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 25, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Islamic Movement Leaders Passed Sensitive Information to Iran (Prime Minister's Office/IMRA)
    Five senior Islamic Movement officials were charged with raising money abroad and transferring it to Hamas in the territories, and also to prisoners convicted of perpetrating terror attacks.
    In addition, charges of passing sensitive information to Iran and maintaining contacts with foreign agents were filed against movement head Sheik Ra'ad Salah and Mahmud Mahajana.
    Iran has significantly increased its activities against Israel in the intelligence and operational spheres. Iranian activities in encouraging and aiding Palestinian terrorists have increased since the Aqaba summit, with the aim of wrecking the political process.

Iraqis Fear Israeli Infiltration (IslamOnline-Qatar)
    An anonymous leaflet circulated in the Iraqi capital this week urging Iraqis to shun the famous Baghdad Hotel because it was used by Jews and Israeli intelligence elements.
    On Friday, Sunni Muslim prayer leader Sheikh Mahmud Khalaf told the faithful at Baghdad's al-Kilani mosque, "The Jews, civilian and military people, are now entering Iraq...buying property, factories, and companies....It is a sin for Iraq's people to sell their lands to the Jews and to deal with the Jews."
    A few days earlier, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary John Taylor invited Israeli companies to join in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Arabs Boycott Israel at Special Olympics - Sharon Sadeh (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli delegation to the Special Olympics has lodged an official protest with the organizers in Ireland after Arab teams boycotted competitions in which Israel was taking part.
    The Saudi indoor soccer team did not show up for a match against the Israelis, nor did an Algerian table tennis player for his game against an Israeli.

Jordan, Israel, Palestinians Join Forces to Save Dead Sea (AFP/TerraDaily)
    Over the past three years the Dead Sea has decreased by three meters and the whole area is currently one third less than it was in the 1960s. In 50 years the Dead Sea could disappear.
    To contain the damage, Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian officials submitted a project to channel water through a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, at the meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
    "Building a canal will take seven to 10 years and by that time the level of the Dead Sea will have dropped by an additional eight meters, which is catastrophic for the shorelines, the coastal areas, and the groundwater resources," said Jordanian geology professor Elias Salameh.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S.: "Hamas is Not a Legitimate Partner"
    In a background briefing Monday on the U.S.-European Union Summit set for June 25 in Washington, a senior Bush administration official said: "Hamas has declared itself to be an enemy of the peace process. It has declared itself inalterably opposed to the roadmap. A leader of Hamas said publicly, I believe, that the Hamas objective was to kill every Jew in Palestine, a statement which has the benefit of being forthright and very clear. Its meaning cannot be mistaken. Hamas is not a legitimate partner. Hamas is a terrorist organization, as are all of its works." (State Department)
  • Qatari Man Designated an Enemy Combatant
    A Qatari man described by federal prosecutors as an al Qaeda "sleeper operative" was designated an enemy combatant by President Bush and turned over to the U.S. military. Ali S. Marri, who arrived in the U.S. the day before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was trained in computer hacking and the use of poisons. He was sent to the U.S. to help settle al Qaeda members arriving for follow-up attacks, captives reportedly have told interrogators. Marri's wife, Maha, is a Saudi citizen who was transported out of the U.S. in November by the Saudi Embassy, angering FBI agents and prosecutors who had confiscated her passport and issued her a grand jury subpoena. (Washington Post)
  • Taking the Shackles Off Israel's Economy
    Something is afoot in Israel's financial markets. The leading Tel Aviv stock index is up 34% so far this year. After being unable to raise money on the international capital markets for more than two years, the Israeli government recently attracted institutional investors to a commercial bond offering, raising $750 million. And investors are bidding up the shares of recently privatized El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Finance Minister and top economic policymaker since March, argues that one key reason smart money is heading to Israel is the government's radical program to liberalize its economy. (Business Week)
  • Six British Soldiers Killed in Iraq
    Six British military police were killed in southern Iraq, British officials said Tuesday. In a separate ambush nearby, eight British soldiers were wounded. There has also been a spate of clashes between U.S. forces and gunmen in central Iraq in the past day. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Rocket Misses School in Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket at the Israeli town of Sderot Wednesday morning. It exploded near a compound housing a number of elementary schools but prior to the students' arrival. There were no injuries. Police believe the rocket was fired by Hamas terrorists from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. On Tuesday, an Israeli was wounded from shrapnel after Palestinians fired three mortars at the town of Neve Dekelim in the Gaza district. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Israel to Strike "Ticking Bombs" After Cease-Fire - Gideon Alon
    On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "If the Palestinians take security responsibility for an area, they will be responsible for maintaining the cease-fire and will have to act to eliminate terror." "If we identify an intention to commit a terror attack, we will demand they take immediate action to foil it. But if they don't do so, we will act on our own," he said. "Certainly, if it's a ticking bomb and there's no time to tell them, we'll act on our own." He said Israel would not be satisfied with a cease-fire that is temporary and tactical, but would demand commitments to disarm the terrorist organizations, collect their weapons, and destroy the arms. There must also be a halt to the incitement against Israel, he said.
        According to a military intelligence officer who briefed the committee, Hamas accepted a three-month cease-fire, both inside the "green line" and in the territories. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Give PA "Grace Period" - Herb Keinon
    After an agreement is reached on transferring security control in Gaza and Bethlehem to the PA, Israel will grant the Palestinians a "grace period" of three to four weeks and won't initiate military activity, a senior diplomatic official said Tuesday. "We are interested in the results, there must be an end to terror activity, and you can't do that without disarming and dismantling the terror organizations," the official said. If the cease-fire breaks down and the terror returns, the official said, there will be no progress on the road map. The official said Israel has made it clear it will not accept a trickle of drive-by shootings to replace the suicide bombings. "This is intolerable, and we will not play by those rules," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • No Peace Until They Demand It - Irwin J. Mansdorf
    When PA prime minister Mahmoud Abbas began his term of office, many convinced themselves that artificial regime change would bring about democracy and, eventually, peace. Today, despite Mr. Abbas' promises to act vigorously against incitement, hatred, and terrorism, the purposeful, planned, and targeted violence against Israelis continues. Democracy and peace will come when the people demand it, not when the politicians feign it. When unabashed promoters of terrorism such as Hamas' Abdel Aziz Rantisi continue to be able to use the educational system, the press, and the cultural institutions of Palestinian society without any resistance, it means that their message, and not that of Abbas, is the one that resonates. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Still Waiting for Reform - Amira Hass
    If there are reforms underway in the Palestinian Authority, they still haven't been felt enough to change the prevailing negative opinion of the PA and its senior officials. It's enough to compare the modest homes of Hamas leaders to the fancy villas of PA officials; the gossip about how the children of senior officials are "in schools overseas," far from any danger; the complaints about the job vacancies in the public sector, which go to cronies and not to the skilled. (Ha'aretz)
  • How to Get Attention from the Bush White House - Matthew E. Berger
    Some groups, like the American Jewish Committee and the Orthodox Union, have received more attention from the Bush White House than from previous administrations. The only speech Bush has given to a Jewish audience was at the AJC's 2001 annual dinner. David Frum, a former Bush speech writer who authored the president's address, claimed many of the out-of-favor Jewish groups have done a poor job in prioritizing their agendas. At a time when most people are concerned about terrorism and Israel, the Jewish community should be focusing on the issues that matter most to them, he said. He says the Jewish community's targeting of Attorney General John Ashcroft for his views on the separation of church and state, for example, has hurt its reputation. "Your friends show respect for your values; you show respect for their values," he said. "It cannot be a presentation of a list of non-negotiable demands." (JTA)
        See also Bush's Jewish Liaison to Leave - Matthew E. Berger
    Adam Goldman, deputy director of the Office of Public Liaison, is the main conduit between the White House and the organized Jewish community. A Bush loyalist who has worked for the president since his first campaign for Texas governor, Goldman is leaving the White House this summer. (JTA)
  • Observations:  

    Help Abbas Succeed - Dennis Ross (Baltimore Sun)

    • Abbas must show he can deliver. Hamas is now trying to bolster its position and tie Abbas' hands in terms of acting against it later.
    • Arafat remains a serious impediment to change, seeking to subvert Abbas by making competing appointments in the security apparatus, requiring the regional commanders to answer to him and not to Abbas or Dahlan, and financing anti-Abbas leaflets. For Arafat, Abbas' success is his failure, proving that Arafat was the problem.
    • The Israeli threshold of patience is very low. No one questions Abbas' intentions, but Israeli officials fear he will retreat when facing internal resistance and are convinced he will act only if he knows the Israelis will otherwise.
    • Abbas - and our Arab partners - must know unmistakably that granting time for developing capabilities does not mean not assuming responsibilities now. At a minimum, incitement must stop and whatever is agreed about obligations in Gaza or Bethlehem must be fulfilled.
    • Israel has a duty to its citizens to go after "ticking bombs" if the Palestinians remain unable to do so.
    • The U.S. is not yet in the monitoring business. For that, there must be a clear standard of performance understood by both sides. That does not exist today, and Washington must create it.

    Dennis Ross, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was special Middle East coordinator during the Clinton administrations from 1993 to 2001.

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