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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January 7, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Yasser Arafat's Al-Aqsa Brigades Responsible for 22 Homicide Bombings since January 2002 (IDF)

    The double homicide bombings in Tel Aviv on Jan. 5, 2003, by the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades of the Fatah movement, headed by Yasser Arafat, was the 22nd such attack carried out by the group since January 2002.
    In addition, the organization has sent other terrorists armed with assault rifles and hand grenades on missions to infiltrate Israeli communities and wantonly murder Israeli civilians.

UNRWA Provides Cover for Palestinian Terrorists - Michael Wines (New York Times)

    A damning Israeli intelligence report charges that operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency in the West Bank and Gaza provide cover for Palestinian terrorists.
    Guerrillas have hijacked the relief agency's schools, ambulances, and even workers. Palestinian militia members stored ammunition in UNRWA schools and smuggled arms in UN ambulances.
    A UN social club was the host for meetings of the Tanzim Palestinian militia linked to Arafat's Fatah terrorist group.
    "UNRWA has been active in the refugee camps for more than 50 years now," a senior Israeli official said. "There is no way UNRWA does not know that some schools are being used afternoons for gatherings of Hamas. There is no way UNRWA staff members don't know that pictures of shaheeds and martyrs are being hung in schools."

PA Confiscates Saddam's Donations for "Martyrs" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

    The Palestinian Authority has seized a large sum of money donated by Iraq to Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a senior PA official said Saturday.
    The case was discovered when a number of families from the Gaza Strip were told to go to the bank to get their share of Saddam's donations. Bank employees told them the money had indeed arrived, but had been seized by the PA.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Netanyahu Blasts Foreign Secretary Straw: Britain Legitimizing "A Regime Compromised by Terror"
    "The Palestinian leadership does not need to meet abroad to close down suicide kindergarten camps, to stop incitement to murder, and to fight terrorism. This they can do in Ramallah and Gaza - right here, right now. Until the Palestinian leadership does so, it must be given no quarter and no legitimacy in the free world," Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had earlier tried in vain to persuade the Israeli minister to rescind his travel ban. But Mr. Netanyahu said the double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv ruled out "business as usual." Britain should adopt the U.S. position that "leaders compromised by terror cannot be partners for peace," he said. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israel Has Right to Defend Itself, U.S. Says
    "The president's message to Israel is exactly as it's been before, that Israel has a right to defend itself in a variety of ways. Israel always needs to be mindful of the consequences of its right to self defense," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday. Fleischer refused to criticize Israel's decision to bar Palestinians from going to talks in London, saying Bush's message was one of condemnation of the attack. "This was a huge attack on the Israeli people," he said. "There's no excuse for suicide bombers. For Saddam Hussein to publicly praise those who take innocent life is horrific," he added. (Reuters/ABC News)
  • Saddam Learns His Lesson and Scatters Troops - Michael Evans
    Saddam is dispersing his key assets to prevent them from offering easy targets for American bombers during the initial stage of any new campaign. His strategy will be to preserve the crucial six Republican Guard divisions with about 90,000 troops, the four Special Republican Guard brigades, two special forces brigades, and his "inner-circle" security network for the final stand in and around Baghdad. (London Times)
        See also Two-Layer Defense for Baghdad (Washington Times)
  • Islamic Militants Kill 43 Algerian Troops in Ambush
    The Algerian newspaper Le Matin reports that Islamic militants ambushed a convoy of government troops, killing 43 and seriously wounding 19 others Saturday, the deadliest assault on Algerian soldiers in the past five years. Islamic rebels ambushed a military convoy in Theniet el Abed, some 320 kilometers south of the capital, Algiers, and a known stronghold of the extremist Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known as GSPC, which is on the U.S. blacklist of terrorist organizations and is believed to have ties to al Qaeda. (VOA)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • UN Report: Saudis Gave $500 Million to al Qaeda - Sebastian Rotella
    A 34-page report submitted to the United Nations at the request of the Security Council's president claims that Saudi Arabia has permitted up to $500 million to flow to al Qaeda through prominent Saudi donors, companies, and charities, and that the funding is continuing. Jean-Charles Brisard, the French investigator who wrote the report, spent years analyzing al Qaeda's finances for a French intelligence service.
        "Al Qaeda was able to receive between $300 (million) and $500 million over the last 10 years from wealthy businessmen and bankers whose fortunes represent about 20% of the Saudi GNP, through a web of charities and companies acting as fronts,'' said Brisard. "Most of this financial backbone is still at large and able to support fundamentalist institutions," he added. (Gulf News-Dubai)
        See the full report Roots and Trends of Saudi Terrorism Financing
    A report prepared for the President of the UN Security Council. (pdf format) (National Review)
  • Two Chinese Dead in Tel Aviv Bombing Attacks
    Two Chinese people have been confirmed dead and six others injured in the Tel Aviv suicide bomb attacks. One is a 41-year-old construction worker from Shandong province, while the other is a 50-year-old businesswoman from Zhejiang province. Among the 6 injured, 3 remain in critical condition. The same area was hit on July 17 by two suicide bombers who killed four people, including two Chinese. (People's Daily-China)
  • Sources: Sharon Aides Discussing "Day After" with PA Officials - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's senior aides, his Bureau Chief Dov Weisglass and National Security Advisor Efraim Halevy, are holding talks with Palestinian officials to prepare for the resumption of the political process "the day after" elections in Israel and the war in Iraq, government sources in Jerusalem said Sunday. The sources said Weisglass and Halevy insist on Israel's demand for a complete cessation of terrorism as a condition for political progress. The Palestinians said it would be hard to advance as long as Yasser Arafat was in power. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Bomb's Echoes - Editorial
    Sunday's twin bomb attacks on civilians in Israel were as despicable as any in the past. But this time, there was a difference: The attacks at a Tel Aviv bus station have clearly hurt Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority in several serious ways. Arafat's struggle to establish a Palestinian state may have suffered its severest blow in this latest attack. His ability and will to end the bombings are even more seriously in doubt. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Facing Iraq for Round 2 - Barry Rubin
    Now we are facing Round 2: to achieve with much greater difficulty what might have been more easily done back in 1991. But have no illusions: In all the same circles it was no more popular then. And whether or not Bush should attack Iraq now, it is quite clear that those who opposed strong action a decade ago bear a lot of responsibility for the current situation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Spy Who Came in From the Mosque - Jake Tapper
    Reda Hassaine, 41, is an Algerian Muslim who has spied on militant Islamist groups for the Algerian Secret Service, the French, Scotland Yard's Special Branch, and MI5, the British intelligence agency. "For years and years I've been trying to warn people about what the Islamists are doing," he says. (Weekly Standard)
  • Talking Points:

    How to Hit Back Without Hurting U.S. - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

    • The Tel Aviv terror attack left a vexing dilemma for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his colleagues in the security-political cabinet. How might they respond forcibly at a time when the U.S. is mobilizing forces for an offensive in Iraq and when an Israeli delegation is in Washington asking for special security and economic assistance?
    • Once it was established that operatives from Tanzim forces connected to Yasser Arafat took responsibility for the terror strike, it became clear that Israel's response would be directed against the PA chairman.
    • Security officials proposed thwarting the initiative taken by the British on behalf of a PA reform conference in London, warning of a scenario whereby Fatah's supreme council might meet, ratify a Palestinian constitution, appoint a prime minister, bask in praise about the PA's willingness to endorse reform, and leave Israel under pressure to make concessions.
    • Foreign Minister Netanyahu and Treasury Minister Shalom proposed re-freezing tax revenues which Israel collects for the Palestinians. Sharon opposed the proposal, but announced that Israel "reserves the right" to suspend the transfer of the tax revenues should it turn out that the money is used to support terror.
    • Ministers accepted the Shin Bet security service's proposal to close three colleges in the territories that are labeled breeding grounds for suicide terrorists - Bir Zeit near Ramallah, An Najah in Nablus, and Islamic College in Hebron.

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