Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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New York Hunt for Hizballah - Niles Lathem (New York Post)
See also Venezuela and Terrorists - Editorial (Washington Times)
PFLP Leader Indicted for Terrorism - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
Ford Foundation Is Criticized on Mideast Funding - Shlomo Greenwald (New York Sun)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hold talks at the Pentagon and the White House on Tuesday, seeking to coordinate policy on the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear crisis. Olmert had dinner on Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. No major decisions are expected: Olmert's "convergence" proposal to reshape the Jewish settlement map in the West Bank is still largely on the drawing board. (Reuters)
See also U.S. Uneasy about Israel's Plans for West Bank - Glenn Kessler
Many European officials fear Olmert's plan is an attempt by Israel to set permanent borders without negotiating with the Palestinians - at a time when the Bush administration is struggling to win European support for unified action to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. Israel's Arab neighbors also are alarmed at the idea, believing it will encourage radicalism among the Palestinians. Jordanian Ambassador Karim Kawar said that because the Gaza withdrawal had not been negotiated, Hamas was able to claim credit and win the elections.
In recent weeks, U.S. officials have pushed the Israelis to engage more with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli officials have made little secret of their view that Abbas is weak and cannot fulfill commitments. (Washington Post)
The House of Representatives is set to pass the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, legislation that would instruct the State Department to cut ties with PA officials and restrict everything except the barest of humanitarian aid to Palestinian Arabs. The lack of broad waiver authority for the president to overrule the intentions of Congress is one of the main objections the White House has given for opposing the law. The proposed legislation would only allow for contacts once Hamas renounced terror and recognized Israel. It would also instruct the Treasury Department to close down PA missions in Washington and New York, though it would provide the president a waiver in this case. (New York Sun)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
After an eight-year manhunt, Israeli security forces Tuesday arrested Ibrahim Hamed, 41, Hamas' Ramallah-area commander and Israel's most wanted man in the West Bank. He has been sought since 1998 for terror attacks that claimed the lives of 78 Israeli civilians and soldiers. Among the attacks Hamed is believed to have helped plan and direct were a car bombing in Zion Square in Jerusalem that killed 11 people, a suicide bombing at the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in which 12 people were killed, and a double suicide bombing in September 2003 which killed 17 people at Jerusalem's Hillel coffee house and outside the Tsrifin army base. (Ha'aretz)
Prime Minister Olmert's plans for the division of the West Bank involve the dismantling and relocation of 20 to 30 settlements, and not the previously assumed evacuation of the vast majority of the settlements to the east of the security fence, the prime minister's adviser for settlements, Uzi Keren, has told the Jerusalem Post. Keren said there were settlement blocs beyond the barrier route that would not be relinquished and for which other solutions would have to be found. The figure of 70,000 settlers to be relocated was thus exaggerated, he said.
For example, Keren said he did not envisage "the Beit El group" of settlements north of Jerusalem being relinquished. He also explained that since the settlements would be replicated a short distance from their original sites, children would continue to attend the same schools, and adults would continue to commute to the same jobs. (Jerusalem Post)
The question on the Palestinian street is no longer when civil war will break out, but when will it end. Armed clashes between Hamas and Fatah supporters have been taking place every day since the deployment of the new Hamas security force. Over the past two weeks, the homes and cars of at least seven security officers loyal to Abbas have been targeted by Hamas militiamen. Two Hamas militiamen have also been killed in separate attacks by Fatah.
The unprecedented violence has been accompanied by a war of words being fought in the mosques and on television and radio stations, as well as in leaflets. (Jerusalem Post)
Jordanian Embassy Staffer Killed in Gaza Crossfire - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Since elections to the Palestinian parliament in January, Mahmoud Abbas has steadily lost his grip on the reigns of power, while Hamas has established itself as the only legitimate ruling power. Abbas threatened and raged, but Hamas established its own legal militia and security apparatus. Slowly, the Palestinian parliament is passing Islamic laws to replace the secular laws enacted by the PLO.
It is incorrect to describe the violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas as the opening battles of a civil war. There is no organized political-military force to oppose Hamas today. Fatah gunmen want only to be integrated into the new apparatus without losing their standing or (mainly) their salaries. There will be no bypassing Hamas in the PA today, not with regard to leadership or with regard to aid. (Ynet News)
See also Is Fatah the Alternative to Hamas? - Barry Rubin
While Fatah is somewhat less horrible than Hamas, it is Fatah's past incitement, terrorism, and refusal to make real peace that are at the root of the current situation. There is no reason to believe it would do better in the future if restored to power. Fatah is certainly not competing with Hamas by laying out an alternative, moderate line. If Fatah so wished, it could take the option available to it for a decade and urge an end to the eternal struggle with Israel that would quickly win it a state and international support.
While a few people in Fatah do think this way, Abbas among them to some extent, there is no sign that anyone is seriously considering such a strategy. Instead, Fatah is competing to prove it is just as militant as the Islamists, including the escalation of its own attempts at terrorism. Since the election victory of Hamas, Fatah statements and actions are more, rather than less, extreme. (Jerusalem Post)
Lending a Helping Hand - Dennis Ross and David Makovsky (U.S. News)
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