Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

Tuesday,
November 28, 2006
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In-Depth Issues:

U.S.: Iran Could Have Nuclear Bomb by 2010 - Veronika Oleksyn (AP/Washington Post)
    "The assessment from our intelligence community is that the soonest [Iran] could produce a nuclear weapon would be the beginning of the next decade, 2010 to 2015," Gregory L. Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Monday in Vienna.
    "That gives us time for diplomacy, but it doesn't give us time for complacency," he added.


UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Concerned about Al-Qaeda - Nicholas Blanford (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Talk to one of the newly arrived UN peacekeepers in South Lebanon and one will quickly learn that their principal force-protection concern has little to do with Lebanon's Hizballah militants.
    Rather, it's al-Qaeda's possibly taking advantage of nearly 10,000 foreign, mainly Western, troops deployed in Lebanon's south that is giving them pause for thought.
    And with good reason - al-Qaeda's brand of Sunni militancy has taken root in Lebanon in recent years, feeding upon the insurgency in Iraq where hundreds of young Lebanese and Palestinian Sunnis have fought American and British troops and returned home inspired by their experiences.


Bomb Misses Anti-Hamas Palestinian Journalist - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    An explosive device was detonated on Monday outside the home of Majdi Arabeed, owner and director of the independent Sawt al-Huriyya [Voice of Freedom] radio station in Gaza City.
    Arabeed has received numerous death threats over the past few months after the station aired a series of interviews and programs critical of the Hamas-led government.


Israel to Let Abbas Deploy Loyalist PLO Brigade in Gaza - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Israel has agreed in principle for the 1,000-strong Badr Brigade, a Jordan-based security force loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, to deploy in Gaza to help police a truce, an Israeli diplomatic source said Tuesday.


Israeli UAV Operates in Extreme Weather Conditions (Epicos)
    Israel's Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd. revealed excellent results for the SkyLite B, mini-UAV in flight demonstrations held in Australia and New Zealand last month.
    In extreme weather conditions of subfreezing temperatures and wind gusts of 55 knots, the SkyLite B was able to locate and persistently track specific ground targets, while at the same time relay impressively stabilized imagery.


Useful Reference:

Prime Minister Olmert Reaches Out to Palestinians (Prime Minister's Office)
    Full text of policy statement


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S.: Hizballah Aiding Shiite Army in Iraq - Michael R. Gordon and Dexter Filkins
    A senior American intelligence official said Monday that Hizballah in Lebanon had been training 1,000 to 2,000 members of the Mahdi Army, the Iraqi Shiite militia led by Moktada al-Sadr. A small number of Hizballah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training. Iran has facilitated the link between Hizballah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, and Syrian officials have also cooperated. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Finds Iraq Insurgency Has Funds to Sustain Itself - John F. Burns and Kirk Semple
    The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities, and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified U.S. government report has concluded. (New York Times)
        See also Classified Marine Corps Intelligence Report: U.S. Cannot Defeat Insurgency in Western Iraq - Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post )
  • U.S. Denounces Syria's Terrorist Activities
    U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said Washington's problem with Syria is not a lack of communication between the two governments, but Syria's habit of dabbling in terrorist activities throughout the Middle East. "They're not going to derive the benefits of a normal political or economic relationship with the Sunni Arab states, or with the EU states, or with the U.S. as long as they continue to be caught in the nexus of terrorism, along with Iran, in supporting those major Middle East terrorist groups that have such a negative effect on Israel, the Palestinians, and Lebanon," he said Monday. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • Annan Criticizes UN Human Rights Council - Lisa Schlein
    Concern is rising among governments and human-rights organizations about the growing politicization of the new UN Human Rights Council. They say the Council has become obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian issue to the near exclusion of the vast majority of the world's human-rights violators. Even UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who pushed strongly for the creation of the Council, says it should broaden its focus: "When you focus on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, without even discussing Darfur and other issues, some wonder what is this Council doing? Do they not have a sense of fair play? Why should they ignore other situations and focus on one area?"
        UN Watch says a majority of the 47 members of the Council is composed of non-democratic, repressive states, while only 11 members consistently defend the values and principles the Council is supposed to promote. (VOA News)
  • King of Jordan Warns of "Three Civil Wars" - Eoin Callan and Demetri Sevastopulo
    The Middle East is on the verge of three civil wars - in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories - King Abdullah of Jordan warned Sunday. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues Despite Declared Cease-Fire - Amos Harel and Gideon Alon
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Israel on Monday despite the declared cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians. In response, the Israel Defense Forces has altered its rules of engagement to allow troops to fire should they positively identify militants preparing to launch a rocket. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Sirens and Missiles Greet Sderot Cease-Fire - Harry de Quetteville
    For the residents of Sderot, the first full day of the "cease-fire" between Palestinian militants and Israel did not appear to be much of a cease-fire at all. On Monday afternoon the Red Dawn early warning siren rang out across the Israeli town which lies only a couple of miles from the border with Gaza. A loud bang effectively signaled the all-clear. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Palestinians: Right of Return Is Sacred - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The PA on Monday gave a lukewarm reaction to Prime Minister Olmert's offer to withdraw from large parts of the West Bank and return to the negotiating table, while Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-led government, said Olmert's demand that the Palestinians relinquish the right of return was a "conspiracy." Syria-based Musa Abu Marzouk, the No. 2 man in the Hamas leadership, said the right of return for the refugees is "sacred" for all Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Warns Against West Bank Cease-Fire - Yaakov Katz
    Sources in the IDF Central Command warned on Monday of the consequences of extending the truce to the West Bank, claiming it would lead to an escalation in anti-Israel terror activity. According to defense officials, the only way to curb terrorism in the West Bank is to maintain an around-the-clock presence there. "The moment we walk away terror will flourish," warned one senior official. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Get Real, Hamas - Editorial
    Israeli Prime Minister Olmert on Monday unexpectedly extended an olive branch to the Palestinians. If the Palestinian Authority - including the Islamic party Hamas - doesn't respond in kind, it will be yet another golden opportunity for Mideast peace squandered. Olmert offered to engage Palestinians in new talks to create an independent Palestinian state.
        It would be a tragedy, most of all for the Palestinians, if Olmert's initiative were rebuffed. Hamas is not being asked to approve of the creation of Israel half a century ago, only to recognize that the modern Jewish state is a legal government endorsed by the UN and deserving of security. It's not enough for Hamas to enter into a ten-year truce. Hamas' recognition should be a non-negotiable issue both for Israel and the U.S. (Los Angeles Times)
  • UN Must Expel Ahmadinejad's Murderous Regime - Elie Wiesel
    Those among us who thought that the victory of allied democracies in 1945 would mark the end of hate and state-sponsored racism were naive. Ridiculing historical truths, offending the memory of survivors still alive, the current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, glorifies the act of lying: As the No. 1 Holocaust denier in the world, an anti-Semite with a disturbed mind, he claims that Hitler's "Final Solution" never happened. And lest we forget, who is behind the Hizballah terrorist organization? Iran. The objective of the Iranian president is the destruction of Israel. This is why I maintain that such a figure does not have a place within the community of international leaders.
        I'll go even further: The country he leads and embodies should be excluded from the UN as long as he is its ruler and symbol. One member state of the UN that threatens to destroy another member state of the same UN violates its very charter and conventions. If Iran were to have a nuclear weapon, do we really think that Israel would remain its only target? (New York Daily News)
  • We Are in a War to the Death - Craven Concessions Won't Win It - Janet Daley
    Britain is contemplating constructing a foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East, that is designed to give in to terrorist blackmail. Never mind that the hereditary grievance of almost all British-born Muslim terrorists is the Kashmir question, to which the almost entirely irrelevant Palestine issue has been tacked on by political manipulators with larger ambitions. So this ignominious posture - what you might call the "save our own skin; who cares what happens in the rest of the world?" view - is based on a false premise.
        It is not adjustments to our stance on Israel-Palestine that the international Islamist terror movement wants. That demand was just a bin Laden afterthought. What Islamic fundamentalism plans to achieve is a righting of the great wrong of 1492, when the Muslims were expelled from Spain: a return of the Caliphate, the destruction of corrupt Western values, and the establishment of Sharia law in all countries where Muslims reside. That is what we are up against. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    Iran and Syria Are Waging War in the Middle East. Will the West Fight Back?
    - Editorial (Washington Post)

    • The assassination of Lebanese Christian leader Pierre Gemayel fits snugly into a pattern of provocations across the region by Iran and Syria, which appear to believe that American reversals in Iraq have given them the opportunity to create what Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad calls "a new Middle East" - one in which their influence and radical ideology will predominate.
    • They would make their client Hizballah the power broker in Lebanon, restoring Syrian suzerainty. They would use Hamas to block any progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian settlement and perpetuate a continuing, if low-grade, war on Israel. And they would continue to bleed the U.S. by supplying insurgents in Iraq with arms and sanctuary. Iran meanwhile presses ahead with its barely disguised nuclear weapons program.
    • In response to this bold bid for regional hegemony, the U.S. has apparently resolved...to intensively negotiate with itself and its chief European allies about how it might "engage" Ahmadinejad and Assad. While the debate goes on, the Western effort to sanction Iran for its nuclear program is stalled and all but forgotten. No punitive action against Syria is even being discussed.
    • No attempt to reason with Assad and the Iranian mullahs will succeed unless they perceive that the U.S. and its allies wield sticks as well as carrots. As long as the Bush administration is unable to win UN Security Council approval for sanctions against Iran - or impose them through an ad hoc coalition - Tehran will have no incentive to make concessions. Assad will demand that the West concede him Lebanon and call off the murder investigations that would likely implicate him - unless he worries that his failure to cooperate will result in fresh international sanctions against Syria.
    • Iran and Syria are ruthlessly waging war against Western interests in the Middle East. Offering to talk is only a small part of what it will take to stop them.


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