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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June 24, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Presses Saudis on Funding Palestinian Terrorists - Timothy L. O'Brien (New York Times)
    The Treasury Department and other federal agencies say that Saudi "Account 98" funds - the designation Saudi regulators use for money destined for Palestinian charitable works - may be a conduit for terrorist financing.
    Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz, a brother of King Fahd, is the Saudi interior minister and supervises the regulation of charities and fund-raising efforts that generate money deposited into Account 98 coffers.
    The prince also oversees the Saudi Committee for the Support of Al Quds Intifada, which provides aid to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. According to Arab News, a Saudi daily, a single telethon last year raised $112 million for Al Quds.
    Saudi Arabia "needs to open to close outside scrutiny the opaque legal and regulatory regime that governs its financial system and its charities," says Lee Wolosky, a former director for transnational threats with the National Security Council and co-author of a recent Council on Foreign Relations report in which the Saudis were accused of turning "a blind eye" to terrorist financing.

Arafat Pays Al Aqsa Brigades with Libyan Money - Matthew Kalman (San Francisco Chronicle)
    Sources close to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat say he has raised $2.5 million from Libyan leader Moammar Khadafi to finance continued terror attacks against Israel.
    The Libyan money has been paid into bank accounts controlled by Arafat in Beirut and Cairo to underwrite the terror activities of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the paramilitary wing of Arafat's Fatah movement.
    Members of the Brigades confirmed last week that they were receiving funds from Arafat's office.
    Israeli and Palestinian officials say privately that the Arafat-Khadafi link is part of a series of secret diplomatic moves by Arafat designed to undermine reformist Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

France Ignores Hamas Funding (TIME)
    The U.S. has lodged complaints that Paris is turning a blind eye to fund-raising in France by front organizations for Hamas.
    The U.S. also claims France is blocking EU efforts to restrict these front groups elsewhere.
    "There's a lot of intelligence to suggest that the French have become increasingly a conduit for funds to Hamas and that they're just not taking the steps that are necessary," said a State Department official.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • What Role Did Saudi Officials Play in 9/11?
    Senior U.S. intelligence officials are pressing congressional investigators preparing a final report on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks not to include any information about alleged Saudi government assistance to some of the 19 hijackers, government officials say. The congressional report includes new information, from intelligence sources, that has persuaded some members of the House and Senate intelligence committees that officials of the Saudi government may have provided logistical support for the hijackers. A draft of the 900-page report includes the names of several Saudi officials who allegedly helped the hijackers. (U.S. News)
  • Five Syrians Wounded in U.S. Attack
    During an American attack last Wednesday on a convoy suspected of carrying fugitive Iraqi officials near the Syrian border, U.S. Special Operations forces engaged in a firefight with several Syrian guards, wounding five of them, Defense Department officials said Tuesday. (New York Times)
  • Senator: U.S. Wants Israel to Extradite Palestinian
    The Bush administration wants Israel to extradite a convicted Palestinian bomber to face the death penalty in the U.S. for killing three U.S. citizens in Israel in 1996, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told CNN Sunday. He said that U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft supported extraditing Hassan Salameh to the U.S. for a 1996 bus bombing in Jerusalem. "Attorney General Ashcroft told me that he was interested in doing this, and that we ought to pursue it and take up the specifics," he said. U.S. law considers the murder of any U.S. citizen, while outside the U.S., a capital crime. "I don't see any reason in the world why that man ought not to be brought back to the United States and tried in a U.S. court, where he can get the death penalty," Specter said. (Reuters)
  • Poll: Majority in U.S. Backs Use of Force in Iran
    By 56 percent to 38 percent, the American public endorsed the use of the military to block Iran from developing nuclear arms, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Islamic Movement Leaders Indicted - Baruch Kra and David Ratner
    Leading figures in the Islamic Movement's northern branch, including movement leader Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, were indicted Tuesday in Haifa District Court, charged with membership in a terrorist group, money-laundering, conspiracy, contact with foreign agents, performing a service for an illegal organization, falsifying official documents, and providing information to the enemy. The National Fraud Squad says some of the Islamic Movement officials operated a mechanism for transferring funds from organizations identified with Hamas overseas to organizations identified with Hamas in the territories. According to suspicions, they raised tens of millions of dollars overseas from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Belgium, Holland, and South Africa. (Ha'aretz)
  • What Bush Told Abbas at Aqaba - Arnon Regular
    Minutes from one of last week's cease-fire negotiations between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and faction leaders from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular and Democratic Fronts may reveal some of President Bush's thinking at the recent Aqaba summit. After Abbas spoke about reaching a hudna (cease-fire) between all the Palestinian factions, "Bush exploded with anger and said 'there can be no deals with terror groups.' We told him that they are part of our people and we cannot deal with them in any other way. We cannot begin with repression." Bush also said "a cease-fire is not the whole story," meaning that a hudna is only the start of the process of disarming the groups.
        According to Abbas, Bush also said: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • "Occupied": Disputed Word about Disputed Land - William Safire
    In the past, Sharon resented the pro-Palestinian usage, "the occupied West Bank." Although the kingdom of Jordan claimed that territory from 1948 to 1967, its claim was not recognized by most of the world's nations; after Israel defeated an Arab attempt to destroy the Israeli state in 1967, Israel moved into the land to ensure what it called ''defensible borders.'' In light of UN resolutions calling for a withdrawal from ''territories'' - but specifically not all territories - seized in Israel's defensive war, Israelis tried out the phrase administered territories. Those sympathetic to the cause of an independent Palestinian state preferred occupied West Bank.
        As the usage was tilted toward the Palestinians, Israelis recalled that the legal status of Judea/Samaria or the West Bank had, since the Yom Kippur war, been ''areas in dispute.'' A neutral term was floated to provide occupied with competition: disputed territories. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld endeared himself to embattled Israelis by showing his understanding of the nuances as he referred to ''the so-called occupied territories.'' Then Sharon deliberately used the word occupation. Israel's nonpartisan attorney general, Elyakim Rubinstein, promptly rebuked the prime minister, reminding him that the proper legal term was disputed territories. (New York Times)
  • Traveling With Bad Companions - Martin Peretz
    It was the British political historian David Pryce-Jones who, I think, first made the analogy between the old fellow travelers and the new, between those who romanticized the Soviets and those who now romanticize Palestinian (and Islamic) terrorism. Take, for example, the International Solidarity Movement, a nongovernmental organization ensconced in Gaza. The two British Muslims recruited by Hamas who blew up Mike's Place, a blues pub in Tel Aviv, moved in and out of Israel from the territories with remarkable ease, aided by ISM activists. Not surprisingly, Linda Gradstein, Jerusalem correspondent for NPR (now widely known as National Palestine Radio), is one of these. On "All Things Considered," she blithely characterized ISM as "committed to nonviolent resistance." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Saudi Arabia - Dubious Allies in the War on Terror - Matthew A. Levitt
    Even as Saudi security forces crack down hard on terrorists who threaten the kingdom, the government's efforts fall far short of full-fledged cooperation in the war on terror. To be sure, the Saudis arrested terrorists and even detained some radical preachers. Since September 11, the Saudis have provided intelligence that has helped prevent attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the region. Saudi agents reportedly infiltrated two domestic al Qaeda cells, leading to the arrest last summer of over 75 al Qaeda members, of various nationalities. Saudi security services also thwarted several plots targeting Western interests in the kingdom. But the royal family has a history of cutting off investigations whenever the trail leads anywhere near Saudi elites. An abundance of evidence confirms that financial and moral support for terrorism are still flowing from the kingdom. (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:  

    The Peace Plan Show - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • Premise: Abu Mazen is providing an alternative Palestinian leadership that is ready to make peace.
      Fact: While Abu Mazen's intentions are good, he is helpless. He has no power over Fatah, the PLO, the PA, the security forces, or anything else.
    • Premise: The PA is talking seriously about ending the violence.
      Fact: The PA, through Arafat's men, is the main sponsor, paymaster, and inciter of terrorism on a daily basis.
    • Premise: Abu Mazen has a plan for transforming Hamas into a peaceful force.
      Fact: His plan is roughly the same one Arafat has been using since 1995: Offer Hamas participation in a coalition government and integration into the PA security forces. That would mean Hamas and Islamic Jihad people being given better guns and more training, which they would no doubt use to commit additional terrorist acts in the future.
    • Premise: Once Palestinians believe a Palestinian state will be created and the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza will be ended, they will be ready to make a deal.
      Fact: This is the same idea that underpinned the failed Oslo process. Yet Palestinian leaders have convinced their people that compromise is cowardice, that the so-called right of return is more important than independence, and that they are in fact winning the war.
    • Premise: Israeli attacks on terrorists are counterproductive.
      Fact: Given the Palestinian determination to keep fighting, Israeli actions are the only things that can effectively reduce the level of successful terrorism.
    • Premise: The U.S. is in a position to advance a new peace process.
      Fact: The U.S. exercises no useful leverage on the Palestinians. It has shown no ability to strengthen Abu Mazen or gain a cessation of terrorism. It cannot even get its European allies to stop trying to build up Arafat and unconditionally subsidize the PA.

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