Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 5, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Poised to Strike in Wealthy Gulf States - Colin Freeman (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
    Iran has trained secret networks of agents across the Gulf states to attack Western interests and incite civil unrest in the event of a military strike against its nuclear program, according to Adel Assadinia, 50, a former Iranian career diplomat who was consul-general in Dubai.
    Trained by Iranian intelligence services, spies working as teachers, doctors and nurses at Iranian-owned schools and hospitals have formed sleeper cells ready to be "unleashed" at the first sign of any serious threat to Teheran, it is claimed.
    Assadinia said the Iranian consulate in Dubai was used as a conduit for illicit funding of Hizbullah. Iranian foreign ministry agents would regularly pass through with suitcases containing up to £11 million, using diplomatic baggage channels to bypass customs scrutiny.
    The consulate, he said, was a hub for regional intelligence operations because of the huge number of Iranians working in Dubai's 4,000 Iranian businesses, which provide easy cover for espionage.
    "The government sees itself as strong, but in fact it is like Saddam Hussein before he was overthrown - very fragile and brittle within," said Assadinia, who was granted asylum in Europe in 2003.

Israel Campus Beat
- March 04, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    Oscar-Winning Movie: "West Bank Story"

When Ahmadinejad Met King Abdullah in Riyadh - Guy Bechor (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran worries the Saudis greatly, especially its nuclear potential, which, as far as the Saudis are concerned, is the number one problem on the agenda.
    Saturday evening, Ahmadinejad landed in Riyadh to a king's welcome. Shortly before midnight, it was announced suddenly that Ahmadinejad was returning to Teheran.
    I believe that the talks blew up, since it's strange for him not to have stayed at least a night on such an important visit.
    No official message on the meeting was published, as is the norm.
    The writer is head of Middle Eastern Studies at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.
    See also Iran, Saudis Hail "Friendly" Meeting - Gareth Smyth (Financial Times-UK)

Israel Aerospace Industries' New Projects - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has developed an unmanned cargo plane that can carry a payload of up to 30 tons; a solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of conducting long-range surveillance; and an environmentally-friendly inter-city aircraft powered by innovative fuel cells.
    According to a poll recently conducted by Boeing Co., 70% would refuse to fly in a pilotless plane, but they would be willing to transport their cargo in a UAV.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Abbas, Hamas Forces Expanding Despite Unity Deal - Adam Entous and Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas are pushing ahead with expansion plans despite a unity government deal. In Jericho a base is under construction for Abbas' presidential guard and a "college" for his intelligence service. The presidential guard has also set up a training camp next to the Karni commercial crossing in Gaza. Hamas has likewise been busy building up its own "executive force" to 12,000 members, double the current size.
        "The Mecca agreement may look good, but on the ground it's not doable. The mobilization is still the same, the preparation is still the same, on both sides," said Zakaria al-Qaq, a security expert at al-Quds University. Israeli intelligence services believe Hamas is stockpiling weapons for another round of fighting, either with Fatah or Israel. (Reuters)
  • Israel to Complain to UN about Syrian Mines
    Israel will file a complaint with the UN forces in Syria after ten mines thrown from Syria were found Saturday on a border road north of the Hamat Geder spa in the southern Golan Heights, the Israeli army said Sunday. UN forces are supposed to keep all persons on the Syrian side away from the border. (AP/Washington Post/Jerusalem Post)
  • Moscow Fights Aid Ban on Palestinians, Seeks to Boost Influence in Middle East - Nabi Abdullaev
    Aspiring to boost its influence in the Middle East, Moscow says it supports creation of a unity government in the PA and will work to help lift the Western aid embargo. Russia is the only member of the Quartet calling for the end of the aid embargo. (Defense News)
  • Arab Bank Accused of Funding Terrorists - Josh Meyer
    The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the New York branch of Jordan-based Arab Bank and its financial links to organizations and individuals accused of terrorism, according to three former U.S. counter-terrorism officials. A three-year investigation is producing extensive evidence of how tens of millions of dollars have flowed from wealthy Saudi Arabians to Palestinian groups that used some of the money to pay off suicide bombers and their survivors.
        Lawyers suing Arab Bank on behalf of Americans and Israelis injured in terror attacks accuse the firm of facilitating acts of terrorism by providing accounts and other financial services to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and similar groups. Arab Bank also acted as the administrator of a plan in which suicide bombers and others designated as "martyrs" by the PA and other organizations were compensated for their actions. The lawsuits charge that the payments provided an incentive for suicide bombings. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel, U.S. Discuss Economic Measures to Fight Terrorism and the Iranian Threat
    U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey held a series of meetings in Jerusalem Sunday focusing on how to get the world's financial institutions to cut business ties with Iran. The U.S. strategy that Levey is spearheading is to work outside the context of the Security Council to engage the private sector and let it know about the risks of doing business with Teheran. The feeling among key officials in both Jerusalem and Washington is that the financial measures have had an impact and that these moves placed the international community "on the right path."  (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Refutes Claims It Killed Captured Egyptians in '67
    A scheduled visit to Egypt by Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer has been postponed amid a controversy over Egyptian media reports claiming that during the 1967 Six-Day War, troops of the Shaked commando unit, then led by Ben-Eliezer, killed 250 captured Egyptian soldiers at war's end. The Egyptian media were reporting on a documentary film about the Shaked unit by Israeli journalist Ron Edelist that aired on Israel Channel One television last week. Edelist said Monday that the media reports misrepresented the film, that the dead were not Egyptian POWs but Palestinian fedayoun fighters, and that they were killed in battle, not executed. According to Edelist, hardline opposition elements in Egypt had misrepresented the facts in order to attack Israel's peace with Egypt. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Saudis Have Plans of Their Own - Zalman Shoval
    The American administration recently decided to support Saudi Arabia - to a large extent instead of Egypt - in taking an active role in diplomatic developments in our region. Yet Saudi Arabia has plans of its own, and they do not always tie in with Washington's plans. The most serious deviation relates to the Palestinian issue. The Saudis didn't want to isolate Hamas, but rather, to bring it closer to them (including through the use of money) in order to undermine the ties that began forming between Sunni terror organizations and Shiite Iran. Hamas is perhaps radical but at least it is Sunni (the Saudi regime is no less fundamentalist than Hamas after all).
        What really concerns the Saudi leadership is the rise in Shiite power in the Middle East, including internally, and their fears are reinforced with every additional day of fighting in Iraq, where the Shiites have the upper hand. It's not that the Saudi royal family is not eager to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, particularly if it comes at Israel's expense, but it has more urgent problems to attend to. (Ynet News)
  • Brothers in Arms: Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad - Pinhas Inbari
    Fatah was the main supporter in the Arab world of the Khomeini revolution in Iran when it erupted. Both Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah were established with deep Fatah involvement. Originally, Islamic Jihad was actually a purely Fatah offshoot, part and parcel of the military apparatus of Arafat's deputy, Abu Jihad, who, as his name may convey, was the major promoter of Islamic features in Fatah. During the first Lebanon war, Abu Jihad followers helped Iran establish Hizbullah on the ruins of the Fatah infrastructure that Israel had destroyed in the war.
        The joint plan of Fatah and Hizbullah was to surround Israel with terror rocket power from all sides. This master plan still exists, but now the main role has been given to Hamas. (ICA/JCPA)
  • Sunni and Shiite Muslims: Choosing a Sect - Noah Feldman
    The U.S. finds itself in the odd position of seeming to favor a Shiite government in Iraq and Sunni leaders everywhere else. What began more than 1,300 years ago as an argument over whether the Prophet Muhammad should be succeeded by his cousin Ali or by an unrelated companion became a bloody civil war, then hardened over time into a theological split. But who, exactly, is our natural ally in this historic conflict?
        Sunnis make up as much as 90% of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims. Our support for the Iranian-backed Shiite parties who run the government in Iraq hasn't exactly worked out so far. But Sunni Islam is in a sorry state, dominated by a purist and anti-intellectual fundamentalism that has been bankrolled by Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden is a Sunni who condemns Shiite and American infidels in the same breath. The writer is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    From Bad to Unthinkable - Mortimer B. Zuckerman (U.S. News)

    • The terrible result of the weakness of Mahmoud Abbas in Mecca - a weakness of character and a weakness of his organization - is that the conflict with Israel will torment still another generation of Palestinians. The Mecca agreement between Fatah and Hamas drove a stake through the heart of the two-state dream, because it left no one with whom the Israelis could make a peaceful settlement.
    • Abbas had been committed to disarming Hamas and calling early elections. Washington was supporting Abbas in this, but what does he do in Mecca? He agrees to share power with Hamas. Under the Mecca terms, Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh will stay on as prime minister and as head of the coalition, and Hamas will hold the majority of the cabinet, with 12 seats, with Fatah holding only six.
    • Under the Mecca accord, Hamas' armed men will be incorporated into the Palestinian security forces, with salaries to be paid by the Palestinian Finance Ministry. Representatives of the Quartet cannot be unaware of Hamas' using the respected new finance minister, Salaam Fayad, to funnel money into the hands of Hamas ministers, including those heading military and security forces. Any financial support post-Mecca will serve only to strengthen the radical forces of Hamas.
    • Unsurprisingly, as far as the Israelis are concerned, Abbas is toast. He is now incapable of carrying out any agreements that might have been reached with the Israelis, so the Quartet's road map to peace has hit a dead end.
    • Hardly anyone in Israel thinks that if it decides to give up territory again, it would get peace in return. Tendering olive branches of the kind so often advocated by Israel's critics has borne nothing but bitter fruit. Israel left Lebanon, and Hizbullah gathered weapons, then made war. Israel left Gaza to the Gazans and was rewarded with a more aggressive Hamas and more rocket attacks.
    • Hamas is part of the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement that does nothing to conceal its aspirations of fomenting Islamic revolution across the length and breadth of the Middle East, of toppling the moderate regimes allied with the West, and of working with Iran to expand its role as the leader of political Islam - all in service of the goal of an Islamic caliphate that would ultimately threaten even Europe.
    • If the West must now choose between its survival and the survival of radical Islamic forces, we should choose our own survival.

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