Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Bush Weighs Reaching Out to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
Egypt Moves Embassy from Gaza to West Bank (UPI)
Inside Gaza, a Landscape Marked by Violent Change - Scott Wilson (Washington Post)
Muslim World Inflamed by Rushdie Knighthood - Ben Hoyle (Times-UK)
Israel Prison Service Separates Hamas and Fatah Inmates - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
Fatah Kills Suspected Collaborator with Israel in West Bank Hospital (AP/Ha'aretz)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
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 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:
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)
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)
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)
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):
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)
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)
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)
Fatah Isn't the Answer - Michael Oren (Wall Street Journal, 20Jun07)
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