Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 25, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Google Earth Used to Target Israel - Clancy Chassay and Bobbie Johnson (Guardian-UK)
    Palestinian militants are using Google Earth to help plan their attacks on Israeli targets.
    Abu Walid, a commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Gaza, showed the Guardian an aerial image of the Israeli town of Sderot on his computer to demonstrate how his group searches for targets.
    See also Video of Palestinian Rocket Launch - Clancy Chassay (Guardian-UK)
    See also below Commentary: Images that Shock - Editorial (Guardian-UK)

Syria and Hamas to Hold Alternative Conference - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A "Palestinian National Conference for Resisting Schemes Aimed at Liquidating the Palestinian Cause," due to take place in Syria and Gaza next month at the invitation of Hamas and its political allies, has been called in response to the U.S.-sponsored peace conference due to be held in Annapolis.
    PA officials expressed concern on Wednesday that the conference may attempt to create a new PLO.
    "Their declared goal is to foil the Annapolis conference," said a PA official. "What's worrying is that the conference will be held under the auspices of the Syrian regime."

North Korea Cements Ties with Syria - Julien Barnes-Dacey (Financial Times-UK)
    Choe Thae Bok, the speaker of North Korea's parliament, has concluded a visit to Syria just weeks after allegations of nuclear cooperation between the two countries emerged following the Sep. 6 Israeli air strike on Syrian territory.
    It is known that the North Koreans have provided missile technology to Syria.

The Saudi Roots of 9/11 - Peter Birnie (Vancouver Sun)
    In The Siege of Mecca, Wall Street Journal writer Yaroslav Trofimov pulls back the curtain surrounding events that the Saudis would very much rather the world forgot.
    The November 1979 siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca laid the groundwork for al-Qaeda and the events of Sep. 11. Juhayman al-Uteybi led the siege. Driven by Wahhabi orthodoxy, Juhayman hated all infidels.
    America's then-president Jimmy Carter's naive faith in peacemaking was no match for fundamentalist fury.
    Carter's administration was busy propping up the Saudis even as outlandish conspiracy theories implicating the U.S. swept the Muslim world. Embassy staff fled murderous mobs from Pakistan to Libya.
    Damage from the siege and the battle to recapture it meant reconstruction costing billions - payable to the Bin Laden Construction Company.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. to Impose New Sanctions Against Iran - Helene Cooper
    The Bush administration will announce new sanctions against Iran on Thursday, accusing the elite Quds division of the Revolutionary Guard Corps of supporting terrorism, administration officials said Wednesday. The administration also plans to accuse the entire Revolutionary Guard Corps of proliferating weapons of mass destruction. Both designations will put into play unilateral sanctions intended to impede the Revolutionary Guard and those who do business with it. Administration officials said the designation will also be used to persuade foreign governments and financial institutions to cut ties with Iranian businesses and individuals. (New York Times)
  • UN Report Suggests Syrian Role in Arming Hizbullah - Colum Lynch
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a report Wednesday strongly suggesting that Syria has helped smuggle weapons to Hizbullah and other armed groups, and that it sponsored Islamic militants involved in a military confrontation with the Lebanese army earlier this year. The report also cites Israeli assertions that Hizbullah has rebuilt its fighting capacity to a level not seen since its 2006 war with Israel. The assessment portrays Lebanon as a country facing threats to its survival not only from Syria but also from an array of armed groups linked to Islamic extremists and pro-Syria opposition parties. (Washington Post)
        See also Syrian Intelligence Linked to Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Fatah al-Islam Terrorist Group - Benny Avni (New York Sun)
  • Rice Decries "Troubling'' New Iranian Support for Hamas - Anne Flaherty
    Secretary of State Rice on Wednesday blamed Iran for fanning flames in the Middle East, including new support for Hamas militants. "To see Iranian actual penetration now of these more radical elements of the Palestinian terrorist groups is really quite troubling," she said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Rice: U.S. to Check on Egypt-Gaza Smuggling - Shmuel Rosner
    Secretary of State Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday that the U.S. is sending senior officials to examine the continued smuggling of arms, equipment and persons from Egypt into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Rice reiterated what she told her Egyptian counterpart Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit two weeks ago about the need to do more, and "urgently." Next week Robert Danin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, will travel to the border area. The Bush administration is keen to understand why the Egyptians have approached the smuggling with a weak hand. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Transcript: Rice Testifies Before House Committee (CQ Transcripts/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Doubts Ability of PA to Police West Bank - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator in the PA, said recently in private talks that he does not believe Palestinian security forces in the West Bank are capable of enforcing security needs in cities there. Prior to the collapse of Fatah in Gaza in June, Dayton had expressed greater confidence in the forces affiliated with the PA and Fatah. The IDF Military Intelligence Research Division has also presented a document to Israel's political leadership saying that the PA will not be able to assert security control over West Bank cities in the near future.
        The PA recently informed Israel that it lacks the necessary infrastructure to deploy police officers in Nablus. Also, senior PA officials announced they intend to withdraw their request to allow the Badr Brigade, a Palestinian force in the Jordanian army, to deploy in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Soldier Hurt in Drive-By Shooting in West Bank - Amos Harel and Jonathan Lis
    An Israel Defense Forces soldier was seriously wounded on Wednesday when he was shot three times at a crowded hitchhiking post at the entrance to Ariel in the West Bank. A civilian was also lightly wounded from shrapnel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Turkey Blames U.S. Jews for Genocide Bill - Yigal Schleifer
    When a U.S. Congressional committee approved a resolution recognizing the World War I-era massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as genocide, Turkey's reaction was swift and harsh: Blame the Jews. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said he had told American Jewish leaders that a genocide bill would strengthen the public perception in Turkey that "Armenian and Jewish lobbies unite forces against Turks."
        Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Jews should not be blamed for the Armenia genocide bill, particularly not by Turkish officialdom. "We regret that some officials there are trying to lay the onus of what's happened on the Jewish community," Hoenlein told JTA. "They shouldn't allow some people to manipulate this initiative in Congress to the detriment of this relationship, which is beneficial for both sides." Hoenlein, who met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during last month's UN General Assembly, said, "There is the same commitment on the part of the organized community to support Turkey." (JTA/Jerusalem Post)
        See also Turkey, Israel Move on Planned Multi-Purpose Pipeline
    Turkey and Israel Tuesday agreed to pursue talks on the investment and operational costs of a planned multi-purpose pipeline to carry oil, natural gas, water, electricity and fiber optic cables, Turkish energy minister Hilmi Guler said. (AFP/Middle East Times-Cyprus)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that landed in Israel's western Negev on Thursday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Bold Script, Weak Actors - Henry A. Kissinger
    The Palestinian peace process now under way is being driven by the assumption that the parties can be led to accept the so-called Taba Plan of 2000. It provides for Israeli withdrawal to essentially the 1967 borders (with minor rectifications), retaining only the settlements around Jerusalem but narrowing the corridor between two principal Israeli cities, Haifa and Tel Aviv, to about 20 miles. The to-be-created Palestinian state would be compensated by some equivalent Israeli territory.
        Several moderate Arab states have been extraordinarily reluctant to come to Annapolis. If they appear, will they treat their presence as their principal contribution for which one-sided pressure on Israel is deemed an appropriate concession?
        The peace process should not be driven by the U.S. political calendar. If either America's Arab or Israeli friends are asked to take on more than they are able to withstand, there's the risk of another, even larger blow-up. The strength of the forces of moderation depends on the standing of America in the region. No more in Palestine than in Iraq can American influence be fostered by an image of retreat. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Images that Shock - Editorial
    The Guardian has filmed rare scenes inside Hamas-controlled Gaza - Hamas beating up Fatah dissenters, Palestinian doctors forced by their Fatah paymasters to go on strike or forfeit their salaries, the militants who log on to Google Earth to search for Israeli targets for their Kassam rockets. What these films show is not a Gazan population turning against the gunmen who took the enclave over by force in June, but its opposite - the hatred that Mahmoud Abbas is incurring among his own people.
        Expectations for the forthcoming peace conference in Annapolis are rapidly being lowered. It may now be put back to December. The star guest, Saudi Arabia, looks less, not more, likely to turn up. (Guardian-UK)
  • Observations:

    Ulster's Lesson for the Middle East: Don't Indulge Extremists - David Trimble (Guardian-UK)

    • Nowhere is the Northern Ireland analogy applied more vigorously than in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If negotiations with the IRA led to the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, we are often told, Israel must be prepared to take the same approach with Hamas. But agreement will mean an accommodation, not a victory of one side over another.
    • Will Hamas accept a two-state solution? Will it end violence? Hamas' failure to satisfactorily reply shows that it would be wrong to try to include it. The preconditions for engagement were clear for the IRA in the early 1990s, and they are clear for Hamas today - renounce violence, recognize Israel, and accept previous peace agreements. Hamas must be encouraged to take the same sort of steps the IRA took towards the negotiating table.
    • If there is one lesson to learn from the Northern Ireland experience, it is that preconditions are crucial in ending violence and producing a settlement. Being overgenerous to extremist groups is like giving sweets to a spoiled child in the hope that it will improve its behavior - it usually results in worse actions.
    • Our experience suggests that while some flexibility is desirable, there have to be clear principles and boundaries. A failure to recognize this risks drawing the wrong conclusions from the recent history of Northern Ireland and fundamentally misunderstanding the peace process.

      The writer was formerly leader of the Ulster Unionist party, first minister of Northern Ireland, and a Nobel peace laureate.

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