Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 20, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Fatah Uses Jordan as Insurgency Base (Middle East Newsline)
    Israeli security sources said that after a lull of several years, Fatah agents have resumed the use of Jordan as a base for operations planning, recruitment, and the transfer of money from Iran to Arafat loyalists in the West Bank and Gaza.
    "The Jordanians are trying hard to stop it, but it's been a very difficult task," a security source said.
    Fuad Balbisi, who works in the PLO's Political Department in Amman, headed by Farouk Kaddoumi, has been directing the recruitment and operations of Fatah squads in the West Bank in attacks against Israeli targets.

Japan Sends Humanitarian Troops to Iraq (USA Today; 20 Jan 04)
    Japanese soldiers entered a conflict zone on Monday for the first time since World War II, crossing into Iraq on a humanitarian mission.
    The 30-member Japanese engineering and water purification unit arrived at a Dutch military camp from Kuwait.
    The soldiers will pave the way for 1,000 troops who will arrive by March.

    See also Germans to Begin Training Iraqi Police Force (USA Today; 20 Jan 04)
    German law enforcement officers will begin training Iraqi police in the United Arab Emirates in March, the German Interior Ministry said.
    The first group of 154 will receive training from officials of the Federal Criminal Office, Germany's equivalent of the FBI.

How the "20th Hijacker" Got Turned Away - Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman (Newsweek)
    The FBI believes that a young Saudi turned back by an alert immigration inspector in Orlando in late August 2001 may well have been the elusive "20th hijacker" who was supposed to be aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11.
    Months later, a Saudi by the same name - al-Qahtani - was captured by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and flown to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where investigators later ID'd him as the man in Orlando.

Mossad Chief Met Bahraini Officials in Ankara - Joseph Nasr (Jerusalem Post)
    The head of Israel's Mossad security service, Meir Dagan, held secret meetings with senior Bahraini officials in Ankara, the Palestinian daily al-Manar reported.
    Bahrain will establish diplomatic relations with Israel as soon as Arab states return their ambassadors to Tel Aviv, wrote al-Manar.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hizballah Kills Israeli Soldier at Lebanese Border, Israel Links Attack to Syria
    Hizballah militants attacked an Israeli bulldozer at the Lebanese border on Monday, and the Israeli military reported one soldier killed and two wounded, one seriously. The Israeli army commander on the Lebanese border, Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, said the bulldozer was clearing land on the Israeli side when it was attacked. "It was hit by an antitank missile fired from the Lebanese side. Hizballah keeps operating, the Syrians are encouraging them. One day this is going to blow up," Gantz said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Hizballah Rocket Attack Kills Soldier - Uri Ash and Amos Harel
    Sgt. Maj. Jan Rotzanski, 21, was killed while clearing a minefield planted by Hizballah that was discovered two weeks ago. Prime Minister Sharon's adviser, Dore Gold, said "the Hizballah attack on the IDF position illustrates the duplicity of the Syrian regime, which talks peace to the New York Times and backs Hizballah attacks in violation of UN resolutions." (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Eyes UAE Banks in Terror Money Probe
    About half the money spent on the Sept. 11 attacks was wired to al-Qaeda terrorists in the U.S. from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Banks in this financial hub of the Arab world remain a focus in the investigation into terror funding despite moves to tighten reporting rules, freeze accounts, and control informal money transfers. (AP/Washington Post)
  • The Syrian Connection - Mark Hosenball
    For years, German authorities had been keeping close watch on a textile business called Tatex, some of whose past employees appeared to have al-Qaeda connections. German prosecutors began preparing their case, and the U.S. considered freezing Tatex's bank accounts. Then last summer the German government quietly closed the investigation and decided against prosecuting the company. The U.S. never touched its assets. U.S. and German officials suggest that both countries decided not to proceed with legal action against Tatex to avoid antagonizing the Syrian government. (Newsweek)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon Warns Jordan on Security Fence - Nine Gilbert and Tovah Lazaroff
    Prime Minister Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that Amman's recent statements on Israel's security fence are "damaging" bilateral ties. Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said last week, "We're going to The Hague at the end of the month to make a case, a Jordanian case, against the wall." Sharon noted that Jordan is acting out of concern that the erection of the fence will cause Palestinian migration into Jordan. Sharon termed the Jordanian campaign against the fence a "departure" from the "close to strategic" relationship with Israel. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom will be traveling to Jordan next week.
        An official said the government has asked committees to study possible changes in the fence route as well as technical means of easing movement for Palestinians for humanitarian reasons. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ya'alon: Arafat Maintaining Terror on Purpose
    Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told Israel TV Channel 2 on Monday, "Arafat has no interest in bringing this struggle to an end. He initiated it to avoid a political solution. His strategy of bringing about demographic change is one of terror." "The anarchy is not chaotic," he said. "It is organized by him."
        Ya'alon said Hamas's "operational capabilities have been hurt thanks to our attacks on them. Now they think twice whether they want to undertake attacks inside Israel. They haven't done this for several months. This is due to our attacks on their infrastructure and their leaders." "We only attack ticking bombs....There used to be more ticking bombs, so we had more bombs to target." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Kaddoumi: Oslo Brought Tens of Thousands of Armed Palestinians into the Territories
    Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO's Political Department, said Monday that the Oslo Accords "made possible the return of the leadership from Tunis and the entrance of tens of thousands of armed Palestinians into the territories." Kaddoumi has been one of the strongest critics of the Oslo Accords for years and has refused to enter the territory of the Palestinian Authority. According to sources in Israel, Kaddoumi is positioning himself as a successor to Arafat, and is working to recruit Arab support against Israel's anti-terror fence.
        Kaddoumi told Arab reporters that Yasser Abed Rabbo was involved in the "Geneva Accord" initiative at the direct instruction of the Palestinian Authority. He said the initiative was "no longer relevant," and emphasized that "in the initiative there is no giving up of the right of return." He said, "Abed Rabbo is one who committed political suicide in the service of his government."  (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Only Against Israel - Amnon Rubinstein
    The incident in which Israel's ambassador in Sweden, Zvi Mazel, damaged an art installation that seemed to express sympathy for acts of suicide and murder raises questions about the limits of freedom of artistic expression. Would those who favor unlimited artistic freedom be willing to have it apply to installations created by Kahane supporters or members of the Ku Klux Klan?
        A Greek gallery in Athens exhibited a work of art in the shape of an explosives belt made of macrame, of a Palestinian female terrorist wishing to kill Israelis. Only against Israel are these sorts of masterpieces exhibited - never against other countries, never out of an understanding for suicide bombers who murder civilians that are not Israelis. There is no macrame for Chechnyans. There is no installation in Sweden that understands the suicide bombers in Riyadh. If this is not racism, it is unclear what is. (Ha'aretz)
  • The "Green Line" Has No Legal Standing - Jed Babbin
    The Israeli antiterror "fence" is an ugly necessity, meant to stop people from entering Israel to murder its citizens. The UN General Assembly - which resembles the Mad Hatter's tea party more than a serious international organization working for peace - has asked the International Court of Justice for an "advisory opinion" on the legality of the fence. The question will revolve around the issue of the "green line" - the ceasefire line from the previous Arab-Israeli wars that has no legal standing whatever. It's not a border, not a division of land by treaty or otherwise. But the Palestinians - and their supporters in the UN - want it to be one. The ICJ action will try to establish it as a legal border, although both sides - Israelis and Palestinians alike - have never agreed it to be one. (National Review)
  • What Went Wrong at the BBC: A Public Monopoly Abusing Its Charter Through Bias Against Israel - Trevor Asserson
    Where Israel is concerned, the BBC is in breach of all or most of the guidelines set forth in its Agreement with the Government to which its material must conform. These guidelines include issues such as fairness, respect for truth, due accuracy, attachment to fundamental democratic principles, not broadcasting their own opinions on current affairs or matters of public policy, ensuring that opposing views are not misrepresented, and ensuring that the audience would not be able to gauge reporters' personal views. BBC news reports about Israel are distorted by omission, by inclusion, by only giving partial facts, by who is interviewed, and by the background information or lack of it that is provided. Distorted media reporting creates an atmosphere in which anti-Semitism can thrive. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Sharon: It Would be a Mistake to Rescue Assad from World Pressure
    - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)

    Addressing the issue of Syria, Prime Minister Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday:

    • "I hope it is clear to everyone that negotiations with Syria that start from where they left off means giving up the Golan Heights."
    • Syrian President Bashar Assad "can prove the seriousness of his intentions by responding positively to the world's demand to cease his support for global and regional terror and end his support for the terror organizations and then we will be happy to negotiate with him on every issue without any preconditions."
    • Palestinian terror gets its orders from Damascus, and Hizballah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards activity in Lebanon is all with Syrian permission. "Assad is on the list of those most responsible for the spread of international terror."
    • The Western world is closing in on Assad, pressuring him, and it would be a mistake to rescue him, Sharon said. "We're interested in peace with Syria, but not in exchange for lip service meant to relieve Syria of the pressure it faces."

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