Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 14, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Romeo and Juliet in Gaza - Hanan Greenberg (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 11 June 04)
    On Wednesday, IDF soldiers spotted a Palestinian couple in their 20s approaching the security fence near Kfar Darom in Gaza.
    The soldiers at first thought they were dealing with suicide attackers, but something about the pair caused the soldiers to hesitate before opening fire.
    After their capture, the couple explained that they had been seeing each other for six years, but their families disapproved of their marrying.
    Out of despair, they decided to commit suicide by entering a forbidden zone so that the soldiers would shoot them.
    After additional questioning, the two were released.

Egypt Renews Detention of Islamic Group (AP/Washington Post)
    Egypt renewed the detention of 22 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, charged with sending men to Iraq, Chechnya, and the Palestinian territories to undergo training with a view to overthrowing the Egyptian government.

Anti-Semitic Gang Destroys French Concentration Camp Mural - Henry Samuel (Telegraph-UK)
    A mural painted by Jewish children imprisoned in a concentration camp near Perpignan, southern France, has been reduced to rubble, apparently with a chisel.
  In 1942, children at the camp painted a typical Swiss landscape on a wall of the infirmary, with joyful characters, musical instruments, cows, chalets, and pine-covered mountains.
    After being left abandoned for half a century, local school children discovered the fresco in 1999 under the whitewashed walls.

Israeli Elected to UN Post - Melissa Radler (Jerusalem Post)
    Alon Bar, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official, was elected Thursday as vice chairman of the UN General Assembly's First Committee that deals with disarmament and international security.

UN Responds on Use of Ambulances by Terrorists (Washington Times)
    "One of our ambulance drivers was threatened at gunpoint in Gaza City on May 11 and made to transport a wounded Palestinian fighter and his armed colleagues to the hospital."
    "On May 13, UNRWA issued a press statement deploring the incident and calling on our ambulances' neutrality to be respected."
    Letter of Paul McCann, Chief, Public Information Office, UNRWA Headquarters, Gaza

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iranian Foreign Minister: Iran Must Be Recognized as a Member of the Nuclear Club
    Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Saturday rejected further outside influence on Tehran's nuclear ambitions. "Iran has a high technical capability and has to be recognized by the international community as a member of the nuclear club. This is an irreversible path," Kharrazi said. Kharrazi condemned a draft resolution critical of Iran drawn up by Germany, France, and Britain and being debated before the IAEA board meeting Monday which says Iran's cooperation has not been complete. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also The Netherworld of Nonproliferation - James Traub
    An Iran capable of producing weapons-grade uranium is plainly unacceptable, not only to the Bush administration but also to its chief allies. What is not at all clear is how to make the Iranians surrender that capacity. Bush administration officials describe the current impasse over Iran as a test that the international community, and specifically the IAEA, is failing. (New York Times)
        See also Mullahs with Nukes - Bennett Ramberg
    It is now evident that Iran, despite intense international pressure, will not fully divulge its nuclear enterprise. (Baltimore Sun)
  • American Kidnapped in Saudi Arabia
    Paul M. Johnson, Jr., 49, an American electronics engineer, was believed kidnapped Sunday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. (New York Times)
        See also Saudi Victims Had Military Link
    The three Americans killed or kidnapped by Islamic radicals in Saudi Arabia in the past week were singled out because of their work as military contractors, U.S. and Saudi officials said Sunday. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas: Attacks Against Israel Will Continue After Gaza Pullout
    Hamas will continue attacks against Israelis despite plans to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud A-Zahar, a top Hamas leader in Gaza, said Saturday. "We are against any sort of commitment to any security steps on any side," A-Zahar told reporters in Gaza City. "We are still in the free our land from the occupation." (Ha'aretz)
  • A New Reality in Southern Gaza - Itai Asher
    Even though recent IDF operations in Rafah were terminated earlier than planned, Col. Pinhas Zuaretz, the commanding officer of the southern Gaza zone, believes the operations have nevertheless generated a changed reality in the area. "When we go on operations today, there are practically no terrorists setting off bombs," he said. "They shoot, but it's not like it once was....The terrorists are afraid to come out." In the past few weeks 100 terrorists were killed, he said. "Weapons used to flow northward from Rafah to Gaza; today the flow is from Gaza to Rafah."
        This week, when Col. Zuaretz was at the Termit base, he looked toward Rafah and saw a Palestinian standing on the roof of a house, taking it apart - removing cinder blocks from a wall supporting the roof and throwing them down. "They receive money from the PA and international organizations for houses that were destroyed. There are those that destroy their own houses to take advantage of the compensation," Zuaretz said. (Maariv-Hebrew, 11 June 04)
  • Israel Said Working to House Palestinians in Gaza
    Israel is working to construct multi-story buildings to house Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip settlements slated for evacuation, a political official said Sunday. "Settlers' homes will be destroyed," the official said, "but the infrastructure in the settlements - including water, electricity, and roads - will remain." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The End of the Intifada? - Editorial
    It appears Israel has won this round of the war against Hamas, heralding what might be the end of the second "intifada." There has been no successful suicide attack in over three months. Israel has all but decapitated Hamas, greatly crippling its operational capabilities. And the security barrier has made it infinitely more difficult for suicide bombers to reach their targets. Israel's determined action against the weapons-smuggling tunnels in Rafah last month has isolated the Palestinian extremists. According to Reuters, "Communal support for the smugglers has cooled...residents are turning on the tunnel men." In the Gilboa region, an area that used to see 600 terrorist incidents per year, the number of attacks has fallen to zero with the completion of the security fence.
        The relative quiet also paved the way for Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan. Without the success in the fight against terror, it would have been impossible to contemplate the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. The Europeans first greeted the plan with skepticism but then embraced it as the only game in town. Will they also acknowledge how wrong they were in their criticism of Israel's antiterror measures? Don't hold your breath. (Wall Street Journal Europe, 11 June 04)
  • Resurrecting the "Jordanian Option" - Ehud Ya'ari
    In closed forums, central figures from the Palestinian leadership have started talking about the need for Jordan to resume an active role in the West Bank, 16 years after the late King Hussein was forced to declare his kingdom's disengagement from its former possessions. Egyptian involvement in Gaza will constitute a precedent and a stamp of approval for Jordan to do the same in the West Bank. There is wide support for the vision of some form of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation among the Palestinian population in the kingdom and even in certain circles of the Trans-Jordanian elite, including the Muslim Brotherhood. (Jerusalem Report)
        See also Jordanian Security Team Forced to Flee Jenin - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A Jordanian security team was forced to flee Jenin on Saturday after its members were threatened by gunmen belonging to the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. Zakariya Zubeidi, the leader of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in the Jenin area, said Palestinian officials had not received permission from Arafat to meet with the Jordanians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Saudi Arabia Created the Monster Now Devouring It - William Dalrymple
    We are close to seeing the mass exodus of the expatriate community that runs Saudi Arabia's oil business, with a disastrous effect on oil prices. By promoting Wahhabism at the expense of more tolerant forms of Islam, the Saudis have provoked a clash of civilizations, not so much between East and West as within Islam itself. The ultimate irony is that Saudi money comes from the West as oil revenues and investment: in the end it is we who are funding the export of Wahhabi intolerance. (Guardian-UK)
        See also The Crisis Within Saudi Arabia - Thomas W. Lippman
    Given the increasing audacity of the terrorists, Saudi Arabia's swelling ranks of unemployed malcontents, and the apparent indecisiveness of the senior princes, it might appear that the insurgency could indeed bring down the regime or at least ignite a civil war. Yet forecasting the demise of the Saudi monarchy would be premature at best - and probably wrong. This is not to minimize the problem the regime faces today. There appears to be a large pool of poorly educated, narrow-minded, violence-prone men who are steeped in the religious absolutism that the regime itself promoted for 20 years. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Former PA PM Abbas: Someone Was Going to Kill Me - Dan Ephron (Newsweek)

    When he was named Palestinian prime minister more than a year ago, Mahmoud Abbas was touted as the un-Arafat. But after just 129 days on the job, Abbas had had enough. His frustration and anger still burn.

    • Q: Some might say that a national leader must be able to withstand criticism and incitement.
      Abbas: That's true. But when they try to kill - I felt that someone was going to kill.
    • Q: To kill you?
      Abbas: Yeah. Or to cause bloodshed within Fatah itself.
    • Q: How many of these things were instigated by Chairman Arafat?
      Abbas: I wouldn't want to mention anyone by name. But I'll give you something to understand: I don't have any relationship with the chairman from the resignation to this day.
    • Q: When you're in Ramallah, you don't meet with him?
      Abbas: I live in Ramallah and he's 100 meters away. I don't go to him, I don't meet with him, I don't have any relations with him.
    • Q: In what circumstances would you be willing to return to this position? Abbas: No circumstances whatsoever. I will not go back.

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