Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Saudi-Israeli Contacts a Sign of Need, Not Love - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Hizballah Inspires 63% of Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Christian Leaders Show Support for Israel (Ynet News)
Israel Builds Tourist Bridges with Neighbors (Telegraph-UK)
Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States (New York Times)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The U.S. would like other nations to join it in imposing sanctions on Syria, Secretary of State Rice said in an interview with the New York Times published Tuesday. The Bush administration accuses Syria of failing to stop anti-U.S. guerrillas from crossing its border into Iraq, supporting terrorism generally, and pursuing weapons of mass destruction. "We'd like to get some others to join us in other kinds of sanctions," Rice said. "We're going to have to look at tougher measures if Syria continues to be on the path that it's on." In May 2004, Washington banned U.S. exports to Syria, severed banking relations, and barred Syrian flights to the U.S. (Reuters)
See also Text of Interview (State Department)
Russia and Iran have signed a deal in Moscow to launch Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr in September next year, Russian atomic energy agency spokesman Sergey Novikov said. The Russian-built reactor will be fully operational in November 2007. The agreement came after Iranian officials urged their Russian counterparts to speed up work to finish the plant. (BBC News)
On the eve of the first German Islam Conference, a Berlin opera house has sparked controversy for canceling a Mozart show due to threats of Islamist violence. The Deutsche Opera said in a statement security risks presented to the company by Berlin's police had caused them to cancel their show "Idomeneo," a Mozart opera in which King Idomeneo sets the severed heads of religious figures, including the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ, on chairs and laughs at them. The scene would pose an "incalculable security risk" for the house and its visitors, the opera said in a statement. The decision has sparked extensive furor in Germany, with top political and cultural figures arguing the threat of violent retaliation should not constrain freedom of expression in a Western democracy. (UPI)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel's interpretation of Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought about the cease-fire, expects that both UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army will initiate efforts to locate Hizballah arms depots and armed militants and disarm them.
In addition, in the IDF view, after the withdrawal, if Israeli soldiers along the border fence feel threatened and the peacekeeping forces do not deal with the situation, the soldiers will be entitled to defend themselves. However, the UN view of UNIFIL is of a police force which is unlikely to disperse Hizballah demonstrations along the fence. Israel is waiting for clarifications from the UN on the creation of a mechanism for dealing with such emergency situations. (Ha'aretz)
See also IDF, UNIFIL Talks Break Down - Yaakov Katz and Michal Lando
Talks between IDF officers, representatives of the Lebanese Armed Forces, and UNIFIL broke down Tuesday, threatening to delay a complete Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. A source in Northern Command said the IDF would stay in Lebanon until UNIFIL "took its job seriously." IDF officers took issue with an interview by UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini who said the peacekeeping force would not actively engage Hizballah guerrillas even if they were in the midst of an attack against Israel. The officers said Pellegrini's comments were in direct contradiction to previous understandings and interpretations of UN Resolution 1701. (Jerusalem Post)
The protesters in Ramallah - Palestinian Authority workers who have not received their salaries for the last seven months - shouted: "Not Ismail, not Haniyeh [the Hamas prime minister], we want back the government of haramiyeh." Haramiyeh means "thieves." What is heard in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is: Hamas may be clean, but when the Fatah thieves were in power, our salaries were assured. Fatah is having a hard time digesting its removal from office and is behind the strikes, acting to topple the elected government. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
There is still no concise definition for the missions, authority, and final makeup of the UNIFIL forces. "The problem does not lie in the capabilities of the armies comprising UNIFIL, but in their willingness to act and the definition of their task," says Binyamin Amidror, an expert on military doctrines and a former head of basic combat doctrine at the General Staff. "These armies are not here to fight. An army intending to take part in warfare must be equipped with mortars and cannons and intelligence systems such as sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles, and it does not seem like they are carrying such equipment with them."
"The task they are sent to perform depends 90 percent on intelligence, and they will have no intelligence on Hizballah. The real significance of this is that UNIFIL will serve more as a restraint against the IDF. Israel's past experience with international observer forces and troops since the War of Independence has not been favorable. For the most part they are helpless when confronted with the Arab elements among which they operate, but they manage quite well when faced with the IDF." (Ha'aretz)
With at least 80 million inhabitants, Egypt is not only the most populous nation in the Arab world but in many ways its intellectual and political nexus, the fount from which nearly every major political or religious force to spread through the region in the past century has emerged. Fundamentalist trends first fostered in Egypt, with their specifically anti-Western tilt, have fanned the flames of jihad throughout the region.
The Gama'a al-Islamiyya, a social movement espousing a rejection of Western values and a return to Islamic traditions, originated in Egypt in the 1970s before spreading throughout the Middle East. Islamic Jihad also has its roots in Egypt. Osama bin Laden was a disgruntled Saudi rich kid bankrolling resistance fighters in Afghanistan until he came under the sway of his Egyptian spiritual mentor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and decided to go global; 4 or 5 of the 10 original founders of al-Qaeda were Egyptian. Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, one of the masterminds behind the first World Trade Center bombing? Egyptian. Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of 9/11? Egyptian. Wherever one turns in the arena of Islamic jihadists, one is likely to find either the direct or spiritual influence of an Egyptian.
Egypt as a whole bears scant resemblance to the placid image that its boosters - the Egyptian government and its friends in the West - wish to project. It is, instead, something of a seething volcano. (Vanity Fair)
A year of violent clashes has reshaped Israel's strategic picture. Calls by the government to give up territory and redraw Israel's borders have given way to a less ambitious agenda that will seek to bolster the country's military, lower expectations about making further unilateral moves, and dampen hopes for a quick resolution with Palestinians. Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said, "We have two concrete examples where Israel redeployed behind internationally recognized frontiers, in Lebanon and in Gaza, and did not create the peace people predicted. Obviously, that affects our thinking about the West Bank." (Boston Globe)
Same Old UNIFIL? - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
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