Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 6, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Can Shoot Down Dozens of Missiles Simultaneously - Yuval Azoulay (Ha'aretz)
    On Tuesday, the Israel Air Force unveiled Sniper, a system developed by three Israeli companies that identifies a target, whether missile or plane, while it is still hundreds of kilometers from Israel, enabling it to be struck with missiles.
    The IAF stressed that this system is currently reserved for Israel's exclusive use; U.S. Patriot batteries elsewhere in the world are not equipped with Sniper.
    A senior officer said the first Sniper units were deployed about a month ago, and more will be deployed in the future.
    He added that Israel now has the ability to bring down dozens of missiles simultaneously, and to select which missiles to target based on each missile's projected landing site.
    See also Video: IDF Trains for Simultaneous Hizbullah, Iran, Syria Missile Strikes - (Channel 10/Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Air Force's anti-aircraft division on Tuesday carried out a large exercise testing its response to simultaneous missile strikes by Syria, Hizbullah and Iran.

Iran Executes Two Accused as Rebels - Nazila Fathi (New York Times)
    The Iranian government executed two men on Monday who were convicted of having ties with the armed opposition Jundallah group in the southeastern city of Zahedan, the newspaper Etemad Melli reported Tuesday.

Israel Freezes Defense Sales to Georgia (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Israel has decided to halt all sales of military equipment to Georgia because of objections from Russia, which is locked in a feud with Georgia, Israeli defense officials said Tuesday.
    The officials said the freeze was also intended to give Israel leverage with Moscow in its attempts to persuade Russia not to ship arms and equipment to Iran.
    See also Israel to Sell Georgia Only "Defensive" Weapons - Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas and Jordan Restoring Ties - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Meetings between Jordanian and Hamas officials have opened the door to restoring relations that have been strained for two years, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Tuesday.
    Mohammed Nazzal, a member of Hamas' political bureau, met with Mohammed Dahabi, who heads Jordan's General Intelligence Department, in the last few days.
    The renewed ties with Hamas angered Fatah-affiliated Jordanian officials who oppose the move.
    Jordan and Hamas cut ties in 2006, when Jordanian security services captured a Hamas cell that smuggled a large quantity of weapons into Jordan.

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

  • U.S. Calls Iran Nuclear Letter "Obfuscation" - Zahra Hosseinian and Sue Pleming
    Iran delivered a letter to world powers on Tuesday but gave no concrete reply to a demand to freeze its nuclear activity, a defiant step the U.S. said amounted to "obfuscation" and could lead to more sanctions. Extracts of the one-page letter obtained by Reuters showed Iran gave no firm reply to the offer but instead promised a "clear response" at an unspecified date. "It is more of the same from the Iranians - obfuscation and delays," said one U.S. official. (Reuters)
        See also U.S.: Iran Response on Nuclear Freeze Is Unacceptable - Elise Labott
    Iran's response to the international community's offer of incentives in return for cutbacks in its nuclear program is not acceptable, two senior U.S. officials told CNN Tuesday. "It's another non-answer," a senior U.S. official said. "It doesn't say anything. They are still pretending they are responding." (CNN)
        See also Dangerous Delaying Tactics - Editorial (Guardian-UK)
  • Libyan Leader Says Iran Shows "Vanity"
    Iran risks the same fate as Saddam Hussein's Iraq in its confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, said Tuesday. "What Iran is doing is pure vanity," Qaddafi said during a visit to Tunisia. "If a decision is taken against Iran, it will suffer the same fate as Iraq. Iran is no stronger than Iraq and will be unable to resist." Qaddafi, whose relations with the West improved when Libya scrapped its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, said countries that chose isolation were doomed to fail. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • Accused Al-Qaeda Sleeper Agent in Custody - Josh Meyer
    Aafia Siddiqui, 36, a Pakistani mother of three who studied biology at MIT and who authorities say spent years in the U.S. as an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, was flown to New York on Monday after being arrested three weeks ago in Afghanistan, to face charges of attempting to kill U.S. military and FBI personnel. Authorities believe Siddiqui used the technical skills she acquired at MIT to work her way into the inner circles of al-Qaeda's command and control operation, including its chemical and biological weapons program. The FBI and the CIA say Siddiqui spent several years in Boston as a "fixer" for admitted Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, providing haven and logistical support for terrorist operatives that he sent to the U.S. to launch attacks. Siddiqui is married to Mohammed's nephew, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hizbullah Threatens Israeli Flights Over Lebanon - Amos Harel
    Israeli overflights of Lebanon now threaten to become the main point of Israel-Hizbullah friction. Israel deems the overflights essential for intelligence purposes. It was these flights that enabled Israel to learn the positions of the long-range missiles that it destroyed on the first day of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Should Hizbullah install advanced anti-aircraft batteries, accompanied by modern radar, this would cause significant problems for Israeli overflights. According to both Military Intelligence assessments and recent reports in the Arabic media, Hizbullah is seeking such batteries. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Weighs Response to Hizbullah Anti-Aircraft Threat - Amos Harel and Barak Ravid
    If Hizbullah installs advanced anti-aircraft batteries in Lebanon, the Israel Air Force will have to alter its overflights of Lebanon significantly, a senior IAF officer said Tuesday. However, he added that the IAF has successfully coped with similar threats elsewhere, and could do so in Lebanon as well. Senior government and army officials have recently held discussions on this scenario. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Warns Syria Against Setting Up Advanced Anti-Aircraft System in Lebanon - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Israel has warned Syria that it would not accept the establishment of an advanced anti-aircraft system in Lebanon; should it be set up, Israel will not hesitate to act against it. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Arab Indicted as Hizbullah Agent - Yaakov Katz
    Khaled Kashkush, an Israeli Arab medical student in Frankfurt, Germany, who was arrested in Israel on July 16, was indicted Wednesday for enlisting in Hizbullah and performing missions. According to the indictment, known Lebanese Hizbullah agent Muhammad Hashem met Kashkush, recruited him, paid him €13,000, and began giving him missions. Kashkush was asked to apply for a job at an Israeli hospital upon completing his studies, where he would gather information on soldiers and security personnel who were hospitalized. Kashkush was also instructed in different ways to avoid detection and in how to work as an undercover agent, the indictment said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF and PA Security Officials Meet
    A meeting took place Monday between Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division Brig. Gen. Noam Tibon, Head of the Civil Administration Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and representatives of the Palestinian security forces to strengthen security coordination between Palestinian and IDF security forces. The parties discussed the Palestinian security forces' activities in the area of Jenin and northern Samaria. The Palestinians expressed appreciation for having the ability to act independently as part of the recent campaign for improving public order in the region. In addition, the two sides discussed the continuation of the easing of restrictions by the IDF. The Palestinians expressed satisfaction at the steps taken. The meeting was conducted in a positive atmosphere and both sides agreed to hold additional meetings in the future. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Internalizing Hamastan - Editorial
    Israel and the West would do well to internalize that Hamas' rule in Gaza is the best indicator to date of how Palestinians would run their affairs in a fully independent Palestine. We need also to recognize the failure of institution-building and due process in the Abbas component of the PA thus far, as illuminated by the torture of Hamas functionaries, on Fatah's behalf, by the Aksa Martyrs Brigade. Dismally, despite the brutal nature of its Gaza rule, Hamas remains more popular in the West Bank and Gaza than Abbas. This ongoing triumph of intransigence over relative moderation is greatly assisted by Abbas' failure to root out corruption from Fatah.
        In such a climate, there aren't enough checkpoints in the West Bank Israel can dismantle to "help" Abbas. Indeed, IDF pullbacks in the West Bank would simply set the stage for a Hamas takeover and leave Israel more vulnerable to terrorism. Plainly, lifting international sanctions on Hamas would be a flagrant reward for Islamist violence and tyranny. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Political Suicide, Palestinian Style - Rami G. Khouri
    As Fatah and Hamas battle it out like a bunch of armed neighborhood gangs, it will not be surprising to see some friends of Palestine quietly walk away, mumbling that if the Palestinians wish to kill each other and destroy their own society, they are free to do so. This is the latest and most troubling example of how a once grand and noble Palestinian national liberation movement has allowed itself to degenerate into ineptitude.
        The sight of clan-based political groups in Gaza killing each other is familiar in many parts of the Middle East, sadly. It is a sign that national dysfunctionality expressed in internecine political violence is a regional Arab ailment, not a peculiarly Palestinian one. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Palestinians See Israel as a Refuge - Mohammad Salah
    The flight by Ahmad Hillis and other Palestinians to Israel in search of safety away from the bullying and aggression of Hamas affirms that the Palestinian issue is on its way to disappearing, evaporating and being forgotten. It also proves that Israel, for many Palestinians, is a refuge or objective one seeks and heads toward when Palestinians oppress each other. (Al-Hayat-Lebanon)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Real Nuclear Tactic Is to Keep Buying Time - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)

    • Iran will not play by the West's rules, even the ones most softened. It believes that time is on its side.
    • It sees a U.S. readying for elections and consequently incapable of making a move.
    • It sees a hesitant and divided EU, which does not want to rock the boat and impose harsh sanctions on Iran, and permits its corporations to keep their close ties to the ayatollahs' regime and even sign new contracts, as has been the case recently with Swiss, German, Austrian and Polish energy companies.
    • Hovering above all this are Russia and China, which are not playing the West's game to impose further sanctions on Iran.
    • Iran evidently understands that the threat of the military option that the U.S. and Israel keep bandying about is actually not, at least in the present reality, implementable.

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