Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 11, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Poll: 64 Percent of Palestinians See No Reconciliation with Israel for Generations - Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    A survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and Gaza between 28 and 30 August 2008 asked:
    If a peace agreement is reached and a Palestinian state is established and recognized by Israel, how soon do you think full reconciliation between the two peoples will be achieved?
    43% - reconciliation is not possible ever; 21% - only in many generations to come; 7% - only in the next generation; 9% - only in the next decade; 11% - in the next few years.

U.S. Softens Stance on Defense Exports to Israel - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
    The U.S. is softening its stance on dual-use technology exports to Israel, suggests the results at the U.S.-Israel High Technology Forum meeting in Arlington, Virginia, this week.
    Defense sources in Washington said that the change in position is due to U.S. recognition of the effectiveness of Israel's Ministry of Defense's supervision of defense exports to China.
    One source said, "In effect, this is a prize for Israel for closing the tap of defense exports to China."

Egyptian Police Stop Bus Convoys Heading to Gaza (Reuters)
    Egyptian police stopped three convoys of buses heading towards Gaza on Wednesday in what organizers called an attempt to break the blockade of the territory.
    "Before [the Suez Canal town of] Ismailia the security forces closed the road and took away the driving licenses of the drivers," said Badr Mohamed, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the groups taking part.
    The Egyptian government contributes to the blockade of Gaza by refusing to open the Rafah crossing point without Israeli approval, as agreed in a 2005 deal.

Israeli Troops to Train Indians in Counterterrorism - Vivek Raghuvanshi (Defense News)
    India and Israel are drafting a roadmap for Israeli commando forces to conduct specialized counterterrorism exercises for Indian troops.
    The Israeli Army's chief of ground forces, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, and Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor will finalize the details during Mizrahi's Sept. 9-11 visit to India.
    A senior Indian Army official said that under the proposed agreement, a select group of Israeli commandos will train Indian troops in India.
    Indian forces will undergo intense close-quarter operations training to learn how to kill insurgents or terrorists without harming the local population.

Iraqi Women Block Attacks by Female Suicide Bombers - Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor)
    The number of suicide bombings carried out in Iraq this year by women has more than tripled to 29 attacks as al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups have turned to women to exploit cultural practices that do not allow men to search women.
    To combat this threat, Iraqis have begun recruiting women for the Daughters of Iraq, a community policing program that has stopped many female insurgents.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel: Hamas More Powerful than PA - Steven Gutkin
    Israel's point man in indirect, Egyptian-mediated talks with Hamas, senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad, said Wednesday the Islamic militant group is more powerful than the Western-backed Palestinian government. Gilad, making a rare appearance before foreign diplomats and journalists at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said current peace talks between Israel and the moderate Palestinian forces in charge of the West Bank are not likely to bear fruit until those forces retake Gaza from Hamas. "It's very difficult to sign an agreement with half your body," he said.
        Gilad said he believes Hamas' goal is to take over the West Bank as well. For the time being, however, he said the militants have decided to halt suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israel because "the price is too high."  (AP/Washington Post/Ynet News)
  • Israel Aims to Break Up Syria-Iran Alliance - Nicholas Kralev
    Israel's envoy to the U.S., Sallai Meridor, said Tuesday that the main reason his government began talks with Syria earlier this year was to "bring about a strategic repositioning" in the Middle East by breaking up Damascus' alliance with Iran. He said a "U-turn" in Syria's policy is a "litmus test" for reaching a broad peace agreement with Damascus. "There can't be true peace if Syria continues to align with the Iranian regime and with terror groups," such as Lebanon's Hizbullah. (Washington Times)
        See also Russia Urged to Halt Arms to Iran, Syria - Nicholas Kralev
    Israel's envoy to the U.S. urged Russia on Tuesday not to sell advanced weapons to Iran and Syria. "Were Russia to continue to supply lethal, sophisticated arms to Syria, this would be destabilizing and dangerous for Israel and for peace in the region," said Amb. Sallai Meridor. "We hope that they will not do that." He referred to the S-125, also known as SA-3 Goa, a low-altitude surface-to-air missile system designed to track and destroy targets. Meridor referred to "two unprecedented terror bases supported by Iran and Syria" - Hamas in the south and Hizbullah in the north. "We have today our country covered from both sides by something that may be nearing altogether 50,000 rockets and missiles," he said. (Washington Times)
  • Ex-Officials Says Terrorism Threat Remains Real - Spencer S. Hsu
    "The threat of a new major terrorist attack on the United States is still very real," concludes a report issued Wednesday by the bipartisan Partnership for a Secure America, co-chaired by Lee H. Hamilton, vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, and Warren Rudman, co-chairman of a 2001 blue-ribbon commission on terrorism. A nuclear, chemical or biological weapon in the hands of terrorists was "the single greatest threat to our nation," and, "We are still dangerously vulnerable."
        "Globalization, privatization, rapid transportation, instant communications" are spreading proliferation capabilities to developing states and private entities around the world, said Brian D. Finlay, co-director of the Cooperative Nonproliferation Program at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a Washington think tank. (Washington Post)
        See also Al-Qaeda Is Still Gunning for the West - Sebastian Rotella
    Al-Qaeda remains determined to strike on American soil, anti-terrorism officials say. But it has run up against aggressive surveillance, tough border security and a lack of extremist communities in which to operate. Instead, officials say, it appears to have focused on using Europe to hit targets such as the flights bound for the U.S. from Britain. (Los Angeles Times)
  • U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Iranian Shipping Firm - Jeannine Aversa and Matthew Lee
    The Bush administration on Wednesday slapped financial sanctions on Iran's largest state-owned shipping line, IRISL, and 18 related affiliates for helping to transfer military-related arms and cargo. The announcement was accompanied by a list of 123 known IRISL vessels. "Not only does IRISL facilitate the transport of cargo for UN designated proliferators, it also falsifies documents and uses deceptive schemes to shroud its involvement in illicit commerce," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S.: No Bunker-Busters, Iraq Flyover Rights for Israel - Amos Harel and Aluf Benn
    The security aid package the U.S. has refused to give Israel for the past few months, out of concern that Israel would use it to attack nuclear facilities in Iran, included a large number of "bunker-buster" bombs, permission to use an air corridor to Iran, an advanced technological system, and refueling planes. In 2005, the U.S. said it was supplying bunker-buster bombs to Israel. In August 2006, the New York Times reported that the U.S. had expedited the dispatch of additional bombs at the height of the Second Lebanon War. The bombs, which weigh 2.2 tons each, can penetrate six meters of reinforced concrete. Israel appears to have asked for a relatively large number of additional bunker-busters, and was turned down.
        An attack on Iran would apparently require passage through Iraqi air space. For this to occur, an air corridor would be needed that Israeli fighter jets could cross without being targeted by American planes or anti-aircraft missiles. According to one account, the Americans told the Israelis to ask Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for permission. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Helicopter Crash Kills Two Pilots - Amos Harel and Eli Ashkenazi
    Two Israel Air Force pilots were killed Wednesday when their Cobra helicopter crashed on a training mission in the Jezreel Valley. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iraqi MP Visits Israel, Calls for Stronger Ties - Yoav Stern
    Iraqi parliament member Mithal al-Alousi spoke Wednesday at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya and called for stronger relations between Iraq and Israel. Al-Alousi also called for stronger cooperation between Iraq and Israel in fighting terror, and issued a harsh condemnation of Iran, which he accused of meddling in Iraqi affairs. After his visit to Israel in 2004, several attacks were launched against him including one that left his two sons dead. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Al-Qaeda Affiliates and Homegrown Cells Pose Threat to U.S. - Michael Jacobson and Matthew Levitt
    In mid-August, the U.S. intelligence community's senior ranking terrorism analyst concluded that al-Qaeda "remains the most serious terrorist threat to the United States." But al-Qaeda affiliates and homegrown cells pose a growing threat as well. Al-Qaeda affiliates include al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
        Finally, there are more local groups today inspired by al-Qaeda, even if they have no direct ties. There were almost 300 different groups involved in terrorist attacks in 2006 - most of them Sunni. More than 40 organizations announced formation and pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden between January 2005 and April 2007. These groups are located in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Europe, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt, among others.
        Ongoing tactical efforts to capture and kill hardened terrorists need to be better combined with strategic efforts to counter the increasing radicalization of disaffected Muslim youth (particularly in Europe) and to highlight al-Qaeda's bankrupt ideology and contest its violent and intolerant message. (Camden Courier-Post/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Seven Years after 9/11 - Jonathan Spyer
    One prominent observer of al-Qaeda depicts it as having been reduced to a core of 200-300 operatives. Yet al-Qaeda as an idea and as a franchise remains healthy and is still a threat. The writer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Syrian Economy Opens - Will Its Politics Follow? - Zeina Karam
    Syria is transforming itself economically and is starkly different from the drab socialism of just a few years ago. Observers estimate foreign investment at nearly $800 million in 2007, up 30%. Shoppers swarm three recently opened, Western-style malls. Boutiques have sprouted up selling Western designer clothes and shoes costing up to three times the monthly salary of an average Syrian.
        For now, at least, Syria is following a model resembling China's: Crack down on political dissent, liberate the economy and try to manage the growing gap between rich and poor. The openness so far has been confined to the economy. Dozens of government critics are languishing in prison. (AP)
  • Observations:

    Must Counterinsurgency Wars Fail? - Daniel Pipes (FrontPageMagazine)

    • When it comes to a state fighting a non-state enemy, the impression widely exists that the state is doomed to fail. Yaakov Amidror, a retired Israeli major general, disagrees. In a recent study published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience, he convincingly argues that states can beat non-state actors.
    • This debate has the greatest significance, for if the pessimists are right, Western powers are doomed to lose every current and future conflict not involving conventional forces.
    • Victory over insurgencies is possible, Amidror argues, but he postulates four conditions of a mostly political nature required to defeat insurgencies. Two of them concern the state, where the national leadership must understand and accept the political and public relations challenge involved in battling insurgents; and appreciate the vital role of intelligence, invest in it, and require the military to use it effectively.
    • Another two conditions concern counterterrorist operations, which must isolate terrorists from the non-terrorist civilian population, and control and isolate the territories where terrorists live and fight.
    • If these guidelines are successfully followed, the result will not be a signing ceremony but something more subtle - what Amidror calls "sufficient victory." By this, he means a result "that does not produce many years of tranquility, but rather achieves only a 'repressed quiet,' requiring the investment of continuous effort to preserve it."
    • That war entails "fitting together bits of intelligence information, drawing conclusions, putting into operation small forces under difficult conditions within a mixed populace of terrorists and innocent civilians in a densely-populated urban center or isolated village, and small tactical victories."

      The writer, director of the Middle East Forum, is the Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

          See also Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (ICA/JCPA)

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