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 25, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Says Militants Slip into Iraq via Saudi Arabia (Reuters/MSNBC)
    Some of the people attacking U.S. forces in Iraq are slipping across the border from Saudi Arabia, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in an interview on Friday.
    ''The borders are quite porous, as you'd imagine, and the fact that we've captured a certain number of foreign fighters in Baghdad and around Iraq indicates that the ways that these people are getting into the country is from Iran and from Syria and from Saudi Arabia,'' Armitage said.
    ''These fighters are not being stopped at the borders, and this is something that causes us a great deal of concern,'' he added.

    See also Saudi Charities Fund Fighters in Iraq - Greg Sheridan (The Australian)
    U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in an interview that some money from Saudi private charities had gone towards funding militants in Iraq.

    See also Under Fire in Iraq, Team Bush Ponders Its Options - Evan Thomas (Newsweek)
    Are Iraq's neighbors allowing jihadis to cross the border and join the fight?
    Rumsfeld fingered Syria last week.
    But some intelligence officials suspect that most of the jihadi recruits are coming from America's oil-rich ally, Saudi Arabia.
    Some 3,000 Saudi men have been reported to have gone missing in recent weeks.

Israel Hunting for Suicide Bomb "Sleepers" - Uzi Mahnaimi (London Times)
    Special units of Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, are being deployed to track down a group of Palestinian suicide bomb "sleepers" who are feared to have gone under cover during the tenuous ceasefire of the past two months and are poised to strike in several cities.
     Shin Bet officials said last week that up to a dozen bombers from the West Bank are living in villages with links to the militant organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
    "Some have explosives, some don't. They are very difficult to locate and they will not be used all at once," said one agent.
    The Shin Bet is currently focusing on locations in the Galilee and a collection of Arab villages northeast of Tel Aviv known as "the little triangle."

PA in Uproar at Arafat Bid to Sideline Dahlan - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Fatah Central Council and the PLO Executive Committee - the Palestinians' two key decision-making bodies - met in Ramallah on Sunday to discuss Arafat's proposal to appoint Nasser Yousef as interior minister - a proposal seen by many as an attempt to sideline Security Minister Mohammed Dahlan.
    Dahlan is in charge of only three of the dozen or so PA security organizations, and in recent weeks has made several attempts to expand his jurisdiction.
    "Dahlan thinks he can bypass everyone in Fatah and the PLO. He apparently forgot that he works for the Palestinian Authority, not Washington," said a Fatah official.
    Palestinian security officials played down the significance of raids in Rafah on Saturday night against Palestinian smugglers.
    Palestinian political analyst Hani Habib said the main purpose of the raids was to appease Israel.

    See also Arafat Appoints Rajoub National Security Chief - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)

Pledging a Trip to Israel - Stewart Ain (New York Jewish Week)
    Israel's Ministry of Tourism is asking synagogues across the country to put pledge cards on every seat during High Holy Day services next month so that congregants can commit themselves to visiting Israel sometime in the next year.
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is a partner in the "Project Go Israel" initiative.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush Orders Freeze of Assets of Hamas Charities
    President Bush ordered the Treasury Department Friday to freeze the assets of six top leaders of the militant Palestinian group Hamas and five charities based outside the U.S. that administration officials said help finance Hamas. It is the first time that the U.S. has tried to shut down the political wing that provides social services and relief assistance. Hamas has close ties to Arab leaders throughout the Middle East, and many of its biggest financial supporters come from the wealthy elite of Saudi Arabia. (New York Times)
        See also Bush Puts Pressure on Hamas
    "We're starting to make it more personal," said a senior State Department official, "making clear we don't differentiate between parts of the organization." Former ambassador to Israel Edward S. Walker, Jr., now president of the Middle East Institute, said the move constitutes a show of support for Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, because a move that weakens Hamas strengthens Abbas.
        The six leaders were identified by the Treasury Department as Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas in Gaza; Imad Khalil Al-Alami, a member of the Hamas Political Bureau in Damascus; Usama Hamdan, a senior Hamas leader in Lebanon; Khalid Mishaal, head of the Hamas Political Bureau in Damascus; Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy chief of the Political Bureau in Syria; and Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas leader in Gaza. (Washington Post)
        See also Hamas Calls Bush "Islam's Biggest Enemy"
    Speaking to Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi called the U.S. action "a theft of Muslim money by the Americans." "President Bush has become Islam's biggest enemy," Rantisi said in the interview. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Five Groups Cited by U.S. for Supporting Hamas (New York Times)
  • Palestinians Launch Deepest Rocket Attack on Israel
    Palestinian militants carried out their deepest rocket strike against Israel Sunday. A Qassam-2 rocket produced by Hamas landed on the beach just south of the coastal Israeli resort city of Ashkelon. (Reuters)
  • New York Unites Against Terror
    Speaking Thursday at a memorial at the Isaiah Wall near the UN for people killed in the Middle East, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he intends to spend Tuesday in Israel, walking the neighborhoods and riding the buses to show support for the Israeli people in the wake of last week's bus bombing in Jerusalem. Flanked by members of the Jewish and diplomatic communities, Bloomberg said, "Wherever terror strikes, in the Middle East or in lower Manhattan, it represents an assault on free people everywhere." Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the UN, called for the removal of Syria as chair of the Security Council. Several children helped light candles in memory of the six youngsters who died in the bus bombing. (Newsday)
  • Bush Appoints Daniel Pipes to U.S. Institute of Peace
    President Bush sidestepped congressional opposition Friday and appointed Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes to the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace. Muslim organizations have campaigned vigorously against Pipes' nomination to the federally funded foreign policy think tank. Harvard-trained Pipes, 53, heads the Middle East Forum, an independent think tank in Philadelphia. By making the appointment while Congress is in recess, Bush avoided a confirmation vote. (Washington Post)
        See also Pipes Doesn't Pander
    Pipes' appointment over serious opposition from interest groups that claim to represent Muslims, and in the face of his refusal to moderate his message, speaks volumes about just how little pandering the administration is planning on in the near future. (Weekly Standard)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • IAF Kills 4 Hamas Terrorists in Gaza - Amos Harel, Jonathan Lis, Arnon Regular, and Yair Ettinger
    Four Hamas terrorists were killed in an Israel Air Force missile strike on a car in Gaza City Sunday. They included a senior member of the organization - Ahmed Aishtawi, two would-be suicide bombers, and a forth militant - all members of the group's military wing, Iz a Din al-Kassam, according to security sources. Security sources said the strike was carried out in order to thwart a double suicide bombing planned by Hamas in the near future. Aishtawi, 24, coordinated Hamas activities between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and was on top of the IDF's most wanted list. He is credited with transferring funds to Hamas terror cells in the West Bank, and planning many terror attacks against Israeli citizens, Israel Radio reported. A Hamas spokesperson said Aishtawi was the head of a cell that fired home-made missiles, and specialized in attacks on IDF tanks. The attack took place 100 meters from the Gaza City office of Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz: PA Taking No Real Steps to Dismantle Terror Infrastructure - Amos Harel, Jonathan Lis, Arnon Regular, and Yair Ettinger
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday that the Palestinians were not taking any real steps to dismantle the terror infrastructure, and that the actions they are taking are for appearance's sake only, to alleviate American pressure on the PA. IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said Sunday that senior Hamas officials in Syria and the Gaza Strip were responsible for the suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem last week, in which 21 people were killed. According to Ya'alon, "All Hamas militants are potential targets, and from our perspective all members of the organization are part of the radical core." Ya'alon noted that the radical terror core lies in the Gaza Strip. "If we see that the PA does not deal with this core, we will be forced to do so," he said. The PA uncovered and sealed off four tunnels used to smuggle weapons and drugs from Egypt into the Gaza Strip on Saturday and Sunday. Israel Television quoted a senior government source as saying that the action taken by the PA was "too little, too late." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: No More "Hudnas"
    Israel will not agree to any more "hudna"-type security arrangements with the Palestinians and will stick to its demand that the PA dismantle the terror organizations, a senior official said Saturday. The official said that dismantling Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other extremist groups will become the starting point for any future security arrangement with the PA, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Tells Israel: Boycott of Arafat Continues - Aluf Benn
    The American administration has assured Israel that it has not changed its policy toward Arafat. On Thursday, Secretary of State Powell said to reporters: "I call on Chairman Arafat to work with Prime Minister Abbas." (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Weighs Iraq-Israel Oil Pipeline - Amiram Cohen
    A senior Pentagon official has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa and asked for a cost estimate for repairing the Mosul-Haifa pipeline that was in use prior to 1948.
        Iraqi oil is now being transported via Turkey to the Mediterranean and the transit fee collected by Turkey is an important source of revenue for the country. Turkey has warned Israel that it would regard this development as a serious blow to Turkish-Israeli relations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Bridges, Bombs, or Bluster? - Madeleine K. Albright
    The Bush administration deserves credit for pushing for reform of Palestinian institutions. The creation of political freedom is essential to allow the emergence of a new generation of Palestinian leaders, comfortable with democratic ways. At the same time, democracy - if it does come - is unlikely to produce a Palestinian government willing to make peace on terms Israelis will accept, or at least not for many years. The Pew survey found that 80 percent of Palestinians do not believe they can realize their rights while coexisting with an Israeli state. The Palestinians must reject terror - not because the U.S. or other outsiders want them to, but because terror, far more than Israel, is the enemy of the Palestinian people. It is destructive not only of the Palestinian economy and Palestinian territorial hopes, but of the people's very soul. As long as murderers are hailed as martyrs, there can be no real peace, nor any Palestinian state worthy of the name. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Recognize Israel's Right to Exist - Ambassador Daniel Ayalon
    The Palestinian demand to return the refugees to Israel is without legal or moral basis. The Palestinian refugee problem resulted from an Arab-Palestinian war of aggression launched against the newborn Jewish state. The Arab leadership refused to accept the UN partition and refused to accept Israel. Israel's War of Independence in 1948 created the ensuing flow of refugees. Surely the Arab leadership has primary moral responsibility for these individuals. In a deliberate perpetuation of this tragedy, UN General Assembly Resolution 194 has been repeatedly misused, misread, and misrepresented as the legal basis to oppose practical steps designed to help the refugees. Contrary to the myth that surrounds it, that resolution does not proclaim a "right of return." The Arab bloc at the UN actually voted against the resolution. The Palestinian leadership rejected it precisely because it called for peace and reconciliation with Israel. (Washington Post)
  • No Time to Feel the Pain of Evil Men - Wesley Pruden
    Sooner or later, the White House will have to get serious about who's doing what to whom, and face up to doing what it will take to stop it, and etiquette and friendships with rich and royal despots be damned. The famous "road map" is the most embarrassing bit of White House nonsense since Jerry Ford issued his famous WIN buttons to "Whip Inflation Now!" Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian "prime minister," is no doubt somewhat more preferable (and considerably less loathsome) than Yasser Arafat, but only in the way that a migraine headache is not as bad as a mortal head wound. Mr. Abbas, like his friends in Washington, imagines that he can disarm the killers with tea and sympathy, and the latest outrage occurred even as Mr. Abbas was entertaining the chiefs of Islamic Jihad at a tea party to "discuss" the cease-fire. What is not a matter merely for speculation is that George W. Bush must get tough with "our Saudi friends." This will require, first of all, discarding the notion that the Saudis can be trusted as friends. Rich or not, royal or not, they are part and parcel of the Islamist terror machine, supplying money, sanctuary, and encouragement to evil men who are determined to kill as many of us as necessary to destroy the civilization of the West. September 11 was prologue. Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of the Washington Times. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Another Way of Looking at the Road Map - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • The behavior of the Palestinians since the publication of the "road map," and particularly after the cease-fire, arouses the suspicion that Israel is a partner to laying the foundations of a terrorist state to be called Palestine - a state that will in fact reach an agreement with Israel, but will continue the war against it by means of various Palestinian organizations, claiming that the conflict has not ended.
    • The road map guarantees that a Palestinian state will be established during the second stage of the process, even before basic problems between Israel and the Palestinians have been solved.
    • If the terrorism against Israel from Palestinian territory continues, and Israel crosses the border in order to defend itself, the international organization in which there is an anti-Israeli majority will consider Israel an aggressor against whom sanctions should be applied.
    • Furthermore, the Palestinian state is supposed to be established when the Palestinians continue to demand what they call "the right of return" to Israel.
    • Necessary amendments to the road map:
      • No transition from one stage to the next without Israel's agreement.
      • Whatever hasn't been implemented in one stage is not to be transferred for implementation in the next stage.
      • A Palestinian state will be established after the basic problems have been solved.
      • The establishment of the state will be considered part of the elimination of the "right of return" to Israel, which is defined as a Jewish state.

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