Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 24, 2005

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In-Depth Issue:

No Decline in Terror Threats - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    While there was a drastic decrease in Palestinian violence over the weekend, the defense establishment has registered no reduction in the number of threats, with 50 warnings of planned attacks recorded.

Awaiting Instructions from Hamas in Syria - Lamia Lahoud and Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas is still waiting for instructions from its leaders in Damascus, a PA source close to Abbas said.
    The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported that the EU has pressured Syria to pressure Hamas leaders in Damascus to agree to a truce.
    A senior PA official said Europe and Egypt, in coordination with the U.S., have urged Syria to use its influence to pressure Hamas and Islamic Jihad to agree to a truce.
    But at the same time, Syria and Hamas are pushing splinter groups of Fatah to continue the violence, Palestinian sources said.

The Negotiation Between Abu Mazen and the Palestinian Factions is About Money - Amir Buhbut and Marwan Atamna (Maariv-Hebrew)
    A senior IDF officer explained Sunday that the principal obstacle in cease-fire negotiations between Abu Mazen and the terror groups is the amount of money he is willing to pay them to replace the funds they currently receive from Hizballah to conduct attacks.
    "There are thousands of activists who regularly receive funds from Hizballah which directs the attacks, and they don't want to find themselves unemployed," he said.
    The officer emphasized that Hizballah, together with Iran and Syria, is acting to block Abu Mazen's attempts to achieve quiet, out of fear that the IDF will then be free to act in the north.

Hamas Planned to Launch Kassam Rockets from Nablus in West Bank - Uri Glickman (Maariv-Hebrew)
    The interrogation of 13 Hamas members arrested last week in Nablus revealed plans to launch mortars and Kassam rockets from the city.
    Hamas planned to target nearby Jewish towns including Yitzhar, Alon Moreh, Itamar, and even Ariel.
    The group was also planning a major attack inside Israel.
    As a result of the interrogation, IDF forces Sunday uncovered a major weapons lab in Nablus containing 50 kg of explosives.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN General Assembly Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Nazi Concentration Camps
    Live Webcast (Jan. 24, 10am New York time) / Virtual Exhibition / Documents (United Nations)
        See also below Observations: First UN General Assembly Special Session Convened at Israel's Initiative (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Muslims Boycott Holocaust Remembrance - David Leppard
    British Muslims are to boycott this week's commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz because they claim it is not racially inclusive and does not commemorate the victims of the Palestinian conflict. Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, has written to Charles Clarke, the home secretary, saying the body will not attend the event unless it includes the "holocaust" of the Palestinian intifada.
        The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and Tony Blair will attend the ceremony in Westminster Hall this Thursday to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps, in which more than 6 million Jews were exterminated. More than 600 Holocaust survivors living in Britain, together with British soldiers who helped liberate the Bergen-Belsen death camp, will be at the event. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Abbas Says He's Close to a Cease-Fire Deal - Ken Ellingwood
    Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday on Palestinian television that he was close to persuading Palestinian militant groups to stop their attacks on Israelis in the Gaza Strip. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Palestinian Police Face the Enemy Within - Laura King
    Abu Salim, an earnest young Palestinian police sergeant, says he joined the force to protect and serve his people. His elder brother is a fugitive member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a Palestinian militant group responsible for hundreds of deadly attacks against Israelis. Abu Salim says that if he were called upon to arrest his sibling or other wanted men, he would refuse.
        The Palestinian security forces were conceived in the 1990s as a means of providing respectable employment to young street fighters who had cut their teeth in the first Palestinian uprising, from 1987 to 1993. "All these promises about what the Palestinian forces can do are like a check that can bounce at any moment," said David Hacham, an Israeli reserve colonel who advises the government on Palestinian issues. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Sharon Aide Sees No Final Peace Accord with Abbas - Dan Williams
    Israel seeks only an interim peace accord with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, seeing him as unyielding on core disputes, Zalman Shoval, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Sharon, said Sunday. "On the major issues, Abu Mazen (Abbas) will not be able to compromise any more than Arafat. That being the case, it is clear that negotiating on a final accord now would be a recipe for disaster," he said. "Both the Palestinian and Israeli sides have an interest in putting this off to another time." "There will be no final accord in our generation," said Shoval, outlining a vision of a provisional Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Reuters)
        See also What If Bush Invited Sharon and Abu Mazen to Camp David? The Prospects for Negotiations in the Post-Arafat Era - Dore Gold and David Keyes (JCPA)
        See also Israelis Still Skeptical of Abbas - Joel Greenberg
    A truce and a coordinated pullout from the Gaza Strip, not a breakthrough toward peace, are the most that can be expected from Sharon and Abbas, said Shmuel Sandler, a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University. "Abbas cannot give up on the political demands long made by Arafat, and Sharon is under pressure from his right flank over his plan to uproot 8,000 settlers," Sandler said. "Nobody realistically expects them to be able to negotiate a final-status agreement."  (Chicago Tribune)
  • Zarkawi Declares "All-Out War" on Iraq Elections and Democracy - John F. Burns
    An Internet audiotape posted Sunday in the name of leading Iraqi insurgent Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said: "We have declared an all-out war on this evil principle of democracy." Zarqawi's warning comes a week before the Jan. 30 vote for a 275-member assembly and a transitional government. The tape cast the elections as a "wicked plot to install Shiites in power," ending generations of political domination by the Sunni minority. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Willing to Halt Operations If Palestinians End Attacks
    The IDF is willing to suspend operations against Palestinian militants if they end their attacks on Israeli targets, Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz said Sunday. "After a long period of Palestinian terror and vigorous activity of the security forces against the terror, it is quiet," Sharon told a special cabinet meeting held in the rocket-battered town of Sderot. "I hope that there is a chance that the quiet will continue but if not, the army and the security forces will continue to do all that is necessary to lift the threat from the residents here."
        IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon warned that there are groups in Gaza who are still trying to carry out attacks. He said the IDF would continue to operate in southern Gaza, since the Palestinians have deployed security forces only in the north. "Wherever there are no [Palestinian] forces or coordination, the IDF will continue to operate," he said.
        Palestinian militant leaders signaled they would agree to maintain calm in Gaza for at least a month, but denied Israeli accounts they had committed to a formal cease-fire. "We are ready to study the issue of a truce seriously, but at the same time, there is no cease-fire without a price," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Gaza Attacks Continue: Settlers Ask, "What Cease-Fire?" - Yaakov Katz
    On Saturday, Kfar Darom settlers were shocked to hear media reports about Abu Mazen's success in achieving a cease-fire, as they were forced to remain in their homes during a half-hour shootout between IDF troops and Palestinian gunmen. They also reported an attempt by Palestinians to fire a Kassam rocket. On Sunday, shots were fired at a convoy leaving Netzarim and a mortar shell was launched at an IDF outpost nearby. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Need Not Give Abbas Anything in Return for Cease-Fire
    Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel need not grant Mahmoud Abbas concessions in return for a cease-fire. "I do not believe that Israel must give something," Netanyahu told Army Radio. "They must give something," he said, referring to the Palestinians. "They are the side that transgressed. They are the side that tried with the force of terror to advance the terrible results that they sought."
        "First, I would prefer to see results. A truce can be an opening for a positive development, or a time-out between two offensives of terrorism. If Abu Mazen and his government begin dismantling the terror organizations, confiscate their weapons, and stop the poisonous incitement against Israel, then we'll know we are in the right direction. These elements must be dismantled. It's clear as the sun. It is a fundamental demand of Israel," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Islam in the Shadow of the Eiffel Tower - Thomas L. Friedman
    I interviewed two 18-year-old French Muslim girls in the Paris immigrant district of St.-Ouen, both born and raised in France. I learned that they got all their news from Al Jazeera TV because they did not believe French TV, that the person they admired most in the world was bin Laden because he was defending Islam, that suicide "martyrdom" was justified because there was no greater glory than dying in defense of Islam, that they saw themselves as Muslims first and French citizens last, and that all their friends felt pretty much the same. We were standing outside their French public high school - a short ride from the Eiffel Tower. (New York Times)
  • American-Israeli Relations in Bush's Second Term - Eytan Gilboa
    The global war on terrorism will continue to dominate American foreign policy and the attitudes toward Israel. However, changes in the Palestinian and the Israeli governments have created opportunities for achieving two principal goals of the global war against terrorism: an end to one manifestation of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, and democratization of an autocratic Arab regime. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Observations:

    First UN General Assembly Special Session Convened at Israel's Initiative (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • This is the first time that the UN General Assembly is convening to commemorate the Holocaust, and the first time that the General Assembly is convening a Special Session at Israel's initiative.
    • The Israeli initiative is intended to strengthen international awareness of the Holocaust and the struggle against anti-Semitism, and the related significance of the rebirth of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
    • Israel enlisted the assistance of 30 countries (the U.S., the 25 EU states, Russia, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) in presenting a joint request to the UN Secretary General to convene the special session.
    • The Special Session will open with a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, to be followed by addresses from the UN Secretary General, Israel's Foreign Minister, representatives of the liberated countries, representatives of the countries that initiated the Special Session, spokespeople of the regional UN groups, and Eli Wiesel, who will speak on behalf of Holocaust survivors.
    • On the day of the Special Session, Foreign Minister Shalom and the UN Secretary General will inaugurate an exhibit organized by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority about the Auschwitz death camp.

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