Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 21, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Washington Rejects Palestinian-Kosovo Comparison (AFP)
    The U.S. on Wednesday rejected comparisons between the Palestinian situation and Kosovo, after a senior Palestinian official called for a Kosovo-like declaration of independence.
    Kosovo is a "unique" situation, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. "It is not a precedent for any other situation around the world."

Egyptian General Slams Hamas for Destroying Egyptian Border (MEMRI-TV)
    Retired Egyptian general Hussam Sweilem, told Al-Mihwar TV on Feb. 6, 2008:
    "The most important issue today is the organized crime that came from across the border. This is a violation of Egypt's sanctity, a transgression of its borders, which [Hamas] has called 'the great raid.' They called the transgression of our borders 'a raid'...those Hamas members from Hamastan."
    "They violated Egypt's sanctity, and entered our country with bulldozers, and then with men wearing masks from the 'Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades."
    "How can I sympathize with them when, after taking all the goods from the shops of the Egyptians, they paid with counterfeit dollars?"

Shaken Hamas Still in Control of Gaza - Karin Laub (AP/Washington Post)
    Hamas policemen in Gaza are on edge and on the move these days. Worried about Israeli missiles, they mostly roam the streets away from their compounds.
    The once media-friendly Hamas cabinet has been meeting in secret and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh hasn't been sighted since January, breaking his routine of leading weekly prayers at a local mosque.
    Yet Hamas faces no serious internal opposition, and its current state is shaken but in control.

Jerusalem on the Monopoly Board - Tim Franks (BBC News)
    The manufacturers of Monopoly are holding an online poll to decide which cities should be in their forthcoming "World Edition" of the game.
    As of Feb. 18, "Jerusalem, Israel" was fifth, sandwiched between "Riga, Latvia" and "Paris, France."
    This is no accident. The campaign group One Jerusalem is determinedly encouraging people to make Jerusalem number one.
    See also Jerusalem Stateless in International Monopoly - Michal Lando (Jerusalem Post)
    On Tuesday, Jerusalem became the only city to be listed without a country name. However, following complaints, all country names were removed from the list on Wednesday.
    According to Hasbro Company spokesman Wayne Charness, "Israel" was removed from the list by a mid-level employee following e-mails from angry Palestinians.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Developing Nuclear Warheads, Exile Group Claims
    Mohammad Mohaddessin, a representative of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, claimed Wednesday in Brussels that Tehran had established a command and control center to work on a nuclear bomb and that it was also setting up a center to produce warheads. He said Iran had closed down one center only to open another later with the same purpose, and called the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate "not accurate." He said he had provided the latest information to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday and urged them to investigate more sites in Iran and interview more scientists. Mohaddessin said the information came from sources within Iran, including from among staff at covert nuclear plants. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
        The new command and control center, coded-named Lavizan-2, was established at Mojdeh on the outskirts of Tehran last April, near the site of a previous facility razed after its exposure. Production of nuclear warheads is at a complex code-named B1-Nori-8500 at Khojir, about 20 km. further southeast. Mohaddessin said the Khojir site was under the charge of missile expert Mehdi Naghiyan Fesharaki, who was transferred there two years ago. "This means the regime is getting to the point of connecting nuclear weapons to missiles," he said.
        "The Iranian regime is undoubtedly developing the nuclear bomb. None of the essential work has been halted....All three parts have been speeded up," he said, referring to uranium enrichment, weaponization, and missile development. "Time is running out to stop the regime acquiring a nuclear bomb. If we do not act today, tomorrow might be too late." (Reuters)
  • Ahmadinejad in New Attack on "Savage Animal" Israel
    In a speech broacast Wednesday on Iranian state television, President Ahmadinejad said: "World powers have created a black and dirty microbe named the Zionist regime and have unleashed it like a savage animal on the nations of the region." (AFP)
        See also Iran Urges UN to Condemn Israel - Edith M. Lederer
    Iran urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to condemn Israel over Prime Minister Olmert's Jan. 14 warning that all options were on the table when it comes to keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
        Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman responded: "For a country whose leader describes a member state of the United Nations as a dirty microbe and a savage animal, to complain about others' statements is the height of hypocrisy," noting this was "coming from a country which is the world's major sponsor and exporter of terror." (AP)
  • French Court Freezes $85M in Iranian Assets - Joseph Goldstein
    Acting on American court judgments meant to compensate victims of terrorism, a French court has frozen $85 million belonging to the Central Bank of Iran. An appeals court in Paris is scheduled next week to review whether the funds, held at the French bank Natexis, should remain frozen or be released. (New York Sun)
        See also The Nexus Between Iranian National Banks and International Terrorist Financing - Shimon Shapira (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Leaders Dismiss Call for Unilateral Declaration of Independence - Mark Weiss
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas quickly dismissed Yasser Abed-Rabbo's call Wednesday for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood if negotiations with Israel fail. "We don't think this idea is being seriously considered," one official said. "Everyone - Israel and the Palestinian leadership - is working toward a negotiated settlement." Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei said a unilateral declaration of statehood had never been discussed by the Palestinian leadership. (Jerusalem Post)
        A senior Palestinian involved in the talks explained Abed-Rabbo's statements in terms of simple Palestinian politics: "[Abbas] left him outside the team that is holding talks with the Israelis. This is his response."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rockets Hit Building in Israel - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that hit an Israeli building on Wednesday night. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Gaza-Sinai Terror Connection - Editorial
    The recent violence and chaos on the border separating Gaza from Egypt should serve as a wake-up call about the jihadist threat emanating from the Sinai Peninsula, which has become a recruiting ground for al-Qaeda and, increasingly, an infiltration route into Israel. Israeli officials say the opening of the Gaza-Egypt border fence on Jan. 23 permitted terrorists to enter Egypt. Once in Egyptian territory, they make their way to less-defended areas of Sinai and cross into Israel to stage attacks. Israeli officials say there are as many as 20 terror cells in Sinai preparing to launch attacks on Israel.
        Sinai has become the soft underbelly of terror - and a huge security problem for Egypt and Israel and for the tens of thousands of foreign tourists that visit its resorts each year. There are also 1,800 members of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), the Sinai-based international peacekeeping force monitoring compliance with the 1979 peace treaty signed by Egypt and Israel. (Washington Times)
  • Land for Peace Just Going Up in Smoke - Tim Williams
    On a recent sun-drenched and unseasonably warm winter afternoon in the Israeli town of Sderot, near the Gaza border, I noticed the near empty sidewalks, yards and parks. Almost no children were outside at play because of daily Kassam rockets fired from Palestinian-controlled and Hamas-governed Gaza. This wasn't the scenario envisioned by the Land for Peace movement. Most believed that the rocket attacks would cease once the 9,000 Jewish settlers abandoned their homes and Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005.
        Almost 4,000 rockets later, that hope has evaporated. It is estimated that close to 5,000 people in Sderot have already given up and moved to other parts of Israel. The plight of Sderot has many others in Israel and around the world questioning the wisdom of returning additional territory if the Palestinians will not even recognize Israel's basic right to exist. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • Rewarding Palestinian Terrorism - Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen
    The U.S. distributes funds to the Palestinians through the Agency for International Development (USAID). Until now, the U.S. funded only selected projects, which were expected to be vetted and certified by USAID to ensure recipients used the funds only for their allocated purposes, and did not "commit, threaten or support terrorism." Yet in at least 74 cases, according to a December 2007 audit, the USAID mission for the West Bank and Gaza "failed to comply" with the anti-terrorism requirements of Executive Order 13224, and failed to vet subcontractors and require anti-terrorism certification for all contractors and subcontractors who received money. Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld is director and Alyssa A. Lappen is Senior Fellow at the American Center for Democracy. (Pajamas Media)
  • Observations:

    Islam at the Ballot Box - Amir Taheri (Wall Street Journal)

    • Pakistan's election has been portrayed by the Western media as a defeat for President Musharraf. The real losers were the Islamist parties. The parties linked, or at least sympathetic, to the Taliban and al-Qaeda saw their share of the votes slashed to about 3% from almost 11% in the last general election a few years ago. The largest coalition of the Islamist parties, the United Assembly for Action (MMA), lost control of the Northwest Frontier Province to the avowedly secularist National Awami Party, despite vast sums spent by Iran and wealthy Arabs from the Persian Gulf states.
    • So far, no Islamist party has managed to win a majority of the popular vote in any of the Muslim countries where reasonably clean elections are held. If anything, the Islamist share of the vote has been declining across the board. In Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas - the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood - won the 2006 general election with 44% of the votes, despite its secularist rival Fatah's years of misrule and corruption.
    • Far from rejecting democracy, a majority of Muslims have repeatedly shown that they like elections. Tyrants fear free and fair elections, a fact illustrated by the Khomeinist regime's efforts to fix the outcome of next month's poll in Iran by pre-selecting the candidates. Support for democratic movements in the Muslim world remains the only credible strategy for winning the war against terror.

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