Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 28, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Abu Ala and Kadoumi Receive Millions from Arafat's Bank Account - Yossi Bar (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 27Feb05)
    "An anonymous source in the Swiss branch of Deutsche Bank says a portion of Yasser Arafat's money has been transferred to the accounts of Abu Ala and Farouk Kadoumi," according to the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Serra.
    The newspaper, relying on economic sources from Lugano, Switzerland, identifies a bank official by the name of Mohammad T., who is acting to transfer the money "before the Palestinian Authority reveals it."
    "His purpose is to strengthen Abu Ala politically and the extreme branch of Fatah under Farouk Kadoumi, without the knowledge of Abu Mazen."

Syria Withdrawing Billions from Lebanon - Roi Nachmias (Yediot Ahronot-English)
    A Beirut bank manager told a diplomatic official in Lebanon that Syrians holding accounts in Lebanese banks have "stormed" the banks and withdrew some $3.5 billion of the estimated $10-12 billion that belong to Syrian businessmen and government and army officials, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Seyassah reported Sunday.
    Meanwhile, in a demonstration at the Lebanese parliament last Thursday, protestors called on parliament to raise the issue of the 250 Lebanese prisoners being held in Syria, some of whom had disappeared under mysterious circumstances over 20 years ago.

Russia Considering Weapons Sale to PA (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Moscow is considering resuming sales of military equipment to the Palestinian Authority, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.
    "There have been requests about extra sales of hardware, including armored personnel carriers, to the Palestinians," he said. "I believe this issue will be resolved."

NSC Head: How to Test Palestinian Sincerity - Aaron Lerner (Israel Radio/IMRA)
    Giora Eiland, the head of the National Security Council, told Israel Radio Monday that the test of the sincerity of the PA is how it deals with those involved in Friday's terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.
    If the PA is serious, Eiland noted, it will charge them with murder. If it isn't serious, it will charge them, as it charged terrorists in the past, with "damaging Palestinian interests."

    See also Abbas: Tel Aviv Bombing "Against the Palestinian Interests" - Donald Macintyre (Independent-UK)
    On the eve of the London conference, Palestinian chairman Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview:
    "We are exerting 100% efforts and it has yielded good results so far. As for the suicide bombing last Friday, such actions will not be tolerated by us as they are against the Palestinian interests."


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Suicide Bomber Kills 5 at Tel Aviv Club - Alan Cowell and Greg Myre
    A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up amid a crowd of young Israelis waiting to enter a nightclub near the Tel Aviv beachfront Friday night, killing five and wounding dozens. The explosion sent bodies sprawling and covered the street and sidewalk with blood, body parts, and debris.
        "The important message that comes out of this is that there can be no compromise with terror organizations," said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Prime Minister Sharon. The PA has taken "some steps which are important. But they have not taken the necessary steps of dismantling the terrorist organizations," he added. "In the case where the Palestinian Authority will fail, we will feel free to take whatever action is necessary to protect our citizens," he said.
        U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday: "It is essential that Palestinian leaders take immediate, credible steps to find those responsible for this terrorist attack and bring them to justice....We now must see actions that send a clear message that terror will not be tolerated." (New York Times)
        See also Syrian-Based Leaders of Islamic Jihad Assert Responsibility for Tel Aviv Bombing - John Ward Anderson (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Says It Has Evidence of Syrian Involvement in Bombing (Voice of America)
        See also How Do You Tell Them? - Doron Sheffer
    Linda Buzaglo, who lost her husband, and Ofir Gonen, whose fiance was killed, are recovering from wounds sustained in the Tel Aviv bombing; soon they will have to be informed their loved ones are no longer alive. (Yediot Ahronot-English)
        See also below Observations - Sharon: No Progress Until Terrorism Is Eliminated (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Mubarak to Allow Freer Elections in Egypt - Neil MacFarquhar
    President Hosni Mubarak asked Egypt's Parliament on Saturday to amend the constitution to allow for direct, multiparty presidential elections this year for the first time in the nation's history. The proposal represents a sea change in a country with a 50-year history of one-party governments. (New York Times)
        See also A Qualified Welcome for Mubarak Proposal - Neil MacFarquhar (New York Times)
  • Iraq Says Syria Handed Over Saddam Kin
    Iraqi officials said Sunday that Syria captured and handed over Saddam Hussein's half brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, a most-wanted leader in the Sunni-based insurgency, ending months of Syrian denials that it was harboring fugitives from the ousted Saddam regime. Some 29 other fugitive Baath Party members were handed over to Iraqi authorities as well. Al-Hassan was No. 36 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis complied by U.S. authorities; 11 from the deck remain at large. The U.S. had offered $1 million for his capture. Under Saddam, al-Hassan led the dreaded General Security Directorate, responsible for internal security and cracking down on political factions that opposed the Iraqi leader. Al-Hassan was accused of the widespread torture of political opponents. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
        See also Syria May Be Bowing to Pressure - Salah Nasrawi (AP/Washington Post)
  • Russia to Provide Fuel for Iranian Reactor
    Iran and Russia ignored U.S. objections and signed a nuclear fuel agreement Sunday that is key to bringing Iran's first reactor online by mid-2006. Under the deal, Russia will provide nuclear fuel to Iran, then take back the spent fuel, a step meant as a safeguard to ensure it cannot be diverted into a weapons program. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Palestinians to be Offered Aid for Reforms - Richard Beeston
    Tony Blair will host a gathering of 30 foreign delegations in London Tuesday primarily aimed at helping the fledgling government of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader. The meeting is aimed at helping the PA to rid itself of the legacy of Arafat's rule. (Times-UK)
        See also Rice to Press Arabs to Aid Palestinians
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to use a London conference Tuesday to press wealthy Arab nations to increase their aid to the new Palestinian government and make good on previous pledges of financial help. (AP/Newsday)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Reacts with Restraint to Friday's Bomb Attack - Aluf Benn
    Sharon knows the Americans expect Israel to show restraint to give the new leadership in Ramallah a chance. Therefore, he will avoid a massive military response; instead the army and the Shin Bet security services will act to locate and apprehend those responsible. Israel will also pressure Abbas not to make do with understandings with the terror organizations, but to make arrests. (Ha'aretz)
  • Shin Bet Skeptical of Abbas's Ability to Fight Terror - Amir Oren
    The Shin Bet's leadership is unanimous in its view of Mahmoud Abbas's limited ability to transform the security situation in the territories, on the eve of disengagement and beyond. At a time when Sharon's original plan is cloaking itself in expectations of bilateral cooperation, with Palestinians in the roles of peacekeeper, Abbas's incompetence is bad news for Sharon. Up to this moment, there has been no operational offensive by Abbas and his security bodies against terror other than well orchestrated brief detentions of suspects. (Ha'aretz)
  • When Will PA Security Forces Stop Terrorists? - Arnon Regular
    PA Interior Minister Nasser Yussef Sunday visited Tulkarm, where Friday's suicide bomber lived, to evaluate the operational capabilities of the PA security services there. Yussef, who took up his post Thursday, is responsible for the PA's security forces. Palestinian sources said Palestinian forces in Tulkarm and elsewhere are experiencing serious difficulties. "We do not have the authority to carry weapons, and we cannot promise the police that if they carry arms they will not be harmed by Israel," said a source. "Without guns, we can't take control of any armed group." The sources said it will take several weeks before the security forces function properly.
        PA security sources said most of their efforts had been to use groups affiliated with Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, which cooperates with the PA, to try to obtain significant intelligence information. However, there were many groups not cooperating with the PA, and conflicts among the groups were preventing organized PA action. (Ha'aretz)
  • Shots Fired at Car in Samaria
    A man driving on the Trans-Samaria highway on Sunday night said a man standing at the side of the road opened fire at his car. A preliminary inspection found several gun shots had hit the vehicle. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Time Has Run Out For Syria - Editorial
    Syria's regime now is juggling for time. Syria is an outlaw state that has kept as many as 30,000 troops in Lebanon for nearly 30 years and has run that nation as if it were an annex of Damascus. Syria has supported practically every group in the Middle East's terrorist phone book, from Hizballah to Islamic Jihad, and most recently the insurgents in Iraq. Syria's government - as far from a democracy as one can get - has been implicated in numerous internal atrocities against dissenters. Syria's regime is a toxic force, for its own people and the other nations in the region. Its actions cannot be ignored. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Another Iraq Domino - Editorial
    The latest Arab dictatorship to bow to the lesson of last month's Iraq elections is Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak asked parliament on Saturday to amend the constitution to allow for the first direct, multiparty presidential election in its history. Genuine democracy will be in the details, but the big news is that Mubarak felt obliged to move. Mubarak has long deflected U.S. pressure for political liberalization by claiming that the only alternative to his rule is Islamic radicalism. But September 11 taught us that Mubarak's dictatorship (like Saudi Arabia's) also incubates Islamic terror. He is silent about the anti-American venom spread in the Egyptian media and mosques. (Wall Street Journal, 28Feb05)
        See also How Egypt Molded Modern Radical Islam - Zvi Mazel (ICA/JCPA)
  • Observations:

    Sharon: No Progress Until Terrorism Is Eliminated (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Sharon told the Cabinet Sunday:

    • "The terrorist attack was perpetrated by members of Islamic Jihad. The orders came from Islamic Jihad elements in Syria; even though we know this for a certainty, the fact is not enough to absolve the Palestinian Authority of its responsibility for the departure of the terrorist and of its obligation to act against his partners in the crime. The immediate test for the PA will be in vigorous action against Islamic Jihad members."
    • "While the State of Israel is interested in advancing towards a settlement with the Palestinians, there will be no diplomatic progress until the Palestinians take strong action to eliminate the terrorist organizations and their infrastructures in the PA areas."
    • "Recently, the State of Israel has been showing restraint in order to facilitate progress; however, it is clear that if the Palestinians do not begin to take vigorous action against terrorism, Israel will be compelled to step up military activity that is designed to protect the lives of Israeli citizens."
    • "I reemphasize that there will be no diplomatic progress as long as the Palestinians do not act in accordance with their commitments and eliminate the terrorist organizations."

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