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 16, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Saudis Provide Most of Hamas Funding - Janine Zacharia (Jerusalem Post)
    More than 50% of Hamas's current funding comes from Saudi Arabia and is increasing despite President Bush's call to the kingdom to halt aid to Palestinian terrorist groups, Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN and a researcher of terrorist financing, told the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East Tuesday in Washington.
    "The Saudi share of Hamas funding is growing, not declining. We're getting no change in Saudi behavior," said Gold, author of Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism.
    He said Saudi Arabia continues to directly fund Hamas's military wing, provides funding for civilian, terrorist-front organizations, and writes checks to families of homicide bombers.
    Saudi funding of Hamas undermines any peace process the U.S. tries to push forward, Gold said.

    See also Saudi Kingdom Corrupt and Doomed, Says Former CIA Agent - Adam Zagorin (TIME)
    Saudi Arabia, a primary oil supplier to the U.S., is still governed by medieval political institutions and Wahhabism, an obscurantist and often anti-Western doctrine of Islam.
    Former CIA agent Robert Baer's new book, Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, offers a picture of the Saudi royal family as degenerate, dangerous, and doomed.
    To Baer, the clan is "as violent and vengeful as any Mafia family," and the monarchy is "hanging on by a thread."
    There are alleged kickbacks by bin Laden family businesses to Saudi overlords and princes living large as the kingdom's 23 million people endure a steady decline in their living standard.
    Baer cites data indicating that the Saudis funneled half a billion dollars to al-Qaeda over a decade, while Wahhabi-controlled religious schools indoctrinated a new generation of fanatics.

Arafat Calls on Children to Become "Martyrs" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Yasser Arafat on Friday called on Palestinian children to follow the example of Fares Odeh, a 13-year-old boy from Gaza who has been immortalized posthumously by a photograph showing him throwing stones at an IDF tank.
    Arafat was speaking at a reception at his headquarters in Ramallah for hundreds of children from Jerusalem participating in summer camps, which include in their programs a visit to Arafat's office.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Hamas Going Strong in Syria
    At the behest of the Syrian government, Palestinian leaders say they had bowed to American pressure and closed the offices of at least 10 militant groups in Damascus bent on an armed struggle against Israel. However, it is much less clear that they have ceased the activities that prompted the American demands. Palestinian leaders say most of the senior commanders of the groups are still in Syria. The offices of some of the groups seem not to have closed at all. Perhaps most important, there is little evidence that the militant groups have ceased to function, or that they have moved to other countries. A Western diplomat in Damascus said the Palestinian militants are still engaging in activities designed to facilitate military strikes against Israel. "As long as some of these leaders have a cell phone and a laptop, they will be able to operate," the diplomat said. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Israel Finds Support from Britain over Iran
    Britain is increasingly alarmed at the threats posed by Iran's nuclear program and conventional missiles which could reach Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East. Tony Blair is understood to have told Ariel Sharon that Britain shares Israel's concerns about Iran. A well-placed British source confirmed the change of thinking in government circles, saying, "The gauge of concern has gone up a couple of notches lately, particularly over Iran's nuclear program." British and other Western intelligence agencies believe that Iran's nuclear program bears the hallmark of a military program. (Guardian-UK)
  • Sharon Lauds Palestinian Aid Plan
    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon endorsed a proposal that Europe participate in Middle East peace efforts by offering welfare services to Palestinians to weaken the influence of the radical group Hamas. "In order to support the Palestinian public which needs all these (services such as nursery schools and free medical care), Europe could create (similar) institutions which would not be connected to the Hamas movement," Sharon said. Sharon discussed the proposal at a meeting in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. (AFP/Queensland Courier-Mail-Australia)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • IDF Rescues Kidnapped Taxi Driver - Amos Harel
    An Israeli taxi driver kidnapped by Palestinians was freed unharmed early Wednesday by Israeli commandos. Eliyahu Gurel, 61, was held in a pit, seven meters deep, in an abandoned building in Beitunia, west of Ramallah. Earlier, security forces had arrested four people involved in the kidnapping, and one of the abductors revealedGurel's location. Gurel said he picked up the kidnappers - two men, a woman, and a4-year-old girl - in Lod and was asked to take them to Jerusalem. The kidnappers spoke to Gurel in Hebrew, and he didn'ttell them he understood Arabic and what they were saying to each other. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The PA Did Nothing - Felix Frisch and Efrat Weiss
    "The Palestinians failed the test. If Israel hadn't acted to free the taxi driver, nothing would have happened," government sources said Wednesday.The kidnapping was planned by Ahmed Hajaj, 25, a former activist of the Popular Front. The presence of the young girl was what convinced Gurel to take the group. Security forces were in touch by phone with the kidnappers, who demanded the release of 2,000 Palestinian prisoners including the murderers of Israeli Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, held in a Palestinian jail in Jericho. Head of IDF Central Command Moshe Kaplinsky emphasized that "all actions were undertaken solely by Israeli security forces." "The Palestinians only pretended to assist but were actually no help," said an IDF source.(Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Report: Israeli Kidnapped by Hizballah Alive But in Poor Health
    Retired IDF colonel Elhanan Tannenbaum, who waskidnapped by Hizballah three years ago, is alivebut in poor health, a top government official said Tuesday. The official also revealed thatTannenbaum was abducted fromAbu Dhabi, and not from Europeas was previously thought,Israel Radio reported. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel "Arrested the Irish Man We Looked For" - Margot Dudkevitch
    Israeli security sources said Sean O Muireagain (John Morgan), the Irish national arrested outside of Ramallah on Saturday who is currently being questioned by the Shin Bet, is the man they were looking for and denied claims that his arrest was a case of mistaken identity. "There are two John Morgans, both are linked to the IRA, one ideologically and the other actively. We arrested the person we were looking for," one security official said. The official noted that Morgan entered Israel with an Irish passport, and not a British one as previously claimed. The English newspaper Observer claimed Israel had launched a manhunt for Morgan, who they described as an IRA bomb expert. The newspaper claimed that British intelligence had tipped off Israeli officials. Israeli security officials noted that no information had been released by them other than his name and confirmation that he had been arrested. "All the other claims came from foreign press reports," officials said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis(Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Power Struggle Within Palestinian Ranks - Walid M. Sadi
    Arafat has become an icon for the Palestinians. Abbas remains a leader imposed from the outside. As long as he fails to earn his authority from within the Palestinian ranks, he will continue to be a lightweight prime minister unable to make hard decisions on behalf of his people.While Abbas is the first to have spoken out openly and clearly against the militarization of the Palestinian intifada, he remains vulnerable and unappreciated by the majority of his radicalized people. It is not the issue of the Palestinian prisoners that is breaking the back of Abbas. The fate of the prisoners is not even on the list of items to be dealt with in the early stages of the roadmap. But Arafat chose to make this a burning issue now. There is a power struggle within the Palestinian ranks and the sooner it is settled the sooner the Palestinians can move forward in their struggle for freedom and independence. (Jordan Times/Al-Jazeerah)
  • Beware the BBC Bias Against Israel - Ned Temko
    I happened to be on a BBC radio panel on the night of September 11, while bodies were being pulled from the wreckage of the Twin Towers, and was startled to hear a fellow panelist remark that the real question was U.S. policy toward Israel. Only days later, I heard BBC presenters grill Henry Kissinger in almost identical terms (and then remark at how weird it was that Americans so missed the point of September 11). But the Twin Towers attack was not about U.S. support for Israel.
        Repeatedly since then, I have heard presenters let pass remarks after suicide bombings in Israel suggesting that the "real question" is Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In the run-up to the Iraq War, leading BBC radio and television figures routinely suggested that, again, the "real issue" was not Saddam Hussein, but Israel. One Radio Five presenter wondered out loud shortly before the war whether it was a good idea for the White House to have a spokesman named Ari Fleischer (that is, presumably, a Jew). (London Evening Standard)
  • Observations:  

    Israel Proposes Parameters for PA Security Progress - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)

    • There are 50,000 illegal weaponsin the hands of Palestinians in the territories,according to an IDF document given to John Wolf,the chief American monitor of the road map implementation. The document proposes a series ofparameters by which to measurePalestinian fulfillmentof security agreementsreached with Israel.
    • There are 24 bombmanufacturing plants which the Palestinian Authority must dismantle,and 20 weapons smuggling enterprises, includingthose for digging tunnels under theIsrael-Egypt border opposite Rafah.
    • Senior officers say the most importantfirst step required of the PA is dismantlingthe "heavy" arms - Qassam rockets, mortars, and landmines.
    • A senior army source said lifting travelrestrictions inside Gaza had resulted in terrororganizations training their members in rocket-firing, bomb-making, and infantry combat, withwanted men making their way throughout the GazaStrip.

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