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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August 4, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Shin Bet: 1 in 8 Released Prisoners Returns to Terror (IMRA)
� � Israel Radio reported Monday that Israel Security Services (Shin Bet) director Avi Dichter told the ministerial committee on Palestinian prisoners Sunday that he objects to broadening the criteria for prisoner releases, noting that the prisoner releases do not help PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen fight terror.
� � Dichter warned the committee that the PA isn't doing anything to fight terror in any case.
� � Dichter also reported that one of eight Palestinians released in the past carried out terror activity after they were released.

U.S. Weighs Response to a Nuclear Iran - Douglas Frantz (Los Angeles Times)
� � Iran appears to be in the late stages of developing the capacity to build a nuclear bomb.
� � A three-month investigation by the Los Angeles Times - drawing on previously secret reports, international officials, independent experts, Iranian exiles, and intelligence sources in Europe and the Middle East - uncovered strong evidence that Iran's commercial nuclear program masks a plan to become the world's next nuclear power.
� � The country has been engaged in a pattern of clandestine activity that has concealed weapons work from international inspectors.
� � Iran would be the first avowed enemy of Israel to possess a nuclear bomb and the first nuclear-armed country labeled by the U.S. as a state sponsor of international terrorism.
� � Foreign intelligence officers said the CIA, which has long contended that Iran is building a bomb, has briefed them on a contingency plan for U.S. air and missile attacks against Iranian nuclear installations.

Evidence of WMD Plotting Found in Iraq By David Rennie and George Jones (Telegraph-UK)
� � The U.S. has found evidence of an active program to make weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, including "truly amazing" testimony from Iraqis ordered to dupe UN inspectors before the war, says David Kay, a former UN inspector. Kay is now the CIA's leading consultant and joint head of the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) hunting for weapons of mass destruction.
� � Kay told private Senate hearings in Washington that his 1,400-strong team of American, British, and Australian experts has uncovered documents detailing how to conceal arms plants as commercial facilities, and for restarting weapons production once the coast was clear.

PA TV: Israel is Destroying the Aksa Mosque - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
� � In a sermon broadcast live on Palestine TV's satellite station Friday, the Palestinian preacher told Muslim worshipers in Gaza City that the Israelis have begun "destroying the Aksa Mosque," and urged them to move quickly to save the holy sites in Jerusalem.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Eases Demand for Palestinians to Curb Militants
    The Bush administration has backed away from demands that the PA dismantle militant groups immediately, concerned that the authority's security forces are too weak at this point to carry out a speedy crackdown, administration officials said Friday. "We've emphatically stated in public and private what needs to be done," a senior American official said. "It is clear that it cannot be done instantly. It requires planning, a strengthening of security forces, and a unification of those forces under Abbas and Dahlan."
    � � To create what the official called "political space" for Mr. Abbas to build up his popularity and strengthen his command of his forces, American officials say the U.S. must quietly continue to urge Israel to improve Palestinian conditions and meet other Palestinian requests. To this end, American and Israeli officials named two task forces after the meeting on Tuesday between Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon. The first task force is to deal with the barrier being built by Israel in the West Bank. The second task force was on the future of Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Israel defines a "freeze" on "settlement activity" as a pledge to refrain from constructing housing except within the boundaries of existing settlements. (New York Times)
  • Report on 9/11 Suggests a Role by Saudi Spies
    The classified part of a congressional report on the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, says that two Saudi citizens who had at least indirect links with two hijackers were probably Saudi intelligence agents and may have reported to Saudi government officials. (New York Times)
    � � See also Sources: Saudi Government Provided Aid to 9/11 Hijackers
    The classified section describes "very direct, very specific links" between Saudi officials, two of the San Diego-based hijackers, and other potential co-conspirators "that cannot be passed off as rogue, isolated or coincidental," one U.S. official said who has read the section. Said another official: "It's really damning. What it says is that not only Saudi entities or nationals are implicated in 9/11, but the [Saudi] government" as well. (Los Angeles Times)
    � � See also Saudis Slam Israel Role in 9/11 Congressional Report
    Saudi newspapers on Saturday blasted Israel's role in the U.S. congressional report that raised questions about the kingdom's responsibilities in the September 11, 2001 attacks. "There is no doubt that the fingers of the Jews and Israel in particular are behind these campaigns," Al-Nadwa said. Al-Yawm expressed its astonishment that the U.S. Congress "listened to the lies of Israel's former representative at the Security Council." (Al Bawaba-Jordan)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Mother, 3 Children Wounded in Shooting Near PA-Controlled Bethlehem - Amos Harel and Ran Reznick
    In a shooting attack south of Jerusalem Sunday, an Israeli woman, Tzila Hevan, sustained serious chest wounds and her three children were also wounded. The Fatah-related Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade claimed credit for the attack.
    � � Israel will not transfer control of any more West Bank cities to the Palestinians until the PA takes steps against militant groups which have not accepted the cease-fire, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Terrorists to Remain in Arafat's Ramallah HQ - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Arafat on Sunday backtracked from his earlier decision to evict 17 wanted Palestinians from his compound in Ramallah, following threats from Fatah's armed wing, Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, to resume terrorist attacks against Israel. On Saturday night, members of the group in Ramallah, Tulkarm, and Jenin opened fire at IDF positions and vehicles. The 17 Fatah fugitives had moved into the compound in order to avoid capture by Israeli security forces and some have lived there for months. (Jerusalem Post)
  • State Department Seeks Financial Sanctions Against Israel Over Security Fence - Ze'ev Schiff
    The U.S. State Department has prepared a proposal that calls for cuts in loan guarantees to Israel matching its outlays for the construction of the security fence east of the "green line." The proposal also calls for cuts in the loan guarantees matching the sums spent by Israel on bypass roads in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Bows to U.S. Pressure, Planning Change in Fence Route - Amir Rappaport
    Responding to American pressure, the IDF is planning a new route for the fence closer to the "green line," which will not encompass the city of Ariel and the towns of Shevei Shomron and Kedumim as previously planned. According to State Department sources, Israel agreed to delay construction of the fence in problematic areas. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Hudna Intoxication - Amos Harel
    The IDF found plans were afoot to smuggle a large shipment of arms from Egypt to Gaza, via the Rafah tunnels. The information was relayed to the PA and members of their security service were sent to the neighborhood where Fatah members were waiting for the shipment, but they were quickly sent packing by members of the local clan. In the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas declares a "closed military zone" every time it tries to fire a rocket, preventing PA forces from entering the area.
    � � Israel sends periodic warnings to the PA, saying that if they don't manage to clamp down on terror, and fast, Israel will halt the diplomatic process and may even weigh an aggressive response against the PA. But the truth, as sources in the General Staff admit, is that "the quiet is intoxicating and misleading." As long as there is quiet, therefore, and no local incidents get out of control, it is in no one's interest for the hudna to be broken. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hizballah Shrapnel Falls on Nursery in North - Yosi Mizrachi and Hagai Einav
    A tragedy was averted Monday morning as shrapnel from Hizballah anti-aircraft guns fell on a nursery and kindergarten in the northern Israeli towns of Shlomi and Even Menachem. Children at the kindergarten had been playing outside just moments earlier. One man was wounded moderately as a result of the shooting. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Good Fences, Safe Neighbors - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    Israelis are right to believe that left with their arms the terrorists will sooner or later use them to kill innocent Israeli citizens and will use the temporary cease-fire to regroup, rearm, and re-enlist new suicide bombers. The Israelis have bent to American pressure and accepted the temporary cease-fire, but only as a prelude to a showdown between Abu Mazen and the terrorists. If the Bush administration lulls itself into accepting the current calm as the equivalent of confronting terrorism, it will reap the whirlwind of an even bloodier scene when the terrorists have recovered their strength. The Bush administration is misreading the situation in treating Abu Mazen as if he were a victim of Arafat instead of Arafat's longtime colleague and supporter. Arafat's henchman Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian legislator, said Abu Mazen is aiming to get Hamas and Islamic Jihad to agree to wait until the Palestinian state is declared before attacking Israeli targets.
    � � The security fence is no more than a response by the Israelis to a thousand days of terrorism with over 800 civilians killed - the vast majority women and children. The Israeli fence will separate two warring people in order to protect citizens of Israel from being murdered and maimed by Palestinian terrorists. This fence will not be built exclusively along the 1967 borders. Every Israeli prime minister, from Yitzhak Rabin on, and every military and national security official have agreed that Israel can never go back to the June 4, 1967, borders, which did not meet the standard of either secure or defensible borders - as called for in UN Resolutions 242 and 338. The Palestinians have forfeited the right to object since the fence is no more than the minimum penalty for their unwillingness to live in peace with their neighbor. (US News)
  • A "Road Map" to Nowhere - Jeff Jacoby
    In an interview last week with Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas said he was ''waiting to see'' if Sharon would deliver on his commitments to "all the items stipulated in the road map - freeing the prisoners.'' ''But the issue of prisoners is not in the road map,'' Weymouth said. ''It is in the road map,'' insisted Abbas. In fact, it isn't in the road map. There is nothing at all in the blueprint that requires or even encourages Israel to release Palestinians arrested for terrorist activities. It is likely that Abbas knew it perfectly well - but figured most readers wouldn't.
    � � So far the Palestinians have fulfilled none of the mandatory commitments of the road map. The anti-Israel incitement continues. Terrorism has not stopped. As for the dismantling of terrorist groups, Abbas says bluntly that it will never happen. It is the Oslo farce all over again: Israel weakens itself through concessions on the ground. The Palestinians pocket the concessions, then break their promise of peace. However well meant, this is a road map to nowhere. It will not lead to genuine peace, not so long as the Palestinians are ruled by the likes of Arafat and Abbas. Terrorism made them what they are; it is the taproot of their power and influence. From such men, peace will never come. (Boston Globe)
  • Observations: �

    "The Fence is Not a Political Border" - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
    Interviewed by Lally Weymouth (Washington Post/Newsweek)

    • There is still terror, but it is quieter and there is less incitement than before. They have to dismantle terrorist organizations and punish them and collect weapons, which should be handed to a third party - only the U.S. can take them out of the Palestinian Authority areas and destroy them. As for the most important thing - steps against the terrorist organizations - we don't see any.
    • The [Palestinians] have to implement the reforms and remove Yasser Arafat from a position of influence in the security and financial fields.
    • As for the fence, the only two places where we have a wall is to protect the Israeli civilian population on the main Israeli highway that connects the southern part with the north. [There] Palestinians shoot at the traffic....The fence is not a political border. It is important to prevent terrorists or suicide bombers from entering central Israel and committing their crimes there. I am not very fond of this fence and would not have built it if I had not seen this nonstop effort to enter the center of the country and act there.
    • We do not see the cease-fire as a solution to the problem....It gives the terrorist organizations time to manufacture hundreds of Kassam rockets with longer ranges, to equip themselves, to smuggle weapons, and to reorganize. That cannot be accepted as a solution to the problem. Because then we are hostages in the hands of terrorist organizations that can break the agreement every day. The agreement is between the PA and the terrorist organizations - not with us.
    • Q: What is needed to bring about peace?
      Sharon: First, it needs Arab recognition that it is the birthright of the Jewish people to have a Jewish state in the homeland of the Jewish people. That we have not achieved yet. That might be regarded as the end of the conflict....[And] it needs strong and serious [Israeli] leadership that can make painful compromises on areas which are the cradle of the Jewish people. That's what I will try to do.

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