Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 19, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Officers: Cancellation of Special Security Zones May Lead to Terror - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israel Defense Forces brigade commanders in the Gaza Strip earlier this week expressed concern about the stricter rules of engagement under the period of calm instilled by the Palestinians, warning they could lead to terror attacks against Israelis.
    When the calm began at the end of January, the IDF altered its rules of engagement in the territories previously employed to counter terrorist infiltration threats.
    The army had declared special security zones (SSZ) in broad areas near settlements, along roads used by the Israeli populace, adjacent to the Philadelphi corridor on the Israel-Egypt border, and adjacent to the "green line."
    In this way, the IDF almost completely prevented infiltrations.
    After the number of violent incidents subsided, the army stopped enforcing the SSZ regime.
    Since the end of January, there have been more than 40 instances in which unarmed infiltrators were caught after having crossed the Gaza perimeter fence with the help of ladders and a method that disrupts the electronic alarm system.
    The fact that only job seekers have been caught thus far does not negate the possibility that next time it will be terrorists attacking one of the kibbutzim near the "green line."

Showdown Between Abbas and Fatah Looming Over Elections (Palestinian Information Center-UK)
    A showdown is looming between the Fatah bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council and PA Chairman Abbas over the postponement of the Palestinian parliamentary elections, Palestinian sources said Sunday.
    The sources said the bulk of Fatah lawmakers (Fatah controls the PLC) were refusing to pass an election law that would allow the PA to hold elections on the designated date of 17 July.
    Abbas seems determined to hold the elections on time, fearing that any postponement would undermine his international credibility and weaken his authority.
    Abbas said Saturday he had no intention to postpone the election.
    Hamas denounced "any postponement of the democratic process" as a flagrant violation of the agreements reached in Cairo between the Palestinian factions.

Hamas Scares Off Moroccan Musicians - Merav Yudilovitch (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
    Two Moroccan artists, Abedssalam Spiany and Daudi Elkharat, who were supposed to perform at the Andalusia Orchestra's 10th anniversary concert on April 27 in Tel Aviv, decided to cancel their planned trip to Israel after Hamas made threats on their lives.


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  • Israel May Delay Gaza Pullout for 3 Weeks - Mark Lavie
    Prime Minister Sharon said Monday he supported a three-week delay in the summer pullout from Gaza. (AP/ABC News)
        This would postpone the beginning of the evacuation of settlers from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank from July 20 until August 15. The postponement would avoid having people move to new homes during the three-week period of mourning between the 19th of the Hebrew month of Tamuz and the 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av), when it is prohibited by Jewish religious law. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel, On Its Own, Is Shaping the Borders of the West Bank - Steven Erlanger
    Israel under Sharon is unilaterally moving to define its future borders with a Palestinian state - with the scheduled withdrawal from Gaza and from four small settlements in the northern West Bank, with the "thickening" of settlements near Jerusalem and the Israeli border, and with a new route for the Israeli separation barrier approved by the cabinet on Feb. 20. The likely impact of the provisional new border on Palestinian life is, perhaps surprisingly, smaller than generally assumed, and it would leave about a quarter of Israeli settlers on the Palestinian side. 99.5% of Palestinians would live outside the barrier, in 92% of the West Bank. Within the new route of the barrier but outside the "green line" are some 177,000 Israelis living mostly in large settlement blocs - about 74% of Israeli settlers. Another 26%, about 63,000, live in the West Bank beyond the barrier. (New York Times)
        See also 50 New Homes Approved on Israeli Side of Security Barrier; U.S. Seeks "Clarifications"
    The U.S. was "seeking clarification from the Israeli government" about plans to build 50 new homes in Elkana, a settlement on the Israeli side of the security barrier, three miles inside the West Bank, which is home to more than 3,250 people. The houses "will be built by private entrepreneurs on state land," Israel Lands Authority spokesman Yaakov Harel said. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said, "it's very well known that those territories close to the borders will be kept in the hands of the State of Israel." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Survivors Mark Liberation of Nazi Camps - Matt Surman
    Hundreds of survivors of Nazi concentration camps on Sunday marked the liberation 60 years ago of three of the most notorious camps in the Third Reich's vast system: Ravensbrueck, Sachsenhausen, and Bergen-Belsen. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Terrorists Injure Two Israelis in Gaza Attack - Hanan Greenberg
    The IDF's patience is wearing thin in the face of growing Palestinian violence in the Gaza Strip, army officials said Monday, after a soldier sustained moderate injuries and an Israeli civilian was moderately wounded by Palestinian fire along the Philadelphi Route. A short while later, Palestinians opened fire near Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif. "It's impossible that the same small group, the Popular Committees, continues to operate freely in violation of Abu Mazen's understandings, at our expense," one IDF official said. "Yesterday someone was lightly wounded, today someone was seriously injured, and tomorrow it will end in disaster," he said. (Yediot Ahronot-Ynet)
  • IDF Expects Terror to Increase After Disengagement
    Speaking at a conference in Herzliya, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said Monday that terror would increase significantly after the disengagement, particularly in the West Bank. He added that in the past weeks there has been an increase in shooting incidents and the use of explosives. Ya'alon said Israel must demand that PA Chairman Abbas act against the terrorist infrastructure in the territories immediately. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Views Hizballah on Israel's Northern Border - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Hizballah militiamen have recently set up more outposts and positions along the border and manned them with uniformed troops. The IDF believes Hizballah is poised to be able to ambush a patrol and kidnap soldiers. The IDF assessment is that Hizballah won't rock the boat during the planned disengagement. But IDF intelligence also believes that Damascus's grip over Hizballah will become weakened as the Syrian army withdraws from Lebanon. The belief is that Hizballah will intensify its support and orchestration of Palestinian terrorists and recruitment of Israeli Arabs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Getting It Right in Gaza - Herb Keinon
    One of Sharon's main concerns is that the international community, led by the EU, will press Israel immediately after the Gaza disengagement to take similar steps in parts of the West Bank. However, Bush indicated that he views the Gaza plan as a pilot program, and that the question of where to go after disengagement depends on how the PA governs Gaza. "What's needed is confidence," Bush said. "And I'm convinced the place to earn - to gain that confidence is to succeed in the Gaza....I want to focus the world's attention on getting it right in Gaza." Bush thus indicated that he still accepts the stage-by-stage diplomatic approach, rather than jumping ahead immediately to final status.
        During Sharon's talks with Bush, more time was spent discussing Abbas and the weakness of the PA than was spent on the settlement controversy. Despite a press fascination with the issue, there are other matters, when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, of equal or even greater concern to the White House. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Tenuous Mideast Spring - Jackson Diehl
    The politics of the Arab Spring are not that simple. The old autocracies, though on the defensive, haven't given up: In Lebanon, as in Egypt and in the Palestinian territories, they are maneuvering to postpone or rig the democratic elections that are scheduled in the next six months. Powerful Islamic movements - Lebanon's Hizballah, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, and the Palestinian Hamas - waver over an embrace of democratic politics while trying to preserve their violent options. (Washington Post)
  • Let Mubarak Lead an Egyptian Business Delegation to Israel - Atef Aziz and Vikash Yadav
    An Israeli company, Delta Galil Textile Industries, has been engaged in profitable business in Egypt since 1995. The company began with 145 employees and now employs nearly 4,600 workers in the Nasr City Free Zone. Labor conditions are excellent and certified at EU standards in all areas, including overtime. Touring the factory, we could not help but notice that the workers exhibited a sense of dignity and joy about their work.
        Last year, Egypt and Israel signed a landmark economic accord, the Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) Agreement, that enables goods containing one-third Israeli inputs to be imported into the U.S. tariff-free. Yet in the current atmosphere, Israeli entrepreneurs face great hurdles in finding suitable Egyptian business partners. For the QIZ to bring sound results for Egypt and Israel, the political echelon must lead by example. As a symbolic gesture, President Mubarak should visit Israel, along with a delegation of leading businessmen, to temper the anxieties of the Egyptian business community and warm the cold peace. Atef Aziz is a Cairo-based business consultant with nearly two decades of experience on Wall Street. Vikash Yadav is an assistant professor of political science at the American University in Cairo. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Egypt's Industry Minister: Economic Agreement With Israel a "Huge Thing" - Ran Dagoni
    In its latest issue, Newsweek quotes Egyptian Minister of Foreign Trade and Industry Rashid Mohamed Rashid as saying that the qualified industrial zone (QIZ) agreement with Israel is a "huge thing" that has helped change the mind-set in Egypt toward Israel, after 25 years. (Globes)
  • Observations:

    Hearts, Minds, and Dollars: In an Unseen Front in the War on Terrorism, America is Spending Millions...To Change the Very Face of Islam
    - David E. Kaplan (US News)

    • The White House has approved a classified new strategy, dubbed Muslim World Outreach, that for the first time states that the U.S. has a national security interest in influencing what happens within Islam.
    • Because America is, as one official put it, "radioactive" in the Islamic world, the plan calls for working through third parties - moderate Muslim nations, foundations, and reform groups - to promote shared values of democracy, women's rights, and tolerance.
    • The role of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly come up in discussions of the new strategy, sources say. Fueled by its vast oil wealth, the Saudis are estimated to have spent up to $75 billion since 1975 to expand their fundamentalist sect, Wahhabism, worldwide.
    • The kingdom has funded hundreds of mosques, schools, and Islamic centers abroad, spreading a once obscure sect of Islam widely blamed for preaching distrust of nonbelievers, anti-Semitism, and near-medieval attitudes toward women.
    • Saudi-funded charities have been implicated in backing jihadist movements in some 20 countries. Saudi officials say they've cracked down on extremists, but U.S. strategists would like to see opportunities for less fundamentalist brands of Islam.

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