Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 9, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
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Israel's Security Fence: Upcoming Hearings at the International Court of Justice
  (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)

In-Depth Issue:

EU Confirms: PA Used Aid Money to Fund Terror - Omer Carmon (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
    The German newspaper Berlin Morgenpost reported Sunday on the initial results of the European Commission's Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) investigation into suspicions that $1.1 billion in EU aid to the Palestinians was used in an illegal manner.
    The initial report indicates that Arafat transferred much of the European aid money to various Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror groups and to Palestinian officials.

Report: Al-Qaeda Has Nukes (Reuters)
    The pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat said Sunday that al-Qaeda bought tactical nuclear weapons from Ukraine in 1998 and is storing them for possible use.
    The report said al-Qaeda bought the weapons in suitcases from Ukrainian scientists visiting the Afghan city of Kandahar in 1998, when the city was a stronghold of the Taliban.
    After the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, a former Russian national security adviser, Alexander Lebed, said that up to 100 portable suitcase-sized bombs were unaccounted for, each equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT, that could kill as many as 100,000 people.

Model of Al-Aqsa Explodes in Bomb Plotter's Face (Jerusalem Post)
    Abdel Nasser Abu Shokeh, 37, head of Hamas's military wing in Central Gaza, was killed Friday in an explosion believed until now to be a "work accident."
    But Hamas now says an Arab Israeli who had supplied Shokeh with an army uniform gave him a model of Al-Aqsa Mosque as a gift.
    A few hours later, the model exploded, killing its new owner.

Intelligence Reveals Dry Runs of New Threat to Blow Up Airliners - Jason Burke (Observer-UK)
    Islamic militants have conducted dry runs of a devastating new style of bombing on aircraft flying to Europe, intelligence sources believe.
    The tactics, which aim to evade aviation security systems by placing only components of explosive devices on passenger jets, allowing militants to assemble them in the air, have been tried out on planes flying between the Middle East, North Africa, and Western Europe, security sources say.
    Concerns that militants might assemble a bomb or another weapon on board were a key factor in the series of recent cancellations of transatlantic flights.
    Officials in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are believed to have warned that at least 12 dry runs may have been completed and that the terrorists are aiming to try out their plans on flights around the Mediterranean and the Middle East before attempting to bomb a transatlantic route.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Adjustments in Israel's Security Barrier Underway
    Israel is working to reroute parts of its West Bank separation barrier to make it less burdensome on the Palestinians and more acceptable to the U.S., Zalman Shoval, a senior aide to Israel's prime minister, said Sunday. (New York Times)
        See also Modified Fence Plan Excludes Ariel - Matthew Gutman
    Sources in the Defense Ministry said Sunday that the ministry is postponing the construction of the inside loops and eastern spurs of the security fence that would have encompassed Ariel, Karnei Shomron, and Kedumim. The amended route could make the fence more than 100 km shorter - cutting its cost by about $200 million and quickening the pace of construction. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Eiland: Israel to Change Fence Route "Where Necessary" - Amir Oren
    National Security Council Chairman Giora Eiland told the Munich Conference on Security Policy Sunday that Israel would, "where necessary," change the original path of Israel's security fence to ease the disruption to Palestinians' daily lives.
        Eiland stressed that the root of the Israeli-Palestinian problem, ever since the 1920s, has been the Palestinians' ongoing legitimization of terror as an accepted social and political norm. For negotiations to resume, two conditions must be met: The Palestinians must recognize Israel's right to exist in peace as a Jewish state, and they must completely abandon terrorism. (Ha'aretz)
  • Report: Al-Qaeda's Iraq War Strategy
    American officials in Baghdad have obtained a detailed proposal they believe was written by senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, believed to be operating in Iraq. The memo says extremists are failing to enlist support inside the country, and have been unable to scare the Americans into leaving. Yet mounting an attack on Iraq's Shiite majority could rescue the movement by prompting a counterattack against the Arab Sunni minority. Such a "sectarian war" will rally the Sunni Arabs to the religious extremists. The document argues that a war against the Shiites must start soon, before the Americans hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis at the end of June. In the document, the writer indicated that he had directed about 25 suicide bombings inside Iraq. (New York Times)
  • Saudi Warlord Leads Russian Bombers - Mark Franchetti
    A Saudi Islamic militant based in Chechnya is suspected of being behind last Friday's bomb attack on the Moscow metro, which killed 39 people and wounded more than 130. Abu-al-Walid al-Ghamidi, 36, a follower of the Wahhabi sect that dominates worship in Saudi Arabia, has been identified by the FSB, the Russian intelligence service, as the commander of several hundred Arabs fighting alongside the rebels. He is thought to have been responsible for a wave of suicide bomb attacks that have killed more than 200 people in just over a year. (London Sunday Times)
  • Hizballah Influence Grows Among Palestinians, Arab Israelis
    Israel has indicted two of its Arab citizens for allegedly training with Hizballah to carry out suicide bombings, in the latest sign that the Lebanese guerrilla group is becoming a main sponsor of militants fighting Israel. The Shin Bet says that since the beginning of 2003, six different Hizballah cells have been discovered among Israeli Arabs. That is in addition to Israeli intelligence estimates that many Palestinian militant cells in the northern part of the West Bank receive funding and take orders from Hizballah. Hizballah gives as much as $25,000 each for Palestinians to buy weapons and explosives to carry out attacks against Israel, Palestinian militants said. Hizballah constitutes "the major threat coming from outside" the country, said Daniel Seaman, a government spokesman. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Saudi Fighter Pilot Recruited by Al-Qaeda for Suicide Mission Against Israel
    Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Dan Haloutz said Sunday that the Saudis arrested a fighter pilot who was recruited by al-Qaeda in order to crash his plane into Israel. Reportedly, bin Laden was behind the planned attack. According to intelligence reports, al-Qaeda is seeking to recruit suicide pilots for operations in Israel. As a result, in recent months Israel has turned to the U.S. to pressure Saudi Arabia to pull back its F-15 fighter planes that have been deployed at Tabuk airbase, 150 km from the Israeli border. (Maariv-Hebrew; 9 Feb 04)
  • U.S.: Gaza Plan - Yes, Expanding W. Bank Settlements - No - Aluf Benn
    The U.S. will not oppose evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements, but will not allow Israel to expand West Bank settlements concurrently. American officials have said in recent days that the U.S. administration is not in favor of transferring Gaza settlers to the West Bank. The administration is not prepared to give up on the road map and to replace it with Sharon's unilateral plan.
        Sources in Sharon's bureau have said in recent days that the Gaza evacuation will probably include dismantling fewer than the 17 settlements mentioned last week. One Jerusalem source said Sharon may suggest initially evacuating isolated settlements and leave the evacuation of Gush Katif for a later phase, depending on what Israel receives in return from the U.S. Sources say national security adviser Giora Eiland will suggest to Sharon four options for evacuating settlements under the disengagement plan; the broadest option includes evacuating most Gaza settlements and some West Bank settlements. Israel is not considering withdrawing from the Jordan Valley under any circumstances. (Ha'aretz)
  • IAF Strike Kills Jihad Man - Arnon Regular
    A leading Islamic Jihad operative, Aziz Mahmoud al-Shami, was killed Saturday in the Gaza Strip when a missile fired from an Israeli air force helicopter struck the car in which he was traveling. Shami belonged to Islamic Jihad's military wing and was involved in terror attacks for years, including the Beit Lid bombing attack in January 1995 in which 22 Israelis were killed. In October 2003, Shami was directly involved in a terror strike on Netzarim in which three IDF soldiers were killed, and he was planning another strike against Netzarim when he was killed. Israel government spokesman Avi Pazner said, "It is important for us to try to prevent terrorism before it occurs, and we thought we would save many human lives by eliminating him." (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Hastily Opens Trial in U.S. Convoy Attack - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The PA on Saturday pressed charges against four Palestinians accused of involvement in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic vehicle in the northern Gaza Strip on October 15 in which three Americans were killed. Palestinian journalists in Gaza City said they were surprised to receive a message from the PA announcing the beginning of the trial. "Until now we have been told that the security forces were still searching for the culprits," said one journalist. "It's clear this is a play intended to appease the Americans." After the U.S. advertised a $5 million reward in Palestinian newspapers on Thursday for information leading to the capture of the killers, Arafat instructed PA security forces to step up their efforts to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to trial. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hundreds Resign from Arafat's Fatah
    Almost 400 members of Arafat's ruling Fatah party resigned Saturday to protest what they call corruption and bad leadership within the movement. "Fatah, as it stands today, is leading us toward tribalism, internal conflict, and a bottomless pit," their statement said. The mass resignation is the latest outgrowth of long-standing friction between the younger members of the Palestinians' main political force and the old guard who accompanied Arafat back to the West Bank and Gaza Strip from exile. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinians View Gaza Withdrawal - Danny Rubinstein
    The Palestinian has not yet been born who will oppose evacuation of settlements. It does not appear that there will be serious problems in reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority on evacuating the settlements and transferring them in an orderly fashion to the Palestinian administration. However, the head of the international relations and diplomacy department at Al Quds University, Mounzer Dajani, said Saturday that the Israeli withdrawal will lead to huge chaos in the Gaza Strip. The heads of the various security branches who are vying with one another for positions of power will embark on a violent struggle to take up the posts abandoned by the IDF and Jewish settlers. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Nuclear Jihad - B. Raman
    Pakistan has been the epicenter of state-sponsored nuclear proliferation since the late 1980s. Having benefited from funds contributed by Libya, Iran, and Saudi Arabia for its clandestine military nuclear project, the Pakistan state had to agree to requests from these countries for helping them in acquiring a similar capability. Even if one were to accept Musharraf's unconvincing arguments that this was a rogue operation by greedy scientists without the knowledge of the military, if greedy scientists were prepared to help other states in return for money, they would be equally capable of selling material and expertise to jihadi terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda. It is time now to pay more attention to the dangers of a Talibanization or al-Qaedization of Pakistan's scientific community. (Kashmir Telegraph-India)
  • Observations:

    Fence Facts (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • When completed, the fence could reach 700 km, of which only 21 km will be concrete walls. As such, the fence is a temporary measure and should not be viewed as a permanent border. It is clearly not comparable to the Berlin Wall, which kept East Germans imprisoned inside the Iron Curtain; the fence is intended to keep terrorists outside of Israel.
    • The primary purpose of the fence is to prevent the infiltration of suicide bombers into Israel. The fence also is designed to prevent sniper fire along Israeli highways and into Israeli population centers. These were the primary factors for selecting the route of the fence.
    • Walls are used especially in urban areas, where the use of a succession of wire fences and patrol roads would require greater territory and the dismantling of existing private homes.
    • A wall in the area of Kalkilya has been erected in order to prevent sniper fire on the Trans-Israel Highway, Route 6, which has occurred in the past.
    • In order to build the fence, Israel has not destroyed a single house belonging to the Palestinians. Private property has been utilized only by agreement with previous owners.
    • The security fence is a "breathing barrier," permitting Palestinians to cross into Israel after an appropriate security check. Currently, 41 gates are planned for the fence. It is a fence for peace and the normalization of relations between peoples that will allow Palestinians to work in Israel. It is not a militarized barrier - using an electrified fence or minefields - as in other conflict zones. Yet it has already significantly reduced the number of fatalities from terrorist attacks in areas where it has been completed.

          Adapted from Israel's Anti-Terrorism Fence

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