Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 31, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Planned to Murder Former Foreign Minister David Levy - Meir Suissa (
    About a month and a half ago, the General Security Service (GSS) and the IDF detained a Hamas activist dispatched to murder former foreign minister David Levy. Details of the incident were cleared for publication Wednesday.
    Majdi abu Hamis, 24, from the Jenin area, who worked at a Beit Shean seafood shop, was arrested following intelligence information warning of the plot.

Chicago Sears Tower, L.A. Library Tower Were Next al-Qaeda Targets - Paul Martin (Washington Times)
    Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda's purported operations chief, has told U.S. interrogators that the group had been planning attacks on the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Tower in Chicago on the heels of the 9/11 terror strikes.
    Those plans were aborted mainly because of the decisive U.S. response which disrupted the terrorist organization's plans so thoroughly that it could not proceed.

42 Killed in Uzbekistan Terror Attacks (AP/Guardian-UK)
    A series of bombings and attacks linked to Islamic militants, including the first known suicide missions in Uzbekistan, killed 42 people, officials said Monday.
    Oleg Bichenov, Tashkent city police's deputy anti-terrorism chief, said the suspects were aligned with the Wahhabi sect of Islam.

Palestinian Beehive Thieves Plague Israel - Roni Singer (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli beekeepers have counted 450 stolen hives since January.
    According to the Honey Council, most of the thieves are from the Palestinian Authority.
    "I personally know them," says beekeeper Shai Spector. "There are two powerful middlemen operating in the PA, one in Jericho and the second in Dahariyeh. They are the ones who steal the most from us."

Saudi Woman Expelled from University for Snapshots of Unveiled Colleagues (AFP)
    A Saudi woman has been expelled from her university for taking pictures of unveiled colleagues with a camera-equipped mobile phone and posting them on the Internet, Al-Yaum newspaper reported.
    More than 50 other students at the same female university are being investigated for carrying the banned mobiles, the paper said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Spain Holds Syrian as "Essential Accomplice" in Madrid Bombings
    A Spanish court has formally accused a Syrian of playing a key role in the Madrid bombings after a witness identified him on one of the fateful trains on the day of the attacks, court sources say. The Syrian was accused of being an "essential accomplice" in 190 murders - an indication of a central role in the bombings. The Syrian man acknowledged knowing the other accused, court sources said. (Reuters)
  • Britain Seizes Eight in Anti-Terror Raids
    Eight British citizens of Pakistani origin were arrested Tuesday and more than half a ton of potential explosives seized from a self-storage container less than five miles from Heathrow Airport. In the largest anti-terrorist operation since 9/11, more than 700 policemen and MI5 officers raided 24 homes and businesses in the London suburbs. Police discovered ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which was the major ingredient in several high-profile car bombings, including the World Trade Center in New York in 1993, the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, and the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998. (Washington Post)
  • Manila Foils "Madrid-Style" Attack
    Philippines President Arroyo said Tuesday, "We have pre-empted a Madrid-level attack on the metropolis by capturing an explosive cache of 80 pounds of TNT intended to be used for bombing malls and trains in metro Manila." An anti-terrorism task force has arrested six members of the Islamic extremist group Abu Sayyaf. (CNN)
  • Mixed Results for Pakistan's Anti-Terrorist Offensive
    Pakistani forces this week wrapped up their largest offensive against al-Qaeda militants and their local supporters. The Pakistani military says it killed 63 militants and captured 166 others, including 73 foreigners. But Pakistani forces lost 46 military and paramilitary troops. While the operation failed to nab major al-Qaeda leaders, analysts noted that Pakistan has now established a strong presence of 30,000 troops in once off-limits South Waziristan, clearing villages of foreign militants and cutting off their local supply lines. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Saudis Push Plan for OPEC Production Cut
    Saudi Arabia, the pivotal member of OPEC, signaled Tuesday that it was pushing forward with a plan to lower the cartel's target for crude oil production by a million barrels a day, a move that would keep oil prices high. OPEC officials gathering for a meeting in Vienna on Wednesday are not likely to increase oil production to relieve prices, as desired by the U.S. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PM Promises Likud Poll on Disengagement Plan - Mazal Mualem
    Prime Minister Sharon told a Likud party convention Tuesday that registered Likud members would get to vote on his Gaza disengagement plan before he takes it to the government and Knesset. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Likud Survey: 51% Support Disengagement, 36% Oppose (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Israel, U.S. Resolving Fence Route Issue - Aluf Benn
    Israel has asked the U.S. to provide official endorsement of the separation fence route, as part of the "benefits basket" which is to be provided in exchange for implementation of Prime Minister Sharon's separation plan. U.S. acceptance of an Israeli compromise on the barrier's planned route has effectively removed the fence issue from the U.S.-Israel diplomatic agenda. Under the compromise, the route approved by the Israeli government on October 1, 2003, would not be altered, but would be defined as a "vision" whose construction is to be done in stages. Problematic areas of the fence which stirred U.S. criticism will either not be built at present, or will be constructed in a manner that minimizes inconvenience to Palestinians. In the stretch of fence running between Jerusalem and the southern Hebron Hills, the fence is to be moved closer to the "green line." (Ha'aretz)
  • Progress Made with U.S. on Disengagement Plan - Herb Keinon
    Israel's request that the U.S. formally reject the Palestinian demand for refugee repatriation in exchange for disengagement is likely to be finessed by a U.S. declaration for two states - one Jewish, and one Palestinian - in line with similar comments made by Bush in his Aqaba speech in June 2003. Diplomatic officials said the U.S. likely will only make a commitment to further diplomatic initiatives linked to the road map, thereby ruling out U.S. support for the Geneva Accord or a re-tooled Saudi peace initiative. The U.S. is also expected to get around Israeli demands for recognition of Israeli control over the major settlement blocs of Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, and Ariel by declaring that it does not see a final status agreement as necessarily tied to the 1967 borders. A U.S. official said the U.S. has not yet agreed to any commitments. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharansky Slams BBC Report on Boy Bomber - Hilary Leila Krieger
    The BBC employs a "gross double standard to the Jewish state" that smacks of anti-Semitism, Minister Natan Sharansky charged Tuesday, reacting to its coverage of the IDF's arrest of a 16-year-old would-be suicide bomber last week. Sharansky quoted BBC correspondent Orla Guerin as describing to viewers how the IDF "paraded the child in front of the international media," then "produced" the child for reporters, "posed" him a second time for the cameras, and then "rushed him back into a jeep." Such language, Sharansky said, casts doubt on what happened. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Charge of Israeli Intelligence Failure Needs Answers - Ze'ev Schiff
    Israeli intelligence did not discover in time that Libya had established a nuclear-military industry, according to the report of MK Yuval Steinitz's committee investigating the performance of Israel's intelligence community in last year's war in Iraq. Yet in their appearances before the Steinitz committee, neither the IDF Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya'alon, nor the head of Military Intelligence, Major General Aharon Ze'evi, were asked about Libya. Moreover, in an interview given by Prime Minister Sharon in 2002, he said that Libya was liable to become a nuclear state before Iran. Israeli intelligence officials were not thrilled about this leak. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Kurdish Cry - Nir Boms and Erick Stakelbeck
    According to Kurdish sources, between 50 and 70 opponents of the Assad regime were killed and more than 200 injured by local police and the Syrian army during riots that swept through Qamoshli, Hasakah, Dirik, Amouda, and Ras el-Ein, all Kurdish-majority cities in northern Syria. In addition, as many as 1,200 Kurds were reportedly detained or arrested As their cousins in Iraq and Iran have done in the past when faced with persecution by totalitarian governments, the Kurds of Syria - joined by other members of the emerging Syrian opposition - are asking for the world's intervention. (National Review)
        See also Dreams of Democracy in Syria - Editorial
    The uprising of Syrian Kurds is an opportunity to support democracy in the Middle East that the administration should embrace. It is time to apply the unrivalled power now possessed by the U.S. in support of Syria's Kurds. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Stop Using Children - Richard Cohen (Washington Post)

    • If there is such a thing as a citizen's arrest, then there ought to be such a thing as a citizen's UN resolution. I propose a UN resolution condemning the PA, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad for using naive and addled children as suicide bombers. I am waiting for France, Spain, Russia, and other European governments to sign it. The use of dopey kids as suicide bombers is clearly abhorrent. It is child abuse combined with murder.
    • I have endorsed every peace plan that has come along and long ago supported a Palestinian state, but in the past several years, the reasons for Israel's founding have been brushed aside in a frenzied, mindless dash to demonize one side in this conflict.
    • The UN's proclivity to blame Israel for everything and the Palestinians for nothing - not even for repeatedly rejecting every peace plan offered them - reduces it to irrelevance. What would these nations do with a society that exalts martyrdom and sends children to die in an effort to kill other children? These are criminal acts.
    • I want the UN to condemn Palestinian terrorism, specifically suicide bombers and, most specifically, the use of confused and sad kids for that purpose. If you cannot condemn the murder of innocents, especially by children, then you have no business condemning anything else.

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