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 14, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Security Sources Question Ceasefire's Viability - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    After Tuesday's homicide bombings in Rosh Ha'ayin and Ariel, a senior security source said, "If the current trend continues, the hudna will merely have been a temporary interlude before the next round of violence....At the moment, the likelihood of another round seems high."
    The major reason for pessimism is the PA's obvious weakness. Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan are not able to "deliver the goods."
    If, in his stronghold in the Gaza Strip, Dahlan is unable to enforce his authority, then how much more so in the Samaria area, which has become extra-territorial as far as the PA is concerned.
    Dahlan has no foot-soldiers in the West Bank, sources say.
    The Rosh Ha'ayin bomber, it is suspected, belonged to a Fatah cell in Nablus' Balata refugee camp, funded by pro-Iranian elements in Lebanon.
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he "would not be surprised" if Arafat were behind the Rosh Ha'ayin attack.
    His aides have spoken of intelligence assessments according to which Arafat had prior knowledge of the attack and encouraged it with the hope of halting diplomatic moves.

    See also Shin Bet: Abbas "Selling Us Air" - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    The Shin Bet Wednesday predicted that Palestinians will launch another wave of terror as the cease-fire inevitably disintegrates into chaos.
    The assessment is that PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has succeeded in "selling us air" in return for concessions like the transfer of Bethlehem to PA control, release of prisoners, and other measures.
    Dahlan is having much trouble consolidating a power base in the West Bank and was encountering bitter infighting among the various Fatah "sheriffs" in cities like Ramallah, Nablus, and Hebron.

Iraqis "Ordered to Fire Chemical Shells" - David Rennie (Telegraph-UK)
    The CIA official leading the hunt for banned weapons in Iraq, David Kay, has told Washington he has evidence that Iraqi commanders were ordered to attack coalition troops with chemical weapons, senior intelligence and defense officials have said.
    Kay believes he has solid evidence, based on interviews and documents, that Republican Guard commanders were ordered to fire chemical shells at advancing troops.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • British Airways Suspends Flights to Saudi Arabia
    British Airways suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia Wednesday after receiving "credible intelligence" from Saudi officials of a "serious" threat by Islamic terrorists to down a BA Boeing 777 using a shoulder-held surface-to-air missile. (Scotsman-UK)
        See also Saudis Grapple with Homegrown Muslim Militants
    Saudi Arabia is locked in a high-stakes struggle with Islamist militants thriving on discontent with the royal family and its U.S. ally. Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, said the militants seemed to have been able to infiltrate the Saudi security forces, where they enjoyed some support. (Reuters)
  • Argentina Orders 8 Iranians Arrested for 1994 Bombing
    An Argentine judge on Wednesday ordered the arrest of eight Iranian officials implicated in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center that killed 85 people, court documents said. Federal Judge Juan Jose Galeano asked Interpol to arrest the eight - including Hadi Soleimanpour, Iran's ambassador to Argentina at the time, who may now be living in Britain. (Base Financiera-Spain)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Israel to Ease Daily Palestinian Life, Continue Pinpoint Actions - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    In response to American demands that Israel move forward with confidence-building measures, Israel will open up traffic routes and ease day-to-day conditions for the Palestinians, steps that were agreed upon Wednesday by Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz. However, Israel will not hand over security control in other West Bank towns to the PA until it becomes clear the PA is acting against the terrorist infrastructure in towns already under its jurisdiction. Sharon has made it clear to the Americans that Israel will not move ahead with the road map as long as the PA does not fulfill its obligations and fails to disband the terrorist organizations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Poll: Israelis Want Fence to Include Ariel
    According to a poll of adult Israelis conducted for Israel Radio on August 12-13, 63% of respondents said the security fence should include Ariel. Some 70% believe the cease-fire with the Palestinians won't last as long as originally planned. (IMRA)
  • PA Won't Disarm Terror Groups - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority has no intention of arresting members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad or confiscating their weapons in the aftermath of Tuesday's suicide bombings, PA officials told leaders of the terrorist groups over the past 48 hours. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Security Forces Attack Gaza Mosque in Search for Jihad Men - Matthew Gutman
    A fire-fight erupted Wednesday after masked officers from the PA Preventive Security Service in Gaza stormed a mosque in the Beach Camp refugee camp in Gaza City in search of Islamic Jihad militants. Three were injured including one of the wanted men, a 90-year-old man, and a boy. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Burns: Suicide Bombings Undermine Road Map
    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns said Wednesday, after meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, that "it is especially important to ensure there is only one authority and that law and order is maintained by that authority, and that those who would engage in acts of terror and violence are stopped." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hizballahland - Gal Luft
    When Israel pulled out of its security zone in southern Lebanon three years ago, it was widely predicted that the radical Shiite group Hizballah would close up military operations and henceforth focus solely on Lebanese domestic affairs. The exact opposite occurred: promptly declaring that its next objective was the liberation of the entire land of Palestine and the destruction of the "Zionist entity," Hizballah seized control of a 350-square-mile area - nearly 15% of Lebanon - turning it into a de-facto state within a state. In Hizballahland, the group has amassed 10,000 rockets and missiles capable of hitting a quarter of Israelís population, and has continued to launch numerous armed attacks across the border. (Commentary)
  • Right of Return Revisited - Max Abrahms
    Ramallah-based political scientist Khalil Shikaki announced last month that, based on his polling data, Israel could open up its borders without worrying that unfettered Palestinian immigration will overrun the Jewish state. Unfortunately, a closer look at Shikaki's polling data shows just the opposite: Palestinians in the disputed territories, Jordan, and Lebanon remain fiercely committed to relocating to Israel. In fact, Shikaki's poll says little to suggest that the Palestinian public has moderated its position on the "right of return." (National Review)
  • The Shaken House of Saud - Editorial
    Britain and America would be wise to prepare for the possibility of regime change in Saudi Arabia. There is a real danger that the royal family's traditionally pro-Western stance may obscure the hollowing-out of the Saudi regime by Islamist elements. A hollowed-out Saudi Arabia could become the vehicle for Osama bin Laden's dream to restore the Caliphate, claiming jurisdiction over Muslims from Bethlehem to Bali. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Tunnel Vision - Jonathan Schanzer
    For a decade now, the arsenals of Palestinian terror groups have been armed and replenished by way of short smuggling tunnels that stretch across Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip. It is this Palestinian-made labyrinth, more than the Israeli-made fence, that poses a long-term threat to Middle East peace. Thousands of weapons and much ammunition have passed through, including heavy machine guns, armor piercing weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and possibly even SAM-7 antiaircraft missiles. Raw materials necessary to build rockets are often smuggled in, as are high explosives for suicide bombings. According to Israeli sources, there are always three or four tunnels operational at any one time. When soldiers work to locate and destroy the tunnels, they often come under sniper fire. According to Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz, the Egyptians "aren't making a 100% effort to prevent the smuggling of weapons through the tunnels." (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    Powell to Arab World: End the Terror (State Department)

        In an interview with Egypt's Nile Television Tuesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said:

    • Nothing is more important than cracking down on those who would use terror to kill innocent people in some hope that this will improve the lives of the Palestinian people or make it possible to move toward that Palestinian state that we are working for. It will not. It will stop moving us in that direction.
    • Q: But Hamas and Islamic Jihad are saying that we are just retaliating against the Israel raids.
      Powell: These are excuses....Hamas has said they are entering a temporary ceasefire....That's allowed the violence to go down a little bit. It's not enough....It is time to end the use of terror as a way of achieving a political objective. It's part of the solution for the Middle East. It's also part of the global campaign against terrorism.
    • Hamas says that they...are prepared to kill innocent people through suicide bombings and through other means as a way of achieving what they say their goal is - a Palestinian state. But is that really what their goal is, or is their goal to destroy Israel? Israel is not going to be destroyed. Israel will be there. Israel is a nation that is an ally of the U.S. and can be a friend of other nations in the region.
    • Syria and Lebanon have always been part of the President's vision....We know that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others are plotting these kinds of actions in Damascus. Maybe they're doing it a little more quietly than they used to, and maybe they're not in the same office building they used to be, but they are still there and they are damaging the prospects for peace....If Syria wants a comprehensive peace, then Syria should begin helping us by evicting this kind of individual, these sorts of organizations, from Damascus.
    • You pose the question, "What are we going to do?" I pose it back to you. What is the Arab world going to do to end the terror, end the violence, and create conditions that will allow us to proceed on the roadmap?

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