Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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The Target: A Cyanide Attack with Hundreds Killed - Dorit Gabai (Maariv-Hebrew, 2Nov05)
U.S. Provides $4.4M for PA to Absorb Fatah Terrorists (Middle East Newsline)
Sharon: No Meeting with Abbas While Rockets Are Falling - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)
U.S. Designates New Qualifying Industrial Zone in Egypt - Shmuel Rosner (Ha'aretz)
Australian Fugitive Linked to Zarqawi - Martin Chulov (The Australian)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Syrian officials have been saying for years that they have closed down all the offices of Palestinian factions working in Damascus, as the U.S. and the Europeans have insisted. They are all gone, they say: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. But last month, President Bashar al-Assad held a meeting of the leaders of all the factions. He called for unity among Palestinians and, according to people at the meeting, said he would remove some of the restrictions he had placed on their political work from Damascus. For decades, Syrian leaders have played a double game, assuring the world that the Palestinian offices were closed while letting them set up shop in "apartments." (New York Times)
These are difficult days for Syria's Alawites. There is deep anxiety that in a time of strife, Alawites will bear the brunt of vendettas dating to the decades when they provided the leadership of the government, military, and feared security services. The Alawites, some 12% of Syria's 18 million people, have ruled the Baath Party and the military for 35 years. (Washington Post)
See also Hizballah Vows to Stand By Syria - Ayat Basma
Lebanon's Hizballah guerrilla group said on Friday it would stand by Syria, blasting the UN for what it said was political incitement against Damascus over the killing of a Lebanese ex-premier. Tens of thousands of Lebanese attended an anti-Israel Hizballah parade in Beirut in a show of force. Some 6,000 Hizballah fighters in military fatigues marched in formation in front of cheering crowds, chanting "Death to Israel, Death to America" and "Oh, Jerusalem, we are coming." (Reuters/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Fatah commander Hassan Al-Madhoun, 32, and Hamas operative Fawzi Abu al-Qarea, 37, were killed in an Israel Air Force missile strike Tuesday in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip. Madhoun was a top fugitive whom Israel has accused of planning deadly bombings at Ashdod port and the Karni crossing between Gaza and Israel. Ten Israelis were killed in the Ashdod attack in 2004. He was also responsible for attempting to send a female suicide bomber from Gaza to Beersheba's Soroka Medical Center.
The two men were traveling in a car with a red PA security license plate, witnesses said. Ra'anan Gissin, a spokesman for Prime Minister Sharon, said Madhoun and Qarea "were about to go out and prepare a terrorist attack....When there will be a let-up in terrorist attacks, when the Palestinian Authority decides finally to take action against these groups, to disarm them...then we will not have to bring justice to them." (Ha'aretz)
Sgt. Yonatan Evron, 20, was killed Wednesday in a shootout with armed Palestinians in the northern West Bank village of Kfar Mirka, near Jenin. (Ha'aretz)
Israel's Security Cabinet Tuesday approved a plan calling for EU officials to inspect travelers entering the Gaza Strip from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. If the plan is realized, it will mark the first time Israel will allow the EU to play a major role in Israeli-Palestinian relations. One of the problems hampering Israeli-Palestinian talks over Rafah is a disagreement over how much authority the European inspectors would wield. The cabinet decided that Israel wants the Europeans to have greater authority than observers and be able to intervene in dangerous security situations.
The Rafah crossing is to be limited to use by Palestinians. Other travelers will be compelled to use the Kerem Shalom crossing, controlled by Israel. The Israelis want all goods to go through the Kerem Shalom terminal.
The EU has not yet discussed the request. However, inspecting the Rafah terminal could pose a danger to the EU, which may make it think twice about agreeing. European diplomatic officials said the EU has informed Israel and the Palestinians that it is demanding a time limit be placed on its activity in Rafah. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
There is plenty of International Atomic Energy Agency evidence to indicate that Iran is bent on acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and that this goal is broadly supported by all of Iran's political factions. Four years ago, the supposedly moderate Hashemi Rafsanjani explained that in a nuclear exchange, Iran could withstand a second strike, whereas "the use of a nuclear bomb against Israel will leave nothing on the ground."
Iran has been waging an ongoing war against Israel by proxy for more than a decade. The Iranian intelligence service trains, funds, arms and directs both Hizballah, which operates out of southern Lebanon, and Palestine Islamic Jihad, which carries out terrorist operations against Israeli civilians. Even now, when more than 80% of Palestinians want the current calm to continue, Iran is pushing Islamic Jihad to provoke violence. Ahmadinejad's declaration, therefore, was just one of those moments when the world could no longer avoid noticing Iran's decades-long aggression toward Israel. (Los Angeles Times)
Syria still casts a long shadow across Lebanon - a nation on the front lines of the struggle to shed despotism in the Middle East. Months after the Cedar Revolution and Syria's official pullout, one of Lebanon's leading human rights lawyers, Muhamad Mugraby, is facing prosecution in a Beirut military court for his criticism two years ago, in Brussels, of the Syrian-backed Lebanese regime. Mr. Mugraby's alleged offense is that two years ago, in testimony to the European Parliament, he dared to defend the rights of Lebanese - and Arabs generally - to liberty and rule of law.
During the years of blatant Syrian occupation, knowing that the main Beirut secret police offices and torture chambers were just around the corner from his family home, Mr. Mugraby repeatedly put himself in jeopardy by taking on cases of Lebanese citizens persecuted by the Syrian regime. He represented the families of people disappeared into the dungeons of Syria for what the Damascus-backed authorities deemed the offense of any contact with neighboring democratic Israel. Is Syrian hegemony really over? The test is not only whether Syria allows the UN investigation to proceed, but even more importantly whether Lebanese patriots themselves, such as Mr. Mugraby, will remain free to do their part for liberty and law in the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal)
Israel is more or less at war. A suicide bomber had killed five people in the northern Israeli town of Hadera and Israel, as usual, had retaliated, killing in the Gaza Strip an important leader of the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad, which had claimed credit for the attack. For Sharon, the principle is simple: No one gets away with killing Israelis. It is the essence of his foreign policy, which is his domestic policy, which is his military policy, which is the guiding principle of his life - what he calls his "red line." Whatever he does, however he manages the so-called peace process, he will not risk "the blood of a single Israeli citizen." (Washington Post)
Iran Says It Wants to Destroy Israel. Why Is Everyone Shocked?
Just a month ago, on September 28, there was a monster parade in Tehran featuring the country's armed forces. One of the high points of the parade was a collection of the Shahab 3 missiles, the ones designed to carry nuclear warheads, and they were adorned with catchy slogans like "The Zionist regime must be destroyed," and "Death to America." Four military attaches walked out in protest: the French, the Italian, the Greek, and the Polish. Indeed, on September 12, Al Sharq Al Awsat reported that "officials from the Revolutionary Guard have recently met with leaders of Ansar al-Islam and the Jihad organizations near the Iran-Iraq border. They discussed the acceleration of military operations against the British forces in the south of Iraq." (National Review)
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