Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 4, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

PA TV Resumes Encouraging Children to Become Martyrs - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
    After a three-year hiatus, official PA television - which is under the authority of Mahmoud Abbas - has begun rebroadcasting a video shown hundreds of times between 2000 and 2004 depicting the child Muhammad al-Dura, who was killed in a crossfire, beckoning child viewers to "follow me" to heaven.
    This is disappointing, given that Abbas told author Elie Wiesel just two weeks ago in Petra that he would work to stamp out "instigation" in school curricula as well as in the media and literature.
    Yet through PA TV the Palestinian cult of martyrdom is being perpetuated rather than dismantled.

Palestinian Gunmen Shoot at Israeli Cars in West Bank (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian gunmen opened fire at an Israeli car east of Kalkilya on Monday evening. No one was wounded.
    Palestinians threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli vehicle northeast of Ramallah on Monday night. No one was wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian gunmen shot at an Israeli vehicle Sunday evening near Kfar Silwad, north of Ofra in the West Bank. The driver was not injured, but the IDF found Kalashnikov bullet shells in the area. (Jerusalem Post)

Gazans Continue to Support Suicide Bombings (Jerusalem Media & Communications Center-PA)
    According to a Palestinian poll conducted on June 21-22, 58% of Gazans continue to support suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, compared to 37% of West Bankers.
    Which Palestinian personality do you trust the most? Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh - 18%, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas - 13%, Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti - 6%.

Al-Qaeda Cameraman Delivers - Kathy Gannon (AP/Washington Times)
    A courier brought a summons from al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, to cameraman Qari Mohammed Yusuf in Pakistan: "The emir wants to send a message."
    Zawahri wanted to send a message to the world that he had safely survived a U.S. attempt to kill him, so Yusuf traveled to his Afghan hide-out last January and shot the tape that would air on Al Jazeera on Jan. 30.
    From their mountain hide-outs in Afghanistan or Pakistan's remote tribal regions, bin Laden and al-Zawahri encourage supporters, recruit fighters, raise money, and threaten the West.

U.S. Jury Convicts Saudi Man of Imprisoning Indonesian Housekeeper (VOA News)
    A Colorado jury found Homaidan al-Turki, a Saudi national, guilty Friday of keeping his family's Indonesian housekeeper captive for more than four years.
    Al-Turki brought the woman to the U.S. in 2000 to cook and take care of his wife and children at their home in a Denver suburb.
    He was charged with false imprisonment, extortion, and sexual abuse, but al-Turki's attorney argued that cultural differences are behind the charges.

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  • In Gaza, Soldier's Capture Emboldens Israel's Bid to Weaken Hamas - Scott Wilson
    The armed Palestinian groups holding captured IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, including the military wing of the governing Hamas movement, demanded Monday that Israel release a thousand prisoners by Tuesday morning or "bear full responsibility for the consequences." The Israeli government rejected the ultimatum. Israeli military officials have indicated they intend to use Shalit's capture to take care of unfinished business, namely weakening the Hamas-led government and taking out the Palestinian rocket launchers that have plagued southern Israeli cities. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Keeps Up Pressure on Gaza - Ibrahim Barzak
    After Israel ignored a deadline to begin releasing Palestinian prisoners, diplomatic efforts continued and militants said they would not kill the soldier. "We are dealing with more than one Middle Eastern government to see if the release of our serviceman can be secured. The fundamental principle is that his release must be unconditional," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry. Meanwhile, Osama Hamdan, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, ruled out a compromise and threatened to abduct more Israelis. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Gaza Crisis Tests Limits of Egypt Mediation - Tom Perry
    Egypt last year coaxed a unilateral halt to attacks on Israel from Palestinian factions. But difficulties persuading captors to give up the Israeli soldier seized over a week ago could reflect its waning influence over militants. Egyptian mediators have proposed that the captors let the soldier go in exchange for Israeli releases of Palestinian prisoners down the line. Militants holding the soldier want the immediate release of Palestinian prisoners. But Israel says it will not yield to "extortion."
        Syria was backing the demand for a simultaneous exchange of prisoners. "The Egyptians are talking to senior Syrian officials whose message was to insist on a prisoners' swap," a senior Palestinian official said. Syria says it will not pressure Hamas leaders to help free the soldier. "The Syrians are up to what they've always been up to - spoiling any chance for a peaceful settlement of issues by supporting the more extreme elements, in this case Hamas," Israeli political analyst Yossi Alpher said. (Reuters)
        See also Syria's Assad Steps Up Support for Palestinians Amid Kidnapping Crisis (AFP/Yahoo)
  • As Gaza's Plight Worsens, Palestinian Businesses Leave - Greg Myre
    When Israel left Gaza last year, Palestinian businessmen dreamed of new investments and an economic revival. Instead, conditions deteriorated so sharply that dozens of factories are closing or relocating to Egypt and other Arab states. Since the beginning of the year, 48 of the 60 factories in an industrial park near the Karni crossing have shut, at least temporarily. Some businessmen acknowledge that the election victory in January by Hamas and internal feuding have prompted their decisions to seek out a more stable place to do business. "The Gaza Strip is full of thugs these days," said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Al Azhar University. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Captures Murderers of Kidnapped Teen - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    IDF soldiers surrounded a Palestinian Authority police station in the West Bank city of Ramallah early Tuesday where several wanted terrorists, including three suspected of killing Eliyahu Asheri last week, had taken refuge. The three - Bassam Ktia, Hamze Taktouk, and Hisham Kamangji - surrendered to IDF troops after a three-hour standoff. Asheri, 18, had been abducted while hitchhiking. (Ha'aretz)
  • Soldier's Kidnapping Brings Fatah Closer to Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah officials on Monday expressed support for Hamas' demand to release Palestinian prisoners held in Israel in return for kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday accompanied Hamas' Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on a visit to the ruins of the prime minister's office, which was destroyed in an Israeli air raid. The PA security forces, which consist largely of Fatah members, are also supportive of the kidnappers' demands, which explains why these forces have made no serious effort to track down the whereabouts of the soldier. Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan has also come out in public in support of the kidnappers' demands. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets at Israel on Tuesday morning that landed in the western Negev. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Behind Soldier's Abduction - Yoel Marcus
    There is no doubt that Hamas is behind Cpl. Gilad Shalit's abduction. The fact that a Hamas cabinet minister is reporting on Shalit's medical condition proves that Hamas officials know where the soldier is and can return him in the blink of an eye. They believe Israel will cave in to wholesale extortion. This time, however, they found Israel not trembling but stubborn, an Israel that settles scores and is in no hurry to give in. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Must Control All of Gaza's Borders - Gerald M. Steinberg
    The return of the IDF to Gaza marks the rediscovery that as long as the Palestinian war continues, there is no substitute for an Israeli military presence on the ground. The innovative arrangements that accompanied the withdrawal of Israeli military forces from Gaza in August 2005 have all collapsed. The transfer of responsibility for preventing the smuggling of weapons and terrorists to Egyptian and European border monitors was a complete failure. The warheads of the Kassams and the anti-tank missiles fired in the recent attack were brought in under their noses - or perhaps their feet. Following detailed negotiations, Israel agreed to allow Egypt to bring in additional forces and weapons (beyond those specified in the 1979 peace treaty) so that they could block the illicit activity.
        But even if the kidnapped soldier is released, Israeli forces cannot simply turn around and leave, waiting for the next round in the war. Reoccupying the poor and hate-filled cities would be a mistake, but the days when Palestinian terror cells could simply go from Egypt into Gaza with their weapons are over. Israel now has no choice but to resume direct control over Gaza's borders.
        The lessons of the Gaza disengagement must also be applied to the West Bank, where Israel will need to maintain tight control over the Jordan Valley. Perhaps the next time Israel agrees to transfer border responsibility, it will be after the Palestinians have finally accepted the need to prevent attacks from being launched from their side of the border. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Al-Qaeda, Still in Business - Peter Bergen
    According to a new narrative, al-Qaeda as an organization is severely impaired, but has been replaced by a broader ideological movement made up of self-starting, homegrown terrorists who have embraced al-Qaeda's doctrine of destruction, yet had no ties to the terrorist group. However, according to five veteran U.S. counterterrorism officials, al-Qaeda the organization remains a real threat. So while the rapid spread of al-Qaeda's ideology in the past two years should be of considerable concern, it would be quite wrong to conclude that al-Qaeda the organization is down for the count. Almost five years after 9/11, al-Qaeda not only remains in business in its traditional stronghold on the Afghan-Pakistan border, but continues to project its ideology and terrorism abroad. The writer is a Schwartz senior fellow at the New America Foundation. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    The Palestinians' True Agenda - Charles Krauthammer (TIME)

    • Just about every story you'll see will characterize Israel's invasion of Gaza as a continuation of the cycle of violence. This is as false as calling American attacks on Taliban remnants in Afghanistan part of a cycle of violence between the U.S. and al-Qaeda.
    • The origin of the current wave of violence in Gaza is very contemporary. It occurred less than one year ago. Before the eyes of the whole world, Israel left Gaza. Every Jew, every soldier, every military installation, every remnant of Israeli occupation was uprooted and taken away.
    • What have the Palestinians done with Gaza, the first Palestinian territory in history to be independent? On the very day of Israel's final pullout, the Palestinians began firing rockets out of Gaza into Israeli towns on the other side of the border, on civilians in the pre-1967 Israel that the international community recognizes. A thousand rockets have fallen since.
    • Before the withdrawal, attacks across the border could have been rationalized with the usual Palestinian mantra of occupation, settlements, and so on. But what can one say after the withdrawal?
    • The logic for those continued attacks is to be found in the so-called phased plan adopted in 1974 by the Palestine National Council in Cairo. Realizing that they would never be able to destroy Israel in one fell swoop, the Palestinians adopted a graduated plan to wipe out Israel by accepting any territory given to them and then using that sanctuary to wage war until Israel is destroyed.
    • Gaza is free of occupation, yet Gaza wages war. Why? Because this war is not about occupation, but about Israel's very existence.

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