Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 23, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Acquire Two More German Submarines (Maariv International)
    Germany has agreed to sell Israel another two Dolphin-class diesel submarines, to join the three Dolphin-class submarines already operated by the Israeli navy.
    The new boats will be able to stay submerged longer, and will cost $700 million.
    At least one of Israel's submarines is always on patrol in the Arabian Sea, where Indian subs of British-Russian manufacture sail keel to keel with Israeli subs made in Germany against Pakistani vessels made in France and Iranian subs made in China.

Iranian TV Drama Depicts Israel Stealing Palestinian Children's Eyes (MEMRI)
    Iran's Sahar 1 TV station is currently airing a weekly series titled "For You, Palestine," or "Zahra's Blue Eyes."
    The opening sequence of the show contains graphic scenes of surgery, and images of a Palestinian girl in a hospital whose eyes have been removed, with bandages covering the sockets.
    Later in the episode, Israelis disguised as UN workers visit a Palestinian school, ostensibly to examine the children's eyes for diseases, but in reality to select which children's eyes to steal to be used for transplants.

New Zealand: Safe Haven for Islamic Extremists (AP/CNN)
    Islamic extremists with links to international terror groups are believed to be using New Zealand as a safe haven, that nation's top spy agency has warned.
    Security Intelligence Service Director Richard Woods said in his annual report to Parliament that "we assess that there are individuals in, or from, New Zealand who support Islamic extremist causes."
    Developments "indicate attempts to use New Zealand as a safe haven from which activities of security concern elsewhere can be facilitated."

Tapes Reveal Foul Tirades of "Chemical Ali" - Colin Freeman (Telegraph-UK)
    Gruesome tapes of Saddam Hussein's most feared henchman threatening to cut up his thousands of victims "like cucumbers" have been disclosed as Iraqi war-crimes judges began court proceedings against him on Saturday.
    Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam's cousin and the man nicknamed "Chemical Ali" for gassing up to 5,000 Kurds, is thought to have been responsible for murdering up to 150,000 Kurdish men, women and children.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Sharon Tells Blair: Palestinians Haven't Taken "the Slightest Step" to End Terrorism
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday in Israel that it was an opportune moment to restart Mideast peace efforts, but he warned: "There is not going to be any successful negotiation or peace without an end to terrorism." While the overall level of violence is down in many areas, there are still daily confrontations, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
        Israeli Prime Minister Sharon said he would be willing to return to the road map if terrorism were halted, but, "We don't see even the slightest step taken by the Palestinians." (New York Times)
        See also Blair Pays Respects at Arafat's Grave
    Prime Minister Blair inspected a Palestinian honor guard with Arafat's likely successor, Mahmoud Abbas, before stopping for a moment in front of the glass-walled mausoleum built for Arafat in Ramallah. Blair nodded and there was a moment's silence. The Palestinians would have liked Blair to lay a wreath at the grave, as Foreign Minister Jack Straw did last month, but Blair's delegation had ruled this out and agreed to the pause before the tomb instead. (Daily Mail-UK)
        See also Sharon-Blair Press Conference (Israel Foreign Ministry)
  • More Signs of Syria Turn Up in Iraq
    When U.S. troops stormed the rebel-held city of Fallujah last month, several captured insurgents were found with photos of senior Syrian officials, confirming that some elements in the Syrian regime are involved in Iraq's bloody insurgency. According to Hassan Allawi, Iraq's new ambassador to Damascus, "There is an Iraqi Baathist invasion of Syria. It's overwhelming.... They stole gold and robbed banks and came here. They have enough funds to keep fighting for 30 years." Many Iraqi exiles say that Syria is being unfairly singled out for criticism when there are many more Iraqi Baathists, including senior figures, living in Jordan. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • A Sad New Carol: Go Ye From Bethlehem
    In the town where Christians believe Christ was born, the Christians are leaving. An estimated 3,000 Christians in the Bethlehem area have moved abroad since the Palestinian uprising began in 2000, according to Bernard Sabella, an associate professor of sociology at Bethlehem University. The continuing exodus has left Christians accounting for only about 21,500 of the 60,000 Palestinian residents in the area, or about 35%. Bethlehem was more than 90% Christian until the middle of the 20th century. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Murder Israeli Security Guard Near West Bank Fence - Amos Harel
    Sammy al-Kimlat, 36, a Defense Ministry security guard protecting surveyors for the separation fence, was shot dead Wednesday by Palestinians west of Hebron. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Mortar Barrage Hits Gush Katif, One Wounded
    Palestinian terrorists fired a barrage of 14 mortar shells at Netzer Hazani in southern Gaza Thursday, wounding one man and damaging a house in one of the heaviest attacks of the last four years. In another attack Thursday, Netzarim was hit by five mortar shells. (Ha'aretz)
  • 117 U.S. Relatives of Israel Terror Victims Sue Arab Bank - Amir Hemler
    A group of 117 Americans whose relatives have been killed or injured in terror attacks in Israel sued the Jordan-based Arab Bank on Monday, charging that money transfers performed by the bank violate U.S. criminal and civil laws. The bank is charged with illegally funneling funds from Islamic charitable foundations to recognized terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and Islamic Jihad, through its Madison Avenue branch in Manhattan.
        The plaintiffs include the families of Abigail Litle, a Baptist eighth grader active in Arab-Jewish co-existence projects; the family of Dr. David Applebaum, a trauma specialist from Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and his daughter Naava, who were killed when a suicide bomber attacked Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem on the eve of Naava's wedding; and the family of Jack Baxter, an American filmmaker who was working on a documentary on terrorism when he himself became a victim of the April 2003 terrorist attack at Mike's Place in Tel Aviv. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Court Sentences Suspected Collaborators to Prison, Not Death - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In the first verdict of its kind since Arafat's death, four Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel were sentenced on Tuesday to harsh prison terms by a PA court in Gaza City. At least 65 Palestinians from Gaza have been charged with collaborating with Israel and are expected to go on trial in the next few weeks. Convicting the four men of "maintaining contact with the enemy and weakening the resistance and morals of the Palestinians," the three-judge panel rejected the prosecution's request to hand down the death sentence against three of the defendants. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • London Calling - Editorial
    The Prime Minister would like to help to ensure that the post-Arafat Palestinian Authority is far less corrupt, considerably more professional with security issues, and a lot better at economic management than its predecessor. Internal change is crucial to external prospects. Even moderate Israeli voters are unlikely to want to cede territory (and, with it, trust that the land lost will not become a haven for terrorists) to anything that resembles a failed state. There is, however, another crucial player. It is Egypt’s responsibility to ensure that arms are not smuggled over its borders (or under them in tunnels) to terrorists. (Times-UK/BICOM)
  • Israelis Seek a Lasting Peace - Editorial
    In several of the settlements in Gaza which would have to be evacuated, there are Israeli graveyards. The tombs are not numerous, but some of them contain the bodies of victims of terrorism. It will be hard enough to move the living. It will be an emotional nightmare to move the dead. There is only one way to persuade enough Israelis that this is an acceptable price: a deal which guarantees their rights to live in safety, with no more terrorism: a peace which passeth all backsliding. If the Palestinians were not even prepared to sign up to stage one of the road map, many Israelis would conclude that any talk of peace was a snare and a delusion. (Scotsman-UK)
  • Syria Has No Intention of Giving Up Lebanon - Michael Young
    Syrian officials know the status quo in Lebanon is untenable. Gone are the days when Lebanese politicians could mumble that the Syrian presence was "legitimate, necessary and temporary," and expect that people would swallow such mendacious murkiness. By insisting on extending the mandate of President Emile Lahoud, Syrian President Bashar Assad internationalized Syria's Lebanese involvement. A partial Syrian redeployment inside Lebanon, even the departure of most of its troops from Lebanon, may satisfy some Security Council members, perhaps even UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen (whose recent assertion that Syria was prepared to resume talks with Israel without condition was apparently a highly creative interpretation of his chat with Assad), but it won't end Lebanese discontent with the Syrian presence. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Observations:

    Lessons of the Gaza Security Fence for the West Bank - Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • As part of the implementation of Oslo, Israel gave up 80 percent of Gaza on May 18, 1994. When we talk about disengagement from Gaza, this means withdrawal from the remaining 20 percent of the area.
    • During my time as Commander of Southern Command in the years 2000-2003, there were more than 400 attempts by Palestinians to cross into Israel, all of which failed.
    • Together with rebuilding the fence, a key security element was the creation of a one-kilometer security buffer zone. In addition, we constructed high technology observation posts that enabled soldiers to monitor about six kilometers - day and night, and we provided the troops with new rules of engagement regarding anyone approaching this area.
    • We have stopped about 30 percent of hostile actions near the fence and 70 percent inside the territory through offensive actions. In addition to the fence, we must continue to gather intelligence throughout the territories in order to be able to intercept Palestinian terrorists.
    • As the fence prevented terrorists from leaving Gaza, they decided to change tactics - developing rockets and initiating focused attacks on Israeli settlements. When we finish the fence around the West Bank, the Palestinian terrorism model may change there as well and follow the same pattern.

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