Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 6, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Hamas Has Grad (Katyusha) Rockets with 20-Km Range (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas possesses Grad (Katyusha) rockets with a range of 20 km. that have yet to be fired at Israel, head of IDF Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday.
    See also 283 Palestinian Rockets from Gaza Hit Israel During May, Up from 68 in April and 34 in March (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

Lebanese Army Seizes Truckload of Arms from Syria, Discovers Explosives Depot (Naharnet-Lebanon)
    The Lebanese army seized a truckload of weapons coming from Syria intended for use in new battlefronts to ease pressure on Fatah al-Islam militants inside Nahar al-Bared.
    The daily An Nahar on Wednesday said Lebanese authorities also discovered a depot containing more than 200 kilograms of explosives in raids on Fatah al-Islam militants in the northern Akkar province.

Palestinians Want Hardliners Out of Lebanon Camp - Tom Perry (Reuters)
    Parading at night in death shrouds and dealing out beatings for drunkenness, the Jund al-Sham group was unpopular with Palestinians in Ain al-Hilweh even before its clashes with Lebanese troops this week.
    Ain al-Hilweh is largely controlled by the Palestinian Fatah faction. "Jund al-Sham say that Fatah are infidels and the state are infidels and that they are the real Islam," said a Palestinian woman whose house neighbors that of Jund al-Sham activists.
    The militants would frequently go into the streets wearing explosive belts and black face masks and shout "to jihad" whenever they clashed with Fatah or others, she said.

New York Airport Plot Shows Dangers of Mundane Targets - Tom Hays (AP/Seattle Times)
    New York police officials said Monday that a pipeline of highly combustible jet fuel snaking beneath New York City is one of countless targets that they struggle to protect from attacks.
    The NYPD has monitored the ventilation towers along the Hudson River that feed fresh air to the Lincoln and Holland tunnels for signs of a chemical attack.
    The tunnels are usually filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hours, and if a nefarious substance got in the tunnel, it could be devastating.
    The NYPD has also used its scuba unit to inspect retaining walls on the East River near the UN for underwater mines.
    In addition, officers have sought to secure rail yards, fearing that terrorists might try to tamper with rail cars carrying dangerous chemicals through the city.

Useful Reference:

Six Days in June - A War Journal (Israel Defense Forces)
    "Never have so few pilots downed so many planes in such a short period of time."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Jerusalem Embassy Pact Passes House - Eli Lake
    The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday passed without opposition a resolution calling on President Bush to move America's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and adhere to the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. The resolution marked the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War, and passed the House just four days after the White House exercised - for the 14th time - the Jerusalem Embassy Act waiver, which allows the president to ignore Congress. Since the act's passage, Presidents Clinton and Bush have exercised the waiver every six months.
        The new resolution "commends Israel for its administration of the undivided city for the past 40 years, during which Israel has respected the rights of all religious groups." It also urges Arabs and Palestinian Arabs to take steps to seek peace. The resolution is a reminder to the Arab world that even the Democratic-controlled Congress, which has endorsed timetables for America's withdrawal from Iraq, is on the Jewish state's side in the conflict in the Middle East. A similar resolution is expected to pass the Senate this week. (New York Sun)
        See also Let's Get Moving - James S. Robbins
    It is easy to pass non-binding feel-good resolutions of this nature. But if the Congress really wanted to make a point it would revisit the Jerusalem Embassy Act and put some teeth in it. Above all, end the uncertainty. Either stop making promises our country has no intention of keeping, or have the integrity to follow through on them. Next year in Jerusalem - it has a nice ring to it. (National Review)
  • Fatah Fends Off Hamas Attack on Karni Border Crossing in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    A "large number" of Hamas fighters tried to infiltrate a key Presidential Guard position near the Karni commercial crossing in Gaza on Tuesday in the most serious flare-up in factional fighting in more than two weeks, an officer of Mahmoud Abbas' Presidential Guard said. The officer and a senior Western security source said the Hamas fighters were pushed back after a three-hour gun battle with the Presidential Guard, a Fatah-dominated force that receives U.S. backing. The senior Western security source, who works closely with the Presidential Guard, said between 50 and 100 Hamas fighters took part in the early morning assault. "They (the Hamas fighters) tried to take over the crossing but were repulsed," he said. (Reuters)
  • Sharansky: Elections Too Soon Brought Hamas - Zvika Krieger
    This week, Natan Sharansky is hosting a conference in Prague dubbed "The Davos of Dissidents." Among the dozens of democracy advocates from Iran to North Korea will be co-hosts Vaclav Havel, the former Czech president, former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, and President Bush himself.
        Sharansky: There are those who believe democracy is not for everybody, and that when it comes to the Arab world, there are no democratic regimes, and that it is wishful thinking to try to push for it, so let's have good relations with dictators who help bring stability. There are dissidents in those countries who are very upset with the free world. They are saying, "Stop supporting them."
        I appreciate that President Bush liked my book, but there are some of my ideas he doesn't share. He was very firm in pushing for immediate elections, a concept I was very critical of. Free elections have to follow the building of civil society. This, unfortunately, was ignored, and pushing for immediate elections paved the road for Hamas. When there are elections during or after many years of corrupt dictatorship, people choose candidates who are taking care of immediate needs. People kept asking why Christian villages voted for Hamas. It's because Hamas was protecting them from the gangs of Fatah. (Newsweek)
        See also President Bush Visits Prague, Discusses Freedom (White House)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Syria Strengthening Forces on Border with Israel - Aluf Benn and Amos Harel
    The IDF Military Intelligence assessments to be presented to Israel's security cabinet on Wednesday show that the Syrian army is deployed along the Golan Heights with strengthened forces, having moved units of large-caliber rockets, similar to the ones Hizbullah launched against Haifa during the Second Lebanon War, up to the front. The Syrian army has also improved its fortifications and has received modern, Russian-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
        Security sources say there is concern that the Syrian deployments enable Syria to embark on a sudden, surprise attack. Such action would be accompanied by a massive barrage of rockets from Hizbullah's positions north of the Litani River. There has been a flow of intelligence reports about improved coordination and joint operations among Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. However, the dominant assessment of Military Intelligence is that Assad does not intend, at this stage, to start a war with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Syria Upgrading Army with Iranian Aid - Amos Harel
    Syria is in the midst of an effort to strengthen its armed forces, at all levels, through multibillion-dollar arms procurements, mostly funded by Iran. The arms purchases, mostly from Russia, include short-range ground-to-ground missiles. In addition, the Syrians have acquired short-range rockets with satellite guidance systems, whose precision capabilities are very high. The Syrian army is trying in one fell swoop to upgrade itself from a force whose hardware had rusted to a modern army. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Is Syria Preparing for War? - Guy Bechor
    The UN Security Council's decision to establish an international court to try Basher Assad and his relatives for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has made the Syrian government frantic. This development may come at Israel's expense, as within the battle for his survival Assad may embark on a war against Israel sooner than expected. As a result of the last war the Syrians understood that there is no need for a large ground force, but rather, missiles aimed at Israeli population centers. Assad is fooling the world: He advocates diplomatic talks, yet evidence shows he is preparing for war. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians fired two Kassam rockets at Israel from northern Gaza Tuesday night. Earlier, two Kassam rockets landed near the security fence in northern Gaza. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Fires 8 Mortars on Erez Border Crossing in Gaza (Ynet News/Israel Radio)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Boycotting the Jews - Editorial
    Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians are intensifying, Hamas leaders are calling for the destruction of the Jewish state and Gaza descends into chaos. For the British left that naturally calls for a boycott of, you've guessed it, Israel. Not every criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. But the inverse, that criticism of the Jewish state is never anti-Semitic, can't be true either. To judge Israel by standards different than those applied to any other nation is racist in effect if not intent. (Wall Street Journal, 5Jun07)
  • Jordan Quietly Discussing Closer Ties with West Bank - Ilene R. Prusher
    The idea of the West Bank rejoining Jordan to form some kind of confederation seems to be gaining traction on both sides of the Jordan River. Given the deteriorating security in the Palestinian territories amid an ongoing power struggle between Fatah and Hamas, some Palestinians are again looking to Jordan - a country whose majority population is of Palestinian descent. Jordan's King Abdullah II is increasingly involved in bringing opinion-shapers and would-be peacemakers to reconsider the idea. In Jordan and in the Palestinian territories, discussion about a confederation is now appearing in newspapers. A poll released this week by Near East Counseling in Ramallah showed that 30% of Palestinians currently support the idea. (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also Are There Signs of a Jordanian-Palestinian Reengagement? - Dan Diker and Pinchas Inbari (ICA/JCPA)
  • Syria Is Exporting Instability - Michael Young
    It is clear that Syria hasn't stopped meddling in Lebanon's internal affairs. The Security Council only created its tribunal after efforts to establish a similar tribunal within Lebanon were stymied by Syrian allies. The Hariri tribunal, now that it has been formally established, poses an existential threat to the Syrian regime, and it is in Lebanon that the Syrians have and will continue to hit back to save themselves. In the outbreak of violence in northern Lebanon between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam, the group has claimed to be an al-Qaeda affiliate, but observers in Lebanon say that Fatah al-Islam is acting on Syria's behalf. The daily Al-Hayat reported that the group's weapons come from Palestinian organizations under Syrian control.
        Given the evidence, it makes no sense to dismiss Syrian involvement in the Lebanese crisis, or to blame the crisis on an al-Qaeda affiliate. When Syria is systematically exporting instability throughout the region, you have to wonder whether its regime can be a credible partner to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Israel Cannot Make Peace Alone - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Guardian-UK)

    • Looking back to the weeks preceding the Six-Day War, it may be difficult for you to imagine just how desperate life seemed for Israelis, ringed by peoples whose armies pointed their weapons towards us, whose leaders daily promised the imminent destruction of our state and whose newspapers carried crude cartoons of Jews being kicked off the face of the earth. We were once again people facing annihilation. We had no alternative but to defend ourselves, no strategic allies to ensure our survival. We stood alone.
    • Israel fought an unwanted war to defend its very existence, and today there are still leaders who call for Israel to be wiped off the map. Our survival in 1967 is now, in the eyes of the world, the original sin of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    • Over the last 15 years, successive Israeli governments have initiated talks with the Palestinians in every conceivable permutation in an attempt to reach a settlement. In the 1990s, Israel withdrew from all the Palestinian cities in the West Bank, handing its affairs over to a Palestinian Authority. Nearly two years ago, Israel withdrew its troops and civilians from Gaza, with no preconditions. In the face of concessions that have threatened our own domestic consensus, the constant refrain has been the Palestinian refusal to end its violent attacks on our citizens.
    • Palestinian violence is not a response to the capture of the West Bank and Gaza. From the emergence of the Zionist movement over 100 years ago, Arabs have opposed our claim to independence on our historic homeland, often violently. Our conflict is not territorial, it is national.
    • In the wider Arab world, there is ever greater recognition that Israel will not disappear from the map. I take the offer of full normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world seriously; and I am ready to discuss the Arab peace initiative in an open and sincere manner. But the talks must be a discussion, not an ultimatum.
    • Israel is prepared to make painful concessions to pay the price for a lasting and just peace that will allow the people of the Middle East to live in dignity and security. But as strong and resourceful as Israelis are, we cannot make peace alone.

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