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 18, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Israeli Planes Fly Over Syrian Leader's House (Reuters/MSNBC)
    Israeli planes flew at low altitudes this week over the holiday residence of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the northern Syrian city of Latakia, as a message to Syria to rein in Hizballah, Israeli television said on Friday.
    Israeli planes also broke the sound barrier over Beirut earlier this week in retaliation for Hizballah shelling that killed an Israeli teenager last Sunday.
    See also Israeli Air Force Makes Simulated Bombing Run on Assad's Palace in Damascus - Amir Rappaport and Yosi Mizrachi (Maariv-Hebrew)
    Twice since its withdrawal from Lebanon, Israel has responded to Hizballah attacks by striking Syrian radar stations in Lebanon.
    This time a simulated attack was decided upon. Israeli F-16s penetrated all Syrian air defenses, reached Damascus without difficulty, and returned to Israel.

Israel 2nd, U.S. 4th in World Terrorism Index (AP/Washington Post)
    The London-based World Markets Research Center ranked Colombia, Israel, Pakistan, the U.S., and the Philippines, in descending order, as the five countries most likely to be targeted in a terrorist attack in the next year, said Guy Dunn, author of the company's World Terrorism Index.
    "Another Sept. 11-style terrorist attack in the U.S. is highly likely," the report states.

IDF Intelligence: Arafat Funding Terror (Jerusalem Post)
    IDF Head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash told the cabinet Sunday that Arafat is responsible for the recent terror attacks against Israelis and is funding Palestinian terror activity.

Restoring the Iraq-Haifa Pipeline - Jessica Steinberg (Jerusalem Post)
    The long-forgotten Haifa pipeline that once transported oil from Iraq to British Mandatory Palestine could be reopened to ship oil to Israel if a new government in Baghdad is pro-Western, according to local experts.
    "Once that pipeline is in place, it could save $3 to $4 a barrel in transportation costs," says Amit Mor, an energy consultant.
    At present, about 90% of Israel's oil is imported from the former Soviet Union via the Black Sea. The other 10% comes from Egypt, West Africa, and Mexico.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Saboteurs Hit Iraqi Facilities
    Saboteurs blew up another section of a major Iraqi oil pipeline to Turkey Monday, the second time the route had been hit in three days, abruptly halting crude oil exports that had begun last week. The disruption costs Iraq $7 million a day in revenue, officials say. In Baghdad, an explosive device tore a hole in an exposed water main, depriving 300,000 homes of running water. Reports of ambushes on U.S. soldiers continued apace throughout central Iraq. (Washington Post)
  • Senior Saudi Clerics Condemn Terrorists
    Saudi Arabia's highest religious body has condemned violence by Islamic militants and deemed helping terrorists "one of the greatest sins.'' The statement from the Council of Senior Clerics came a day after Saudi authorities arrested at least 11 suspected militants and seized a large weapons cache in the southern Jazan province. The government has cracked down heavily on Islamic militants since the May 12 suicide bombings in Riyadh that killed 26 people. The bombings also touched off a public debate over whether the strict form of Islam preached in the kingdom fostered intolerance and extremism. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • Jailed Britons Reject Saudi "£1M Hush Money Offer"
    British prisoners who were repeatedly tortured in Saudi Arabia launched legal action Saturday against the Middle East kingdom, defying last-minute attempts to buy their silence. Prominent Saudi dissidents said Saudi authorities have assembled a huge "bribe" - possibly as much as £1m each - to silence the men and prevent a multi-million-pound lawsuit. Fears are growing for the wife of one of the former prisoners, who remains stranded in Riyadh. Saudi intelligence services have yet to hand back the passport of Sharon Ballard, a nurse. (Observer/Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Where to Put the Fence? - Aluf Benn
    Shin Bet security service director Avi Dichter told a meeting of top security officials earlier this month that the section of the security fence beyond Ariel, leading up to Jerusalem, involves an area of greater security importance since it can be used as a base for attacks on Ben-Gurion International Airport. The construction of the fence in areas of crucial security importance must be the top priority, he said. While Prime Minister Sharon is predisposed to heeding American concerns about Ariel, Defense Minister Mofaz is insistent that the fence include Ariel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Sen. McCain Backs Security Fence - Janine Zacharia (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Terrorists Wound Israeli Girl in West Bank Shooting Attack - Amos Harel
    A 17-year-old Israeli girl was shot in the leg when Palestinians fired at the car she was traveling in Monday near Yitzhar, south of Nablus. This is the second shooting in the area this month. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Reports Sharp Rise in Terror Incidents - Amos Harel
    The IDF is concerned by the sharp rise in terror-related incidents in the Gaza Strip over the past few days, and by indications that activists from Islamic organizations in the West Bank have resumed planning attacks for the near future. The number of terror incidents in the Gaza Strip has increased by 6-7 per day from one or two last week. They included sniper fire on IDF positions in Gush Katif and firing anti-tank rockets on IDF positions and vehicles in southern Gush Katif and the Rafah area.
        Islamic Jihad made three attempts over the weekend to fire Al Quds rockets (the Jihad's equivalent of the Hamas Kassam) from the northern Gaza Strip toward Sderot. Some of the rockets exploded on takeoff and others fell inside Palestinian territory. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel, PA Discuss Handover of Two West Bank Cities - Amos Harel, Jonathan Lis, and Baruch Kra
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and PA Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan have agreed on handing over security control of Jericho and Kalkilya to the Palestinians. However, Israel and the PA have failed to agree on the supervision of wanted Palestinians in the cities that will be transferred to PA control. Israel is demanding a personal commitment from Dahlan that the wanted men will not revert back to terrorist activities. Negotiations will resume on Tuesday. Under the deal between Mofaz and Dahlan, two more cities, Ramallah and Tulkarm, are scheduled to be handed over to the Palestinians within ten days after the Palestinians present a plan for preventing terror attacks and supervising wanted militants in the cities.
        During Sunday's cabinet meeting, Mofaz said the transfer will be gradual, depending on the PA's success in preventing terror attacks, controlling wanted militants, and curbing the use of tunnels in Gaza for smuggling weapons. Palestinian police were deployed in Kalkilya on Sunday, ahead of the expected transfer of security control. According to Palestinian West Bank Police Chief Allah Husseini, the main task for the police in Kalkilya is to prevent militants from infiltrating into Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • There is No Right of Return - Editorial
    PA External Affairs Minister Nabil Sha'ath on Friday in Beirut related to the return of refugees as a practical solution - and even as a precondition - to a final status agreement, speaking of the right of return to "Palestinian cities in the Jewish state." The statements by Sha'ath sparked vehement rebuttals including from opposition chairman Shimon Peres and Meretz Knesset members Yossi Sarid and Ran Cohen. They emphasized that they would adamantly oppose a peace agreement that includes a Palestinian right of return to Israel, since such a right poses a threat to the state's identity and to the solution of two states for two peoples. The Palestinian leadership would be well advised to take very seriously the united front in Israel that opposes a right of return.
        Virtually all Palestinian leaders have poorly served their own people by cultivating among refugees the illusion of a right of return to Israel, rather than courageously encouraging them to recognize that the establishment of a Palestinian state entails the relinquishing of hopes of returning to Israeli territory. With his irresponsible remarks, Sha'ath throws dust in Palestinians' eyes, and sullies prospects of forging an agreement, even with those in Israel who believe in compromise. (Ha'aretz)
        See also PA: Palestinian Right of Return Guaranteed by Roadmap (Palestine Media Center/IMRA)
  • Saudi Arabia's Teachers of Terror - Senators Jon Kyl and Charles Schumer
    The House of Saud has for decades played a double game with the U.S., on the one hand acting as our ally, on the other supporting a movement - Wahhabism - that seeks our society's destruction. Wahhabism is an extremist, exclusionary form of Islam that not only denigrates other faiths but also marginalizes peaceful followers of Islam. Wahhabism uses mosques and schools to indoctrinate mostly young people with a hatred of Jews, Christians, and traditional Muslims who reject this radicalism. Its goals are world domination and the destruction of its enemies. All 19 of the Sept. 11 hijackers were followers of Wahhabism. The Saudi government has conferred dangerous legitimacy on the Wahhabi sect. As scholar Bernard Lewis noted: "Without oil and the creation of the Saudi kingdom, Wahhabism would have remained a lunatic fringe." It is time for the U.S./Saudi relationship to be based on a mutual commitment to eradicate terrorism that must include effective efforts by the Saudi government to stop Wahhabi support of terrorism. (Washington Post)
  • Telling the Truth in Iraq - Thomas Friedman
    Many Iraqis today express real resentment for the other Arab regimes, and even toward the Palestinians, for how they let themselves be bought off by Saddam. They feel that Saddam used the Iraqi people's oil wealth to buy popularity for himself in the Arab street - by giving Palestinians and other Arab students scholarships and nice apartments in Baghdad, and by paying off all sorts of Arab nationalist writers and newspapers. These same Arab intellectuals and media gave Saddam a free pass to torture, repress, and starve his own people. "Arabism," in the minds of many Iraqis, is the cloak that Saddam hid behind to imprison them for 35 years, and now that they can say that out loud, they are saying it. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz's Survey at the Sunday Government Meeting (Cabinet Secretary)

    Defense Minister Mofaz emphasized during his survey of recent developments the fragility of the peace process with the Palestinians, which was well demonstrated by last week's attacks in Rosh Ha-Ayin and in Ariel. He emphasized the factors behind this escalation as follows:

    • The terrorist groups that took upon themselves the "hudna" (Arabic term for temporary truce) have formulated dangerous rules of the game, according to which anything that they view as an Israeli violation of the truce will face a one-shot retaliatory terrorist response.
    • The Tanzim (Fatah militia) groups that do not see themselves as being obligated by the "hudna" are incessantly trying to initiate attacks against Israel - in most cases, unsuccessfully.
    • Arafat is signaling messages that are being interpreted by his entourage and by the Tanzim as undercover support for terrorism.
    • Iran, Hizballah, and others are also feeding their own support for terrorism into the situation.
    Mofaz added that recent Israeli operations against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Nablus and Hebron, cities that were not under Palestinian security responsibility, were undertaken against "ticking bombs" (individuals about to conduct a terrorist attack).
        The decision to turn over additional cities (initially, Jericho and Kalkilya, and later Ramallah and Tulkarm) to the PA did not involve an Israeli concession, but rather was intended to obtain Palestinian responsibility for dealing with the infrastructure of terrorism in those cities.

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