Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

August 3, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: New Al-Qaeda Cell in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    The Shin Bet security agency is investigating reports that al-Qaeda has set up a Palestinian affiliate in Gaza known as the Jihad Brigades of the Border Country, sources said.
    Masked brigade members seen on a videotape aired on Israeli Channel 2 television Tuesday claimed cell members were responsible for firing mortars at Israeli targets.


New Fatah Militia in Gaza Adds to Security Uncertainty - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Hundreds of members of the dominant Palestinian Fatah movement began training in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday for what they said would be a popular army to help keep law and order after Israel withdraws this month.
    Men, mostly dressed in military uniforms, began their training in Khan Yunis under the supervision of some police and other security forces.
    The new force adds to the current jumble of at least a dozen security forces, many divided by deep rivalries and with a poor history of cooperation.


Bombs Target PA Officials in Gaza - Amos Harel and Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
    A bomb exploded Wednesday at the Gaza home of the PA chief justice, Zuhair al-Surani, causing no casualties.
    On Monday, Attorney-General Hussein Abu Asi was unhurt in an explosion which ripped off the door to his house in Gaza City.


Palestinians Seize Rafah Municipality Building (Peoples Daily-China)
    Dozens of former Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday seized the Rafah municipality building in Gaza, demanding jobs and better living conditions, witnesses and security sources reported.
    Leaders of the ruling Fatah movement intervened to end the crisis peacefully.
    It has became a phenomenon in the southern Gaza Strip for militants to seize PA civil institutions.


Israel Teaches Counterterror Tactics - Stacy Finz (San Francisco Chronicle)
    Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith was in Israel in April learning counterterrorism measures from a country widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on security.
    What most impressed Smith about Israeli police was their observation skills. She said they are specially trained to watch for specific body language and certain verbal responses.
    "At the airport they get real close to you, look you in the eye, and ask unnerving questions," she said.
    "They have developed a very good psychological profile of a suicide bomber's behavior," and she said she'd like her deputies to be trained to use the profile.


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Latest News on Disengagement
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • EU and U.S. Warn Iran Over Nuclear Activity - Gareth Smyth and Guy Dinmore
    The U.S. and EU on Tuesday raised the pressure on Iran over its threat to resume suspended nuclear fuel cycle activities, warning Tehran that they were seeking a special session of the International Atomic Energy Agency and would break off negotiations if Iran reactivated a mothballed facility.
        In a letter to Hassan Rowhani, the chief Iranian negotiator, from the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the UK, the EU3 reminded Iran that they would present a new package of proposals by August 7 that would encompass "cooperation on political and security issues as well as in economic and technological areas." The letter also stated the EU's willingness to support "a safe, economically viable, and proliferation-proof civilian nuclear program in Iran."  (Financial Times-UK)
  • Israel Upgrades, Fortifies West Bank Crossings - Scott Wilson
    A modern terminal will soon replace the old Kalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, one of 20 multimillion-dollar crossings planned along the route of a barrier designed to separate Israel from the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Israeli officials said the terminals, along with the barrier itself, could still be dismantled if a peace agreement is ever reached with the Palestinians.
        Palestinians who are issued magnetic cards will receive eye scans to protect against fraud. Once the card is inserted and retinas checked, soldiers manning computer terminals in bulletproof booths will give the holder a red or green light. Bags will be scanned by machines. "Everything is planned so that there won't be any physical contact between the soldiers and the Palestinians," said Lt. Col. Fuad Halhal, an Israeli civil affairs liaison officer. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA Rockets Targeting Israeli Anti-Disengagement Demonstration Fall Short, Kill Palestinian Boy and Wound PA Minister's Children - Amos Harel and Nir Hasson
    A six-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and eight Palestinians were wounded Tuesday evening when Palestinian terrorists fired Kassam rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot and instead hit a home in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun. Five children were wounded, four of whom were the children of PA Minister Hisham Abd al-Razik, Israel Radio reported. Witnesses said militants fired three rockets at Sderot, where thousands of opponents of the disengagement had gathered in a demonstration. Two of the rockets fell in Palestinian areas and the third fell in an open field near Sderot. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to U.S.: Don't Send Ammunition to PA - Diana Bahur-Nir
    Israel refuses to approve the transfer of ammunition from Egypt to the Palestinians, and has clarified its stance to the U.S. administration. Sources in Jerusalem said that Israel has made it clear to the Americans that any weaponry and ammunition given to the PA would end up in terror organizations. "Instead of supplying them with more, let them worry about collecting them from Hamas and other organizations," one source said. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Tony Blair Gets It - Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom
    I was in London last week for meetings with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. There is an almost crazed drive in some parts of the British media and politics to blame the British government itself for the terrorist attacks in London, rather than the terrorists and their mentors. At Blair's press conference last Tuesday, question after question sought his acknowledgement that responsibility for the attacks in London lay with Britain's alliance with the U.S. and its actions in Iraq.
        Israel has encountered this kind of sophistry for many years. How often have we been told that it is the "occupation" that brings suicide terrorism to our streets rather than the choices made by terrorist organizations and their operatives? Terrorists are defined by what they do, not by what they claim they are doing it for. Their excuses and justifications are not the point; it is their actions that are the issue. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Conflicts of Interest - Martin Peretz
    Given the world's being so enthusiastically taken in by Arafat, given the forked tongues of the present Palestinian leadership, one issue for Israel is: Can the Palestinians be trusted? Frankly, it's hard to find many people who'd answer in the affirmative. News has trickled out about details of Condoleezza Rice's demands on Israel, which apparently include that it supply the PA with weapons and ammunition. And who exactly will guarantee that these will not fall into the hands of the legions of habitual terrorists who nestle in the PA's militias or that they won't simply be passed on to the pious murderers of Hamas and Islamic Jihad?
        The PA has so many times obliged itself to Bill Clinton, George Bush, and the Israelis to stop official incitement against Jews and Israel. But the most grotesque and genocide-provoking hatred for the Jewish people and their state continues to flood the official marketplace of what you might not want to call ideas. I've known this for years, and American journalists have known it for years, but it has gone largely unreported. It's not their kind of story because it ruins the story of Palestinian moderation, to which so many reporters, columnists, and editorialists are wed. (New Republic)
  • The Succession of Saudi King Abdallah, the Oil Market, and Regional Politics - Mordechai Abir
    King Abdallah, the late King Fahd's successor, is a conservative ascetic who was never considered corrupt by the population, unlike other members of the al-Saud family. Abdallah succeeded in winning the support of the religious establishment for his all-out assault against hard-line Wahhabis and their Saudi al-Qaeda disciples. While Abdallah has rejected demands by younger Western-educated princes, the intelligentsia, and the middle class for faster reform, this group has grudgingly supported his claim for power against his reactionary Sudairi half-brothers and their conservative camp.
        Having avoided a struggle for power within the royal family by appointing Prince Sultan as his crown prince (and possibly his powerful and ultra-conservative brother, Na'if, the minister of interior, to be eventually second-in-line of succession), the ascension of Abdallah should prevent instability in the world's largest oil producer and is likely to further consolidate cooperation between Riyadh and Washington. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    A Return to Defensible Borders - Dan Diker (Azure-Shalem Center)

    • A week after his White House summit with President George W. Bush in April 2004, Prime Minister Sharon stood before the Knesset and presented a list of American assurances he had secured as a quid pro quo for promising to withdraw all Israeli troops and civilians from the Gaza Strip. The Bush letter said: "The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel's capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats."
    • Stephen Schwebel, who would become the legal adviser to the U.S. State Department and later president of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, concluded that Israel had an internationally sanctioned right to seek modification of its borders with respect to the territories from which it was attacked in June 1967. The West Bank and Gaza were taken from states (Jordan and Egypt) which had no right under international law to hold them.
    • Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in his last Knesset address in October 1995, said: "The borders of the State of Israel during the permanent solution will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six-Day War. We will not return to the June 4, 1967 lines....The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley in the broadest meaning of that term."
    • Rabin intended for Israel to be protected by the total 4,200-foot incline from the Jordan riverbed up the eastern slopes of the West Bank hill ridge. Rabin added that Israel would also maintain a united Jerusalem, and keep settlement blocs east of the 1967 lines.
    • Israel needs defensible borders, particularly in the West Bank, to guarantee a political settlement that will not be undermined by the combination of Israeli vulnerabilities and the hostile intent that is still expressed by several of Israel's neighbors, including the Palestinians.
    • If Israel is to arrive at a solution to the conflict that will end its military presence in Palestinian population centers, provide for the country's long-term security, and maintain its deterrent capability against aggression from both a future Palestinian state and its Arab neighbors, it will have to take a firm stand with regard to its frontiers.

      The writer is a senior policy analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and project director of its Defensible Borders Initiative.


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