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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July 1, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraq's Real Weapons Threat - Rolf Ekeus (Washington Post)
    During its war against Iran, Iraq found that chemical warfare agents, especially nerve agents such as sarin, soman, tabun, and later VX, deteriorated after just a couple of weeks' storage in drums or in filled chemical warfare munitions.
    Thus, the Iraqi policy after the Gulf War was to halt all production of warfare agents and to focus on design and engineering, with the purpose of activating production and shipping of warfare agents and munitions directly to the battlefield in the event of war.
    The combination of researchers, engineers, know-how, precursors, batch production techniques, and testing is what constituted Iraq's chemical threat - its chemical weapon.
    Iraq's biological weapons program, and specifically its now-unemployed specialists, constitute a potential threat of much the same magnitude.
    The writer was executive chairman of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) on Iraq from 1991 to 1997.

Terrorists Travel on Gaza Highway Within Hours of Pullback (IMRA)
    Israel Radio reported Tuesday that Israeli security sources say wanted Palestinian terrorists were traveling on the main north-south Gaza Strip highway within hours after the IDF withdrawal.
    These security sources say they expect terrorists and weapons to move freely on the highway under the new arrangement.

Palestinian Poll: 57% Oppose Ending Armed Intifada, 56% Oppose Ending Incitement (IMRA)
    A poll of 723 adults conducted on June 18-24, 2003, by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO) and prepared by Dr. Nabil Kukali found the following:
    Abu Mazen called at Aqaba "to bring the armed Intifada to an end." - Support 25%; Oppose 57%
    Abu Mazen spoke "against any form of instigation to violence and hatred." - Support 24%; Oppose 56%
    How do you evaluate the performance of Abu Mazen at Aqaba? - Good 8%; Fair 32%; Bad 52%
    If the PA orders "Fatah Tanzim" to hand over their weapons, what should they do? - Hand over their weapons 9%; Hide their weapons 49%; Do nothing 42%
    If municipality or village council elections were being held today, which political party would you vote for? - People's Party 1%; PFLP 5%; Fatah 30%; Hamas 20%; DFLP 3%; Islamic Jihad 8%; Fida 3%; Popular Struggle (Nidal) Front 1%; Independents 11%; None of the above 15%; Other 3%

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • White House Considers Aid to Palestinians
    The Bush administration is considering increasing aid to the Palestinians and providing the first direct assistance to the PA, administration officials said Monday. An initial expenditure of $300 million is being considered by the CIA to help the PA deal with Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups. There were reports that $1 billion in aid to the PA was discussed, but most knowledgeable officials said such a large amount probably could not be absorbed by the authority at present. The PA already receives more than $1 billion a year from outside sources, principally from the EU and the Arab League, although that amount includes $200 million in American aid transmitted through the UN and independent relief organizations. (New York Times)
  • Saudis Straddling Both Sides
    Ali Abd al Rahman al Faqasi al Ghamdi, the Afghan veteran captured by the Saudis for his key role in the May 12 bombings in Riyadh, comes from the same Saudi tribe as two of the 9-11 hijackers. He appears to have taken instructions for the attack from senior Qaeda leaders in Iran - possibly including military commander Saif Al-Adel and Saad bin Laden, one of Osama's sons. U.S. investigators believe al Ghamdi received help from bin Laden sympathizers within the Saudi National Guard. Last week's dramatic commando-style raid in Malawi netted five terror suspects including a Saudi national who was the local director of the Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Special Committee for Relief, a charitable foundation overseen by Saudi Arabia's longtime defense minister. (Newsweek)
  • U.S. Returns Detained Syrian Border Guards
    The U.S. has returned five Syrian border guards wounded during a U.S. assault on a convoy at the Syria-Iraq border, officials announced Monday. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Shooting Continues - Amos Harel
    After a Palestinian opened fire Tuesday at an IDF checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Tul Karm, soldiers returned fire and killed the attacker. On Monday, a Bulgarian construction worker was shot dead by Palestinian gunmen who opened fire on an Israeli truck carrying road construction workers. A local leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated with Arafat's Fatah movement, said his armed group was behind the attack near the city of Jenin and that it would not abide by the ceasefire announced on Sunday. (Ha'aretz)
        Palestinian gunmen opened fire on an IDF post near Ganei Tal in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip. (Jerusalem Post)
  • No Further Withdrawals Without Dismantling Terror Groups - Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, Nathan Guttman, and Arnon Regular
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz confirmed that Israel would hand over authority in Bethlehem to the Palestinians on Wednesday. Shin Bet secret service chief Avi Dichter said Tuesday that the PA must begin disarming terror organizations in the Gaza Strip within two or three weeks, or Israel will freeze further handovers of security authority. "Hamas has no chance in a direct confrontation with the Fatah, and Hamas knows that better than all of us," Dichter said. PA forces and Fatah commanded at least 10,000 armed men, he said. Yasser Arafat has retained his power, Dichter said, adding that the number of Palestinian security men under Arafat's control was greater than the number under the control of Abu Mazen. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Generals to Monitor Dismantling of Hamas - Herb Keinon
    Heeding Israeli concerns that the cease-fire may be used by Hamas to regroup and re-arm, the U.S. is dispatching two generals to monitor PA action to dismantle the terrorist organizations. According to senior Israeli officials, the generals will be able to pass on to Washington an independent military assessment of whether or not steps are taken during the cease-fire period to dismantle the terrorist military infrastructure, and whether the organizations are continuing recruitment and the smuggling of weapons. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gov't Razes Foundations of Unauthorized Nazareth Mosque - Uri Ash
    On Tuesday the foundations of the unauthorized Shehab a-Din mosque, which Muslims sought to erect next to the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, were razed by order of the Interior Ministry. The large church is a focus of Christian pilgrimage from abroad. Some six years ago, the government initially granted approval to the mosque project, which was to have been built less than 500 meters from the church, but the decision was reversed under heavy pressure from world Christians. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Islamization of Nazareth - Raphael Israeli (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Police Reopen Temple Mount to Jewish and Christian Visitors - Etgar Lefkovits
    Nearly three years after Jerusalem's Temple Mount was declared off limits to non-Muslims, Jerusalem police have begun permitting small groups of Jewish and Christian tourists as well as Israelis to reenter the site, police said Monday. Police had barred non-Muslims from entering the Temple Mount since September 2000, the longest period Judaism's holiest site has been closed to Jews and Christians since the unification of Jerusalem in 1967. The reopening of the site came in the wake of unanimous agreement by Israeli security officials that Israel was setting a dangerous precedent by keeping the site closed for so long. The move was also made possible after security officials deemed that the influence of the PA in Jerusalem was on the decline. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas and the Road Map - Meir Litvak
    While Hamas may accept a temporary truce with Israel, it is highly unlikely that it will agree to hand in its weapons to the PA or tone down its vicious anti-Jewish incitement, as required by the Road Map. It is more likely that Hamas will mobilize public support against any perceived concessions by Palestinian negotiators and wait for the opportunity to resume terrorist activity during future crises in the negotiations process. (Dayan Center/Jaffee Center - Tel Aviv University)
  • The Hamas Strategy - Mitch Potter
    "They will never say this to your face, but Hamas has quietly arrived at a new strategy on the conflict," says a source close to the organization's Gaza leadership. "It is a return to pragmatic reason. The majority of leaders have come to accept the hopelessness of the situation, that this is a war of liberation with only one actual army. They realize Israel cannot be defeated, now or at any time in the foreseeable future....So, they are prepared to stand aside - to put the dream of destroying Israel on the shelf for future generations." "And in the end, Hamas will still have strength as an Islamic movement, as a political movement, able to hold its head high to Palestinians and say, 'It wasn't us; it was the PA who betrayed you.'" (Toronto Star)
  • Securing the Gulf - Kenneth M. Pollack
    The sweeping military victory in Iraq has cleared the way for the U.S. to establish yet another framework for Persian Gulf security. Ironically, with Saddam Hussein gone, the problems are actually going to get more challenging in some ways. The three main issues will be Iraqi power, Iran's nuclear weapons program, and domestic unrest in the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Observations:  

    Replacing Saudi Arabia - Rich Lowry (

    • Oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a backward society that finances virulent Islamic extremism, has failed to make itself a reliable ally of the U.S.
    • Just as the U.S. announced its Saudi pullout, negotiations between ExxonMobil and the Saudi government collapsed over a proposed $25 billion natural-gas deal, another sign that the U.S.-Saudi relationship is slowly ending.
    • U.S. policy-makers would be wise to try to make a new Saudi Arabia in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea, a resource-rich region that has little of the anti-U.S. baggage of Saudi Arabia, but already sends the U.S. roughly as much oil. The region is anchored by Nigeria, the world's sixth-largest oil exporter and fifth-ranked provider of crude to the U.S.
    • Paul Michael Wihbey, of the Washington-based Center for Strategic Resources Policy, argues that the U.S. should declare the area a vital national interest, as a prelude to creating a subregional military command with its home port in Sao Tome and Principe, a tiny, oil-rich island nation smack in the middle of the Gulf of Guinea.
    • Wihbey imagines the Saudi-led OPEC gradually being supplanted by a new oil bloc centered on the Atlantic (60% of U.S. oil now comes from countries bordering the Atlantic), with Russia as an important fellow traveler.

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