Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 11, 2004

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

In-Depth Issue:

Moderate Earthquake Hits Israel (Ha'aretz)
    An earthquake registering 5 on the Richter scale was felt throughout the country Wednesday morning, but caused no injuries and only limited damage.
    The epicenter of the quake was at the northern tip of the Dead Sea along the fault line of the Great Rift Valley.

Palestinian PM Providing Cement for Israel's Security Barrier? - Ramit Plushnick-Masti (AP/Miami Herald)
    A Palestinian parliamentary committee is investigating whether Palestinian cement companies are providing Israel with cement for its West Bank barrier and have been selling concrete to Jewish settlements.
    Israel's Channel 10 TV reported that the Al-Quds Cement Company - owned by Palestinian Prime Minister Qurei's family - has been providing the materials to help build the barrier.
    Television footage also showed cement mixers leaving the Al-Quds company and driving to the Jewish town of Maale Adumim in the West Bank.

Ford to Review Funding for Habitat International Coalition (JTA/Cleveland Jewish News/ADL)
    The president of the Ford Foundation, Susan Berresford, told the ADL national executive committee last Friday in Palm Beach, Fla., that the foundation is reviewing the status of another grantee - the Habitat International Coalition (HIC).
    In a letter to ADL, Berresford said, "Our review of the HIC web site revealed material that we find offensive and deeply troubling....We will now have an immediate, full and serious discussion with relevant members of HIC's leadership about these matters....As we have made clear, we will not support groups that promote or engage in violence, terrorism, bigotry, or the destruction of any state."
    See also Habitat International Coalition's Anti-Israel Agenda (NGO Monitor)
    See also Does Ford Sponsor NGOs that Support Palestinian Terror? - Lee Kaplan (FrontPageMagazine)

France Probes Bank Accounts of Arafat's Wife - Thierry Leveque (Reuters/Washington Times)
French prosecutors said Tuesday they had opened an inquiry into transfers totaling $11.5 million into bank accounts held in France by Suha Arafat, wife of Yasser Arafat, who lives in Paris.
    With her uncovered hair and expensive, Western-style clothes, Suha Arafat cut an unlikely figure during visits to Gaza.
    Her visits appear to have become rarer in recent years.

Key Links

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Concerned Israeli Gaza Withdrawal May Boost Hamas
    Some U.S. officials are worried that unilateral Israeli moves to relocate Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip will boost the standing of Palestinian extremists. The radical Hamas group could be expected to claim credit for the Israeli withdrawal and may become the "dominant" force in Gaza by undercutting an already weakened Palestinian Authority, the officials said. "That would be a real big negative for President Bush's vision of two states living in peace and security because the Hamas vision is one state with no Jews in it," one senior U.S. official said. (Reuters)
        See also The Head of the General Security Services (Shabak) Also Warns: The Gaza Pullout is Dangerous - Ben Caspit
    In the Israeli security establishment opposition to the unilateral disengagement plan is increasing. On Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon said the Gaza pullout will re-energize terrorism. Also Avi Dichter, head of the General Security Services, expressed a negative and pessimistic view of the plan, stating that it would cause the Palestinians to have a sense of victory and will thus promote terrorism. (Maariv-Hebrew; 11 Feb 04)
        See also Amos Gilad: "Hamas-stan" in the Gaza Strip
    Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, who advises Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, said the goal of Hamas is to take over from the PA and create a "Hamas-stan." Fatah is still strong enough to prevent this development but faces a strong Hamas challenge. (Israel Radio-Reshet Bet)
        See also Is Hamas Preparing to Inherit the Palestinian Authority? - Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA)
  • Two Car Bombs Kill Over 100 in Iraq
    More than 100 Iraqis were killed and at least 76 were injured by two car bombs in less than 24 hours. On Wednesday a car bomb exploded in Baghdad outside the recruiting station of the Iraqi Army headquarters, killing at least 47. On Tuesday a bomb in Iskandariya, 30 miles south of Baghdad, ripped through a police station where many Iraqis had lined up to apply for jobs with the police, killing at least 54 people. (New York Times)
  • Palestinians Decry Convoy Attack Arrests
    A senior Palestinian security official said Tuesday he does not believe those charged in a PA military court Saturday for the Oct. 15 attack in Gaza that killed three American security guards are the culprits. The real perpetrators could be linked to Arafat's own Fatah organization, or even to the Palestinian security forces, he said. Edward Abington, a former U.S. consul in Jerusalem who now works as a consultant for the PLO, said, "There is some suspicion I've heard by American officials that Arafat is dragging his feet on the investigation because the people who did it may get too close to Fatah."
        On Tuesday, hundreds of Palestinians, including dozens of gunmen firing in the air, marched through Gaza City protesting the indictment. "This trial is a farce, and the PA should release the detainees immediately and issue a public apology," said their leader, Abu Huzifa. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Eleven Palestinians Killed in Gaza Gun Battle
    Palestinian militants in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City Wednesday opened fire on IDF forces who were on a mission to root out militant cells behind mortar attacks on Jewish towns in the Gaza Strip and rocket attacks on southern Israel. Israeli forces returned fire, reportedly killing 11 Palestinians and wounding 50. A bodyguard of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was among those killed. (Ha'aretz)
  • Peres: Palestinians Almost Out of Time - Gil Hoffman
    The Palestinians must fight terrorism or risk being shunned and financially abandoned by the international community, opposition leader Shimon Peres told King Abdullah II of Jordan on Tuesday in Amman. Peres said that, just like the demographic clock threatens the future of Israel, a "terror clock" threatens the future of the Palestinians. Regarding Syrian President Assad, Peres told Abdullah that Assad should come to Jerusalem or invite Sharon to Damascus.
        Peres presented his plan for incentives for Middle East peace, which include establishing a new Middle Eastern anti-terrorism treaty organization, Israel and a new Palestinian state joining the EU, adding Middle Eastern nations to NATO's Partnership for Peace organization, and the U.S. guaranteeing a firm border between Israel and the Palestinians to prevent future territorial disputes. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Establishes New Regional Brigade for Seam Zone Security
    The IDF is completing the establishment of a new brigade which will be responsible for the seam zone area from south of Kalkilya to the outskirts of Jerusalem - an area that includes 9 Israeli communities and 32 Palestinian villages. The new Macabim Brigade was established to reinforce homeland security in the area of the western seam zone in which the security fence is not yet complete. The brigade will include additional forces for protecting the zone, enabling commanders to focus on preventing infiltration of terrorists into Israel and providing security for the Israeli civilians in the region. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Palestinians Kill Alleged Collaborator in West Bank
    The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed faction of the Fatah movement, said Tuesday it had killed Tahseen Abu Arkub, 50, of Ramallah, accused of collaborating with Israeli security forces. "We shot him dead with four bullets to the head and chest," an al-Aqsa representative said. (Reuters)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israelis Are Not Seen as Victims - Ze'ev Schiff
    Terrorism against Israeli citizens is seen by many abroad, and especially in Europe, as part of a tribal war in a distant land. A study conducted in Germany about the way in which German television covers Israel recently concluded: "In the news, Israel is for the most part seen as the guilty party. Even when covering stories where Israelis suffer from the acts of their opponents, they are not simply presented as victims. Editors often frame suicide attacks as a reaction to injustices committed against Palestinians." There is no point in going to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if Israel cannot succeed in convincing anyone that it is on the defense in the face of mass terror. (Ha'aretz)
  • How to Build a Fence - David Makovsky
    A properly constructed fence could achieve multiple objectives: reduce violence by limiting the infiltration of suicide bombers into Israel, short-circuit the deadlock on achieving a two-state solution, advance the debate in Israel about the future of most settlements, and perhaps even provide an incentive for Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Even without negotiation, the fence would function as a provisional border and could be modified in the future if Palestinians make real progress in halting terrorism against Israel and agree to restart talks. The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Affairs)
  • Perfidious Princes - Again - Stephen Schwartz
    American officials had criticized the Saudis for granting diplomatic status to those whose activities do not constitute legitimate diplomatic business. Of 24 Saudis ordered to leave the U.S., 16 were employees of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America (IIASA) in Fairfax, Va. IIASA is affiliated with a religious university in Riyadh, but it is funded by and serves as an arm of the embassy's Religious Affairs Department. Its board chairman is the Saudi ambassador to America, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. In November, the diplomatic visa of one Islamic cleric who lectured at IIASA, Jaafar Idris, was revoked after he was scheduled to appear at a Muslim conference in Houston. Another cleric, Sheikh Allamah Ibn Jibreen, was advertised to address the Houston gathering via satellite. On his Web site, linked to that of IIASA as a recommended source of Islamic teaching, Jibreen called on Saudis to go north of the Iraqi border to attack Coalition troops.
        Last month, the Senate Finance Committee said it would investigate 24 Islamic charities and other entities operating in the U.S. The target list includes the Muslim World League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, and the International Islamic Relief Organization, all branches of the Saudi government. The Saudi rulers want us to believe they are our friends, and that terrorist rule is the only alternative to their rule. Yet they still subsidize the global Wahhabi offensive. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Security Barrier - A Buffer is Needed Between Enemies - Moshe Ram (Chicago Tribune)

    • The Israeli government seriously considers objections raised by Palestinians about the route of the fence, and several changes have been made based on these requests. Every effort is being made to minimize hardship to the Palestinian population by including a system of dozens of gates designed to provide access. But while the fence can be moved or dismantled, lives lost cannot be restored.
    • The fence will be needed as long as Palestinian political and religious leaders continue to encourage hatred of Israel and Jews in their media, mosques, and schools.
    • The fence will be needed as long as Palestinian officials prefer self-destructive behavior such as the recent rejection of $30 million of U.S. aid to Palestinian non-governmental organizations because it was stipulated that the funds not go to entities "engaged in terrorist acts."
    • The fence will be needed as long as terrorist leaders send young women so brainwashed to desire the destruction of "Zionists" that they choose to blow themselves up instead of watching their children grow up.
    • The fence will be needed until the Palestinian leadership, with the full support of the Palestinian people, completely rejects terrorism as a means of achieving political objectives.
    • The fence will be needed until Palestinian leaders arise who are, in President Bush's words, "untainted by terrorism and corruption," and can express recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
    • Until then, Israel will not risk the lives of its people on empty promises to fight terrorism. When the Palestinians have torn down the wall of blinding anti-Israel hatred and violence that envelopes them, Israel will be more than willing to exchange the fence for bridges to peace.

      The writer is Israel's Consul General in Chicago.

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