Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 24, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:

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:

Arafat's Call for "Day of Rage" Finds Little Favor - Toby Harnden (Telegraph-UK)
    Arafat's call for Palestinians to "make your voice heard to the International Court of Justice and the entire world" went largely unheeded in Ramallah.
    Many shopkeepers ignored calls for a one-hour shutdown and most pupils let out of school to attend rallies went home instead.
    This reflected growing dissatisfaction with Arafat's Fatah movement and a belief that the Palestinian leaders began to mobilize against the barrier only when it was too late.
    See also Day of Rage Turns to Apathy and Recrimination (Independent-UK)

UK and Sweden Pay for Arafat's Hague Propagandists (IMRA)
    The Palestinian propaganda offensive against Israel in the Hague is being led by two lawyers - Michael Tarazi and Diana Butto, who are employed by Arafat's PLO and whose salaries are being paid by the taxpayers of Britain and Sweden via the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU).
    The NSU, created in 1998 for technical assistance to the PLO and under its control, continues to operate even after the collapse of the Oslo framework and negotiations, primarily as an information and propaganda arm of the Palestinian Authority.
    The European Institute for Research on the Middle East has completed a study of the NSU.

Will the Jerusalem Fence Help? - Leslie Susser (JTA)
    Two bus bombings in Jerusalem within three weeks killed 19 Israelis and injured more than 100.
    In both, the attackers came from the Bethlehem area, infiltrating through gaps in the security fence south of the city.
    The problem is that even when it is completed, the fence along the city's outer perimeter will leave on the Israeli side most of the city's 200,000 Palestinians.
    See also Doubts About Efficiency of Jerusalem Fence - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    There is a great deal of doubt regarding the efficiency of the fence being built around Jerusalem.
    The fence in Jerusalem actually annexes almost 180,000 Palestinians to Israel, and there are probably a significant number of terrorist collaborators among them.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel to Hold Alternative Hearings at World Court
    Israel was to stage its own alternative to the world court hearings on its West Bank barrier Tuesday. Two U.S. congressmen who are monitoring proceedings in The Hague will form a panel overseeing the "alternative hearing," where 17 members of families who are victims of terror will tell their stories, said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman David Saranga. (AFP)
        See also Pro-Fence Ads Being Shown on U.S. TV - Melissa Radler
    In an effort to garner public support for the security fence, a series of 30-second TV ads featuring mothers whose children were killed by suicide bombers began airing on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC in the Washington area last week, sponsored by The Israel Project (View the Ad).
        A new poll released last week by The Israel Project found that 74% of 800 likely voters in the U.S. agree that Israel has a right to build a security fence, and 69% agree, while 25% disagree, that "Israel, like any other country, should not be told by an international court how to protect its own citizens." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Pathologist Faces Grisly Task After Bombings - Greg Myre
    After the suicide bombing on Sunday, the flesh and the bones were collected from the bus and the street, and delivered to Israel's forensic center where Dr. Jehuda Hiss carried out his grim duty of piecing together the broken bodies and tending to the raw emotions of the living. The police announced seven dead, but when Dr. Hiss and his team had developed genetic profiles on the remains, they discovered an eighth. "This person must have been sitting next to the bomber," Dr. Hiss said.
        The most awkward moment comes when families ask to see the victim. "I say it is better to remember them when they were living," Dr. Hiss said. About a quarter of the families insist. "I explain it's only part of the body. Still, they will hug a foot if that is all there is," he said. He used to reject such requests, but psychologists recommended otherwise. (New York Times)
  • Rumsfeld: Iran and Syria Aiding Iraq Terrorism
    Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. defense secretary, arrived in Baghdad Monday to accuse Iran and Syria of complicity in the terrorist violence in Iraq. Rumsfeld was told by senior officers that the main threat to stability now came from terrorists rather than pro-Saddam fighters, and they were switching their attacks from Americans to Iraqis. "We know Iran has harbored al-Qaeda, we know they had people moving across the border....We know Syria has been a hospitable place for escaping Iraqis," said Rumsfeld. Asked if pressure should be put on Damascus and Teheran to cease their activities, he replied: "That wouldn't be a bad thing." (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon: Depth of Withdrawal Depends on U.S. Commitments - Aluf Benn
    Sharon told the Likud faction Monday he intended to ask the U.S. to recognize the Israeli security line in the territories as "a long-term interim arrangement." He said: "We want to ensure there will be no diplomatic plan or demands on Israel from any source until a different Palestinian leadership is set up that fights terror and applies the road map. In the interim period, we shall fix the security line, and that is why the Palestinians are so worried about this."
        Sharon would like to see American commitments to Israel anchored in a written memorandum of understanding from the U.S. administration. He said the depth of the withdrawal would depend on what Israel received in return, and praised Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the list of proposals he had drawn up as possible compensation. Israel plans to ask the Americans to recognize the blocs of Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel, and Gush Etzion and agree that they be excluded from the list of settlements where building is frozen. Israel will also request that Washington prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territories after the Israeli withdrawal. (Ha'aretz)
  • GSS Chief Dichter Justifies Barrier - Arik Bender
    In his semi-annual briefing to members of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, General Security Services Director Avi Dichter said Tuesday that terror operations occur only in areas where the security barrier has yet to have been completed. "Ninety percent of terror cells operated from Samaria, but since the barrier was erected there, the terror activity came to a complete standstill," Dichter revealed. (
  • Dahlan: Gaza Pullout "Victory" for Intifada - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In an interview with the Palestinian daily al-Quds, Muhammed Dahlan, former PA Minister of Security, said: "The Israeli withdrawal is a victory for us and we must celebrate it. Hizballah turned Israel's retreat from South Lebanon into victory. The withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip and some West Bank settlements is one of the most important achievements of the intifada. The withdrawal should take place without an agreement and with no political gains (for Israel). Sharon has decided to withdraw unilaterally, and this is cause for celebration." According to one PA official, Israel and the U.S. are demanding that Dahlan become the de facto commander of the Gaza Strip after the withdrawal. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Turning Point for the Palestinians - Danny Rubinstein
    It's hard for the Palestinians to hide their satisfaction. Had Israel proposed an agreement on withdrawal from Gaza to them, they would have been required to give something in return. Now they are getting it for free. "For us, the withdrawal from Gaza will not come at the expense of anything else, and we certainly won't agree to give anything in exchange on the West Bank," said Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath. The PA, together with the various opposition organizations, will try to turn the withdrawal into a Palestinian victory campaign, the likes of which hasn't been seen for years. The situation is characterized by a feeling of success that is gradually coming to include almost all the political activists in the West Bank and in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Building a Freedom Fence - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    The Palestinians and their leaders in the Arab world - who created the whole tragedy by waging a war of extermination in the first place, second place, and third place - have shown no willingness to accept Israel, no matter what concessions are offered. Conflict management, not conflict resolution, is the only real option. Construction of the fence has been inaccurately described as some kind of major land grab. The opposite is true. Land is being yielded, and the fence constitutes only a minor modification of borders, one that can be adjusted to some degree by future negotiations of other Israeli territory. It is not a project conceived and supported by the Israeli right but by the Israeli center. (U.S. News)
  • Israel's Sharon is Up to Something in Gaza. But What? - Jonathan Rauch
    Sharon is a general, and when a general decides he is in for a long siege, he consolidates his lines. A long siege is what Israel must now prepare for. Israelis, the White House, and more or less all people with eyes in their heads now believe that, as David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy puts it, "So long as Yasser Arafat remains leader of the Palestinians, there is no hope for peace and no hope of partnership." By getting out of Gaza, Sharon can firm up his lines and redeploy his resources.
        More-defensible boundaries cannot exclude bombers entirely. Nor can they stop mortar shells and rockets. The Israeli army would continue to strike into Palestinian territory in both retaliation and pre-emption. There is no peace process. As Yossi Shain, the head of Tel Aviv University's government department, says, "A peace deal with a central authority that can command all the forces among the Palestinians is not attainable and is not likely to be established soon." So Israelis are digging in for a long wait. Americans may have to do the same. (National Journal)
  • Observations:

    Egypt Asks Israel to Control Gaza Border - Yosef Goell (Jerusalem Post)

    • Egypt has confidentially asked Israel to retain its military presence in the narrow Philadelphia corridor of southern Gaza when - and if - settlements are relocated, according to Israel TV Channel 1 Friday. The request was reportedly made by the head of Egyptian intelligence to his counterpart in the Mossad.
    • During the years Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, from 1948 to 1967, they ran the area as occupied military territory. Egypt kept the Palestinian population hermetically sealed in their ghetto and refused them entry into Egypt. No Arab or international voices were raised against that brutal occupation.
    • In light of reports of President Hosni Mubarak's dodgy health, a bloody succession fight may not be far off and there is a possibility Palestinian Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad terrorists could infiltrate from Gaza into Egypt and tip the balance in favor of radical Islamic forces inside Egypt. It is essential the Americans be keenly sensitized to the implications of any withdrawal on the fate of their closest Arab allies in the region.
    • Israel should respond favorably to the Egyptian request (which Egypt would never publicly admit). But it should do so on condition the U.S. agree to Israel's widening the Philadelphia corridor from several hundred meters to several kilometers, a step essential to finally overcome the pernicious problem of tunnels through which the Palestinians have been smuggling arms from Egypt.
    • Like Egypt, Jordan will never admit openly that permitting a nexus between autonomous Palestinian territory and the Hashemite Kingdom would be a death warrant for the Jordanian state. A permanent IDF presence in the Jordan Rift Valley would be crucial for preserving the stability of Jordan as an American ally and Israeli peace partner.

        See also Israel Sounds Out Egypt on Gaza Plan - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

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