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
Israeli Intelligence Chief: Terrorist Build-Up in West Bank "A Ticking Time-Bomb" - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
Gaza Hamas Head: Resume Terror Attacks in West Bank (Jerusalem Post)
France Threatens to Stop Aid to PA Over Journalist's Kidnapping - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Warns Americans to Avoid Sinai (AP/Jerusalem Post)
Plot to Attack Israeli Consulate in California? - Jeremiah Marquez (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
The Pullout from Gaza: Map and Profiles of Israeli Communities (New York Times)
Profiles of Families in Neve Dekalim (New York Times)
History of Israeli Settlement in Gaza (AP/Boston Globe)
The Disengagement Plan: An Opportunity for Peace (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel Wednesday set in motion its plan to forcibly remove thousands of Jewish settlers who defied a deadline for leaving the Gaza Strip on their own. The army estimated about half of the 8,500 Gaza settlers remained, together with about 5,000 opponents of the withdrawal who have slipped into Gaza settlements in the past few weeks. (Reuters)
See also Prayers and Tears in Gaza's Biggest Settlement - Jonathan Saul
The haunting melody "Ani Maamin" ("I Believe"), an affirmation of faith now traditionally sung in Israel on mournful occasions, echoed in a synagogue in Neve Dekalim, Gaza's biggest Jewish settlement, on Wednesday as weeping young women worshippers offered prayers against their evacuation. Outside the house of worship, long lines of Israeli troops were beginning to evacuate settlers and their supporters. (Reuters)
A top U.S. diplomat told Palestinian security officials in a surprise visit to the Gaza Strip Tuesday they must coordinate with Israeli forces during the withdrawal of Israel's troops and settlers, the State Department said. The visit by Assistant Secretary of State David Welch was the first by a senior U.S. diplomat after an 18-month ban on travel there following an attack on a U.S. diplomatic convoy that killed three Americans. (AP/Guardian-UK)
Hizballah hailed Israel's evacuation of Jewish settlements in Gaza on Tuesday as another victory for armed resistance. "The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is a defeat for Israel and a victory for the Palestinians," said Hizballah's deputy chief Naim Kassem. Kassem said that like its withdrawal under fire from southern Lebanon in 2000, Israel's decision to pull out from the Gaza Strip was also because it could "no longer bear the strikes of the Palestinian uprising." (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Defense Minister Mofaz cautioned Palestinians Tuesday not to "rush to celebrate" Israel's evacuation of Gaza. Mofaz told Army Radio, "There will be a space of time between the stage in which the residents leave, and the stage in which the IDF leaves the Gaza Strip, in the approximate range of 4 to 6 weeks. During that time we will not allow the Palestinians to enter into the territory. This was stated to them in all the levels of coordination." Mofaz said he sensed the Palestinians had not reconciled themselves to the fact that they would not be taking immediate control of the settlements to be evacuated. (Ha'aretz)
See also IDF Drives Off Palestinians Hanging Hamas Flag in Katif Israeli soldiers fired warning shots as Palestinian children rushed a wall outside a Jewish settlement and placed a Hamas flag on it. Palestinian police struggled to keep the children away from the wall. The incident in southern Gaza occurred as some 3,000 Hamas supporters - including several hundred masked gunmen carrying rocket launchers and machine guns - marched through the Palestinian town of Khan Yunis to celebrate Israel's pullout from Gaza. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
The High Court of Justice on Tuesday gave the state two days to examine whether it could dismantle a number of the 26 synagogues located in the Gaza Strip settlements and rebuild them in Israel. The government had decided that the synagogues would be destroyed. "Throughout history, governments all over the world have refrained from harming religious structures, including synagogues. They have even taken pains to preserve these buildings," said attorney Gilead Corinaldi. According to the petition to the court, "some of the synagogues are of architectural and artistic value. They were planned with great care and creativity." (Jerusalem Post)
The dispute between the U.S. and Israel regarding Israeli security exports ended Tuesday with a joint statement by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Israeli Defense Ministry: "The strategic alliance between the U.S and Israel reflects common understandings of the global security environment. In this cooperative relationship, the U.S. and Israel share information and consult on possible threats to U.S. and Israeli defense interests."
"The U.S. Department of Defense and the Israeli Ministry of Defense have signed an understanding that is designed to remedy problems of the past that seriously affected the technology security relationship between their defense establishments and begins to restore confidence in the technology security area." Israel will commit to transparency in its arms deals and report to the U.S. on sensitive issues, primarily on deals involving China. (Ha'aretz)
On the eve of the forced evacuation of settlers from the Gaza Strip, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Tuesday issued a statement supporting the disengagement. "The Conference of Presidents has supported, and continues to support, the decision of the Government and Knesset of Israel to disengage from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Israel is taking an unprecedented step - unilaterally leaving land won in a defensive war - and must be given the time and support to absorb its impact." "As Israel faces this momentous and demanding time with the implementation of the disengagement plan, the American Jewish community stands in solidarity and compassion with all the people of Israel."
"We must mobilize the international community to recognize the end of the Israeli presence in Gaza and to assure that the Palestinian Authority lives up to its responsibilities and fulfills its commitments by stopping the terror, dismantling the terrorist infrastructure, ending the vicious incitement against Israel and Jews, preventing the glorification of violence and attribution of Israel's withdrawal to it, and ensuring that the threats of Hamas and other terror organizations to continue their attacks are not realized."
"We have been blessed with a reborn, independent, democratic, Jewish state that we must preserve and protect for all generations to come. We have to refocus on the overwhelming preponderance of areas of agreement, while respectfully recognizing differences. The key lies in achdut - Jewish unity - that has enabled us to withstand the challenges throughout our history." (COP/Ha'aretz)
Even as Israel's anguished self-confrontation unfolds in Gaza with the army's dismantling of two dozen thriving towns and agricultural villages, Palestinian leaders are demanding more. This withdrawal is only the beginning, they promise their celebrating followers. Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem. Yet whether Israel ultimately cedes all that the Palestinians say they want will depend on the Palestinians themselves. A wary Israeli public needs to be convinced that the Palestinians want to build their own state more than they want to destroy the Jewish state.
In the coming months, a Palestine taking sovereign control of territory must begin confronting the terrorist regime that has grown in Gaza. It must wrest foreign aid away from militias and private bank accounts and put it into schools and hospitals. Its leaders must dismantle the refugee camps that have been a permanent condition of Gaza life and resettle their residents in decent housing. Finally, it must temper the culture of hatred against the Jewish people that has become routine in Gaza's schools, mosques, and media. Few Israelis, though, really believe that the Palestinian leadership is ready to live in peace with a Jewish state, no matter what the borders. (Los Angeles Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Since anyone started taking a census, the great majority of the residents of Jerusalem have been overwhelmingly Jewish, as it is today, despite the decades of smuggling Palestinians into it for the social benefits of living within Israel. Who, then, still has the temerity to suggest that Israel relinquish what belongs to it, in fact now and in history, and to its children? This hardly means that deep and substantial accommodations should not be made with the resident Muslims. Their history also is here. Sad to say, however, they have a bad habit of denying the past (and present) of other peoples.
Almost no one seems to think that the disengagement is a prelude to peace. The competition between the so-called moderates in the Palestinian Authority and the extremists in Hamas and Islamic Jihad is over the loyalties of the mainstream of, sad to say, extremists. That is why Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, declared, "Today we are celebrating the liberation of Gaza and the northern West Bank; tomorrow we will be celebrating the liberation of Jerusalem." There was little difference between these words and those of his more ferocious competitors for the allegiance of the street. Will the firing follow the Israelis into the Negev desert after they have left Gaza? I foresee nothing less. (New Republic)
The death of Arafat together with Ariel Sharon's commitment to withdraw from the Gaza Strip may have injected new momentum into Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, but European attitudes toward Israel continue to deteriorate. This antagonism has many causes - anti-Americanism, media antipathy toward the Jewish state, a perception that Israel is an outgrowth of colonialism, and anti-Semitism. An almost irrational hatred of Sharon, though, has catalyzed many of them, channeling anti-Zionism to new levels. The European obsession with Sharon increasingly makes its involvement in Arab-Israeli diplomacy more a hindrance than a help. The European antipathy toward Israel informs policies. Western European diplomats privately vilify Sharon and argue that the onus should be upon Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians, often without regard to Israel's security needs or right to exist as a Jewish state. (Middle East Quarterly/American Enterprise Institute)
Why Israel Will Pull Out of Gaza - Israeli Consul General in New York
See also Sacrifices of Israel Need to Be Matched - Israeli Consul General in Atlanta Shmuel Ben-Shmuel (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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