Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 23, 2004

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

In-Depth Issue:

UN: Gaddafi Was Close to Having Bomb - Anton La Guardia (Telegraph-UK)
    Libya succeeded in making weapons-grade plutonium before announcing it would abandon its efforts to build a nuclear bomb, UN inspectors said Friday.
    An IAEA report confirmed that Libya also bought enriched uranium from sources in Pakistan.
    According to Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, from the early 1980s until the end of last year, "Libya imported nuclear material and conducted a wide variety of [clandestine] nuclear activities."

    See also Trail of Smuggled Nuclear Triggers Appears to Lead to Pakistani Military - David Rohde and Eric Lichtblau (International Herald Tribune)
    Interviews with Pakistani businessmen and new court documents filed in the U.S. suggest that Pakistan's powerful military may have played a role in the smuggling of 66 high-speed electrical switches from the U.S. to Pakistan last fall.
    The switches can be used as triggers for nuclear weapons, according to U.S. officials.

Hamas Military Commander Killed in Khan Yunis (Albawaba-Jordan)
    Abd A Salam Abu Mussa, 35, a commander of the Hamas military wing in Khan Yunis, was killed Sunday and another activist was moderately wounded as they tried to launch mortars towards Israeli settlements and military camps in the Gaza Strip.
    The first round Abu Mussa tried to fire exploded in his hands and he was killed on the spot, Palestinian sources reported.
    In September 2003, three Israeli missiles struck the home of Abu Musa, but he escaped from the house minutes before.

Georgian Leader: Islamic Extremists in Pankisi Gorge (Gateway to Russia)
    Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Wednesday that the Pankisi Gorge had become a real breeding ground of Wahhabism.
    "I want to warn those who are spreading Wahhabist literature in Georgia," the President said.
    "Any attempts to disseminate bellicose Islam, to found centers and to finance people engaged in spreading Wahhabism among the inhabitants of the Pankisi Gorge and so-called Kistin Chechens, will be checked by the toughest methods."

Useful Reference:

A Look at Palestinian Suicide Bombings (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
    During more than three years, 461 people have been killed in 110 Palestinian suicide bombings. Here's a list of some of the deadliest suicide attacks.

Key Links

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Suicide Bomber Kills 8 on Jerusalem Bus - James Bennet
    A Palestinian suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded more than 50 aboard a Jerusalem bus Sunday, a day before the International Court of Justice is to begin hearings about the West Bank barrier that Israel says it is building to block such attacks. The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a violent offshoot of Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility. (New York Times)
        See also Bombing Occurred Near Conference of Presidents Meeting - Daphna Berman
    Prominent members of the American Jewish community were in Jerusalem on Sunday for a major conference when the bus explosion rocked their hotel, one block from the scene of the attack. "I saw body parts, organs, and bodies, just lying there," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "When we got there, they were still taking bodies from the bus. They put plastic covers on top of each body, but the wind was so strong that they were blown off. It was devastating. All I could think was that these people were going home, or to school, or shopping. This can never be undone. There are husbands, wives, and children whose lives will never be the same."
        Hoenlein voiced his support of Israel's security fence and added that Sunday's attack was only proof that appeasement encourages terrorism. "Israel doesn't have a right to build the fence - it has a duty to build the fence," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's West Bank Barrier Faces UN Court Scrutiny
    The Hague-based World Court will hold three days of hearings beginning on Monday on the legality of Israel's West Bank security barrier. Israeli officials cite Sunday's Palestinian suicide bombing that killed eight people on a crowded Jerusalem bus as a grim example of why they must keep up construction of a barrier they say has already thwarted dozens of such attacks. The Israeli government has refused to attend the hearings, calling the case political and beyond the court's jurisdiction. The U.S., Britain, the EU, and many Western countries are joining Israel in shunning the hearings. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • Powell: "I Put the Blame Squarely on Arafat"
    In response to a question at Princeton on Friday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "Last year the President took a large political step, with political risk, when he put enough pressure on the Palestinian side for them to come forward with somebody who could be seen as a peacemaker, the new Prime Minister Abu Mazen. And we went to Aqaba. The President stood there with the new Prime Minister, King Abdullah of Jordan and with Prime Minister Sharon, and everybody committed to the roadmap and the President's vision. Unfortunately, it didn't work because the Palestinians were unable - and I put the blame squarely on Mr. Arafat - Arafat was not willing to provide authority to Abu Mazen to take control of the security organizations and to go after terrorism and speak out against terrorism." (State Department)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • No Right Way to Say Absent Classmates Are Dead - Anshel Pfeffer
    A little after 3 P.M., the principal of the Experimental School in the center of Jerusalem, Uri Geva, assembled the 55 students in the graduating class, the teachers, and dozens of parents. This was the first time he had to tell students about the death of a friend, and there was no right way to do so. When news hit of the suicide bombing, Jerusalem schools began the standard procedure of dealing with terror attacks: homeroom teachers went from class to class, checking who was absent and trying to reach them on the phone. Benaya Jonathan Zukerman, 18, and Lior Azulai, 18, were killed and 12 other high school students were wounded in Sunday's Jerusalem bus bombing. (Ha'aretz)
        See also School Reels from Nearby Terror Attack - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
  • Visiting U.S. Congressman Astounded by Israeli Restraint - Tal Yamin-Wolvovich and Arik Bender
    Israel's restraint is remarkable to visiting U.S. Congressman Gerald Nadler: "Any other nation on earth under attack as Israel is would have already begun bombing the Palestinian Authority. If this had happened in America, you would already see the B-52s in the air, blowing up the place where the terrorists were sent from. It is sheer hypocrisy on the part of those who say that Israel must not build the security barrier." (Maariv)
  • Sharon: No Negotiations with Current PA Leadership - Ilan Marciano
    Prime Minister Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, "There will be no peace negotiations with the current Palestinian leadership" because the Palestinians have failed to implement the "road map." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Israel to Seek Political "Compensation" from U.S. for Evacuation - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon sees the disengagement plan as a move to be carried out as part of an agreement with the American administration, which will include a series of political and security benefits for Israel. Last Thursday Sharon told visiting White House envoys he expected an exchange from the U.S. in five areas: an agreement to strengthen Israeli control of large settlement blocs in the West Bank, which will be part of Israel in any future permanent settlement; agreement and backing for the amended route of the separation fence that will be closer to the "green line"; freedom to take strong military action in case terror attacks persist from areas Israel will evacuate; political backing to disengagement moves vis-a-vis the international community; and backing to the Israeli part of the disengagement plan, which will expand the Palestinians' economic affiliation to Egypt and Jordan. Sharon did not ask the U.S. to help finance the evacuation. Jerusalem is interested in reaching an agreement with Bush, and then putting the plan's execution off until after the U.S. elections. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • FM Shalom: Israel to Build Fence Regardless of ICJ Decision
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem Sunday:
        Today we have suffered yet another brutal, inhuman attack on our people and on our way of life - right next door to this hotel - I am sure you all heard the blast. More proof that there are no limits to the hatred of Israel and the refusal to accept our right - as individuals and as a nation - to build our Jewish state in our homeland. So long as the terrorists continue to seek to enter our cities and destroy our lives, Israel will continue to exercise its legal right and its democratic obligation to protect and defend its citizens through building the security fence.
        Israel rejects the referral of the issue of the fence to the International Court of Justice. These proceedings will only encourage the Palestinians to continue to avoid fulfilling their own obligations. We are very encouraged that the overwhelming majority of the world's countries agree with us. Only 13 Muslim and African countries - and Cuba - will be actively participating in the court's proceedings. But the battle is not over. This issue will be referred back to the UN again and the Palestinians will continue to try to use it to bring pressure and sanctions on Israel. Israel will continue to build the fence no matter what the outcome of the political case at the ICJ. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Positive Side of the Fence - Editorial
    It is worth asking why this question should have come before the Hague judges at all. The ICJ is not a supreme court; it is an arbitration panel. It provides a mechanism whereby two states can, by mutual agreement, refer a dispute to third-party settlement. Faced with a choice between international disapprobation and more Israeli deaths, Mr. Sharon has understandably opted for the former. He believes that the fence would have prevented Sunday's atrocity in Jerusalem; and he is almost certainly right. Even in the relative safety of the United Kingdom, we are seeking to bring our frontiers under control. Surely Israel, which has been the target of thousands of terrorist attacks during the intifada, has the same right. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Suicide Bombers Are Real Barrier to Peace - George Kerevan
    Israel's impetus to build the security fence came in March 2002 after 37 attempted Palestinian suicide bombings were launched in 31 days. In Belfast in the 1970s, at least you knew the Provos would try to give a warning before a bomb went off. In Israel, the aim of Palestinian extremists is deliberately to murder civilians. In particular, they have a penchant for blowing up school buses. With no other option other than massive repression on the West Bank, the Israelis have opted to keep out the suicide bombers by starting to build the security fence. It is a cement wall in areas where there has been sniping from the Arab side. There is a similar wall in Belfast, but to date, no one has referred the Belfast wall to the International Court of Justice. (Scotsman-UK)
  • Observations:

    Should the International Court of Justice Give an Advisory Opinion on Israel's Separation Fence? - Prof. Ruth Lapidoth
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Since the Palestinians could not sue Israel in the International Court of Justice as a contentious case - because the Palestinians are not a state and because Israel has not agreed to the jurisdiction of the court - the Palestinians used their influence in the General Assembly, which then asked for an advisory opinion.
    • The emergency special session of the General Assembly was convened in accordance with the Uniting for Peace resolution of 1950, according to which certain conditions have to be fulfilled before the General Assembly can act, and these conditions have not been fulfilled in the present case.
    • In addition, the question is already being dealt with by the Security Council, which has adopted the "road map." The request for an advisory opinion undermines the road map and the attempts to find a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

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