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 3, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Terrorist Militias to Keep Rifles - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
    Israel will not insist on collecting all the weapons in the hands of the militias, but rather will demand that the PA "plug," not "disarm," the rifles being held by the armed factions, and that it dismantle the "terror infrastructure," including the financial resources and incitement within the mosques.
    The focus is on the munitions that are used only for terror attacks - bombs, Kassam rockets, mortars.
    Personal weapons, which for decades have been both a life insurance policy and a yardstick for respect in Palestinian society, may remain in the hands of the militiamen as long as they are stored and not publicly displayed.

    See also Disarming Islamic Groups a Far-Off Dream - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    "We will not hand over our weapons, and I hope that the PA officials don't ask us to do so. We are talking about legitimate arms for the purpose of defending the Palestinian people," said the general secretary of Islamic Jihad, Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shalakh.
    The hudna, as far as the Islamic organizations are concerned, is not designed to end the struggle with Israel.
    At best, leaving the weapons in the hands of the organizations will continue to serve as a means of deterring Israel and the PA from deviating from the dictates that the organizations will want to make further down the road.

Iran Sharply Increases Military Spending (Middle East Newsline)
    A State Department report said Teheran has accelerated military programs and spending in the last half of the 1990s, turning Iran into one of the biggest spenders on weapons in the Middle East.
    According to the report, "Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 1999-2000," by the Bureau of Verification and Compliance, "spending increased 30% from 1995 to 1999, from $5.3 to $6.9 billion."

Gaza Terrorists Smuggled Explosives in Diplomats' Cars - Amos Harel and Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
    Shin Bet security service head Avi Dichter told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that terrorists had used cars of foreign diplomats to smuggle explosives into Israel from Gaza.
    The explosives had been hidden while the cars were being repaired in Gaza repair shops, taking advantage of the fact that diplomatic vehicles are not searched at checkpoints.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush Happy with Mideast Progress
    President Bush said Wednesday he is "happy with what we've seen so far'' of peacemaking between Israel and the PA, but cautioned that peace still could be stymied by Hamas and others who hate Israel. The president said he was optimistic but that he also recognized the nature of the Middle East. "There are people there who still hate,'' he said. "They hate Israel. They hate the idea of peace. They can't stand the thought of a peaceful state existing side by side with Israel, and they're willing to - may be willing to - attack.'' "Hamas is not a peaceful organization when they are willing to blow people up and destroy innocent lives,'' Bush said. (ABC News)
  • U.S. to Beam TV to Iran from Washington
    The U.S. government plans to launch a Persian-language television newscast in Iran on Sunday as the Bush administration continues to encourage internal dissent against the ruling clerics, administration officials said Wednesday. The Voice of America program will be sent from Washington by satellite to avoid the jamming that has interfered with U.S. government radio programs aimed at the Iranian people. (Washington Post)
  • Yemen Boosts Forces on Saudi Border
    Yemen has deployed 3,000 soldiers along its border with Saudi Arabia in a bid to help curb infiltration and smuggling, a Saudi newspaper reported Wednesday, following reports that explosives used in the Riyadh attacks may have come from Yemen. Large quantities of arms and explosives and hundreds of infiltrators are smuggled every year across the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. (Middle East Online-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Rocket Jewish Town in Gaza, Wound 4 - Amos Harel
    Palestinians from Dir al-Balah fired three anti-tank rockets at the Jewish town of Kfar Darom in the Gaza district Wednesday night, wounding four Israelis. In addition, Palestinians fired and threw grenades at IDF forces in the Israel-Egypt border area. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz: Israel to Wait Before Handing Over More Cities - Aluf Benn
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Cabinet Wednesday that Israel will be closely watching how the Palestinians manage in Bethlehem and Gaza over the coming weeks before deciding on more transfers of security control to the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Cabinet Communique (Cabinet Secretariat/IMRA)
  • Israel Continues Releasing Palestinian Prisoners - Aluf Benn
    Israel will release 10 Palestinian detainees Thursday, Israel Radio reported. Nine prisoners were released Wednesday. Palestinian sources said that the joint Israeli-Palestinian committee on prisoners will meet on Sunday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Prisoner Release Linked to PA Action Against Terrorism - Herb Keinon
    The release of Palestinian prisoners will happen in stages and as an act of reciprocity to PA action in fighting terrorism, a senior diplomatic official said Wednesday. He said the release will not be a unilateral gesture. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF to Egypt: Stop Infiltrators - Amos Harel
    IDF officers have protested to the Egyptian military over the numerous infiltrations of terrorists - mostly Palestinians - from Egypt into Israel over the past two years. In 2002, the IDF counted some 1,000 incidents of infiltrations across the Egyptian border. In a number of incidents, the infiltrators were Palestinian residents of Gaza, unable to carry out terror attacks due to the perimeter fence around Gaza, who chose to cross from Rafah into Egypt, head south, and then attempt to reenter Israel across the Sinai and Negev border. The last infiltration of this kind, in January, led to the death of an Israeli soldier in the Nitzana region.
        According to the IDF, Egypt does not conduct sufficient security checks at Cairo's airport and the Suez border crossings in order to filter out individuals with ties to terror organizations, and does not prevent such individuals from approaching the border with Israel. The defense establishment believes that pressure on Cairo from Washington will lead to an improvement. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The State Department's Saudi Problem - Editorial
    The story of Sarah Saga affords two timely lessons: The first is that Washington is fully capable of arranging the liberation of our women and children held in Saudi Arabia against their will, with the right backbone. The second is that someone needs to light some firecrackers under the State Department if the many others still trapped there - including Ms. Saga's two young children - are ever to taste their freedom. How about linking American visas for any Saudi citizens to the freedom of innocent Americans in Saudi Arabia? (Wall Street Journal)
  • New Peace Process Has Far to Go - Max Boot
    The new peace process is premised on the notion that Israelis and Palestinians need to make mutual concessions to end their war. The problem is that most Israelis are willing to meet their obligations, but most Palestinians aren't. Successful negotiations are impossible when one side won't recognize the other's right to exist. However well intentioned, the latest peace process is likely to backfire as badly as its predecessor did. The only long-term hope for peace is that the Palestinians will weary of this war and give real power to leaders intent on stopping the suicide bombers. Abbas's appointment is a step in the right direction, but the process is a long way from completion. (USA Today)
  • Dahlan and the CIA Plan - Uri Dan
    Muhammad Dahlan, Mahmoud Abbas's security chief, made American diplomats a commitment that he would begin dismantling the terrorist organizations in accordance with the Tenet plan. CIA Director George Tenet presented his plan back in June 2001, under which the PA would collect illegal weapons, arrest suspected terrorists, and thwart terrorist operations.
        In August 2001, Israel's security services supplied Arafat with information about a wanted terrorist about to perpetrate a suicide attack. Despite the warning it received and despite its commitment, the PA did nothing to prevent the attack. The result was the murder of 15 innocent people in the Sbarro pizzeria in the heart of Jerusalem. In the recent terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, PA members came up with a new story: that Iran and Hizballah were pressuring the El-Aksa battalions into carrying out terrorist attacks in contravention of the hudna. In this way Abu Mazen and Dahlan hope to lead the Israeli government into the same trap their predecessors fell into: conducting negotiations with the Palestinians under fire. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:  

    A 30-Year Fence - Gerald M. Steinberg (Jerusalem Post)

    • After a war in 1974, Cyprus was divided in two, with the north under Turkish control and the south in Greek hands. For a few years after the war the violence continued with terror attacks across the cease-fire line.
    • However, the violence subsided significantly after the Turkish authorities made a dividing wall, passing along the entire length of Cyprus, including barbed wire, a wide buffer zone in some places, and even concrete barriers.
    • This fence is not loved by anyone, but the evidence is indisputable - the daily friction between the populations largely disappeared, and the division has brought a significant degree of stability and even relative prosperity. Since the war and the construction of this barrier, a new generation of Cypriots has grown up. For them, the conflict and terror attacks are ancient history.
    • Suddenly, at the end of April, the Turkish leadership opened the barriers to allow for the free movement of both populations, and tens of thousands of Cypriots from both sides went to check out the other side.
    • Despite some reports of bitterness, for the most part this experiment appears to be moving in a positive direction, toward reconciliation and hope - though such a barrier will not solve all the problems of Israelis and Palestinians, nor substitute in the long term for renewed efforts to reach a negotiated peace agreement.

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