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 31, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Braces for PA Blitz at UN - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Despite Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, the Palestinians will not ease pressure on Israel at international forums and will try and bring discussion of the security fence back to the UN General Assembly this fall, according to diplomatic assessments in Jerusalem.
    Israel has been in constant contact with European countries to try and keep this initiative from gaining traction.
    In addition, the PA is also seeking to prevent any UN resolution acknowledging the end of Israel's occupation of Gaza.
    See also Legal Acrobatics: The Palestinian Claim that Gaza is Still Occupied Even After Israel Withdraws - Dore Gold (ICA/JCPA)


Assad Loses Iran's Trust after Surprise Withdrawal from Lebanon (Geostrategy-Direct/IMRA)
    Western intelligence sources said Iran no longer trusts Syrian President Bashar Assad, seeing him as weak and susceptible to U.S. pressure, and has been quietly promoting alternatives to Assad.
    Sources said Assad's decision to withdraw his military from Lebanon in April 2005 was taken without consultation with Teheran and left several hundred Iranian military operatives in Lebanon in the lurch.
    Iran is also concerned that the Syrian pullout leaves Hizballah susceptible to an effort by the Lebanese government to dismantle the Shi'ite insurgency group.
    Hizballah is Iran's leading tool to strike Israel and the U.S.


Jordan Plea to Iraq over Aqaba Attack - Dale Gavlak (BBC News)
    Jordan has urged Iraq to arrest the alleged perpetrators of last week's rocket attack in Aqaba port.
    Three of the four men believed to have carried out the assault fled to Iraq after the attack.


Iran Claims New Atomic Breakthrough (Reuters/Washington Post)
    Iran has made a new breakthrough in its nuclear program, successfully using biotechnology to extract larger and cheaper quantities of uranium concentrate from its mines, state television reported Monday.
    "The new technique used for the production of yellowcake will reduce costs, and efficiency will increase one hundred-fold as well," said a project manager.
    Yellowcake, or concentrated uranium oxide, is an early stage of the nuclear fuel cycle.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Five Highly Placed Lebanese Detained in Ex-Premier's Death - Hassan M. Fattah
    A UN team investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri ordered the detention on Tuesday of five high-ranking current or former Lebanese officials with close ties to Syria, citing them as suspects in the February killing and sending a message to Damascus and its allies that no one will be spared scrutiny in the inquiry. At the UN, Anne W. Patterson, the deputy American ambassador, called the arrests "a very dramatic development." (New York Times)
        See also Assad Denies Syrian Involvement in Lebanon Leader's Murder (Der Spiegel-Germany)
        See also Sanctions Against Syria on the Way? - Roi Nahmias and Diana Bahur-Nir
    The U.S. and France are planning to slap sanctions on Syria in the coming days, following the arrests of pro-Syrian security chiefs in Lebanon, Yediot Ahronot reported Wednesday. (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Court Freezes Palestinian Government Assets
    The U.S. District Court in Rhode Island has frozen all U.S.-based assets of the Palestinian Authority after the Palestinian government failed to pay $116 million in damages imposed by the court last year, according to legal documents obtained on Tuesday. After a five-year legal battle, the court last year ordered the PA to pay the damages for the 1996 shooting deaths of American Yaron Ungar and his wife Efrat in Israel. When the Palestinian government did not pay, the lawyer for Ungar's estate, David Strachman, petitioned the court to block the assets. The court granted a temporary freeze on the assets of the PA, the PLO, and related officials and entities in April, and then blocked the funds indefinitely in May. (Reuters)
        See also PA's U.S. Assets Frozen - Farah Stockman
    The frozen assets include U.S. holdings in a Palestinian investment fund meant to finance economic development, as well as bank accounts used to pay Palestinian representatives in Washington. Strachman and his legal team say the Palestinians should stop making excuses and pay. ''If you create a cost for doing wrong, people will be motivated to stop doing wrong," said Robert Tolchin, a New York-based lawyer working with Strachman. (Boston Globe)
  • U.S. Backs Sunni-Led Offensive Near Syria Border - Ellen Knickmeyer and Omar Fekeiki
    U.S. warplanes bombed safe houses being used by Abu Musab Zarqawi's insurgent group near the Syrian border Tuesday during what one local leader called an unprecedented push by a Sunni Arab tribe to drive out Zarqawi's foreign-led forces in two towns along the Euphrates River. The towns are described as havens and transit points for insurgents moving weapons, money, and recruits into Iraq from Syria. Muhammed Mahallawi said his Albu Mahal tribe began fighting against Zarqawi's insurgents after they kidnapped and killed 31 members of his tribe to punish them for joining the Iraqi security forces. Ali Rawi, an emergency room director in the border city of Qaim, said at least 56 people - the majority of them followers of Zarqawi - were killed. (Washington Post)
  • UN May Address Terrorist Incitement - Maggie Farley
    Britain and Russia introduced a Security Council resolution Tuesday urging countries to ban the incitement of terrorist acts, and they hope world leaders will adopt the high-profile measure during a UN summit in September. Supporters say the measure could help stem hate speech and rein in inflammatory media, and would address international terrorism while a more comprehensive global treaty on the matter languishes at the UN. The resolution also calls on all countries to deny safe haven to those who engage in incitement. "When someone gives the floor to terrorists, he must also be responsible for the possible fallout, because it is not just someone's view, but a chance for a terrorist to use the podium to propagate violence," said Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF: PA Security Forces "Have Plenty of Weapons"
    Lt.-Col. Daniel Beaudoin, Head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Foreign Relations Branch, said in a briefing on Tuesday: "Regarding the collecting of weapons...it's an EU effort to strengthen the Palestinian police force. They are here in full force, the EU, and they have police advisers in the field actually trying to educate the Palestinians to handle the weapons that are in the field in a responsible manner....If the Oslo accords allow 20,000 weapons for the PA force in the Gaza Strip, we reckon that there are close to 40,000 in the field. I'm not talking about militant groups and terrorist groups. I'm talking about the security forces, the preventive security forces and the police forces....You have plenty of weapons in the field."
        "There is a complete lack of organizational preparedness. They've been so busy trying to blow us up for the last 30 years and they haven't been putting enough effort into trying to find some sort of way of building a viable system. And this is our expectation for the future....The Europeans are coming to the Palestinians today and are demanding transparency, not only fiscal transparency on what happens with donor money, but also security transparency....You don't make things happen by sitting around boardrooms with Hamas. It happens when you take action and this has not happened. And it's going to have to happen and I think that the international community is very encouraging on this." (Israel Government Press Office/IMRA)
  • Defense Ministry Director-General Resigns
    Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron will resign his post in mid-September. The announcement is related to the crisis over Israeli sales of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to China. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Law and Gun in Beirut - Rami G. Khouri
    When a small Arab country detains four top security big cheeses before breakfast (and a former MP), you know something worth watching is going on. These security commanders served in the era when Syria dominated Lebanese political and security affairs. The detentions were the first major move by the Lebanese police and courts since the February 14 Hariri murder. They are noteworthy because they are the first time in a generation of numerous assassinations of public and political figures that the state has moved decisively against suspects who are close to the seat of power in Lebanon or Syria. The significance and symbolism of this move cannot be exaggerated, in a modern Arab world where security organizations have ruled with unchallenged supremacy. (Daily Star-Beirut)
  • Israel Must Put the Arabs on the Diplomatic Defensive - Zvi Mazel
    We need to tell the truth, publicly and repeatedly: the Arabs themselves are to blame for their underdevelopment, and as long as they ignore basic civil rights their peoples will remain poor and illiterate, a prey to unemployment and illness. This situation, it needs to be emphasized over and over, has nothing to do with Israel or the conflict in the Middle East. The writer, a career diplomat for 38 years, was Israel's ambassador to Romania, Egypt, and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    New York Times "Cooked" Secretary Rice's Statements on Pressing Israel for Further Concessions - Alex Safian (CAMERA)

    • On Aug. 18, New York Times reporters Joel Brinkley and Steven Weisman quote Secretary of State Rice as follows: "Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing," Ms. Rice said in an interview. But she added, "It cannot be Gaza only."
    • Here's what she actually said: "The question has been put repeatedly to the Israelis and to us that it cannot be Gaza only and everybody says no, it cannot be Gaza only." What the Times portrays as Rice's statement was actually her recounting of what others are saying "to the Israelis and to us." That's a far cry from immediate pressure on Israel to go beyond the Gaza withdrawal, which is what "It cannot be Gaza only" clearly means in this context.
    • Even more deceptive was this passage in the Times report: "While she noted that the withdrawal would take several weeks to play out, soon after that, she insisted, Israel must take further steps."
    • This is an absolute invention by the Times - there is no passage in the actual interview that could be read as the Secretary "insisting" that "soon after" the Gaza withdrawal "Israel must take further steps."


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