Council, an estimated 70% of the 200,000 Arab residents of Jerusalem preferred to remain under Israeli sovereignty. For all the overheated rhetoric about Israel's occupation, Palestinians are alive to the benefits of its liberal democracy. They appreciate the elections, rule of law, freedom of speech and religion, minority rights, orderly political structures, and the other benefits of a decent polity. Palestinians appear no more eager to live under PA rule than are Israelis. (Middle East Quarterly)
  • Observations:

    Sharon: I'm Trying to Save as Much as I Can - David Horovitz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    Prime Minister Sharon said in a pre-Passover holiday interview:

    • "I don't see, looking at the long-term picture, any possibility of a community of a few thousand Jews, for all its achievements and its special heroism, remaining in Gaza." In the West Bank, by contrast, "I am doing everything I can to save as much as I can."
    • The settlers were "the pioneers" of the past generation, and thanks to their commitment, Israelis were today able to live in other areas of immense historical resonance for the Jewish people. He spoke specifically of the Jewish residents of Hebron, asserting that "Jews would always live" in that city.
    • The prime minister insisted that for the road map process to begin, the PA would have to dismantle terrorist organizations, stop incitement, and begin educating its people about peace. Unfortunately, none of that was happening at present and so the road map era had not yet arrived. The U.S. administration fully shared this assessment, he added.
    • Sharon said the U.S. recognized that "the demands of reality require that the major settlement blocs remain under Israeli control." Israel's position was that "contiguity will be preserved" between these blocs and Israel, such as between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim.


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