Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 1, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel, Syria to Hold Third Round of Talks in Istanbul Tuesday - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Israel and Syria will hold their third round of indirect negotiations in Istanbul Tuesday, with Turkish mediators shuttling back and forth carrying each side's messages.
    Senior Syrian officials reportedly claim that they will not agree to hold direct talks until they receive a firm guarantee on deep American involvement in the talks.
    Foreign diplomats say "there is a feeling that the Syrians are delaying until the new U.S. administration takes office, before they will be ready for real progress."

Israel to Create "Special Security Zone" on Gaza Border - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israel has informed Hamas it will fire "warning shots" at Palestinians who enter an area west of the Gaza Strip border fence, extending for several hundred meters.
    Israel is concerned that Palestinian terror groups will use the truce to plant explosives next to the security fence, as they have done in the past, to detonate against IDF forces if fighting resumes.
    Israel also fears that Hamas might build a line of fortifications along the fence as a basis for further attacks, as Hizbullah did in Lebanon.

Israel Warns Hospitals to Prepare for Earthquake - Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
    Health Ministry Director-General Avi Yisraeli has instructed hospitals in northern Israel to prepare immediately for the possibility of a major earthquake.
    In one three-month period this year, around 500 small tremors were recorded, and exceptional seismic activity was noted in southern Lebanon in the middle of February.

Senior PA Police Officer Caught with Stolen Car - Aaron Lerner (IMRA/Maariv)
    Maariv reported Sunday that Israeli Border Police detained a senior police officer in the PA, a relative of Marwan Barghouti, as he was driving in an Israeli 2008 Mitsubishi Pajero that had been stolen a week earlier in Caesarea.
    "The jeep that was stolen in Caesarea was transferred to Ramallah and upgraded and turned into a Palestinian police car," said a representative from the Ituran vehicle tracking firm.
    "They put on PA Police license plates, installed a communications system, a siren and blue [police] lights."

IDF Deploys Robots in the Field - Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Defense Forces robot fleet now numbers several dozen, which are used by IDF units in the West Bank and the Gaza area.
    Their main aim is to minimize the chances of soldiers getting hurt in combing buildings and tunnels that could be booby-trapped.
    The robots, which are less than a meter tall, can climb stairs quickly, photograph what is in front of them, and transmit the live picture to a distant command position.
    Given an order from afar, they are also capable of opening fire on terrorists and suspicious objects.

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

  • Saudi Charged in Attack on U.S. Destroyer - William Glaberson
    The Pentagon on Monday announced war crimes charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi detainee at Guantanamo suspected of being the primary planner of the attack on the Navy destroyer Cole in October 2000 that killed 17 American sailors. Military prosecutors said they were seeking the death penalty against al-Nashiri. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Won't Allow Iran to Shut Key Gulf Oil Route - Mohammad Fadhel
    The commander of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, Vice-Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff, warned on Monday that the U.S. will not allow Iran to shut the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf sea lane through which much of the world's oil is supplied. Cosgriff insisted that the international community will work to protect navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, adding that any action by Iran "will not be an action against the United States but against the international community."  (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Gaza Rocket Fire Continues, Israel Closes Border Crossings - Fadi Eyadat and Shahar Ilan
    Palestinian gunmen fired a Kassam rocket at Israel on Monday afternoon in violation of a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas. In response, Israel closed the border crossings between Israel and Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Hardens Stance Over Return of Abducted Israeli Soldier - Yaakov Katz, Khaled Abu Toameh, and Ben Sales
    Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said on Monday that Israel's decision to free Lebanese murderer Samir Kuntar and others in a prisoner exchange with Hizbullah would pave the way for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. "Israel has agreed to release prisoners who it says have blood on their hands. We must therefore seize the opportunity and seek the release of our prisoners," Zahar said. "There should be no difference between the case of [abducted Israeli soldier Gilad] Shalit and the case of Kuntar." An Israeli defense official explained, "They see what price we are willing to pay for bodies and think they can now get more for Shalit, who is alive." (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN Report Ignores Hizbullah Violations
    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to submit a quarterly report on Tuesday on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701, which cemented the end of the Second Lebanon War. According to reports, the document does not accuse Hizbullah of violating the terms of the cease-fire, despite Israeli allegations that Hizbullah has retaken its border positions and continues to amass rockets and other arms banned under 1701. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said that "UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is not being implemented. Rockets continue to be moved into Lebanon, Hizbullah is becoming more powerful, and I think it is the Security Council's duty to convene and decide how to ensure that this resolution is indeed being enforced and carried out." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Needs a New Approach to Kidnappings - Yoel Marcus
    In the Ahmed Jibril deal of May 20, 1985, then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin freed 1,150 Arab prisoners, among them some of the most vicious killers, their hands literally dripping with blood, in exchange for three Israeli captives. In this ongoing war against the dark forces of fundamentalist Islam in our region, we must be prepared for the possibility of more kidnappings, more POWs and more cynical abuse of families by withholding news of their loved ones.
        The question is whether the time hasn't come to establish a new set of principles - principles that are better suited to dealing with the kind of brutal enemy we confront. The other side banks on the assumption that Israel is softhearted and will give in, sooner or later, to all its demands. From now on, Israel needs to take a new tack in its approach to kidnappings and those responsible for them. (Ha'aretz)
  • Being a French Journalist Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry - Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
    It was not really to be expected that Charles Enderlin, the France 2 TV journalist who released the one-minute news report on Muhammad al-Dura, would immediately admit having hastily slapped together sensational footage supplied by the channel's regular Palestinian stringer, and not checked whose bullets had, in fact, killed, or perhaps even not killed, the boy. In the ensuing eight years, al-Dura, the "child martyr" cowering beside his father, became the defining image of the second Intifada.
        After former Le Monde journalist Luc Rosenzweig viewed the entire 27 minutes of the original film, he described the tape's scenes of staging just before the fatal shooting. You could see Palestinians being carried on stretchers into ambulances, then coming out again unharmed, all in a kind of carnival atmosphere, with kids throwing stones and making faces at the camera, despite what was supposed to be a tense situation. The tape showed occasional gunshots, not continuous firing. From the general horsing around captured on film, it appeared that the whole scene must have been staged. (Weekly Standard)
  • India's Moderate Muslims See Peril in Growth of Stricter Form of Islam - Rama Lakshmi
    About two-thirds of India's 130 million Muslims are Barelvi Sunnis. They follow the mystical strain of Islam known as Sufism and attend shrines of Sufi saints - seen by more conservative Muslims as blasphemous. Shabeeb Rizvi, a professor at Rizvi College in Mumbai, said the Barelvis have increasingly felt besieged by Islamic groups with stricter interpretations of Islam, particularly Wahhabism, a conservative school of Islam that originated in Saudi Arabia. "Groups loosely connected to Wahhabi ideology donate money for [mosque] repairs, appoint their own priest and slowly begin to take over," Rizvi said. "About 30% of their mosques have been taken over by front organizations of Wahhabi ideology in 10 years. This brings a new aggressiveness to the Indian Muslim landscape."
        "Muslims in India have always followed a moderate tradition....A few have begun giving shelter to terrorists, helping put together the explosives and pressing the timer device," said a senior intelligence officer who has investigated several of the bombings in Indian cities over the past three years. He said about 300 Indian Muslims have been arrested or detained in connection with about a dozen bombings that have ripped through India since 2005. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Who Is Responsible for the Palestinian Catastrophe? - Irwin Cotler (Jerusalem Post)

    • The Palestinian people did endure a Nakba (catastrophe) 60 years ago, but it was not as a result of the creation of the State of Israel. Rather, it was the result of the Palestinian and Arab leadership rejecting the UN resolution calling for the establishment of both a Jewish state and a Palestinian-Arab state.
    • The Jewish leadership accepted the resolution, but the Palestinian and Arab leadership did not, which they had a right to do. What they did not have a right to do was attack the nascent Jewish state with the objective - as they acknowledged at the time - of initiating a "war of extermination."
    • Had the UN Partition Resolution been accepted 60 years ago, there would have been no Arab-Israeli war - no refugees, Jewish or Arab - and none of the pain and suffering since. Indeed, we would have been celebrating the 60th anniversary of both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.
    • Moreover, this rejectionism, where Arab leadership was prepared to forgo the establishment of a Palestinian state if it meant countenancing a Jewish state in any borders, has underpinned the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever since.
    • In addition, the Arab countries also created a Jewish refugee population resulting from the Arab war against its own Jewish nationals. A pattern of state-sanctioned repression and persecution in Arab countries - including Nuremberg-like laws - resulted in forced expulsions, illegal sequestration of property, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and murder - namely, anti-Jewish pogroms.

      The writer is a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada.

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