Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 5, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Trains Iraqis in Iran, U.S. Says - Michael R. Gordon (New York Times)
    Hizbullah militants have been training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran.
    An American official said the account of Hizbullah's role was provided by four Shiite militia members who were captured in Iraq late last year and questioned separately.
    The training is carried out at several camps near Tehran that are overseen by the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
    See also Iraq Says It Has Proof of Iranian Meddling - Amit R. Paley (Washington Post)
    Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Sunday that Iraq has "concrete evidence" Iran is fomenting violence in the country and that a high-level panel had been formed to document the proof.

Pro-Israel Boris Johnson Defeats Ken Livingstone as London Mayor - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
    London's new mayor, pro-Israel Conservative lawmaker Boris Johnson, was sworn in Saturday after ousting the left-wing incumbent Ken Livingstone.

Lebanon's Jumblatt Wants Ban on Flights from Iran (AFP)
    Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a leading member of Lebanon's Western-backed ruling coalition, called on Saturday for the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador, Mohammad Reda Shibani, and "a ban on the arrival of Iranian planes to Beirut because, maybe, they carry money and weapons" for Hizbullah.
    Jumblatt showed reporters what he said was an exchange of mail between Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr and army intelligence services about the discovery of surveillance cameras near the airport.
    Jumblatt has repeatedly demanded that Hizbullah surrender its weapons in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for the disbanding and disarming of all Lebanese militias.
    See also Report: Iran Building Communications System for Hizbullah - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    Lebanese Communications Minister Marwan Hamada told the London-based Asharq Alawsat Sunday that the Iranian organization aiding Hizbullah in restoring its infrastructure after the war is also building a communications network with separate landlines that span most of Lebanon and would enable Hizbullah to listen to any entity within Lebanon.

Famed Refusenik Calls to Save Arab Prisoner Sentenced to Death by PA - Eli Lake (New York Sun)
    A Palestinian Authority police officer accused of helping Israel with counterterrorism is facing death at the hands of a firing line unless a last-minute appeal to President Bush can save him.
    The cause of the police officer, Imad Sa'ad, is being championed by Ida Nudel, who became famous as a political prisoner in the Soviet Union before she moved to Israel in 1987.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • New Information May Lead U.S. to Revise NIE on Iran - Uzi Mahnaimi
    There is mounting concern in Israel that Iran's nuclear capability may be far more advanced than was recognized in a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate last December. One source claimed the new information was on a par with intelligence that led Israel to discover and then destroy a partly constructed nuclear reactor in Syria last September. "We expect the Americans to amend their report soon," a high-ranking Israeli military officer said last week. Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, briefed Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the foreign secretary, on Israel's findings during talks on the Middle East in London last week. Israeli intelligence officers, en route from Washington where they had been outlining their latest information to American officials, joined Livni for the briefing. (Times-UK)
        See also The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran and Its Aftermath: A Roundtable of Israeli Experts - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, and Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Major Powers Offer Iran New Incentives to Halt Nuclear Program - Mary Jordan and Robin Wright
    Six world powers agreed Friday to offer Iran a new mix of incentives to curtail its nuclear program, updating an offer made to Iran in June 2006, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced in London. The centerpiece of the new offer is international assistance for a civilian nuclear program. (Washington Post)
        See also Russia Says Iranian Enrichment Freeze Is Sole Demand (AFP)
        See also Iran Rules Out Halt to Nuclear Work
    Iran ruled out halting its nuclear work on Monday, saying it would not consider any incentives offered by world powers that violated its atomic rights. Iran says enrichment is a national right that it will not give up. (Reuters)
  • Rice Maintains Heat on Israel over Settlements - Tobias Buck
    On her latest trip to the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Rice offered more direct criticism of Israel's policies than on previous visits, describing the continuing expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank as "particularly problematic to the atmosphere of trust that is needed." Her remarks followed Friday's statement by the Middle East Quartet that expressed "deep concern at continuing settlement activity." The Israeli government, however, claims it is building only within the boundaries of existing settlements and in areas that it expects to keep under any future peace agreement. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Rice Presses Israel on Roadblocks - Anne Gearan
    At a news conference with Abbas on Sunday, Rice demanded that Israel do more to ease life for Palestinians in the West Bank by removing roadblocks. Israel says they are needed to prevent would-be attackers from crossing into Israel. There was one suicide bombing last year and two so far this year. That's down from a high of 59 in 2002, the year Israel began building a separation barrier and multiplying its military checkpoints and roadblocks. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Inadequately Trained PA Forces Deploying in West Bank - Griff Witte and Ellen Knickmeyer
    There have been significant problems with the training of the first class of Palestinian security officers under a multimillion-dollar U.S. program to strengthen the Palestinian Authority, including a final round that one American involved in the program described as "a complete fiasco." The first 430 to be trained, members of the Presidential Guard, returned to the West Bank from Jordan in April. One American said the final field exercise included the "'killing' of civilians and blue-on-blue engagements (firing on friendly forces)."
        Steve Smith, a veteran of international police training programs, resigned from this one in protest over what he said was inadequate training, equipment and curriculum being provided to the Palestinians. In a letter to Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Smith said the recruits were not ready for deployment. "I believe in the peace process, in the two-state solution, and in General Dayton's idea that a viable Palestinian security force is necessary for peace," Smith wrote. "Unfortunately, the training program will not achieve that goal without significant additional training." (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Mofaz: Take Jerusalem Off Negotiating Table
    Jerusalem must be taken off the negotiating table, Transportation Minister and former defense minister Shaul Mofaz said Friday. Speaking to leaders of U.S. Jewish organizations in New York, Mofaz said that reaching a final status agreement with the Palestinians by the end of the year would force Israel to give up on its very foundations and "sell" its national assets. He said Israel should try and reach a gradual interim deal with the Palestinians, since it was uncertain if the PA leadership could fulfill its agreements. He stressed that Israel must ensure it has defensible borders that can withstand every remaining test. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rice Meets Olmert in Jerusalem - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Olmert met visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rice on Saturday evening after she arrived for a 36-hour visit. He is expected to hold a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas on Monday. A senior PA official in Ramallah said that in the wake of Abbas' recent talks in Washington with President Bush and Rice, it was "unrealistic" to expect a breakthrough between the Palestinians and Israelis before the end of the year. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues - Mijal Grinberg
    On Sunday, four Israelis were treated for shock when three Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza struck the city of Sderot. One rocket hit a cemetery, causing damage. The second destroyed the roof of a shop in the city's commercial district and the third damaged a residential building. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Rice's Next Disaster - Marty Peretz
    Fifty Israeli trucks attempting to deliver fuel and food supplies to Palestinians in Gaza came under Palestinian mortar fire, Israel Radio reported. The New York Times added, "In addition, a mortar shell hit the Nahal Oz fuel terminal on Israel's border with Gaza as badly needed fuel was being transferred into the Palestinian area to supply the local power station." Jerusalem should not endanger one Israeli life to deliver anything to Gaza. It shouldn't have been making deliveries during the last two years when Hamas and comrades were firing missiles and rockets into the towns and kibbutzim of the Negev and into the ancient port city of Ashkelon. Gaza can get all the fuel and food it needs from Egypt, if the Egyptians want to provide it.
        Ms. Rice was a none-too-passive party to the 2005 full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. That turned into a disaster. Now she is working on her next disaster and trying to trim from the borders of Israel some measly bits of territory to grease the wheels. Everybody understood and really understands that Israel would retain a few large settlement blocks and the land between Jerusalem and the 40,000-plus people in Ma'aleh Adumin. A "return to the 1967 borders" is a slogan, it is not a peace map. First, those are not borders. They were never recognized as borders by any of the Arabs; they were fragile cease-fire lines. Second, history doesn't stop for the convenience of the Palestinians. They have to deal with history as it was made. (New Republic)
  • Hamas Must Be Defeated, Not Engaged - Dov Weisglass
    If Hamas isn't curbed and defeated, it will spread to the West Bank and establish a de facto Palestinian state ruled by Israel's most radical enemies. The day Hamas takes over the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority in its current format will come to an end and its leaders, who are Israel's dialogue partners, will disappear politically and possibly also physically. The series of agreements, understandings, and international decisions that have been forged in the past 15 years will be annulled. (Ynet News)
  • Assessing Nuclear Activity in Syria and Iran - Emily B. Landau
    The U.S. officials who briefed lawmakers on Syria's covert nuclear reactor believed that the reactor was intended to produce nuclear weapons. It was clearly not for producing electricity, and it was ill-suited to be a research reactor. Moreover, Syria had acted suspiciously, rushing to destroy the remains of the reactor after the attack.
        Determined proliferators are well aware that states are looking for smoking guns, and they put tremendous efforts into hiding their activities. Connecting the dots of weapons-related nuclear activity should be carried out in the realm of strategic analysis, where hard evidence of so-called smoking guns is but one important component. Something is amiss when intelligence officials have to bend over backwards to explain an estimate that doesn't concur with what they believe to be the actual nature of a state's nuclear activity based on their overall analysis and powers of deduction. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Observations:

    Israel Doubts PA Capacity or Will to Fight Terrorism - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)

    • The success of the Israel Defense Forces in stopping suicide bombers from the West Bank has brought enough quiet for Israel to resume peace talks with the Palestinian leadership there. But Israeli security officials are loath to surrender the option of striking at suicide bombers and their dispatchers at any time, on Palestinian turf. "You cannot play from the touchdown line," said Col. Herzi Halevi, commander of the Israeli Army's Paratroops Brigade.
    • Israeli security officials point to what they call the basic conditions for safeguarding the country. According to a new study published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, those include a willingness to bear the political costs of military offensives, good intelligence and control of the territory from which militants operate. In theory, Palestinian security forces would assume the responsibility of preventing such attacks.
    • But leading Israeli security figures, past and present, seriously doubt that the Palestinian police will have the capacity or the will to fight terrorism in the foreseeable future. "It is an old naivete that nobody believes anymore," said Yaakov Amidror, a major general in the reserves who wrote the study.
    • Israel sees some value in the Palestinian policing efforts against local criminals, but has made it clear that when it comes to fighting terrorism, overall security responsibility will remain in Israel's hands. "The price of staying out" of the West Bank, said one senior Israeli military official, "might be one that we don't want to pay."

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