Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
IDF: Syria's Anti-Aircraft System Most Advanced in World - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
Shortages in Gaza Hamper Rocket Fire - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
Indonesia: Islamic Caliphate Conference to Attract 100,000 (AKI-Italy)
Over 10,000 Palestinians Attend West Bank Rally to Restore Islamic Caliphate (AP/International Herald Tribune)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Hizbullah is buying up large tracts of land owned by Christians and other non-Shias in southern Lebanon as the militant group rebuilds its defenses in preparation for a new war with Israel. The forested wadis, or valleys, north of the Litani River make ideal terrain for Hizbullah's brand of guerrilla warfare and, just 10 miles from the border, are within rocket range of Israeli cities. "Christians and Druze are selling land and moving out, while the Shia are moving in. There is an extraordinary demographic shift taking place," said Edmund Rizk, a former Christian MP for the area. Wealthy Shia businessman Ali Tajeddine, who made his fortune trading diamonds in Sierra Leone, is said to be using Iranian funds to buy land from destitute villagers at up to four times the going rate.
Critics fear a grand scheme to create a strip of Shia-controlled land connecting southern Lebanon to Hizbullah's other power center in the Bekaa Valley. "It is part of Hizbullah's plan to create a state within a state," said Walid Jumblatt, a Druze leader. He also pointed to the four-lane road being built to connect the Hizbullah stronghold of Nabatiye in the south to the western Bekaa. Banners openly proclaim the source of the road's funding: "510 km of new roads paid for by the Iranian Organization for Sharing in the Building of Lebanon." (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
Britain should begin talking directly with three of the Middle East's most prominent radical Islamic groups - Hamas, Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood - a committee of lawmakers said in a report released Monday. British diplomats should speak with moderate elements from such groups and continue engaging Iran and Syria because their influence can no longer be discounted, Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said. "The Muslim Brotherhood is strong in Egypt, and Hamas and Hizbullah cannot be ignored," the report said. The lawmakers urged former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the new envoy for the Quartet, to negotiate directly with the militant Islamic organization Hamas. (AP/Washington Post)
Hamas militiamen detained at least 10 members of the rival Fatah movement after breaking up a wedding and beating guests in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun. At least 10 people were hurt in the confrontation. After the incident, about 150 relatives of those arrested staged protests outside Hamas offices in the town. (VOA News)
See also Video: Hamas Troops Trash Fatah Wedding Party (YouTube)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Congressman Tom Lantos, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, warned Sunday in Jerusalem against the premature removal of West Bank checkpoints. "The Palestinian Authority is not capable of providing security at this stage," he said. "The premature removal of these checkpoints is a guarantee of violence and terrorism erupting." "Having conquered Gaza, Hamas is determined to conquer the West Bank, and to destroy Israel," he said. "Arms and funds are pouring in through the tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. It is long overdue that the vast Egyptian army take the necessary steps to stop this outrageous flow perpetrated by the merchants of death."
Lantos said Saudi Arabian leaders should talk with Israel if they wanted to be serious actors in the peace process. "The time is long overdue for the Saudis to recognize that if there is to be peace in this region, they and the Israeli leadership must meet face to face many times to move this difficult process forward." Lantos doubted whether President Bush's planned international summit would yield significant results. "We must not exaggerate any expectations with respect to that meeting," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Two months after Hamas' takeover of Gaza, Fatah units have begun infiltrating the Strip and operating there undercover in a bid to topple the current regime. Several groups numbering five to ten members each have started operating in Gaza City and the southern Strip, under the name al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - Samih al-Madhoun Cells, named after a former commander who was executed by Hamas in Gaza. The Fatah members have planted explosive devices and carried out several shooting attacks. They are former officers of Fatah's Preventative Security Force who are being sponsored by several wealthy families affiliated with Fatah. (Ynet News)
The Palestinian police recently resumed its law-enforcement activities in Area B of the West Bank, where the Israel Defense Forces is responsible for security. The renewed police patrols, whose focus is on countering criminal activity and ensuring law and order, are being carried out in coordination with Israeli security elements. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Negotiations confer recognition. For that reason, it is essential to draw a distinction between states like Iran or Syria and non-state actors like Hizbullah and Hamas. For non-state actors, recognition is a major achievement. It creates legitimacy, builds momentum and creates a sense of inevitability about the achievement of their agendas. None of this should be given for free. Thus, while I am not prepared to exclude direct negotiations or meetings as a tool of statecraft with states, it is essential to treat non-state actors differently.
Take the example of Hamas, a non-state actor now dominant in Gaza. There is a need to avoid a humanitarian crisis. But if Hamas wants developmental assistance or investment coming to Gaza, they should have to play by the basic rules of the game - one of which is stopping attacks against Israel. Hamas should have to adjust to the world, not the other way around. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
3,500 Hamas "security-force" salaries have been paid by the Fatah-led Salaam Fayad government in the West Bank. At first this was passed off as a computer error. The latest version is that a higher-up in the PA Finance Ministry may have been bought off by Hamas. The fact that money from ostensible moderates made its way to incontrovertible fanatics is telling.
Something is seriously wrong in Abbas' Palestinian Authority if, quite apart from continuing to pay the salaries of Hamas parliamentarians and, reportedly, planning to buy them all new $70,000 cars as well, it ends up underpinning the very militiamen who so violently expelled Fatah from Gaza in June. It can only deepen the doubts about how far the PA can be trusted, even under the financial stewardship of the ostensibly responsible Fayad.
The Israeli government, following much heated public debate, reluctantly decided to transfer to Ramallah NIS 400 million of tax revenues that had been withheld out of the fear that such funds would reach Hamas and be used to bankroll its terrorist schemes. Now some of these funds have ended up precisely where Israel was solemnly assured they would not. If this proves indicative of a wider financial malaise then, as with Fatah's chronic failure to stem terror, it becomes immaterial whether Fatah couldn't or wouldn't live up to its undertakings. The end result is what counts. (Jerusalem Post)
America's Latest Efforts Merely Entrenched Al-Qaeda in Gaza - Dore Gold (Wall Street Journal)
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