Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 2, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Has Quietly Expelled Dozens of Saudi Diplomats ( MichNews)
    The U.S. has ordered the expulsion of dozens of Saudi diplomats suspected of helping promulgate al-Qaeda ideology, diplomatic sources said.
    About 70 diplomats and embassy staffers were expelled in late 2003 and dozens of others were ordered to leave by mid-February.
    Many of those expelled were said to have worked in the office of the Saudi defense attache.
    Sources said most of the diplomats were responsible for operations of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America [IIASA] located in Fairfax, Va.
    IIASA, established in 1988, has provided free training for hundreds of Muslims in the U.S. in Wahhabi ideology, the basis for al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda Keeps Off Israel for Now - Jay Bushinsky (Washington Times)
    Israeli intelligence officials believe that al-Qaeda has largely spared the Jewish state from terrorist attacks as part of a global plan to first destroy the U.S. and establish an Islamic empire before targeting Israel, based on intensive monitoring of al-Qaeda's operations, and statements and analysis of its leadership's beliefs.
    Bin Laden and his followers have been under scrutiny in Israel since the late 1990s - at least two years before September 11.
    Al-Qaeda's presence in the Palestinian territories today is limited to rank-and-file operatives, usually Palestinians or Jordanians, who maintain close links with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
    According to foreign ministry adviser Jonathan D. Halevi, al-Qaeda is waging jihad, or holy war, against the U.S. as "retaliation" for what it considers "the terrorist war waged by the U.S. against the nation of Islam."

Miami Suit Seeks $20 Million from Palestinians for Terrorist Acts - Hilary Roxe (AP/Miami Herald)
    Moshe Saperstein, a U.S. citizen injured in a terrorist attack in Israel, and the estate of Ahuva Amergi, an Israeli lawyer killed by the same attacker, have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Miami, seeking more than $20 million from Yasser Arafat, five Palestinian groups, and other individuals accused of organizing, facilitating, and sponsoring attacks against Jewish civilians.
    A U.S. law grants federal district courts jurisdiction in cases related to international terrorism, or in cases that violate international law or U.S. treaties.
    Saperstein falls under the first case, Amergi under the second, the filing said.

Grisly Palestinian College Politics - Evan Osnos (Chicago Tribune)
    Student politicians at Bir Zeit University no longer stump on better library services and cheaper lunches. They also campaign on which party claims to have killed more Israelis.
    "For the Islamist bloc, it is 135," says senior Rami Barghouti, a leader of the student bloc formed by militant Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

    In the Daily Alert of January 30, 2004, an article entitled "Palestinian's Misery Self-Inflicted by Refusal to Renounce Terrorism" by Craig Weiss from the Arizona Republic was mistakenly attributed to another writer.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Argues World Court Has No Right to Judge Israel - David R. Sands
    The Bush administration said Friday the top UN court does not have the jurisdiction to put Israel in the dock over the construction of a security fence designed to contain Palestinian terrorists. The U.S. joined Israel, Britain, Australia, France, and more than two dozen countries in urging the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to stay out of the dispute over the fence, arguing it could hurt a political settlement and set a dangerous precedent for future disputes between states.
        The World Court "is not the appropriate forum to discuss Israel's security barrier," the administration said in its submission. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher warned that The Hague case could undercut diplomatic efforts under the U.S.-backed road map. For the court to issue an opinion on the case, he said, would violate the principle that the ICJ would only claim jurisdiction in disputes where the parties mutually agreed in advance to abide by the decision. Boucher said the U.S. has its own concerns about the Israeli fence, but said the question should be hammered out in direct negotiations, not through the UN legal body. (Washington Times)
        See also EU Nations Oppose ICJ Hearing on Fence Case - Aluf Benn, Nathan Guttman, and Arnon Regular
    Fifteen EU members and 10 members-in-waiting, as well as the U.S., Canada, Russia, South Africa, and Cameroon, joined Israel in submitting affidavits to the ICJ against the authority of the court to rule on the fence. Israel's 131-page affidavit, written by international law expert Prof. Daniel Bethlehem, states that the international court has no authority to discuss the fence because the process leading to the UN resolution mandating it to do so was flawed. The affidavit also rejected the "propriety" of the process, noting that the issue of the fence is a political one, not a judicial one, and that discussing it will undermine efforts for a political resolution. It should also reject the case because the Palestinian appeal to the court was politically motivated. Israel presented the threat of Palestinian terror as the factor leading to the decision to build the fence. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Sen. Clinton Backs Security Fence - Melissa Radler
    Israel's security fence, built to halt Palestinian terrorism, is outside the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said Sunday. "This fence is a legitimate response by a sovereign nation to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks," she said. Clinton issued rare praise for the Bush administration for opposing the court's decision to review the legality of the fence. She also lauded Israel for building the fence, which she described as a restrained, defensive measure against terrorism. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Key Pakistani Said to Admit Atom Transfers
    The founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, has signed a detailed confession admitting that during the last 15 years he provided Iran, North Korea, and Libya with the designs and technology to produce the fuel for nuclear weapons. Khan presided over a network that smuggled nuclear hardware on chartered planes, shared secret designs for the centrifuges that produce the enriched uranium necessary to develop a nuclear weapon, and gave personal briefings to Iranian, Libyan, and North Korean scientists in covert meetings abroad. Khan said he shared the technology because he thought the emergence of more nuclear states would ease Western attention on Pakistan, and that it would help the Muslim cause. (New York Times)
  • 56 Kurds Killed in Suicide Blasts in Northern Iraq
    Two suicide bombers killed at least 56 people and wounded at least 200 in Erbil on Sunday during Muslim holiday celebrations inside the separate headquarters of Iraq's two leading Kurdish political parties. (New York Times)
  • 244 Die in Saudi Stampede During Muslim Pilgrimage
    At least 244 Muslim pilgrims were crushed to death and a similar number were injured Sunday in a stampede during a devil-stoning ritual at the climax of the annual hajj season in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • One-Third of Iranian Parliament Quits in Protest
    More than one-third of Iran's Parliament resigned Sunday to protest a sweeping ban on candidates running in the parliamentary election later this month. Angry lawmakers who have held a three-week sit-in at parliament handed their resignations to the speaker during the session, broadcast live across the nation on Iranian radio. Last month, the hard-line Guardian Council barred more than 2,000 candidates, including 87 current members of parliament, from competing for the 290-seat assembly in elections scheduled for Feb. 20. (New York Times)
        See also Khatami Terms Tel Aviv as U.S. Capital
    Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told German television Saturday: "Israel's Zionist lobby decides a major part of American policy. I...feel sorry for the American nation because although its capital is Washington, its real capital is Tel Aviv." The Iranian president also reiterated that "historically as well as morally Israel is not a legitimate state." (IRIB News-Iran)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Vows to Kidnap Soldiers - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin said in Gaza City on Friday that his movement is planning to kidnap IDF soldiers to exchange them for Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails. Hamas had planned and is still planning to kidnap Israelis "until we achieve victory. There is no solution for the prisoners except through kidnapping Israeli soldiers," Yassin said.
        Hamas condemned Fatah for making a "hasty claim" of responsibility for last Thursday's bus bombing in Jerusalem and published on its website a picture of the bomber, Ali Ja'arah, wearing a band with the inscription, "The Kassam Brigades," saying he was one of its members. Sources in the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem said the Hamas statement surprised them because Ja'arah, who worked as a policeman, was not known as a religious person. "On the contrary, he was closely associated with Fatah," the sources noted. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 3 Palestinian Terrorists Killed in Rafah
    Three Palestinian terrorists, including a senior Islamic Jihad leader, were killed in an exchange of fire with IDF troops in the Gaza Strip city of Rafah on Monday. An IDF soldier was lightly wounded during the operation to arrest the Islamic Jihad leader, who the army said was responsible for shooting attacks, firing mortar shells and Qassam rockets, and planting explosives. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Kills "Ticking Bomb" Terrorist in Jericho - Margot Dudkevitch
    In an operation launched Sunday in Jericho to nab Fatah Tanzim fugitives, a Palestinian intelligence official described by Israel as a "ticking bomb" was killed and another seriously wounded when he resisted arrest and shot at security forces. It was the first military operation in the city since last August. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Saving the Palestinian Authority - Danny Rubinstein
    "Who will turn the tables and [reject] the intifada, which has lost its purpose?" asked the headline of an article written last week by Imad Shakur, an Israeli citizen who was for years an adviser to Arafat, published in the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Arafat, he says, should declare that government power in the territories is entirely in the hands of the PA. Then he should demand that all the various Palestinian movements, popular-democratic front organizations, and splinter groups should turn into political parties and have the right to operate in the political arena. Para-military organizations that are not part of the political framework should be given a week to dismantle themselves. A group that did not heed the directive should be deemed illegal. Members of such dismantled groups would be incorporated in the PA's official security apparatus, and their salaries should be guaranteed for three years. The present PA government should resign, and an emergency government should be formed and include representatives of all parties that commit themselves to the reform program.
        Last week's announcement by the PA's National Security Council that it is establishing emergency committees to impose law and order in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is seen as unlikely to have any practical effect. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hizballah's Uncertain Course - Eyal Zisser
    An emerging regional reality is severely constraining Hizballah's freedom of maneuver, and internal Lebanese dynamics are also weakening the organization and limit its operating room. Almost a year after the American conquest of Iraq, new rules of the game in the Middle East are becoming clearer. Both Syria and Iran are interested in calming things down in order not to draw American fire, and that seriously limits Hizballah's freedom to act against Israel. Constant criticism of the organization in the Lebanese press indicates that the public's patience is wearing thin. About a week ago, even al-Safir, which is closely linked to Damascus, attacked Hizballah for using its struggle to liberate Shab'a Farms as an excuse to avoid addressing Lebanon's internal problems. To some extent, this prisoner exchange deal is an achievement for Hizballah, but it is a short-term gain. The day after the exchange is carried out, people will again question the ultimate purpose of the organization's activities. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies/Tel Aviv University)
  • Playing on Both Teams of the Nuclear Game - Aluf Benn
    Recent disclosures about Iran and Libya's nuclear programs highlighted the limits of monitoring by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). Although it kept tabs on Iran and Libya, the IAEA was unable to detect their nuclear programs because of its rigid mandate and an "organizational culture" that leads it to trust at face value the declarations countries make. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    The World Court Case on Israel's Security Fence: Legal and Policy Implications - Ruth Wedgwood (Access/Middle East)

    • One concern is whether this is a misuse of the so-called advisory jurisdiction of the Court, which is not meant to be a substitute for so-called "contentious jurisdiction" - for fights between states. If the General Assembly becomes too licentious in its use of the referral mechanism for advisory questions, it could easily drain away the careful limitations, the consent-based nature of most of the Court's jurisdiction.
    • The fact is that the question posed to the Court only looks at the Israeli seam-zone, and not at the instigating or provoking behaviors on the other side.
    • It is Israel's position that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to the West Bank. Nonetheless, Article 49 says that an occupying power can evacuate an area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. Israel's argument would be that they're using the seam-zone because an imperative military necessity demands it.
    • Most constitutional questions in life involve balancing and weighing. The Israeli argument would be that they have an affirmative duty to prevent interference with the right to life, both of their own citizens of Arab and Jewish descent, and others who may be harmed in suicide bombings.
    • Article 18 of the UN Charter says that decisions of the General Assembly on important questions must be made by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting. Important questions include recommendations with respect to the maintenance of international peace and security. Here, the vote was 90 in favor, 8 against, 74 abstentions.
    • If the Court appears to strip Israel of any ability to take proportionate measures to protect itself, I think it's going to hurt the UN, it's going to hurt the Court, it's going to hurt Israel; it's not going to advance the peace process.

    Professor Ruth Wedgwood, an expert on international law, the UN, human rights, and the law of military conflict, is Professor of International Law and Diplomacy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, on leave from Yale Law School.

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