Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 8, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Hizballah Working to Develop Unconventional Capabilities - Eitan Rabin (Maariv International)
    The Lebanese terror organization Hizballah is working vigorously to achieve unconventional capabilities, a classified report reveals.
    "Just as they managed to obtain and use an unmanned aerial vehicle, they are planning to use other types of weapons," a senior defense official said.
    In addition, the defense establishment is concerned Palestinian terror groups might try to perpetrate biological and chemical attack. "The terror groups are becoming more and more sophisticated and are trying to execute 'quality attacks,'" the source said.
    Information that has recently reached Israel indicates that al-Qaeda may be in the advanced planning stages of an attack in an Israeli city or against Israeli targets abroad.

Tehran Altering Ballistic Missile - Andrew Koch and Robin Hughes (Jane's Defense Weekly)
    In London on December 2, the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) claimed that Tehran is developing a new medium-range ballistic missile called the Ghadr-101, which U.S. intelligence officials believe is the same as the Shihab 3A that has been flight-tested several times in the past few months.
    However, Uzi Rubin, former director of Israel's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, said: "It appears that there are two competing teams in Iran working on its future medium-range ballistic missile. The version that was recently tested [in August] and presented in public already deserves the title Shihab 4....Everything but the propulsion system was changed."
    The missile has a modified nose section allowing it to hold a larger warhead and thus provide additional room for a nuclear device.
    "It is not a copy of a known missile but the new Shihab has a major-league design. It's clear that it is the work of seasoned missile engineers, probably Russian," Rubin added.

Useful Reference:

$10 Million for Information on Ron Arad (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    On October 16, 1986, Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad bailed out of his plane on a mission in Lebanon and was captured by members of the Iranian-backed Shiite group, Amal.
    Since then, Arad has been held captive by a variety of extremist Shiite groups, backed by Iran.
    The Born to Freedom Foundation is offering $10 million for information leading to the whereabouts of Arad.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Blair's Peace Initiative Dismays Israel
    Although Israel views Blair as a solid ally, there is wariness at his attempt to insert himself into the peace process, particularly with the proposed conference in January which Israel is being discouraged from attending. An Israeli official said: "We recognize Tony Blair as a friend of Israel, but he is a friend who thinks he knows what is best for us. There is a widely held view here that Mr. Blair wants to force the pace."
        Israel is concerned that Blair's Middle East conference will bypass the first phase of the road map, particularly the requirement for the Palestinian leadership to curb violence, and push on to the second phase which foresees the creation of a provisional Palestinian state. Israel's real concern appears to be that it could lead to U.S. pressure to move on to the creation of a Palestinian state much quicker than Sharon desires.
        British officials said Israel would not be invited. "What we're trying to do is implement phase one of the road map," said one British official. "We are not asking the Israelis to come. We don't really want them there because that increases the arguments and pointless political discussion. But they may invite themselves because they fear that if the Palestinians show up and agree to everything, the EU might say: let's shoot for phase two." (Guardian-UK)
  • U.S. Says Iraqi Rebels Aided By Sources in Syria
    U.S. military intelligence officials have concluded that the Iraqi insurgency is being directed to a greater degree than previously recognized from Syria, where former Saddam Hussein loyalists have found sanctuary and are channeling money and other support to those fighting the established government. A handful of senior Iraqi Baathists operating in Syria are collecting money from private sources in Saudi Arabia and Europe for the insurgency. (Washington Post)
        See also Syria Provides Sanctuary to Iraqi Baathists
    Gen. John P. Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region, said Syria has given the Baathists a sanctuary in which to set up financial networks and smuggle people and arms into Iraq. (Washington Post)
  • Israeli Arab Charged With Spying for Iran
    An Israeli Arab, Mohammed Ghanam, has been arrested on charges of spying for Iran, Israel police spokesman Gil Kleiman said Tuesday. Authorities believe Ghanam came into contact with Iranian agents during one of his frequent trips to Saudi Arabia, where he facilitated the visits of Muslim pilgrims from Israel. A police statement said Ghanam met Iranian agent Abu Osma in August 2003, who promised to pay Ghanam for enlisting young Israeli Arabs to carry out anti-Israeli missions after undergoing training in Jordan. "In his interrogation... Ghanam said he understood that the purpose of recruiting the young people was to carry out terror attacks," the statement said. (AP/Newsday)
  • Dutch Say Dealer Sold Chemicals to Hussein
    Dutch prosecutors said Tuesday they would charge chemicals dealer Frans van Anraat, 62, as an accomplice to genocide for supplying Saddam Hussein with lethal chemicals used in the chemical attack on a Kurdish town in Iraq in 1988 that killed an estimated 5,000 civilians. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Fire Anti-Tank Rockets at Israeli Day Care Center in Gaza
    Palestinians fired two anti-tank rockets at a day-care center in the northern Gaza Strip settlement of Nissanit Wednesday, causing two children to suffer from shock. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Radical Groups in Damascus Turn Down Abbas's Call for Truce - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas held talks in Damascus with the leaders of three Palestinian radical groups to discuss the possibility of reaching a cease-fire with Israel. He met separately with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah, and Ahmed Jibril, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. Palestinian sources said the groups rejected Abbas's demand for a temporary truce with Israel ahead of the Jan. 9 election, insisting that they would pursue the fight against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iran Claims Pakistan is Helping Saudis Develop Nukes - Ze'ev Schiff
    Official Iranian sources are claiming that in 2003, Pakistan promised to help Saudi Arabia develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The Iranian reports emphasize that the nuclear cooperation is at an advanced stage and that for the first time the Saudis have access to nuclear technology. Iranian Prof. Abu Mohammed Asgarkhani claimed that Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear arms picked up after it learned about the Pakistani-Saudi deal. Pakistan owes Saudi Arabia a great deal because Saudi Arabia essentially financed development of the Pakistani bomb. Pakistan was also the middleman between Saudi Arabia and China for the purchase of long-range Chinese missiles. The Saudis want to upgrade them, but Washington remains opposed. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Iran Attempts Distraction - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
  • Mubarak Pushes Regional Peace Initiative in Kuwait - Zvi Bar'el, Yoav Stern and Aluf Benn
    Egyptian President Mubarak is visiting Kuwait to try to persuade Kuwaiti ruler Prince Jabber al Sabah to present an initiative for the Gulf states to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, in exchange for a significant acceleration of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and the start of negotiations between Syria and Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • France Praises Israel's "Restraint" - David Horovitz
    In a radical departure from years of Parisian critical rhetoric, the French ambassador to Israel, Gerard Araud, said Tuesday that he thought Israel "has tried to show the utmost restraint" in the course of the conflict with the Palestinians since 2000. The Palestinian issue is "not the central problem" for Arab states, he said, most of whose regimes are "so fragile....They all have more pressing problems...being mostly obsessed with their own survival."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Positive Signs? - Moshe Elad
    The main message from the Palestinian side is that there's been enough of the peace that began with the Oslo Accords. This peace, which sowed destruction and sorrow, and brought thousands of dead and tens of thousands of wounded, has already been tried, they are saying.
        The sounds of joy Israelis are making about "seeing positive signs" in the Palestinian leadership should be regarded with a considered degree of caution. It's not peace they are talking about over there, but about freedom for prisoners, lifting checkpoints, and work permits. Abu Mazen's pleasant words and even the encouragement of Mubarak should be seen as a well-orchestrated chorus of compliments motivated by expectations to see a more open Israel. Over the last 10 years there was not a single stage where Palestinian society had something to lose. The signals coming from over there now indicate that the Palestinian side is internalizing the idea that maybe in the future they will have something to gain. The writer was the first head of the joint security mechanism with the PA and is now a researcher at Haifa University. (Ha'aretz)
  • Subtle Signs of Change - Jim Hoagland
    When Saudi security forces shot it out with a small terrorist gang in Jeddah on Monday to protect the lives of U.S. diplomats, they made an important statement about the course of change in the Middle East. The Saudi forces' repulse of the terrorist attack without U.S. fatalities may represent a step forward in the commitment and capabilities of the local security units. In the past, local forces have not shown much willingness to fight terrorists to protect foreigners. The U.S. will not prevail over global terrorism that originates in the Middle East unless moderate Muslim political, religious, and civic leaders take command in that struggle. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Peace is Up to the Palestinians - IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon
    (IDF Spokesperson/IMRA)

    The IDF Chief of Staff told the Foreign Press Association on Tuesday:

    • Today, we are nearly four and a half years into the conflict, and the alerts for attacks - including suicide attacks within Israel - continue. Israel has seen many wars since the founding of the state, but no conflict has been as intense, as long, and as close to home, as the present conflict with the Palestinians. The number of Israeli dead - 1,012 to date - is similar to the losses we knew in previous wars - but two-thirds of the dead are civilians.
    • If, in the past, protecting the State of Israel meant patrolling the borders against enemy tanks and planes, today it means arresting wanted terrorists in their homes and checking the personal belongings of people at checkpoints.
    • Let us be clear: It was only the sustained military effort, starting with Operation Defensive Shield in the spring of 2002, which brought the reduction in terror.
    • The reduction in terror has also helped the Palestinians. The economic situation in West Bank cities is much more stable than it was two years ago.
    • Just as in wars past, we will not give up on our moral standard in the name of combat. We see a picture of a man playing his violin at a checkpoint, and then we find that the soldiers - as they must - asked the man to open the violin case. But they did not ask him to play. In fact, they asked him to stop playing.
    • If there are ethical questions and dilemmas that arise from our operational activity, we will struggle with them and discuss them. That is a source of strength for us, not weakness.
    • It is up to the Palestinians. If they stop terror, if they stop incitement, we will be able to move to the Roadmap. We will also help facilitate the elections for the PA, and do our share to allow freedom of movement on election day.

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