Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 7, 2005

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In-Depth Issue:

PA Security Forces Moonlighted as Terrorists - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    At least 600 members of various PA security services have been killed in the past four years, most of them while participating in violence against Israel, a senior PA security official revealed Sunday.
    Most of the security personnel killed by the IDF had joined various armed militias, with the majority joining Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. "Most of these men doubled as security officers and members of armed groups," the official admitted.
    "The fact that they had received paramilitary training as policemen was an asset because they were able to implement the tactics they learned." Many PA policemen and security agents were trained by Egyptian, Jordanian, and American security experts.
    Youssef Kabaha, nicknamed Abu Jandal, a lieutenant-general with the National Security Force, served as the commander of the armed militias in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield in April 2002. Abu Jandal's friends said that although he was on the PA's payroll, he also served as commander of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad in Jenin.
    Jihad Hassan, the commander of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Salfit, who has been wanted by Israel for two years, was killed in a mysterious explosion a few months ago. Residents said Hassan had purchased from an arms dealer an M-16 rifle that apparently had been booby-trapped. An obituary notice published by the General Intelligence Force revealed that Hassan was serving in the force as a lieutenant.
    Two Fatah gunmen from the West Bank recently admitted that they had been trained for six weeks as bodyguards by American security experts near Washington, D.C.
    The two were later involved in a number of armed attacks against Israel and suspected "collaborators."

$50m of U.S.-Palestinian Aid for New Transit Points (Globes)
    The U.S. will transfer to Israel $50 million of the $350 million President Bush promised the Palestinians last week to build modern transit points for the rapid checking of persons and goods, thereby helping the Palestinian economy.

Two Sisters Meet After 61 Years - Amiram Barkat (Ha'aretz)
    Klara Blaier, 81, and Hannah Katz, 78, two sisters who survived the Holocaust, met on Friday for the first time in 61 years. Each thought they were the only living survivor in their family.
    Katz's granddaughter tracked down Blaier last Thursday after surfing Yad Vashem's new data base.
    The two last saw each other in 1944, after the Nazis occupied Hungary.


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  • U.S. Plans Low-Key Approach in Return to Mideast Role - Glenn Kessler
    The Bush administration, which returns to Middle East peacemaking with the arrival of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem Sunday, plans to take an initially low-key approach that would rely much more on nations in the region carrying the public diplomatic burden, U.S. officials said. Much of the U.S. effort will be symbolic or monetary as the administration waits to see whether the Israelis and Palestinians can build trust among themselves. Bush administration officials also are disdainful of the Clinton administration's deep involvement in the peace process, which they believe amounted to micromanaging.
        While Ghaith Omari, political adviser to Palestinian Chairman Abbas, called for "an objective third party that can actually help us move forward," administration officials say such pleas are diplomatic code for the U.S. putting pressure on Israel. "Everyone is looking for the United States to go back to our traditional role of delivering the Israelis," another administration official said. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. to Take It Slow on Mideast - Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times)
  • Support for Iraqi Insurgents Is Waning - Doug Struck
    The public mood in Baghdad appears to be moving more clearly against the insurgency in Iraq, political and security officials said. In the week since national elections, police officers and Iraqi National Guardsmen said they have received more tips from the public, resulting in more arrests. Iraqis cited a renewed nationalist pride since the elections that they said may be dampening anti-American sentiment, and may be starting to dispel Iraqi tolerance and support for the insurgents.
        Part of the mood change is credited to Abdul Amir, Iraq's newest national hero. On election day, Amir, 30, a policeman in Baghdad, noticed a man walking toward a polling station who appeared to be carrying something heavy under his coat. Amir wrapped his arms around the man, dragged him away from the crowd, and the man's belt of explosives blew both men to shreds. Newspapers have been filled with stories about Amir and a statue is being planned in his honor. (Washington Post)
        See also Insurgent Intimidation Weakens Iraq Forces
    Insurgent intimidation of Iraqi soldiers has hampered U.S. efforts to build a reliable security force, Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, in charge of training Iraqi troops, said Friday. He said the Iraqi units had suffered "losses due to severe intimidation." By next week, 90 battalions of police, army, and other security forces will be at 80% of their intended manpower levels, Petraeus said. Iraqis already are taking the lead in 12 of the country's 18 provinces. (AP/New York Times)
  • Abbas Orders Palestinian Television to Clean Up Its Act - Inigo Gilmore
    On Palestinian television, eulogies to suicide bombers, or ''martyrs,'' have given way to ''feel-good'' nature programs and romantic films. Instead of referring to ''martyr operations,'' suicide bombings are described more neutrally as ''explosions." Abu Mazen told the directors that "he does not want a screen full of blood,'' said Radwan Abu Ayash, head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation. Now "we have passionate Egyptian love films replacing war films, we have soft geography programs for the kids, films with cute animals roaming in the wild....We are broadcasting more traditional music, rather than martial music." (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Israel: PA TV Incitement Down, Wider Change Needed - Gideon Alon
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the Israeli Cabinet Sunday that there has been a substantial change in the content of Palestinian television broadcasts in the past few days. "This is evident in the end of inciting broadcasts," he said. However, "the change must be deeper and include public awareness, starting with the education system, universities and so on, where the change in content is not yet evident."  (Ha'aretz)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon Meets Rice in Jerusalem - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Prime Minister Sharon met with U.S. Secretary of State Rice in Jerusalem Sunday. Rice urged Israel to take steps to strengthen PA Chairman Abbas and to show the Palestinians that nonviolence produces results. Sharon responded that Israel would give Abbas a chance, but will not be satisfied with a cease-fire, insisting that Abbas take action against the terrorist infrastructure and dismantle the terrorist organizations. Rice concurred that progress in the diplomatic process would depend on real Palestinian action against terror. Terror is the main long-term threat to the process, she said, and the Palestinians cannot be allowed to "switch on and switch off." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Rice Interview with Israel TV (State Department)
  • IDF Freezes Operations Against Wanted Terrorists - Gideon Alon
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Cabinet Sunday that he had agreed in talks with PA security advisor Mohammed Dahlan to suspend IDF action against 300 wanted Palestinians. He said he had agreed to Dahlan's request to release Marwan Barghouti's son Kassam, 19, who is charged with involvement in a series of shooting attacks. Mofaz noted, "In order to take advantage of the positive momentum of recent days, Palestinian anti-terrorism measures must expand and advance with determination, consistency, and efficiency. The Palestinian Authority must take more active measures against terrorist groups, and implement preventative anti-terror operations." Mofaz also warned, "It is clear to us that Hizballah will continue to try to carry out attacks inside Israel."  (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Renews "Revolving Door" Arrests - Margot Dudkevitch and Herb Keinon
    Palestinian security forces on Saturday briefly arrested and then released three leaders of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which claimed responsibility for a recent attack that lightly wounded two Israeli soldiers. Israel has demanded the Palestinians begin arresting combatants and make efforts to disrupt their weapons smuggling and weapons manufacturing infrastructure. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Seeks to Increase Forces Along Border with Israel - Amos Harel
    Egypt has proposed deploying an additional 3,000 to 3,500 policemen along its border with Israel from the Gaza Strip to Taba near Eilat. This Thursday Israel and Egypt are expected to finalize the first stage of a new Egyptian border deployment around Rafah on the Gazan-Egyptian border, where Egypt plans to deploy 750 border policemen to combat arms smuggling from Sinai into Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Prisoner Release Demands: We've Seen This Movie Before - Gerald M. Steinberg
    During the Oslo era, each stage of negotiations was accompanied by an amnesty for terrorists, who even signed statements forswearing terrorism. And each time, the cease-fire declarations proved to be merely facades for rearming terrorist groups, allowing them to prepare for the next (more deadly) wave of attacks.
        The Palestinians claim that the general practice of peace negotiations after bitter wars includes the mutual exchange of prisoners. But, as Israel points out, these terrorists were not part of a defeated army that fought according to the rules of the Geneva Conventions. Instead, they violated all rules of civilized behavior. And each time the war against Israel kept going, with the participation of the newly released prisoners. Rather than a mass release of these terrorists, after more than 1,000 murders by suicide bombers and other attackers, Israelis argue that they should be tried for crimes against humanity. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon's True Colors - Michael B. Oren
    Raised in a secular Labor environment, Ariel Sharon was never nurtured on religious or conservative ideology, and, for all his opposition to a return to Israel's pre-1967 borders, he repeatedly conceded territories captured in the Six-Day War. Sharon is actually a Mapainik. Mapai was the dominant Zionist movement in pre-Israel Palestine and the ruling political party for the first decades after Israel's independence. Mapai members were renowned for their pragmatism, for knowing when to compromise and consolidate their gains while hoping to expand them in the future. (New Republic)
  • Observations:

    The Palestinian "Temporary Cease-Fire": Israel's Political Risks and Opportunities with the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit Between Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The election of Abu Mazen, along with Israel's political and military pressure, has brought about a change in the Palestinian Authority's policy on continuing the "armed intifada." At the same time, the paramount interest of Hamas and Islamic Jihad is to reorganize and rebuild their capabilities after they were severely degraded by the Israel Defense Forces.
    • The "calm" that the terror organizations are supplying is aimed primarily at enabling the Palestinian Authority to negotiate a hudna (cessation of hostilities) with Israel from a more comfortable political position in which the political "ball" is in Israel's court.
    • The hudna offered by the Palestinians has two main aspects: that it be mutually obligatory, and that it be conditional on Israel's performance with regard to a long list of Palestinian demands (releasing prisoners, ceasing military actions in the PA territories, removing checkpoints, resolving the status of wanted fugitives, stopping the construction of the security fence, etc.).
    • According to the expanded Palestinian concept of hudna, "resistance to occupation" remains legitimate, along with a readiness to renew the struggle against Israel simultaneously with the opening of political channels.
    • While the opportunities presented by the new political reality include a de facto end of the armed intifada, the return of normality to the PA, and the coordination of the disengagement, there are also risks for Israel. These include a failure to dismantle the terror infrastructure, international pressure on Israel to show flexibility and restraint even after outbreaks of terror, and acceptance of Hamas's integration into the PA - in effect, acquiescing to that organization's political legitimacy.

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