Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 22, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Arafat Blocking Probe Says U.S. (Gulf Daily News-Bahrain)
    Arafat is blocking an investigation to find the killers of three American security guards attacked in the Gaza Strip last year, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield told lawmakers Tuesday.
    "We can only conclude that there has been a political decision taken by the chairman (Arafat) to block further progress in this investigation," he said.
    See also Palestinian Policeman Masterminded U.S. Convoy Bombing in Gaza - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    The person who masterminded the October bombing of the convoy of American diplomats in the Gaza Strip in which three Americans were killed was a Palestinian policeman who was traveling in the convoy.

Arafat Meets the Press - Paul Martin and Maria Cedrell (Washington Times)
    In an interview, Arafat again accused Israel of using depleted-uranium bullets, causing a sharp increase in cancer rates. "This report, an American report, proves it," he said, handing a copy to visiting reporters.
    The document turned out to have been written by an obscure peace group and contained no evidence that Israel had used uranium bullets.
    Cancer specialists at hospitals in Ramallah and Bethlehem said they had seen no increase in cancer rates during the current uprising.
    Arafat also accused Prime Minister Sharon of being "part of that group of fanatics who killed my partner, Yitzhak Rabin, with whom I signed the peace of the brave."
    Arafat became upset when asked why the Israelis had not eliminated him.
    "How dare you?" he yelled, his finger pointing menacingly. "Are you a Mossad agent? Do you work for the killers of Rabin? Of course they want to kill me, too."
    Palestinian officials said two previous interviewers were ordered to leave after angering Arafat with their questions.

Freed Filipino Hostage Tells of Sword Ordeal (Scotsman-UK)
    Freed Filipino hostage Angelo dela Cruz described how Iraqi insurgents at one point sharpened a sword and probed his neck for the right spot to cut.
    The kidnappers freed the 46-year-old truck driver after learning that Filipino troops would withdraw from Iraq to meet their demand.
    See also Head of Kidnapped American Discovered in Saudi Raid (New York Times)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • White House Dismisses UN Ruling on West Bank Barrier
    The Bush administration is dismissing a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Israel's West Bank barrier. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the non-binding resolution is one-sided and that "the appropriate solution is to follow the road map to get to the political solution that has been outlined." (VOA News)
  • Israel, Egypt, U.S. Planning Mideast Peace Conference in October
    Israel, Egypt, and the U.S. are working to organize a Mideast peace conference in October to coordinate a planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, officials said Thursday. Moshe Debi, an adviser to Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, said the proposed conference is in the early planning stages. Other Israeli officials were skeptical about the possibility of holding the conference at all because the Americans have said the Palestinians can only participate if they reform their government. Israeli officials also said it could be difficult for President Bush to become deeply involved in the Middle East just a month before he faces elections. (AP/USA Today)
  • German Politicians Call for Freezing Palestinian Aid
    A growing chorus of German politicians is calling for measures to be taken against Arafat's government, including a freezing of EU aid. The foreign policy spokesman for the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD), Gert Weisskirchen, told the Berliner Zeitung Tuesday that EU foreign ministers should stop financial aid payments to the PA if the power fight gets any worse.
        Earlier this week, German public broadcaster ARD ran a report with documents showing that Arafat wired $5.1 million in September 2001 to a personal account at the Arab Bank in Cairo. The millions may also have included international aid money. The Christian Democratic Union's spokesman on Middle East policy, Ruprecht Polenz, called for the blocking of Arafat's account, "in which aid money is apparently sitting illegally." (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • Madison City Council Defeats Rafah (Gaza) Sister-City Proposal
    In the spotlight of international news coverage, the Madison City Council Wednesday narrowly defeated a sister-city proposal with Rafah in Gaza. The council voted 9-8 in favor of the plan, which needed 11 votes for approval. (Wisconsin State Journal)
        "Due to the high number of terrorists in Rafah, there's a good chance our donations could have wound up supporting terror," said Steven Morrison, executive director of the Madison Jewish Community Council. (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN Official Abuses Mandate
    United Nations Watch has submitted evidence to the UN Commission on Human Rights showing that Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, has repeatedly abused his mandate by unfairly singling out Israel for condemnation on matters not concerning food, and has requested he be replaced. Ziegler has undertaken a series of actions that evince a pattern of selective treatment of Israel, singled out for condemnation as a Nazi-like state that commits "state terror" and "war crimes."
        On May 28, 2004, Ziegler sent a letter on official UN stationery to Caterpillar demanding that it boycott the Jewish state. Earlier in the year Ziegler wrote to the EU demanding it break its trade agreement with Israel. "It is tragic that the Special Rapporteur on food is diverting his resources and the world's attention from our planet's genuine food emergencies - such as Burundi, Liberia, or Sierra Leone - to pursue his own narrow political agenda," said UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer. (UN Watch)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Finds Two Arms Tunnels in Rafah - Margot Dudkevitch
    IDF forces operating in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip uncovered two tunnel openings Wednesday night, one located in a residential home. In Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip, soldiers spotted a Kassam rocket launcher and destroyed it. Also Wednesday night, IDF helicopters fired rockets at a factory in Khan Yunis believed to be used by Hamas to manufacture weapons. A succession of explosions proved the presence of explosives.
        An IDF undercover unit on Wednesday arrested seven Tanzim terrorists who had been involved in shooting attacks in the Bethlehem area. The cell was captured before it was able to carry out a planned suicide bombing attack against an Israeli target in the near future. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Thwarts Suicide Bombing in Northern Israel - Margot Dudkevitch
    Soldiers deployed near Nablus Thursday thwarted a suicide bombing in a northern Israeli city after stopping a Palestinian taxi, whose occupants fled. As the taxi stopped and turned around, a bag containing a suicide vest was thrown out of the vehicle. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Disengagement Will End Entry of Gazans into Israel by 2008 - Herb Keinon
    Under the disengagement plan, Israel intends to stop entry of Palestinian workers from Gaza by 2008, government officials told representatives of the World Bank on Wednesday. According to the Prime Minister's Office, the main thesis of the plan is to encourage Palestinian economic independence while gradually disengaging the Palestinian economy from Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Economic Aspects of the Disengagement Plan (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Arafat Problem - Editorial
    It's been the misfortune of the Palestinian people to be stuck with Yasser Arafat as their founding father, a leader who has failed to make the transition from romantic revolutionary to statesman. All he seems capable of offering Palestinians now is a communal form of the martyrdom he seems to covet. Encouragingly, Palestinians, increasingly fed up with Arafat's corruption, cronyism, and deafness to their needs and aspirations, are becoming more assertive about demanding change. Arafat should accept his limitations and retire as president of the Palestinian Authority. (New York Times)
  • A Third Intifada - Amir Taheri
    What is happening in Gaza is aimed at bringing down yet another Arab tyranny. This new intifada aims to reassert the power of the people against a leadership that consists largely of former exiles who had never really lived in Palestine; to prevent the Islamists, notably Hamas and Islamic Jihad, from seizing control of the agenda; and to tell the outside world to stop aiding and abetting the confederacy of rogues created by Arafat. (New York Post)
  • Gaza Infighting Related to Power Struggle, Not Reform - Molly Moore
    Arafat is facing the most serious internal threat to his authority in a decade, as militants are turning guns against their own government and long-festering political tensions are erupting into gunfights and kidnappings in the streets of Gaza. Some Palestinian officials argue that calls for reform are being used as camouflage by individuals and organizations attempting to seize power. "I don't want anybody to believe what is happening in the streets of Gaza has anything to do with reform," said Marwan Kanafani, a Palestinian legislator. "It's a simple power struggle." (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    UN Hijacked Once Again (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • In the wake of the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly, Israel expresses its disappointment that once again the UN agenda has been "hijacked" by those espousing a one-sided, anti-Israel political position. Not only is the UN position unhelpful in promoting the peace process, but it actually encourages Palestinian terrorism.
    • The resolution diverts attention from the primary reason for the failure of the Middle East peace process: Palestinian terror. If there were no terrorism, the anti-terrorism fence - that has been proven to enhance the security of Israeli citizens - would not have been built.
    • The UN resolution totally ignores the reasons for the construction of the fence. Israel has the same right as any other country to protect its citizens.
    • Israel appreciates the states - few in number, but superior in quality - that voted against this destructive exercise at the General Assembly. Israel is particularly disappointed by the European stand.
    • Israel is steadfast in its desire for peace and will continue to do everything in its power to achieve progress in that direction.

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