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 20, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Hamas Developing Cannon to Bombard Ashkelon - Amir Rapaport (Maariv)

    IDF soldiers have arrested Hisham and Yusuf Makdad, who were working for Hamas to develop a 200mm cannon with a range of at least 12 km - able to reach Ashkelon. The Makdad brothers were close to testing a prototype, which was designed to be more accurate than the Kassam rockets fired by Hamas last week at the Israeli town of Sderot.
    In the past year, the IDF's Givati brigade has conducted 160 operations inside Palestinian territory in Gaza, according to brigade commander Col. Imad Faras.

Al Qaeda's Naval Strategy (Newsweek)

    There are four major elements in al Qaeda's naval strategy. First, the use of Zodiac-type rubberized speedboats loaded with explosives to attack U.S. warships and other targets.
    The second strategy is the acquisition of trawlers and other medium-size ships that can be blown up near other vessels. If warships become too difficult to approach, tourist ships could be targeted.
    The third strategy is the use of private planes bought or stolen from flying clubs and small airports and loaded with high explosives.
    The fourth strategy involves training underwater demolition teams.

Saddam's Indian Connection - Bob Drogin (Los Angeles Times)

    An obscure Indian trading company, NEC Engineering Private Ltd., exported 10 consignments of raw materials and equipment that Saddam Hussein's regime could use to produce chemical weapons and propellants for long-range missiles, according to Indian court records.
    The exports - highly specialized supplies like atomized aluminum powder and titanium centrifugal pumps - ostensibly went to Jordan and Dubai.
    But they subsequently were traced to Iraq's Fallujah II chlorine plant and a rocket fuel production facility at Al Mamoun, according to U.S. and British intelligence reports.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Joint UN-Iraqi Press Conference: Agreement for More Iraqi Cooperation
    After two days of meetings between Iraqi and international officials, Iraq has promised to cooperate more fully with UN inspectors looking for banned weapons of mass destruction. According to an agreement announced on Monday in Baghdad, Iraq will appoint a team to look for more empty chemical warheads like those recently discovered, and will allow its scientists to be interviewed by UN inspectors in private. (VOA News)
  • UN Inspectors Discover Saddam's Nuclear Weapons Plans
    A team of nuclear weapons experts last week paid a surprise visit to the homes of two of Saddam's leading nuclear physicists. Inside they found what one Western official has described as a "highly significant" batch of documents which, on closer inspection, revealed that Saddam's scientists were continuing development work on producing an Iraqi nuclear weapon. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Sharon's Peace Plan - Lally Weymouth
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Newsweek: "First, Arafat should be removed from an influential position. Secondly, a prime minister should be appointed. Third, reforms should be undertaken, mostly in the security organizations. Then there are problems on the financial side; our estimate of Arafat's property is about $2 billion. Once the reforms have been completed, there should be free and democratic elections....I am ready, if they have taken steps against terror, to recognize a fully demilitarized Palestinian state without final borders - having only police equipped with light weapons. Israel will control the external borders and will have the right to fly over the territory. Now we come to phase three: if there's no terror whatsoever, then we will have to decide about the final borders." (Newsweek)
  • Lieberman Moves to Reassure Jewish Leaders
    Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman sought to reassure American Jewish leaders last week that comments he made during a recent Middle East visit did not represent any slackening in his support for a strong pro-Israel policy by the United States. Lieberman told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that he had refused to meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat because of continuing Palestinian involvement in terrorism and had pressed Saudi officials "to stand up and speak clearly" against Islamic fanaticism. (Washington Post)
        See also Lieberman Faces Tough Questions from Across the Jewish Spectrum
    Sources say Lieberman called the meeting with Jewish leaders specifically to address concern within the Orthodox and more hawkish segments of the community about comments he made while in the Middle East last month. (JTA)
  • Anti-Terror Police Raid London Mosque
    Police have raided the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, arresting seven people, in a raid Scotland Yard said was linked to the discovery of traces of the deadly poison Ricin in north London earlier this month. (BBC)
  • British Taxpayers "Funding Palestinian Bombers"
    Palestinian suicide bombers may be using money from the British taxpayer to fund their campaign of terror against Israeli civilians, British Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said Friday. He called on the European Union to investigate how its monthly donations to the Palestinian Authority are spent, amid fears that the cash is diverted to pay for terrorist attacks. Mr. Duncan Smith also criticized last week's Government-organized Middle East conference as "cosmetic grandstanding." (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Sharon Articulates Reservations about the Quartet
    Within the forum known as the Quartet, Israel and the U.S. see eye-to-eye on the suitable interpretation of and the appropriate methods for implementing President Bush's speech, in contrast to the position of the other Quartet members. The U.S. and Israeli vision are the only actual understandings which are likely to result in peace in the Middle East. (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Sharon: Europe is Biased in Favor of the Palestinians
    Mr. Sharon repeatedly said that when it came to the peace effort, Israel agreed with the U.S., but not with the other Quartet members. (New York Times)
  • Terrorists Kill Father of 5 at Shabbat Dinner - Margot Dudkevitch
    Netanel Ozeri, 34, was shot dead by two Palestinian terrorists in his home in an isolated encampment north of Kiryat Arba, as he, his wife, and five children had just finished eating their Friday evening Shabbat meal. Ozeri's five-year-old daughter, Herut, and the family's two guests - Elhanan Lerner, 19, and Yehezkel Bloomstein, 21 - sustained light-to-moderate wounds. Lerner killed one terrorist, while Bloomstein wounded the other. Ozeri is the 19th Hebron-area resident to be killed by terrorists in the past two months.(Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians March in Support of Saddam
    Thousands of Palestinians waving pictures of Saddam Hussein marched in support of the Iraqi leader in Gaza City on Friday, as a Hamas leader warned that Muslims and Arabs will attack American targets everywhere if the United States goes to war against Iraq. Palestinian police officers did not try to break up Friday's rally. Palestinians have regularly held rallies in support of Saddam in recent weeks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jordan: No Israeli Overflights to Iraq
    Jordan will post anti-aircraft batteries to prevent the Israeli air force from crossing its airspace on its way to Iraq, King Abdallah has warned. Abdallah said he is negotiating with European countries to acquire 3 advanced anti-aircraft batteries. (Maariv)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Palestinian Public Supports Suicide Bombers - Danny Rubinstein
    After the attack in Tel Aviv two weeks ago, the leader of Islamic Jihad, Sheikh Abdallah Ramadan Shalah, based in Damascus, was asked about the opposition to the attacks, as manifested in the talks sponsored by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. He replied confidently, "What opposition to the attacks? Eighty percent of the Palestinian public supports the suicide bombers!" Khaled Meshal, the head of the Hamas politburo, said last week that it is inconceivable for Hamas to join the discussions on the cessation of the attacks. The resolve and self-confidence of the implementers of terrorism rest on one main reason: the firm backing they are getting from the Palestinian population. (Ha'aretz)
  • Talking Points:

    Diplomatic and Legal Aspects of the Settlement Issue - Jeffrey Helmreich (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • One may legitimately support or challenge Israeli settlements in the disputed territories, but they are not illegal, and they have neither the size, the population, nor the placement to seriously impact upon the future status of the disputed territories and their Palestinian population centers.
    • Settlements make up less than 2 percent of the West Bank, according to Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement in the territories. Settlements simply do not comprise enough land to be serious obstacles to any political or geographic eventuality
    • Settlements do not block the eventual establishment of a contiguous Palestinian entity. Close to 80 percent of settlers live in communities such as Elkana, Maale Adumim, Betar, and Gush Etzion, located close to, if not contiguous with, pre-1967 Israel, and which can be connected geographically to the "Green Line" without involving Palestinian population centers.
    • Most settlements are in areas that, for security reasons, Israel cannot afford to cede. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin coined the term "security settlements" to describe those communities. Israel cannot afford to withdraw from these small but strategic points even if they were entirely unpopulated.
    • Settlements are not illegal. The last binding international legal instrument in the West Bank and Gaza was the League of Nations Mandate, which explicitly recognized the right of Jewish settlement in all territory allocated to the Jewish national home in the context of the British Mandate.
    • The West Bank and Gaza are disputed, not occupied, with both Israel and the Palestinians exercising legitimate historical claims. Jews have a deep historic and emotional attachment to the land and, as their´┐Żlegal claims are at least equal to those of Palestinians, it is natural for Jews to build homes in communities in these areas, just as Palestinians build in theirs.
    • The territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was captured by Israel in a defensive war. The Jordanian occupation of the West Bank from 1947 to 1967, by contrast, had been the result of an offensive war in 1948 and was never recognized by the international community, including the Arab states.
    • The official U.S. position has been over the years that settlements are legal. The Carter administration for a short time held that settlements were illegal, a position overturned by the Reagan administration.
    • The Oslo agreements allow settlement growth as well as the growth - and creation - of Palestinian communities. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told the Knesset on October 5, 1995, we "committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth."

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