Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference: click here
Terrorist Released as Goodwill Gesture Re-Arrested - Planned Suicide Attack Inside Israel (Jerusalem Post/Israel Defense Forces)
Al-Qaeda's No. 2 Calls on Palestinian Militants to End Cease-Fire with Israel (AP/Ha'aretz)
Hunt for Sinai Resort Terrorists Continues in Egypt (AP/Washington Post)
Fatah Shootout in Ramallah - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters Saturday: "First we're going to get through Gaza successfully. Because the real point about Gaza is not to stop with Gaza. The President has been clear, we've been clear with the Israelis that it cannot be Gaza only; there has to be a day after the successful withdrawal from Gaza."
Q: While the focus is clearly going to be on Gaza, will you engage the Israelis on the settlement issue east of Jerusalem? Because...Sharon reiterated his intention to build those 3,500 homes [in Maale Adumim]?
Rice: "I will certainly say to the Israelis what we've continued to say to the Israelis, which is that the United States has very clear policy on this. They also have very clear obligations under the roadmap. And we don't intend to give - we don't intend that the Israelis try to create facts on the ground. They simply cannot engage in activities that are supposed to somehow prejudge a final status outcome." (State Department)
See also Agreement Set on Destroying Israeli Houses in Gaza - Steven Weisman and Greg Myre
Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to cooperate on the demolition of the 1,600 Gaza houses to be vacated by Israeli settlers in less than two months, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Sunday. The Israelis will tear down the houses and the Palestinians will be paid to clean up the rubble, providing the Palestinians money for job. (New York Times)
See also Israel to Demolish Every Jewish Home in Gaza - Tim Butcher (Telegraph-UK)
Israel publicly apologized to the U.S. on Sunday over the planned upgrading of Harpy attack drones exported to China that has drawn criticism from Washington and strained U.S.-Israeli security ties. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on Israel Radio, "If things were done that were not acceptable to the Americans then we are sorry, but these things were done with the utmost innocence." "The United States is our biggest ally and none of the things that were done were done with the intention of harming U.S. interests," Shalom added. (Reuters)
A Lebanese anti-Syrian alliance promised sweeping change on Monday after winning control of parliament. An unofficial count for north Lebanon on Sunday showed an alliance led by Saad al-Hariri sweeping all remaining 28 seats, while its rivals conceded they were heading for defeat. Hariri's bloc has now won 72 seats in the 128-seat assembly. (Reuters/Washington Post)
About 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops, backed by aircraft, tanks, and amphibious vehicles, fanned out Friday in a coordinated strike near Iraq's border with Syria in search of insurgents. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinian gunmen near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm opened fire on a car carrying two Israelis in a drive-by ambush on Monday, killing Yvgeny Reider, the 30-year-old driver, and lightly wounding his passenger, 16. (Ha'aretz)
Palestinian gunmen firing anti-tank missiles and small arms killed Sergeant Major Avi Karuchi, 25, and wounded two other soldiers Sunday in attacks on the Philadelphi Route in the southern Gaza Strip. Soldiers returned fire, killing one of the attackers.
Recent weeks have seen an average of 50-80 attacks a week in the Gaza Strip, as opposed to an average of 10-15 in February. Encouraged by its headquarters in Damascus, Islamic Jihad is ignoring the period of calm and various Fatah factions are following suit. Coordination with the Palestinian security forces is very limited. Last week, Israel demanded that the Palestinians post additional policemen opposite the Philadelphi Route and in the area of Khan Yunis, but the Palestinians have been slow to respond and the situation in the area is deteriorating. (Ha'aretz)
Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Monday caught a female would-be suicide bomber at the entrance to the Erez border crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. The woman, who was wearing an explosives belt under her clothing, has a permit to enter Israel for medical treatment.
Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, the Head of the Military Intelligence Research Division, Brig.-Gen. Yosef Kuperwasser, said the Palestinian Authority "excels at doing nothing in the fight against terrorism." (Ha'aretz)
IDF soldiers arrested Khalil Mohammed Hashash, 16, on Sunday trying to smuggle five pipe bombs across the Hawara checkpoint near the city of Nablus. Over the past three months the IDF has thwarted 21 attempts to smuggle explosives into Israel where the suspects have been under age 18. (Ynet News)
An Islamic Jihad gunman was killed and a Fatah Al-Aksa Brigades gunman was wounded by IDF gunfire while attempting to launch an attack in Kfar Darom in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Hamas is holding a loaded gun to Abbas' head, employing threats in an attempt to increase its share of power. There is great temptation to speak to Hamas without the mediation of Abbas, both to collect information and to gain influence, but this is an illusion. Hamas has long-term goals which include the establishment of a Muslim religious state in all of Palestine, i.e., on the ruins of the State of Israel. Direct talks with Hamas, as long as it continues to stockpile weapons for the renewal of attacks at a time of its convenience, goes against the shared interests of both Israel and Abbas. The policy that insists on negotiating with governments and not with independent armed organizations is still valid.
It is permissible, perhaps even desirable, to talk with mayors in the territories, whatever their organizational affiliation, because all sides should work to improve the situation of the population, weed out corruption, and provide humanitarian and economic hope for the future. But it would be wrong to be dragged into negotiations with them out of an illusion that they are able to moderate Hamas' overall aspirations, which are in any case set by a leadership that is mostly outside the territories. (Ha'aretz)
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev stated: "Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization responsible for countless acts of violence. Anything that demonstrates acceptance of Hamas as a legitimate player is a problem. We think the international community should be engaging the moderates in Palestinian society. We would be critical of a policy that could be perceived as appeasing the extremists." (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Seen from America, the evacuation of some 8,000 Jews from their homes may seem simple. I have heard it compared to moving residents to make room for a railroad or highway. But what is happening here is a deeper psychological drama. It brings out fears that are never far from the surface; memories of the displacement and murder of innocent Jews not only during the Holocaust but also in Islamic countries after Israel's founding. And memories of wars Israel did not start, and of terrorist attacks that we fear will never stop. (New York Times)
Rice's Response to PA's Demands: Counter-Demands - Arnon Regular(Ha'aretz)
Prime Minister Discusses Rice Visit in Cabinet
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