Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 30, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

UN Secretary-General Condemns Suicide Bombing in Israel (United Nations)
    The spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued the following statement Monday:
    The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms today's suicide bombing at a bakery in Eilat, Israel, which killed three people and wounded another.
    Such acts of terrorism are a violation of international humanitarian law and can never be justified.
    The Secretary-General is also alarmed at announcements that further attacks against Israeli civilians are being planned.
    He calls for swift action by Palestinian security forces to bring to justice those responsible and prevent further attacks.

Israel's Intelligence in Gaza Growing Weaker - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Monday's attack demonstrated the ease of crossing the Egyptian border.
    Southern Command officers spoke Monday about plans to build a fence and deploy observation devices along the border, but in response to three fatalities, the state will not spend NIS 3 billion to build a fence all along the Egyptian border.
    Israel's intelligence in Gaza is growing weaker.
    Relatives of the suicide bomber said he had spoken of his plan for a suicide bombing last week. This could not have happened in the West Bank, where Israel's security services would be onto him immediately.
    Without a military presence, Gaza is slipping from the scrutiny of Israeli intelligence.

Turks Arrest 47 Al-Qaeda Operatives - Sebnem Arsu (New York Times)
    Turkish police Monday arrested 47 people suspected of being Islamic militants, including the leader of Al-Qaeda in Turkey, the semi-official Anatolian news agency reported.
    Police acted on information warning of "sensational attacks" by Turkish groups in coordination with Al-Qaeda, the report said.

International Aid to Palestinians Up Since Hamas Win - Aimee Rhodes (Jerusalem Post)
    International aid to the Palestinians increased by nearly 10 percent following Hamas' election victory, despite the reassessment of donor programs, UN under-secretary general for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari told the UN Security Council on Thursday.
    Humanitarian assistance alone had doubled since 2004.

Useful Reference:

Palestinian Suicide Attacks Since 2001 (AP/Washington Post)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Developing Long-Range Missiles with North Korea - Bill Gertz
    North Korea and Iran are cooperating in developing long-range missiles, the deputy director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said Monday. Army Brig. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly said Iran is working on a space launcher that would help develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could hit the U.S. "They are working in concert with the North Koreans," he said. "They have made a claim that they are working towards developing a space launch capability, which also would give them an ICBM capability." The Pentagon believes the Iranians "could have an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. before 2015," according to a Missile Defense Agency briefing chart.
        Gen. O'Reilly also stated that Hizbullah's short-range rockets and missiles, used in last year's fighting in Lebanon, were a threat to Israeli forces and that more than 4,500 were fired. "They had small ball bearings, about 300, in their warhead, and they were very effective at shutting down a lot of the maneuvering capability of the Israeli army and also shutting down over 70% of the commerce in northern Israel during that period of time," he said. (Washington Times)
  • Bush Vows to Confound Iranian Operations in Iraq - Stephen Dinan
    President Bush said Monday that he doesn't intend to attack Iran but will "respond firmly" if Iranian agents inside Iraq escalate their attacks or supply materials used to attack U.S. troops or Iraqis. He also accused Iran of being part of an effort to bring down Lebanon's government as well, saying it is working with Syria and the terrorist group Hizbullah. (Washington Times)
        See also Europe Resists U.S. Push to Curb Iran Ties - Steven R. Weisman
    European governments are resisting Bush administration demands that they curtail support for exports to Iran and that they block transactions and freeze assets of some Iranian companies. "We are telling the Europeans that they need to go way beyond what they've done to maximize pressure on Iran," said a senior administration official. "The European response on the economic side has been pretty weak." The administration says that European governments provided $18 billion in government loan guarantees for Iran in 2005. (New York Times)
  • Hamas, Fatah Gunmen Battle Across Gaza
    Palestinian infighting raged in the Gaza Strip Tuesday morning despite a cease-fire declaration by warring Hamas and Fatah factions aimed at ending factional clashes that have left more than 60 dead in the past two months. Gunfire and explosions were audible in downtown Gaza City as gunmen from the rival factions ignored the cease-fire. (AP/USA Today)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Eilat Suicide Bomber Crossed Egyptian Border - Revital Levy-Stein, Avi Issacharoff, Nir Hasson, and Jonathan Lis
    The Islamic Jihad suicide bomber from Gaza who killed three people on Monday entered Israel through the border with Egypt, several dozen kilometers northwest of Eilat, a senior Israel Defense Forces officer said. An Israeli civilian who unwittingly drove the bomber close to the scene of the attack suspected the man was a terrorist and called the police. Two patrol cars rushed to the scene, but the bomber carried out the attack seven minutes after the call. The Israeli fatalities from the bombing were Haim El-Maliach, 32, Michael Ben-Sa'adon, 27, and Yisrael Samolia, 25, an immigrant from Peru. (Ha'aretz)
  • Driver Who Picked Up Terrorist Considered Running Him Over - Nir Hasson
    Yossi Voltinsky, the man who drove the suicide bomber in Monday's attack in Eilat, was "99 percent sure" his passenger was a suicide bomber. He considered crashing his car or running over the man but did not "because of the 1 percent chance that maybe he was innocent, maybe a crazy, how would I be able to live with that?" Voltinsky, a lieutenant colonel in the IDF reserves, said, "As soon as I looked at him in the rearview mirror, I saw that something was wrong - he wore a windbreaker zipped to the neck, with a big backpack strapped on. He kept one hand in his pocket, his eyes darted around, he was very nervous. He acted very unnaturally. I asked him where he was headed, he didn't answer, just motioned for me to keep going. I asked, 'Where are you from?' He didn't answer. I realized at that point I was transporting a hostile person, a terrorist or a robber."
        "I couldn't drive to the police station because it's inside the city, and I didn't want to go to a checkpoint because I knew that as soon as he saw soldiers, he'd blow up," Voltinsky said. He let the man out at the outskirts of the city and called the police. (Ha'aretz)
  • Family of Gaza Suicide Bomber "Very Happy" - Ali Waked
    "The whole family was very happy when it heard that Muhammad is the hero who carried out the attack," said Naim Saqsaq, the brother of Muhammad Saqsaq, who carried out the suicide attack in Eilat. "We knew that he was waiting and praying for this moment. He always said, 'If only I could be a shahid (martyr), if only I could carry out an attack.' And here Allah gave him the privilege," said the brother. One of Muhammad's friends said he saw him for the last time on Thursday, and he looked different. "I am used to seeing him with a beard, but on this day he was cleanly shaven and had a short haircut."  (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Block Iran, Don't Redivide Jerusalem - Dore Gold
    Much of the present critique of the Bush administration's Iraq policy focuses on the need to ratchet up U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. Diplomats, politicians, and commentators have been proposing a new policy of increasing U.S. "engagement" based on the assumption that America's chief rival in the region - Iran - can act as a force for stability. At the same time, there is growing pressure on Bush to immediately revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, despite the Hamas' control of the Palestinian Authority, with full Iranian backing.
        By offering concessions like these, Western diplomats are making a colossal error that could have devastating consequences. As I explain in my new book, The Fight for Jerusalem, proposals to "engage" radical Islam and appease it with territorial concessions in Jerusalem and elsewhere will not lower the flames of militant Islamic rage, but will much more likely result in an explosion of new violence throughout the entire Middle East. Monday's suicide attack in Eilat, Israel, conducted by Islamic Jihad, which is directly controlled by Iranian intelligence, is just the latest example of Iran's plans for Israel's "security."  (Human Events)
  • Holocaust Deniers and Their Allies - Ariel Cohen
    103 countries co-sponsored a UN resolution, initiated by the U.S., which "condemns without reservation any denial of the Holocaust" and urges UN member states "unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event." Unsurprisingly, Iran made a strong statement against the resolution. All of the Arab nations and most Muslim countries refused to be co-sponsors. The deafening silence of the Arab states, even though some, like Egypt and Jordan, are formally at peace with Israel, as well as the stance of nuclear-armed Pakistan, makes one wonder how deep both denial of history and hatred of the Jews go.
        The implied embrace of the ideology and politics of hatred that brought about the Holocaust does not threaten Israel alone. Radical Islamism, which embraces Holocaust denial, Jew hatred and denial of Israel's right to exist, also vehemently denies Western civilization its right to exist. It is a clear and present danger to world peace. It is laudable that the Holocaust is commemorated at the UN, but to preserve peace, UN members need to do much more than adopt nonbinding resolutions. The writer is senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    The American Iraq: How the Sunni Arabs and the Palestinians Respond - Fouad Ajami (Wall Street Journal)

    • The Sunni Arab regimes are not of one mind on Iraq. Curiously, the Arab state most likely to make peace with the new reality of Iraq is Saudi Arabia; those most hostile are the Jordanians, the Egyptians and the Palestinians.
    • The Palestinians, weaker in the scale of power and with troubles of their own, are in the end of little consequence to the strategic alignment in the region. But to the extent that their "street" and their pundits matter, they can be counted upon to view the rise of this new Iraq with reserve and outright hostility.
    • For six decades, the Palestinians have had a virtual monopoly on pan-Arab sentiments, and the Arabic-speaking world indulged them.
    • Iraq - its wounds, and the promise of its power and resources - has been a direct challenge to the Palestinians and to their conception of their place in the Arab scheme of things.
    • To the bitter end, the Palestinian street remained enamored of Saddam Hussein. Iraq's Shia majority has returned the favor, and has come to view the Palestinians and their cause with considerable suspicion.

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