Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 10, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Reveals Revolutionary Shield System for Armored Vehicles - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF has revealed a revolutionary new protective shield system for armored vehicles that intercepts and destroys missiles and rockets with a shotgun-like blast just before they hit.
    The Trophy system, shown in public for the first time this week, is seen as a major milestone in weapons design since it reduces the need for heavy armor for vehicles.
    According to Rafael, the Defense Ministry's armament development authority, the system works against all types of guided anti-tank missiles and rockets, including rocket-propelled grenades.
    The system's antennas and radar can detect incoming projectiles from 360 degrees, its computer calculates their approach, and then determines the exact moment and angle to fire its neutralizers - small metal pellets.
    Trophy also works while the vehicle is in motion and is effective against short-range and simultaneous threats.

    See also Israel Successfully Tests Missile - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    Israel successfully test-fired its Long Range Artillery (LORA) missile March 3, scoring a dead-on hit of a sea-based target some 200 km from the launch site on Israel's coast.
    The test marked the third success out of four attempts, and demonstrated a range more than double the 80 km achieved in earlier tests.

    See also New Weapons Systems Revealed at IDF Conference - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    Accompanying the second annual IDF conference on Low Intensity Conflict is an exhibit of weapons and training utilities used in low intensity conflicts.
    Revealed for the first time in public are digitalized mobile headquarters and a robot, unmanned security vehicle (USV) to be deployed along the security fence.

    See also Israel Showcases Latest High-Tech Military Inventions (AFP/Yahoo)
    Israel Aircraft Industries presented a smart mortar bomb, called "FireBall," with pinpoint accuracy guided by GPS.
    The "Eye Ball R1" is a high-tech camera packaged into a hand-held impervious ball, which can be thrown into any building, tunnel, or cave to enable remote observation from relative safety.
    The Mosquito UAV measures 12 x 14 inches [30 x 34 cm], has a silent motor, and offers real-time high-quality video for up to 60 minutes, flying at 300 feet.

    See also Israeli Firm to Provide Armor for U.S. Military Vehicles in Iraq (Reuters/Defense News)
    The Israeli kibbutz company Palsen Sasa has won a contract to provide armor for U.S. military vehicles in Iraq.
    The company will provide armor for 2,000 trucks and other vehicles in kits that can be assembled on site by U.S. troops in Iraq.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Lebanese Assembly Re-elects Pro-Syria Premier - Jad Mouawad
    Nine days after Lebanon's pro-Syrian prime minister, Omar Karami, was forced to quit under pressure by opponents of Syria's occupation, he was voted back into the post on Wednesday by the Lebanese Parliament. Syria seems now to have regained the initiative, emboldened by a huge pro-Syrian rally in Beirut on Tuesday led by Hizballah. (New York Times)
  • Syria's Exit May Mean More Power for Hizballah - Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
    If Syrian forces leave Lebanon, the Islamic militant group Hizballah is ready to fill the military and political vacuum. Instead of clearing the way for pro-Western democrats, Syria's withdrawal could bring to the fore a virulently anti-Western political force. "The Syrians are trying to leave behind a system they can control. A pillar of that will be Hizballah," said Michael Young, opinion editor of Lebanon's Daily Star.
        One in eight Lebanese turned out for Hizballah's pro-Syrian rally Tuesday, according to some crowd estimates, seven times as many people as even the biggest of the highly publicized anti-Syrian demonstrations that have captured world attention drew during the past three weeks. Additional Hizballah rallies are planned for Friday in Tripoli and Nabatiya. (Knight Ridder-Kansas City Star)
  • Palestinians Shun Bombers to Give Peace a Chance - Wafa Amr
    Unlike many Palestinian suicide bombers, Abdallah Badran was not feted with portraits pasted on town walls after he blew himself up at an Israeli nightclub on Feb. 25, killing five Israelis. "This is the first time people haven't printed posters of a bomber. It is a sign people rejected the bombing," said Palestinian politician Abdel-Fattah Hamayel.
        Confronted by a loss of local community support for attacks, many militants have lost motivation to carry out more. "Badran is a martyr after all, but no one wants to adopt him or take care of his family. This is new and worrying. We now know everyone wants to give a political settlement a chance," said Ala Sanakreh, a leading Fatah militant on Israel's wanted list. "I'm a fugitive," said Mohamad Zetawi, an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member in Tulkarm. "In recent weeks I have felt safe enough to go back to my house and see my friends and family again. But after the Tel Aviv attack I'm back in hiding....Such an attack, criticized by all Palestinians and factions, makes one think 100 times before considering to carry out an attack these days." (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Kills Palestinian Terrorist Linked to Tel Aviv Bombing - Amos Harel
    An IDF unit killed a wanted Islamic Jihad terrorist in a village near Tulkarm Thursday who was believed to have played a central role in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on Feb. 25. (Ha'aretz)
  • No Deal on Jericho Transfer - Margot Dudkevitch
    Jericho will not be handed over to the PA for the time being, after meetings between Israeli and Palestinian security officials failed to bridge a gap between the two sides. Israel did not agree to a Palestinian demand to receive full control of Highway 90 - a major traffic artery from Jerusalem through the Jordan Valley to northern Israel. Israel also turned down a Palestinian request to remove all checkpoints in the region.
        Senior security officials said that if the Palestinians focused on moving forward instead of disputing minute details, they could have already received security control weeks ago and possibly several other cities by now. "They still haven't been able to control the situation in their own areas, where anarchy still prevails. All you have to do is look at the incident from this past week such as the failure of PA official Nassar Youssef to arrest Zakhariya Zubeidi, or the attempts by armed Palestinian gunmen to abduct Palestinian police in Nablus," an official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Terror Threats Continue - Margot Dudkevitch
    On Wednesday the security establishment registered 45 threats of plans by terrorists to launch attacks. A Kassam rocket fired at Gadid in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday landed between two houses, causing damage but no injuries. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas, Islamic Jihad Deny Agreeing to Halt Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials in Gaza on Wednesday ruled out any formal halt to terrorist attacks, reacting to statements by PA National Security Advisor Jibril Rajoub that all Palestinian groups had agreed to stop their attacks inside Israel. A statement issued by Hamas in Gaza urged the PA to halt contacts with Israeli security officials. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Exercise with U.S. Focuses on Arrow, Patriot - Amos Harel
    The U.S. Army and the IDF will hold an extensive joint exercise in Israel beginning Thursday to practice the coordinated operation of anti-aircraft systems including the Arrow anti-ballistic intercepter missile and the Patriot air defense missile. (Ha'aretz)
        See also U.S. Patriot Crews Heading to Exercise in Israel
    U.S. Patriot missile crews stationed in Germany are once again headed to Israel to participate in a joint exercise with the Israeli military. Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops will participate in the computer-assisted and limited live-fire exercise. The deployment is partly a signal to others in the Middle East but largely a reassurance to the Israelis, said Michael Desch, a political science professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. "This signals the American commitment to Israeli security," he said. (Stars and Stripes)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Beirut Tea Party- Thomas L. Friedman
    The massive pro-Syrian demonstration that Hizballah mounted in Beirut on Tuesday underscored how much all the old slogans and sentiments - anti-Israeli, anti-American, pro-Islamist, sectarian - can be exploited by Syria, Iran, and their local proxies to mobilize popular forces against change. Hizballah clearly felt it must prove it is as popular a force as the democratic opposition. But something tells me that those Hizballah demonstrators who were waving the picture of Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, were uncomfortable.
        While Lebanese democratic forces have to constantly be inviting Hizballah to join them, since it represents an important and powerful trend among Lebanon's Shiites, they also need to loudly ask Hizballah - "Why are you waving the picture of the Syrian president? Whose side are you on?" (New York Times)
  • Unexpected Whiff of Freedom Proves Bracing for the Mideast - Neil MacFarquhar
    Events have combined to give the sense, however tentative, that twilight might be descending on authoritarian Arab governments. The U.S. says it will no longer support repressive governments, and young Arabs, while hardly enamored of American policy in the region, want to test that promise. Even so, the changes wrought in each country thus far appear minor and preliminary. Old rules against basic freedoms like the right to assemble remain unaltered. "You need democrats to produce democracy," said Ghassan Salame, a former Lebanese cabinet minister. "You need people to fight for it to make it real."  (New York Times)
        See also This is No Arab Glasnost - Fraser Nelson
    This is no Arab glasnost. The autocrats are simply switching tactics. Now, Arab autocrats believe the recipe for being left alone to their agenda of repression is to pay lip-service to democratic reform. Itís amazing how far a little democratic symbolism can get you. Democracy in the Middle East is in its infancy. Only a couple of generations ago, Mussolini and Hitler swept to power on popular votes, before they banned their rivals. Economic development, human freedom, full property rights, and a pluralistic political culture are the conditions for democracy. Without them, any democracy project will fall. So we are still at stage one in the Middle East. (Scotsman-UK)
  • Observations:

    Seizing the Moment in Israeli-Palestinian Relations: How to Sustain the Cease-Fire and Revitalize the Road Map - Martin Indyk and Tamara Cofman Wittes (Saban Center for Middle East Policy-Brookings Institution)

    Six key tasks must be accomplished in the next few months to translate today's hesitant rapprochement into a revitalized Israeli-Palestinian peace process:

    • Stabilizing the Cease-Fire: Converting the current tentative calm into an indefinite, stable, and mutual cessation of violence with clear rules and procedures to sustain it.
    • Consolidating the New Palestinian Authority: Enhancing the PA's capabilities to enable its exercise of effective authority over all territories and factions under its control.
    • Making Gaza Disengagement a Success: Converting a unilateral and uncoordinated Israeli plan into a closely coordinated process that produces noticeable benefits to Israelis and Palestinians alike, binds the PA with commitments to prevent Gaza from becoming a platform for attacks on Israel after disengagement, and enables the PA to reestablish itself as a credible partner for the Israeli government.
    • Mobilizing International and Arab Support for Progress: Ensuring that maximal support for Israeli-Palestinian re-engagement is developed, expressed in tangible form, and sustained throughout the period necessary to move to final status talks.
    • Strengthening the Political Center on Both Sides: Creating the environment and enabling conditions in which extremists are marginalized, leaders are empowered to negotiate, and Israelis and Palestinians can begin to discuss the difficult compromises that will make a final status agreement possible.
    • Connecting Disengagement to the Road Map and Final Status: Providing a clear diplomatic and legal framework that links the Israeli disengagement and PA assertion of authority in Gaza to the resumption of a diplomatic process leading to final status talks and a permanent resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

      Martin S. Indyk is director and Tamara Cofman Wittes is a research fellow at the Saban Center.

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