Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Foreign Correspondents on PA Payroll (Jerusalem Post)
Montreal School Bomber Sentenced - Graeme Hamilton (National Post-Canada)
Palestinians Try to Sabotage Emergency Hotline - Eli Ashkenazi (Ha'aretz)
Jordan Removes Anti-Israel Banners (Medialine)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
At the request of the Palestinians, Israeli and PA security officials met Wednesday night on Gaza's northern border to discuss a plan, approved by Mahmoud Abbas, calling for placing hundreds of PA troops in northern Gaza with the intention of halting rocket fire and other attacks by armed factions. (New York Times)
See also In Gaza, Reluctance to Stop Militants - Andrew Metz
On a rutted road through terrain frequently used by militants to stage rocket attacks against Israel, three Palestinian police officers unenthusiastically manned their posts. The day before, Mahmoud Abbas had ordered Palestinian security forces to prevent militant operations. "I'm not ready to shoot at my cousin or brother," said one of the men. "Anyway, if we did get the order we wouldn't do it."
Although Abbas has top political and security officials behind his efforts, many rank-and-file seem to have little will to confront well-armed militant factions that are entrenched in society. "Nobody is ready to give an order to fight these organizations," said Gen. Saeb el-Ajez, who controls Palestinian police in Gaza and the West Bank. "If it comes to fighting these organizations, we will lose and there will be a bloodbath." (Newsday)
Palestinian officials said Wednesday that PA Chairman Abbas had fired 50 of Arafat's 55 civilian and military advisers. (Reuters/Yahoo)
The Bush administration has blocked the reappointment of the UN's Palestinian refugee agency chief, Peter Hansen, after a campaign by conservative and Jewish groups in the U.S., and the government in Jerusalem which accused him of being an "Israel hater." The U.S. supported Israel's assertion that the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is biased and soft on "terrorists." (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel's security cabinet approved Defense Minister Mofaz's recommendation to give the PA a chance to stop the attacks, but instructed the IDF to prepare for a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, including occupying indefinitely the territory from which the rockets are being fired. Should the PA fail to reign in militants, the IDF will begin the operation while minimizing harm to Palestinian civilians and infrastructure. (Ha'aretz)
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has ordered Maj.-Gen. Sa'eb el-Ajez, head of the 8,000-man Palestinian police force in Gaza, to prevent rockets and mortar fire into Israel, Ajez said Wednesday. Ajez said Abbas had ordered a deployment of his men along the 4 to 5 km corridor from which Kassams are fired at Sderot. However, he said his men will not be involved in the arrest of terrorists, nor were they ordered to open fire on those launching rockets. "We understand that we will not be 100-percent successful in stopping them," he said. Our soldiers "might not be motivated to have all the rejectionists stop firing," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
PA police deployed in Gaza Strip cities Wednesday to prevent movement of people bearing unauthorized weapons, while the PA requested that Israel permit police to enter the Kassam launch areas in northern Gaza. While no rockets were fired at Sderot Wednesday, one explanation was the beginning of the four-day Muslim Id al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) festival.
Over the past four weeks, IDF Southern Command has counted some 100 attacks per week in the Strip, nearly double the previous average. Each week nearly 50 Kassam and mortar volleys were registered in the Strip and western Negev. The IDF has posted large Arabic signs on the Karni and Erez crossings announcing their closure "because of Hamas," and air-dropped a quarter of a million flyers conveying a similar message. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
It is essential for Abbas to move quickly. First, he needs to dismiss those most identified in Palestinian eyes with Arafat-era corruption. Reclaiming some of Arafat's wealth and reinvesting it in public works programs would be another strong signal against past corruption. Second, he needs to act on the reorganization of the security forces, get armed Palestinian police patrolling cities such as Nablus, and station loyal security forces in border areas. Third, he needs to appoint reformers and the younger guard of the Fatah faction to his cabinet and have them develop a 100-day plan for creating good governance. Fourth, he must gain immediate assistance from the international community (preferably from the Gulf states, with their windfall oil revenues of nearly $60b) to finance infrastructure projects that can also provide jobs. (Financial Times-UK, 19Jan905/BICOM)
Last Tuesday's Oval Office interview appeared to be over. But President Bush had something to add: "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy read Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy....For government, particularly - for opinion makers, I would put it on your recommended reading list. It's short and it's good. This guy is a heroic figure, as you know. It's a great book." (Weekly Standard)
See also Rice Backs Sharansky's "Town Square Test" - Hilary Leila Krieger
On Tuesday, during her opening remarks at the Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice said, "The world should apply what Natan Sharansky calls the 'town square test': if a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a 'fear society' has finally won their freedom." (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli and Palestinian leaders I spoke with agreed that Iran and Syria would continue to use terrorists in the disputed territories and along the Lebanon-Israel border to engage in a proxy war against the Jewish state. Iran has become the primary ideological, financial, and logistical supporter to the terrorists. According to Israeli sources, Iran now spends, on average, $40,000 per terrorist.
If Iran and Syria believe that the Palestinians may finally be ready to make peace by dismantling the terrorists groups, we can expect increased attacks both inside Israel and from Lebanon. The PA must take the lead in stopping terrorism from its people and territory. But the U.S. and the rest of the international community can help by holding Iran and Syria accountable for their continued low-intensity warfare in Israel. (RealClearPolitics.com)
See also Free Ride Is Over - Editorial
Recent reports indicate that hard-liners in the White House have been considering taking out insurgent training camps in Syria. How many lives - American and Iraqi - would have been saved if we'd been striking insurgents wherever we found them? How many Americans and Iraqis would still be alive if the Pentagon had sealed the Syria-Iraq border a year ago with a hail of fire so intense that it removed the incentive for anyone, save the suicidal, to cross it illegally?
Assad has made the country a target. It is an enemy of peace, a rogue nation, a patron of terrorists - all facts that, according to a UPI report, have shifted minds within a Bush administration that had been opposed to striking there. Regime change in Syria should be the ultimate goal of the civilized world. But for now, liquidation of the insurgents will do. (Investor's Business Daily)
Combat New Wave of Anti-Semitism - Rep. Tom Lantos (Newsday)
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