Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 25, 2004

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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:

Shin Bet: Palestinians Want Chemical Weapons, Artillery - Nina Gilbert (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinian terror groups and PA security organizations are working to "upgrade" explosives to include chemical agents, and are also investing efforts in producing weapons that can go over the security fence, Shin Bet head Avi Dichter said Tuesday.
    The weapons threat from Gaza could "hasten a Defensive Shield operation" there to rout out terrorists and confiscate weapons, Dichter warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
    In 2003, 210 Kassam rockets were fired from populated Palestinian areas in Gaza.
    Dichter also called for the Jerusalem area fence to be built "very quickly," noting that suicide bombers are being sent to the capital and other areas with no fence because they are unable to penetrate where the security fence is operational.
    He termed the PA a "haven for terrorists."
    Dichter said the Fatah-Tanzim is the main force that will determine the future of the PA, and not Hamas which is relatively weak in the West Bank, where many senior figures were neutralized.
    Dichter said that in 2003, 2,000 Kalashnikov rifles were smuggled into Gaza from Egypt, in addition to anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles and RPGs.
    Dichter also said the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul was the planned target of the al-Qaeda terror attack that instead hit the nearby British Consulate and a British bank, killing 27 people.
    Dichter singled out Iran as the "No. 1" terror state in the world, that is operating a channel via Europe to penetrate its terrorists into Israel, as well as operating via the Hizballah, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinians.
    Hizballah is paying thousands of shekels to those who agree to carry out attacks and gives bonuses to those who succeed.

Why is Belize at The Hague? - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Little explanation is needed to understand why Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Sudan have taken the time and energy to argue against Israel at The Hague, but why the Central American country Belize?
    According to a web site promoting the country of some 240,000 people, Belize Prime Minister Said Musa is "a British-educated lawyer of Palestinian and Belizean heritage."
    At the Durban conference in 2000, Belize was among the most vociferous of the non-Muslim countries blasting Israel.

Useful Reference:

White Paper on the International Court of Justice and the Israeli "Fence" - Ruth Wedgwood (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies)

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • CIA Views "Next Wave" of Terrorism
    George Tenet, director of central intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday that the radical anti-American sentiments and destructive expertise used by al-Qaeda have spread to other Sunni Muslim extremists who are behind a "next wave" of terrorism that will endure "for the foreseeable future with or without al-Qaeda in the picture." Despite the killing and capture of many senior leaders in the last year, al-Qaeda enjoys considerable support, has enlisted new recruits, and has created "chilling plots," including possible poison attacks, training pilots for suicide missions, and strong indications that it is singling out the White House, the Capitol, and the American transportation system for possible attacks.
        The network of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was an example of how bin Laden's message and tactics had infected Sunni Muslim extremists around the world. "These far-flung groups increasingly set the agenda and are redefining the threat we face. They are not all creatures of bin Laden, and so their threat is not tied to his. They have autonomous leadership. They pick their own targets. They plan their own attacks," Tenet said. He said more than 24 terrorist groups are pursuing chemical, biological, and radiological and nuclear weapons. (New York Times)
        See also Terror Attack on UK "Inevitable"
    Home Secretary David Blunkett said he had been told it was inevitable the UK would face a terrorist attack. On Wednesday he will detail the expansion of MI5, with 1,000 new staff, many of them Arabic and Urdu speakers. (BBC)
  • White House Undecided on Syria Penalties
    More than two months after President Bush signed a bill permitting sanctions against Syria for its support of terrorist groups, administration officials are still debating what penalties - if any - to apply to the Arab nation. Pressure from Congress is growing for the administration to take a tough stand, with Republicans and Democrats imploring Bush not to waive the sanctions. A waiver "would send the wrong signal" to Syrian President Assad and the "terrorists who find safe haven within Syria's borders," Sens. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a letter last week to Secretary of State Colin Powell. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Delays Easing Libya Sanctions After PM's Comments
    The White House on Tuesday delayed plans to lift U.S. travel restrictions to Libya after Libyan Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem denied his country's guilt in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and said Tripoli had only agreed to pay compensation to bombing victims in order to "buy peace." (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Raids Ramallah Banks Involved in Financing Terror - Efrat Weiss and Eli Vaked
    Israeli security forces Wednesday raided at least three bank branches in Ramallah to locate accounts used to transfer millions of shekels to terror groups in recent years. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • IDF Demands Palestinian Police in Bethlehem Disarm - Arieh O'Sullivan
    The IDF on Tuesday told Palestinian security forces in Bethlehem not to carry their weapons any longer as they patrol the city. "They were not performing any kind of security work to prevent attacks on Israelis, so we told them they can't carry weapons any more," said a military source. The 500-strong Palestinian police force in Bethlehem did nothing to prevent the city from becoming a haven for terrorists. Sunday's suicide bomber who killed eight people on a Jerusalem bus came from the Bethlehem area. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Gunmen Target Border Police in Southeast Jerusalem - Margot Dudkevitch and Etgar Lefkovits
    Two Border Police jeeps patrolling the edge of Jerusalem's new southeastern neighborhood of Har Homa came under Palestinian gunfire Tuesday from the village of Beit Sahur near Bethlehem, police said. The policemen returned fire; there were no injuries. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Route of Separation Fence Shortened by 80 Km to 640 Km - Amnon Barzilai
    The route of the separation fence has been shortened to 640 kilometers, 80 km less than the government approved last October, the head of the Technology and Logistics Branch in the IDF, Brig. Gen. Eran Ophir, said Tuesday. 37 km - 5% - will be concrete walls because the topographic considerations in densely populated urban areas required a wall; 29 km of those walls will be in the Jerusalem envelope area. (Ha'aretz)
  • Can Dahlan Control Gaza? - Amos Harel
    What entity will take responsibility for affairs in the Gaza Strip? The current possibilities range from the PA to Mohammed Dahlan as a semi-independent leader to Hamas - or the possibility of general anarchy. Many Israeli security officials pin their hopes on Dahlan, even though he failed to deliver the goods and promote security during the hudna last summer. Israeli security officials are impressed by the way Dahlan and his men have turned his native Khan Yunis into "the independent republic of Dahlan." Officers in the IDF Central Command say that Dahlan is once again sending armed followers to assess control in Bethlehem and Hebron. (Ha'aretz)
  • PM Nixes Moving Israeli Arab Villages to a Palestinian State - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon Tuesday rejected ideas about transferring Israeli Arab villages to the control of a future Palestinian state, in a land swap agreement incorporated within a peace deal. "The Arab population should view itself as an integral part of Israel's population," Sharon said, during a visit to Kafr Qasem. "All sorts of ideas about separating from this population should be scrapped - we need to live together here." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Wrong Court, Wrong Time - Editorial
    As so often in the past, the Palestinian leadership has chosen to press its cause not with potentially productive steps - such as a crackdown on terrorists and the renewal of negotiations with Israel - but with pointless and inflammatory grandstanding before irrelevant international bodies. The case at The Hague-based International Court of Justice, shunned by the U.S., the EU, and almost all the rest of the non-Muslim world, will prove no more successful than previous attempts to sanction or delegitimize the Jewish state. Instead it will probably reinforce the prevailing conviction in the Israeli and U.S. governments that the Palestinian administration is incapable of participating in a constructive peace process under its current leadership. Rather than isolate Israel, the case is isolating the Palestinians from the real action in the Middle East.
        The Israeli government and the Bush administration have been quietly negotiating the terms of a momentous initiative that would transform the situation on the ground. Instead of working out the terms with the Palestinians, Sharon now bargains with the White House. Wary at first, the Bush administration has steadily warmed to Sharon's idea and is giving it serious consideration. Once they finish posturing before an international court with no power over Israel or its actions, Palestinian leaders would do well to think about how they can have an influence on the real decisions about to be made. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Before the Kangaroo Court - Editorial (New York Daily News)
  • A Fence That Makes Sense - David Makovsky
    Israel has approximately 170,000 people living in the 14.5% of the West Bank between the fence and the Green Line. In contrast, there are just 11,000 West Bank Palestinians in this area who will not have direct access to other parts of the West Bank. Are there hardships for those Palestinians? Yes, but they can be minimized by an array of actions now being undertaken, like Israel busing Palestinian kids to school or building new roads. And we shouldn't forget that the 170,000 Israelis living there also face a hardship: the prospect of being blown up. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Life Among the Bombs - Michael B. Oren
    Israelis are proud of their ability to carry on in the face of terrorism. Over the past three years, since the Palestinian bombings began, Israelis have had hundreds of opportunities to perfect that skill. Whereas once the explosion of a bus or a restaurant would send the country into paroxysms of sadness and rage, with mournful music pouring out of the radio and politicians vowing revenge, today even the bloodiest atrocities recede from memory in a matter of days, if not hours. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (New York Times)
  • Saddam's Ambassador to al-Qaeda - Jonathan Schanzer
    A recently intercepted message from Iraq-based terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi asking the al-Qaeda leadership for reinforcements reignited the debate over al-Qaeda ties with Saddam Hussein's fallen Baath regime. Abdul Rahman al-Shamari, who served in Saddam's secret police, the Mukhabarat, from 1997 to 2002, and is currently sitting in a Kurdish prison, says he worked for a man who was Saddam's envoy to al-Qaeda. Al-Shamari's division of the Mukhabarat provided weapons to Ansar al Islam, "mostly mortar rounds." Al-Shamari said the Mukhabarat also helped finance Ansar al Islam: "On one occasion we gave them ten million Swiss dinars [$700,000]."
        Al-Shamari told me he had worked for Abu Wael, the leader of a special intelligence directorate in the Mukhabarat. Al-Shamari also told me that the links between Saddam's regime and the al-Qaeda network went beyond Ansar al Islam. He explained in considerable detail that Saddam actually ordered Abu Wael to organize foreign fighters from outside Iraq to join Ansar. Al-Shamari said there were also contacts with the Egyptian "Gamaat al-Jihad," which is now seen as the core of al-Qaeda's leadership, as well as with the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which bin Laden helped create in 1998 as an alternative to Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA).
        Abu Wael dispensed most of the funds himself, al-Shamari said, but there was also some cooperation with Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Zarqawi was al-Qaeda's link to Iraq in the same way that Abu Wael was the Iraqi link to al-Qaeda. Indeed, Zarqawi (who received medical attention in Baghdad in 2002 for wounds that he suffered from U.S. forces in Afghanistan) and Abu Wael helped Ansar al Islam prepare for the U.S. assault on its small enclave last year. The challenge now is to document the claims of these witnesses about the secret ties between Saddam, al-Qaeda, and Abu Wael. The writer is a terrorism analyst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    Seeing Anti-Semitism in 3D - Natan Sharansky (Jerusalem Post)

    • This week the European Commission hosted a conference on fighting the new wave of anti-Semitism that has engulfed Europe over the last few years.
    • My experience has convinced me that moral clarity is critical in taking a stand against evil. Evil thrives when moral lines are blurred, when right and wrong is a matter of opinion rather than objective truth.
    • Since the new anti-Semitism can hide behind the veneer of legitimate criticism of Israel, it is much more difficult to expose. What emerged from this conference was an admission by European leaders themselves that not all criticism of Israel is legitimate.
    • If not all criticism is valid, how then do we define the boundary line? I propose the following test for differentiating legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism. The 3D test applies the same criteria that for centuries identified the different dimensions of classical anti-Semitism.
      • Demonization: Jews were demonized for centuries as the embodiment of evil. Therefore, today we must be wary of whether the Jewish state is being demonized by having its actions blown out of all sensible proportion. Comparisons of Israelis to Nazis and of the Palestinian refugee camps to Auschwitz - comparisons heard practically every day within the "enlightened" quarters of Europe - can only be considered anti-Semitic.
      • Double standards: For thousands of years a clear sign of anti-Semitism was treating Jews differently than other peoples - the tendency to judge their behavior by a different yardstick. It is anti-Semitism when Israel is singled out by the UN for human rights abuses while tried and true abusers like China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria are ignored.
      • Delegitimation: In the past, anti-Semites tried to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish religion, the Jewish people, or both. Today, they are trying to deny the legitimacy of the Jewish state. While criticism of an Israeli policy may not be anti-Semitic, the denial of Israel's right to exist is always anti-Semitic. If other peoples have a right to live securely in their homelands, then the Jewish people have a right to live securely in their homeland.
    • If we check whether Israel is being demonized or delegitimized, or whether a double standard is being applied to it, we will always be able to see anti-Semitism clearly.

      The writer is Israel's Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Jerusalem.

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