Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Zarqawi Attack on Iraq Survey Group Inspector Cut Short the Hunt for WMD
- Anne Penketh (Independent-UK)
Masked PA Security Forces Block Hamas Election Win in West Bank Town (Palestinian Information Center-UK)
See also Palestinian MP: We Will Not Allow Hamas Victory in Hebron (Palestinian Information Center-UK)
U.S. OKs Bunker Buster Bombs for Israel (AP/Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The insurgency in Iraq is "about where it was a year ago," in terms of attacks, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday, but he said American and Iraqi troops are gaining ground. He said the number of insurgent attacks has run between 50 and 60 a day in the past week, up from about 40 a day. However, he said the level remains "nowhere near" the volume of attacks ahead of Iraq's January elections. In addition, he said, Iraqis are more willing to come forward with intelligence about the insurgents, and Iraq's security forces are taking on more responsibility. (CNN)
See also Three Months After Elections Iraqis Form Government - Caryle Murphy and Khalid Saffar (Washington Post)
In an audiotape secretly recorded at a government mosque last October and obtained by NBC News, Sheik Saleh Al Luhaidan, chief justice of Saudi Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council, encourages young Saudis to go to Iraq to wage war against Americans. "If someone knows that he is capable of entering Iraq in order to join the fight, and if his intention is to raise up the word of God, then he is free to do so," says Luhaidan in Arabic on the tape. Dozens of Saudis have been tied to suicide bombings and violence in Iraq. Critics claim the Saudis are now dealing with their own problems with extremists by exporting some of them to Iraq. (NBC News)
See also Swiss-Based al-Qaeda Suspect Had Saudi Passport - Stephen Fidler
A Swiss-based businessman accused by the U.S. Treasury of providing financial help to bin Laden and al-Qaeda carried a Saudi diplomatic passport, according to documents in a book published on Thursday in Paris. The documents include a letter from the U.S. Treasury to the Swiss authorities, which says that al-Qaeda and its leader received financial assistance from businessman Ali bin Mussalim "as of late September 2001." A copy of bin Mussalim's diplomatic passport is included.
The disclosures, contained in Al-Qaeda Will Conquer (Al-Qa'ida Vaincra), by Guillaume Dasquie, will be uncomfortable reading for the Saudi government, which has disputed any suggestions of official complicity in the attacks of September 11, 2001. Bin Mussalim had served as intermediary in negotiations in 1994 between the French and Saudi governments to supply frigates to the Saudi navy. He was found dead in his residence in Lausanne last June, a month after reports of the U.S. Treasury letter first emerged. (Financial Times-UK)
A future Palestinian state could be viable but it would have to ensure security for its own citizens and Israelis and would require $33 billion in capital investment, according to a new report by the Rand Corporation. The centerpiece of the plan was construction of a new corridor from the northern West Bank to Gaza. The report ignored many of the political realities now pertaining in the region, notably the existence of an armed Palestinian resistance opposed to peace with Israel. The authors said Palestinian prospects of success would be enhanced if the future state achieved territorial contiguity and its borders with Israel remained open. This flies in the face of the security fence now going up between Israel and the West Bank and Israeli efforts to retain major settlement blocs. (Reuters)
See also Helping a Palestinian State Succeed (pdf) (RAND Corporation); A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State (pdf) (RAND Corporation)
An increasing number of terrorist groups are seeking weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday in a report on global terrorism. "Although al-Qaeda remains the primary concern, WMD technology and know-how is proliferating in the jihadist community,'' the report said. (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Two Palestinians, aged 14 and 15, who were paid $23 apiece to detonate a bagful of bombs near soldiers at the Jalameh crossing north of Jenin, were arrested on Wednesday. Major Yariv, a commander of the unit deployed at the crossing, said the two had been instructed to approach the soldiers and ask for a drink of water and then detonate the bombs near them. It is the 11th time since the beginning of April that terrorists have recruited teens to either smuggle weapons through the checkpoints or blow up near soldiers, security officials said.
According to sources in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), there has been a significant increase this month in attempts by terrorists in the Gaza Strip and Samaria to launch attacks. On Wednesday, 50 alerts were recorded by the security establishment. Security officials estimate that violent incidents will become more frequent as the disengagement draws closer. Also on Wednesday, several bullets hit an Israeli car east of Kalkilya, but no one was wounded. Two Kassam rockets were fired at a settlement in southern Gaza, wounding an IDF soldier. Three mortar shells were fired at an IDF post in southern Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
Russian President Putin is to meet Prime Minister Sharon on Thursday. Israel (and America) have rejected Putin's proposal made in Cairo for an international conference on the Middle East this fall, and Israel objects to his plans to sell armored troop carriers to the PA and anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. An Israeli government source said Wednesday that Israel would not allow the troop carriers into the country. "First let's see some steps toward peace and then it will be possible to strengthen the Palestinian security forces, which are meanwhile taking part in fighting against us," the source said.
Despite these differences, Sharon and Putin will be able to reach understandings on the fight against anti-Semitism, cooperation in the war against terror, a natural gas purchase Israel is considering, space research, and commerce and investments. Putin's itinerary is to include a meeting with World War II Red Army veterans living in Israel. (Ha'aretz)
See also Russia is Back, Putin Signals - Dan Izenberg (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Syrians were driven from Lebanon not by force of arms but by a nonviolent Lebanese independence movement, a UN diplomatic effort and a broad coalition of allies organized by the U.S. and...yes, France. The U.S. had its hands full in Iraq, so the French took the lead in rounding up support for what became UN Security Council Resolution 1559. They persuaded the Arab representative on the council, Algeria, to abstain, and also lobbied China and Russia.
A new Lebanon would be a model for the secular, multi-ethnic democracy that is proving so difficult to establish in Iraq. But without a strong Lebanese army (which the French and other Europeans could help train) and a gradual disarmament of the Shiite militia Hizballah, this new Lebanon will be stillborn. (Washington Post)
See also A New Reality for Syria - Editorial
The withdrawal does not end Syria's influence over Lebanon. Damascus has infiltrated Lebanon's government, including its intelligence agencies, as well as many of its businesses, such as cellphone networks and auto dealerships. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Syria Leaves Lebanon, Without Thanks - Editorial (New York Times); A Syrian Withdrawal - Editorial (Washington Post); Syria's Writ Runs Out - Editorial (Telegraph-UK)
With the calm prevailing, in Gaza people's thoughts have moved away from survival to work. Hasan Namle, 51, remembers when he used to work in Israel and could make as much as NIS6,000 ($1,400) a month in the construction field. Now he runs a small poultry shop and makes around NIS1,000 a month. "If they would take me back [to work in Israel] I would go," he says. They won't. On March 8, Israeli chief-of-staff Moshe Yaalon told a security conference: "Our goal is to stop any kind of Palestinian working in Israel by 2008. This is our policy, this is our political directive, and this is because of what has happened here over the last four-and-a-half years."
The PA's public sector wage bill in 2003 accounted for 59% of its total expenditure, and only because of a doubling of international aid - a total that per capita is now "a record in the annals of foreign assistance," the World Bank's Nigel Roberts wrote recently - was the PA able to foot the bill. (Jordan Times)
Palestinians Must Accept Reality of the "Right of Return" - Ray Hanania
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