Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 23, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: "I Found Saddam's WMD Bunkers" - Melanie Phillips (Spectator-UK)
    Dave Gaubatz says Saddam's WMD did exist. He found the sites where he is certain they were stored.
    Having served for 12 years as an agent in the U.S. Air Force's Office of Special Investigations, Gaubatz, a trained Arabic speaker, was posted in 2003 in Nasariyah in Iraq.
    His mission was to locate suspect WMD sites, discover threats against U.S. forces in the area and find Saddam loyalists, and then send such intelligence to the Iraq Survey Group and other agencies.
    Between March and July 2003, he was taken to four sites in southern Iraq - two within Nasariyah - which, he was told by numerous Iraqi sources, contained biological and chemical weapons, material for a nuclear program, and UN-proscribed missiles.
    He was in no doubt that this was true because of the massive size of these sites and the extreme lengths to which the Iraqis had gone to conceal them.
    Three of them were massive bunkers buried 20 to 30 feet beneath the Euphrates, with walls made of reinforced concrete five feet thick.
    There were "signs of chemical activity - gas masks, decontamination kits, atropine needles. The Iraqis and my team had no doubt at all that WMDs were hidden there," said Gaubatz.
    In addition, the medical records of Gaubatz and his team showed that at these sites they had been exposed to high levels of radiation.
    Gaubatz subsequently learned from Iraqi, CIA and British intelligence that the WMD buried in the four sites were excavated by Iraqis and Syrians, with help from the Russians, and moved to Syria. The location in Syria of this material, he says, is also known to these intelligence agencies.

Israel Campus Beat
- April 22, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    Israel at Age 59

Egypt's Security Cracks Down on Visiting Hamas Officials - Khaled Abu Toameh and Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Egypt has imposed severe restrictions on Hamas officials crossing into the country, sources close to Hamas said Sunday.
    The Egyptian government recently notified PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas that any Hamas member wanting to enter Egypt must refrain from contacting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
    He was also told to reduce the number of bodyguards and assistants accompanying Hamas leaders and ministers, and to refrain from holding press conferences or seminars on Egyptian soil.

Useful Reference:

Israel at 59: A Statistical Glimpse (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Urges Iran to Join Iraq Talks
    Condoleezza Rice is urging Iran to join her at a high-level conference on the future of Iraq next week, signaling that Washington is now ready for a serious exchange of views with Tehran after several months of resisting Iran's advances in the region. Rice told the Financial Times it would be a "missed opportunity" if Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's foreign minister, did not attend the minister-level meeting to be hosted by Egypt. Rice's attempts to draw Iran into the conference - which will include Iraq's neighbors as well as the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the G8 industrialized nations - contrasted with her previous resistance to such talks. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman on Sunday noted a "softening" in Rice's rhetoric. But he added that any "shift" should be put into practice. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Russia, Iran Resolve Payment Dispute Over Nuclear Plant
    Russian and Iranian representatives signed a protocol Sunday in Moscow laying out financing plans for the nearly complete nuclear power plant Russia is building at Bushehr in Iran, Atomstroiexport spokeswoman Irina Yesipova said. However, she said some issues still remained and that more talks would be held next month. (AP/Pravda-Russia)
  • Bomb Damages School in Gaza with U.S. Ties - Isabel Kershner
    A dozen masked Palestinians bombed and set fire to the American International School in Beit Lahiya, north of Gaza City, before dawn on Saturday, causing extensive damage. Palestinian officials said that the attackers, believed to be Islamic extremists subscribing to the ideology of al-Qaeda, placed several explosive devices at the school. Two night guards said the militants tied their hands. One of the guards, Atef al-Beheisi, said the masked men told him, "We are the organization of Al-Qaeda in Palestine, and our swords will be directed at the throats of the infidels." The second guard said the intruders identified themselves to him as being part of the "Army of Islam." The school received $160,000 this year from the State Department to finance scholarships. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Freed Palestinian Terrorists Would Pose Immediate Threat - Yaakov Katz
    If hundreds of terrorists are released in exchange for abducted IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, they will pose an immediate threat to Israel, a high-ranking defense official said. Should the government accede to the demand, the official said, the IDF would need to modify the way it operates in the West Bank. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has expressed "disappointment and reservations" over the list of prisoners, which is said to include as many as 450 murderers. "The Palestinians in prison have the terror know-how and the influence over the terror groups," the defense official said. "If they are released they will be taking those qualities with them and we will need to be prepared." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas Calls for Kidnapping More Israeli Soldiers to Achieve Release of 10,000 Terrorists - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook
    The Prisoners' Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council has suggested "further kidnappings of Zionist soldiers as a solution to end the prisoners' suffering," according to Hamas' Al-Aqsa Television. Hamas statements indicate they see the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still being held hostage, as an effective policy since Israel has already offered to release Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Hizbullah Leader Admits Orders Come from Tehran
    For many years, the Hizbullah terror organization was careful not to implicate Iran in its terror operations. However, in a 15 April 2007 interview with the Iranian Arabic language TV station Al-Qawthar, Hizbullah Deputy Secretary-General Naim Kassem said that suicide bombings, terrorist attacks, and even artillery barrages against Israeli civilians all receive prior approval from the ayatollahs in Tehran. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Leading Palestinian Bombmaker Killed in Nablus
    During an IDF arrest operation Saturday night in Nablus, Tanzim terrorist Amin Mahmoud Amin Lubadeh and Islamic Jihad terrorist Fahdel Muhammad Mahmoud Nur were killed in exchanges of fire with IDF forces during an attempt to arrest them. Lubadeh was the leading manufacturer of bombs and explosive belts in the Samaria region and was involved in numerous attacks. His activity was funded by Iran through Hizbullah and by terror operatives in Gaza. Fahdel Nur was involved in planning suicide bombings and recruiting bombers for attacks inside Israel. (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also Three Armed Palestinian Terrorists Killed in West Bank - Ali Waked
    On Saturday evening, Border Police operating in Jenin killed three Palestinian gunmen after the gunmen opened fire at police forces. Palestinian sources said two of the gunmen, Abbas Damaj and Muhammad al-Aishi, were operatives of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and the third, Mahmoud Jaliel, was from Islamic Jihad. Upon searching the gunmen's vehicle, police found a Kalashnikov, an M-16, and an RPG missile launcher, the army reported. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits House in Sderot, Wounds Two
    A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza hit a house in Sderot on Sunday morning, wounding two people. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Cracks Show under Iran's Strongman - Marie Colvin
    It is Ahmadinejad's apparent detachment from the economic realities facing ordinary Iranians that now threatens his position. On May 21, subsidized petrol will rise from 800 riyals to 1,000 riyals per liter, and only three liters a day will be available at that price. Ration cards will be issued and any purchase over the limit will be at a nonsubsidized rate. Iranians have already been hit by a 50% rise in taxi fares last month. The mood on Tehran's streets is mutinous. The people who voted Ahmadinejad into power are furious that their salaries remain pitifully low while the price of food rises at a rate between 20% and 40%. They feel betrayed and say they will not vote for him again.
        A former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran last month is being held by Revolutionary Guards in Tajrish, northern Tehran, according to a source within the guard. They want to swap Robert Levinson, 59, a private investigator from Florida, for Ali Reza Asgari, an Iranian general who vanished in mysterious circumstances in Turkey in February. (Times-UK)
  • Activists Pushing Disinvestment in Iran - Carol Giacomo
    U.S. efforts to force Iran to change its behavior have expanded beyond the White House to Main Street and threaten the broadest financial disinvestment campaign since South African apartheid ended. Momentum is growing for a movement that encourages Americans to withdraw investments in companies doing business with Iran, as well as Sudan, North Korea and Syria. "Divestment should be part of our strategy to isolate these regimes until they give up their drive for nuclear weapons and/or their support for terror," said California Democrat Brad Sherman, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on non-proliferation and terrorism.
        A report by the Library of Congress' Congressional Research Service found more than $100 billion in energy investments in Iran since 1999 by such foreign firms as Totalfina ELF of France, Royal Dutch Shell, Italy's ENI, and Inpex of Japan. "It seems strange that we send young men and women to defend us, some of whom pay the ultimate sacrifice, however we have not yet used one of our most powerful weapons - America's financial markets," said Sarah Steelman, state treasurer in Missouri. "We in America are funding the very enemies we're fighting through our investments - billions and billions of dollars' worth," she told Sherman's subcommittee hearing last week. Steelman established the nation's first public investment fund to screen out stocks with ties to terrorism-linked firms. Since then, at least eight states - including Texas, California, and Florida - have introduced disinvestment legislation. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    IDF Chief: We Shall Not Back Down If War Is Forced on Us - Lilach Shoval (Ynet News)

    • Israelis across the country stood for a minute of silence at 8 p.m. Sunday, when the siren marking the opening of Memorial Day was sounded. Flags throughout Israel were lowered to half-mast.
    • IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said, "We are not an army that seeks war, but a defensive army. But if a war is forced on us, we shall not back down. We will do whatever it takes so that the people of Israel can sit peacefully in their homes."
    • The number of Israeli soldiers killed in service since 1860, the year when Jews first left Jerusalem's walls to establish neighborhoods outside, is 22,305. Of the 233 soldiers killed over the past year, 119 were killed in the Second Lebanon War.
    • 66 civilians were killed in hostile actions since last Independence Day, mostly during the Second Lebanon War. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Heroes of the Second Lebanon War - Hanan Greenberg
    They fought with courage and determination on the battlefield and sacrificed themselves while trying to save others. Here are the stories of two of the soldiers being considered for citations of valor. (Ynet News)

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