Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 30, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Freezes Plan to Cut Gaza Power - Dan Izenberg and Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Monday rejected for the time being the Defense Ministry's plan to cut power supplies to Gaza in response to rocket attacks against Israeli communities, the Justice Ministry announced.
    See also Gen. Eiland: Cut Off All Water and Electricity to Gaza (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel should completely cut off all water and electricity supplies to Gaza, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council, told Israel Radio Monday.
    He said the Hamas government was the first government that considered itself responsible for what transpired in Gaza, which was why such sanctions could be effective.

Jordanian Islamists Urge Scrapping of Peace Pact with Israel (DPA/Earthtimes)
    The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm in Jordan of the Muslim Brotherhood, on Monday urged the government to "cancel" its peace treaty with Israel.
    In a statement marking the 13th anniversary of the Israel-Jordan peace pact, the IAF called for "the abrogation of this treaty."
    The IAF also urged Jordan and other Arab countries to boycott the U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference slated for next month in Annapolis.

PA TV Sings to Israel's Destruction - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    While the PA announces in English its demand for a two-state solution, in Arabic it continues to define all of Israel as "Palestine," and to promise Israel's destruction.
    A new video clip, broadcast numerous times daily since it first appeared on Fatah-controlled TV last week, passionately promises that every Israeli city will be "liberated," including Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Tiberias.

Mining for Trouble in Lebanon - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Post)
    Since Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, Iranian money, troops and experts have been assisting Hizbullah to build bunkers and underground bases throughout the country.
    If Hizbullah was building bunkers along Israel's (east-west) border, what is to stop them from building (north-south) tunnels - with Iranian and North Korean assistance - under Israel's border?
    Last year, a garrulous officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard revealed to the Arabic publication Asharq al-Awsat that Iranian diplomats smuggled North Korean experts into Lebanon under the guise of "domestic workers."
    They joined "hundreds of Iranian engineers and build a 25-kilometer (!) tunnel."

Iranians Study Nuclear Physics in Britain - Jack Grimston (Sunday Times)
    The Foreign Office has cleared dozens of Iranians to enter British universities to study advanced nuclear physics and other subjects with the potential to be applied to weapons of mass destruction.
    In the past nine months about 60 Iranians have been admitted to study postgraduate courses deemed "proliferation-sensitive" by the security services.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Egypt Plans Nuclear Power Plants - Jeffrey Fleishman
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced Monday that his nation, which lacks the oil reserves of some of its Middle East neighbors, would build several nuclear power plants to meet rising energy demands. He said the program would seek the backing and help of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency and countries such as the U.S., which gives Cairo nearly $2 billion annually in military and economic aid. In Washington, U.S. officials said they had no objection to the Egyptian plans, provided Cairo followed the rules of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and procedures of the IAEA. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israel to Press China for Tougher Sanctions on Iran - Robert Berger
    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is in China to press for tougher action against Iran's nuclear program. China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has opposed calls for tougher sanctions on Iran. "The world cannot afford a nuclear Iran," Livni said. (VOA News)
  • Despite Promises of Support, PA Facing Budget Woes - Adam Entous and Mohammed Assadi
    An impending drop in revenues means PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's government could face shortfalls of $90 million a month starting in January, Western officials said. Officials said the cash crunch will begin within two months when Israel finishes handing over tax revenues totaling $224 million that it had withheld for 17 months while Hamas controlled the PA. While the U.S. asked Congress last week to approve $350 million in aid, including $150 million in direct support, none of the money can go to salaries.
        Donors say they are reluctant to give money before Fayyad takes steps to rein in spending by cutting the PA payroll. The PA's wage bill averaged about $110 million per month as of June, exceeding total revenues. That compares to a wage bill of less than $80 million a month in 2005, according to IMF estimates. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Improving Military Capabilities in Gaza - Amos Harel
    In recent months, the IDF has been conducting operations in Gaza up to three kilometers inside the border fence - an area the army calls the "security zone." There are regular clashes with forward units of Hamas, which set up ambushes when IDF troops enter and leave Gaza. The IDF is seeking to prevent the militants from crossing into Israel, digging tunnels, abducting soldiers, firing mortars and laying roadside bombs. The efforts by Iran and Hizbullah to improve Hamas' military capabilities are beginning to be felt, and not only in better weaponry. Dozens of militants trained in Iran and Lebanon have reentered Gaza to create a system of control and coordination. There is a chain of command for every area, which operates a coordinated network of observation posts, infantry and antitank forces. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Building Bunkers Near Gaza Border - Yaakov Katz
    Hamas is trying to establish a bunker system as well as fortified rocket-launching and surveillance positions along the Gaza security fence, Brig.-Gen. Moshe (Chico) Tamir, head of the Gaza Division, said Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas: We'll Soon Take Control of West Bank - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
  • Shin Bet: Palestinians Too Exhausted for New Intifada - Shahar Ilan
    Head of the Shin Bet security service Yuval Diskin said Monday that Israel need not expect a wave of terror if the upcoming peace summit in the U.S. is deemed a failure. Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Diskin said that "the high expectations and possible failure of the summit could definitely spark high motivation for terror attacks, but not with the intensity of the terror wave of October 2000." He added that he believes that the Palestinian public is exhausted and lacks leadership. Diskin expressed his objection to handing responsibility for security in the West Bank over to Palestinian security forces, saying the Palestinians are aware of their inability to maintain security. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Shin Bet: Terror Groups Planning to Kidnap Israelis from Sinai to Gaza - Amnon Meranda (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Strikes House in Israel
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Israel early Tuesday morning, causing damage to a residential home. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Cost of the Israel-Palestine Peace Talks - Sarah N. Stern
    The pre-1967 borders, which are actually the 1949 armistice lines, were nine miles wide at their narrowest point, lacking the strategic depth to enable Israel to defend itself. With what confidence can the Israelis contemplate that such a retreat will not be met with a barrage of missiles onto the coastal plain, where Israel's population is most densely located? Particularly in light of how Hamas has used its beachhead in Gaza to fire missiles into the neighboring Israeli town of Sderot.
        Hopefully, there will be a time when future Palestinian leaders will be preparing their people for a durable peace, one that will last for generations, but at this point we have no firm evidence to believe that is the case. The Palestinians have been using every means of communication available to teach their children hatred of Israel. The litmus test of when the Palestinians will be actually ready to sit down and negotiate a lasting peace is when they will stop training their children to play war games and become suicide bombers for the sake of a fully "liberated" Palestine. The writer is the founder and president of EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a Washington-based think-tank. (New Republic)
  • Evil Exposed: Holy Land Trial Shows Charity's Hamas Ties - Steven Emerson
    The trial of four key figures with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development ended last week with a hung jury. Yet the defendants remain in legal jeopardy, with a new trial almost assured - and the prosecution has, at a minimum, closed a lucrative funding channel for the Palestinian terror group Hamas. The trial record conclusively demonstrated that Holy Land and several of its unindicted co-conspirators - including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) - grew out of Hamas.
        The evidence clearly linked Holy Land and CAIR to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the hard-line Egyptian Islamist umbrella group and godfather of every Sunni terrorist group from Hamas to al-Qaeda. The full transcript of a secret 1993 meeting in Philadelphia of "The Palestine Committee" - a group of Hamas members and supporters - revealed that Holy Land was an active player in a larger Muslim Brotherhood network aimed at organizing support in America for Hamas. The writer is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. (New York Post)
  • Anti-Israeli Agenda Borders on Sacrilege - John R. Regier
    Last weekend, Old South Church hosted a conference sponsored by North American Friends of Sabeel entitled "The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine-Israel" and headlined by Episcopal Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Two days of nonstop bashing of Israel, portrayed as a colonialist oppressor. Palestinian national aspirations were celebrated; Jewish national aspirations were ignored, if not denigrated. The endless wars waged by Arabs seeking to wipe out the Jewish state were characterized as aggressive wars provoked by Israel. There was no mention of suicide bombings, except possibly to justify them as understandable expressions of rage. What distresses me is the acquiescence of church leaders in this simplistic script. Even though liberal church leaders ordinarily bend over backward not to offend groups within the community, it is somehow acceptable to offend Jews.
        Sabeel, which styles itself as an ecumenical liberation theology movement, promotes a retrograde anti-Jewish theology of supersession that has long since been repudiated by mainstream Christian denominations. After centuries of anti-Semitism, much of it spawned by church leaders, modern-day Christians have a particular obligation to help make the world a safer place for Jews. It is arrogant and condescending for American Christians to become partisans in this geopolitical struggle without at least acknowledging its complexities. More inflammatory rhetoric is the last thing we need. (Boston Herald)
  • Observations:

    Egyptian-Born Journalist: "Arabs Don't Need Land, They Need Tolerance" - Lela Gilbert (Jerusalem Post)

    • Nonie Darwish was born in Cairo, and in the early 1950s moved with her family to Egyptian-occupied Gaza, where her father, Lt.-Gen. Mustafa Hafez, was appointed by President Gamal Abdel Nasser to command Egyptian army intelligence. Hafez founded the Palestinian fedayeen units that launched terrorist raids across Israel's southern border. Between 1951 and 1956, the fedayeen killed 400 Israelis. In 1978 Darwish moved to the U.S. During a recent visit to Jerusalem, she said in an interview:
    • "Israel really brings hope to the region. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that allows religious freedom. Even though it is the tiniest country in the region, it is not afraid to allow Muslims to have mosques to pray in; it is not afraid to allow Christians all these freedoms. It is really a credit to Judaism that it doesn't have the possessiveness Islam has. You know, it's amazing, with all the land the Muslims have, and all the wealth from oil, and all the armies, that no Arab country is secure in its existence. Why else would 1.2 billion Muslims feel threatened by five million Jews? It says a lot. And I've learned that the fear and hate are by design - of Islam's religious educators, its political leadership and its intellectuals. Hatred for Israel is part of how the Arab world operates. They need an enemy."
    • "Islamists are blinded by envy and can't understand Israel's success. They say it must be due to conspiracy and not merit....They have forgotten that Jewish success is due to a culture that promotes excellence and is blessed with self-discipline, education, dedication and a drive to leave this world a better place. There is no conspiracy there! If Arabs want to compete with Jews, let them do it in the realm of innovation and education, and not by terrorizing and eliminating the opposition. Arab mistakes are blamed on Israel, the West, past injustice or colonialism. Looking at a map of Israel in relationship to the Arab world tells us that Arabs don't need land; they need tolerance."
    • "America's defense of the Muslims against the Serbs, the Afghani Muslims against the Soviet Union, feeding Somali Muslims starved by their own leadership, received no credit in the Muslim world. In fact, the results are just the opposite; the more we try to help stabilize the region, the more we are despised. Muslims do not want to be rescued by infidels. This is a proud culture that is easily shamed by feelings of dependency on non-Muslims."

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