Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 16, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Lebanon Arrests Group Planning Attacks on UN Peacekeepers (AFP)
    "The Lebanese army's secret service arrested a network of non-Lebanese terrorists who were watching the movements of UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) troops in south Lebanon and who were planning to carry out attacks against them," the Lebanese army said Monday.
    "The network planted an explosive device along the main road between Al-Abbasseya and Jall el-Bahr, near Tyre, targeting a UNIFIL patrol, but the device failed to explode," the army said.
    An army spokesman said the network was planning two other attacks in the same area with the aim of killing a large number of UNIFIL troops.

Iran Deeply Involved in 2006 Lebanon-Israel War (MEMRI)
    Iranian journalist Ali Norizadeh has reported that, according to a senior official in the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, a delegation of senior Iranian officials, headed by Expediency Council chairman and former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezai, had been in Lebanon throughout the 2006 Lebanon war and had supervised Hizbullah's operations.
    Other delegation members were IRGC Al-Quds Forces commander Qassem Suleimani, former IRGC deputy commander Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr, and IRGC land forces commander Ahmad Kazemi, the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Sunday.

New Animated Film on Hamas TV Focuses on Child Martyrdom (MEMRI)
    An animated film that was shown on Al-Aqsa TV on Oct. 12 opens with children singing:
    "We are not afraid of the soldiers....We carry our school bags. On our way we take the risk, and hide stones next to notebooks."
    "We will continue to follow the footsteps of the martyr."

Dubai Bans Israel from International Forum - Sharon Wrobel (Jerusalem Post)
    In a last-minute decision, Dubai has refused to grant entry visas to an Israeli delegation of 25 firms that were planning to take part in next week's World Congress of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations.

CAMERA Prompts LA Times Correction on IDF (CAMERA)
    CAMERA staff prompted a correction which appeared Saturday in the Los Angeles Times regarding a report which had wrongly stated that Israel's military is the largest in the Middle East.
    "Although some experts rank Israel's military as the most powerful in the region, it does not have the largest budget or number of personnel."

Tourism to Israel Jumps 86% in September - Nathan Burstein (Jerusalem Post)
    More than 183,000 tourists visited Israel in September, a leap of 86% over the same month the previous year.
    Through September, a total of 1,638,900 tourists have arrived in Israel this year, with expectations for 2.3 million by the end of the year.
    Israel's record tourist year of 2000 saw 2.41 million visits.

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  • Rice Seeks to Marginalize Hamas - Ashraf Khalil
    Secretary of State Rice on Monday expressed hope that a successfully negotiated vision of a Palestinian state would marginalize the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza. "There will have to come a time when the Palestinian people will have to decide whether the prospect of that state is in their interest, and I think they will decide that it is," Rice said after meeting with Mahmoud Abbas. "But people are going to have to accept that it means accepting the existence of Israel and the right of Israel to exist."
        Rice repeatedly called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, but made it clear that Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, would have no role in the upcoming negotiations. "We've been very clear what the criteria are for involvement in this process," she said. "If you're going to have a two-state solution, you have to accept the right of the other party to exist. If you're going to have a two-state solution that is born of negotiation, you're going to have to renounce violence." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Some Palestinians Prefer Life in Israel: East Jerusalem Residents Say They Would Fight Handover to PA - Mark MacKinnon
    Nabil Gheit, the mayor of Ras Hamis, a Palestinian neighborhood on the eastern fringe of Jerusalem, says he can't think of a worse fate than being handed over to the Palestinian Authority. "If there was a referendum here, no one would vote to join the Palestinian Authority," Gheit said. "We will not accept it. There would be another intifada [uprising] to defend ourselves from the PA." Many Palestinians dislike the idea of their neighborhoods, which are generally more prosperous than other parts of the West Bank, being absorbed into the chaotic Palestinian territories.
        Gheit, 53, with two posters of "the martyr Saddam Hussein" hanging over his cash register, can hardly be called an admirer of the Jewish state. He says he'd be happy to one day live in a properly independent Palestinian state, but not one that looks anything like the corruption-racked and violence-prone areas that are split between the warring Hamas and Fatah factions. "At least in Israel, there's law," he says. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Body of Drowned Israeli Swapped for Two Slain Hizbullah Fighters, One Prisoner - Amos Harel, Barak Ravid and Yoav Stern
    Israel on Monday released a Hizbullah fighter suffering a mental illness and the bodies of two others, in exchange for the body of an Israeli civilian. Sources in the Prime Minister's Bureau said the swap also included information from Hizbullah regarding a separate issue, and that the information would be examined in the coming days. However, the Lebanese daily Al-Akbar on Tuesday reported that Hizbullah gave Israel documents written in missing Israeli aviator Ron Arad's handwriting. Arad's aircraft went down over Lebanon in 1986. The Israeli whose body was returned was Gabriel Dwait, a 27-year-old immigrant from Ethiopia, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea on January 20, 2005.
        Israel and Hizbullah have been conducting negotiations aimed at securing the release of captured Israel Defense Forces reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser, whose abduction on July 12, 2006, sparked the Second Lebanon War. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rice: No Timetable for Final Status Accord - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Secretary of State Rice said Monday there was no need to set a timetable for reaching a permanent accord between Israelis and Palestinians as a pre-condition for the Annapolis conference set for November. She hinted that the conference could be delayed until December if necessary. According to Rice, the U.S. needs to allow the Israelis and Palestinians to be "realistic with each other about what they can achieve" before the international conference. "This is the beginning of negotiations, not the end. We don't need to try to go too far," Rice said. (Ynet News)
  • Peace Index Survey: No High Hopes for Annapolis Peace Conference - Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann
    Tel Aviv University's Peace Index survey, carried out on Oct. 8-10, found that only 39% of the Israeli Jewish public believe the upcoming Annapolis conference can increase the chances of reaching a permanent peace agreement, while 56% believe it cannot. Only 30% of the Jewish public perceive Hamas as a desirable partner for dialogue and would like to see Hamas representatives participate in the conference. Some 59% oppose transferring the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty in exchange for a peace agreement, compared to 33% who support such a move. 87% are not prepared for the return of even a single Palestinian refugee to Israel in the context of a permanent peace settlement. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Continue Rocket Fire at Israel
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket that landed Monday evening in Israel's western Negev region, Army Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Rethinking the Core Issues - Dan Diker
    Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni have expended the best of their political and diplomatic capital battling the so-called Palestinian "right of return" to Israel. Olmert has worked endlessly over the past year to convince Abbas to concede on the issue. He also singled out the "right of return" as the deal-breaker in the Saudi peace initiative. Livni's diplomacy has positioned the "right of return" as the single major threat to Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state. The issue is a "non-starter" politically and diplomatically. There is "wall-to-wall" agreement in Israel rejecting the "right of return" to Israel.
        Israel is therefore mistaken to waste most of its diplomatic energy "killing" the Palestinian "right of return," when there is no danger that Israel will be forced to absorb millions of Arab refugees. Diplomatically, Israel has already won that battle. But on two other "core issues," borders and Jerusalem, that are no less critical to Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state, and are today in great peril, Israel has a bloody diplomatic fight ahead. Israel must therefore insist on its rightful and well-established claims backed by international law and U.S. diplomatic assurances to demand defensible borders opposite Palestinian demands for a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 Armistice lines. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Don't Blame Condoleezza - Alon Pinkas
    Rice has the unenviable but attainable task of reconciling the parties' diverging ideas of Annapolis: Israel, which wants a Seinfeld summit (about nothing) and the Palestinians, who want things they neither deserve nor will get. She needs to essentially draft a concluding statement before the summit even convenes, a statement that, by the laws of nature and politics, cannot please everyone equally. It has to be general enough for Olmert to maintain his coalition and fend off claims that he made concessions without reciprocity. Yet it has to be substantive enough if some form of bilateral negotiations will follow. It must be kept vague in terms of not rendering one side a loser and, at the same time, contain details that would constitute a formative document, one that will be referred to in later stages. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Muslim Brotherhood Reveals a Troubling Agenda - Mohamed Elmenshawy
    The Muslim Brotherhood, established in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, has been outlawed by the Egyptian government since 1954. Today, it packages itself as a moderate organization, and its members hold 88 seats (about a fifth) in the Egyptian parliament as independents.
        The latest version of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party platform calls for the adoption of a "Civic Islamic State." Perhaps the most alarming feature of the draft platform is the call to create a Council of Islamic Scholars that could end up being elected by Islamic clerics, not through free and fair elections, reminiscent of Iran's Guardian Council. This undemocratically selected body could have the power vested by the state to veto any and all legislation passed by the Egyptian parliament and approved by the president that is not compatible with Islamic Sharia law.
        Mohamed Habib, the Muslim Brotherhood's second-in-command, said in an interview in August that the Brotherhood would not recognize the "Zionist entity" or "unjust" international treaties, in reference to the peace treaty signed with Israel in 1979. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Al-Qaeda: If the Revolutionary Guards Aren't Terrorists, Who Is? - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)

    • On July 18, 1994, a suicide bomber drove a van into the seven-story Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, murdering 85 people and seriously injuring 151 others. Last November, Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral issued international arrest warrants for seven Iranians and one Lebanese wanted in connection to the bombing. Among them are former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and three other men - all senior officers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
    • The '94 bombing came just two years after the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires had been bombed, killing 22. In 1998 an Iranian defector to the U.S. named Ahmad Rezai confirmed that "the attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was planned in Tehran." He added that the decision to attack had been made by Rafsanjani and his top deputies, and that the bombers had been trained for the mission in Lebanon by IRGC officers. Ahmad's father, Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezai, was the commander of the IRGC at the time, and Ahmad had accompanied his father to Lebanon to witness the training. Mohsen Rezai is among those whose arrest is sought by Judge Corral.
    • According to Iran analyst Alireza Jafarzadeh, Ahmad Vahidi founded the IRGC's "Lebanon Corps" in the 1980s, meaning he is responsible for the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks that left 241 American servicemen dead. Today, Vahidi is Iran's deputy defense minister. That is how the Islamic Republic treats its terrorist all-stars.

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