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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September 15, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Revealed: Syrian Training Base of Iraqi Guerrilla Squads - Mark Franchetti (Sunday Times-UK)
    Hundreds of foreign fighters have entered Iraq in recent months to pursue "jihad," or holy war, against the Americans.
    Last week, three young militants from a group called Martyrs of Islam said they had learned to make bombs, set booby traps, and fire weapons at a camp in Syria.
    The three - two Syrians and a Yemeni who described Osama Bin Laden as their biggest influence - said the desert camp had attracted 140 men from across the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait.
    "Our entire group was trained in Syria," said one of the men. "Other groups were trained there after us."
    American officials estimate that more than 1,000 die-hard foreign fighters have already made Iraq their base.
    The fear is that, like Afghanistan under Soviet occupation, Iraq will attract more and more foreign extremists intent on turning the country into the frontline of their jihad.

Israel Cancelled Attack on Sheikh Yassin to Avoid Hitting Israeli TV Crews - Ben Caspit and Amit Cohen (Maariv-Hebrew)
    Two days after an IDF strike that missed Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Israel had another opportunity but called it off because of the presence of Israeli crews from Channel 2 and Channel 10 television.
    The way of life of Hamas leaders has changed completely since Israel decided to target them. They've stopped speaking on telephones, riding in cars, and appearing in public, and those around them make great efforts to foil Israeli intelligence.

Fighting Back - Amit Cohen (Maariv-Hebrew-12Sep03)
    During the ceasefire there were four homicide bombings, each by a different cell. Each of the cells was neutralized relatively soon thereafter:
    * Abed el-Khader Dana, from Islamic Jihad in Jenin, sent the terrorist to Kfar Yavetz. Dana was caught at a surprise IDF checkpoint, pulled out a pistol, and was killed.
    * Otman Yunis, from Tanzim in Nablus, prepared the bomb used in the Rosh Haayin attack. After the ceasefire ended, IDF forces wounded Yunis during an attempt to arrest him and other Tanzim members in the city. A few days later, a special IDF unit dressed as Arabs entered a Nablus hospital and took him into custody.
    * Muhammad Hanbali, head of Hamas in Nablus, planned the bombing in Ariel, and was responsible for bringing Kassam rockets to the West Bank. He was killed in an operation by the Naval Commando unit that cost the life of Sgt. Raanan Komimi.
    * Ahmad Badr, head of Hamas in Hebron, was killed last Tuesday. Badr prepared the bombs for some of the worst recent attacks including the bombing of the No. 2 bus in Jerusalem that killed 23 people on August 19.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Powell: U.S. Does Not Support Elimination or Exile of Arafat
    Secretary of State Colin Powell told FOX News Sunday: "Yasser Arafat, we believe, has not been helpful to peace, and that's why we would not deal anymore with him after the president gave his speech of June 24th of last year. And that's why we believe it's very important for the Palestinian people to be represented by a prime minister, elected by their legislature, and with all the power of a prime minister, and with all the security and military and paramilitary assets of the Palestinian people so that that prime minister can go after terror. Until we get rid of terrorist activity and terrorist organizations such as Hamas, which continue to use terror as a political weapon to kill innocent people and destroy the dreams of the Palestinian people for their own state - until we do that - it has to be done by the Palestinians - we are going to have difficulty moving forward on the road map."
        "The United States does not support either the elimination or the exile of Mr. Arafat. It's not our position, hasn't been. The Israeli government knows it. And I think the consequences would not be good ones. I think you can anticipate that there would be rage throughout the Arab world, the Muslim world, and in many other parts of the world." (FOX News)
  • Israel Vows No Quarter for Hamas
    The U.S. does not object in principle to "targeted killings," and Washington does not differentiate between military and political leaders of Hamas. The Americans merely urge Israel to do what it can to avoid civilian casualties. In a paper in a military journal, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, chief of the Military Colleges, and Israeli philosophy professor Asa Kasher write, "Any political stand that does not identify with our obligation to defend the lives of our civilians from the danger of terrorism is not moral." The article says the army goes to great lengths to obtain good intelligence and to avoid hurting "human surroundings." The military insists that taking out the planners can stop an attack before it is launched. Removing the fundraisers and ideological guides from a group such as Hamas can cripple its operations. Keeping the leaders on the run makes it hard for them to get anything done. Army Maj. Sharon Feingold used the analogy of mowing the lawn. Keep at it every week and you keep it under control; let it go and it will overrun you. "We see that when you apply pressure to these guys it makes them cringe," Feingold said. "We have to make it clear that no one is immune." (Chicago Tribune)
  • Muslims Throw Stones at Jewish Worshippers in Jerusalem
    Hundreds of young Muslims on the Temple Mount threw stones at Jewish worshippers in the Western Wall plaza below on Friday, police spokesman Gil Kleiman said. There were no injuries. Police dispersed the stonethrowers. The hilltop was the site of the two biblical Jewish temples. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Mofaz Seeks Approval for Fence's Completion - Aluf Benn, Zvi Zrahiya, and Mazal Mualem
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz intends to seek cabinet authorization this week for the completion of the western separation fence from Elkana to the southern Hebron Hills. On Friday, Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron outlined areas marked off for the fence in a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer. The two reached an understanding that should prevent future disagreements about the fence, according to Israeli security officials. These sources said Israel and the U.S. are not in total agreement about the fence project, but each side "can live with" the other side's reservations. Under the Defense Ministry's plans, the city of Ariel will be outside of the main fence. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Decision on Arafat: More than Meets the Eye - Herb Keinon
    What Prime Minister Sharon has done by declaring that Israel has decided to remove Arafat is throw a new bargaining chip into the pot. Sharon is telling the world, and the Palestinians, if you want to keep us from exiling Arafat, if he is that dear and important to you, remove him from his role as the spoiler. If you want us to leave him in peace, take away all of his powers. By hanging a sword of some kind over Arafat's head, Sharon is telling the world and the Palestinians: If you want to save Arafat, pay for it. The prime minister's gamble is that the threat of removing Arafat will mobilize the international community to press the PA to clip Arafat's wings for his own good. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Three Explosive Belts Discovered in E. Jerusalem - Margot Dudkevitch
    Using information supplied by several Palestinians who were detained in the past few days by the General Security Service (Shabak), security forces found three "ready-to-use" explosive belts containing 20 to 30 kilograms of explosives, nails, and metal balls, hidden in a butcher shop in Azzariya near Jerusalem. The belts belonged to Hamas terrorists who were planning homicide attacks in Jerusalem in the near future. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Poll: 64% of Israelis Support Elimination of Hamas Political Leadership - Hemi Shalev
    Results of a poll of Israeli adults conducted last week for Maariv: Do you support the elimination of the Hamas political leadership? Yes 64%, No 28%. Do you support the expulsion of Arafat from the territories? Yes 58%, No 30%. Should Israel have political contacts with Abu Ala, the new PA prime minister? Yes 65%, No 23%. This is the 10th anniversary of the Oslo agreement. Was Israel right to have signed the agreement? Yes 31%, No 54%. (Maariv-Hebrew-12Sep03)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Exit Arafat? - William Kristol
    The virtual embodiment of modern terrorism, the main instigator of its resurgence against Israeli civilians in the last three years, the indirect cause therefore of the deaths of innocent Palestinian bystanders as Israel struck back, Arafat certainly deserves exile - or worse. We believe Arafat's ability to deny peace a chance would decrease if he were far away, especially if he were deprived of control of the PA's treasury, its money-making monopolies, and the security services. Expelling Arafat would undoubtedly cause a raucous few days in the territories and in Arab capitals, but then we would all move on. Indeed, there would be, we suspect, much quiet eagerness to do so among the Palestinians who have suffered so much as a result of Arafat's disastrous leadership. And there might well be less death, and more hope for peace, in the Middle East. The administration's professed reasons for opposing the removal of Arafat seem altogether de-linked from any underlying moral and strategic judgment of what the war on terror requires, and what those who support and sponsor terror deserve. (Weekly Standard)
  • U.S. Must Weigh In: Arafat Has Got to Go - Robert Satloff
    In June 2002, President Bush boldly called for "new Palestinian leadership" as a precondition for U.S. support for Palestinian statehood. That revolutionary declaration recognized that no positive change in Palestinian politics or the peace process could occur with Yasser Arafat at the helm. If the Bush administration wants to salvage its Arab-Israeli initiative, it must now base any further U.S. support for Palestinian statehood on Arafat actually stepping aside, just as it told Liberia's Charles Taylor, the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos, and Haiti's Raul Cedras. For the U.S. to support the Palestinian people's desire for statehood, Arafat must resign all positions in the Palestinian political hierarchy and accept permanent retirement, outside the West Bank and Gaza or any contiguous state. Forcing Arafat into exile will not bring peace overnight, but when the dust settles, a major hurdle will have been overcome. The writer is director of policy and strategic planning at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Why Israel is Right to Eliminate Hamas Leaders - Stephen Pollard
    The comparison of Hamas with the IRA is entirely specious. If the IRA had espoused not merely the separation of Northern Ireland from the UK but also the murder of every Unionist and every Anglican in Great Britain, the abolition of the United Kingdom and its replacement with a Catholic state, run by the IRA and dedicated to converting the rest of the world to Catholicism by force, then there might be some merit in the comparison. Talk of "negotiation" with Hamas is as meaningless as the idea that you can negotiate with bin Laden. You cannot negotiate with the man who intends only your murder and the destruction of your country and who is prepared to die - and kill you in the process - rather than settle for less. The only possible response to both Hamas and al-Qaeda is military. Stephen Pollard is a senior fellow at the Centre for the New Europe in Brussel. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    End of the Road Map - Ehud Olmert (Wall Street Journal)

    • It is with tragic irony that Israel's cabinet has decided to expel Yasser Arafat so near the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo "peace" Accords. As the latest American diplomatic initiative, the "road map," is derailed by a resumed wave of suicide bombings, we Israelis are painfully aware that we have achieved little in these 10 years of direct negotiations with the Palestinians. Thus, the cabinet concluded that Arafat's ongoing encouragement of terror and his obstructive machinations were preventing all progress in diplomatic negotiations, understanding that it was either Arafat or negotiations, and deciding to vote in favor of the peace process.
    • The disastrous assumption that Arafat would fight the terrorist organizations on our behalf was a gamble which has literally exploded in Israel's face. At the recent Red Sea Summit, in which I participated as a negotiator, we told our Palestinian counterparts that they had to choose between Hamas or us. They would have to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure or we would be forced to do it ourselves. It is apparent, after this new wave of suicide bombings, that the Palestinian leadership has cast its lot with the Islamic extremists.
    • We can no longer allow ourselves to believe in the myth that the moderates on the Palestinian side will be capable of mustering the political power and military support necessary to assert control over the terrorist groups. The roving bands of militias and lack of central leadership has reduced the Palestinian Authority today into something resembling Lebanon at the height of its civil war.
    • Despite American and Israeli efforts to isolate Arafat, his malicious influence and control over the Palestinian leadership has not diminished in the least. His latest intrigues - the forced resignation of Mahmoud Abbas and the appointment as prime minister of his close associate, Ahmed Qurei - have once again struck a devastating blow to another peace effort.
    • Palestinian leaders will neither dismantle the terrorist infrastructure nor allow anyone else to do it. The alleged line that separated the Fatah forces from Hamas and Islamic Jihad can no longer be claimed to exist. Arafat is the CEO of a full-fledged terrorist organization and no less a danger than the Islamic extremist leaders whom Israel has finally targeted.
    • Today all sides of the Israeli political spectrum have drawn the same conclusion: Israel will have to destroy the Islamic terrorist groups along with Arafat's Fatah. There can be no shortcuts when it comes to eradicating the terrorist groups. Goodwill gestures have repeatedly come back to haunt us and we must now be prepared to finish off the task.
    • The U.S. and other responsible democratic nations, engaged in their own wars against terrorist organizations, are slowly understanding that only an unrelenting battle will secure victory against this tenacious enemy.
    • If we are not prepared to undertake the task of dismantling the terrorist groups that infest the Palestinian Authority, our civilian population will continue to be targeted for murder.

    The writer is the deputy prime minister of Israel and former mayor of Jerusalem.

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