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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May 1, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Israel Hunts 2nd British Muslim Homicide Bomber - Roni Singer and Haim Shadmi (Ha'aretz)
    Two British Muslims took part in what was to have been a double suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv pub early Wednesday morning.
    British citizen Asif Mohammed Hanif blew himself up, killing 3 people and wounding 60 at "Mike's Place" near the U.S. Embassy.
    Security forces are searching for 27-year-old Omar Khan Sharif, who dropped his explosive device and fled after it failed to explode. Both had entered Israel from Gaza.

2nd British Homicide Bomber Linked to Fundamentalist Group (Albawaba-Jordan)
    Omar Khan Sharif, who was born in Derby, is alleged to have links with al-Muhajiroun, a fundamentalist Muslim group that campaigns to turn the UK into an Islamic state.
    The group claims to have recruited hundreds of young Britons for training in military camps in Afghanistan, supports Osama bin Laden, and endorses the use of violence.
    Al-Muhajiroun was founded in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 1983 by a Syrian cleric, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, who has lived in London since 1986.

    See also UK "Fertile Ground for Extremism" - Nigel Morris (Independent-UK)

Syria Smuggles Saddam Aides Out of Country (Middle East Newsline)
    Syria has been smuggling aides of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein out of the country to such destinations as Belarus, Lebanon, and Libya.
    "There were hundreds of Saddam's aides and family members in Syria by April 15," said a Western intelligence source.
    "Assad gave up three of them who held no use for Syria or Iran. Syria might give up another two or three Iraqis, but the rest will be hidden or flown out of the country."

Stone-Throwing Children Put U.S. Troops on Edge (Jordan Times)
    Captain James McGahey of the 101st Airborne Division says almost every one of the patrols he sends out in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul gets stoned.
    "They were throwing them like they were pitching a baseball," said Sgt. John McLean, who was hit on the helmet and in the back.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • "Road Map" Delivered to Israel, Palestinians
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer delivered the proposal to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Wednesday, while four representatives of the quartet gave copies to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. representative and acting consul general in Jerusalem, indicated that the document was subject to change, saying it was "not a sacred text or treaty," and "the words are meant to be a guideline, a starting point." (Washington Post)
        See also Statement by President Bush
    "The roadmap represents a starting point toward achieving the vision of two states, a secure State of Israel and a viable, peaceful, democratic Palestine, that I set out on June 24, 2002....The pace of progress will depend strictly on the performance of the parties." (White House)
        Text of the Road Map (U.S. Department of State)
  • Bush Takes Quiet Step Toward Peace
    President Bush released his long-awaited "road map" to Middle East peace not in a sun-dappled Rose Garden ceremony or a televised East Room address, but in a written statement read by his spokesman. Bush's closest political allies, religious conservatives, are fiercely protective of Israel and would resist any signal that he is pressuring the government of Prime Minister Sharon. The biggest advocates of the action Bush took Wednesday - Democrats and liberals - are unlikely to support Bush in any case. That reality helps to explain why many Middle East analysts do not have high expectations for the road map. For Bush to produce a peace accord, they figure, he must be willing to apply pressure on the Israelis. But that runs counter to his own instincts and his domestic political environment.
        The very notion of the road map was less a Bush idea than a response to an Arab request for help. During a White House visit, Jordan's King Abdullah II said to Bush, "What we need is a road map." Bush turned to William Burns, the assistant secretary of state for the region. "He wants a road map," Bush said to Burns. "Can we give him a road map?" (Washington Post)
  • Top Al Qaeda Member Captured in Pakistan
    Walid Ba'Attash, a Saudi citizen of Yemeni descent who has been identified by American intelligence officials as an important lieutenant of Osama bin Laden, was captured in Karachi by Pakistani authorities on Tuesday. Ba'Attash is suspected of playing crucial roles in both the bombing of the American destroyer Cole in 2000 and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (New York Times)
  • Israeli Troops Raid Hamas Stronghold in Gaza
    Israeli troops raiding a Hamas stronghold in Gaza exchanged fire with dozens of armed Palestinians on Thursday while on a mission to arrest Yousef Abu Hein, a senior Hamas bomb maker. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Abu Mazen Seeking Temporary Ceasefire? - Aluf Benn
    Israel believes the new PA prime minister will try to push Israel to concessions by means of a hudna, an agreed cessation of attacks among the Palestinian organizations, behind which they will amass power and arms for the next round in the confrontation. Jerusalem sources warn that the international community is deaf to such nuances and, as soon as a false calm prevails, will demand from Israel withdrawals and settlement freezes. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Attack Outpost in Samaria - Margot Dudkevitch
    Two Palestinian terrorists armed with grenades and Kalashnikov rifles attacked the Skali Farm outpost east of Eilon More shortly after midnight Tuesday. Local residents returned fire, killing the infiltrators. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas vs. Abbas - William Safire
    Colin Powell and assorted outsiders can unfold road maps and issue timetables to their heart's content, but progress toward peace with security will be made only when Abbas's government, representing the silent Palestinian majority, wins the civil war against Arab terror groups. The ability of Palestinians to take control of the land they live on is at the heart of the matter. An Authority that will not exercise authority is no Authority and fails the first qualification for statehood. We should resist the temptation to lionize Abbas just because he is not Arafat. He was a chief negotiator in Camp David three years ago when the Palestinians turned down a better deal than they will ever again be offered. (New York Times)
  • The Road to Damascus - Itamar Rabinovitch
    President Bush will not demand a total realignment of Syrian politics. Democracy in Syria or real independence for Lebanon are not likely to be on the agenda. Yet his administration must realize that other major goals - the end of Syria's interference in Iraq, as well as of its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorist organizations - are all within reach. (Wall Street Journal)
  • UN Human Rights Commission Sanctions Suicide Bombings - Anne Bayefsky
    The UN Commission on Human Rights, the primary UN organ responsible for human rights protection, is chaired by Libya, with three of the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism as current members - Cuba, Sudan, and Syria. On April 15, the commission adopted a resolution sanctioning the use of "all available means including armed struggle" - which includes suicide bombing - as a legitimate tactic against Israelis. More than a quarter of the commission's resolutions condemning a state's human rights violations passed over the last 30 years have been directed at Israel, while there has never been a single resolution on China, Syria, or Saudi Arabia. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Neo-Conservatives are Only Part of a New American Foreign-Policy Establishment
    American foreign policy has not been captured by a tiny, ideological clique that has imposed its narrow views on others. Rather, the neo-cons are part of a broader movement endorsed by the president, and espoused, to different degrees, by almost all the principals involved, from Vice-President Dick Cheney down (Colin Powell, the secretary of state, is a notable exception). Strands of neo-conservatism can even be found among some Democrats. American foreign policy is becoming a mixture of neo-conservative ideas, the president's instincts, and the realities of power. (Economist-UK)
        See also The Neoconservative-Conspiracy Theory: Pure Myth - Robert J. Lieber
    Ultimately, the neocon-conspiracy theory misinterprets as a policy coup a reasoned shift in grand strategy that the Bush administration has adopted in responding to an ominous form of external threat. Whether that strategy and its component parts prove to be as robust and effective as containment of hostile Middle Eastern states linked to terrorism remains to be seen. But to characterize it in conspiratorial terms is not only a failure to weigh policy choices on their merits, but represents a detour into the fever swamps of political demagoguery. (Chronicle of Higher Education)
  • Observations:

    Terrorism in the Middle East (U.S. State Department)

    On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department released its latest report on "Patterns of Global Terrorism - 2002":

    • Hamas, the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, all of which the United States has designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, were responsible for most of the attacks, which included suicide bombings, shootings, and mortar firings against civilian and military targets. Terrorists killed more than 370 persons - including at least 10 U.S. citizens - in 2002.
    • Hamas's bombing of a cafeteria on the Hebrew University campus, which killed nine, including five U.S. citizens, demonstrated its willingness to stage operations in areas frequented by Westerners, including U.S. citizens.
    • The PIJ increased its number of lethal attacks in 2002, staging a car bombing in June that killed 17 Israelis near Megiddo and similar attacks in or near Afula, Haifa, and Hadera. Syrian officials declined to act on a U.S. request in November to close the PIJ's offices in Damascus.
    • Attacks by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have killed at least five U.S. citizens. Documents seized by the Israelis and information gleaned from the interrogation of arrested al-Aqsa members indicate that Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah members, including Chairman Yasser Arafat, made payments to al-Aqsa members known to have been involved in violence against Israelis.
    • The Palestinian Authority's efforts to thwart terrorist operations were minimal in 2002. Some personnel in the security services, including several senior officers, have continued to assist terrorist operations. Incidents such as the seizure in January of the Karine-A, a ship carrying weapons that Iran planned to deliver to the PA, further called into question the PA's ability and desire to help prevent terrorist operations. In June, President Bush called for a new Palestinian leadership "not compromised by terror."

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