Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 30, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Free Media Blossom in Iraq - Ilene R. Prusher (Christian Science Monitor)
    In the two weeks since Kirkuk fell, free media outlets have been busting out all over.
    At least five stores in Kirkuk are offering once-banned satellite dishes, selling 400 to 500 channels for about $350.
    An Internet cafe opened its doors; a radio station called the Voice of Kirkuk started broadcasting; a newspaper called New Kurdistan started circulating; and people are tuning into several Kurdish television channels broadcasting from the self-rule zone, an offense which in the past could have landed a person in jail, at best.
    Ethnic Turkmens - whose language is an offshoot of Turkish - are enjoying watching television from Turkey. "We stay up until 4 or 5 a.m. because we can't get enough," says Abbas Ali.
    Fox News appears to be a local favorite in Kirkuk, people say, because it has been the most supportive of the war.
    Working on limited resources and a tattered infrastructure, the sprouting of media outlets virtually overnight is remarkable.

Holland Outlaws Muslim Group that Funded Hamas - Rachel Levy (JTA)
    Holland's foreign minister, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, has outlawed and frozen the funds of the Al-Aqsa Foundation, a Rotterdam-based Islamic charity that transferred money to Hamas to buy weapons and train suicide bombers.

Iraqi Who Helped Rescue Jessica Lynch Granted Asylum (CNN)
    Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced Tuesday that Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer who took great risks to help with the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, has been granted asylum in the U.S. with his wife and their 5-year-old daughter.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Palestinian Homicide Bomber Murders 3 in Tel Aviv
    The bombing destroyed a seaside restaurant near the U.S. Embassy at 1 a.m. Wednesday, killing 3 and wounding 63. The security guard at the door prevented the attacker from entering, and was seriously wounded in the blast. (AP/Washington Post)
        Among the wounded was Jack Baxter, 50, of Manhattan - a documentarian who once wrote news stories for the New York Post. A French citizen was also hurt. (New York Post)
        The Tanzim branch of Arafat's Fatah organization and Hamas both took responsibility for the attack in a joint operation. (Ha'aretz)
        David Baker, an official in the Israeli Prime Minister's office, said that the attack was evidence that "Palestinian terrorism has not been reined in." U.S. State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck said, "There can be no excuse for the violence and terrorist attacks the Israeli people have been forced to endure." (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Military Will Leave Saudi Arabia This Year
    The U.S. military will end operations in Saudi Arabia later this year, defense officials announced Wednesday, marking the beginning of what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has described as a major realignment of U.S. military forces, not only in the Persian Gulf, but also in Europe and the Far East. (Washington Post)
  • Powell to Visit Syria and Lebanon, But Delays Israel Trip
    Secretary of State Colin Powell will meet with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in Damascus on Saturday and pay a visit to Lebanon the same day, the Bush administration announced. Mr. Powell deferred plans to go to Israel and several Arab countries in the region until later in May, in order to give the newly installed Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, time to get his footing, officials said. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Judge Holds PLO Accountable in Murder Lawsuit
    A federal judge has ruled the Palestinian Liberation Organization should be held accountable for not responding to a lawsuit filed on behalf of an American man and his Israeli wife who were murdered in Israel. Yaron Ungar and his wife Efrat, both 25, were killed in a drive-by shooting in 1996. The suit was filed in 2000 on behalf of their two children and seeks $250 million. The Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 allows American victims of overseas terrorism to seek monetary damages in U.S. courts. Experts say the April 18 ruling could ultimately hold the PLO responsible for the killings and allow the plaintiffs to extract damages. (AP/Newsday)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • IDF Intelligence: Abu Mazen Has No Intention of Fighting Terrorism - Amos Harel
    Military Intelligence told the political echelon at the beginning of the week that the new Palestinian government headed by Abu Mazen has no intention of uprooting the terrorist infrastructure. "According to what we know now, Abu Mazen plans to speak with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, and not clash with them," said a senior military source on Tuesday. Abu Mazen "may have opposed the violent intifada from the first day," say military sources, "but he's barely a third of the new political framework in the PA. The other two-thirds are Yasser Arafat and the terror organizations, which continue to support violence." According to Military Intelligence, the new prime minister feels he lacks domestic legitimacy and therefore has to concede to Arafat on critical issues, which has already eroded his ability to fight terrorists in the future. Mohammed Dahlan has not shown any signs of readiness to enforce his will in the West Bank and some of the heads of the security apparatus are asking out loud why they have to make an effort for him. (Ha'aretz)
  • New Palestinian Cabinet Approved
    The Palestinian Legislative Council confirmed Abu Mazen as prime minister and approved his cabinet Tuesday in a 51-18 vote. In Washington, the White House welcomed the vote and said President Bush would soon unveil an international "road map" to peace to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, "either Wednesday or Thursday." (Ha'aretz)
        "Despite the formation of a new cabinet, Yasser Arafat remains the head of the Palestinian Authority, with powers over finances, security, and future negotiations," Dore Gold, an adviser to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, wrote in a briefing paper this week. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Text of Abu Mazen's Speech (PLO)
  • Strike Closes Israel's Public Services, Including Airport
    A strike by the Histadrut Labor Federation over the government's economic plan has shut down all public services, including Ben-Gurion Airport, beginning Wednesday morning, making international air travel to or from Israel impossible. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Pressure for Change in Saudi Arabia - Editorial
    The announcement that America is to withdraw its air force from Saudi Arabia underlines a change in a relationship that for half a century has underpinned America's involvement in the Arab world and has determined the politics of the world's oil supplies. No longer will Saudi Arabia be America's strategic regional ally. Nor will the House of Saud be able to count on Washington's automatic support and indulgence of its shortcomings. (London Times)
        See also The Saudi Exit: No Sure Cure for Royals' Troubles - Patrick E. Tyler
    Long-promised and long-deferred political reform is now judged by many princes, merchants, tribal leaders, and Saudi military officials as essential to the survival of the government. (New York Times)
  • Iranians' Pro-Americanism Worries Tehran - Afsane Bassir Pour
    Iranian leaders are worried by public sentiment advocating "a regime change with the help of the American marines." An Iranian architect said, "We don't want any more Islamic Republic. It has taken us 25 years to realize that the revolution came to nothing." Like many, he wants "American help for a change of regime." "The Afghans and the Iraqis had their dictatorships taken away," says a filmmaker, "so why not us?" (Le Monde/Watch-Sweden)
        See also Iran and the War in Iraq - David Menashri
    Iran is currently working to establish links with various factions in Iraq but refraining from doing anything to attract American ire. Of particular interest is President Rafsanjani's pronouncement on the possibility (however theoretical) of restoring ties with the United States after a referendum. Although Rafsanjani's statement was made in a pre-war interview, it provoked a heated debate when it was published on April 12. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies - Tel Aviv University)
  • Observations:

    Russia and Iran's Nuclear Program - Uzi Arad
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Iran is much closer to acquiring a military nuclear capability than supposed, due to its unexpected progress in developing uranium enrichment facilities using centrifuge technology. By admitting that it has a uranium enrichment program, Iran is basically telling the world that it indeed has military intentions.
    • Since the mid-1990s, there has been a continuous stream of leakage of Russian technology, technicians, materiel, contracts, and activities to Iran from some 20 companies, institutes, universities, and engineering firms in the two critical domains of missile capability and nuclear development.
    • The Russians secretly negotiated additional nuclear cooperation agreements with Iran, with full knowledge that they were assisting Iran in its military programs. The result is an Iran that is within a short distance of having a first-generation, nuclear military capability coupled with a delivery capability.
    • We cannot be confident that reform in Iran will eliminate the strategic threat to Israel. Even the moderates are extremely problematic on a number of issues. Iran's attitude toward the West is basically hostile and the regime shows no signs of any sharp policy changes.

        See also U.S. Accuses Iran of Cheating on Nuclear Arms Pact
    Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Non- Proliferation John Wolf told a UN meeting in Geneva that Iran had an "alarming, clandestine program" to get hold of nuclear technology as part of an illegal weapons effort. "Iran is going down the same path of denial and deception that handicapped international inspections in North Korea and Iraq," Wolf declared. (Reuters)

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