Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Former PA Minister to Al-Qaeda: "We Hate the Americans More than You" - Yaakov Lappin (Ynet News)
Jewish Members Assume Key Committee Positions in New Congress - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
Arabs vs. Israel: A View from Pakistan - Farrukh Saleem (Jang Group-Pakistan)
Smuggling Tunnel between Gaza and Egypt Collapses (AP/International Herald Tribune)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war, according to secret Iranian documents captured by Americans in Iraq. Iranians captured by American forces were carrying documents that offer insight into Iranian activities in Iraq. The documents show how the Quds Force - the arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that supports Shiite Hizbullah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads - is working with individuals affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna. An American official said, "We found plans for attacks [and] phone numbers affiliated with Sunni bad guys."
While the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, the news that Iran's Quds Force would be in contact, and clandestinely cooperating, with Sunni Jihadists who attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra (one of the holiest shrines in Shiism) on February 22 could shake the alliance Iraq's ruling Shiites have forged with Tehran. Many Iraq analysts believe the bombing vaulted Iraq into the current stage of its civil war. (New York Sun)
U.S. forces are deployed near Somalia to block the escape of members of that country's ousted Islamist government with ties to al-Qaeda and other extremists, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Wednesday. "We of course have a presence off the coast of Somalia and Horn of Africa to make sure there are no escape routes by sea where these individuals could flee," McCormack said. U.S. officials said before the war the top layer of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) was controlled by a cell of al-Qaeda operatives. The head of the council, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, is on UN and U.S. extremist lists. (Reuters)
When Israel pulled troops and Jewish settlers out of Gaza in 2005, we had hoped that it might bring some peace. But the violence did not stop. Militants continued rocket attacks on Israel. When I navigate Gaza's streets, I often think about who is driving in front of and behind me. Are they militants from Islamic Jihad, Hamas, or Fatah? Driving at night, I fear that gunmen will stop my car and steal it. Passing Palestinian police stations, I worry I will get caught in a gunfight between rival factions. More than 300 Palestinians were killed in factional and clan fighting in 2006. Hundreds of cars have been stolen in the past few months alone. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Five Palestinians, including four Fatah members and a woman bystander, were killed Wednesday in Gaza. In Khan Yunis, three security officials loyal to PA Chairman Abbas were killed when gunmen attacked their vehicles. Abbas' Preventive Security force blamed Hamas for the attack. (Ha'aretz)
See also Fatah Suffers Losses in Clashes with Hamas - Ali Waked
On Wednesday, ten Palestinians were kidnapped by both Hamas and Fatah. Palestinian sources reported that senior Fatah military leader Hassan al-Qasas narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after gunmen fired an RPG towards him on Wednesday. Ahmad Sarur, a resident of Beit Lahiya, said, "Everywhere you go there are masked Hamas fighters."
Also Wednesday, a Hamas member who serves as Interior Minister Sayeed Siyam's bodyguard was wounded after a bomb he was working on apparently detonated prematurely in Gaza City. Another Hamas member died Tuesday under similar circumstances. (Ynet News)
See also Gunmen Target Hamas Officials in West Bank
Assailants targeted three senior Hamas officials in the West Bank, kidnapping one, torching the car of a second, and shooting in the air as a third emerged from a mosque, officials said Thursday. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
The Palestinian security establishment has advised American and European citizens to leave Gaza following kidnapping warnings, Israel Radio reported Wednesday. The warning came as searches continued for Jaime Razuri, 50, an Agence France Presse photographer from Peru kidnapped in Gaza on Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket Wednesday evening that landed in Israel north of the Erez Crossing. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
American attempts at Arab-Israeli peacemaking began in 1947, when Harry S Truman supported the UN plan to partition Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states. But the Palestinian Arabs rejected that compromise, and Arab armies tried to destroy the Jewish nation. U.S. leaders tend to view the Middle East as an arena for demonstrating their diplomatic prowess and for affirming America's status as a world power. A deeper impetus may be the desire of Americans, many of whom are religiously observant, to bring tranquility to the Holy Land.
Nearly six decades of American mediation have registered only one lasting success: the 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel. But that agreement was only made possible by the courage of Anwar Sadat, who became the first Arab leader to visit Israel. American mediation can succeed only after the emergence of local leaders who, like Sadat and Begin, have both the will and the strength to make peace. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Boston Globe)
The Islamic messiah known as the "Twelfth Imam" or the "Mahdi" may come to earth in 2007 and could be revealed as early as this spring. The official Iranian government news website IRIB says the world is now in its "last days." It claims that the Mahdi will first appear in Mecca, and then Medina. He will conquer all of Arabia, Syria, Iraq, destroy Israel, and then set up a "global government" based in Iraq. Such Islamic beliefs are driving the Iranian regime and help explain why Iran has no interest in helping the U.S. and EU create peace in Iraq or the region.
An Iranian television series called "The World Towards Illumination" has been running since last November to help answer questions about the end of the world as we know it. The program also says that Jesus is coming back to earth soon as a Shiite Muslim leader to serve as a deputy to the Mahdi to destroy the infidels. Bottom line: The leaders of Iran are preparing for an apocalyptic war with the U.S. and Israel. It's not a question of "if" but "when." (National Review)
Al-Qaeda and its allies now have their own 24-hour television station. Based at a secret studio in Syria, its signal is broadcast to the entire Arab world from Nilesat, a satellite owned by the Egyptian government. In the past, al-Qaeda tapes were generally released to Al Jazeera, but Al-Zawraa, the 24-hour insurgent station, hit the airwaves on November 14. The easiest route to shutting down Al-Zawraa is to persuade Egypt, which receives $2 billion a year in U.S. aid, to remove the station from Nilesat. (Weekly Standard)
Why Are Arabs Upset by Saddam's Execution? - Efraim Karsh (New Republic)
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