Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Arrests Reveal Zarqawi Network in Europe - Anton La Guardia (Telegraph-UK)
See also Zarqawi and Israel: Is There a New Jihadi Threat Destabilizing the Eastern Front? - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA)
The Arab Drift into Scientific Obscurity - Faisal Sanai (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Meet the New Hamas Mayor of Nablus - Orly Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
Soaring Egypt-Israel Trade Creates 15,000 New Jobs (AP/Khaleej Times-Dubai)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Seventy U.S. senators on Wednesday called on President George W. Bush to make it clear to Palestinian leaders that terrorist organizations like Hamas must disarm or be banned from upcoming Palestinian elections. The senators, in a letter to Bush, said the U.S. "would have little choice but to reevaluate all aspects of our relations" with the Palestinian Authority if Hamas was brought into it. The Senate letter follows a resolution passed overwhelmingly last week by the House of Representatives that also urged the exclusion of Hamas from the January 25 parliamentary ballot.
The senators said they were "deeply disappointed" that Mahmoud Abbas "has yet to do what the Palestinian Authority has committed to doing on numerous occasions - asserting its control over the terrorist groups that operate freely within the West Bank and Gaza." (Reuters)
Israel is overhauling its separation barrier along the West Bank and Jerusalem to cut the crossing time for people and goods from hours to minutes. Aimed at easing the burden on Palestinians and softening international criticism, it is also giving the barrier the feel of an international border. The construction project of 27 terminals will cost close to $500 million and sharply reduce tension, Israeli officials say.
Daniel Tirza, a reserve colonel who has drawn the map for nearly every inch of the 450-mile barrier (about one-third complete and due to be finished in a year), has no doubt that it has saved hundreds of Israeli lives by making it harder for suicide bombers to reach their targets. The barrier not only discourages attacks, he said, but when, as in most of its length, it consists of electronic fencing with sensors, it provides enough warning to catch those who cut through it. "The barrier does its job," Tirza said, describing the need to protect Jerusalem's citizens from sniper fire and suicide bombers. (New York Times)
The Lebanese killer of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem was in custody in Beirut Tuesday, according to U.S. officials who decried his release from a German prison last week. Mohammad Ali Hamadi, a member of Hizballah, received a life sentence in Germany for hijacking a TWA plane to Beirut and fatally shooting Stethem, but was paroled after 18 years and freed last week. "We are going to make every effort to see that he stands trial here in the U.S.," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. (Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Five IDF soldiers were hurt by shrapnel after a Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in a military base south of Ashkelon on Thursday. Another rocket fired from Gaza on Thursday landed near the Ashkelon industrial zone. (Ynet News)
In the three months since the Israel Defense Forces left Gaza, Kassam rockets have been launched at Israel on an almost daily basis. A total of 239 rockets have been fired at Israel since Sep. 15, according to the Red Dawn warning system which monitors Kassam launches. Of these, only 160 rockets landed in Israel: many fell short, landing inside the Gaza Strip.
The evacuation of northern Gaza enabled the Palestinians to move their launch sites closer to Israel. Therefore, even without improving the rockets' range, they are able to hit the industrial zone south of Ashkelon. Kassams also have begun to land in other areas of southern Israel that had not experienced rocket fire before the disengagement, such as Moshav Shuba, hit by three rockets - one hit a house, damaging the building and sending residents into shock. The pace of the launches has increased over the last two weeks. (Ha'aretz)
The militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) organization on Wednesday freed two foreign teachers it kidnapped earlier in the day. Foreigners have been kidnapped on several occasions by gunmen in Gaza, who use the captives to press demands from Palestinian authorities. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The United States, and many other countries, are condemning remarks made by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad erroneously says that the Holocaust, resulting in the death of six million Jews during World War Two, is a "myth." In October, he said that Israel should be "wiped off the map."
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's foreign minister, says the Iranian president's remarks show "irresponsibility and cynicism....The government in Tehran must understand that the patience of the international community is not endless." Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Russian Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, told a reporter, "The Iranian president's xenophobia discredits the co-sponsors of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, including Russia." Qin Gang, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry, says, "We are not in favor of any remarks detrimental to stability and peace."
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "These comments are certainly reprehensible." The Iranian regime, headed by President Ahmadinejad, "continues to support terrorism. It continues to undermine democracy in its own country." Reflecting the views of the United States Government. (Voice of America)
In Jamkaran, Iran, tears stream down the cheeks of 2,000 men ripe for the return of the Mahdi, the 12th Imam they expect will soon emerge to bring justice and peace to a corrupt world. Every issue, from challenging the United States and Israel to enhancing Iran's power with nuclear programs, is designed to lay the foundation for the Mahdi's return. "If I think the Mahdi will come in two, three, or four years, why should I be soft? Now is the time to stand strong, to be hard," says Amir Mohebian, political editor of the conservative Resalat newspaper. "What Ahmadinejad believes is that we have to create a model state based on...Islamic democracy - to be given to the world," says Hamidreza Taraghi, head of the conservative Islamic Coalition Society. (Christian Science Monitor)
The following discussion with Iranian political analyst Dr. Hasan Hanizadeh aired on Jaam-e Jam 2 TV (Iran) on December 20, 2005:
Hanizadeh: "Unfortunately, the West has forgotten two horrendous incidents, carried out by the Jews in 19th-century Europe - in Paris and London, to be precise. In 1883, about 150 French children were murdered in a horrible way in the suburbs of Paris, before the Jewish Passover holiday. Later research showed that the Jews had killed them and taken their blood....A similar incident took place in London, when many English children were killed by Jewish rabbis. These two incidents still haunt the minds and souls of the Europeans."
View the Video Clip (MEMRI)
Yasser Abbas - Tom Gross (Wall Street Journal)
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