Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 1, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Fatah Rejects Proposal to End Attacks in Israel - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz-Hebrew; 29 Feb 04)
    The Fatah Revolutionary Council, continuing its deliberations in Ramallah on the policy of attacks by its military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, rejected a formal proposal to forbid Fatah attacks in Israel.
    See also Fatah Won't Disarm Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    "Fatah does not have the means to disarm the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and only the Palestinian Authority can absorb them and force them to heed discipline," former security minister Mohammed Dahlan said after four days of meetings of Fatah's revolutionary council that ended Saturday.
    The council discussed a demand from many Fatah leaders to dismantle all militant groups which operate under the name "Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades."
    By the end of the meetings it was clear that the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades would not be dismantled.

    See also Fatah Gunmen Demand Employment in PA Security Forces - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Some 50 gunmen belonging to Fatah's armed wing, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, raided the offices of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in Khan Yunis Saturday, demanding that they be employed by the Palestinian Authority security forces - the fourth incident of its kind in Khan Yunis in recent months.
    The attackers claimed that the governor and senior PA officials had promised to give them jobs as police officers about two months ago.
    Last Friday, Nablus Mayor Ghassan Shakah resigned after seven years in office, accusing the PA leadership of failing to rein in armed thugs who are terrorizing the public.

Iran Poised for Terror Campaign Against Gaddafi - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
    Iran is trying to prevent Libya from disclosing incriminating details of Teheran's top-secret nuclear weapons program, by threatening to unleash Islamic fundamentalist groups opposed to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
    Western intelligence has learned that a militant group of Libyan extremists is being protected and trained in Iran by terrorism experts from Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
    The Libyan Combat Islamic Group (GICL), expelled from Libya by Gaddafi in 1997, is closely involved with al-Qaeda.

How to Get Past the Security Fence - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    On Saturday in a restaurant near the Qalandiya roadblock north of Jerusalem, you could hear people telling stories about all sorts of ideas and tricks for getting past the fence.
    They were telling about a certain crane in Samaria whose owner charged NIS 30 per person to hoist people over the fence, and made over NIS 1,000 in an hour.
    They were telling about drainage canals and electricity pylons and roofs of buildings close to the fence, from which it was possible to tie ropes and pass to the other side.

Abu Ala's Daughter Requests Israeli Citizenship - Eliel Shahar (
    Manel Bahar, daughter of PA premier Abu Ala, has officially requested Israeli citizenship.
    She is married to a Palestinian doctor, a resident of east Jerusalem.
    Her father's home is in Abu Dis, which is not included in the city's municipal boundaries.
    An Israeli ID makes it much easier to cross over between Israeli- and Palestinian-controlled areas.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • End Sleaze or Lose Aid, World Bank Tells Arafat
    The World Bank has issued the Palestinian Authority with an ultimatum to put an end to rampant corruption or lose hundreds of millions of pounds of vital foreign aid. The Bank's top official in the region, Nigel Roberts, said Yasser Arafat had to stop the handing of large cash payments to his security commanders - used to keep them loyal to Arafat personally. Roberts said the Palestinians were receiving the largest amount of money per capita in the history of foreign aid. At a conference of foreign donors in Rome last year, the PA asked for $1.2bn to alleviate its current financial crisis. Roberts said: "To get that money will require a very forceful program of continued commitment to reform by the PA and by the Palestinian Ministry of Finance. Without evident commitment and progress towards tightening these systems and improving accountability, the PA will not get the money it needs." (Scotsman-UK)
        See also Palestinian Authority Broke and In Disarray (Washington Post)
  • Use of Young Attackers Angers Palestinians
    The arrest of three Palestinian boys aged 12, 13, and 15, accused of trying to slip into Israel with homemade guns, sparked horror among their families and concern by Palestinian officials that militant groups have gone too far in their choice of recruits. The boys left behind a letter identifying one as a member of Islamic Jihad and the other two as members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group linked to Arafat's Fatah movement. "If we die, if we become martyrs, don't feel sorry for us. Just have a massive protest in our honor and distribute sweets to everyone," the letter said. (AP/Newsday)
  • Rice: Israel Must Remove "Daily Humiliations" of Palestinians
    National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice said Thursday, "Palestinian leaders need to embrace democracy, eliminate corruption, and fight terrorism. For its part, Israel must help create conditions for a Palestinian state to emerge. It must do nothing to prejudge the outcome of a final status agreement. And, it must do more to improve the lives of the Palestinian people, removing the daily humiliations that harden the hearts of future generations." (White House)
  • Saudis: No Jews Welcome
    A Saudi website by the Supreme Commission for Tourism that offers a new program to encourage more foreign visitors lists four groups not entitled to visas, including "Jewish People." In addition, the website says it will refuse visas to anyone with an Israeli passport or a passport that has an Israeli stamp. Rep. Anthony Weiner said Thursday, "It is very difficult to see the Saudis as anything other than a backward country with backward ideals....The administration should take a hard look at this website and decide whether a country that has these policies should be considered our ally." Weiner said the U.S. should close its doors to Saudis until they "clarify" their policy. (AP/Newsday)
  • Fury as Labour Party Chairman Calls Jewish MP "Fagin"
    Ian McCartney, the Labour Party chairman, caused outrage by describing Jewish MP Oliver Letwin, the shadow chancellor, as a "21st century Fagin," comparing him to the loathed villain in Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, during a speech to Scottish Labour MPs Saturday. Jewish leaders said that the slur was the height of irresponsibility when there were growing fears over a rise of anti-Semitism in Britain, which has 280,000 Jews. Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain, a spokesman for Reform Synagogues, said: "Consciously or otherwise, [the remark] is a reference to Mr. Letwin's face rather than his politics." (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Murder Couple Inside "Green Line" - Amos Harel and Nir Hasson
    Palestinian terrorists fired some 50 bullets at an Israeli vehicle traveling just inside the "green line" east of Kibbutz Lahav in the southern Hebron Hills Friday, then approached the vehicle and fired at the heads of Eitan Kukoi, 30, and Rima Novikov, 25, to ensure they were dead. The couple is survived by a 2-year-old daughter. Fatah's military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command claimed responsibility for the attack. (Ha'aretz/Maariv-Hebrew)
  • IAF Kills 3 Islamic Jihad Terrorists in Gaza City - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Three Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed in an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City Saturday. The IDF Spokesman confirmed, "The IAF attacked a car in which senior Islamic Jihad operatives, who were responsible for a number of murderous attacks, were traveling." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Background on the Islamic Jihad Terrorists (Foreign Ministry)
  • Israel Proposes Shorter Fence Route - Aluf Benn, Nathan Guttman, and Sharon Sadeh
    Israel has submitted to the U.S. government a proposed revised route of the separation fence that is "more logical and shorter," Israeli officials said this weekend. Sources said the main revisions involve canceling "fingers" that would have included Kedumim, Emmanuel, and Karnei Shomron. The revisions also scale-down plans for the fence in the Beit Aryeh enclave, near Ben-Gurion International Airport. The purpose of the changes is to minimize the number of Palestinians located within fenced-off areas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz: Delay in Fence Construction Increases Terror Risk - Tal Yamin-Wolfovich
    On Sunday Israel's High Court of Justice ordered a week's suspension of work on the security barrier near Jerusalem, in the area between Mevaseret Zion and Givat Zeev, in response to a petition filed by Palestinian villagers and Israeli residents from Mevaseret Zion. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said in response that any legal delay "provides the suicide bomber with more time and another chance to infiltrate." Mofaz said he had ordered round-the-clock work on the barrier and additional surveillance systems aimed at preventing infiltration into Israel. (
  • Armitage Views U.S.-Syrian Relations - Said Akrat
    American Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in an interview: "Secretary Powell went to Syria last May, and held good discussions with the young Syrian president and offered him the general thought that Syria was at a fork in the road; meaning that Syria can take the road to a meaningful involvement in the Middle East, or can take the road which leads to more isolation. So far I don't think that President Assad has made up his mind....As we approach May [when President Bush is to decide whether to issue a waiver regarding the Syria Accountability Act], we will see if President Assad and his colleagues want to have a more congenial relationship with the U.S." (Gulf News-Dubai)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Problem Within Islam - Soner Cagaptay
    American efforts towards a democratic Iraq seem to have created some strange bedfellows in the Middle East. The Sunnis of the region - from Baathist loyalists in Iraq and hardcore Wahhabi zealots in Saudi Arabia to secular-minded elites in Amman, Cairo, and elsewhere - are now united around a common anxiety: Since the Shiite Muslims constitute more than 60% of Iraq's population, a democratic Iraq will likely be a Shiite-dominated Iraq. With the exception of Iran and Syria (which is ruled by an Alawite minority - an offshoot of Islam distinct from both Sunni and Shiite orthodoxies, if somewhat closer to Shiism), all Muslim states in the Middle East are run by Sunnis, who view a Shiite-ruled Iraq as a potential threat. (The only exception to such authoritarian regimes, Turkey - which is democratic - is also a Sunni majority country.) The Sunni states of the Middle East are unwilling to whole-heartedly support Operation Iraqi Freedom because of what it may produce in the end. The writer heads the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Weekly Standard)
  • A Frenchman or a Jew? - Fernanda Eberstadt
    Since the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000, France has suffered what is widely considered the worst epidemic of anti-Jewish violence since the end of the Second World War, much of it at the hands of young Muslims. According to S.O.S. Verite-Securite, an anti-Semitism watchdog organization, 147 Jewish institutions - schools, synagogues, community centers, businesses - have been attacked.
        For Hajiba, born in Morocco and raised in a housing project in Strasbourg, the current wave of anti-Jewish violence is best understood as the product not of old-country prejudice but of an imported fundamentalism whose arrival in France she herself witnessed. Well before the second intifada and the recent flurry of violent incidents on French soil, she said, fundamentalists transformed the way many French Muslims regarded Jews. ''After the Iranian revolution,'' she said, ''suddenly radical Islam arrived in France.'' Its growth was made possible by a legal loophole according to which foreign governments - most notably Saudi Arabia's - were able, through the medium of charitable foundations, to build their own mosques and appoint their own fundamentalist imams in France, a dispensation that is only just being questioned. This newly imported Wahhabi-style Islam contained a high-octane dosage of anti-Semitism. (New York Times Magazine)
  • Observations:

    Forget About a Palestinian State - Efraim Inbar (Jerusalem Post)

    • Despite the fact that a large majority of Israelis favor a negotiated two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they are also quite aware that the Palestinians are incapable of establishing a political entity living peacefully next to Israel.
    • Next to Israel lies a sick society led by a pathological national movement. It is a society that produces suicide bombers that have become a role model in kindergartens and schools.
    • A two-state settlement is elusive because of the Palestinian national movement's inability to establish a state and maintain it. Massive foreign aid rendered in the previous decade generally failed to filter down to the masses. Moreover, the high rates of economic growth needed to match the high fertility rate of the Palestinians are very improbable, and will actually doom the Palestinians to even greater poverty in the near future.
    • Given the opportunity of self-rule in 1993, the Palestinians established a corrupt, inefficient, lawless, and authoritarian political system - an example of a failed state. Even with the best intentions and much territorial largesse, there is nothing Israel could do to bring about a Palestinian state any time soon.
    • Israel is left with only one option: unilateral measures to minimize the repercussions. Nothing Israel can do will spare it the need to deal with extremely hostile neighbors ready to pay a high price for acting on their hatred.
    • Israelis have to get used to the idea that there is no peaceful solution in sight - only interim measures to manage the conflict.

      The writer is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.

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