Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at
Via Smartphone


February 25, 2010

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

PA Still Stealing "Hundreds of Millions" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute New York)
    Donor countries have yet to respond to revelations by former Palestinian intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh that some of Mahmoud Abbas' close aides had siphoned off to private bank accounts hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for financial aid to the Palestinians.
    "Don't the Americans, Europeans and Arabs care about their money that is being stolen? If they continue to turn a blind eye to the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas will eventually take over the West Bank the same way they took the Gaza Strip," he says.
    A former PA minister convinced Abbas and Arafat to give him about $5 million of international aid so that he could purchase land in Jerusalem "before Jews lay their hands on them." Shabaneh's investigations showed that the minister deposited most of the money in his private bank account and built a huge, luxurious villa on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
    Shabaneh also discovered that a former PA finance minister had deposited $8 million in his private bank account.
    Shabaneh is now "wanted" by the PA on charges of "collaboration with the Israeli enemy."

Western Allies Still Cooperating with Israel's Mossad - Eli Lake (Washington Times)
    The assassination of a Palestinian terrorist in Dubai has not worsened Israel's intelligence cooperation with Western countries, a senior Israeli official insists, while not confirming Israel's involvement in the hit. "There has been no effect on the operational side," he said.
    Some details that have emerged about the incident do not track with traditional Israeli intelligence tradecraft. Dubai authorities this week said two of the operatives fled to Iran.
    Michael Ross, a retired Mossad officer, said it was unlikely that Israel would use 26 people for a job that would require far fewer people.
    Duane Clarridge, founder of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, said, "This will not have an effect on Mossad's relationship with other intelligence services over the long run."
    Frances Townsend, a homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, said, "It is important for the United States to lead the international community to a quiet resolution of this issue."

Tehran's Vote-Buying in Iraq - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
    Iran is conducting what U.S. officials say is a broad covert-action campaign to influence Iraq's elections next month, pumping money and other assistance to its allies.
    The Iranians allegedly are pumping $9 million a month in covert aid to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite party that has the most seats in the Iraqi parliament, and $8 million a month to the militant Shiite movement headed by Moqtada al-Sadr.
    Opinion polls show that Iran is even more mistrusted by Iraqis than is America. Iranian meddling has backfired in the past, officials say, and they are hoping that will happen again.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use/Privacy 
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Slams Israel over Designating Heritage Sites - Matthew Lee
    The Obama administration criticized Israel Wednesday for designating the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the matriarch Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem as Israeli national heritage sites. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the administration viewed the move as "provocative" and unhelpful to the goal of getting the two sides back to the negotiating table. He said U.S. displeasure had been conveyed to senior Israeli officials by American diplomats. Jews revere the site of the Cave of the Patriarchs, where the Bible says the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried along with three of their wives. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Peres: Palestinians Creating "Artificial Conflicts"
    Responding to recent Palestinian criticism of Israel's move to add West Bank sites to Israel's national heritage list, President Shimon Peres said Wednesday that the Palestinians were trying to create an artificial conflict. Peres told Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, that the decision was a positive step, made in order to preserve the holy sites. He said Israel will invest resources to build infrastructure to increase worshippers' access to the sites, and that Israel will continue to respect all religions and allow complete religious freedom to everyone. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Netanyahu: We're Renovating for Muslims as Well - Roni Sofer (Ynet News)
  • Clinton Cites Progress in Iran Sanctions Effort
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that U.S. diplomacy has moved China closer to the American view that Iran's continuing refusal to come clean on its nuclear program demands tough new UN sanctions. Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ''We hope that the next 30 to 60 days will see a sanctions resolution emerge." ''Our very clear commitment to engagement has created space for a lot of these countries to now consider supporting sanctions that they might not have otherwise, because we have demonstrated the strategic patience to exhaust the international efforts of convincing Iran to do the right thing without sanctions,'' she said. (AP-New York Times)
        See also Russia Won't Back "Crippling Sanctions" on Iran
    A senior Russian diplomat warned the West on Wednesday against trying to paralyze Iran by targeting its energy and banking sectors with crippling sanctions. Oleg Rozhkov, deputy director of the Foreign Ministry's security affairs and disarmament department, said, "Call them what you want - crippling or paralyzing - we are not going to work on sanctions or measures that could lead to the political or economic or financial isolation of this country."  (Reuters-Moscow Times-Russia)
  • Clinton Says Syria Must Still Address U.S. Concerns
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Obama administration's decision to send an American ambassador to Syria after a five-year absence does not mean U.S. concerns about the country have been addressed. She told lawmakers Wednesday that Washington remains troubled by Syrian support for militant groups in Iraq and elsewhere, interference in Lebanon, and Syria's close relationship with Iran. (AP-New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Livni: International Community Should Support Israel's Effort to Fight Terrorism - Gil Hoffman
    Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Tuesday called upon the international community to support Israel's effort to fight terrorism, saying that any comparison between terrorism and those fighting it is immoral. Noting that U.S. forces in Afghanistan accidentally killed 27 civilians on Monday, she said it must be made clear that the world supports armies that are fighting terrorists, and not terrorists who target innocent civilians. "I don't expect the world to welcome the killing of terrorists, but I do expect the world to not criticize it," Livni said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • No Basis for Claims that IDF Hid Behind Noncombatants During Gaza Operation
    After two investigations into allegations by the Goldstone Commission that IDF troops intentionally hid behind noncombatants during Israel's Gaza operation, the IDF Advocate General, Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, concluded that there was no basis for the claims, Army Radio reported on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • EU to Debate Goldstone Report - Rebecca Anna Stoil and Tovah Lazaroff
    On the eve of a European Parliament debate on the Goldstone Report, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin warned on Tuesday against "allowing Goldstone's new morality to take over international law." Dutch MEP Bastiaan Belder told MK Nachman Shai (Kadima), the head of the Israeli Parliamentary Delegation to the EU Parliament, of the upcoming discussion last week. Belder was visiting with a delegation of the European Parliament's Committee for Relations with Israel. In Jerusalem, the group met Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the UN and currently president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who gave the Europeans a presentation on the Goldstone Report. In November, Gold debated Goldstone on the report at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Little Hope for Improvement in the U.S.-Syrian Dynamic - David Schenker
    The Obama administration's year of "engaging" with the Assad regime has yielded few, if any, achievements. While Syrian facilitation of insurgents into Iraq has slowed, top U.S. generals say the problem remains. At the same time, increasing evidence suggests that Damascus has provided Hizbullah with a new generation of sophisticated weaponry - including advanced antiaircraft weapons - that changes the equation along the Israeli-Lebanese border.
        The one potential benefit of a senior U.S. diplomat returning to Damascus is said to be a quid pro quo involving the imminent departure from Washington of Syria's longtime ambassador, Imad Moustapha, whose incessant leaking and mischaracterizations of U.S. policy initiatives have proved a complicating factor. While the latest U.S. diplomatic moves may improve communication between Washington and Damascus, absent progress on terrorism or the Middle East peace process, the new U.S. ambassador in Syria will have little of substance to discuss with the Assad regime. The writer is director of the program on Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Syria in a Corner - Andrew J. Tabler
    Syria is in a bind. The regime is running record budget deficits, and it is suddenly fanatical about ending U.S. sanctions. Sanctions have badly hit the Assad regime, even if they haven't changed its behavior yet. Syria had to switch from deals in dollars to those in euros to avoid restrictions on dollar-denominated oil sales. Then the regime had to ground most of its civilian air fleet because the sanctions forbid the sale of spare parts without an export license. Worse still, Damascus was compelled to institute rolling electricity blackouts because U.S. sanctions made it very difficult for international companies to build new power stations.
        The regime's economic woes only made sanctions more effective. In the past five years, oil production has plunged 30%. Then a massive three-year drought devastated Syrian agriculture, displacing up to 300,000 residents in Syria's northeast. Meanwhile, free-trade agreements between Syria and Turkey undermined Syria's manufacturing sector, which contracted 14% in the past two years. The writer is a fellow in the program on Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Newsweek)
  • Where Is Goldstone Now? - Eitan Haber
    Earlier this week, NATO forces hit several vehicles in Afghanistan and killed 27 innocent Afghanis, including four women and a child. A short while ago, 13 other innocent Afghanis were killed after a missile mistakenly targeted a residential home instead of a Taliban position. Now we a have a small question: Where are you, Goldstone? No one should misunderstand and take these words to mean that we endorse misguided lethal fire. We are merely opposed to the hypocrisy of the world, which is suddenly overcome by paralysis. The author was the chief of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's bureau. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    Video Killer Thriller in Dubai - Claudia Rosett (Forbes)

    • Dubai's security apparatus has just given an impressive display of its surveillance abilities. Closed circuit cameras followed members of the alleged hit team arriving and departing the airport, and tracked them at a shopping mall and at various hotels, including that of top Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mahbouh. All of which points toward a big question. If Dubai surveillance is this adept, where's the rest of the Dubai video collection?
    • The U.S. 9/11 commission noted that for al-Qaeda terrorists in 2001, "Dubai, a modern city with easy access to a major airport, travel agencies, hotels and Western commercial establishments, was an ideal transit point." More than half the September 11 hijackers passed through Dubai en route to attack the U.S., two of those hijackers came from the U.A.E., and the 9/11 Commission reported that roughly half the $250,000 the hijackers spent preparing for the attacks was wired to them via Dubai banks.
    • Today, Dubai is Iran's top trading partner, doing billions worth of business every year. Dubai was described in a recent paper by Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institution as playing "a critical role as Iran's offshore banker and exporter."
    • So what else lies in the surveillance archives of the Dubai security services? If Dubai's authorities can piece together within 24 hours the trail of the alleged killers of one top terrorist, might we reasonably suppose they could also exhume quite a collection of clips providing more context? Could they perhaps give the global public a much better window on the deadly nature of the business pursued in airports, malls and hotel rooms by such killers as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps?
    • Where's the full surveillance footage of al-Mabhouh himself? He was a killer from way back, a founding member of Hamas' violent Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, who bragged about his role in the 1989 kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers. The Wall Street Journal, among others, reports that al-Mabhouh at the time of his death "was a key link in smuggling operations ferrying Iranian weapons to Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip." Dubai authorities say he was traveling on a false passport.
    • Dubai's authorities are putting on a curious display of priorities, appearing far more incensed over the murder of one Hamas terrorist than over the use of their turf for terrorists such as al-Mabhouh to plot and facilitate the murders - albeit elsewhere - of many others. If this is all about enforcing civilized norms, Dubai's authorities are clearly in a position to help, if they so choose. May we see the rest of the video collection?

      The writer is a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

          See also Media Ignore Hamas Terrorist's Fake Passports - Tom Gross
      Mabhouh had five different passports with him in Dubai. There seems to be no media coverage or interest in which countries' passports he was using. (National Post-Canada)

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert