Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


June 20, 2007

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Bush Weighs Reaching Out to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
    The Bush administration is quietly weighing the prospect of reaching out to the party that founded modern political Islam - the Muslim Brotherhood.
    The current American deliberations take on new significance in light of Hamas' successful coup in Gaza last week. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is widely reported to have helped create Hamas in 1982.
    The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research will host a meeting with other representatives of the intelligence community to discuss opening more formal channels to the Brotherhood.

Egypt Moves Embassy from Gaza to West Bank (UPI)
    The takeover of Gaza by Hamas has pushed Egypt to transfer its embassy from Gaza to Ramallah in the West Bank in a clear indication of Cairo's support for Abbas' government.
    See also Egypt Quietly Supports Hamas Takeover (Middle East Newsline)
    Western intelligence sources said Egypt cooperated with Hamas in allowing shipments of weapons, munitions and explosives that facilitated the Islamic takeover of Gaza last week.
    The sources said Egypt concluded that a Hamas takeover would halt or reduce insurgency infiltration in the Sinai Peninsula.
    "The Egyptians were in the picture as early as several weeks ago," an intelligence source said. "[Hamas leader Khaled] Mashaal discussed the Fatah strategic threat and said Hamas would stop [Fatah security chief Mohammed] Dahlan at any cost."

Inside Gaza, a Landscape Marked by Violent Change - Scott Wilson (Washington Post)
    The intensity of Hamas' military rout of Fatah forces last week and the accounts of doctors, fighters and survivors who witnessed it suggest that a furious score-settling had taken place.
    Raji Sourani, 53, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said three fighters were shot dead at point-blank range while recovering from wounds in Gaza's hospitals.
    Many other summary executions happened in the streets, he said, implicating both Hamas and Fatah.
    After a Hamas-issued ultimatum for Fatah forces to give up their guns expired Friday, Hamas fighters began going door-to-door seizing rifles and ammunition, working from lists seized in the security posts.

Muslim World Inflamed by Rushdie Knighthood - Ben Hoyle (Times-UK)
    Eighteen years after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to kill author Salman Rushdie, he is once again the subject of death threats across the Islamic world.
    Muhammad Ali Hosseini, Iran's foreign affairs spokesman, said on Sunday that Rushdie's recent knighthood "will definitely put the British officials in confrontation with Islamic societies."

Israel Prison Service Separates Hamas and Fatah Inmates - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Prison Service on Friday separated Palestinian security prisoners affiliated with Fatah and those from Hamas after receiving intelligence information indicating that factional violence could break out among the prisoners due to the events in Gaza.

Fatah Kills Suspected Collaborator with Israel in West Bank Hospital (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Palestinian militants on Sunday shot and killed Amjad Jouri, 26, whom they suspected of collaborating with Israel, as he lay on the X-ray table at a hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus, witnesses said.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • President Bush Meets with Prime Minister Olmert at White House
    President Bush: "We face extremists and radicals who use violence and murder as a tool to achieve objectives....Those of us that believe in liberty and human rights and human decency need to be bound together in common cause to fight off these extremists, and to defeat them. You can only defeat them so much militarily. We have to also defeat them with a better idea. It's a better idea that's being practiced by our friend, Israel. It's called democracy. And that's the fundamental challenge facing this century: Will we have the courage and the resolve necessary to help democracy defeat this ideology?"
        Prime Minister Olmert: "The idea that I have is to talk with [Mahmoud Abbas on] the current issues that can help upgrade the quality of life of the people and provide them better security in the West Bank, and to share with him the efforts to calm the terror - this is something that he is absolutely committed to doing, we have to do it, and this is not something that the Palestinians can escape. They will help fight terror in a most effective way - something that they haven't done, unfortunately, up until now. But this is something that I am sure he understands is a prerequisite for any major development in the future."  (White House)
  • Hamas Lying in Wait in West Bank - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Hamas leaders in the West Bank have been driven underground by a Fatah campaign of kidnappings and arrests, but the Islamic militants warn they'll eventually come out of hiding to try to destabilize the rule of Mahmoud Abbas with car bombings and assassinations. Iranian funding for Hamas, Abbas' political weakness and Fatah infighting could one day change the balance, Fatah leaders, Hamas militants and Israeli analysts say.
        A top Palestinian security official in Ramallah said Hamas has recruited hundreds who are organized in sleeper cells, outfitted with guns and uniforms, and ready to move. A senior Hamas leader wanted by Israel said the group has recruited about 4,000 gunmen in Nablus and Hebron, and has thousands of weapons. Hillel Frisch, an Israeli analyst, said Iranian money could buy off Fatah security officers who haven't been fully paid for months. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Dahlan: Hamas Could Strike in West Bank - Sean Maguire and Alastair Macdonald
    Mohammad Dahlan, who runs Mahmoud Abbas' security forces, said Tuesday, "If serious reforms are not undertaken in the security forces, it would be easy for Hamas to take over the West Bank." (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Terrorists Planned to Blow Up Synagogue, Kidnap U.S. Citizens - Yuval Azoulay
    The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) uncovered a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) cell that had planned a series of attacks, including bombing a Modi'in synagogue and kidnapping U.S. citizens in the West Bank, according to information made public Tuesday. PFLP member Ramzi Sharona, who had been illegally working as a laborer in Modi'in, said he intended to plant an explosive device in a nearby synagogue, blow it up, and then flee to Ramallah. In addition, the cell was planning to kidnap U.S. civilians in order to swap them for jailed PFLP leader Ahmed Sa'adat, shoot motorists on a Modi'in road, and attack Israel Defense Forces soldiers in Hebron. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Assists Palestinians at Gaza Crossing
    The IDF has allowed paramedics to administer immediate treatment to wounded Palestinians at the Erez crossing and enable the evacuation of those suffering from serious injuries to hospitals in Israel as a goodwill gesture and a humanitarian act. In addition, the IDF has started allowing West Bank residents who were in Gaza during Hamas' takeover to cross into Israel on their way back to the West Bank. (Ynet News)
  • Militias Challenge Hamas Effort to Stabilize Gaza Following Takeover - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Armed groups in Gaza are making their own laws and defying Hamas' authority. These are splinter groups that split from Hamas and Fatah in the past, as well as clans that established their own armed militias in order to protect themselves and their criminal business activity. Some of these factions and clans apparently receive aid and funding from organizations affiliated with al-Qaeda. When Hamas attempted to make a gesture and demanded the release of British journalist Alan Johnston, the head of the clan holding him, Mumtaz Durmush, made it clear to them he was the boss and refused to release Johnston.
        It appears that Hamas does not intend to give in and in the coming days we are likely to see the continuation of armed clashes in Gaza. However, the armed groups Hamas seeks to disarm may attempt to strike at Israeli territory or launch rockets. An Israeli response would force Hamas to contend with the IDF and ease the military pressure on these groups.
        Israel will apparently also need to act to curb the smuggling that has turned into a flood on the Philadelphi Route between Egypt and Gaza. We are talking about above-ground smuggling through breaches in the wall. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets into Israel on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Munich 1934, Gaza City 2007 - Editorial
    The bloody anti-Fatah putsch staged by Hamas constitutes a strategic black eye for the U.S. and another sign of the ability of the Tehran-Damascus Axis to project power with absolute ruthlessness and brutal precision throughout the Middle East. Washington and the Europeans are discussing a resumption of aid to the PA, but to what end? Given the corruption that has long been endemic, how do we know that money going to Abbas won't "trickle down" to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - a terrorist arm of Abbas' Fatah that has worked with Tehran and its allies in the past and remains one of the dominant terrorist gangs in the West Bank? It's time for some serious congressional oversight hearings about the continued usefulness of U.S. assistance to Abbas. (Washington Times)
  • Behind the Masks - Thomas L. Friedman
    Why were both the Hamas and Fatah fighters wearing ski masks? (And where do you buy a ski mask in Gaza?) These masks are worn by fighters who wish to shield themselves from the gaze of their parents, friends and neighbors, for there was surely an element of shame that Palestinian brothers were killing brothers, throwing each other off rooftops and dragging each other from hospital beds. The mask both protects you against shame and liberates you to kill your brothers - and their children. In our society, it's usually only burglars, rapists or Ku Klux Klansmen who wear masks. The mask literally says: "I don't play by the rules." (New York Times, 20Jun07)
  • Should States Sell Stocks to Protest Links to Iran? - Neil King Jr.
    Three years ago, Josh Mandel was fighting insurgents as a Marine in Iraq. Today, as a freshman state legislator in Ohio, Mandel has proposed a bill forcing the state's five public pension funds to divest themselves of stock in foreign companies doing business in Iran. "The state should not be investing people's hard-earned dollars in countries that are sworn to America's destruction," he says.
        A new legislative movement is tapping a wellspring of anxiety over Iran and its perceived threat to U.S. troops in the Middle East and to U.S. allies such as Israel. At least 14 other statehouses across the country are considering similar anti-Iran efforts. Last month, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. Sam Brownback introduced legislation to support the local divestment bills and to shield divestment legislation from potential lawsuits challenging the states' right to enact laws that impact foreign policy. While U.S. companies have long been barred from operating in Iran, more than 200 multinationals have investments there, from British-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC and French telecommunications-equipment company Alcatel SA to Sweden's electronics company Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson. (Wall Street Journal, 14Jun07)
  • Observations:

    Fatah Isn't the Answer - Michael Oren (Wall Street Journal, 20Jun07)

    • The green flags of Hamas are unfurling over Gaza and the Fatah forces trained and financed by the U.S. have ignominiously fled. Fears are rife that Iranian-backed and Syrian-hosted terror will next achieve dominance over the West Bank and proceed to undermine the pro-Western governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf. To avert this catastrophe, the U.S. has joined with the Israelis and the Europeans in resuming the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid to the PA under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, and accelerating talks for the establishment of a West Bank Palestinian state.
    • But the policy ignores every lesson of the abortive peace process to date as well as Fatah's monumental corruption, jihadism and militancy. Indeed, the unbridled corruption of the PA and its Fatah headmen served as a principal cause of Hamas' electoral victory in 2006, as well as its takeover of Gaza.
    • Though Fatah originally aspired to replace Israel with a secular state, it refashioned itself in the 1990s as an Islamic movement, embracing the lexicon of jihad. Hundreds of mosques were built with public funds, and imams were hired to spread the message of martyrdom and the hatred of Christians and Jews. These themes became the staple of the official PA media, inciting the suicide bombings that began in 2000 and poisoning an entire generation of Palestinian youth.
    • Fatah has never fulfilled its pledges to crack down on terror. Though Mahmoud Abbas routinely criticizes Palestinian terrorist attacks as "contrary to the Palestinian national interest" - not an affront to morality and international law - he has never disavowed the al-Aqsa Brigades, a Fatah affiliate responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks against Israeli civilians.
    • In view of its performance over the past 14 years, the Palestinian Authority under Fatah can be counted on to squander most or all of the vast sums now being given to it by the U.S. and the international community. More gunmen will be hired and better weapons procured, but in the absence of a unified command and a leadership worth fighting for, PA soldiers will perform no more credibly than they did in Gaza. Abbas will continue to denounce terror while ignoring the terrorist units within his own organization, while PA imams will persist in preaching their jihadist sermons.
    • Clearly no progress toward Palestinian statehood can be made before Fatah has reformed itself financially, ideologically and structurally. This process is certain to take many years - longer if economic aid and political support are provided to the PA unconditionally.
    • The U.S., together with its Quartet partners, can work to establish areas of extensive Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank. Security, however, will be jointly administered by Israel and Jordan. The Jordanian involvement is crucial to convincing Palestinians that the status quo of occupation has ended and they may in the future assume full responsibility for their internal defense. Such an arrangement will benefit Jordan as well, by facilitating its efforts to fight radicalism and stem the flight of Palestinians over its borders.

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center and the author of Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (Norton, 2007).

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert