Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 8, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

While Saudis Host Anti-Terror Conference, Saudi TV Continues to Incite to Jihad (MEMRI)
    During February 5-8, Saudi Arabia is hosting an international conference on counter-terrorism, attended by over 50 countries, in order to examine the "origins, sources, culture, and ideology of terrorism."
    At the same time, Saudi government-controlled TV continues to incite to jihad.
    View excerpts from a February 3, 2005, IQRA TV program with Saudi cleric Musa Al-Qarni.

Bedouins Lead Egypt's Hunt for Militants - Sarah El Deeb (AP/Washington Post)
    Bedouins in Sinai are leading the hunt for militants wanted in last year's Egyptian beach resort car bombings, guiding police through mountains and deserts to find the suspected culprits.
    Bedouin tribes signed a "pledge document" with Egyptian security forces to help them track down wanted militants after the detention of many Bedouins during the post-bombings police crackdown.
    "We were the most hurt from the attacks. Our camps were destroyed and people lost their jobs," said Sheik Attiyah al-Kebriti, a local Bedouin leader.

U.S. Assistance to the Palestinians (State Department)
    $40 million of previously authorized assistance is being reprogrammed from funds currently reserved for a Gaza seawater desalination facility.
    Assistance will not be provided directly to the PA but will be channeled through NGOs using existing mechanisms.
    * $7.3 million for higher education and training
    * $8.9 million for community services, including youth programs and job creation
    * $7.9 million for private sector development
    * $3 million for primary health care
    * $13.9 million for water infrastructure - wells, pipelines
    An additional $200 million will be targeted for financing home construction in Gaza, expanding education opportunities, developing economic infrastructure, helping to improve the Palestinian social safety net, and improving the flow of people and goods between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza

Martyr Plan of Guantanamo Briton - Dipesh Gadher (Sunday Times-UK)
    A Briton released from Guantanamo Bay, Feroz Abbasi, has admitted being interviewed for advanced-level terrorist training in Afghanistan by two senior al-Qaeda leaders and later volunteering for a "martyrdom operation."
    He says he was prepared to take "actions" against Jewish and American military targets as part of his personal commitment to jihad.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice Snubs Arafat by Bypassing Tomb - Andrea Stone
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Palestinian government headquarters in Ramallah on Monday, meeting with Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas. Her entourage passed within 200 yards of Arafat's resting place. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw had laid wreaths at Arafat's burial site during their visits. (USA Today)
  • Militants Are Wild Card in Mideast Negotiations - Laura King
    After spending months or even years on the run, many fighters talk openly of their desire to build new lives for themselves and their families in what they hope will someday be an independent Palestinian state. But, they say, they are equally determined to redouble their attacks if they see signs that Israel is not willing to move ahead with key concessions. "If things fail at this point, we'd have absolutely nothing to lose," said the leader of one guerrilla band in Nablus who calls himself Abu Mujahed. "Everything would get out of hand very quickly, I assure you." (Los Angeles Times)
  • Dutch Charge 12 Muslim Extremists - Wendel Broere
    Dutch prosecutors accused 12 young Muslim men on Monday of threatening to kill prominent politicians critical of Islam and said their arrest after the murder of film director Theo van Gogh had foiled other attacks. The men, mostly of Moroccan descent, are suspected of belonging to a militant Muslim network dubbed the "Hofstad" group. "The group plotted some very serious crimes including murder, possession of arms, issuing threats and causing explosions, all following extremist convictions," public prosecutor Koos Plooy told a pre-trial hearing in Rotterdam. Investigators found a letter on the computers of several suspects saying, "The blood of our Muslim brothers will be avenged by the blood of the Dutch people." (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Abbas to Announce Cease-Fire at Sharm el-Sheikh Summit - Aluf Benn and Nathan Guttman
    According to Israeli sources, PA Chairman Abbas will announce a cease-fire at Tuesday's Sharm el-Sheikh summit, attended by Egyptian President Mubarak, Prime Minister Sharon, and King Abdullah of Jordan. Sharon will promise to end Israeli military operations in the territories if the Palestinian violence stops. He will call for "deeds, not words" in the war on terror and reiterate Israel's commitment to the road map peace plan. He will also detail Israel's planned goodwill gestures to the Palestinians, such as the release of 900 prisoners. (Ha'aretz)
  • Washington Takes a More Cautious Approach - Nathan Guttman
    Secretary of State Rice's calculated absence from the Sharm el-Sheikh summit clearly demonstrates the new American policy formulated in recent days. The U.S. administration is making it clear that it is there to assist and accompany, but that it is standing on the sidelines and not on the playing field itself. Gone are the days of the Americans sitting between the two conflicting sides; the involvement now is more cautious and distant. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Fire Mortar at Neve Dekalim - Margot Dudkevitch
    Palestinians fired a mortar shell Monday at Neve Dekalim in Gaza that exploded in the yard of a house. There were no injuries. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians Fire on IDF Patrol in Gaza
    Palestinians fired at an IDF patrol driving along the Gush Katif security fence in Gaza on Tuesday. No injuries were reported. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Shots Fired at Israeli Army Vehicle in West Bank - Ali Daraghmeh (AP/Miami Herald)
  • U.S. Names Regional Security Coordinator - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Lt.-Gen. William Ward has been appointed America's security coordinator in the region, to assist the rehabilitation of the Palestinian security services, oversee their activities, and encourage greater Israeli-Palestinian security coordination. Ward's mandate is focused on security only, with emphasis on the Palestinian side. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egyptian Students Protest Sharon Visit
    Students at Egyptian universities in Alexandria and Zagazig, a Nile Delta town, led by Islamist student groups, demonstrated on Monday against their government for inviting Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to a summit with the Palestinians. "Out! Out! Sharon!" students chanted. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Viewing the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit - Conal Urquhart
    Commenting on the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, Zalman Shoval, a foreign affairs adviser to Sharon, said: "There is a real chance but we should not overdo it. The Palestinians need to comply with the first phase of the road map which is about breaking up the terrorist infrastructure and collecting illegal weapons. Palestinian statehood is still a long way off." Yossi Alpher, an Israeli political analyst, noted: "A mutual declaration on ending the violence is the least weighty of the issues....This is the beginning of a stabilization process, not a peace process."  (Guardian-UK)
  • Warning to Damascus - Editorial
    "Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region," said President Bush in his State of the Union speech last week. "We expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom." Let's hope the President finally means it, because this is only the latest U.S. warning to Damascus since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003. Colin Powell visited Bashar Assad soon thereafter - despite Pentagon objections that the Syrian dictator would consider it a sign of U.S. weakness. And sure enough, Syria has been adding to our troubles in Iraq ever since.
        Captured Iraqi and foreign fedayeen report being trained in small arms and explosives at camps in Syria. General George Casey, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, has said that Iraq's Baathists are "operating out of Syria with impunity and providing direction and financing for the insurgency in Iraq." Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, formerly Saddam's No. 2, moves freely between Syria and Iraq to direct the insurgency. In recent months the Baathist Regional Command has invited Sunni tribal leaders to meetings in Damascus to recruit them to the insurgency. (Wall Street Journal, 7Feb05)
  • Which Foreign Policy? - David Ignatius
    What adds a sharp edge to the Bush II ideological debate is the fact that the FBI is continuing an investigation of AIPAC, which, like the neoconservatives, is strongly supportive of Israel. The investigation appears to have touched some prominent neoconservatives who are friendly toward AIPAC. Journalist Edwin Black in a Dec. 31 article in the Forward described an apparent effort by the FBI to use the Pentagon official whose contacts with AIPAC triggered the investigation, Larry Franklin, in an unsuccessful "sting" operation to draw Richard Perle into passing information to Ahmed Chalabi.
        A prominent former government official with access to highly classified information told me this week that he was quizzed in late January by two FBI agents about his meetings with Steve Rosen, AIPAC's director of foreign policy issues. He said he told the agents that he had never given Rosen classified information and that Rosen had never asked for it. The FBI investigation seemed, to this former official, to be largely a "fishing expedition." I'm told that more than a half-dozen officials in the Bush administration who are apparently suspected of leaking classified information to AIPAC have had to retain defense lawyers. (Washington Post)
  • Arabs Finally Face Terror - Amir Taheri
    Those in the West who see Arabs as exporters of terrorism forget that Arabs are also its biggest victims, including the 11,000-plus lives lost in Iraq over the past 18 months, 150,000 killings over the years in Algeria, and at least 25,000 in Egypt since 1980. At least some Arab states seem prepared to admit that terrorism is threatening their very existence as organized societies. That understanding is the driving force behind the Riyadh conference on counter-terrorism. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    How This Summit Could be Different - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • How is this summit different from previous summits? Two reasons: the death of Arafat and general Palestinian exhaustion. Yet there are some lessons from past hopeful moments that should be learned to help ensure that this one is not squandered.
    • The first is that it is not enough to let the terrorists take a break, while leaving intact the moral and physical infrastructure that supports them. We cannot expect any cease-fire to hold if thousands of terrorists retain their weapons and are free to decide at any moment that it is time to renew attacks against Israel. These terrorists will not be stopped by throwing money at the Palestinian Authority, or by "helping Abu Mazen" by releasing prisoners.
    • It is difficult to see how the release of killers captured by Israel would advance the process. The issue is not so much one of which have "blood on their hands" and which do not (presumably not for lack of trying). More fundamentally, it is a question of whether Israel should be releasing prisoners when no action has yet been taken to ensure that terror will not resume.
    • The Palestinians claim it is Israel that must gain their trust by such prisoner releases. But time after time, Israel has trusted the Palestinians and taken risks, only to have those gestures thrown back in our faces with another round of terror.
    • Based on experience, yet contrary to the international conventional wisdom, premature Israeli concessions lead not to the beginning of a peace process but to the end of Palestinian compliance with their commitments.

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