Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Jerusalem Muslim Mufti Demands U.S.
Apology for Koran Desecration, Calls for World Muslim Boycott of U.S. (AP/Ha'aretz)
Israel Campus Beat
- May 29, 2005
Should Israel Permit Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to Gain Citizenship through Marriage?
IDF: "Terror to Grow after Pullout" - Ilan Marciano (Ynet News)
Bomb at Pakistan Shrine Kills 20 -
Recent Israeli Assistance to the Palestinians (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The White House has expanded the mandate of U.S. Gen. William Ward to mediate on security issues as Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip. Previously, Ward's role was limited to assisting the PA as it rebuilt its security forces. A senior U.S. official said the original goal was not to put Ward in the middle of the two sides, but with time running short before Israel leaves Gaza, a decision was made to direct Ward to take a much more active role in coordinating between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told reporters Friday that he felt he had gone a long way toward rebutting assertions by Israeli officials that a letter from Bush to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 had in effect given Israel guarantees on keeping settlements on the West Bank and on banning the return of Palestinian refugees. Abbas said the letter "perhaps was misunderstood" by the Israelis, since Bush said Thursday that such issues should be settled "as part of mutual agreement between the two sides. This is a solution which we accept." (Washington Post)
A martial arts expert from the Bronx and a doctor from Florida have been arrested on charges that they conspired to train and provide medical assistance to al-Qaeda terrorists. The men, U.S. citizens Tarik ibn Osman Shah of the Bronx and Rafiq Sabir of Boca Raton, Fla., were captured on Friday after a two-year sting operation, according to a New York City police spokesman. Authorities said they had taped each man swearing his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. (New York Times)
An American warplane opened fire on a speeding car in the Jazira desert northwest of Baghdad earlier this month carrying Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted terrorist in Iraq. A piece of shrapnel from an air-to-ground missile lodged in his chest. Zarqawi, who has a $25m bounty on his head, has fled the country for emergency surgery, according to a senior insurgent commander, and is now believed to be in Iran. (Sunday Times-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The cabinet approved Sunday in an 18 to 3 vote the release of some 400 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill toward Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in keeping with previous agreements. None of the prisoners to be freed have "blood on their hands," meaning they haven't murdered Israelis. However, Israel revoked an earlier requirement to release only those who have served more than two-thirds of their sentence in order to fill the 400 "quota." (Ha'aretz)
IDF troops apprehended a Palestinian Friday who attempted to cross a roadblock near Nablus in the West Bank with an explosive belt in his bag. Battalion commander Yoav Zuckerman said, "On the surface it seems as if there is calm, but under it all the terror and attempts to smuggle explosive belts and devices through the roadblocks, to harm Israel's citizens, continue." (Ynet News)
See also Hamas Man Killed in "Work Accident"
A Palestinian Hamas member was killed in an explosion in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, hospital officials said Saturday. Two other Hamas members were moderately wounded in the blast. The Israel Defense Forces said it was not operating in the area at the time and that the incident was likely a "work accident." During the past four years many Palestinians have been accidentally killed while handling explosives.
In a separate incident Friday, an explosive charge was detonated near an IDF armored personnel carrier traveling in the Erez industrial zone in Gaza. No injuries were reported. Army officials noted the explosion occurred despite the large Palestinian police presence in the area. (AP/Ynet News)
See also Gaza City Car Blast Kills 3 Hamas Members
Three members of a Hamas cell were killed and two were wounded seriously Sunday when a car exploded in the Sagiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Palestinians said. Israeli security officials said that Israel had nothing to do with the explosion and assessed that it had been caused by a device that exploded prematurely, Army Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
See also RPG Kills Hamas Man as He Tries to Fire It
A Hamas member was killed in the Gaza Strip on Sunday as he tried to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at nearby Israeli targets, the Israeli Army said. The man was at the Khan Yunis cemetery, near the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, when he hurt himself. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians said unmanned Israeli aircraft fired three missiles at militants in Jabaliya in Gaza Monday, where they were preparing a mortar attack. Israel Defense Forces officials said they identified two teams of Palestinians setting up mortars. The missiles destroyed both launchers, they said. Islamic Jihad said that a few minutes before the Israeli air strike, its cells launched three rockets from northern Gaza at an Israeli village. More than 60 mortars and 10 Kassam rockets have been fired from Gaza in the last two weeks. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Mahmoud Abbas came to Washington the other day, shook hands with President Bush, promised just and lasting peace forevermore, collected $50 million in U.S. aid, and accepted pledges of collegial harmony from Prime Minister Sharon. Then Abbas went home again, where he has proven to be the weakest of leaders. Abbas's ineffectiveness raises dire concern about the prospect of achieving peace in the Mideast. Abbas has barely attempted to disarm the militant gangsters in his midst; indeed, gunmen walk freely on the streets of his cities. His agencies are every bit as corrupt as they've always been. And he's allowed Hamas, a terrorist organization by anyone's definition, to become politically respectable. (New York Daily News)
Everyone is participating in a big game of make-believe. Bush talked about the chances of success of the peace negotiations with Abu Mazen in Washington, because he wants to give the road map a real chance in a final attempt to stop Hamas. Egyptian President Mubarak talks about peace but makes no efforts to halt arms smuggling because he is the patron of Hamas, just as Iran is the boss of Hizballah. Using Hamas, Mubarak wishes to pressure Israel into modifying the peace agreement, canceling the demilitarization of the Sinai Desert, and thus permitting the deployment of thousands of Egyptian soldiers along the border with Israel.
Prime Minister Sharon, aware of this dangerous situation, last Tuesday told the AIPAC conference in Washington: "Until now terrorist activities have not ceased. The smuggling of weapons and arms production continues and there is no real prevention of terrorist actions." Sharon apparently realizes that under the current political conditions Israel has no alternative but to join in the make-believe "peace process" game. The major difference between Sharon and his predecessors is that he is aware that the Israeli finger must be ready on the trigger when Hamas's arsenal in Gaza explodes. (Jerusalem Post)
Many explanations have been offered for the Palestinian unwillingness to utilize the unilateral disengagement in order to advance its supreme interest, that is, the establishment of an independent state (even if its borders are temporary, as is the case with Israel itself). The Palestinian fright when it comes to taking responsibility and the inability to take advantage of political opportunities to promote national interests lead to the perpetuation of a wholly ineffective strategy, narrowed down to improving the efforts to lay the blame on Israel.
It is time for the Palestinians to separate from the Israelis and act for the establishment of a Palestinian state, organize the activity of political institutions, improve the daily lives of residents, and ensure a state monopoly on the use of military power. Israel will not be waiting for the Palestinians, and rightfully so. It will not condition its moves on Palestinian good will. The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and a lecturer at Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. (Ynet News)
National Security Adviser Eiland: IDF Likely to Reoccupy Parts of Gaza to Protect Disengagement - Sheera Claire Frenkel (Jerusalem Post)
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