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 27, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Report: U.S Suspects Iraqi WMD in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley (Geostrategy-Direct/World Tribune)
    U.S. intelligence suspects Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are located in Lebanon's heavily-fortified Bekaa Valley, swarming with Iranian and Syrian forces, and Hizballah and ex-Iraqi agents.
    U.S. intelligence first identified a stream of tractor-trailer trucks moving from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon in January 2003, which may have contained extended-range Scud-based missiles and parts for chemical and biological warheads.
    Firas Tlas, son of Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas, together with Assad, have made hundreds of millions of dollars selling weapons, oil, and drugs to and from Iraq.
    The CIA now believes a multi-million dollar deal between Iraq and Syria provided for the hiding and safekeeping of Saddam's strategic weapons.

PA Targets Hamas Bank Accounts - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    On Sunday, the PA general prosecutor notified the directors of 12 Islamic charity organizations operating in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank that 38 of their bank accounts in the territories had been frozen.
    Banks received instructions not to allow transactions of organizations such as al-Mujma Al-Islami, which gave birth in the 1980s to Hamas, and other organizations connected to the civilian wing of Hamas.

Report: Egyptian Police Search for Tunnels from Gaza - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Palestinian sources in Gaza said that Egyptian police on the other side of the border are conducting searches for the openings of the smuggling tunnels that were closed by the PA security forces early this week.

Palestinians in Nablus Welcome IDF Curfew - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    Speaking off the record, residents in Nablus admit that they welcomed the curfew that IDF troops enforced in their city on Thursday.
    The curfew prevented, or at least delayed, a collapse of internal order and security in the large West Bank city which in recent months has been convulsed by a series of shooting sprees on the street perpetrated by gunmen whose aim is to intimidate the locals or to carve out turf for themselves.
    The state of siege and terror that grips the city, local residents emphasize, has not been caused by Israel's army: the problem is roaming, armed Palestinians who claim they belong to the Fatah movement.
    Most Nablus residents live in fear and are held captive by various armed groups. PA official representatives are helpless to do anything to help.
    In recent months, business proprietors and white-collar professionals have left Nablus and moved to Ramallah.
    On Thursday, city residents also asked the Israeli army to impose a curfew on Salam, a village east of Nablus - a feud between two families from the village led to the killing of one person followed by a series of violent reprisals (including the burning of 16 homes).

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Traces of Enriched Uranium Reportedly Found in Iran
    International inspectors have found traces of highly enriched uranium at an Iranian facility, according to a new confidential report distributed Tuesday by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). The traces could be an indication that Tehran has already produced weapons-grade nuclear materials. Iran denied producing nuclear materials, said the report. The Iranians, the report said, explained that the trace particles found by inspectors at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant had been on the equipment when it was purchased from another country. Information about the origins of the Iranian program points to Pakistan as the likely source of the centrifuge designs and components necessary for uranium enrichment. Pakistan's government has denied such a role. In an interview with the German magazine Stern, the director general of the agency, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, commenting on the traces of highly enriched uranium, said, "This worries us greatly." (New York Times)
        See also IAEA Report on Iran below (IAEA)
  • U.S. Criticizes Arafat Decision on Security Chief
    The White House on Tuesday protested Arafat's decision to appoint a new national security adviser, saying it undercut reformist Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and a U.S.-backed peace plan. "By blocking the consolidation of the Palestinian security services under Prime Minister Abbas, Yasser Arafat undercuts the fight against terrorism and further undermines the hopes of the Palestinian people for peace and for a Palestinian state that can live side by side with Israel in peace and security," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan. Buchan said the U.S. believed that "the security services need to be consolidated" under Abbas and a key ally, Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan. "That is the way forward," she said. (Reuters)
  • Reopening the Temple Mount to People of All Faiths
    The sacred plateau known to Jews as the Temple Mount - the site of the First and Second Temples - reopened last week on a limited basis to people of all faiths for the first time since violence forced its closure to non-Muslims in 2000. Three officials of the Islamic Trust (Waqf), which runs the site, were arrested Monday for obstructing access to the mount, but there have been no other incidents since Israeli police last Wednesday began permitting morning visits by about 100 non-Muslims at a time through the tightly guarded Mugrabi Gate.
        During the period of the closure, the Waqf removed "about 13,000 tons of unsifted archaeological rubble," some of which might have contained artifacts affirming that temples once stood there, said Dore Gold, an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "The Waqf was exploiting its self-declared exclusive control to engage in activity that involved removing archeological remains as part of their preparation of a huge subterranean mosque," Gold said. "All Israel is doing is re-establishing the pre-September-2000 status quo whereby access is guaranteed to all faiths, which has been a cardinal principal of Israeli policy since 1967." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • IDF Will Keep Up Heat Until PA Cracks Down - Ze'ev Schiff
    Only sustained activity by PA preventive security forces against the terror infrastructure can possibly reduce the scope of IDF attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership and terrorist networks. While Israel has decided not to cause harm to the general Palestinian population, it will not be possible in the IDF operations to avoid harming figures associated with Hamas' social-religious networks. Israel might discuss a truce toward the end of the process of a full crackdown on the terrorist organizations. The character of targets chosen by Israel in anti-terror operations has changed to include not only terror operatives but also leaders of the militant Islamic organizations.
        In terms of deterrence, it is not crucially important whether a missile fired from a helicopter is entirely accurate, or whether the target, and his bodyguards, escape. The overall purpose is to let Hamas know that the IDF is on the trail of terrorist group leaders. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Terrorists Evade IDF Air Strike in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    Israel air force helicopters fired three missiles Tuesday at a vehicle containing three Hamas operatives near Gaza City. While the men succeeded in fleeing the vehicle as the missiles struck, the target of the attack, Khaled Massoud, commander of a Kassam rocket unit, is believed to have suffered light to moderate wounds. Palestinian officials confirmed that the three were members of the Hamas military wing. A civilian was killed in the blast. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Goes Underground - Arnon Regular
    With the disappearance underground of its entire Gaza Strip leadership, Hamas feels it is being hunted down. Senior Hamas activists are convinced that PA security has assisted Israel in the recent wave of targeted killings. One Hamas leader said Tuesday, "It is clear to us that no one in Ramallah is crying over what happened in Gaza." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Men Hide from IDF Missiles - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Helicopter gunships appear without warning over Gaza, where top Islamist militants once circulated at will, cheered by crowds, and cultivating a fiery image in local and foreign media. Militant leaders blame local collaborators for the ability of Israel's internal secret service to track them down. At least two alleged collaborators have been executed by the PA and 24 have been gunned down by masked militants. (Reuters)
        See also The Terrorists Become Terrorized - Palestinians Go into Hiding (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • New York Mayor Bloomberg Visits Bombing Site, Victims - Jonathan Lis
    On a nine-hour solidarity visit to Jerusalem Tuesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg rode the No. 2 bus to the site of last week's suicide bus bombing, participated in a memorial ceremony, and visited survivors of the attack, which killed 21 people and wounded over 100. Bloomberg said that Americans and Israelis alike had to "stand up and fight back" against terrorism. "I'm not afraid, the Israeli people aren't afraid, New Yorkers and Americans aren't afraid....We are all in this together," he said. (Ha'aretz)
        "When someone has a gun to your head, you cannot negotiate. You have to stop the violence first," Bloomberg said. "You can see that America is not letting the terrorists win. We are striking back and that's what Israel has always done and what I would urge you to continue to do," he added. "You have to react and say we are not going to sit back and let our children be massacred and injured. This is just not acceptable in the civilized world," Bloomberg said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Four Bedouin Arrested for Terror Activity - Tsahar Rotem
    Negev Police and the Shin Bet security service have arrested four Israeli Bedouin men and a Hebron area Hamas activist who allegedly planned to kidnap and murder IDF soldiers, carry out shooting attacks on buses in the south, and plant roadside bombs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Upsurge in Terror is a Sign of the West's Success - Michael Gove
    The liberation of Iraq has created the potential for the country to become a broadly free, fairly governed, and economically dynamic state - an outcome deeply troubling to an unholy alliance of forces in the region, from Syria through Saudi Arabia to Iran and al-Qaeda. In Iraq, the aims of Syria's secular Baathist leader Bashar Assad and Islamic fundamentalist Osama bin Laden coincide. Neither can countenance the successful emergence of a free, pluralist state in Iraq. The effect on existing tyrannies such as Syria and Saudi Arabia would be dramatically percussive. And the disappearance of autocratic regimes in the Middle East would, in turn, be the gravest blow bin Laden could suffer. A similar desire drives Hamas and its allies, responsible for the recent upsurge of violence against Israel. Just as a reformed Iraq is poison to the autocrats in Damascus and the fundamentalists of al-Qaeda, so a reformed Palestine would mean the end of Arafat's kleptocracy and the chance of a proper reckoning with the fundamentalists of Hamas. Only by clearing the democratic slum that was the Arab world before 2001 can we hope to tackle terrorism at its roots. (London Times)
  • Israel Defends Itself - Editorial
    Neither the respected UN envoy who died in the Baghdad attack, nor the many dedicated aid workers who perished with him, were Israeli or Jewish, so let's abandon the fiction that somehow it is Israel alone that animates the Islamists. Hamas helped carry out the Jerusalem attack. Evidently, a ceasefire as the Palestinians define it means they get to kill Israeli children and not have to answer for it. So the phony ceasefire is indeed over, in the sense that Israel has decided to reclaim its right to self-protection. The world has invested much hope in Mr. Abbas, but it is unclear whether he understands that suicide bombers will never be, can never be, the founding fathers of a Palestinian state. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • Observations:

    Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran - Report by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, June 6, 2003 (IAEA)

    • During the regular session of the IAEA General Conference in September 2002, ElBaradei met with the Vice President of Iran who is president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, R. Aghazadeh.
    • ElBaradei asked that Iran confirm whether it was building a large underground nuclear-related facility at Natanz. Aghazadeh agreed to an IAEA visit that took place in February 2003.
    • During his visit, ElBaradei was informed by Iran of its nuclear enrichment program which included two new facilities located at Natanz, including a pilot fuel enrichment program, nearing completion, and a large commercial-scale fuel-enrichment plant, under construction. Since March 2003, IAEA inspectors have visited Natanz three times and taken environmental samples.
    • IAEA found that Iran failed to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to the reporting of nuclear material. It failed to declare the import of natural uranium in 1991 and its subsequent transfer for further processing. So far the quantity of nuclear material is not large and it would need further processing before being suitable for use in a nuclear explosive device.
    • ElBaradei encouraged Iran to conclude an additional protocol, without which IAEA's ability to provide credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear activities is limited.

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