Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Islamic Cleric Had Terror Handbook, UK Court Told - Vikram Dodd (Guardian-UK)
Columbia Dean Admits Taking Saudi Junket - Alec Magnet (New York Sun)
War in Iraq Rescued 250,000 from Death - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Lewis MacKenzie (Toronto Star)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Hamas's most prominent leader in Gaza and the West Bank, Mahmoud Zahar, said Wednesday that his faction would still refuse to recognize Israel or disarm even if it won in the Palestinian elections this month. "The calmness has ended," Zahar said, but he left open the possibility that Hamas might refrain from attacks on Israel "if not provoked." He said that if Hamas won the election on Jan. 25, it would not recognize agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but would work with Fatah in forming a new government.
Zahar said that Hamas would not give up its weapons, but that as a partner in government it would support the inclusion of all militias in a unified army that would disarm Palestinian clans fighting among themselves. Nor did he exclude the possibility of renewed attacks inside Israel. Zahar said Israel's withdrawal from Gaza had vindicated Hamas's policy of violent attacks, including the use of suicide bombers. "They escaped from Gaza," he said. "This was not an Israeli gift." Zahar also rejected any connection between Hamas and al-Qaeda. (New York Times)
See also Rice: No Place in Political Process for Groups Who Refuse to Recognize Israel and Disarm
Secretary of State Rice said in a statement Wednesday that she welcomed Acting Prime Minister Olmert's statement that Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem will be allowed to vote in the upcoming PA elections "in accordance with existing precedent." "It remains the view of the United States that there should be no place in the political process for groups or individuals who refuse to renounce terror and violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and disarm....To participate in a peace process of Israelis and Palestinians, the Palestinian partner must at least accept Israel's right to exist. To implement agreements on movement and access for the Palestinian territories, the Palestinian partner must be committed to preventing violence." Rice noted the need for "implementing Roadmap obligations to dismantle the infrastructure of terror." (State Department)
A Russian man wielding a knife stabbed eleven people at a Moscow synagogue Wednesday. Four of those injured are in a serious condition. Three Israelis are among the wounded. (BBC/Ha'aretz)
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair says Iran's decision to resume its nuclear activities is likely to result in a referral to the UN Security Council. Addressing the House of Commons, Mr. Blair described the current situation as "very serious indeed." "I don't think there is any point in us hiding our deep dismay at what Iran has decided to do," he said. "When taken in conjunction with their other comments about the State of Israel, they cause real and serious alarm right across the world." (BBC)
See also Russia Won't Block U.S. on Iran IAEA Vote - Dafna Linzer
The Bush administration has secured a guarantee from Russia that it will not block U.S. efforts to take Tehran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council, American and European officials said Wednesday. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told Secretary of State Rice Tuesday that Russia would abstain rather than vote against U.S. efforts to move the issue from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the Security Council. Russia's pledge was good only for the vote inside the IAEA, and U.S. officials remain uncertain as to how Moscow would vote in the Security Council. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The defense establishment is bracing for an upturn in Hamas terrorism after the planned Jan. 25 PA elections. While the elections are likely to take place as scheduled, there is a huge question mark over whether the results would be compiled or publicized, given the current anarchic situation. In this situation, a Defense Ministry official said Israel's concern was that Hamas would then vent its frustration at Israel.
U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch arrived Wednesday for talks about the upcoming Palestinian elections and the day after. Israel will not deal with Hamas, a terrorist organization calling for its destruction.
The National Democratic Institute/Carter Center put out a "pre-election assessment" of the PA elections last Friday which took the Palestinians to task for Hamas's participation in the balloting. The report stated that "Hamas's current political participation, while simultaneously advocating violence, undermines a fundamental principle of democratic elections." Former president Jimmy Carter has informed the Israeli consulate in Atlanta that he will come to the area to help monitor the elections. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Gaza Violence "Will Undermine" Palestinian Elections - Donald Macintyre
The EU team sent to observe the Palestinian parliamentary elections has warned that it is unlikely to be able to monitor polling stations in Gaza normally if the threat of violence in the Strip continues. (Independent-UK)
Since the deterioration in the Israeli prime minister's health, Arab cartoonists have relentlessly targeted Sharon, reflecting public opinion in the Arab world. In one cartoon, Sharon is seen as receiving blood from a pigeon of peace, while in a second, an angel of death is seen shedding tears of blood for Sharon. A third cartoon depicts Sharon's spirit lying in ambush with a gun for an Arab who is reading about Sharon's death with satisfaction. A cartoon in the Qatari daily al-Sharaq shows a religious Jew draining an endless number of skulls from Sharon's brain into a garbage bin. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Iran's resumption of uranium enrichment dramatically narrows the options of Western governments that hope to prevent its Islamic regime from acquiring nuclear weapons. Referring Iran's case to the UN Security Council probably won't change Iranian behavior or lead to Security Council action; North Korea has been before the council for three years without result. But to shrink from referring Iran to the Security Council now would strip the West of its remaining credibility.
While the means of the Security Council must be tried, Western governments should also begin fashioning a policy of sanctions and containment for Iran that can be applied by a coalition of the willing. That should be coupled with a more concerted effort to support the large part of the Iranian population that yearns to free itself from repressive clerical rule. If there is to be a credible alternative to military action against Iranian facilities - or the concession of nuclear weapons to a regime that openly advocates wiping Israel from the map - now is the time for Europe and the U.S. to agree on it. (Washington Post)
Ahmadinejad appears to be acting on the perception that the U.S. is in a position of considerable weakness. Ahmadinejad no doubt takes comfort in the knowledge that Shiite religious parties aligned with Iran are now the dominant political forces in Iraq, while the American public hardly seems amenable to waging another war in the region. Moreover, Ahmadinejad very likely believes that the best way to guard against regime change from without is to emulate North Korea by swiftly advancing Iran's nuclear capacity.
He also surely knows that even if Iran's nuclear dossier is referred to the UN Security Council, meaningful multilateral sanctions will most likely be vetoed by Russia or China. Flush with petrodollars, Iran has become a major purchaser of Russian technology, including roughly $1 billion worth of allegedly defensive weapons. Meanwhile, China has emerged as one of Iran's largest trading partners. (New York Times)
The newly declassified records of war cabinet meetings offer insights into how Churchill would fight the war on terror. In the notes taken at a cabinet meeting on July 6, 1942, released last week by the National Archives in London, the cabinet scribe recorded that Churchill had said: "If Hitler falls into our hands we shall certainly put him to death like a gangster. This man is the mainspring of evil. Instrument - electric chair." He added that they could hire the electric chair from the U.S. under the lend-lease program. (The Australian)
Is the Road Map's Moment Gone? - Jim Hoagland (Washington Post)
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