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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

Wednesday,
July 4, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Attack on German UNIFIL Naval Vessel Foiled (Jerusalem Post)
    The Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL arrested a group of terrorists planning a naval attack on a German vessel, As-Safir, a Lebanese daily, reported Tuesday.
    The detainees were training in northern Lebanon, across from the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.
    See also Lebanese Army Breaks Up Scuba Terrorists (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    The terrorist group had been undertaking scuba-diving training.


Iran, Low on Gasoline, to Be Supplied by Venezuela - Nazila Fathi (New York Times)
    Venezuela agreed to sell Iran gasoline on Tuesday, less than a week after Iran unveiled a rationing program to limit its dependence on gasoline imports.


Fatah Officers Go Underground in Gaza - Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times)
    Suspicion and recrimination permeate the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.
    Tahar was a Fatah military intelligence officer, and now he says he is a target, even though Hamas has invited him and other Fatah police and security officials to work for it.
    "How can I work with somebody from Hamas who one week ago was shooting at me? Who killed my colleagues?" Tahar said last week.
    "How can I live with somebody who still thinks I'm a collaborator with Israel and the Americans?"


The Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    The Islamist international network of the Muslim Brotherhood has, for the first time, become the sovereign power over a piece of territory. Gaza has suddenly become a laboratory for political Islam in the Middle East.
    For many Muslims, Hamas is the tip of the Brotherhood's spear. The neighboring secular Arab regimes see it as a threat to their very existence.
    The newspaper Al Ahram, which acts as an Egyptian government mouthpiece, commented that "the problem of Hamas isn't limited to Gaza. Here in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood does not recognize the legitimacy of the government, the constitution and the law. Whoever ignores that takes us to the gates of Hell, which Gaza has opened."
    Political Islam - with the Muslim Brotherhood at its vanguard - is now a power in both its moderate and militant manifestations from the shores of the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.


Palm Beach County Considers Investing $15M in Israel Bonds - Josh Hafenbrack (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
    Palm Beach County is looking to buy $15 million in bonds issued by the State of Israel.
    It "gives us a better rate of return than other bonds that we have, and it's helping a country that's a friend and ally of the United States," said Commissioner Burt Aaronson, who leads the county's investment policy committee.
    The Florida state government is a longtime investor in Israel, currently holding at least $230 million in Israeli securities, according to a legislative analysis.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • BBC's Gaza Correspondent Released After a Four-Month "Appalling Experience"
    BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, 45, was released Wednesday by his kidnappers in Gaza after nearly four months in captivity. He said it was "fantastic" to be free after an "appalling experience." Johnston was abducted on March 12 by the Army of Islam, a group dominated by Gaza's powerful Dugmush clan. "The last 16 weeks have been the very worst of my life," Johnston said. "I was in the hands of people who were dangerous and unpredictable." Johnston said he fell ill from the food he was served. He described his experience of captivity as "occasionally quite terrifying." (BBC News)
        See also Reporter Freed after Hamas Besieges Kidnappers' Compound - James Hider and Paul Martin
    Johnston's sudden release came after Hamas had tightened the siege around the Army of Islam compound. On Tuesday, hundreds of Hamas fighters threw a tight cordon around the area of Gaza City where Johnston was being held. Abu Subhi, a member of the Hamas Executive Force, said, "We have decided to cut the electricity and water and there are roadblocks all around." Hamas fighters knelt in firing positions on street corners while pickup trucks full of armed and uniformed enforcers sped through the streets, sirens wailing. An entire brigade of Executive Force gunmen surrounded the area, checking identity papers and arresting anyone associated with the Army of Islam. (Times-UK)
        See also Hamas Chief Meshaal Hails BBC Man's Release
    The leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said on Wednesday the freeing of BBC journalist Alan Johnston showed his Islamist movement had brought order to Gaza. "We have been able to close this chapter which has harmed the image of our people greatly," Meshaal said. (Reuters)
  • Attempts in UK Seen as Model for New Attacks on U.S. Soil - Karen DeYoung
    The next terrorist assault on the United States is likely to come through relatively unsophisticated, near-simultaneous attacks - similar to those attempted in Britain over the weekend - U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials believe. The incidents in England and Scotland, counterterrorism officials said, coincide with recent U.S. intelligence indicating stepped-up movement of money and people from al-Qaeda camps in the ungoverned tribal areas of Pakistan, near the Afghan border.
        Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert at Georgetown University, said he considered al-Qaeda involvement likely in the British incidents and disagreed with those who labeled the attacks amateurish. "They didn't work, but I think of all the al-Qaeda plots we've seen, their sophistication is in their simplicity. They used available materials."  (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • "The Saudi Plan Is Dead": Senior Saudi Officials Admit to Israel that the Initiative Is No Longer Relevant - Uri Yablonka
    Israel's hope to reach an understanding on a political settlement together with the countries of the Arab League has run aground. Senior political officials in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan announced in closed meetings with senior Israelis that the "Saudi Initiative," which Prime Minister Olmert sees as a basis for an agreement, is presently dead, and that as long as the chaos continues within the Palestinian Authority, there is no point in pursuing this avenue. These clarifications were received by senior Israeli political and defense officials.
        An internal document from the Foreign Ministry of July 2 says that Saudi Arabia has significantly changed its policy toward Israel and the PA. "Saudi reluctance to express clear support for Abbas and his new government reflects Saudi opposition to Abbas' policy to isolate Hamas," the document says. It further notes that the Saudis are very disappointed by the rapid failure of the Mecca Agreement brokered between Hamas and Fatah earlier this year. The document states that Israel should stop using the term "the Saudi Initiative."  (Ma'ariv-Hebrew)
  • Israel, Palestinians Resume Security Talks
    Israeli and Palestinian security officials have resumed meetings after nearly two years, officials on both sides confirmed Tuesday. The officials met Monday to "talk about how to move forward with security cooperation," said Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Olmert. Palestinian officials said the session was the latest in a flurry of contacts in recent weeks. The officials said the talks included discussions on the movement of Palestinian forces and guarantees of safety for security installations during Israeli military operations. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Blocks Rise of Hamas in West Bank - Shahar Ilan
    The deputy head of IDF Military Intelligence, Col. Ronen Cohen, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday: "It is not the PA that is preventing Hamas from establishing itself militarily in the West Bank, but rather the IDF and the Shin Bet security service. As long as the IDF is in the territories, Hamas can't reach the same military level as in Gaza." Cohen also said Hamas' long-term goal in Gaza is to institute a government according to Islamic law. "It will be a slow and gradual process, and Hamas is still formulating plans on how to implement it." (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket at Israel Tuesday evening. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Islamic Jihad Fires Mortars at Israel
    Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for mortars fired into Israel from Gaza on Tuesday afternoon. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Moral Relativism and "A Mighty Heart" - Judea Pearl
    There can be no moral equivalence between those who seek to build a more liberal, tolerant world and those who advocate the annihilation of other faiths, cultures, or states. Thanks to the release of "A Mighty Heart," the movie based on Mariane Pearl's book of the same title, the legacy of my son, Daniel Pearl, is once again receiving attention. Yet the film compares Danny's abduction with Guantanamo and compares al-Qaeda militants with CIA agents. I am concerned that aspects of the movie will play into the hands of professional obscurers of moral clarity.
        Danny's tragedy demands an end to this logic. There can be no comparison between those who take pride in the killing of an unarmed journalist and those who vow to end such acts - no ifs, ands, or buts. Moral relativism died with Daniel Pearl, in Karachi, on January 31, 2002. There was a time when drawing moral symmetries between two sides of every conflict was a mark of original thinking. Today, it reflects nothing but lazy conformity. (New Republic)
  • "Islamophobia" Idiocy - Amir Taheri
    Ken Livingstone, London's quixotic mayor, has shifted the blame from the terrorists to the British at large, who are supposedly tempted by "Islamophobia." Thus, Livingstone works his way into a logical impasse: Do we dislike them because they want to kill us, or do they want to kill us because we dislike them? He implies that the main blame must lie with the British government and its U.S. allies, especially President Bush, who has declared war on terror rather than seeking to cuddle it.
        Britain and a few other Western democracies are the only places on earth where Muslims of all persuasions can practice their faith in full freedom. Hamas and Hizbullah are strongly present in Britain; the Islamic Liberation Party, banned in all Muslim countries, has its headquarters in London. Pro-Hamas and pro-Hizbullah militants are featured on British TV almost every evening. The Islamic Republic of Iran's "Supreme Guide," Ali Khamenei, maintains a "personal office" in London with twice as many personnel as Iran's official embassy. (New York Post)
  • Why Israel Must Now Move from Concessions-Based Diplomacy to Rights-Based Diplomacy - Dan Diker
    For most of the period from 1993 to 2000, Israel's overall diplomatic strategy focused on helping the Palestinians achieve their demands for what Arafat and Palestinian spokesmen had always termed their "legitimate rights," hoping this would result in peace and security for Israelis. Once Israel dropped its past reliance on a diplomacy based on its own rights and adopted a new concession-based diplomacy instead, its spokesmen essentially acquiesced to the Palestinian historical narrative and offered no alternative Israeli perspective. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Hamas' Hidden Economy - Matthew Levitt (Los Angeles Times)

    • Military insurrections cost money. To take over Gaza last month, Hamas had to pay salaries, procure weapons, manufacture rockets, buy help from local crime families, bribe opponents, print leaflets and banners, produce media propaganda and even order up Hamas hats and bandanas. How did Hamas fund the Gaza coup?
    • In the face of international sanctions, Hamas has successfully transferred funds into the West Bank and Gaza through its charity committees and social service organizations. Mixing funds across its political, charitable and militant wings, Hamas supports its Executive Force militia and Izzidin al-Qassam Brigade terror cells under a veil of political and humanitarian legitimacy.
    • The U.S. and EU should expand their designation of terrorist entities to include the long list of Hamas-controlled entities in the West Bank and Gaza that receive foreign charity. Designating charity committees tied to Hamas would prompt international banks to block such transactions.
    • As long as its political and social wings are allowed to operate unhindered, Hamas will be able to fully fund all of its activities, including its terrorist attacks against Israelis and Palestinians alike.

      The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


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