Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Al-Qaeda: Next Target Israel - Miral Fahmy (Reuters)
Poll: More Palestinians Support Terror - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Syria Denies Acceptance of European Border Monitors (SANA-Syria)
Video of Iranian Missile Test Is Fake, Pentagon Says - Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times)
How Hi-Tech Hizballah Called the Shots - Iason Athanasiadis (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel on Monday dismissed an Egyptian call to fix a border for a Palestinian state before resolving other issues, saying the sides should first take confidence-building measures under a U.S.-backed plan. "There are no magical quick fixes," Mark Regev, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said of Egypt's proposal to bypass some requirements of a 2003 "road map." Regev said Israel wanted to "reengage with" the Palestinians, but Israel wants to stick to the road map, which calls first for confidence building steps such as disarming militants. (Reuters)
See also Gaza Businesses Urge End to Border Crossing Attacks
Palestinian businessmen appealed for armed groups to halt attacks near crossing points into Gaza in order to allow Israel to reopen them and boost economic activity. Gaza Chamber of Commerce official Mohammed al-Qidwa told a press conference the Palestinians themselves were to blame for Israel's blockade: "We are the ones who gave (Israel) the reasons and opportunities to close the crossing points....Without security, there can be no crossing points." (AFP/Yahoo)
The only hint of Hizballah fighters is the parked motorbikes, but support for the Islamic militant group has only grown among Shiites in southern Lebanon. One resident of the village of Srifa said he was ready to take up weapons again at a moment's notice. "My motorbike is ready and my gun is ready," said the young man in his 20s. He pointed at his cell phone: "One text message and I'm with my unit." (AP/Washington Post)
See also Lebanese Greet UN Soldiers with Suspicion - Clancy Chassay
UN peacekeepers preparing to take over from Israeli forces in southern Lebanon are facing hostility and suspicion from a population that still looks to Hizballah for protection. (Telegraph-UK)
The Bush administration has stepped up a broad effort to choke off Iran's ability to finance militant groups and acquire weapons technology by cutting off suspect banks and firms from the international banking system, U.S. officials said Friday. The Treasury Department said it had cut off one of Iran's largest state-owned banks from the U.S. financial system, accusing Bank Saderat of funneling $50 million to a Hizballah-controlled firm since 2001. The bank has also been used by Iran to transfer money to Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
"This is certainly an example of the variety of different levers that are available not only to the United States, but other countries as well about how to bring about a change in behavior in the Iranian regime," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. (Washington Post)
Speaking Sunday at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said Hizballah was a symbol of Arab resistance and that groups or nations fighting oppression could not be equated with terrorists. Khatami also denied Iran financed terrorist groups, contradicting assertions by the U.S. (Reuters)
See also Bush Personally Signed Off on Khatami Visit
President Bush personally signed off on a visa allowing former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to visit the U.S. because he wanted hear his views, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. (Reuters/Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Head of the IDF Intelligence Branch Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin said that Syria is considering the creation of a group modeled on Hizballah in order to relaunch the struggle over the Golan Heights. (Ynet News)
See also Military Intelligence: World Unlikely to Stop Iran - Herb Keinon
International pressure and UN sanctions will not stop the Iranian march toward nuclearization, the head of military intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, told the Israeli cabinet Sunday. He said the Iranians are playing for time, and the UN Security Council was acting slower than expected regarding sanctions. He said Iran's confidence was growing, and this was causing concern in the Sunni Muslim world.
He noted that Hizballah had no intention of disarming on its own volition, or letting anyone else do it for them. He said Hizballah was trying to rehabilitate its military capacity, but at a "very, very low volume." Yadlin said that while Hizballah was not interested in a "second round," it was interested in encouraging Palestinian terrorism. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian gunmen Saturday attacked and set fire to the YMCA in Kalkilya, a West Bank city controlled by Hamas. Local government sources identified the attackers as members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The building sustained serious damage, YMCA officials said.
In April, major Muslim organizations in the city in conjunction with local mosques, the city's mufti, and municipal leaders sent a letter to the PA accusing the YMCA of missionary activities. Joseph Medi, the YMCA manager in Kalkilya, said, "There is no missionary activity here whatsoever." There are 50-100 Christians in the town of 28,000. (Ynet News/WorldNetDaily)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Iranians purposefully have not followed Iraq's 1981 model of concentrating their nuclear development in a single area. Yet U.S. and Israel officials suggest that not every nuclear-related site need be struck to hobble any nascent nuclear weapons program. "There are lots of links in the chain you can attack," says a former senior Israeli diplomat. "There may be 40 facilities, but you select only four. You don't have to attack all of them. For example, some targets are vulnerable to movement, like centrifuges. They need stability, so if you create enough [vibration or Earth tremors], their alignment can be distorted." U.S. officials have estimated there are as many as 70 Iranian nuclear sites, of which a minimum of 15 would have to be attacked.
A senior U.S. Air Force official contends that evidence of plutonium, centrifuge use, cooling and power generation/transmission will provide the proper targeting signatures for "a couple of handfuls of attacks - less than a dozen" to shut down Iranian nuclear progress for years. Yet the fact that many of the Iranian targets are underground presents a problem. U.S. weapons like the GBU-28 can penetrate 30 ft. of hardened materials or 100 ft. of earth. But Iranian facilities are reportedly buried 100-200 ft. below the surface. "Conventional weapons can't penetrate to 200 ft., and the U.S. won't use nuclear weapons," a retired Israeli air force general notes. (Aviation Week)
A tour of Hizballah's state within a state in southern Lebanon reveals a replica of the distinctive institutions and styles of Iran's ideological machinery. Charities modeled after Iranian organizations provide healthcare to the poor. Religious schools funded with help from an Iranian bank educate thousands of children. Islamic foundations with ties to Iran make loans to home buyers.
Iran opened its purse to Hizballah with the group's inception in 1982, in part because the militants provided direct access to the Arab-Israeli conflict. In a 2004 study, one secular Shiite political party estimated that Hizballah had an annual budget of $600-700 million and was providing jobs to 37,000 people. "The Iranians have knitted a carpet. You have to have patience to unravel it," said a critic of Hizballah in southern Lebanon. (Los Angeles Times)
An unspoken advantage of the current awful strife in Iraq and Afghanistan is that it is training tens of thousands of our young officers and soldiers to fight on the worst imaginable terrain, and gradually to learn how to confront, infiltrate, "turn," isolate, and kill the worst imaginable enemy. These are faculties that we shall be needing in the future. It is a shame that we have to expend our talent in this way, but it was far worse five years ago, when the enemy knew that there was a war in progress, and was giggling at how easy the attacks would be, and "we" did not even know that hostilities had commenced. (Wall Street Journal)
Western Leaders See the Danger of Islamic Extremism, But Our Public Still Does Not - Prime Minister Tony Blair (Ha'aretz)
During a visit to Israel, the British prime minister said Sunday in an interview:
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