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 5, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraq's WMD in Syria - Richard Sale (UPI)
    U.S. intelligence agencies believe that rogue elements of Syria's ruling elite have accepted millions of dollars in bribes in return for providing a safe haven for some of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
    Chemical and biological weapons were taken by truck to a Syrian munitions compound near a military base near Khan Abu Shamet, about 50 miles northeast of Damascus.
    The chief suspects in the operation are Bushra Assad, the sister of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and her husband, Gen. Assaf Chawkat, No. 2 in Syria's military intelligence organization, the Mukhabarat.
    Former senior CIA officials said U.S. combat forces in Iraq detained at least 700 Lebanon-based Hizballah fighters who came in buses over the Syrian border to fight against the U.S. coalition.
    In one incident, a bus filled with Lebanese Hizballah militants stopped in Iraq included two dozen Chechen terrorists.
    Another 100 members of Hizballah are being detained at a camp at Tanaa in Iraq.
    After stern U.S. warnings, Syria tightened up scrutiny at checkpoints, but more Hizballah and jihadis simply went over the border with weapons and explosives.

New Tape Shows Saddam Admitting Defeat (AP/FOX News)
    In what is purported to be his last known wartime speech - a video never before televised - Saddam Hussein appears exhausted, at times confused, and seemingly resigned to defeat, but he tells Iraqis that God, somehow, will help them expel the American-British occupiers.
    The videotape, bearing a presidential stamp, was obtained Thursday from a former employee of the Iraqi satellite television channel which was responsible for filming and distributing official presidential video.
    The employee said it was made on April 9, the day American troops streamed into central Baghdad. If the date is correct, it means the Iraqi president survived an attack two days earlier, when U.S. forces bombed the capital's al-Mansour neighborhood.

British Terrorists Smuggled Explosives Inside Koran - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    The two British citizens responsible for last week's bombing attack in Tel Aviv entered the country from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge and smuggled their explosives inside a Koran, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Powell: Syrians Know What U.S. Wants
    Secretary of State Powell said he told Syrian President Assad in Damascus on Saturday that his support of terrorist groups, including harboring Palestinian organizations engaged in terror attacks against Israelis, "makes it hard to move forward on the Middle East peace process. These things have to come to an end." Assad responded, Powell said, that he would close the groups' offices and "indicated he would constrain their activities." The USA Patriot Act, passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to crack down on terrorists, includes penalties against countries that refuse to interrupt terrorist financing within their borders. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Militant Groups in Syria Dispute Reports of Ousting (New York Times);
        Demonstrators Urge Powell to Ask for Syrian Pullout from Lebanon During Secretary of State Powell's stopover in Lebanon on Saturday, hundreds of anti-Syrian demonstrators marched through downtown Beirut carrying banners calling on Syria to withdraw its more than 20,000 troops from the country. (Channel NewsAsia-Singapore)
  • Air Attack on U.S. Consulate Foiled in Pakistan
    U.S. and Pakistani authorities have broken up an al Qaeda plan to fly an explosives-laden aircraft into the U.S. consulate in Karachi, a suicide plot reminiscent of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, showing that the weakened terrorist network is still capable of pursuing serious assaults, officials said Friday. Arrests earlier this week in Karachi of six suspected al Qaeda members led to the discovery of hundreds of pounds of high explosives, as well as grenades, assault rifles, and detonators hidden in several different caches. "Operatives were planning to pack a small fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter with explosives and crash it into the consulate," according to an advisory posted on the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association website. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Sharon to U.S. Envoy: Abu Mazen Must Dismantle Terror Groups - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told U.S. envoy William Burns on Sunday that the new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) must work to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Government sources confirmed Sunday that Sharon would meet Abbas next week. The two have met several times in the past. (Ha'aretz)
  • FM Shalom: Dahlan Not Resolved to Confront Terror - Herb Keinon
    Initial signs from the Gaza Strip indicate that new Palestinian Authority security chief Muhammad Dahlan is not bent on confronting the terrorist organizations, but rather wants to bring them under his wings, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the cabinet on Sunday. He said Dahlan is trying to convince the terrorist groups that it is in the Palestinian national interest to refrain from attacks. Shalom told the cabinet that PA Prime Minister Abbas, before beginning to work on the road map, will want to strengthen his position vis-a-vis Arafat and opposition Palestinian groups. Only after he has established his hold on power, Shalom said, would he be able turn to negotiations with Israel.
        Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet that as long as the PA does not actively wage a war against the terrorist infrastructure, Israel will continue to do so on its own. Mofaz told the cabinet there has recently been a wave of attempted attacks, supported by Teheran and Damascus, the vast majority of which have been foiled by the IDF. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gazans Turn Against Abbas at Funerals - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Some 50,000 Palestinians poured out of Gaza City's mosques after Friday prayers, straight into a huge funeral procession for 12 Palestinians who were killed in the IDF raid on one of the city's neighborhoods on Thursday. The procession, led by hundreds of masked and armed Palestinians belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah, turned into a huge rally against Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and the U.S. road map for peace in the Middle East. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat Outmaneuvers Abbas on Road Map - Ze'ev Schiff
    Five different Palestinian Authority security organizations - General Intelligence, the National Security Forces, Force 17, Military Intelligence, and the naval forces - remain under the direct command of Arafat, in the first substantial breach of one of the important security clauses of the U.S. road map. The Interior Ministry, where Mohammed Dahlan is minister for state affairs, has authority over just two security organizations. Under such circumstances, Abu Mazen's chances of eradicating terror are very slim.
        One way for Israel and the Americans to tackle this problem would be to resort to the old system adopted in the wake of the Oslo accords, when the approach was to disregard various violations and take solace in the fact that progress in general was being made in implementing the agreements. In retrospect, this approach was clearly a big mistake that constituted one of the principal causes for further violations and the failure of the Oslo accords. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Suspects Palestinians Shot British Cameraman - Joel Leyden
    The IDF suspects that British photographer James Miller, 35, was fatally shot by Palestinians, and not Israeli forces, in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Friday night, a military source said Sunday. "An IDF doctor arrived at the scene shortly after James Miller was fatally wounded. The doctor identified the bullet wound as having entered from Miller's left rear shoulder," the source said. "There was only Palestinian gunfire coming from a house which was behind Miller's position. Based on these initial details we are almost certain that Miller was shot from behind by Palestinian terrorists." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Amram Mitzna Quits as Labor Party Leader - Mazal Mualem
    Labor Party Chairman Amram Mitzna announced Sunday that he is stepping down as party leader. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Real Peace Process - Dennis Ross
    Whether Mahmoud Abbas will ultimately become the first prime minister of a new, independent Palestinian state will depend on whether he can, in his words, stop the "armed chaos." He faces several obstacles. Arafat will continue to resist any efforts that erode his power and build Abbas'. He will seek to block efforts to confront Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade - and, indeed, has already opposed disarming the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual head of Hamas in Gaza, has already rejected the idea that Hamas will give up its arms or its violent struggle. Abbas must be able to stop or at least profoundly curtail the violence. He must reach concrete understandings with the Israelis on security - what he will do, when he will do it, how and where he will do it. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israel Lobby Lacks the Latitude to Challenge Bush's Road Map - Paul Richter
    The "road map" for Mideast peace unveiled last week by the Bush administration includes elements long resisted by successive Israeli governments, and normally, Israel's formidable allies would be expected to deploy in strength in Congress and inside the administration itself to defuse pressure for tough concessions. But the pro-Israel lobby is reluctant to confront Israel's benefactor as he emerges victorious from the war in Iraq. What's more, Bush's friendship is treasured by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has asserted that no American president has been as supportive of Israel's interests. So when the administration's plan was released, Israel politely welcomed it - with reservations - as did its allies in Washington. "A lot of people, including many right-wing Israelis, think: 'This isn't going anywhere, so we don't have to get upset,'" said Prof. Marshall Breger, who was President Reagan's liaison with the American Jewish community. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    The Most Effective Peace Process - Saul Singer (Chicago Sun-Times)

    • If the shooting stopped tomorrow, we would not be back to the square one of 1993, or of 2000, but to a situation more difficult than when Oslo was signed. For the last 30 months, the Palestinians have been glorifying terrorism on an almost hourly basis. It is a measure of how deeply the ethos of "martyrdom" has penetrated that even Abbas' speech, hailed for its moderation, was permeated with it.
    • In almost the same breath as Abbas condemned terror, he praised the "courageous uprising against Israel's aggression" and claimed that Palestinians had "fought with honor." How would a Palestinian learn from this that suicide bombings or shooting children in their beds is wrong rather than heroic? If Abbas is unable to speak clearly against terrorism, it is hard to see how he can act clearly against it.
    • The Palestinians have a lot of catching up to do to reach the point where they can really accept that the Jewish people have a right to national self-determination in this land. There is not much Israel can do to hasten this process, except to block all the alternatives. At this point, until further notice, fighting terror and its sponsors is the greatest educational tool, and therefore the most effective peace process.

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