Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 7, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Operatives of Hamas and Other Terrorist Organizations Continue Attempted Terrorist Attacks in Israeli Cities (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
    On Feb. 10, 2005, Israeli security forces arrested Mahran Abu Khamis, a resident of Nablus and an operative for a terrorist cell that has in recent days been engaged in planning a suicide bombing on a crowded bus in the Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill.
    Additional Hamas terrorists involved in planning the suicide bombing have been arrested. They revealed that Abu Khamis recruited two additional suicide bombers and that he had been in contact with other wanted terrorists for the purpose of undermining the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians.

PA Minister of Economy Tied to Hamas? - Matthew Levitt (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    The new minister of economy, Mazen Sunuqrut, has close, longstanding ties to Hamas.
    Palestinian, Israeli, and U.S. intelligence agencies have all linked Sunuqrut to Hamas, primarily through a family company in which he is part owner and a bank whose board of directors he led.
    Placing someone with a record of laundering funds for Hamas in charge of the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy is a step in the wrong direction.

France and Spain Bid to "Legalize" Hamas - Ali Waked (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
    France and Spain are working towards removing Hamas from the EU's list of terror organizations, the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported Sunday.

Israel Doubts Claims Syria Expelled Jihad, Hamas Leadership - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israel responded skeptically to the British Sunday Telegraph report that Damascus allegedly instructed senior Islamic Jihad and Hamas leaders to leave Syria.
    Intelligence sources in Israel said that Syria had played a similar trick in the past, noting that senior Islamic leaders had never actually left Damascus, but had simply lowered their profile until the situation quieted down.
    The security establishment estimates that Islamic Jihad's Damascus headquarters invested around $30,000 in the Feb. 25 Tel Aviv attack.

Syrian Students Jailed for 3 Years for Sit-In (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Syria's State Security Court sentenced two university students to three years in jail for participating in a peaceful sit-in inside their engineering college last April at Aleppo University, Anwar al-Bunni, a lawyer and a member of the Human Rights Association in Syria, said Sunday.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: First PA Reform Must be Dismantling Terrorist Organizations President Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address: "President Abbas declared that his government is committed to chasing down and punishing those responsible for last weekend's terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. Such action is critical, because that attack is a reminder that there are still groups and individuals who will kill to prevent peace in the Middle East....The leaders attending this [London] meeting expressed their support for the Palestinians' efforts to reform their political institutions, their economy, and their security services. And the first reform must be the dismantling of terrorist organizations." (White House)
  • Hizballah Mobilizes Supporters for Syria - Sam F. Ghattas
    Hizballah Sunday threw its weight behind Syria, calling for massive rallies in Beirut to show loyalty to Damascus. The Iranian-founded, anti-Israeli Shiite Muslim group, which the U.S. calls a terrorist organization, could tilt the balance either in favor of the pro-Syrian government or the anti-Syrian opposition in Lebanon. The opposition had been courting the militia's support in its efforts to oust Syrian troops. Opposition leaders had said Hizballah would not be forced to disarm if Syria leaves, while also warning that if the group tilted toward Syria, it would lose the support of many Lebanese. (AP/ABC News)
        See also Britain and EU Move to Outlaw Hizballah - Donald Macintyre
    Israeli and American attempts to isolate Hizballah are making headway after signs that Britain and the EU may impose new proscriptions on the Iranian-backed Lebanese group. Israel, and increasingly the PA under Abbas, blames Hizballah for funding and recruiting Palestinians who have carried out attacks on Israelis. A senior British official has said there was "increasing evidence" for a growing UK view that Hizballah had a single leadership responsible for both its military and political wings. Britain had outlawed its military wing but not its political one. (Independent-UK)
  • Iran Admits Keeping Nuclear Program Secret - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iran confirmed Sunday that it initially developed its nuclear program in secret, going to the black market for material, and blaming its discretion on the U.S. sanctions and European restrictions that denied Iran access to advanced civilian nuclear technology. Iran now openly admits that it has already achieved proficiency in the full range of activities involved in enriching uranium, a technology that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear reactors or an atomic bomb. (AP/ABC News)
        See also Iran Says It Won't Give Up Program to Enrich Uranium - Nazila Fathi
    Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani said Saturday that his country would never permanently cease enriching uranium, and he warned that if the U.S. went to the UN Security Council to seek sanctions against Iran, "the security and stability of the region would become a problem." (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Terrorists Wound Two Israelis in Ambush at Hebron Shrine
    Palestinian gunmen wounded two Israelis in an ambush near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron Monday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinians Fire at IDF Post in West Bank
    Palestinians opened fire at an IDF post in the Kadim settlement in the northern West Bank on Sunday, Army Radio reported. The IDF has noted an increase in shooting instances toward Israeli settlements in that area in the past few weeks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Cease-Fire Agreement in Doubt - Amos Harel
    Sources in the Israeli defense establishment have expressed doubts with regard to the possibility of reaching a cease-fire (hudna) agreement in light of fierce opposition to such a move on the part of some of the terror groups.
        In a meeting Sunday with visiting Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulki, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that the PA had to close the gap between Abbas' statements and the events in the field. Mofaz said the PA was taking a point-by-point rather than a deep-rooted approach to dealing with terror, and warned that further attacks would halt political progress. Mofaz also stressed the role of Hizballah in directing terror activists in the territories. (Ha'aretz)
  • Lingering Suspicions Hold Up Egyptian Deployment Along Egypt-Gaza Border - Aluf Benn
    During discussions with Egypt on the deployment of its forces along the border in Sinai to prevent the smuggling of weapons to the Palestinians, the Israeli defense establishment has been concerned about the proposed upgrading of the Egyptian military with advanced American weapons systems at a time when Egyptian commanders still consider Israel a potential threat against which they must prepare themselves. For this reason, when the Egyptians ask that the new Border Guard be equipped with armored personnel vehicles and certain types of weaponry, the Israelis say no. The Shin Bet emphasizes the "intolerable" gap between Egyptian promises and actions. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharansky Opposes PA State Executions
    In an urgent plea to Prime Minister Sharon, Minister Natan Sharansky wrote: "Israel must immediately demand of the PA that it stop the planned execution of suspected collaborators....It is unacceptable that the PA demands the release of terrorists from our jails, and we respond affirmatively because of the hope for an opening to peace, while at the very same time the PA is about to commit state executions of people accused of helping Israel thwart terror." "It is impossible to build a peace process based on blood," he added. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Back to Thugocracy - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Accused Palestinian Collaborator Murdered
    Palestinian gunmen shot and killed Rashid Tarifi, 30, a Palestinian taxi driver, in a suburb of Ramallah in the West Bank on Saturday. Tarifi was suspected of collaborating with Israel, Palestinian security sources said. (Reuters)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Turning Words into Deeds - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    How long is Israel willing to bleed for Abu Mazen? The Palestinian suicide attack in Tel Aviv was the work of Islamic Jihad but authorized by its leaders in Damascus. This murderous attack, which killed five Israelis and wounded about 50 civilians, highlights the price Israel is paying by reducing its military operations in order to give time to Abbas to build up his strength.
        Abbas's condemnations of the terrorist attacks appear genuine, but condemnations are not enough. In fact, what Abbas has done to date is to try to appease rather than control the extreme militants. But there can be no appeasing of terrorists and no apologies for states like Syria that coddle them. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during her recent trip to the region: "We now must see actions that send a clear message that terror will not be tolerated." (US News)
  • What Bush Got Right - Fareed Zakaria
    Bush never accepted the view that Islamic terrorism had its roots in religion or culture or the Arab-Israeli conflict. Instead he veered toward the analysis that the region was breeding terror because it had developed deep dysfunctions caused by decades of repression and an almost total lack of political, economic, and social modernization. The Arab world, in this analysis, was almost unique in that over the past three decades it had become increasingly unfree, even as the rest of the world was opening up. His solution, therefore, was to push for reform in these lands.
        Repressive regimes are often extremely fragile. Syria is the perfect example. Bashar al-Assad's rule rests on the narrowest base of fear and coercion. His ruling clique, mostly coming from the country's small Alawite sect, is well aware that it lacks support in their society. That's why it is so easily rattled and why the events in Lebanon could snowball into something much, much bigger. (Newsweek)
  • Assad's Sham Withdrawal - Editorial
    Syrian boss Bashar Assad's announcement of a two-stage pullback of his forces in Lebanon is little more than a transparent attempt to stall for time and divert attention from Syria's brutal occupation of its western neighbor. Lebanese who want to be rid of the Syrian occupation have started a petition drive to bring war-crimes charges against Syrian officials for atrocities committed in Lebanon over the past 29 years at the Web site:
        As Lebanese - no longer cowed by the Syrian Army and secret police - demonstrate on a daily basis against Ba'athist tyranny, the day is approaching when Assad may be faced with a choice between: 1) employing mass murder against his fellow Arabs in a desperate bid to maintain his grip on Lebanon; and 2) forcing the Syrian Army and secret police to stand down as the Lebanese people take their country back. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Is a Halt in Killings a Truce? - Greg Myre (New York Times)

    • A month after it was reached, is the truce between the Israelis and Palestinians gaining traction or starting to slip? Measuring by the sharp drop in deaths, there is cause for optimism. But factoring in the almost daily bombings and shootings that fail or are headed off, there is reason for skepticism.
    • Israel is reluctant to pull back its troops from Palestinian areas in the West Bank because it says the Palestinian security forces have not proved that they can prevent attacks or that they are willing to try.
    • "The Palestinians have taken some steps," said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Sharon. "They are reorganizing their security forces, they have deployed the forces, and have arrested some small-time operators." Gissin added, however: "They have to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. This means making arrests, interrogating people, and putting them on trial." On Saturday, another Sharon aide, Assaf Shariv, said of Abbas: "We are waiting to see what he will do. So far, it is not a lot."
    • Israel says it does not believe that Abbas can bring an end to Palestinian attacks through dialogue alone. The solution, Israel says, is direct confrontation.
        See also The Palestinian "Temporary Cease-Fire" - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA)

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