Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 2, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Dahlan Warns Arafat of Mass Protests Against PA - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Former Gaza security chief Muhammad Dahlan gave Arafat an ultimatum Sunday: carry out reforms by August 10 or 30,000 people will take to Gaza's streets in protest, he told newspaper editors in Jordan.
    "Arafat is sitting on the bodies and the ruins of the Palestinians," Dahlan said.
    All of the funds that foreign nations have donated to the Palestinian Authority, a total of $5 billion, "have gone down the drain, and we don't know where," he added.

Did Israel Win the Intifada? - Ben Caspit (Maariv Weekend Magazine-Hebrew, 30 July 04)
    According to IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, "In 2003, 438 suicide bombers sought to blow themselves up against Israeli targets - 18 succeeded."
    "What happened to the rest? 416 were arrested by Israeli security forces on the way, or in their beds."
    "During the first half of 2004, Israel arrested 50 suicide bombers - only 4 succeeded."

Gen. Franks: U.S. Agent Tricked Saddam Over Iraqi Defense - Tony Allen-Mills (London Times)
    America's Iraq war commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, has disclosed that a double agent tricked Saddam Hussein into fatally bungling the defense of his country.
    As a result, while American armored columns raced to Baghdad from southern Iraq, Saddam held back many of his best divisions to fight expected attacks from the north and west, which never came.
    In Franks' memoirs, to be published Tuesday, he reveals that an American officer working with Franks' knowledge, who was approached by an Iraqi intelligence operative working undercover as a diplomat, sold the Iraqi false "top secret" invasion plans created by central command.
    Interrogations after the war confirmed the success of the deception, Franks said last week.
    Franks insists he was never in any doubt that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
    Shortly before the war Franks visited Jordan's King Abdullah and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Both said they had been told by Saddam that he had WMD which he would use against the Americans.
    Franks also revealed that he steered clear of Israel and told Arab leaders that he was sympathetic to their issues:
    "For years, I had told my Arab friends that I had 'no Israeli visa' in my passport. This was an unofficial way of letting them know that I understood their side of the story."

Palestinian Jail Blast Wounds Seven (Reuters)
    A Palestinian policeman hurled two hand grenades on Monday into a jail cell in Gaza City holding prisoners accused of collaborating with Israel, wounding seven, Palestinian security sources said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Warns of High Risk of Qaeda Attack
    Intelligence officials on Sunday said al-Qaeda has moved ahead with plans to use car bombs or other modes of attack against prominent financial institutions, including the New York Stock Exchange and the Citigroup buildings in Manhattan; Prudential Financial in Newark; and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington. Officials said suspects were found with blueprints of the Prudential site and may have conducted a "test run" for an attack in recent days.
        In response, Tom Ridge, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, raised the threat level to code orange, or "high risk," for the financial sector in New York City, northern New Jersey, and Washington, and called for increased public vigilance. "The quality of this intelligence, based on multiple reporting streams in multiple locations, is rarely seen and it is alarming in both the amount and specificity of the information," Ridge said. (New York Times)
        See also Text: Ridge Raises Threat Level (Washington Post)
        See also Captured Qaeda Figure Behind Warning
    The unannounced capture of a figure from al-Qaeda in Pakistan several weeks ago led the CIA to the rich lode of information that prompted the terror alert on Sunday. Captured information demonstrated in extraordinary detail that Qaeda members had for years conducted sophisticated and extensive reconnaissance of the financial institutions cited in the warnings. (New York Times)
  • U.S., Israeli Embassies in Uzbekistan Bombed
    Suicide bombers struck the U.S. and Israeli embassies and the top prosecutor's office in Tashkent Friday, killing at least two Uzbeks and wounding nine others in nearly simultaneous attacks that occurred as this majority Muslim country is trying 15 suspects allegedly tied to al-Qaeda for a wave of suicide attacks four months ago. (AP/Boston Globe)
  • Five Christian Churches Bombed in Iraq, 12 Dead
    Coordinated car bombings on Sunday near four churches in Baghdad and another in Mosul, in northern Iraq, killed at least 12 people and wounded at least 27. Next door to one church, a Muslim family of five was killed by the blast. (New York Times)
  • Plot to Kill Saudi Ruler Admitted in U.S. Court
    Abdurahman Alamoudi, the one-time head of the American Muslim Council whose influence once reached the highest levels of the U.S. government, has pleaded guilty to illegally moving cash from Libya and admitted that he was involved in an elaborate Libyan plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Tries to Block American Missile Sales to Jordan
    Israeli officials say they are hoping to halt the sale to Jordan of advanced U.S.-made AMRAAM air-to-air missiles that could undermine Israel's military superiority in the region. Israeli officials also fear that the missile sale could trigger an Egyptian request to purchase the weapons. Israeli officials are concerned at Egypt's determination to arm itself with advanced weapons. (VOA News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Two Israelis Wounded in Kassam Rocket Attack
    A Kassam rocket, fired from the north Gaza Strip, exploded Sunday at the entrance to a western Negev kibbutz. Two people were lightly wounded from shrapnel and a third person was treated for shock. A Kassam rocket fell in the Israeli city of Sderot on Monday morning. Four people suffered from shock. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Rocket Hits Apartment of Family that Fled - Shmulik Hadad
    On Sunday the Yehudai family of Sderot decided to sleep at their daughter's apartment in Beersheva after fearing more Kassam rocket attacks on the city. On Monday their apartment in Sderot took a direct hit and was heavily damaged. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Arafat Moves to Block Unrest in West Bank - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Arafat, who is doing his utmost to prevent the rebellion from spreading to the West Bank, ordered his loyalists in Nablus to break up a meeting organized by Fatah operatives and local legislators to demand reforms. Gunmen belonging to the Fatah-affiliated Awdah Brigades stormed the conference hall, shooting into the air and forcing the participants to flee. The gunmen admitted they had been dispatched by Arafat's office. Arafat maintains direct phone contact with the leader of each Fatah militia in the cities of the West Bank and is well aware that he can rely on the majority of the gunmen roaming the streets to squash any move to undermine his power.
        Sources close to Arafat claim that Muhammad Dahlan has been offering large sums to young Fatah activists in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Hebron, and Bethlehem to persuade them to join the anti-Arafat drive. While Dahlan remains popular among many Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip, his efforts to instigate anti-Arafat protests in the West Bank are likely to fail because he does not have any power base there. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Western Charity Workers Kidnapped by Palestinians Freed After Arafat Promises Payoff - Amnon Regular
    Palestinian gunmen agreed to release an American, a Briton, and an Irishman kidnapped Saturday after Arafat promised to pay off the kidnappers. The three, members of a charity group working with a university in Nablus, had been teaching English to Palestinian students. (Ha'aretz)
  • Arson in Jenin - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In Jenin Saturday, gunmen led by Zakariya Zubeidi of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades torched the offices of the PA General Intelligence Force and prevented fire engines from reaching the site. The same group earlier set fire to the headquarters of the Jenin district governor, Kadoura Moussa. Zubeidi said the torching of the governor's office came in response to Moussa's refusal to pay the salaries of the members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Marie Antoinette in the Muqata - Zvi Bar'el
    "The Fatah rebels were torching the PA office in Khan Yunis when Arafat asked his famous question: 'Crisis? What crisis?'" columnist Huda Al-Husseini wrote this week in the London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Not only has this Palestinian discourse against the Arafat regime become legitimate, it is starting to be the central discourse. The international Arab press likens Arafat and his leadership to the leadership that caused the loss of Palestine to Israel in 1948. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Scud Killer: Shot Heard Around the World - Bradley Burston
    Defense commentator Ze'ev Schiff says the successful test of the Arrow, which for the first time successfully intercepted a Scud missile in flight, sent "a very significant signal, saying that the U.S. and Israel are standing together on an issue of great importance....and this strengthens Israel's deterrent capability." Syrians also privately worry that "if Israel can intercept a Scud at this range, a Syrian missile with a chemical warhead could explode over the heads of the Syrians themselves," Schiff added. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    The Palestinian Rebellion in Fatah: Foreshadowing the Politics of the Post-Arafat Era - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • For the first time since the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, popular rage aimed at the "corrupt leadership" enjoys the backing of the most powerful militia in Gaza - the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
    • Arafat's opponents support the holding of municipal elections and elections to the Palestinian parliament in order to remove the Old Guard from power. In this way, the leaders of the intifada hope to receive the share of power they feel they deserve, and this would also improve Mohammad Dahlan's chances of succeeding Arafat.
    • The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which continues to express its commitment to the armed struggle, is striving to upgrade its status from an armed militia under the command of the political leadership of Fatah to become a central political element, controlling the mother movement by force and playing a major part in the decision-making process.
    • Thus, this is not an ideological struggle between old Arafat-Tunis hardliners originating from outside the territories and young moderate insiders, but rather a power struggle involving a broad spectrum of Arafat opponents, many of whom are no less inflexible and militant.
    • The probable takeover of Fatah by its militia will create a more radical and hard-line movement with regard to settling the conflict with Israel. In light of past operational cooperation between the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas, under the "Nationalist and Islamic Forces" umbrella, Hamas could become a stronger factor at a later stage by cooperating with these Fatah militants.

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