Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 15, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Destruction of Houses Causes Rafah Residents to Battle Smugglers - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    Two angry residents of the Al-Salaam neighborhood in Rafah murdered Fathi Abu Ghali, who was active in Rafah's popular resistance committees, after he dug a new shaft that connected to a smuggling tunnel, capping a series of actions by Rafah residents against tunnel operators.

PA Stops Funding Aksa Martyrs Brigades - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    At a meeting of the Fatah Central Committee on Sunday chaired by Arafat, Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said the most important mission now was to guarantee the safety of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades gunmen who are wanted by Israel for carrying out terrorist attacks.
    Arafat has invited the Fatah gunmen to join the PA security services.
    Hani Uwaidah, commander of the Aksa Brigades in Tulkarm, said the PA stopped paying his salary a few months ago, which was the main reason why he and his friends had halted their attacks against Israel.
    The commander of the Aksa Brigades in the Jenin area, Zakariya Zubeidi, accused the members of the Fatah Central Council of trying to sideline the group.
    "They are trying to stop the funding to us [and]...are putting pressure on us to disband," he said.

Al-Qaeda May Have Delayed 9/11 Attack - Dan Eggen (Washington Post)
    The independent commission probing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has found evidence suggesting the attacks were intended to be carried out in May or June of that year, but were postponed by al-Qaeda leaders because lead hijacker Mohamed Atta was not ready.

France, Israel to Sign $200M Weapons Deal - Amnon Barzilai (Ha'aretz)
    France and Israel are expected to sign the biggest weapons deal between the two countries since the French embargo on weapons sales to Israel prior to the Six-Day War.
    The $150-200 million deal will commission Israel Aircraft Industries to sell expertise for the manufacture of drones for France's major defense industries.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Head of UN Atomic Agency Rebukes Iran
    While a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency moved Monday toward a sharp rebuke of Iran for delaying a probe into its suspect nuclear activities, delegates said Tehran would likely get off with a reprimand instead of sanctions. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also below Commentary: The World Shrugs as Iran Builds Its Nuclear Bomb - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
  • Report Criticizes Saudi Anti-Terror Efforts
    The Saudi government has stepped up efforts to cut off financing for terrorists since al-Qaeda started targeting it, but the kingdom "has yet to demand personal accountability" by prominent Saudis who help fund terrorists, said a new report by a panel convened by the Council on Foreign Relations. The council's report pointed out that two wealthy Saudi philanthropists who have been declared terrorism financiers by the U.S. government, Yasin Qadi and Wa'el Hamza Jalaidan, have not been punished by Riyadh and "appear to live freely in Saudi Arabia." (Washington Post)
  • For Orthodox Israelis, Views Differ on Yielding Gaza
    Orthodox Jews have a multitude of ways of looking at the religious significance of Gaza. "I do not believe Gaza should be part of the land of Israel at this point in time," says Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat. But he added: "It would be unthinkable for us to transfer out Arabs. Why is it so accepted by the whole world community that Jews can be exiled from their land and their houses?"  (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Terror Cell Planned to Blow Up Prime Minister's Office - Jonathan Lis
    A terrorist cell arrested last month in Jerusalem planned to blow up the Prime Minister's Office or - if that failed - a Mea Shearim synagogue. Hussam Nablusi, an east Jerusalem member of the cell, was to use his access to the PMO as a delivery company driver to drop off a 15-kilogram bomb, to be set off by remote control with a cellular phone. The bomb was discovered in northern Jerusalem after the cell members managed to smuggle it into the city. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Air Force Strike Kills Three Nablus Terror Chiefs - Arnon Regular
    Three Palestinian militant leaders were killed Tuesday when a missile blasted their car in Balata near Nablus. One was identified as Khalil Marshoud, 24, the local leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who was responsible for multiple terror attacks in Israel. Another was Mohammed Al Assi, a member of the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad. Army sources said the decision to eliminate Marshoud was reached after numerous attempts to arrest him had failed. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Foils Car Bomb Attack in Gaza - Arnon Regular
    IDF troops foiled a car bomb attack at the Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The explosive-laden car was unable to cross a dirt mound and blew up after soldiers fired at it. Earlier Tuesday, two soldiers were lightly wounded after Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at forces in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Axes 40 Roadblocks to Ease Palestinian Movement - Matthew Gutman
    The army has begun the removal of some 40 roadblocks and obstacles near Palestinian villages across the West Bank in an effort to "ease the flow of movement and quality of life" for Palestinian civilians, following several weeks of relative quiet in the territories, IDF officers said Monday. However, the continuation of the process depends on "terrorist groups not taking advantage of the new situation." The construction of the security fence has contributed to the lowered terrorist threat, enabling the army to implement the new measures, said one senior IDF source. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Eases Travel Restrictions in West Bank (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The World Shrugs as Iran Builds Its Nuclear Bomb - Editorial
    If Iran goes nuclear within the next year or two, don't blame the inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency. The UN team issued yet another damning report on the mullahs, describing a pattern of deception and non-cooperation that all but screams "bomb program." Yet as IAEA member states meet in Vienna, the consuming issue will be whether to "deplore" Iran's deceptions or note them with "serious concern." Privately, the Iranians are pleased as punch that the IAEA will yet again fail to refer them to the UN Security Council for sanction. The "multilateral" diplomatic path is failing. History will not look kindly on the leaders who let Iran get the bomb on their watch. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Our Strange Relationship with Terrorists Continues - Victor Davis Hanson
    True, al-Qaeda is now scattered, the Taliban and Saddam gone. But the calculus of a quarter century - threaten, hit, pause, wait; threaten, hit, pause, wait - is now entrenched in the minds of Middle Eastern murderers. Like Hitler, bin Ladenism has an agenda: the end of the liberal West. Bin Laden's Reich is a vast pan-Arabic, Taliban-like caliphate metering out oil to a greedy West in order to purchase the weapons of its destruction; there is, after all, an Israel to be nuked, a Europe to be out-peopled and cowered, and an America to be bombed and terrorized into isolation. (National Review)
  • The Road to Democracy, Via Damascus - Michael Young
    The U.S. and the EU should put Lebanese sovereignty at the top of their agenda - even if they have few means of enforcement. How can the international community help? First, by calling, after years of indifference, for the peaceful carrying out of UN and other resolutions demanding foreign troop withdrawals from Lebanon. This would include a renewed commitment to the 1989 Taif accord that ended the civil war and outlined a Syrian redeployment to the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon within two years. While the wording of the accord is open to interpretation, its spirit is not: the Syrians are asked to move their troops with the implicit promise of a total withdrawal. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Keep Winning - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • The Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other terrorist Palestinian factions have been devastated by repeated IDF/Shin Bet raids. Successive generations of terrorist leadership have either been killed by the IDF or forced into hiding for fear of their lives, thereby disrupting planning and operational capabilities.
    • The killing of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi have led to the longest (relative) peace Israel has known in nearly four years. If the intifada seems over, as some people now dare to whisper, it is because the IDF is winning.
    • We have spent the last several years listening to sanctimonious lectures about how: (1) there is no military solution to the conflict; (2) any "escalation" on Israel's part leads to a commensurate Palestinian escalation; (3) "walls never solved anything;" (4) what the Palestinians need is hope, not fear.
    • All this turns out to be demonstrably false. Israeli military escalation has led, unfailingly, to Palestinian de-escalation. Israeli concessions - giving the Palestinians hope - has merely created openings for violence.
    • The danger now is that the appearance of success will lead to a relaxation of effort, possibly encouraged by international pressure to show good will. This would be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
    • As we come closer to the moment of pulling up stakes in Gaza, it will be necessary to take the anti-terror campaign to a new level of intensity. No Palestinian living in a future Palestinian state should be in any doubt as to Israel's will and ability to defend itself and its citizens against opportunistic aggression.

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