Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


January 9, 2008

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda-Linked Group Suspected in Rocket Fire on Northern Israel - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian terror groups affiliated with al-Qaeda are the prime suspects in the firing of two Katyusha rockets into the northern town of Shlomi early Tuesday.
    The 107mm Katyushas appeared to have been fired from the hills near the southern Lebanese village of Labouna.
    Israeli defense officials, as well as a top commander in UNIFIL, said the most likely culprit was a Palestinian terror group such as Fatah al-Islam.
    The officials said the attack was likely timed to coincide with Bush's visit to Israel.

    See also Israel Protests Katyusha Fire from Lebanon (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israel Tuesday submitted a strong protest to the UN Secretary General and to the President of the Security Council regarding the shooting of two Katyusha rockets from Lebanon at Shlomi, in the western Galilee.
    The rocket fire constitutes a serious violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and serves as further proof that the resolution is not being strictly implemented.
    Israel has for months been warning of the military consolidation and strengthening of the armed militias in southern Lebanon, including Hizbullah, north and south of the Litani River, as well as the continuing smuggling of Syrian and Iranian arms from Syria into Lebanon.
    UNIFIL must take very decisive action to implement the resolution and take effective measures to prevent the smuggling of Syrian and Iranian arms across the Syrian-Lebanese border, to prevent the entry of extremist elements into Lebanon, and to disarm all the armed militias and organizations in Lebanon, according to UN Security Council resolutions.

PA Rejects International Troops in West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A senior PA official on Tuesday said there was no need for the presence of foreign troops in the West Bank.
    The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday that the U.S. was preparing a plan to station third party troops in the West Bank before the PA can take over full security control.
    A number of options were being considered, including the involvement of NATO troops or Jordanian and Egyptian forces.

Fatah Gunmen Surrender to PA - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Nine Fatah gunmen from Nablus on Tuesday surrendered their weapons to PA security forces out of fear of being targeted by Israel.
    Aksa Martyrs Brigades gunmen who surrender their weapons are to be incorporated into the PA security forces after three months.
    Among those who surrendered are Mahdi Abu Ghazalah, commander of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Nablus, and Saleh Abu al-Hayat, who has been wanted by Israel for the past six years.

Report: Israel Planned 1991 Strike on North Korea-Syria Missile Ship (AFP)
    Israeli agents prepared to strike a ship carrying 23 Scud missiles from North Korea to Syria in 1991 but cancelled it at the 11th hour under U.S. pressure, the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported Wednesday.
    In February 1991, during the first Gulf War, agents of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency secretly swam underneath the ship and attached a system to guide an airstrike.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
G-Alert (Hebrew)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Peril Posed by Tehran a Theme of His Mideast Trip, Bush Says - Robin Wright
    President Bush warned Iran Tuesday that its confrontation with three U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf on Sunday was a provocative act, as the Pentagon released audio and video recordings of the dawn showdown. Bush said one of the themes of his Middle East trip will be the menace posed by Iran, particularly because it has not complied with two UN resolutions telling it to suspend its uranium enrichment.
        The president acknowledged that a "mixed signal" had been sent by the National Intelligence Estimate, and during his trip he will remind allies that "Iran was a threat. Iran is a threat. And Iran will continue to be a threat if they are allowed to learn how to enrich uranium."  (Washington Post)
        See also Video: Iranian Boats Harass U.S. Navy (Washington Post)
  • Rice: No Choice But to Isolate Hamas
    Secretary of State Rice said Monday: "I was just asked by an Arab TV station: 'well, do you think it's right that the world tries to isolate Hamas?' Well, Hamas has isolated itself. When you say, if you're Hamas, that you're not prepared to renounce violence, when you say that you're not prepared to live up to the agreements that Palestinian leaders have signed, what is there left to do except to isolate Hamas?"
        "There is nothing in the NIE that suggests Iran is not dangerous. The NIE talks about one of the three elements of a nuclear program, which is weaponization. Enrichment and reprocessing, which can lead to fissile materials, continues. The effort to get ever longer ranges of ballistic missiles continues. And what even the halt to weaponization says to me is that this is a state that after denying for years that it had a covert military program - in fact, our intelligence says had a covert military program. Now, did they halt it? Perhaps."
        "We think that Egypt has to do more. Those tunnels need to be dealt with...the will to do it is very important here....Look, the Egyptians don't have any national interest in having Hamas strengthened next to them."  (State Department)
  • Bomb Wounds Two UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon
    Two Irish UN peacekeeping soldiers were slightly wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in south Lebanon on Tuesday near Rmaileh, 35 km south of Beirut and not far from Ain al-Hilweh, a hotbed for Islamist militant groups. It was the third attack on UNIFIL since the Israel-Hizbullah War ended in August 2006. (Reuters)
  • Life on Alert in an Israeli Town - Steven Erlanger
    Sderot, a working-class Israeli town less than two miles from Gaza, has been hit over the past four years with some 2,000 rockets of improving range and explosive power - 22 in the last eight days. Eight Sderot civilians have been killed by the rockets. For many Israelis, Sderot embodies the fears of what happens when they pull back as they did from all of Gaza more than two years ago - the land turns into a staging ground for attacks by extremist Palestinians that a peace treaty will not stop. The problems of Sderot - and of a Gaza run by Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S. - are at the heart of Israel's security concerns. But those concerns are present only in the abstract in the American-led peace effort, which features negotiations between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, who has no control over Hamas or Gaza.
        The people of Sderot live in a most un-Israeli hush, so they can hear the rocket alerts. People keep their car windows open and their radios and televisions on low volume. They take quick showers, no longer sleep in upstairs bedrooms, and avoid public places at what are considered peak rocket times. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Bush Arrives in Israel - Barak Ravid
    U.S. President George W. Bush arrived in Israel Wednesday for a visit that will seek to advance peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. "We see a new opportunity for peace here in the holy land and for freedom across the region," Bush said. "The alliance between our two nations helps guarantee Israel's security as a Jewish state," Bush added. (Ha'aretz)
  • Olmert, Abbas Agree on Structure for Talks on Core Issues - Roni Sofer
    Prime Minister Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas agreed Tuesday to hold negotiations on core issues according to a "three-level" model. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and head of the Palestinian negotiating team Ahmed Qureia will discuss the core issues in a direct dialogue. The negotiation teams will then discuss the issues in detail. In case of disagreement, Abbas and Olmert will intervene. A senior source at the Prime Minister's Office said that Olmert and Abbas have been discussing the core issues over the past few months. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Smashes into Israeli Home
    A Kassam rocket crashed into a private residence in Sderot on Wednesday leaving several people in shock. "I arrive at my brother's house and see a rocket that disintegrated his young boy's bed," Sderot resident Danny Dahan told Army Radio. "[His wife] was at home with their three-week-old son. She ran into the bomb shelter and was saved by a miracle," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians Fire Nine Rockets at Israel - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired nine Kassam rockets and a number of mortars at Israel Wednesday morning, just a few hours before U.S. President Bush's arrival in Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    President Bush Visits Israel

  • Bush's Mideast Muddle - Michael Oren
    Mr. Bush's policies previously seemed unequivocal. He repeatedly affirmed America's support for Israel's identity as a Jewish state, and so ruled out the Arabs' demand for the resettlement of millions of Palestinians within Israel's pre-1967 borders. He further recognized the reality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and insisted that any agreement take that reality into account. Most importantly, Mr. Bush had reversed the once-sacrosanct formula through which the Israelis first ceded territory to the Arabs and only then received peace, insisting that the Arabs first eschew terror and recognize Israel's existence before regaining land. The president upheld Israel's right to defend itself, while stressing the Palestinians' duty to dismantle terrorist infrastructures and abjure violence.
        Since Annapolis, however, much of this paradigm has been jettisoned. While the old George Bush deemed the end of terror as imperative for peace and the containment of Iran as the prerequisite for eliminating terror, the new George Bush focuses on Israeli settlement-building and hesitates to confront Tehran. Presidential visits are always characterized as "historic," but Mr. Bush's trip is marked by a lack of momentousness. Israelis will greet Mr. Bush exuberantly, but his departure may leave them grappling with terror largely on their own. The writer is senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Baby Steps - Dennis Ross
    Both the Israeli and Palestinian publics have to be willing to take a second look at peacemaking. Israelis say, "We left Lebanon, and look what happened. We left Gaza and Hamas took over. Not for a single day has rocket fire ceased. Why wouldn't the same thing happen in the West Bank, leaving our entire population vulnerable?" Palestinians say, "Israelis build settlements in what should be our state and restrict our movement. If we can't go from Nablus to Jenin, why should we think we will get any of Jerusalem as our capital?"
        Why not ask each side to take steps they are capable of taking and that could still be meaningful to the other side? For example, on the Israeli side, a meaningful freeze on settlement activity - certainly in all areas close to Palestinian cities, towns, and villages - is within Israeli political capabilities and would be recognized by Palestinians. On the Palestinian side, a sustained and public effort to stop incitement in the media, schools, and mosques is something Palestinians could do and that the Israeli public would notice. (New Republic/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Why Is Bush Coming? - Yossi Alpher
    Bush is not coming to make a serious effort to advance a substantive peace process. His visit, like the Annapolis conference that preceded it, does not represent a major turning point in his administration's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this regard, his latest attempt to frame the objective of his final year in office as "defining the outlines of a Palestinian state" is decidedly less ambitious than actually solving the conflict. The writer is former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. (
  • No Progress in West Bank Without a Solution for Gaza - Aluf Benn
    The U.S. has no real answer to Hamas' continued arms smuggling or the firing of Kassam rockets at Israel. Until a real solution is found to the rocket fire, Israel cannot withdraw from the West Bank, since this would bring Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion International Airport into rocket range. If Bush wants progress in the West Bank, he had better focus on finding a solution for Gaza first. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Dubya's Real Mideast Agenda - Amir Taheri (New York Post)

    • Over the last three decades, U.S. dependence on Middle East oil has dropped steadily, even as U.S. imports of crude have almost doubled. The Cold War's end spelled the finish of the Middle East as a big prize in the race between the Free World and the Soviet bloc.
    • Instead, the Middle East emerged as the chief source of threats to U.S. national security in the context of a new global struggle between the established order and its challengers, who often act in the name of a version of Islam. But it took the 9/11 attacks to shake America out of its illusions about the region.
    • America removed two of the region's most vicious regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the U.S. hasn't been the sole beneficiary.
    • The prime beneficiary has been the Islamic Republic in Iran. In 2001, it was in a pincer between the Taliban regime in Kabul and the Ba'athist regime in Baghdad. The Afghan mullahs challenged the Iranian mullahs on religious grounds; the Ba'athists tried to mobilize pan-Arab nationalism against Khomeinism. Those regimes' fall has enabled the Khomeinists to revive their ambitions of regional supremacy as never before.
    • Arab states from Algeria to Yemen to Egypt have also benefited from the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq have become magnets for terrorists who'd otherwise have targeted them.

          See also Bush of Arabia - Fouad Ajami (Wall Street Journal)

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert