Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

November 21, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizb ut-Tahrir Behind French Intifada - B. Raman (SAAG-India)
    All indicators point to the involvement of some Pakistani, Algerian, and Moroccan members of the London-based Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) in the violence which has rocked France since Oct. 27.
    HT has the same objective as al-Qaeda: the restoration of an Islamic caliphate.
    See also Fighting the War of Ideas: Hizb ut-Tahrir Plays Crucial Role in Indoctrination - Zeyno Baran (Foreign Affairs)


Israel Campus Beat
- November 20, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    One Year after Arafat's Death

Hizballah Planning Attacks Along Israel's Northern Border - Gideon Alon, Aluf Benn, and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Lebanon-based Hizballah is planning widespread terrorist attacks in northern Israel to draw attention away from the international criticism of Syrian President Assad following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, the defense establishment said Sunday.
    The IDF went on higher operational alert Sunday along the northern border after "irregular" actions by Hizballah guerrillas. According to government sources, Hizballah has been detected taking unusual steps near Mount Dov, which intelligence officers interpret as preparations to stage a "quality attack," like kidnapping soldiers. (Jerusalem Post)


Palestinians Postpone Fatah Primaries (AP/Ha'aretz)
    The Palestinians' ruling Fatah party postponed its first ever primaries, which had been scheduled to start Friday, saying it was unprepared to run the poll and citing internal dissent and extortion attempts by violent activists.
    Ahmed Diek, coordinator of the Fatah elections committee, said local armed Fatah groups were "trying to blackmail the Fatah leadership, demanding Palestinian Authority jobs in return for allowing elections to be held."
    PA parliamentary elections have been called for Jan. 25.


Government Suspected in Attacks During Egyptian Vote - Abeer Allam (New York Times)
    Attackers wielding machetes, knives, and axes created mayhem at scattered polling places around Egypt on Sunday, killing one man and wounding dozens of others.
    The violence was seen as a government effort to create chaos to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from making further gains in the second round of three-stage parliamentary elections.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Sharon to Quit Likud, Form New Party; Asks President to Dissolve Knesset
    Prime Minister Sharon Monday asked Israeli President Katsav to dissolve parliament and pave the way for early elections in which Sharon will run at the head of a new party, abandoning the Likud party he helped found. If Katsav agrees, Sharon will remain in office as a caretaker prime minister for at least 90 days while the government organizes elections. (Bloomberg)
  • Palestinian Finance Minister Quits - Steven Erlanger
    The respected PA finance minister, Salam Fayyad, resigned Saturday, saying he was considering running in legislative elections on Jan. 25. Fayyad also expressed enormous frustration at the inability of the PA to confront its financial problems. The World Bank recently warned that donor countries might not disburse the next portion of some $350 million a year in aid because the PA had broken its promises not to raise wages beyond its ability to pay, said the bank's director for West Bank and Gaza, Nigel Roberts. After a large increase this summer, the PA's wage bill is now about $1 billion a year - roughly equal to its income. (New York Times)
        See also Fayad Resignation to Deliver Blow to Palestinian Reform Drive
    The resignation of Palestinian finance minister Salam Fayad will deliver a major blow to efforts to attract investment and highlight the limitations of a reform drive, analysts said on Sunday. Azmi Shuabi, the head of the parliament's economic committee, said Fayad was furious that Prime Minister Qurei had ensured that $350 million was continuing to be channeled towards the 60,000 people employed by the security services. "We don't know if 10-15,000 of these people are even still working or not," Shuabi said. "Fayad is insisting that only those who are working be paid." A report recently compiled by the World Bank said: "The PA has created a serious fiscal crisis for itself with salary expenditure essentially out of control."
        A source close to Qurei scoffed at the suggestion that the minister had submitted his resignation to run for parliament. "He is not expected to be a candidate. It's all a smokescreen," he said. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Iranians Admit Receiving Nuclear Warhead Blueprint from Disgraced Pakistani Expert - Ian Traynor
    Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told diplomats that his inspectors had recently obtained documents from Tehran showing that the Iranians had been given various instructions on processing uranium hexafluoride gas and casting and enriching uranium. These had been obtained via the disgraced Pakistani scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan. Informed diplomats said the blueprint for casting uranium was required in making the core of a nuclear warhead, although that alone was not enough for the manufacture of a weapon. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Iran Learns How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
    In Germany, Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union, who is expected to formally become chancellor on Tuesday, has promised to take a tough stance against Iran. "If Iran questions the right of the Israeli state to exist, as it has done in recent weeks, then no tolerance can be shown. Such a position must be condemned." With her comments, Merkel brought Germany in line with critics of Tehran elsewhere in Europe and in Washington. But don't be mistaken, Germany still backs a diplomatic solution. So far, however, those diplomatic efforts have yielded little more than a constant thumbing of noses on the part of Iranian leaders toward Europe and the U.S. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
        See also Iran Parliament Votes to Close Atomic Sites to UN Monitors - Nazila Fathi
    The Iranian Parliament on Sunday approved the outline of a bill that would bar UN inspectors from its nuclear sites if the agency referred Iran's case to the Security Council for possible punitive measures. (New York Times)
  • Suicide Bombers Kill 74 at Two Shiite Mosques in Iraq - Chris Tomlinson
    Suicide bombers killed 74 worshippers at two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin near the Iranian border Friday, while a pair of car bombs targeting a Baghdad hotel housing Western journalists killed eight Iraqis. (AP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Man Killed After Bomb Belt Malfunctions - Nir Hasson, Arnon Regular, and Jonathan Lis
    Hamas militant Zeid Abu A'isha, 24, of Hebron, was shot and killed Friday by soldiers after the explosives belt he was carrying blew up near the settlement of Telem, southwest of Hebron in the West Bank. Remnants of the explosives belt were found on his body, and an additional device was on the ground nearby. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Caught with Pipe Bombs at Jenin Checkpoint - Efrat Weiss
    IDF troops at the Salem checkpoint near Jenin on Saturday nabbed a Palestinian carrying two operational pipe bombs. Eyewitnesses claimed the Palestinian said, "I want to blow up on the soldiers." (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians Make Slow Progress Transforming Former Gaza Settlements - Arnon Regular
    The PA has brought in thousands of armed Fatah activists to become settlement guards in Gush Katif. At the entrance to Morag, the cornerstone has been laid for a new city, funded by the UAE, where some 3,500 apartments are to be built. Workers in the hothouses of Netzarim said they are supposed to get NIS 60 per day, including travel expenses of NIS 10. This amounts to about NIS 1,500 per month, as opposed to the NIS 4,000 they received when they worked for the Israelis. But in any case, according to workers in most of the settlements, they have not received any pay for six weeks. (Ha'aretz)
        See also One Dead in Dispute over Former Israeli Settlement Land - Matthew Gutman
    A violent dispute Friday over land in the former Gaza settlements left one Palestinian dead and several others wounded in clashes between clans claiming the area and PA police. The shootout erupted after police arrested two members of two different clans for staking out land in the Muwassi area near the former settlement of Neve Dekalim. The clans sent armed tribal members to sack the police station and free the prisoners. The PA Interior Ministry reported that three police officers and several armed gunmen were wounded in the shootout at the Khan Yunis police headquarters. Much of Neve Dekalim is slated for a new campus for the Khan Yunis-based Al-Quds University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Leader in Gaza: We'll Join the Legislative Council - and Keep Our Guns
    In early October 2005, the reformist website www.elaph.com posted an interview with Hamas leader in Gaza Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar. Al-Zahar discussed internal Palestinian affairs and stated that Hamas would run in the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, but would still keep its weapons. On November 8, 2005, in a statement widely lauded as a breakthrough, al-Zahar told Israel Radio that Hamas was not ruling out negotiating with Israel if this would serve the Palestinian interest. Subsequently, in an interview with the London Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, he denied having made this statement. (MEMRI)
  • Careful with Syria - David Ignatius
    It's hard to find a Syrian who doesn't want Assad to remain at least as a figurehead. He's a symbol of stability for a country nervously watching the carnage in Iraq. But I doubt that Syrians will permanently ransom their political futures to an Assad clan that doesn't deliver economic and social change. Syria is a country in ferment. People talk politics here with a passion. They're writing manifestos, dreaming of new political parties, trying to rehabilitate old ones from the 1950s. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    IDF Chief Halutz: Sanctions Won't Deter Iran - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)

    • Economic sanctions won't stop Iran's determined efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and Israel needs to prepare for the worst existential threat in its history, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said Sunday at Tel Aviv University. "A state like Iran which has accumulated just in the past two years $150 billion beyond what it planned due to the rise in oil prices is not so sensitive to economic sanctions."
    • "We cannot sit by apathetically in the face of this development. We must concentrate all our mental and other faculties so that if we conclude that there is no other way, then we should have in our hands various capabilities to defend ourselves and also to strike back."
    • Halutz said that even if Iran did get the bomb, he did not expect them to use it directly against Israel. The concern was that they could pass it on to terrorists. "This needs to concern the entire world."
    • Despite the dire warnings over Iran, Halutz said ironically that Israel is now enjoying one of the most secure periods in its 57-year history. "I believe that our strategic reality at the moment is the best ever for the state. When I look about, I find it difficult to see an Arab coalition rising against Israel. There is no unifying interest today for the Arab nations as there [was] in the past."


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