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 30, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Mofaz: Terrorist Groups Rebuilding During Ceasefire - Nina Gilbert (Jerusalem Post)
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that PA inaction against terrorist groups poses a "great danger" to Israel, which could find itself facing a "huge wave of terrorism" if the ceasefire ends.
    Mofaz said Tanzim has not accepted the cease-fire and is being guided by outside forces, including Hizballah and Iran.
    An IDF officer said 9 Palestinian terrorists on their way to carry out suicide bombings have been apprehended since the ceasefire, 8 from Samaria and 1 from Gaza.
    IDF Intelligence research chief Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kupperwasser told the committee that wanted terrorists are still "hiding out" in Arafat's Ramallah headquarters.

Democracy in Jenin - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Yasser Arafat has decided to appoint Ramadan Bata, who returned to the West Bank from Tunis in 1994, as the new governor for the Jenin district, replacing Haider Irsheid, who was abducted and beaten recently by Fatah gunmen and has since gone to Jordan with his family for an extended vacation.
    On Tuesday, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades gunmen in Jenin vowed to resist Arafat's decision by banning the new governor from entering the city. They said they want a local resident to serve as governor.
    Meanwhile, hundreds of Jenin residents held an emergency meeting in the city Monday to demand an end to the state of chaos and lawlessness.

Terror Tutors Revive Threat from Taliban - Massoud Ansari (Telegraph-UK)
    A week after he left the lawless Kandhar province in Afghanistan, Mir Jan, a terrorist trainer, was impatient to return.
    Eager pupils awaited: a new generation of Taliban recruits who are taught how to fight American troops and turn themselves into human bombs.
    To avoid detection, Jan is constantly on the move along the border with Pakistan. He holds classes in explosives, hands out maps of American bases, and tells the young volunteers how best to attack them.
    Last week Afghanistan's struggling government urged Pakistan to do more to prevent Taliban fighters such as Jan from crossing the border, using Pakistan's tribal areas as a refuge from which to attack Afghan targets.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • "Islamic Extremists" Plotting to Hijack Jets
    Terrorists operating in teams of five may be plotting suicide missions to hijack commercial airliners on the East Coast, Europe, or Australia this summer, possibly using "common items carried by travelers, such as cameras, modified as weapons," according to an urgent memo sent last weekend to all U.S. airlines and airport security managers. President Bush was briefed on the hijack threat by CIA Director George Tenet. Officials said the information came from high-ranking al Qaeda prisoners and has been corroborated by other intelligence; the circular specifically cites "Islamic extremists" as the planners of the possible attacks. (Washington Post)
        See also Government Issues New Terror Warning (New York Times)
  • Bush Won't Declassify Saudi Section of Report
    President Bush turned down a request by the Saudi foreign minister to declassify a key portion of a congressional report on Sept. 11, citing national security. But Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN that "90, 95% of it would not compromise, in my judgment, anything in national security." (AP/Washington Post)
  • Israel Tells U.S. that Iran is Growing Threat
    Israeli officials told the Bush administration there was growing evidence that Iran was stepping up support for Palestinian militants following the war in Iraq. New Israeli intelligence suggests that Iran was offering $50,000 to the families of suicide bombers - double the amount paid by Saddam. "We also know specifically of Iranian involvement, through Hizballah and other groups, to undermine (Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas) and to encourage terrorism...and undermine the ceasefire," said one Israeli official. (Reuters/MSNBC)
  • Congress Cool to Abbas
    While PA Prime Minister Abbas received the red-carpet treatment from the White House last week, he received a much cooler reception on Capitol Hill. In congressional meetings, Abbas faced sharp questions from lawmakers about his ability to lead, his efforts to date to combat terrorism, and his criticisms of Israeli actions. Abbas met with congressional leaders on July 24, presenting them with a wish list of ways to strengthen his government. Sources say some lawmakers resented Abbas's ability to shift the focus away from Palestinian reform toward issues such as Israel's building of a security fence. (JTA)
  • Canadian Held in Lebanon for Collaborating with Israel
    Canadian missionary Bruce Balfour, 52, has been in jail in Lebanon since July 10 on charges of collaborating with an enemy state - Israel. Balfour was imprisoned when Beirut airport guards found computerized records of his trips to Israel. Balfour's sister said he has traveled extensively to the Middle East - including Israel and Lebanon - often for months at a time. Balfour went to Lebanon to help replant the fast-disappearing Cedar forests referred to extensively in the Bible. (Toronto Globe & Mail)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • From a "Wall" to a "Fence" - Yossi Verter and Nathan Guttman
    A senior source in Sharon's Washington entourage said Sharon told Bush if there is "peace and quiet" and the terrorist infrastructure is removed, the fence could be removed. Israeli sources saw it as a good sign that Bush used the term "fence" rather than "wall" for the security barrier against terrorists from the West Bank. "The Americans were never enthusiastic about the fence just as they were never enthusiastic about Jewish settlements," said the source, "but there can be disputes between friends." (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S.-Israeli Differences Over Fence Less Than Believed
    Reacting to Prime Minister Sharon's Tuesday White House talks with President Bush, Minister Ehud Olmert told Israel Radio Wednesday that the Israeli and American difference of opinion over the security fence turned out to be narrower than previously believed. (Ha'aretz)
        See also President Bush Discusses Middle East Peace with Prime Minister Sharon below.
  • Saudis Channel $12-14 Million to Hamas - Margot Dudkevitch
    Saudi Arabia continues to channel $12-14 million to Hamas annually, a senior security official said Tuesday. He said the funds are transferred through bank accounts, making it difficult to detect. The money is spent on purchasing weapons, military training courses, improving the manufacture of bombs, training new "engineers," and strengthening contacts between the different cells, the official said.
        The Palestinian security forces are doing nothing to combat terrorism, and release whoever they arrest, the official said. The security forces remain divided and this affects their capability, as some remain loyal to Arafat, some to Abbas, and others to Dahlan. "This is in direct violation of the understandings reached within the framework of the road map, as it clearly states that all the Palestinian security forces must be united and work as one," the official said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Most of Hamas's Funding Comes from Saudi Arabia - Felix Frisch
    The Saudi government has invited one thousand families of Palestinian "martyrs" to visit Mecca for the upcoming Feast of the Sacrifice. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Saudi Sunshine - Editorial
    Nobody seriously believes that the Saudi government knowingly supported the 9/11 attacks. Saudi Arabia's role is subtler. Saudi money has supported mosques and educational institutions that promote strict so-called "Wahhabi" interpretations of Islam. The line separating this religious movement, the officially sanctioned religion of the kingdom, from the more radical interpretations embraced by terrorists is sometimes fuzzy - and the relationship between Saudi-backed institutions and individuals tied to terrorism sometimes equally so. Moreover, Saudi law enforcement famously failed to cooperate with American investigators in some counterterrorism investigations, and there have long been allegations that al Qaeda has infiltrated Saudi security, intelligence, and other government agencies. The issue, in short, is whether Saudi Arabia's too-tolerant attitude toward Islamist extremism had the effect of aiding the 9/11 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi. (Washington Post)
  • A New "New Mideast" - Thomas Friedman
    President Bush has been right to stipulate to the new Palestinian leadership that there will be no Palestinian state unless it can deliver real security to Israel. But Mr. Bush also has to make clear to Israelis that no Palestinian Authority will be able to deliver that security unless the Palestinian people believe they're going to get a real state in return. Palestinians have to want to get rid of Hamas and Islamic Jihad as military groups for their own reasons. You cannot build a new state with parties who believe that it is O.K. to take the flower of Palestinian youth, wrap them in dynamite, and have them blow themselves up in Israeli pizza parlors. Nothing normal can come from that. When you see Palestinians ready to take on the extremists in their midst because they are a cancer on the Palestinians' own future, then you can legitimately start to speak again about a "new Middle East." (New York Times)
  • Hold Off on Sending New Aid - Barry Rubin
    Since 1994, the U.S. has either paid or organized other countries to contribute more than $3 billion to the PA, a hefty amount for a population of about 3 million people with no standing army, heavy industry, or national debt. To put it simply, the money has disappeared. There is no reason to believe that new U.S. aid will be better spent to promote peace or benefit the Palestinian people. It is highly likely that this money will go for the support of security forces, which, at worst, are indistinguishable from terrorists. Aid is often used to purchase weapons; heavy arms were found on three captured ships last year. Only when it is clear that the regime is really working to stop terrorists should such funds be given. Otherwise, there could be no greater irony than the U.S. using taxpayer money to fund terrorists in the middle of a global war against terrorism. (USA Today)
  • Observations:  

    President Bush Discusses Middle East Peace with Prime Minister Sharon
    (White House)

    At the White House Tuesday, President Bush said:

    • America is firmly committed to the security of Israel as a Jewish state.
    • I'm encouraged by the positive steps that Israel has taken to further the cause of peace, including prisoner releases. Prime Minister Sharon is now meeting regularly with Prime Minister Abbas, and that's positive. Israeli and Palestinian cabinet and security officials are meeting, as well. Israel has recently taken steps to make it easier for Palestinians to work in Israel, and to travel to their jobs and schools and families. And I thank the Prime Minister for these important actions.
    • The Palestinian Authority must undertake sustained, targeted, and effective operations to confront those engaged in terror, and to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. We're determined to help Prime Minister Abbas as he works to end terror, and establish the rule of law that will protect Israelis and Palestinians alike.
    • Today, I urge Arab states to follow through on the pledges made in Sharm el-Sheikh, to actively contribute to these efforts, and to reject the culture of extremism and violence from whatever source or place. The rise of a peaceful Palestinian state and the long-term security of the Israeli people both depend on defeating the threat of terrorist groups and ending incitement and hatred.
    • I would hope in the long-term a fence would be irrelevant....We'll continue to discuss and to dialogue how best to make sure that the fence sends the right signal that not only is security important, but the ability for the Palestinians to live a normal life is important, as well.
    • Those who want to destroy the peace process through terrorist activities must be dealt with....The way to make sure peace happens is for all of us together to dismantle terrorist organizations, to cut off money to terrorist organizations, to prevent the few from damaging the aspirations of the many.
    • I don't expect anybody to release somebody from prison who will go kill somebody. That doesn't make any release somebody who is going to get out of prison and start killing.
    Prime Minister Sharon said:
    • For the first time since World War II, the freedom and peace-seeking democratic world had the wisdom to go after murderers and evil rulers and bring them to justice. I have no doubt, Mr. President, that thanks to you, any villain in any corner of the world knows that the long arm of justice will reach them. So many will owe their lives to you and the great nation of America.
    • While relative quiet currently prevails in Israel, terror has not yet completely ceased....We are thankful for every hour of increased quiet and less terrorism, and for every drop of blood that is spared. At the same time, we are concerned that this welcome quiet will be shattered any minute as a result of the continued existence of terror organizations which the Palestinian Authority is doing nothing to eliminate or dismantle.
    • I wish to move forward with a political process with our Palestinian neighbors. And the right way to do that is only after a complete cessation of terror, violence, and incitement, full dismantlement of terror organizations, and completion of the reform process in the Palestinian Authority.
    • The security fence, which we are forced to construct in order to defend our citizens against terror activities...will continue to be built, with every effort to minimize the infringement on the daily life of the Palestinian population.

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