Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Second UK Suicide Bomb Plot Failed Due to Good Fortune - John Steele and Sally Peck (Telegraph-UK)
Israel, Syria Deny Report of "Understandings" for a Peace Agreement (Ha'aretz)
Iran "Taking Control of Southern Iraq by Stealth" - Thomas Harding (Telegraph-UK)
Germans in Lebanon May Be Targets - (Der Spiegel-Germany)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Monday after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would meet with her for a three-way informal discussion of issues that must be cleared away to establish a Palestinian state. No date or location has been set for the gathering, but it would signal deepening involvement by the Bush administration in stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Rice said she was going "to try to help the parties come together, to look at how they can move through the road map." The road map set out detailed sequential steps which, among other things, required the Palestinian government to crack down on anti-Israeli radical groups. Rice hopes to use the prospect of renewed U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process to help win Arab support for the Iraqi government and a campaign to combat the rising influence of Iran. (Washington Post)
Fatah accused its Hamas rivals Monday of digging tunnels in Gaza to plant explosives and target senior officials, including Mahmoud Abbas. Abdel Hakim Awad, a Fatah spokesman in Gaza, said a network of tunnels laden with explosives was discovered - with some starting inside mosques. He gave details of four tunnels, including one under a road used by Abbas, and another under the house of a Fatah activist. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
Rami, a former Sunni insurgent, explained: "I used to attack the Americans when that was the jihad. Now there is no jihad....It's only the young kids that are fighting now, and they are not fighting Americans any more, they are just killing Shia." "It's not a good time to be a Sunni in Baghdad," Abu Omar told me. "In my area some ignorant al-Qaeda guys have been kidnapping poor Shia farmers, killing them and throwing their bodies in the river. I told them: 'This is not jihad. You can't kill all the Shia!...Why provoke them?'"
Then he said: "I am trying to talk to the Americans. I want to give them assurances that no one will attack them in our area if they stop the Shia militias from coming." This man, who had spent the last three years fighting the Americans, was now willing to talk to them because he saw the Americans as the lesser of two evils. Many Sunni insurgent leaders are beginning to doubt the wisdom of their alliance with al-Qaeda extremists. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Under Hizbullah guidance, Palestinian terror groups in the West Bank have recently obtained high-grade explosives that have significantly improved the effectiveness of roadside improvised explosive devices (IED) used against IDF patrols, senior defense officials said Monday. "The Palestinian IEDs are a point of concern," said one senior official. In 2006, IDF troops discovered 109 IEDs in the West Bank in addition to 11 suicide belts.
At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin reported growing Hizbullah efforts to establish infrastructure and gain a foothold in the West Bank and Gaza.
According to a high-ranking IDF officer, Palestinians were continuing efforts to manufacture and fire Kassam rockets from the West Bank. "They are constantly trying to get the development off the ground," the officer said. "The only reason they fail is that the IDF retains a presence in the territory." (Jerusalem Post)
An IDF force arrested a wanted Palestinian in Bethlehem Tuesday morning. Soldiers found nine pipe bombs, two assault rifles, three ammunition clips, knives, and a large amount of ammunition. (Ynet News)
Palestinian gunmen on Tuesday morning fired a Kassam rocket from northern Gaza that landed south of Ashkelon. On Monday, Palestinians fired a rocket that landed near the town of Sderot. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Mahmoud Abbas opposes a provisional Palestinian state and wants a final settlement based on the 1949 cease-fire lines, with 4 million Arab refugees having the right to "return" to 1949 Israel, and with Jerusalem as its capital. He is living in a world of fantasy. He can't even get his own people to agree about who is the Palestinian government and who is not, whether he's actually in power or whether power belongs to Hamas and Prime Minister Haniyah. A Palestinian government does not exist, and it is already making demands for a permanent resolution of Arab-Israeli conflict. Abbas' signature won't be worth a fig. A provisional government is actually the best that the Palestinians will get right now, but, since they are recalcitrant, they won't even get that. (New Republic)
Iran is fast building its position as the Middle East's political and military hegemon, a position that will be largely unchallengeable once it acquires nuclear weapons. The opportunities nuclear weapons will afford Iran far exceed the prospect of using them to win a military conflict. Nuclear weapons will empower strategies of coercion, intimidation, and denial that go far beyond purely military considerations. Acquiring the bomb as an icon of state power will enhance the legitimacy of Iran's mullahs and make it harder for disgruntled Iranians to oust them.
Iran's leadership has spoken of its willingness - in their words - to "martyr" the entire Iranian nation as a way to accelerate an inevitable, apocalyptic collision between Islam and the West that will result in Islam's final worldwide triumph. What constitutes deterrence in this world? Many European strategists speak of "managing" a nuclear Iran. This is a lethal naivete. We have no idea how to deter ideological actors. We do not know what they hold dear enough to be deterred by the threat of its destruction. We should be under no illusion that talk alone - "engagement" - is a solution. The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of its Center for Future Security Strategies. (Weekly Standard)
For more than a half century, every American president has attempted to find a magic formula that would bring peace to the tiny territories between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In a recent op-ed, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft argues that "a vigorously renewed effort to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict" could produce "real progress" which would cause Hizbullah and Hamas to "lose their rallying principle." How would that work? What could Israel offer Hamas and Hizbullah to induce them to give up "their rallying principle" - which is the annihilation of Israel? At this moment, given the current Palestinian leadership and the support it receives from Tehran, the chance of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict is as low as it's ever been. Why those who style themselves as foreign-policy "realists" claim otherwise is a mystery.
More plausibly, it is only when al-Qaeda, the Iranian mullahs, and other militant Islamists are seen as having failed, that Palestinians will choose leaders who seek peace alongside Israel rather than the destruction of Israel. (National Review)
Should the U.S. Insist Hamas Accept Israel's Right to Exist? - Lawrence J. Haas (McClatchy-Tribune/Charlotte Observer)
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