Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 14, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Two Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers from Gaza Caught on Way to Attack - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The Shin Bet security service announced Wednesday that it had successfully foiled a double suicide attack on Tel Aviv and Netanya, planned by Islamic Jihad.
    Two women from Gaza, both mothers to young children, were arrested at the Erez crossing on May 20 as they tried to enter Israel.
    The two had requested permission to travel to Ramallah for medical reasons.
    The Shin Bet said the two were due to meet with an Islamic Jihad militant in Ramallah to receive explosive belts and be taken to the locations of the planned attacks.

A Struggle for Young Palestinian Minds - Karin Laub and Dalia Nammari (AP/Washington Post)
    During a year in power, the Islamic Hamas movement has begun taking control of Palestinian schools and is making changes.
    Palestinian children spend more of their school day studying Islam. Critical jobs in public education are filled by Islamic stalwarts. A once-banned social studies reader, crammed with hard-line rhetoric, is now in classrooms.
    "You are seeing the gradual transformation of a largely secular system and curriculum into a more ideological, closed system," said Hanan Ashrawi, a former minister of higher education.

Iran Seeks to Spread "Thought of Ahmadinejad"  (AFP/Yahoo)
    Ahmadinejad's chief of staff Abdol Reza Sheikh-ol Eslami has set up a special body to oversee the spread of the philosophy of the Iranian President, Iranian media reported on Sunday.
    Ahmadinejad's ideology is a distinctive mixture of religious rhetoric, assertions of Iran's power, and sharp attacks against Israel and the Western powers.
    He has repeatedly predicted that Israel will disappear, calling for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map," and last week said a "countdown" had begun towards its destruction. He has also dismissed the Holocaust as a "myth."
    See also Ahmadinejad Aims for a Big Hit with His "Works and Opinions" - Robert Tait (Guardian-UK)
    Ahmadinejad has already shown a desire to communicate his thoughts to a wider audience by launching his own blog in English, French, Farsi and Arabic.

Palestinian Official in Nablus: "Gunmen Threatened to Kill Me If I Do Not Employ Four Hamas Men" (Maan News-PA)
    The director of youth and sport in the PA Ministry of Sport, Fat'hi Khadir, said three members of the Interior Ministry's Executive Force in Nablus threatened to kill him if he does not employ four men who are among fifty appointed by the Hamas government.
    He said "the assailants were armed with pistols and knives, one of them was masked and they accosted me last night in my house."
    The attackers told Khalil that he is not permitted to open his office until he appoints the four men.

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  • Hamas Orders Rivals to Surrender as Gaza Falls Under Its Control - Paul Martin and Sonia Verma
    Hamas' most spectacular attack was the detonation of a one-ton tunnel bomb under a Fatah security headquarters in Khan Yunis. The ambush, which was apparently weeks in the planning, killed at least six and appeared to give Hamas control of the strategic southern town. In the border town of Rafah, Hamas fighters hoisted Hamas flags over the smoldering wreckage of the border security post as reports emerged of Fatah forces fleeing across the border into Egypt. In Gaza City, hundreds of Fatah loyalists from the influential Bakr clan surrendered to Hamas militants who had laid siege to their compound.
        On Wednesday about 1,000 Palestinians protesting against the violence marched through Gaza City, drawing gunfire that killed two of the demonstrators and wounded four others. The prospect of Hamas taking control of Gaza has terrified its secular residents, who fear that Islamist rule will be imposed. (Times-UK)
        See also "Don't Shoot, We're Not Jews" - Charles Levinson
    The Fatah security services ruled Gaza City for 15 years but are now holed up in fortified bunkers awaiting a fully-fledged assault by Hamas. "They're firing at us, firing RPGs, firing mortars. We're not Jews," the brother of Jamal Abu Jediyan, a Fatah commander, pleaded during a live telephone conversation with a Palestinian radio station. Minutes later both men were dragged into the streets and riddled with bullets. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Aid Worker Recounts Gaza Peace Protest - Hossam al-Madhoun (NPR)
  • U.S. Cool to International Force for Gaza - Helene Cooper
    Israeli and some Fatah officials have appealed for an international force to try to restore order in Gaza. But Middle East experts say that few countries are willing to send troops into the increasingly lawless territory, and Bush administration officials expressed little interest on Wednesday in supporting such a force. Martin Indyk, head of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, argues that if Hamas takes control of Gaza, it will become "a full terrorist state, right on the fault line of the Western world....It will be a haven for all the bad guys - Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad." (New York Times)
        See also Hamas Rejects Multinational Force - Yoav Stern and Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas said Thursday it would refuse to accept a multinational force. "Hamas rejects any dispatch of foreign forces to the Gaza Strip," Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said. "The movement would regard those forces as occupation forces." A multinational force in Gaza was suggested by Prime Minister Olmert and PA Chairman Abbas during separate phone conversations Tuesday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who in turn discussed it with the Security Council on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Takeover in Gaza Would Short-Circuit U.S. Plans - Adam Entous
    A Hamas takeover of Gaza would deal a blow to a U.S. peace push founded on the premise that Mahmoud Abbas would be capable of reining in militants and Israel would embrace him as a partner. Some Israeli and Western officials saw the Hamas-led assault as a pre-emptive strike against U.S. plans to bolster Abbas' forces for a planned crackdown on cross-border rocket attacks into Israel and smuggling of weaponry to militant groups. Washington has long held that negotiations will go nowhere if Israel cannot be assured that Abbas can curb cross-border militant attacks, and the U.S. had just launched a nearly $60 million program to bolster Abbas' Presidential Guard. (Reuters)
  • Bush Condemns Assassination of Lebanese Anti-Syrian Lawmaker - Bassem Mroue
    A bomb ripped through the car of vocal anti-Syrian lawmaker Walid Eido in Beirut on Wednesday, killing him and nine other people in the latest assassination of a Lebanese opponent of Damascus. President Bush condemned the bombing and pledged "the United States will continue to stand up for Lebanon, its people, and its legitimate government as they face these attacks.'' Bush said efforts by both Syria and Iran "to foment instability in Lebanon must stop now.'' (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Fatah Officials Call for Abbas Resignation; Hamas Seizes Weapons Provided Under U.S. Security Plan - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah officials and activists in the West Bank called on PA Chairman Abbas to resign, holding him responsible for the fact that Hamas was now in control of most of Gaza. Fatah officials confirmed that Hamas had seized large amounts of weapons and military equipment belonging to Abbas' security forces in Gaza. Some of the weapons were supplied to the PA in recent weeks by Egypt and Jordan as part of a U.S. security plan to boost Fatah-controlled forces.
        Hamas said it had seized thousands of M-16 and Kalashnikov rifles and pistols, communication equipment, armored vehicles, trucks, binoculars, uniforms, hand grenades and mortars. Hamas militiamen were seen driving some of the confiscated vehicles that have been decorated with Hamas flags and signs. Pictures of the weapons were posted on a number of Hamas-linked Web sites. "Most of the weapons came from Egypt and Jordan over the past few years," a senior Fatah official said. "They did not come directly from the U.S., although the Americans had initiated the supply of weapons and ammunition."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza: Two UN Workers Killed in Crossfire
    Two Palestinian employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency were shot dead in Gaza and the agency said on Wednesday it was suspending most of its operations due to the internal fighting. (Reuters/Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinian gunmen fired two Kassam rockets from northern Gaza toward Israel on Thursday morning. One rocket landed in the center of the town of Sderot, and another landed in a nearby kibbutz. A vehicle was damaged and a number of people suffered from shock in the attack. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas, Not the West, Is Behind the Gaza Bloodshed - Editorial
    Those who claim to have the Palestinians' best interests at heart insist the violence is the result of the refusal of Israel and its supporters - i.e., America - to negotiate with the democratically elected Hamas government. But this argument is as dangerous as it is specious. America and Israel have very sound reasons for not engaging in any form of dialogue with Hamas. Not only does Hamas remain committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, but it also steadfastly refuses to renounce violence as a means of achieving its political objectives. Hamas has certainly demonstrated its capacity for indulging in acts of extreme violence during the latest fighting, where captured Fatah gunmen are immediately shot. Not only does Hamas reject Israel's right to exist, but also the existence of any Palestinian who dares object to its radical Islamic agenda.
        Rather than engaging in dialogue, the West needs to intensify its efforts to prevent Hamas succeeding in its attempts to establish a theocracy in the Palestinian territories. Hamas derives most of its funding from Iran. A more effective blockade of Hamas' Gazan stronghold, one that prevents Teheran from fanning the flames of religious extremism in the Palestinian territories, would be a good start. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Divorce, Palestinian-Style - Claude Salhani
    The Palestinians "are not 'heading' towards a civil war. They are in the middle of one," says Claude Moniquet, president of the Brussels-based European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. Moniquet says the Palestinians have been in the midst of a civil war "for several weeks, if not months." The Belgian counter-terrorism specialist says that European "political correctness, whereby one would like to present the Palestinians as eternal victims and never, in any case, as the actors (and the persons with primary responsibility) for their own failures," is what has prevented the violence from being labeled a civil war. (UPI)
  • Syria Must Answer for Its Murders in Lebanon - Hussain Abdul-Hussain
    A bomb in Beirut Wednesday killed Walid Eido, a member of the Lebanese parliament, and his son, Khaled, one of the smartest, sweetest and most delightful friends I have ever had. I should wait for the results of an investigation into the explosion to learn who killed Khaled and his dad. But I will not wait. I am tired of the murders in Lebanon. I accuse the Syrian regime, headed by President Bashar al-Assad, of killing Khaled. Walid Eido was a member of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority. Before his untimely death, the majority bloc comprised 69 of the legislature's 128 members. Now, the majority's margin has been narrowed to five, and there is no reason to believe that Syria will not go after these people and kill them, one after another, until it forces the government to collapse. The writer, a media analyst, is a former reporter for the Daily Star of Lebanon. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    We Want Peace But Oppose Terrorism - Shimon Peres (Daily Star-Lebanon)

    • Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh remains opposed to recognizing Israel and respecting the existing agreements. He declared that he is for the continuation of resistance in all forms. What kind of guarantee of a good faith effort to reach a peace agreement can come from such a stance?
    • We are for negotiations. We are for the "two-state solution." We accept the Middle East "road map." What we are against is terrorism.
    • As it debates whether to resume providing financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, the EU should make it clear to Hamas that it is not going to finance terrorism and is not going to finance a refusal to make peace.
    • Iran represents a threat that combines religion with a determination to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran is the only country that openly declares its desire to destroy another member of the UN. That is a threat that every country must take seriously.
    • The issue is not one of restoring nuclear "balance" to the Middle East, as Iran's leaders maintain. Israel does not threaten anybody. Israel never said that it wants to destroy Iran; Israel never openly proclaimed that it would enrich uranium and build nuclear bombs in order to destroy another country. On the contrary, Israel has said that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
    • Israel wants - indeed, desperately needs - peace and stability in the Middle East, and we will continue to do everything in our power to achieve it. But we cannot reach that goal alone, much less negotiate with those whose idea of a stable and peaceful Middle East is one that has no place for Israel.

      The writer was elected Wednesday as the next president of Israel.

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