Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 11, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Temple Mount Mosques Continue Incitement in Post-Arafat Era (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
    In the post-Arafat era, the Temple Mount mosques in Jerusalem continue to be used for preaching hatred against Israel and the U.S.
    Inflammatory sermons given by clerics to audiences numbering tens of thousands (including Israeli Arabs) are broadcast every Friday on the Voice of Palestine radio station.
    The clerics receive their salaries from the Palestinian Authority, regardless of their explicit association with radical Islam.
    On December 10, 2004, Muhammad Jamal al-Rifa'i told worshippers that Muslims should resolve their conflicts according to the Koran and not according to "the White House and the loathsome Bush."
    See also Recent Anti-American Sermons by Palestinian Authority Preachers (MEMRI)

Hizballah's Terror Factory in the PA - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Senior defense officials monitoring Hizballah activity, which includes sending money and instructions to Palestinians in the territories during the last two years, describe a conveyor-belt operation in the territories whose goal is to create as many small terrorist cells as possible.
    In 2002, the Shin Bet identified 7 Palestinian groups operated by Hizballah. In 2003, there were 14, and in 2004, there were 51 such groups.
    Some 38 Hizballah-connected armed cells were Fatah-affiliated, mostly in the West Bank, 6 were associated with Islamic Jihad, 3 with Hamas, and at least 4 with the Popular Front.
    Nearly every Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade unit in the West Bank is on Hizballah's payroll.
    Last year, 68 attacks were initiated by Hizballah, some 20% of the attacks over the "green line," that killed 24 Israelis.
    Under instructions from Iran, Hizballah has targeted PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, even to harm him physically, to prevent any accommodation between Israel and the PA.

Islamist Extremists Spirited into Europe - Tony Czuczka (AP/Washington Times)
    Islamist extremists accused of plotting to kill Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in Germany are smuggling battle-hardened fighters from Iraq to Europe, raising a potential new terrorist threat on the Continent, German officials said.
    More than 20 reputed supporters of Ansar al-Islam have been arrested in Europe in the past year as authorities move against the group that has links with al-Qaeda and Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi.
    About 100 Ansar al-Islam supporters are in Germany alone, officials say. Investigators believe the group also has recruited volunteers in Italy and Britain. Estimates of its total membership range from about 500 to 1,000.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: Abbas is Welcome in Washington
    President Bush said Monday: "I want to offer my congratulations to Mr. Abu Mazen. I look forward to talking with him at the appropriate time. I look forward to welcoming him here to Washington if he chooses to come here. I look forward to helping to make sure that the conference in London, a conference all aimed at helping the Palestinians develop the institutions necessary to support Abu Mazen's vision of a peaceful, active, vibrant state, to become reality."
        "Who could have possibly envisioned an election in Iraq at this point in history?...A lot of people are incredibly excited about the thought of having an election in Iraq inside the Iraqi territory, except for a handful who want to stop democracy, because they understand what an election means....Everybody has a right to live in a free society and everybody wants to live in a free society."
        "It is essential that Israel keep a vision of two states, living side by side in peace, and that as the Palestinians begin to develop the institutions of a state, that the Israeli government support the development of those institutions, and recognize that it is essential that there be a viable economy, that there be a viable health care system, that people be allowed to start building a society that meets their hopes and needs. And Israel can play, and must play, an important part in the development of a Palestinian state. At the same time, it's essential that the Palestinian leadership consolidate security forces, so that they can fight off those few who still have the desire to destroy Israel as a part of their philosophy and those few who fear there to be a free vote amongst the Palestinian people." (White House/Yahoo)
  • Abbas Ally Outlines Next Steps - Ben Lynfield
    Nabil Amr, a Palestinian legislator and close ally of Mahmoud Abbas, outlined Abbas's coming steps. "He will start immediately to open the political track with the Israelis and he must reach immediate agreement with Hamas and the other factions to calm the situation, to convince Sharon to open a new page for the new Palestinian leadership." "If Abu Mazen succeeds in getting a real easing of conditions, I'm sure he will create a new atmosphere and people will support his strategy."
        Abbas, said Amr, will ask Sharon to drop the demand specified in the road map that the PA dismantle "terrorist capabilities and infrastructure" and instead accept a ceasefire by the armed groups. "If Abu Mazen succeeds in reaching a ceasefire and containing all these groups, the Israelis must be satisfied. We will not punish any group, we will contain them by our own way, not Sharon's way." (Scotsman-UK)
  • Islamists Vow to Cooperate with Abbas But Carry On Attacks
    Palestinian militant groups vowed to cooperate with Mahmoud Abbas but also to carry on attacks against Israel. Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri also accusing "thousands" of casting their ballot more than once in Sunday's PA elections. "We will continue the path of resistance and jihad (holy war)....We will not talk about a ceasefire while Israeli violence escalates. We will continue Kassam rocket attacks, shooting, and resistance," Masri said. Masri praised Palestinian armed resistance for forcing Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip by the end of 2005. (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also Hamas Calls for More Suicide Bombings - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hundreds of students attended a rally organized by Hamas at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank on Monday, where they called for more suicide attacks against Israel. "Oh suicide bomber, wrap yourself with an explosive belt and fill the scene with blood," chanted a chorus of students at the rally. (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • New Government Sworn In after Winning Knesset Approval - Gideon Alon and Mazal Mualem
    Prime Minister Sharon's new government, comprised of Likud, Labor and United Torah Judaism, was approved by the Knesset on Monday by a vote of 58-56. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rockets, Mortars Hit Sderot, Gush Katif - Margot Dudkevitch
    A Kassam rocket was fired by Palestinians at the Negev town of Sderot Tuesday, damaging several cars. Meanwhile, salvos of mortar shells were fired at Israeli settlements in Gush Katif in the southern Gaza Strip, causing damage to houses. A synagogue full of worshippers and a kindergarten were also hit. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israeli Dies of Wounds Sustained in Palestinian Rocket Attack
    Nissim Arviv, who was critically wounded two weeks ago in a Kassam rocket attack on the Erez industrial zone in the northern Gaza Strip, died of his wounds Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon Urges Abbas to Seek Cease-Fire First - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Sharon told visiting U.S. Senator John Kerry Monday that Mahmoud Abbas "will be tested by the manner in which he fights terrorism and works to dismantle its infrastructure....A cease-fire is an internal Palestinian issue that Israel has no part in, but if there is quiet, as a first step, Israel's response would be quiet." Sharon said, "the main thing is to focus on what the Palestinians are doing vis-a-vis terrorism. The Palestinians are still not fighting terrorism and Abu Mazen's statements during the election campaign were not encouraging, but he will be tested by his actions after the elections."
        Sharon said Israel is willing to revive security cooperation with the Palestinians, and will be ready to coordinate various issues in the framework of the disengagement plan. A meeting between Sharon and Abbas is widely expected within the next two weeks. Sharon's office has stressed that any discussions with Abbas at this stage will be security related, and not constitute any type of negotiations. Sharon has said on numerous occasions that he will not sit down and negotiate with the Palestinians until they fulfill their initial requirements under the road map, first and foremost the dismantling of the terror organizations.
        During the meeting, Kerry asked Sharon about the unauthorized settlement outposts, and when they would be removed. Sharon replied that this step is made politically very difficult by continued Palestinian Kassam attacks, and that it would be easier to dismantle the settlements were the Palestinians taking steps to stop attacks on Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Wins 62% of Vote - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah candidate Mahmoud Abbas won 61.6% of the vote for the chairmanship of the PA, officials announced Monday. Independent candidate Mustafa Barghouti won 21%. Election officials estimated voter turnout at 65%.
        The PA Central Election Committee decided Sunday afternoon to allow Palestinians who had not registered as voters to cast their ballots. Palestinian human rights activists complained that the decision was apparently designed to allow Abbas's supporters to vote more than once. "There has been massive voting fraud and people have been bused in and out and are voting four or five times each," an activist said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jerusalem Arabs Stay Away from Polls - Etgar Lefkovits
    In a stunning vote of no-confidence in the corruption-riddled Palestinian Authority, the vast majority of Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem stayed away from city polling stations Sunday, choosing not to cast a ballot in the post-Arafat Palestinian elections. The vast majority of Jerusalem Arab residents clearly wanted no part in the Palestinian elections, eager to maintain their status as "neutral" Jerusalem residents, and determined not to lose the economic benefits that living in the city afforded them. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Our Test for Abu Mazen - Natan Sharansky
    Oslo failed because it was based on the premise that a strong dictator would make a strong peace. If Abu Mazen is a willing partner in this effort, his government should receive legitimacy, financial aid, territory, and support for statehood. But if he is unwilling to do so, all support for his regime should be withheld. The Free World should focus on four areas:
        Dissent. Under Arafat, the only freedom of speech or press was the freedom to criticize Israel. Abu Mazen must understand that the days of crushing democratic dissent are over. If Palestinian democrats know that the Free World will not allow the PA to act toward them with impunity, then an increasing number of democratic voices will be heard.
        Education and Incitement. In any society, what is taught in public schools and broadcast on public airwaves is a good indication of the values that are being inculcated in its people. PA-run schools and the PA-controlled media have been used to poison a generation of Palestinians against Jews and Israel. The Free World must demand that this end immediately.
        Refugee Camps. The Free World should express its willingness to fund a program that provides decent housing for those living in the camps. A PA leadership that rejects such a plan is not interested in the welfare of its own people and hence not a partner for peace.
        Economic Independence. In a fear society, people are cogs of the regime. That is why one of the anchors of a free society is a middle class not dependent on government largess. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Signs of Life After Arafat - Editorial
    For Mr. Abbas to have any chance of achieving an independent Palestinian state, he must crack down on terrorism and he must prepare the Palestinian people for the compromises they will have to make. The Palestinians can no longer afford to raise their boys and girls to believe in all-or-nothing propositions regarding Israel. The longer they do that, the longer it will take to reach a settlement, and the longer the Palestinians dally about reaching a peace deal with Israel, the more land they lose. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    The Unhelpful Hand: Time to Free the Palestinians from NGOs - Gerald M. Steinberg (Wall Street Journal Europe-10Jan05)

    • In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the track record of NGOs has been abysmal. Like the UN, today they're part of the problem, not the solution.
    • With their multi-million-dollar (and euro) budgets, superpowers such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and dozens of smaller allied groups have helped incite terrorism. In contrast to their images as peacemakers, their one-sided approach boosts the most radical Palestinians and undermines moderate voices.
    • When human rights groups repeat the language used by the rejectionists from Hamas, Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and elsewhere, Palestinians opposed to terrorism are silenced. And by ignoring the vast corruption of the Palestinian leadership, the international NGOs have helped to keep this elite in power, and blunted support for reform.
    • These conflict-enhancing activities are facilitated by allocations from European governments, powerful philanthropies such as the Ford Foundation, and church groups, all claiming to promote peace.

      The writer is the editor of, and directs the program on conflict management at Bar Ilan University in Israel.

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