Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Palestinians Brought Advanced Arms into Gaza - Avi Issacharoff, Yuval Azoulay and Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
A Hamas Hardliner (Economist-UK)
Pope Rewrites Prayer Following Jewish Protest - George Conger (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Methodists Renew Drive for Divestment from Israel - Mark D. Tooley (FrontPageMagazine)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
A Palestinian carried out the first suicide bombing in Israel in a year on Monday, killing a woman and wounding 11 others in Dimona's shopping center. Police said they prevented a second blast by shooting dead an accomplice before he could detonate an explosives belt. Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed the attack along with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Young Fatah supporters in Gaza handed out flowers and candy to passing cars to celebrate. (Reuters/Washington Post)
See also Palestinian Suicide Bombers Came from Gaza - Ali Waked
The two bombers who carried out the attack in Dimona on Monday came from Gaza, Palestinian sources said. One of the bombers was Mussa Arafat, from Khan Yunis, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. (Ynet News)
See also Hamas Calls Suicide Bombing in Israel "Heroic Act"
Hamas said a suicide bombing in southern Israel on Monday that killed one woman civilian was a "heroic act." Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in Gaza City, "We bless this operation and call on armed groups to continue on the same path." (AFP/Dow Jones)
See also Abbas Condemns Israeli Anti-Terrorist Raid and Dimona Bombing
A statement from Mahmoud Abbas' office said: "The Palestinian Authority expresses its full condemnation of the Israeli military operation this dawn in Kabatiya just as it condemns the operation that took place today in Dimona." (Reuters)
IDF forces killed two Islamic Jihad gunman in Kabatiya in the West Bank early Monday. (Ynet News)
Egyptian troops closed the last breach in Egypt's border with Gaza on Sunday, ending 11 days of free movement for Gazans into Egypt. The troops were allowing Gazans and Egyptians to cross the border to return to their homes, but prevented any new cross-border movement. On Saturday, Egyptian security forces arrested two Palestinians in Sinai carrying a bomb. A police official in Cairo said the two had been trying to reach beach resorts in southern Sinai. At least 17 Palestinians have been arrested in the past days carrying weapons and explosives in Sinai. (AP/Washington Post)
Iran launched a rocket on Monday designed to send its first homemade research satellite into orbit in the next year, state television said, a move likely to add to Western concerns about Tehran's nuclear plans. The technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used for launching weapons, analysts said. State media said the research satellite, called Omid (Hope), would be launched by March 2009. (Reuters)
See also The Global Range of Iran's Ballistic Missile Program - Uzi Rubin
Once Iran learns how to put 300 kg. into earth orbit, it could adapt the satellite launcher into an ICBM that could drop more than 300 kg. anywhere in the world, for instance, on Washington, D.C. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/ Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
French Defense Minister Herve Morin cast doubt on reports that Iran had halted its suspected nuclear weapons drive, speaking Thursday on a visit to Washington. "Coordinated information from a number of intelligence services leads us to believe that Iran has not given up its wish to pursue its (nuclear) program," and is "continuing to develop" it, Morin said. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The next Palestinian attack, kidnapping, or suicide bombing carried out against Israelis in Sinai or the southern Negev is just a matter of time. Hani and Rami Hamdan, the two brothers from Gaza caught on Saturday wearing explosive belts in Sinai by Egyptian security forces, were not operating independently. Just a day earlier the Egyptians arrested 15 armed Palestinians in Sinai, 12 of whom were members of Hamas. Last week, another cell of five Palestinians was arrested near Taba, next to Eilat, and explosive belts were found in their possession.
Despite the Egyptian interest to cooperate with Israel to avert attacks, there are Palestinian cells who have evaded the Egyptians and are hiding in the broad expanses of Sinai. These cells are believed to be planning attacks in Sinai, but some will try to penetrate the porous 300-km. Israel-Sinai border.
Egypt is now dependent on the goodwill of Hamas. If Hamas wishes, the border at Rafah remains sealed. If it does not, thousands of Palestinians will be allowed to rush into Sinai. However, Egyptian cooperation with Hamas over the Rafah crossing means a perpetuation of Hamas rule in Gaza and a deepening of the rift between Fatahland in the West Bank and Hamastan in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
Hamas is seriously contemplating severing Gaza's economic ties with Israel, said Ahmed Yousef, a senior advisor to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, in a Saturday interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat. According to Hamas, Egypt can serve as Gaza's gateway to the Arab and Muslim world and as its strategic partner. (Ynet News)
See also Israel Welcomes Hamas' Intention to Economically Disengage from Israel - Roni Sofer
Jerusalem on Saturday welcomed reports that Hamas is giving serious consideration to severing all economic ties with Israel. "This is clearly in Israel's interests, provided that our defense interests with Egypt are maintained," said a government official. According to a defense official, Israel's decision to downsize the supply of goods to Gaza was indeed meant to prompt Hamas into seeking other venues for aid. However, the defense official added that Israel cannot afford to let Gazans go hungry or restrict the treatment of sick Palestinians, and therefore aid to Gaza has continued despite the terror. "It's because we are Jews," he said. (Ynet News)
See also Egypt Nixes Hamas Call for Economic Alliance - Khaled Abu Toameh
Under pressure from Egypt, Hamas on Sunday backtracked from its call for economic disengagement from Israel. "Egypt has made it clear that it does not want to be responsible for providing Gaza with fuel and electricity," said a senior Hamas official in Gaza City. "They have informed us that Gaza must remain Israel's problem." (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinians in Gaza fired four Kassam rockets that landed outside Sderot Monday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Four Palestinian Rockets Strike Israel Saturday - Tova Dadon
On Saturday evening, Palestinians in Gaza launched four Kassam rockets at Israel. Two children suffering from shock and ear pain were evacuated to hospital. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
"Gaza is not occupied, so why should Israel have any role [at the Gaza-Egypt border crossing] when it has no presence on the border between Egypt and Gaza?" argued Mohammed Nuseir, a member of Hamas' political bureau, on Saturday. This is the first time an official Hamas representative has explicitly stated that Gaza is no longer occupied. At the same time, it puts Egypt in the difficult position of being Gaza's only outlet to the world - which means that it will also be held responsible for the Strip's economic plight.
Egypt would be happy to serve as a shopping center for 1.5 million Gaza residents and provide them with services that could bring over $1.5 billion a year into its coffers. But it does not want to be responsible for security in Gaza. Its baseline position - that Gaza is occupied territory, and any solution to its problems is inseparable from a solution in the West Bank - remains unchanged. (Ha'aretz)
The shooting attack on the Israeli Embassy in Mauritania should serve as a warning to Jerusalem. Mauritania, a member of the Arab League and a country fifty times larger than Israel, opened full diplomatic relations with Israel in October 1999 after great Israeli efforts. A poor country receiving no Arab support, Mauritania hoped to receive greater Israeli assistance to develop the country. Assistance was offered primarily in agriculture and medicine. In 1998, thousands were treated by Israeli doctors, but since then, many Israeli promises have gone unfulfilled.
Jewish values require us to help people in need, and how much more so for an entire country. We succeeded in changing a hostile Muslim Arab state into a friend, but that could change back if there are no obvious benefits to be seen by the local population, as opposition voices continue to warn of the "Zionist enemy." An Israeli diplomatic failure in Mauritania would also deter other states such as Morocco and Tunisia from renewing relations with us.
Israel must fulfill its promises and strengthen bilateral relations through significant confidence-building measures. Otherwise, there is no point in Israel supporting an entire embassy in a distant land, and endangering the lives of its diplomats, if we fail to do our part to protect our interests in that part of the world. The writer was Israel's first ambassador to Mauritania. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
See also Al-Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Shooting Attack at Israeli Embassy in Mauritania (Ha'aretz)
Lebanon War Report: Implications for U.S.-Israeli Relations - David Makovsky (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert