Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 13, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Shimon Peres Elected President of Israel (Ynet News)
    Israel's Knesset on Wednesday elected former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, 83, to be the ninth president of Israel.
    He will take office July 15 for a seven-year term.

Iran Cranking Up Uranium Enrichment Capability - Michael Adler (AFP/Yahoo)
    The UN atomic agency thinks Iran could have 8,000 centrifuges enriching uranium by December, a significant rise in nuclear capability likely to fuel fears that Tehran seeks nuclear weapons, diplomats said Tuesday.
    See also Iran Uses Fronts to Avoid UN Sanctions - David R. Sands (Washington Times)
    Iran is using newly created front companies in a bid to frustrate U.S. and UN sanctions, according to information supplied by the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran.
    In two cases, Iranian authorities have simply changed the name and headquarters mailing address for companies recently targeted for sanctions by the U.S. Treasury and the UN Security Council.
    Council press spokesman Shahin Gobadi said the charges showed the futility of negotiations and compromise to get Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions.
    "The mullahs will never give up on their quest to obtain a nuclear bomb," he said, calling for "comprehensive technological, weapons, diplomatic and oil sanctions" on Tehran.

Revealed: Fatah al-Islam, Al-Qaeda, Syria Links; Bomb Plot Against UNIFIL (MEMRI)
    Interrogations of Fatah al-Islam detainees have shown that Ahmad Mar'i served as a link between Syrian intelligence, al-Qaeda, and Fatah al-Islam.
    Mar'i smuggled fighters from Syria into the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp under the supervision of Syrian intelligence.
    His brother Muhammad Mar'i acknowledged during questioning that Ahmad had told him of terror operations being planned by Fatah al-Islam, including a bombing against UNIFIL in Lebanon.
    He also said that Fatah al-Islam's supreme commander who is planning and funding the operations is "Abu Talha," a Saudi who arrives in Lebanon occasionally to convey instructions and funds and then returns to Iraq via Syria.

Barak Elected to Head Labor Party - Barak Ravid, Yuval Azoulay and Mazal Mualem (Ha'aretz)
    Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak defeated MK Ami Ayalon by 34,960 to 31,100 (51% to 48%) Tuesday to capture the chairmanship of the Labor Party.

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  • Hamas Attacks Escalate in Gaza as Palestinians Fight for Power - Steven Erlanger and Isabel Kershner
    Gunmen of rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah sharply escalated their fight for supremacy on Tuesday, with Hamas taking over much of the northern Gaza Strip in what is looking increasingly like a civil war. In one Hamas attack on a Fatah security headquarters in northern Gaza, at least 21 Palestinians were reported killed and another 60 wounded, said Moaweya Hassanein of the Palestinian Health Ministry. (New York Times)
        See also Egyptian and Jordanian Intelligence Chiefs: "Al-Qaeda is Leading the Battles in Gaza" - Semadar Peri
    According to the heads of Egyptian and Jordanian Intelligence, General Omar Sulayman and General Muhammad Dahbi, al-Qaeda caused the violation of the Mecca Agreement for a Palestinian unity government, the renewal of clashes between Hamas and Fatah, and the conversion of the strip into "Gazastan." Egyptian intelligence officers presented photographs of the warfare, arguing that "the type of fighting that is being waged now in Gaza is characteristic of the style of al-Qaeda Iraq." The intelligence chiefs expressed concern that the bloody clashes in Gaza will spill over to neighboring countries: Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 13Jun07)
        See also The Growing Al-Qaeda Presence in the Hamas-Controlled Gaza Strip - Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (JCPA)
  • Gaza Residents Under Fire
    Ahmed, 27, from Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza says, "Here in the north things are calm. It's now a green bloc, all under Hamas control. Last night a Fatah leader was assassinated in Jabaliya....So people are thinking: 'That's it. He was the last one....It was obvious Hamas was targeting the Fatah leadership in the northern areas even though the man himself had good relations with everyone....People don't understand the Palestinian Authority - they are all paralyzed and there's no leadership. They can't even protect their own leaders." (BBC News)
        See also Gaza Hospitals Turned into Battlefields - Sarah El Deeb
    Hamas-affiliated security guards used the roof of the European hospital in Khan Yunis to launch an assault on a nearby Fatah position Tuesday. The hospital in Beit Hanoun shut down entirely after three people were shot dead inside on Monday. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • Sderot Residents Relate Tales of Life Under Siege - Erin Durkin
    Five residents of the Israeli city of Sderot, a frequent target of Palestinian rockets fired from nearby Gaza, related their experiences Monday to Jewish leaders in New York at an event sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. A social worker who specializes in counseling trauma victims, Aharon Polat, said he often treated "children that cry all the time, that don't want to go to school, that can't separate from their parents for even a minute, that can't eat well and can't sleep well." Polat said he frequently saw children playing games based on rocket attacks. One child shouts "Red Alert" and the others run and take cover. Mor Yehudai, 21, said a rocket destroyed her family's home more than two years ago. (New York Sun)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas on Verge of Conquest of Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas was on the verge of completing its conquest of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, with positions in Gaza City remaining as the only significant bastions of Fatah resistance. Eight Fatah men were killed in fierce fighting near the home of senior Fatah official Maher Mekdad. Mekdad was able to escape, but Hamas took control of the area. Hamas seized control of the refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip, after it swept into the headquarters of Abbas' National Security Forces facing only token resistance.
        At least 25 people were killed and dozens wounded in Tuesday's fighting, including at least 10 killed when Hamas captured the headquarters of the Fatah-allied security forces in northern Gaza. Fatah sources said Tuesday they believed Hamas was seeking a decisive victory in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Israeli School, No Injuries - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a rocket Wednesday morning that landed in a western Negev high school, near the music classroom. No injuries were reported, but several windows in the school were shattered. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Is Staging a Coup in Gaza - Danny Rubinstein
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas says Hamas is attempting to stage a coup. Hamas' military drive seems to have been meticulously planned in advance, including the targeting of headquarters, public facilities, and particular central figures. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas' Gaza and Fatah's West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Jamal Abu Jadian, a top Fatah commander, fled his home in northern Gaza dressed as a woman to avoid dozens of Hamas militiamen who had attacked it. But when Abu Jadian arrived at a hospital a few hundred meters away from his house, he was discovered by a group of Hamas gunmen, who took turns shooting him in the head with automatic rifles. Abu Jadian, a close ally of Fatah warlord Muhammad Dahlan and a sworn enemy of Hamas, was the third top Fatah commander to be killed by Hamas in northern Gaza in the past few weeks. All three were killed after Hamas militiamen surrounded their homes for hours, firing rocket-propelled grenades and detonating explosive charges.
        Since the beginning of the year, Hamas militiamen have taken over the headquarters of the PA's General Intelligence, Force 17, Preventative Security, National Security, and Military Police in northern Gaza. On Tuesday it became clear that Hamas was now trying to extend its "victories" to the rest of Gaza. Dahlan left Gaza two months ago and is living in Cairo. At least seven other top Fatah officials have sought refuge in the West Bank. The entire Gaza Strip is likely to fall into the hands of Hamas. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas Captures Fatah Weapons, Armored Jeeps - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A PA official revealed that Hamas managed to lay its hands on large amounts of weapons belonging to the Fatah-controlled security forces in many parts of Gaza. "They have seized thousands of rifles, large amounts of ammunition, and dozens of vehicles, including armored jeeps," he said.
        Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said his movement was determined to win the battle against Fatah. "We have decided to clean the country from these ferocious dogs who have long been serving their Israeli masters," he said. "This is a final decision and we won't backtrack." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Civil War / Hamastan, Fatahstan - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    A civil war is raging in Gaza - and the Islamists have the upper hand. The old Palestinian dream of a real state is fading fast. The speech that President George Bush is scheduled to deliver on June 24 (the fifth anniversary of his speech laying out a two-state vision for the Middle East) will have to undergo substantial revision. Hamas' takeover of Gaza, which seems closer than ever, is destined to split the territories into two entities that are politically and even culturally separate: Hamastan (Gaza) and Fatahstan (West Bank).
        Anyone in Israel still contemplating the question of a Palestinian partner might also need to do some rethinking. In Gaza, at least, it seems there is nobody left for Israel to talk to. This time, Hamas apparently believes it is on the verge of a historic victory. On Monday it announced a call-up of all its militants and began implementing an orderly plan of action whose stated object is to eliminate Fatah in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Boycott Plan Puts Our Reputation at Risk - Letters to the Editor (Guardian-UK)

    • The proposal by the University and College Union for a boycott of Israeli universities is against all the principles of academic freedom that universities espouse. Such action threatens the universality of research and learning and is condemned by the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and Universities UK, representing all universities' vice-chancellors. It is explicitly opposed by the International Council for Science on the grounds that it conflicts with the vision of universities founded on freedom of inquiry, independent of political pressure.
    • Nor will a boycott help the cause of the Palestinians or their universities, where there are many ongoing Israeli-Palestinian joint academic activities. These constitute one of the few avenues for dialogue between the two peoples and, as the president of al-Quds University has stated, a boycott would be harmful to the Palestinian cause.
    • We strongly believe these efforts, by less than 0.15% of the membership of the UCU, to undermine academic dialogue tarnishes the reputation of the UK academic community and of the union itself.
          Signed by members of the House of Lords, professors, and Nobel laureates
    • Academics have a professional responsibility to spread knowledge and promote understanding. The proposal by the UCU is an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange.
          Jane Kennedy MP Chair, Labour Friends of Israel, Gillian Shephard President, Conservative Friends of Israel, Alan Beith MP President, Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, Roger Lyons Chair, Trade Union Friends of Israel
        See also Scant Support for Israel Boycott Plan - Alexandra Frean
    The backlash against a threatened British boycott of Israeli universities gathered pace Wednesday with a full-page advertisement in The Times presenting a statement from more than 250 distinguished academics and thinkers condemning the move as "bad for Britain, bad for academic freedom, bad for Palestinians and bad for peace." (Times-UK)

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