Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 11, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Palestinian Transported Bomb Materials in Ambulances - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Rashed Tarek al-Nimr, a cousin of PLO executive head Farouk Kadoumi, who worked as a chemist in hospitals in Nablus and Bethlehem, supplied chemicals he took from the hospitals to Hamas for use in making bombs.
    He also told the Shin Bet he used ambulances to transport the chemicals. Details of his arrest on Nov. 24 were released Wednesday.
    Nimr said senior Hamas commanders from the Nablus area hid inside the hospitals to evade arrest.
    Nimr sold Hamas commander Khaled Abu Hamed six containers of hydrogen peroxide, one of the ingredients used to make TATP, an explosive used by Hamas in numerous suicide bombings. Abu Hamed then told Nimr there would be a large explosion in Israel in the near future.
    Days before Nimr was arrested, Hamas member Said Kutab asked him to obtain nitrous acid and hydrogen sulfide, chemicals used in making nitroglycerine.

Palestinian Student Election Issue: Who Has Killed the Most Israelis? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas defeated Arafat's Fatah in the Bir Zeit University student elections Wednesday, after a campaign which focused on which party had killed the most Israelis.
    At a debate, the Hamas candidate asked the Fatah candidate: "Hamas activists in this university killed 135 Zionists. How many did Fatah activists from Bir Zeit kill?"
    Fatah set up models of Jewish settlements and then blew them up with fireworks. Hamas countered by blowing up models of Israeli buses.
    Hamas activists carried samples of homemade Qassam rockets - often fired at settlements and Israeli towns that border the Gaza Strip.
    The university near Ramallah is considered the most liberal of the Palestinian higher education institutions.

Saudi Arabia Pays $11 Million for PR (O'Dwyer's PR Daily; 8 Dec 03)
    Saudi Arabia paid Qorvis Communications $11.1 million during the six-month period ending Sept. 30 for drafting and placing op-ed pieces, creating ads, conducting outreach events, organizing press conferences, and arranging one-on-one interviews with key media to position the kingdom as a vital U.S. ally in the war against terrorism.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Man with Explosives Arrested Outside U.S. Embassy in Beirut
    A Lebanese man seeking to enter the American embassy on Wednesday was stopped at an army checkpoint about 500 yards away, where he was found to be carrying more than two pounds of explosives, a senior Lebanese security official said. (AP/New York Times)
  • Protesters in Syria Call for Freedoms
    More than 150 Syrian pro-democracy activists staged a sit-in Wednesday outside the prime minister's office in downtown Damascus, calling for more freedoms, the release of political prisoners, and the abolition of the country's emergency law. Protests without arrests or harsh police action have been almost unknown in Syria, and it was unclear why this demonstration was allowed. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Foreign Minister Meets Egyptian President in Geneva - Aluf Benn
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met Wednesday in Geneva with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, and asked him to encourage PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei to enter into negotiations with Israel without preconditions. Mubarak and Shalom discussed efforts to attain a cease-fire with militant Palestinian groups and also the strengthening of relations between Egypt and Israel. Shalom asked Mubarak to return his country's ambassador to Israel. Mubarak responded that the ambassador will be reinstated "at the right moment." Shalom then traveled to Rome for a conference of donor states to the PA. There he met four PA ministers and told them Israel has reached a strategic decision to return to the negotiation table. (Ha'aretz)
  • Donor Support for PA is Waning - Arnon Regular
    Diplomats at the Rome conference for countries donating to the PA warn of a significant drop in donor support for the Palestinians. This year, Arab countries who had committed to contributing $30 million had transferred only half that. The EU has also reduced its contribution, as a result of pressure from the European Parliament to contribute only to "identified purposes" out of concern that monies would be channeled to terrorist activities. Potential donors are likely to ask some tough questions about financial transparency and corruption after an IMF report found that $900 million was diverted from the PA's accounts during 1995-2000. (Ha'aretz)
  • Four Palestinians Killed in Clashes with IDF Troops in Gaza - Amos Harel
    IDF forces entered the Rafah refugee camp on the Gaza-Egypt border before daybreak Thursday and arrested wanted Islamic Jihad militant Haled Kadi, who was involved in arms smuggling and laying of explosive charges. As the troops surrounded his house, Palestinians opened fire, threw hand grenades from the roof of the building, and fired anti-tank missiles. During the fighting, four Palestinians were killed and at least 15 were injured. (Ha'aretz)
  • Burns: PA's Gaza Bombing Probe Not Showing Results
    U.S. envoy to the Middle East William Burns Wednesday criticized the Palestinian investigation into the Oct. 15 bombing of a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Gaza in which three American security guards were killed, saying the lack of progress has hindered efforts to deliver aid to the Palestinian people. "We are still waiting for results in that investigation," said Burns. "Without progress, culminating in the arrest and conviction of those responsible, we simply cannot carry out our full range of assistance projects for the Palestinian people." Burns said international donors "must have confidence" that their personnel can carry out aid efforts in safety. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Fence is Good for Palestinians, Too - David Rudge and Nina Gilbert
    According to Gilboa Regional Council head Danny Atar, the security fence is a life and death issue for the residents of the region. If fence critics abroad were to live in Israel and experience the day-to-day anxiety of attacks, they would understand the need for the security fence, he said. Atar said he had contacted Palestinians in an attempt to renew ties and resume projects, including a proposed industrial zone near the "green line" that would provide jobs for Palestinians and Israelis, in addition to various municipal projects relating to infrastructure. "Once there is peace and quiet along the border, we can continue these projects to the benefit of all, and the fence gives us that peace and quiet, as evidenced by the fact that thefts and vandalism in Israeli communities in the area have dropped to zero in the past three months since the construction of the fence," said Atar. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • After Arafat Comes Hamas - Eliel Shahar
    Even after Arafat disappears from the scene, it will still not be possible to conduct negotiations with the Palestinian leadership and it is very likely that Hamas will take power - say former leaders of the Israeli intelligence community in a report prepared for next week's conference of the Institute of Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. The report's authors include Dr. Shmuel Bar, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, and others. The report says that expelling Arafat would only strengthen his influence, while if he leaves the stage due to natural causes, Fatah and the PA would be weakened. While the younger leadership of Fatah has grown in strength at the expense of the "Old Guard," their influence is largely confined to specific localities. If no decisive leadership takes Arafat's place, Hamas is likely to become the sole political force that will enjoy public support. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • EuroCash - Rachel Ehrenfeld
    How is it possible that the International Monetary Fund, CBS, the BBC, and even the PA itself were all able to document the PA's misuse of funds while the EU failed to acknowledge it? Further aid payments should cease until the PA explains how it spent more than $6 billion in aid during the last decade, and returns the missing funds to the Palestinian people. History gives us little reason to think the PA will stop funding terrorism. Maybe it's time to hold European donors legally accountable for the return on their investment. (National Review)
  • A Break from Israel's Day-to-Day Realities - Steve Chawkins
    The two dozen young Israelis were on a two-week U.S. tour organized by the Southern California Jewish Center, an educational group based in Los Angeles. There was the young girl who was severely burned in a 2002 terrorist attack on a hotel in Kenya frequented by Israelis. Fire engulfed her as she tried to drag her mother's flaming body to a swimming pool. There was the 14-year-old boy with permanent brain damage from rocks hurled at him on the street. There was Leor Thaler, 16, who still carries a hunk of shrapnel and a few steel nails inside him. In February 2002 he went out for pizza with his sister, Rachel, and friends when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing Rachel and two other teenagers, including Leor's best friend. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Concessions Don't Help - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • Two disproved propositions underlying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are: 1) Israel must keep offering the Palestinians more until they accept a deal. 2) If Israel keeps offering more concessions it will win international support and sympathy.
    • Unfortunately, Arafat is not a nationalist whose appetite would be assuaged by the creation of a state. He is basically a combination of old-fashioned Islamist, who believes that God is on his side and that compromise is sinful, and romantic revolutionary, who does not want the battle to end.
    • What has instead happened is that the Palestinian appetite grows with the feeding. The more Israel offers, the more Palestinians demand. Experience has taught the Palestinian leadership that as it refuses compromise, Israelis who claim to speak for Israel offer more concessions.
    • In the West, moderation and generosity are taken as proofs that one truly wants to settle a dispute; in the Middle East they are taken as signs of weakness and of knowing that one's cause is unjust.
    • The central problem is a Palestinian refusal to settle for anything but everything, either immediately or in stages. The Palestinian leadership and opinion-makers are not people whom Israel will persuade by concessions.
    • By continuing to insist that the problem is that Israel has not offered enough, Israelis do not prove their goodwill but rather seem to suggest that they are the guilty party. This is also part of the reason for the world's hostility.

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