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DAILY ALERT

May 18, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Fatah Heads Talk about New Israeli Security Director - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Senior Fatah leaders Tuesday recalled their meetings with the new head of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, in an interview in the Palestinian daily Al Ayyam.
    Taysir Nasrallah, a Fatah leader from Balata near Nablus, said, "He would make people suspicious that a person was a collaborator [even if he was not], by letting everyone know he had invited the person to his office, or by talking to a person in front of everyone on the street."
    "He managed to break up Fatah military cells everywhere in the West Bank. In 1983, they arrested 200 activists this way."
    Nasrallah said Diskin would walk into Balata in broad daylight and send open messages to activists he was looking for: "Tell so-and-so he's going to be arrested soon."


Palestinian Weapons Come from Egypt, Libya, Yemen (Middle East Newsline)
    Israeli military intelligence has determined that Egypt, Libya, and Yemen have become the leading suppliers of weapons to insurgency groups in the Gaza Strip.
    "The weapons are smuggled by private gangs but with full knowledge of the authorities of these countries," a military source said.
    The sources said arms dealers purchase AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, rocket and missile components, ammunition, and explosives that are shipped to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and then smuggled over the border into the Gaza Strip or Israel.


Revote Ordered for Gaza Town (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
    A Palestinian court on Tuesday threw out voting results in parts of Rafah, a southern Gaza town where the militant Islamic group Hamas won 12 council seats to 3 for Fatah in the May 5 ballot.
    Hamas said it expected to do even better in a revote.


PA TV Sermon Sees Extermination of Jews and Subjugation of Christians - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The final stage of history will be the subjugation of all Christian countries under Islam and the extermination of every single Jew, according to PA religious leader Ibrahim Mudayris in Friday's sermon broadcast on Palestinian TV.
    The Jews are so evil that they cannot be subjugated like the Christian countries, and therefore the only solution awaiting them is death.
    In his words: "The day will come and we shall rule America, Britain, we shall rule the entire world, except the Jews."


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Registering New Influence, Iranian Foreign Minister Visits Iraq - John F. Burns
    Iran sent its foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, to Baghdad on Tuesday. Almost 25 years after Iraq and Iran started an eight-year war that left a million people dead, the government in Baghdad is now led by officials with close personal, religious, and political ties to Iran's ruling Shiite ayatollahs. Kharrazi appeared eager to put the U.S. on notice that Iran expects to wield influence in Iraq, especially in the long term: "The party that will leave Iraq is the United States, because it will eventually withdraw, but the party that will live with the Iraqis is Iran, because it is a neighbor to Iraq." (New York Times)
  • Syria Heralds Reforms, But Many Have Doubts - Anthony Shadid
    Beset by U.S. attempts to isolate his country and facing popular expectations of change, Syrian President Bashar Assad will move to begin legalizing political parties, purge the ruling Baath Party, sponsor free municipal elections in 2007, and formally endorse a market economy, according to officials, diplomats, and analysts. Emboldened opposition leaders, many of whom openly support pressure by the U.S. even if they mistrust its intentions, said the measures were the last gasp of a government staggering after its hasty and embarrassing troop withdrawal last month from neighboring Lebanon. (Washington Post)
  • Bethlehem: Violence Erupts After Christian Girl Runs Off with Muslim Man - Matthew Kalman
    At least 15 Christians were injured when Palestinian police opened fire on a crowd in Bethlehem in the wake of the elopement of a Christian girl and a Muslim man. The establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 brought an influx of Muslims into the mostly Christian city and its adjoining middle-class towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour. Christians accuse Muslims of taking over land and jobs and forcing them out of political power. Earlier this month, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both militant Muslim groups, won municipal elections over the secular Fatah party for the first time in Bethlehem's history. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Shin Bet Head Warns: "World Jihad Targeting Israeli Planes" - Arik Bender
    "The threat to Israeli aircraft is increasing and the security service is investing greater resources to protect them," the new director of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. Diskin warned that the world Jihad is planning to strike Israeli targets overseas, concentrations of Israeli tourists, and especially Israeli aircraft, as they tried to do in Kenya using shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. (Maariv-Hebrew, 18May05)
        See also Shin Bet Chief: Hamas Showing Restraint - For Now - Gideon Alon
    Diskin said Hamas was showing restraint and not carrying out attacks at the moment because it wanted to "make it through" the PA elections, "but that doesn't mean it won't change afterward." Diskin also said that Hamas was gathering strength at the expense of the PA. He said that as long as Hamas is not disarmed, it was better that Hamas not join PA government institutions, because the moment its leaders become political figures it will be harder to carry out targeted operations against them.
        Diskin further warned that "some parts of the Negev have become extraterritorial," noting that the smuggling of drugs and weapons from Egypt was rife. (Ha'aretz)
        Diskin called the PA's inability to curb militant groups a "ticking time-bomb" and that Israel cannot approve of the situation with nothing being done to dismantle terror infrastructures. He said that as long as there was a chance for Abbas to succeed he should be given the opportunity to do so. The benefit of Abbas is that he does not believe in terror, but on the other hand he has no intention of making diplomatic concessions to Israel, including on the right of return, Diskin said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Defense Minister Mofaz Evaluates Hizballah Threats - David Rudge and Nina Gilbert
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, touring the north on Tuesday, warned that Hizballah is likely to continue operations across the Lebanese border, including attempts to kidnap soldiers. "Hizballah will try to strengthen the ethos of its control over south Lebanon in light of the withdrawal of the Syrian forces," said Mofaz. "We demand that the Lebanese government take responsibility for everything that happens along the northern border," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Key Role of IDF Intelligence - Ze'ev Schiff
    "In the present conflict against Palestinian terror, the IDF had excellent intelligence, like no other army has ever had in dealing with terror. I have found no other army with such quality of intelligence in a war of this type," said Brig.-Gen. Gadi Eisencott, commander of the Israel Defense Forces' Judea and Samaria division, who for the past two years directed most of the operations against terror organizations in the West Bank. It is often mistakenly thought that most intelligence information comes from the Shin Bet security service, but in fact a great deal of it originates with military intelligence, through the eyes and ears of its battalions in the field.
        Eisencott is among those who argue that advanced technology, including the air force, is not enough to win the war on terror. The enemy must know that it faces experienced fighters who also use pistols, and at short range. That is what causes terrorists to run and hide. Eisencott believes that if Palestinians begin firing Kassam rockets and mortars from the West Bank on adjacent Israeli cities, there will be no choice but to occupy the area from which the rockets were fired. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Besiege Hebron Police Station
    About 50 armed and masked Palestinian gunmen briefly besieged a Palestinian police station in Hebron Tuesday night, accusing local police chief Awni Samara of corruption and demanding his immediate resignation. They fired their weapons in the air, but did not aim at the building. Palestinian terrorists and police exchanged gunfire in two other West Bank towns Monday. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Can Palestinian Islamists Be Integrated into the Palestinian Authority? - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
    Fatah, the secular, nationalist organization that has dominated Palestinian politics for decades, is worried, and Hamas, the radical Islamist organization branded a terrorist group by the U.S. and the EU, is gaining ground. The prospect of Hamas's political integration within the PLO and the PA has generated anxieties. Some fear that it will take control of Gaza or even the authority as a whole; that it will tie Abu Mazen's hands; or that it will upset the diplomatic process. But Hamas has a natural ceiling in the limited number of Palestinians that will back its hardcore Islamist positions. (Guardian-UK)
  • Outrage and Silence - Thomas L. Friedman
    In Afghanistan alone, at least 16 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in anti-American rioting linked to a now retracted report that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated a Koran by throwing it into a toilet. In Iraq, Baathist and jihadist suicide bombers have killed 400 Iraqi Muslims in the past month - most of them Shiite and Kurdish civilians. Yet these mass murders - this desecration and dismemberment of real Muslims by other Muslims - have not prompted a single protest march anywhere in the Muslim world.
        Many of these jihadist suicide bombers, according to a Washington Post report, are coming from Saudi Arabia. The Bush team needs to be forcefully demanding that Saudi Arabia and other key Arab allies use their media, government, and religious systems to denounce and delegitimize the despicable murder of Muslims by Muslims in Iraq. (New York Times)
        See also Do Riots Save Islam's Honor? - Irshad Manji
    Newsweek has retracted its report about the defiling of Islam's holy book, the Koran, by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. But it's too late. Muslims everywhere are questioning America's respect for all religions. Yet even if the Koran was mistreated, are violent riots justified? (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Return Address - Efraim Karsh (New Republic)

    • During a fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip in June 1949, a senior British official was surprised to discover that while the Palestinian refugees "express no bitterness against the Jews (or for that matter against the Americans or ourselves), they speak with the utmost bitterness of the Egyptians and other Arab states. 'We know who our enemies are,' they will say, and they are referring to their Arab brothers who, they declare, persuaded them unnecessarily to leave their homes."
    • Fifty-six years later the Palestinians have rewritten their national narrative into an unblemished story of victimhood that makes Israel, rather than Arab states, the sole culprit of the "catastrophe," as Palestinians call the collapse and dispersal of their society during the 1948 war. This narrative has led Palestinian leaders to demand a right of return, for the descendants of those displaced in 1948, to territory that is now part of Israel proper.
    • The Arab states vehemently opposed UN Resolution 194 (passed on December 11, 1948) and voted unanimously against it. This, however, did not prevent Arabs and Palestinians from transforming the resolution into the cornerstone of an utterly spurious legal claim to a right of return, which in their internal discourse is invariably equated with the destruction of Israel through demographic subversion.
    • To insist on the full implementation of the right of return indicates that, in the Palestinian perception, peace is not a matter of adjusting borders and territory but rather a euphemism for the annihilation of the Jewish state.
    • One therefore hopes that in his upcoming meeting with Abbas (slated for the end of May), George W. Bush will inform the Palestinian leader in no uncertain terms of his unequivocal and non-negotiable rejection of the right of return - which, after all, negates the vision of two states, one Israeli and one Palestinian, living side by side.
    • Until Palestinian leaders renounce the right of return, there is every reason to believe that it is a one, not two, state solution they have in mind.

      Efraim Karsh is the head of the Mediterranean Studies Program at King's College, University of London.


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