Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 19, 2005

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In-Depth Issue:

Will Palestinian Security Forces Disarm the Terrorists? - Gal Luft (Nativ-Ariel Center for Policy Research)
    The Preventive Security Forces (PSF) is a plainclothes security force with close to 5,000 agents, the largest of the PA's intelligence forces. Until the current violence in 2000, this body was involved in preventive actions against terrorist and opposition groups.
    PSF leaders prior to the hostilities were Jibril Rajub in the West Bank and Muhammad Dahlan in Gaza. During the heyday of the peace process, they worked in close cooperation with the Israeli security forces, especially in the fields of counter-terrorism and crime prevention.
    In the second intifada, the PSF, especially in Gaza, became an active participant in the fighting. PSF headquarters in Gaza became the main center for manufacturing weapons and a safe haven for terrorists planning attacks.
    These weapons were handed out freely to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah.
    Dahlan's deputy, Rashid Abu-Shabak, was personally involved in the November 2000 attack on a school bus in Kfar Darom, and is the driving force behind Palestinian production of mortars and rockets.
    PSF members in the West Bank have also been involved in planning, executing, and backing terror attacks.
    Both Rajub and Dahlan were forced to step down in July 2002 due to personal tension with Arafat.
    Rajub was replaced by Zuheir Manasra, but PSF members refuse to obey his orders. Instead, they submit to Rajub's deputy, Colonel Bashir Nafe.

    See also Gunmen for God: Palestine's Militias, a Three-Part Profile - Bradley Burston (Ha'aretz)
    Now that the Palestinian elections are over, the real campaign begins. The Palestinians' armies of the night, the gunmen for God, will - in accommodation or in blood - seal the fate of Mahmoud Abbas. They vote with their AK-47s. And it is their ballots that count.

PA Police to Train in Egypt - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    An initial group of 45 Palestinian security officials are to go to Egypt for security training in February.
    Israel's agreement was conditional on the names of the Palestinians being vetted first by the Shin Bet, Israel's Security Agency, to ensure they do not have a terrorist background.

Iraqi Dissident: We Received Money and Arms from Syria and Iran (MEMRI)
    The televised confessions of Muayed Al-Nasseri, who commanded Saddam Hussein's "Army of Muhammad" throughout 2004, were aired by Al-Fayhaa, an Iraqi TV channel that operates from the UAE, on January 14, 2005.

Al-Qaeda Women's Magazine Offers Tips to Terrorists - John Phillips (Washington Times)
    Al-Qaeda has introduced an online women's magazine, Al Khansa, with articles including dietary advice for suicide bombers and tips on how to "dominate the passions" before blowing yourself up, according to Italy's SISDE secret service.


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  • Rice Vows Personal Effort on Mideast Peace
    Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday that with the recent election of a new Palestinian leader, "we have reached a moment of opportunity and we must seize it." "I expect myself to spend an enormous amount of effort on this activity," she said, but stressed that her efforts could not substitute for Israelis and Palestinians and the responsibilities only they can fulfill to make peace, and a Palestinian state, a reality.
        She also said: "The Arab states have responsibilities here too, and they can't incite violence against Israel on one hand and call for peace with a two-state solution on the other." "The new Palestinian leadership in word is devoted to fighting terror; it needs to be devoted in deed to fighting terror," she said. Rice did not rule out appointing a special Mideast envoy, but questioned whether such an appointment is appropriate at this time. (Reuters)
        See also Transcript: Confirmation Hearing of Condoleezza Rice
    "I do believe that Abu Mazen made a good start in what he said, which is that there really is no route to a Palestinian state through violence. And that means that he is appealing, to my mind correctly, to those Palestinians who realize that the use of terror techniques, the use of violence is not going to result in the fulfillment of their national aspirations. Having said that, the people who insist on violence and insist on terrorism have got to be isolated and ultimately disarmed." (New York Times)
  • Palestinians to Deploy Forces to Halt Attacks - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    After meeting Abbas in Gaza, Palestinian public security chief Major-General Abdel-Razek al-Majaydeh said Wednesday an "arrangement is underway to deploy national security forces on the borders within two days to prevent violations." In the West Bank, Zachariya Zubeidi, leader of the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, pledged to halt attacks inside Israel but said he would continue to strike at Israelis in the West Bank. (Reuters)
        See also West Bank PA Security Official: "We Will Collect Illegal Weapons" - Wafa Amr
    Bashir Nafe, commander of Palestinian Special Forces, said Tuesday: "The instructions are clear....Weapons that don't belong to the Palestinian police are illegal. So wherever illegal weapons are found, we will collect them." "There is no leadership in the world that gets elected on a peaceful program and leaves arms in the hands of militias," he said. Nafe did not say when confiscation of weapons might start. (Reuters)
        For more on Bashir Nafe, see In-Depth Issue: Will Palestinian Security Forces Disarm the Terrorists? - Gal Luft
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Suicide Bomber in Gaza Kills Israeli Security Officer - Margot Dudkevitch
    Shin Bet officer Oded Sharon, 36, was killed and seven other security officers and soldiers were wounded by a Hamas suicide bomber Tuesday during a security check at the Gush Katif junction in Gaza. The bomber reportedly was not wearing an explosives belt, but rather had the bomb hidden in his pants. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Commanders in Gaza: No Direct Orders Yet to Halt Attacks - Danny Rubinstein
    Tuesday's suicide attack was accompanied by processions through the streets of Gaza by Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, at which speakers made it abundantly clear that these groups had no intention of joining a moratorium on attacks against Israeli targets. Palestinian commentators explained that the attacks are an attempt by the Islamist organizations to improve their positions ahead of any future negotiations with Abbas on their inclusion in the Palestinian leadership.
        Several commanders from the Gaza security services said Tuesday they had still not received explicit orders on halting attacks. Abbas has openly admitted that no direct orders have been issued, and that many of the commanders only heard of the new directive via the media. (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas in Gaza for Ceasefire Talks - Arnon Regular
    Palestinian sources in Gaza believe that most of Fatah's armed factions will accept the cease-fire in principle and that they and the security services will be able to enforce it. The sources said that Islamic Jihad had agreed in the past few days to stop firing mortars and rockets into Israel, and that the organization had substantially reduced the extent of its activity. The sources believe Hamas will be forced to accept the cease-fire after an internal agreement is reached among rival Fatah factions and the security services begin operating. All organizations and factions within and outside Fatah want to charge Abbas as high a price as possible in exchange for their agreeing to a ceasefire. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sderot Teen, Hurt by Palestinian Rocket, Pronounced Brain Dead - Nir Hasson
    Ella Abukasis, 17, who was wounded by a Kassam rocket in Sderot on Saturday, was pronounced brain dead Tuesday. According to one eyewitness, Ella had tried to shield her brother, Tamir, 10, who was moderately wounded. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Disengagement from the Western Negev? - Ze'ev Schiff
    The situation is deteriorating into a process that could lead to disengagement from the Western Negev. The question of whether Ashkelon and other communities will be included in that category depends only on how much time it will take the Palestinians to extend the range of the Kassam. Those who are upset about the harsh reaction the IDF was ordered to take must provide a suitable and satisfactory answer to the people of Sderot and the relatives of those who are killed in order to keep the gateways into Gaza operating. (Ha'aretz)
  • This is Not "Apocalypse Now" in Iraq - Michael Gove
    In Vietnam the Communist forces were ideologically united, enjoyed broad popular support, and were battling against a corrupt status quo with the promise of a radically different, and more hopeful, future. In Iraq, by contrast, the insurgents are united only in their hatred of the West and dislike of democracy. The most implacable are remnants from Saddam Hussein's most loyal cadres, joined by other Sunnis who fear that the privileges their minority group once enjoyed will be lost in a future democratic Iraq. Their struggle has been augmented by outside jihadis from Syria, Jordan, and across the Arab world. While they might hanker for the restoration of Sunni minority rule, such a reactionary step could, by definition, never secure majority popular support. In Iraq, unlike Vietnam, it is the Americans who are offering an escape from the corrupt status quo that prevails in the region. (Times-UK)
  • Saudi "Democracy" - Saad Eddin Ibrahim
    In mid-February, roughly 40,000 Saudis are expected to compete for 1,700 seats in 178 municipal councils. By the standards of Western democracies, the Saudi municipal elections are an extremely modest affair. But in the Saudi context they are a real breakthrough. For Saudi Arabia is a country in which both rulers and ruled are equally arch-conservative, adhering, for the last two centuries, to the puritanical Wahhabi doctrine of Islam. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The UN at Work - Dore Gold (Wall Street Journal, 19 January 2005)

    • In 2003 and 2004, the Israel Defense Forces captured documentation showing how the UN Development Program was regularly funding two Hamas front organizations: the Tulkarm Charity Committee and the Jenin District Committee for Charitable Funds.
    • In June 2003, the Office of the Coordinator of the Activities of the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip asked UNDP to stop all assistance to the Jenin District Committee because of its Hamas connection. Israel knew that Hamas operatives ran the charity; its deputy director had been a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the elite terrorist unit of Hamas. Timothy Rothermel, UNDP's special representative in Jerusalem, turned down the Israeli request.
    • Captured documents also reveal the support provided by the UN Relief and Works Agency for the "Koran and Sunna Society" of Kalkilya, a group that defines itself as salafi - it adopts doctrines from militant Islam. The Society, with six branches in the West Bank, distributes pamphlets published in Saudi Arabia that are often written by radical Wahhabi clerics with references to the value of martyrdom and jihad.
    • In October 2004, the "Arab International Forum for Rehabilitation and Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory" held a conference in Beirut under the auspices of the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). The conference announced a joint initiative between ESCWA and the "Coalition of Goodness," an organization led by a spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradhawi, who a year earlier in Sweden spoke in favor of suicide operations against Israeli civilians. Two months before the Beirut conference, he signed a communique calling on Muslims to support the forces fighting the U.S. in Iraq.
    • Besides getting to the bottom of the Oil-for-Food scandal, it is equally vital to get the UN to halt its backing of recognized international terrorist groups. The Bush administration gave the UN a special status in the Arab-Israeli peace process by making it part of the "Quartet." But because of the behavior of its agencies, the UN should not be granted this diplomatic standing. The UN has a duty to clean up its act before it asks for the trust of Israel or any law-abiding member of the international community again.

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