Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 9, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Iranians Had Key Role in Hizballah Drone Launch - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    Iranian experts on unmanned airborne vehicles (drones) from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards took part in the launch from Lebanon of a Hizballah drone that spent several minutes over northern Israel this week.
    The drone carried a camera capable of transmitting images. The flight ended with the plane crashing into the sea on its way back to Lebanon.
    The Iranian activity can be regarded as a clear-cut case of aggression against Israel. Iranian military experts sent their people to a third country to act against Israel.
    Since it took place on Lebanese territory, the Lebanese government is directly responsible for the act of aggression.

Arafat's Millions Could Slip Away (AP/ABC News)
    Jaweed al-Ghussein, a former PLO finance minister, said Arafat's financial empire was worth $3 billion to $5 billion when he quit in 1996. But Palestinians fear that what's left will disappear or be pocketed by Arafat cronies.
    Arafat long resisted proper accounting for the funds, which include Arab payments to the PLO in the 1970s and 1980s, and Western aid to the PA in the 1990s.
    Shalom Harari, a former top Israeli intelligence official, said Arafat may have stashed away up to $700 million, part of it for an emergency such as a new exile, especially with Israel threatening to expel him.
    Al-Ghussein said that for a decade beginning in 1979, the PLO received about $200 million a year, $85 million of it from Saudi Arabia.
    Much of the Arab money dried up after Arafat sided with Saddam Hussein in 1990 during Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, but Saddam gave Arafat $150 million.
    The international community donated more than $6.5 billion to the PA from 1994 to 2003.
    See also Hunt for Missing Millions Begins (Times-UK); Will $1 Billion be Buried with Arafat? (Washington Times)

BBC Criticized for "I Cried for Arafat" Report - Tom Leonard (Telegraph-UK)
    The BBC, which has long faced accusations of anti-Israeli bias, has received 500 complaints over the broadcast last Saturday by its Middle East correspondent, Barbara Plett, who reported, as Arafat left for Paris, "When the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound, I started to cry...without warning."
    BBC senior editors remonstrated with Plett over her words, adding that she too accepted that they had been "misjudged." However, the fact that a Middle East correspondent has such sympathies will fuel claims of BBC bias towards the Arabs.

Poll: French See Arafat as Hero (JTA/Jerusalem Post)
    According to a French poll published Monday by Liberation newspaper, 43% of French people view Arafat as a "hero of national resistance" while 27% called him a terrorist; 10% said he fit both categories.
    The poll also found that three times as many French people hold Sharon more responsible for Middle East violence than Arafat.
    In addition, 34% said they had more sympathy for the Palestinians, as opposed to 13% for Israel.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Suha Uses French Privacy Laws to Keep Husband's Health a Mystery
    French officials, themselves impatient with the mystery surrounding the condition of Arafat, urged Palestinian leaders to come to try to break Mrs. Arafat's hold. Under French law, Mrs. Arafat has the right to control information about her husband and decisions about his treatment. (New York Times)
        See also Suha Triggers Power Struggle - Amir Taheri
    Suha Arafat's choice is Farouk Kaddoumi, a veteran of the PLO. Kaddoumi is also backed by Nasser Al-Kidwah, Arafat's cousin and PLO representative to the UN, and several of Arafat's brothers and cousins who wish to keep the leadership and its resources in the family. Kaddoumi was in Paris earlier this week reportedly to see the will that Arafat is supposed to have signed giving Suha full authority over the family's fortune. Prime Minister Qurei, however, has denied that there is a will. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also Choosing a Portentous Time to Die
    There is a growing sense in the territories, affirmed by senior Palestinian figures, that Arafat suffered brain death late last week, and is being kept clinically alive until a leadership transition is sorted out. Tuesday night is Lailat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, the night on which Muslims believe God delivered the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed. It is the holiest night of Ramadan, a portentous time for the Palestinian leader to die. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • U.S. Reaches Out to EU on Mideast Peace After Arafat
    The Bush administration is reaching out to European allies for a possible new push for peace in the Middle East if Arafat is replaced by more moderate leaders, U.S. and diplomatic sources said Monday. A senior administration official said U.S., French, German, British, and other EU officials met on Friday at the White House to discuss efforts to revive the "road map" peace plan and how the death of Arafat would change "the realities in the region." Diplomatic sources said the meeting was a sign of growing trans-Atlantic coordination, which has been marred in the past by differences over whether to negotiate with Arafat. "If Arafat dies, there will be new realities in the Middle East and it is incumbent on the U.S. to recognize and be prepared to respond to those new realities," a senior administration official said. (Reuters)
  • Coalition Assault on Falluja
    Thousands of American marines and soldiers advanced across the deadly streets and twisting alleyways of rebel-held Falluja in Iraq on Monday. The move is expected to be the most significant battle since the fall of Baghdad 19 months ago. The number of insurgents in the city is estimated at 3,000. About 2,000 members of Iraqi security forces are fighting with the Americans. Amid the roar of battle, loudspeakers at mosques throughout the city were blaring, "Prepare for jihad!" and "God is great!" (New York Times)
        See also Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi Gives Go-Ahead for Falluja Offensive (Reuters/Yahoo)
        See also Awaiting Martyrdom in Falluja
    A dozen fighters sat on the floor in a safe house in Falluja wearing sneakers, tracksuits and beards, preaching jihad and the virtues of martyrdom: five Saudis, three Tunisians, a Yemeni, and only three Iraqis. All were volunteers in the army of Monotheism and Jihad, the organization headed by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They talked of death not fearfully but in happy anticipation while waiting for the onslaught of American armor. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Suha Arafat: Ramallah's Lady Macbeth - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The vast majority of Palestinians never related to Suha as the first lady of Palestine. Most of Arafat's associates have despised her from the first moment she arrived to work as his "economic advisor" in Tunis. By accusing Qurei and Abbas of seeking to bury her husband while he's alive, Suha in fact fired the first shot in the battle for succession.
        Suha's remarks are seen as an appeal to the Palestinians to revolt against the interim leadership and corrupt officials. She is supported by the PLO's hard-line foreign minister Farouk Kaddoumi, who sees himself as the natural successor to Arafat, and many disgruntled Fatah activists and gunmen in the West Bank and Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Suha's Outburst Infuriates Palestinians - Matthew Gutman
    Suha Arafat's public refusal Monday to permit PA leaders Qurei and Abbas to visit her dying husband catapulted her to the level of national pariah. Dislike of Suha Arafat, said human rights activist Bassem Eid, "is something that most people can agree upon....For us she has become a neighborhood bully." "After four years of calling from Paris, she begins to tell us who our legitimate leaders are," said commentator Muhammad Yaghi. An editor at a Palestinian daily described one of his favorite "Suha moments": Gazans had just completed a food drive for Iraqi children apparently going hungry because of sanctions. Suha had every outgoing box stamped with "a gift from the first lady of Palestine."
        Suha met her future husband, 34 years her senior, in the offices of former French president Francoise Mitterand. They married in 1991 when she was 28 and he was 62. In 1999 she almost ruined Hillary Clinton's New York Senate run by stating at a joint conference with the former first lady that Israel uses poison gas to disperse demonstrations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Gaza Palestinians Continue Rocket Attacks on Israelis
    On Tuesday Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket into an open area in the western Negev Desert. Palestinians fired two mortar shells into a Jewish town in the southern Gaza Strip. One landed next to a school and the second scored a direct hit on a home, causing extensive damage. Two more mortar shells were fired at a town in the northern Gaza Strip. Four people were treated for shock when one shell landed near a house and a second near a kindergarten. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Yasser Arafat at the End of His Lies - Hillel Halkin
    There is, in the world of diplomacy, only one type of leader with whom one must never negotiate under any circumstance - the leader who is a liar. It isn't a question of moral principle. It's a purely pragmatic question of utility. A terrorist who can be trusted to keep his word is a man you can do business with. It is impossible, though, to do business with a liar. There is no point in making agreements with someone who does not believe in the importance of keeping them.
        This is a truth so simple and so obvious that it seems all but impossible to understand now how it could have eluded those who welcomed the disaster of Oslo with open arms 11 years ago. They thought that lying, like terrorism, was something that, if done up to a point for a purpose, could be after that point given up. They didn't realize that a man who has lied all his life will go on lying right up to his death. (New York Sun, 9 Nov 04)
  • A Juggler Par Excellence - Fouad Ajami
    Arafat was the second Palestinian leader in a row to betray his people's hopes; the first was his distant relative, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, who dominated Palestinian politics from the 1920s until the 1950s. Terror was the mufti's weapon. He turned away from reason and compromise, rejected the inescapable logic of partition, struck down his moderate rivals, and made his way to Berlin during the Second World War and bet on the Axis powers as redeemers of his people.
        The world indulged Arafat, showered him with aid and money, and graciously offered him a place of prominence in the great diplomatic game. He could forever hoodwink the Europeans, who were all too willing to believe the legend of his moderation. It is idle to lament the historic opportunities wasted by this man. The fault lies not in a leader whose weaknesses were known the world over but in the illusions and the hopes invested in him by outsiders willing to be deluded. (U.S. News)
  • The End of the Right of Self-Defense? - Andrew C. McCarthy
    The Israeli security barrier is a historically valid, palpably necessary, provably effective, and comparatively tame self-defense measure. The Israeli barrier, while both reactive and anticipatory, is also passive and non-lethal. It thus fits very comfortably within the ambit of legitimate self-defense under international law as either designed or practiced. For a judicial tribunal to have censured it bespeaks a profound corruption of its mission, and one with seismic implications for the future of international law. (Commentary)
  • Observations:

    Will a Gaza "Hamas-stan" Become a Future Al-Qaeda Sanctuary?
    - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and David Keyes
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • In light of Israel's planned disengagement from Gaza, to take place in 2005, and the termination of Yasser Arafat's hold on power, the eventual take-over of the Gaza Strip by Hamas certainly cannot be ruled out. Would a Gaza "Hamas-stan" become another al-Qaeda sanctuary in the future? In the past, al-Qaeda sought to establish itself wherever there was a security vacuum - in remote mountain areas or in economically weak, failed states. Would a security vacuum in a post-withdrawal Gaza facilitate al-Qaeda's entry there?
    • The affinity of Hamas for groups that are part of the al-Qaeda network was dramatically demonstrated in 2004 when Hamas distributed computer CDs in the West Bank and Gaza that express the organization's identification with Chechen terrorists and with other "holy wars" in the Balkans, Kashmir, and Afghanistan.
    • Al-Qaeda and Hamas are often funded by the same people and organizations. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, "Hamas [leaders]...often use the very same methods and even the same institutions [as al-Qaeda] to raise and move their money."
    • Both al-Qaeda and Hamas legitimize the use of suicide bombing based on the same religious authorities: Sheikh Salman al-Auda (Saudi), Sheikh Safar al-Hawali (Saudi), Sheikh Hamud bin Uqla al-Shuaibi (Saudi), Sheikh Sulaiman al-Ulwan (Saudi), and Sheikh Qardhawi (Egypt-Qatar). All five clerics appear on the Hamas website.
    • To prevent a safe haven for terrorism from emerging in Gaza, Israel must maintain control over the strategic envelope around Gaza even after its disengagement, particularly air, land, and sea access to the territory, though Israel will face enormous international pressure to ease its grip as a gesture to a post-Arafat regime.
    • Similarly, Western powers may seek to limit Israel's freedom of movement to re-enter Gaza, should security conditions deteriorate (i.e., an increase in Kassam rocket attacks on Israel). Ironically, by seeking to neutralize Israeli military power, Western states would help create the very sort of security vacuum in Gaza that al-Qaeda requires in order to establish a new sanctuary.

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