Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 20, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

British Arrest Ten on Suspicion of Terror - Alan Cowell (New York Times)
    British police Monday arrested nine men and one woman in the Manchester area - all described as being of North African or Iraqi Kurdish descent - in a major sweep of suspected terrorists.
    According to television news reports, U.S. and British intelligence agencies had monitored cellphone conversations suggesting that the Trafford Center shopping mall in Manchester was a potential target.
    See also Manchester Suicide Bomb Plot Foiled - Philip Cardy and Andy Russell (Sun-UK)
    A suicide bomb plot to kill thousands of soccer fans at Saturday's Manchester United-Liverpool match was dramatically foiled Monday when armed cops seized ten terror suspects.
    Intelligence chiefs believe al-Qaeda fanatics planned to blow themselves up amid 67,000 unsuspecting supporters. A source said: "The target was Old Trafford."
    A police source said: "The plot involved several individual bombers in separate parts of the stadium.
    The planned attack would have had an instant global impact as the game is being televised worldwide.

Jordanian Policeman Murders Two Female American Guards in Kosovo (New York Times)
    Two American women working in Kosovo as correctional officers for the UN were killed and 10 other American prison officers were wounded Saturday when a Jordanian policeman opened fire with a semiautomatic machine gun.

"Crisis" in Hamas as Leaders Killed - Paul Martin (Washington Times)
    "Hamas might have a crisis on its hands after losing its leaders," said senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh at the funeral on Sunday for Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who was killed on Saturday.
    A leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade told Iran's state-controlled news agency that Hamas and Al Aqsa have been seriously hurt by the killings of key combatants.
    "The Islamic and Arab world...expected the Palestinian Fatah and Hamas resistance movement combatants to take revenge for the bloodshed of martyr Sheikh Ahmed Yassin immediately, but [they] are unaware of the limitations and [the] amount of pressure imposed against the Palestinian combatants," he said.
    The unnamed leader said that in the past month or so, Israel had killed "a unique Al Aqsa explosives expert, Ahmad Bade," along with "one of the most prominent activists of Hamas, Ali Allamah," and a Hamas military commander, Mahmoud abu-Audah.
    Several other key Hamas operatives have been captured inside Israel, he added.
    Due to the difficulties of getting into Israel, he said, the only realistic short-term option was to attack Israeli targets within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
    A leading Arab expert on Palestinian militant movements said that Hamas also might be deterred by the fear that a large-scale attack inside Israel would provoke Israel to kill Arafat - whom Hamas now sees as its main protector.
    "It is mainly because of Arafat that Hamas is left unharmed by the Palestinian Authority's security services," said Nabil Khatib, a lecturer at Bir Zeit University.

Useful Reference:

The Disengagement Plan (Prime Minister's Office/Jerusalem Post)

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Would Like to See Hamas "Put Out of Business"
    State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday: "We recognize Israel's right to defend itself and we recognize that Hamas is a terrorist organization and Mr. Rantisi was the leader of a terrorist organization....We especially consider groups that are actively blowing up people to be terrorist organizations. Hamas, unfortunately, qualifies as such." "We're looking for people to put Hamas out of business....The Gaza pullout is going to go more smoothly and be more successful if Hamas is not around at all." (State Department)
  • Powell Asks Syria to Boost Iraq Patrols
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday, "We're exploring ways of working with the Syrians to increase the density of forces with surveillance over that (the Iraqi) border." "It is in our mutual interest to deal with the problem....It is not in Syria's interest to be seen as a base from which infiltrators can come across to kill innocent Iraqis or to kill coalition troops," Powell said. (AP/Newsday)
        See also U.S. Halting Influx of Non-Iraqi Guerrillas
    American and allied forces have choked the flow of foreign fighters coming into Iraq from Syria and Iran, American military officers said Monday. Along the frontier with Syria, Marines have stepped up 24-hour patrols, while Air Force U-2 spy planes and remotely piloted Predator reconnaissance aircraft soar over the western desert. Ground sensors are also being used. One senior officer said the foreign fighters, though relatively small in numbers, might be providing "backbone" to the Iraqi resistance. (New York Times)
  • Al-Qaeda Intends to Strike U.S., Officials Say
    The U.S. intelligence community believes al-Qaeda is intent on launching terrorist attacks in this country before the November elections. (Washington Post)
        See also Bin Laden Demonstrates Resilience
    The nation's top counterterrorism and intelligence officials have reassured Congress repeatedly about the significantly diminished capabilities of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Yet outside experts note that bin Laden has evaded capture for almost three years and remains able to communicate an increasingly sophisticated and targeted message to followers worldwide. (AP/Washington Post)
  • EU Pulls Back from Confronting U.S. Over Gaza
    EU foreign ministers have pulled back from a confrontation with the U.S. over President Bush's support for Israel's unilateral "disengagement" plan from Gaza. During an intense debate by EU foreign ministers meeting in Tullamore, Ireland, Jack Straw, British foreign secretary, took the lead in supporting the U.S.-backed plan. Joschka Fischer, German foreign minister, and Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, also pushed the EU towards a pragmatic approach. They argued that the EU faced the choice of trying to influence how Israel would withdraw from Gaza and particularly how to help the Palestinians take control over it, or risk losing long-term influence in the region. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Wounds Eight Israelis in Gaza - Nir Hasson and Amos Harel
    Eight Israelis - including a six-month-old girl and a two-year-old girl - were lightly wounded Monday night when a Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians hit a residential building in Nisanit in the Gaza Strip. There has been a surge of mortar and rocket attacks since the elimination of Hamas leader Rantisi on Saturday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hurrying to Hit Hamas - Arieh O'Sullivan
    The defense establishment is determined to carry out its decision to wipe out the Hamas leadership. "If someone wants to carry out a disengagement then they have to hurry and hit as many of the Hamas leaders as we can since, afterwards, it'll be more difficult," said Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ya'akov Amidror, a former head of IDF intelligence assessment. "After we get out of Gaza - if that happens - it'll be more difficult to get intelligence. Remember, we are talking about striking a vehicle at night inside a city. This shows a very accurate level of intelligence and execution," Amidror said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Supervise Outpost Demolitions - Amir Oren
    Some 800 police and 700 soldiers are supposed to evacuate the illegal outpost of Mitzpe Yitzhar on Wednesday. Senior IDF officers met this week for a briefing on the lessons of the previous evacuations and the preparations for the coming ones. Bush shackled Sharon to a timetable for evacuating the outposts, under the supervision of Ambassador Dan Kurtzer. Kurtzer will be the foreman for the demolitions. (Ha'aretz)
  • Man Who Exposed Israel's Nuclear Program to be Freed - Dan Izenberg
    Mordechai Vanunu, convicted of selling information about Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor to the London Times in 1986, will be released on Wednesday after 18 years in jail, but his movements will continued to be restricted. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also below Observations: The Vanunu Myths and Israeli Deterrence Policy
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Calls Targeted Killings Effective - Michael Matza
    Those who argue that Israel's targeted killings only intensify Hamas' hatred of Israel are missing the point, says Avraham Rotem, a reserve army major general and senior researcher at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. Hamas works round the clock, every day, to plan and execute operations that harm Israelis. "If you kill one of their leaders it has nothing to do with their motivation to do any new operations," Rotem said. "They are trying their best every day anyway."
        Yediot Ahronot, the mass-circulation Israeli daily, editorialized after Rantisi's killing: "It is inconceivable that the people who send others to commit suicide bombing attacks should be able to sleep soundly in their beds. If there is justification for killing a terrorist on his way to commit a terror attack, there is far more justification for killing the commander and preacher who sent the terrorist on his way." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • U.S. Policy Shift Undermines Arafat - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Arafat reacted hysterically to news of the Sharon-Bush deal. According to a senior PA official, Arafat hurled abuse at Sharon and Bush as he watched them during their press conference in Washington. Arafat is well aware that the dramatic shift in U.S. policy will further undermine his status among the Palestinians. In the eyes of many Palestinians, Arafat, Prime Minister Qurei, and the entire PA leadership have long ceased to be major players. Confined to his Ramallah headquarters for the past three years, Arafat is nothing but a symbol whose words are no longer taken seriously. "Arafat says that the Bush-Sharon deal marks the end of the peace process, but I believe it signals the beginning of his end," commented a veteran PLO official in Ramallah. "The Palestinians are not stupid and most of them know that we have reached this situation largely because of Arafat's failure to read the political map correctly."
        Arafat's only hope now is that the growing violence in Iraq would lead to the defeat of Bush in the presidential elections in November. Like most of the Arab rulers, Arafat is convinced that Bush constitutes the biggest threat to his regime because of his call for democracy and transparency in the Arab world. (Access/MiddleEast)
  • Sharon Changes Mid-East Equation - Paul Reynolds
    Mr. Sharon's plan has produced one of those Middle East moments when everything has changed. It does not mean that the conflict will not continue. It obviously will. But the terms of the conflict have been altered. The so-called roadmap to peace drawn up by the Quartet had already been exposed as unrealistic. It has now in reality been rolled up.
        The Palestinians will have to accept as facts two principles which they wanted to be the subject of negotiations. One is the permanence of major Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The other is that Palestinian refugees from earlier wars will not be allowed back into what is now Israel. Mr. Sharon is doing as a politician what he did as a soldier. He is trying to define the battlefield. (BBC)
  • Disengagement Illusions - Nadav Shragai
    The disengagement from Gush Katif will be perceived by the Palestinians as an Israeli escape, and will refill the sails of terror with wind. More densely populated areas in the south of the country will be exposed to long-range Palestinian weapons. Another terror region will open up in northern Samaria, and Israel will find it very difficult to preserve its intelligence and operational capabilities in the territories that are evacuated.
        Evacuating Gush Katif, it is claimed, will save the large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria. The truth is the precise opposite. It won't take long after the evacuation of one of the most successful settlement areas in the country until the pressure on Israel to evacuate more "blocs" increases. The evacuation will grant legitimacy to the demand to evacuate more settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria. The argument that the U.S. promised to recognize the large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria is a fable. Secretary of State Powell hurried to clarify that President Bush's letter does not a priori determine that settlement blocs will remain under Israeli control in the future. As for friendly statements by American presidents to Israel, Bill Clinton provided Ehud Barak with exactly the same merchandise that Bush is now giving. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    The Vanunu Myths and Israeli Deterrence Policy - Gerald M. Steinberg
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The concept of "whistle blower" refers to individuals who go public with information on corrupt practices and violations of the law, enabling the constituted authorities to hold the culprits accountable. In contrast, by seeking to impose his personal views of Israeli security requirements on the elected representatives of the Israeli government, Vanunu acted in violation of the law and the core principles of democracy.
    • The development of Israel's strategic deterrent capability resulted from the threat to national survival posed by Arab and Islamic rejectionism, and any decision to dismantle this deterrent depends on the end of this threat.
    • Vanunu's supporters do not offer any pragmatic alternatives or strategies to prevent attacks against Israel, or evidence to support claims that if Israel were to give up its nuclear deterrent, Iran, Syria, Egypt, and other regional powers would cease to be threats.
    • Israel's nuclear option is credited with forcing Egypt and Syria to limit their attacks in the 1973 war; with bringing Sadat to the realization that he must make peace with Israel; and with deterring Saddam Hussein from using chemical warheads in the 1991 missile attacks against Israel.
    • Unlike Iran, Iraq under Saddam, and Libya, Israel did not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has not violated any of its terms. Israel has not tested nuclear weapons and declared itself officially to be a nuclear power.

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