Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 22, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Bush: "We Must Get Rid of Arafat" (AFP/The Age-Australia)
    U.S. President George Bush told an Israeli journalist that "we must get rid of" Arafat, the Israeli mass-circulation Yediot Ahronot daily said Sunday.
    Bush's comments came in a brief exchange with the paper's correspondent during a Christmas party in Washington.
    The U.S. government has boycotted Arafat, with Bush accusing the veteran leader of failing the Palestinian people.

Saddam "Actively Involved" in Directing Attacks on U.S. Forces - Philip Sherwell (Telegraph-UK)
    Saddam Hussein was personally directing the post-war insurgency inside Iraq, playing a far more active role than previously thought, American intelligence officers have concluded.
    He is believed to have been issuing regular instructions on targets and tactics through five trusted lieutenants.
    American officials have made clear that he will lose his rights as a prisoner of war if he was involved in the post-war violence.
    U.S. investigators believe that Saddam was at the head of an elaborate network of rebel cells.

PA to Charge for Christmas Media Coverage - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    In an unprecedented decision, the PA is planning to charge fees from any networks wishing to broadcast on Christmas from the area near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
    Every year dozens of television stations from all over the world broadcast Christmas ceremonies from Bethlehem.
    Christian communities that are part of the ceremony are incensed over the fees.
    One of the patriarchs who serves in the PA said, "They are trafficking in Christian holidays, which should be available to every Christian."

Palestinian Killed Fighting U.S. in Iraq (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Hassan Jamal Suleiman, 18, a member of the militant Palestinian group Ansar Allah, or Partisans of God, who went to Iraq to fight the U.S., was killed in action, his father said Saturday.
    Palestinian officials in Ein el-Hilweh in Lebanon said Suleiman died on Dec. 11 in a suicide attack against a U.S. military base west of Baghdad.

Lebanon Jails 26 Over Bombings of U.S. Targets (Reuters)
    Lebanon sentenced 26 men to between three months and 20 years in prison on Saturday over a string of bomb attacks on U.S. restaurants and an alleged plot to assassinate the U.S. ambassador.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Terror Alert Raised to "High"
    The Bush administration raised the nation's antiterrorism alert status a notch on Sunday, indicating a newly heightened concern about the possibility of an attack in coming days. Tom Ridge, the secretary of homeland security, said the danger of an attack in the "near term," possibly in the U.S., was "perhaps greater now than at any point since Sept. 11, 2001." The alert level was raised from "elevated" to "high," from yellow - the midpoint on the five-color scale - to orange. (New York Times)
  • Libya Pledges to Dismantle WMD Programs
    On Friday, President George Bush announced: "Today in Tripoli, the leader of Libya, Col. Moammar al-Ghadafi, publicly confirmed his commitment to disclose and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction programs in his country. He has agreed immediately and unconditionally to allow inspectors from international organizations to enter Libya. These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination."  (White House)
        See also Libya Vows to Give Up Banned Weapons
    A team of U.S. and British intelligence agents and weapons specialists made two trips to Libya during October and December, where they were allowed to visit 10 secret weapons sites, were shown chemical-warfare agents, and discussed details with Libyan scientists. The Libyans said they had been working to develop a nuclear fuel cycle intended to provide fissile material for atomic weapons. "The Libyans were quite open. They provided access to facilities. They provided substantial documentation about their programs, and we were able to take samples and to take photographs and other evidence," a senior U.S. official said. Libya had become aware that U.S. and British intelligence had developed direct, verifiable knowledge of weapons materials possessed by Ghadafi. (Washington Post)
        See also below - Observations: After Ghadafi's Declaration: The Impact of Changes in Libyan and Iranian WMD Policies on Israel and the Region
  • Libya's Fatal Blow to Axis of Evil
    New documents reveal that Libya, Iran, and North Korea were working on a nuclear weapons program at a top-secret underground site near the Kufra Oasis in southeastern Libya. The team was made up of North Korean scientists, engineers, and technicians, as well as some Iranian and Libyan nuclear scientists. Iran, which is now in the final stages of uranium enrichment for its program, is badly hit, having counted on fitting into place key parts of its WMD project made in Libya. The Libyan announcement on Friday was the culmination of secret talks with Britain and the U.S. (Sunday Herald-UK)
        See also Ghadafi Provides Intelligence on Terrorists
    Libya provided detailed intelligence on hundreds of al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists as part of a deal to end its isolation as a pariah nation. Libya has a sophisticated network of intelligence missions throughout Africa and the Middle East. In a series of extraordinary meetings held in Britain, orchestrated by MI6 and involving the CIA and Libyan intelligence, Libya agreed to hand over intelligence as well as pledging to abandon its WMD program in return for the lifting of crippling U.S. sanctions. (Observer-UK)
  • World Court Sets Hearings on Israeli Security Fence
    The World Court said on Friday it would hold hearings on February 23 on the legal consequences of Israel's security fence in the West Bank. Earlier this month, the UN General Assembly voted for a Palestinian-initiated resolution to ask The Hague-based International Court of Justice about the barrier. The court was set up to settle legal disputes between states and give advisory opinions. (Reuters)
        See also Israel Considering Sending Judges to Hague
    Israeli officials agreed to cooperate with the court's expected investigation, saying they would argue the fence is needed for self-defense against terrorism. However, Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday that Israel is worried about the panel of judges who will preside over the hearing, since two of the current judges are Arabs who have in the past expressed anti-Israeli sentiments. Foreign Ministry Legal Advisor Alan Baker has recommended that Israel send judges to the international court. (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Protests Egyptian Spy Drones - Douglas Davis
    Israeli officials are expected to protest Egyptian drones, being used to spy on Israeli defense facilities, when Foreign Minister Ahmad Maher El Sayed visits Israel Monday. Israel reportedly threatened to shoot down the unmanned aerial vehicles detected in recent weeks over the nuclear research facility at Nahal Sorek and the missile test site at Palmahim. The flights contravene the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. Jerusalem reportedly asked Washington not to supply Egypt with advanced F-15 jets or "smart" JDAM bombs. After being shown intelligence which revealed that Israel was the "enemy" in all of Egypt's recent war games, the U.S. froze Cairo's request. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Military Intelligence on Cease-Fire, Impact of Sharon Speech on Palestinians - Amir Oren
    IDF Military Intelligence believes that PA Prime Minister Qurei has no chance of persuading Hamas to agree to a cease-fire. Qurei is helpless in the face of Arafat, who remains in control of the PA's security mechanisms.
        MI believes that Prime Minister Sharon's address to the Herzliya Conference last week was seen by the Palestinians as a real threat to their aspirations for political achievements. The threat stems from Sharon's announcement that Israel will decide from which areas it will not withdraw, even under a permanent settlement, and will reinforce its hold on them. The Palestinians are also concerned by Israel's coordination with elements in the U.S. administration - expressed both by Sharon and in the praise that ensued from the White House, the fall-off in the influence of the Geneva Accord, and the series of U.S. successes in the Middle East. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas: Iraqi Resistance Inspires Palestinians
    The Iraqis fighting the U.S.-led forces of occupation are an inspiration to the Palestinians, a leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas said Sunday. Khaled Mashal, head of the Hamas political bureau and based in Damascus, reiterated in Beirut that Hamas opposed a proposed cease-fire on attacks against Israelis. (Ha'aretz)
  • Survivor Siblings Reunited After 65 Years
    A brother and sister who were split up as children in Poland and survived the Nazi Holocaust apart have been reunited in Israel after 65 years. Both Shoshana November, 73, and Benny Shilon, 78, had lived in Israel since 1948 without knowing the other was alive. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • I Remember Muammar - William Safire
    As American tanks began to roll through Iraq to overthrow Saddam, Libya's longtime terrorist, Muammar Ghadafi, came up with a strategy to avoid being next on the regime-change list: pre-emptive surrender. As the skin-saving demarche of Ghadafi demonstrates, introducing freedom to countries long denied it has a powerful effect on the actions of regional neighbors. We should verify and never trust, and neither forget nor forgive Muammar Ghadafi. (New York Times)
  • Ghadafi's About-Face is a Victory for the Coalition - Ze'ev Schiff
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in September 2002 that Libya was working toward the development of nuclear capabilities and was likely to achieve such capabilities before Iran. The assumption in Washington was that it was impossible for the Libyans to make major moves in their country without the knowledge of the Egyptians, who see Libya as their backyard. The Americans also suspected that Egypt had sold Libya materials used in the production of chemical weapons. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon's "Disengagement Plan" - Editorial
    Mr. Sharon has offered his "disengagement plan" to focus the minds of the Palestinian leadership. If the Palestinians don't like the sound of "disengagement," then they can prevent it. But to do so, they would need to dismantle the terror networks and disarm the terrorists. Up until now, Mr. Sharon has pursued a policy of deterrence and retribution while waiting for the Palestinians to solve the terror problem comprehensively themselves. Unilateral disengagement offers the Palestinians a clear choice - accept peace, end the terror, and we'll talk. Or don't, and be cut off. If the U.S. and EU are unhappy with Mr. Sharon's plan, it is time they move beyond "hoping" that Arafat wants a negotiated solution and pressure Palestinians to end his rule and his terror campaign or face the consequences of a refusal to do so. (Wall Street Journal; 22 Dec 03)
  • Observations:

    After Ghadafi's Declaration: The Impact of Changes in Libyan and Iranian WMD Policies on Israel and the Region - Gerald M. Steinberg
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The Libyan declaration that it was ending its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, dismantling existing capabilities and facilities, and opening up its territory for inspection marks an important step in reducing threats and instability in the region.
    • As in the case of the recent Iranian declaration that it has accepted the conditions of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the main test lies in the implementation of the Libyan pledge of transparency, both immediately and in the long term.
    • However, the discovery of advanced uranium enrichment and other nuclear weapons-related activities in Libya have refocused attention on the weaknesses of the inspection and verification capabilities of the IAEA and other international agencies. In the absence of threats from the Bush administration, Libya and Iran would have continued to develop nuclear weapons. Therefore, the structure of the international non-proliferation regime and its verification procedures need to be examined and improved in order to establish credibility.
    • To the degree that the Libyan and Iranian pledges are matched by credible action, Israel's security environment will improve. However, until these capabilities are dismantled, and as long as Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia continue to maintain or seek weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, the threat to Israel will continue.
    • Calls on Israel to follow suit ignore the fact that, unlike Libya and Iran, Israel is not an NPT signatory and has not violated any of its international obligations. As long as Iranian and other leaders continue to seek Israel's elimination, Israel remains the only country in the Middle East whose physical existence is still threatened by states seeking weapons of mass destruction.

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