Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 27, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

The Decline of Fatah Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)

    A Palestinian source close to the leadership recently told an Israeli military official that the wife of one of the senior Palestinian ministers had made sure to send the family's two dogs to Paris, a few months ago, by plane. The dogs were treated by a French veterinary surgeon and the bill was picked up by the Palestinian treasury - that same treasury that has difficulty paying government salaries every month, the source said.
    The Palestinian source told the story to illustrate the man in the street's anger at the leadership which, he said, is cut off from the daily plight of the people.
    IDF analysts have discerned a waning of influence of the Fatah leadership in the territories, which one intelligence officer described as "bordering on disintegration."
    The various military wings of the organization (the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the Abu-Rish faction, and the popular committees) have all begun acting independently and basing themselves on local forces.

Britain "Borrows" Israeli Missile System (Maariv)

    A few months ago, Israel's Rafael military industries bid on a $300 million contract to supply a missile system to the British government, and sent its Spike system to Britain for evaluation. The British Army assessed the system, but then refused to return it to Israel.
    When the Israel Ministry of Defense made inquiries, they were told that returning the Israeli missiles to Israel required a British "export license." When the license wasn't issued, the British explained that EU rules prevented them from issuing an export license for arms to states in an area of conflict.
    After the intervention of the Foreign Ministry at the highest levels, the missiles were returned to Israel last week after an unnecessary two-month delay.
    The Israel Ministry of Defense knows of 140 cases where the British government has refused to issue export licenses to British firms seeking to trade with Israel.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Iraq Threatens Use of WMD
    A senior Iraqi official who refused to reveal his name said: "When the regime was under intense attack in Al-Fau and began to be under threat, it did not hesitate to use all the weapons of mass destruction in its possession. Similarly, when the people of Halabja, or some of them, became guides for the Iranian forces that tried to breach the northeast [front], the regime did not hesitate to use chemical weapons." Therefore, "do not expect us to stand idly by in the face of any aggression that seeks to destroy and banish us not only from the regime but also from life." (Al-Quds Al-Arabi - London/MEMRI)
  • Israel Kills 2 Senior Palestinian Terrorists
    A missile fired into a house in the Jenin refugee camp Tuesday killed two senior Palestinian militants wanted by Israeli security services, Alaa Amhad Sabbagh, head of the Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, and Imad Farouq Masharqi, local commander of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas. No one else was injured in the attack, witnesses said. (Washington Post)
  • Palestinian Killed in Car Bomb Blast in Gaza
    A Palestinian militant was killed Wednesday when the explosives-laden car he was driving blew up as it headed toward an Israeli military post in the Gaza Strip. The car blew up just past the gates of the District Coordinating Office, setting fire to Palestinian security liaison buildings. (ABC News/Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • European MPs Call for Inquiry into PA Use of EU Aid
    A group of European lawmakers called on Tuesday for an investigation into how European Union aid to the Palestinian Authority has been spent. The European Commission allocates some 10 million euros ($10 million) a month to help pay salaries of state employees in the Palestinian Authority. "We are demanding a full parliamentary committee of inquiry that can look into allegations of misuse of funds in great depth," said Charles Tannock, a British Conservative MEP, who said about 100 MEPs had so far signed a petition backing such a probe. A petition needs 150 signatures to trigger an inquiry. (Ha'aretz/Reuters)
  • IDF Has Tape of UNRWA Man's Last Moments
    UN worker Iain Hook, killed in the Jenin refugee camp during an Israeli-Palestinian clash, phoned an IDF army officer minutes before his death and said Palestinians were breaking into the UN compound, according to a tape released by the IDF Tuesday. Cpt. Peter Lerner, the IDF's liaison with international groups, received a voice mail less than an hour before Hook was killed: "Hi Peter, it's Iain here. I'm just making a progress report, really. We're pinned down in the compound. The shabab (armed gangs) have knocked a hole in the wall, which I'm not happy about at all. I'm trying to keep them out and I will just keep my people pinned down in the corner until I hear from you. OK? Over." Israel had said, and UN officials denied, that Palestinian gunmen were firing from the UN compound. (Ha'aretz/AP)
  • U.S.: EU Slow to Fight Hamas
    U.S. Treasury General Counsel David Aufhauser, chairman of the U.S. interagency task force on terrorist financing, expressed dismay on Tuesday over what he called Europe's inability to see the Islamic militant Hamas organization as a "terrorist group." The military wing of Hamas, the Iz a Din al Kassam Brigades, is on the EU's list of banned "terrorist" organizations, but many European governments had not designated Hamas itself as a terrorist group or frozen its assets because they insisted on making a distinction between its military and charitable wings. "That logic, with all due respect, is sophistry," said Aufhauser. "It assumes the right hand of the same person can abdicate responsibility for the conduct of the left hand. The idea that there's a firewall between the two defies common sense." (Ha'aretz/Reuters)
  • Abu Mazen: Stop the Intifada - Daniel Sobelman and Arnon Regular
    Palestinian violence has in the last two years cost the Palestinians everything they had gained until then and must be halted immediately before it does even greater damage, Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), the head of the PLO's executive committee, told a closed lecture in Gaza on Monday. But his remarks were greeted angrily by the listeners.
        According to a transcript published Tuesday in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat, Abu Mazen - who was once considered a leading contender to succeed Arafat - said those who began using guns turned the intifada into a "military campaign" rather than "a popular uprising." Abu Mazen called for an immediate end to the violence, as "people can no longer endure the burden of life under these conditions." Gaza, he said, was the logical place to begin this new approach. "I call on the Palestinians to say 'enough,' clearly and determinedly, because if we stop, we can prevent an Israeli invasion of Gaza," he said.
        Abu Mazen also criticized Israeli Arabs for having engaged in large-scale rioting when the intifada first broke out, saying this had caused Israelis to view them as disloyal to the state. Because of this, he said, it will now be much harder to persuade Israel to agree to let Palestinian refugees return to its borders. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Cynicism of the Saudis - Editorial
    The Saudi public relations effort so far seems to have been a stunning success at the New York Times. Its columnists Maureen Dowd and Nicholas Kristof and deputy editorial page editor Philip Taubman all visited Saudi Arabia recently. Mr. Taubman wrote for the Times on November 15 that "Crown Prince Abdullah is by all accounts a thoughtful, uncorrupted ruler." Mr. Kristof wrote on October 22, "There's plenty to criticize about Saudi Arabia, but this vision of it as a dangerous enemy is way over the top." (New York Sun)
  • Defusing the Holy Bomb - Thomas L. Friedman
    Azmi Abu Hilayel, whose son Na'el strapped himself with dynamite and blew up an Israeli bus with school kids, was quoted as saying: "I thanked God when I heard that my son had died in an operation for the sake of God and the homeland." I can't believe that the God of Islam, a God of mercy and compassion, would bless killing anyone's kids. I don't hear Israeli generals, parents, or rabbis thanking God their sons could kill Muslim kids.
        You say all this is happening because we support Israel. I think it has to do with the rise within your midst of a deeply intolerant strain of Islam that is not simply a reaction to Israel, but is a response to your failing states, squandered oil wealth, broken ideologies (Nasserism), and generations of autocracy and illiteracy. Armed and angry, this harsh fundamentalism now seems to totally intimidate Muslim moderates.
        As Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute wrote in National Review, "No faith will make rote memorization of ancient texts, suppression of critical inquiry and dissent, subjugation of women, and a servile deference to authority the recipe for anything other than civilizational decline." (New York Times)
  • U.S. Consul: Shunning Arafat Aids Palestinian Reform - Michael Matza
    Departing U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem Ronald Schlicher says "Arafat missed many, many, many, many chances to prove that he was a responsible partner....It was kind of an always say 'yes,' never deliver." "Cutting off contact with Arafat has been a shot in the arm for Palestinian domestic reform." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Talking Points:

    The Israeli Aid Request - Zeev Klein (Globes)

    • Israel officially submitted to the U.S. its request for $10 billion in special economic and military aid [not $14 billion as reported yesterday in Ha'aretz].
    • The request was flexible and included three possible configurations. In order of Israeli preference, they are:
      1. $4 billion in special military aid for the war against terrorism and to prepare for a US attack on Iraq, and $6 billion in U.S. guarantees for commercial bank loans.
      2. $3 billion military grant and $7 billion in guarantees. This alternative is considered the most likely to gain approval.
      3. $2 billion military grant and $8 billion in guarantees.
    • The Ministry of Finance said that the talks with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice "were friendly, and Rice promised that the administration would address the request in the coming weeks."
    • White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "Israel is preparing a proposal for assistance...and the United States, with this long-term commitment we have to Israel's security, prosperity, and economic development, is putting together a team to address with the Israelis their situation....We are cognizant of the economic conditions in Israel, and we want to work with Israeli authorities on this issue...of course...subject to congressional approval." (Jerusalem Post)
    • Israel will use the upcoming U.S. military aid to buy three planes to gather signal intelligence (SIGINT). The Air Force will replace the current Hawkeye planes that have been in use for decades with Gulfstream-5 jets built by General Dynamic subsidiary Gulfstream Aerospace. The Israel Aircraft Industries subsidiary Elta Electronics Industries will convert the planes to SIGINT use. (Globes)

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