Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 6, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
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In-Depth Issues:

How the FBI Set Up AIPAC - Janine Zacharia (Jerusalem Post)
    FBI agents used Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin to draw two senior AIPAC officials who already knew him into accepting what he described to them as "classified" information, reliable government and other sources intimately familiar with the investigation say.
    The information claimed that Iranians were monitoring and planning to kidnap and kill Israelis operating in Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, though it is unclear whether the claim was real or bogus.
    At the FBI's request, Franklin initiated contact with the AIPAC pair and told them that he needed to discuss a ticking-bomb situation.
    The FBI hoped that the AIPAC pair would be so troubled by the apparent life-and-death content of the information from Franklin as to risk a breach of U.S. espionage statutes and transfer the information to Israel, which is precisely what happened.
    A Second Search of AIPAC - Elaine Shannon (TIME)

Iran Extradites Muslim Brotherhood Leader to Egypt - Joseph Nasr (Jerusalem Post)
    The head of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Mustafa Hamza, who planned an attempt to assassinate President Mubarak in Addis Ababa in June 1995, was handed over to Egypt by Iran, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported Sunday.
    In exchange for Hamza's extradition, Tehran will be allowed to set up cultural centers in Egypt.
    Egypt also vowed to use its diplomatic channels with the U.S. to improve Iran's image with Washington.

German Police Raid Islamic Group (BBC News)
    German police have raided more than 30 sites believed to be connected to a banned Islamic organization, al-Aqsa.
    The German government alleges that the charity raises funds for the Palestinian militant movement Hamas.

Al-Jazeera's Psyops - Hassan Hanizadeh (Tehran Times-Iran)
    The Al-Jazeera network recently posted an insulting cartoon about the Islamic Republic of Iran on its English site.
    When Al-Jazeera was founded in 1997, rumors arose suggesting that it was established by U.S. and Israeli agents in order to present a bad image of Islam to the world.
    The actions of the network have gradually revealed the fact that Al-Jazeera officials, on the orders of Zionist agents, are trying to divide Islamic countries and tarnish the image of Islam.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Britain to Host Mid-East Peace Summit - Anton La Guardia
    Britain has won American agreement to hold an international peace conference on the Middle East in London next January or February. Senior diplomatic sources say that preparations for the conference are at the heart of attempts to heal the transatlantic divisions caused by the war in Iraq. Britain wants to show the Arab and Islamic world that the West is committed to establishing a Palestinian state, but America and Israel are wary of attending a high-profile event.
        America and Israel want a businesslike meeting to focus on "practical issues" such as rebuilding Palestinian security services and providing financial support for Palestinians after Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza next year. An Israeli source said: "We will be able to take part if the British keep it practical. But if it becomes an attempt to dictate terms to Israel, they will lose us along the way." (Telegraph-UK)
  • Hamas Rejects Cease-Fire with Israel
    Hamas ruled out any truce with Israel Sunday and repeated its desire to destroy the Jewish state. "There is no talk about a truce now at all," said Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a top Hamas leader. "Our strategy is to liberate all Palestinian soil," Zahar said, referring to the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel. (Reuters)
        See also Hamas Vows Continuing Resistance
    Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, said Sunday in Lebanon that his group would continue its resistance even if a Palestinian state was established. Hamas refuses to accept Israel's right to exist. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Attacked
    Gunmen attacked the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Monday. Four Saudi national guardsmen have been killed and 18 Saudis are being held hostage, Sky News reported. A car exploded in front of the consulate, AP reported, and armed men are inside the consulate building, al-Arabiya television news said. (Bloomberg)
  • Annan's Post at the UN May Be at Risk
    UN officials fear that Secretary General Kofi Annan may have lost the confidence of the organization's most powerful constituent, the U.S. They also say members of the Bush administration may want Annan to resign because of his disagreements with Washington about Iraq and the growing scandal over the Iraq oil-for-food program. President Bush pointedly refused on Thursday to express confidence in Annan's continuing in office, and linked American financial support to a full accounting of the program. (New York Times)
        See also The UN Oil Scandal - Editorial
    The UN bureaucracy does not bear the primary responsibility for letting Saddam Hussein amass a secret treasury estimated by official investigators at $10 billion to $21 billion. It seems wildly premature to call for Mr. Annan's resignation. (New York Times)
        See also Such a Parcel of Rogues in the UN - Gerald Warner (Scotland on Sunday-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Egypt Exchanges Jailed Israeli Druze for Six Egyptians - Aluf Benn and Gideon Alon
    Egypt Sunday released Azzam Azzam, an Israeli Druze businessman jailed in Egypt eight years ago, in return for six Egyptians captured in August who planned terrorist attacks in southern Israel. After arriving in Israel, Azzam told Prime Minister Sharon, "I am lucky to have been born in Israel and I'm proud of it." Foreign Ministry sources said Egypt would probably appoint an ambassador to Israel after the PA elections on Jan. 9, and agreements for the sale of Egyptian gas to Israel and for setting up a joint free trade zone are expected soon. (Ha'aretz)
        See also A Strategic Gesture - Ze'ev Schiff
    Azzam's release is a strategic gesture by Mubarak to Sharon, part of a maneuver designed to involve Egypt in disengagement and the renewal of the peace process following Arafat's death. Yet this should not be seen as a sweeping change in Israeli-Egyptian relations. There is no proof or sign that Azzam was connected in any way to Israel's intelligence services. Sources in the know vehemently deny he was. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz: Attempted Attacks Down Since Arafat's Death - Herb Keinon
    The number of attempted terror attacks has dropped since Arafat died three weeks ago, with Palestinian terror organizations in a "waiting mode" to see how things develop on the ground, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet Sunday. However, the number of alerts remains high, as does the motivation to carry out attacks, he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Open 9 Crossings in West Bank Fence - Zvi Zrahiya and Gideon Alon
    Israel is to open nine crossings along the West Bank separation fence at the end of February 2005, defense officials told Knesset members Sunday. At a new terminal to be opened near Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, border guards will use biometric identification (without direct contact) and employ sniffer dogs and x-ray machines to spot explosive devices. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Abu Mazen: Leader or Figurehead? - Ehud Ya'ari
    Abu Mazen has been as good as anointed as Arafat's successor. It is no secret that he would like to overturn his predecessor's policies regarding both the Palestinian internal order and Israel. But it is not at all clear whether he has the inner strength to do so. Throughout his long career in Arafat's Fatah, Abu Mazen has never stood out as an innovative or forceful leader and he hasn't got the personality to win the affection of the wider public. He is well respected but not admired. He lacks an independent power base and has no real constituency on the ground. As a result, he could end up, to quote Prime Minister Sharon, as a "featherless chick," a well-meaning figurehead who lacks the executive wherewithal. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Evaluating International Approaches to Security and Aid Following Disengagement in Gaza - Gerald M. Steinberg and William Berger
    In developing models for intervention in Gaza following Israel's disengagement, the UN and World Bank have presented detailed scenarios involving massive international aid to stimulate economic development. Unfortunately, such plans are unrealistic and lack credibility with respect to the critical issue of security. Attempts to implement these approaches without adequately addressing the issue of security are likely to fail, and even add to the already considerable level of instability and violence, rather than promote accountability and stability within Gaza. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Nuclear Iran an Extreme Threat to U.S. - Orde Kittrie
    The risk of a nuclear 9/11 is high and rising, as Harvard Professor Graham Allison writes in Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. In the first presidential debate, President Bush recognized that "the biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network." The most important action we can take to prevent a nuclear 9/11 is to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program in its tracks.
        Iran's hard-line fundamentalist regime routinely refers to the U.S. as "the Great Satan." In May, on the first day of its new session, Iran's parliament broke into chants of "Death to America." At Iran's annual military parade in September, a long-range missile had draped over it a banner proclaiming, "We will crush America under our feet." A banner draped over another missile proclaimed "Israel must be wiped off the map." Iran is working on the Shihab 5 missile, which would be capable of hitting the continental U.S. (Arizona Republic)
  • Observations:

    Arafat's Death Has Given Birth to New Hope - Martin Indyk (New York Times)

    • Freed of the burden of a dysfunctional governing style, Palestinian officials are carefully edging their way toward cooperation.
    • Left to their own devices, Palestinians are consciously making an effort to favor the rule of law over the law of the jungle, actually using democratic procedures to resolve the battle over Arafat's succession. This acceptance of elections as the route to power has already begun to channel the energies of the competing forces.
    • Abbas is offering the diffuse terrorist gangs a deal: put down your arms and take up jobs in the security services, and you will have both salaries and amnesty from Israeli attack.
    • Adding to the new hopeful mood, the Israeli military has limited its activities against Palestinian terrorists. To help pay salaries to newly co-opted militants, Sharon's government is quietly transferring tax revenues Israel collects for the PA.
    • Peacemaking, nation-building, and democratization need to go hand in hand. What's needed now is a strategic commitment from President Bush in favor of a sustained second-term effort to redeem his two-state vision of a democratic Palestine living peacefully alongside a secure Jewish state of Israel.

      The writer is director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and was the U.S. Ambassador to Israel (1995-1997, 2000-2001).

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