Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 30, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Jerusalem Muslim Mufti Demands U.S. Apology for Koran Desecration, Calls for World Muslim Boycott of U.S. (AP/Ha'aretz)
    The Palestinian Authority-appointed mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri, on Friday demanded the U.S. apologize for alleged mishandling of the Koran by American military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - "and bring them to court."
    In his weekly sermon at the Al Aqsa Mosque he also called on Muslims around the world to boycott American products.
    In the northern Israeli town of Nazareth, more than 5,000 people took part in a protest organized by the northern branch of Israel's Islamic Movement to condemn U.S. policy.
    Thousands of Muslims marched Friday in Islamic countries from Asia to the Middle East, burning symbols of America.

Israel Campus Beat
- May 29, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    Should Israel Permit Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to Gain Citizenship through Marriage?

IDF: "Terror to Grow after Pullout" - Ilan Marciano (Ynet News)
    Terrorism is expected to grow following the upcoming Gaza and northern West Bank pullout, IDF Central Command Head Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee during a tour Sunday.
    There is a "huge" rise in the amount of weaponry being smuggled into the West Bank, he said.

Bomb at Pakistan Shrine Kills 20 - Declan Walsh (Guardian-UK)
    A suicide bomber attacked a gathering of Shia pilgrims in the Pakistani capital Friday, killing 20 people and wounding dozens more.
    A string of sectarian massacres have taken place across Pakistan over the past year, usually inside mosques or during religious festivals.
    An attack on a Shia shrine in south-western Baluchistan province in March claimed at least 29 lives. Over the preceding year, at least 144 others died in five similar incidents.
    The violence is mostly perpetrated by Sunni extremists, some thought to have links with al-Qaeda and other adherents of the austere, Saudi-inspired, Wahhabi school of Islam.
    Wahhabis disapprove of mystic practices such as shrine visiting and saint worship which remain popular among Pakistani Sunnis and Shias.

Useful Reference:

Recent Israeli Assistance to the Palestinians (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israel has taken a series of measures to ease the everyday life of the Palestinian population, in light of the decrease in the number of terrorist attacks against Israelis.
    Israel has started constructing new crossing terminals that will enable smooth passage with minimal friction between civilians and security personnel.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Expands Envoy's Role on Gaza Issues - Glenn Kessler
    The White House has expanded the mandate of U.S. Gen. William Ward to mediate on security issues as Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip. Previously, Ward's role was limited to assisting the PA as it rebuilt its security forces. A senior U.S. official said the original goal was not to put Ward in the middle of the two sides, but with time running short before Israel leaves Gaza, a decision was made to direct Ward to take a much more active role in coordinating between the Israelis and Palestinians.
        Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told reporters Friday that he felt he had gone a long way toward rebutting assertions by Israeli officials that a letter from Bush to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 had in effect given Israel guarantees on keeping settlements on the West Bank and on banning the return of Palestinian refugees. Abbas said the letter "perhaps was misunderstood" by the Israelis, since Bush said Thursday that such issues should be settled "as part of mutual agreement between the two sides. This is a solution which we accept." (Washington Post)
  • Two Americans Charged in Al-Qaeda Conspiracy - Michelle O'Donnell
    A martial arts expert from the Bronx and a doctor from Florida have been arrested on charges that they conspired to train and provide medical assistance to al-Qaeda terrorists. The men, U.S. citizens Tarik ibn Osman Shah of the Bronx and Rafiq Sabir of Boca Raton, Fla., were captured on Friday after a two-year sting operation, according to a New York City police spokesman. Authorities said they had taped each man swearing his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. (New York Times)
  • Wounded Terror Chief Flees Iraq - Hala Jaber and Tony Allen-Mills
    An American warplane opened fire on a speeding car in the Jazira desert northwest of Baghdad earlier this month carrying Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted terrorist in Iraq. A piece of shrapnel from an air-to-ground missile lodged in his chest. Zarqawi, who has a $25m bounty on his head, has fled the country for emergency surgery, according to a senior insurgent commander, and is now believed to be in Iran. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Cabinet Approves Release of 400 Jailed Palestinians - Amos Harel and Gideon Alon
    The cabinet approved Sunday in an 18 to 3 vote the release of some 400 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill toward Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in keeping with previous agreements. None of the prisoners to be freed have "blood on their hands," meaning they haven't murdered Israelis. However, Israel revoked an earlier requirement to release only those who have served more than two-thirds of their sentence in order to fill the 400 "quota."  (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Nabs Man Carrying Explosive Belt - Efrat Weiss
    IDF troops apprehended a Palestinian Friday who attempted to cross a roadblock near Nablus in the West Bank with an explosive belt in his bag. Battalion commander Yoav Zuckerman said, "On the surface it seems as if there is calm, but under it all the terror and attempts to smuggle explosive belts and devices through the roadblocks, to harm Israel's citizens, continue."  (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Man Killed in "Work Accident"
    A Palestinian Hamas member was killed in an explosion in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, hospital officials said Saturday. Two other Hamas members were moderately wounded in the blast. The Israel Defense Forces said it was not operating in the area at the time and that the incident was likely a "work accident." During the past four years many Palestinians have been accidentally killed while handling explosives.
        In a separate incident Friday, an explosive charge was detonated near an IDF armored personnel carrier traveling in the Erez industrial zone in Gaza. No injuries were reported. Army officials noted the explosion occurred despite the large Palestinian police presence in the area. (AP/Ynet News)
        See also Gaza City Car Blast Kills 3 Hamas Members
    Three members of a Hamas cell were killed and two were wounded seriously Sunday when a car exploded in the Sagiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Palestinians said. Israeli security officials said that Israel had nothing to do with the explosion and assessed that it had been caused by a device that exploded prematurely, Army Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also RPG Kills Hamas Man as He Tries to Fire It
    A Hamas member was killed in the Gaza Strip on Sunday as he tried to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at nearby Israeli targets, the Israeli Army said. The man was at the Khan Yunis cemetery, near the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, when he hurt himself. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Unmanned Israeli Plane Hits Palestinian Mortar Crew - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Palestinians said unmanned Israeli aircraft fired three missiles at militants in Jabaliya in Gaza Monday, where they were preparing a mortar attack. Israel Defense Forces officials said they identified two teams of Palestinians setting up mortars. The missiles destroyed both launchers, they said. Islamic Jihad said that a few minutes before the Israeli air strike, its cells launched three rockets from northern Gaza at an Israeli village. More than 60 mortars and 10 Kassam rockets have been fired from Gaza in the last two weeks. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Man in the Empty Suit - Editorial
    Mahmoud Abbas came to Washington the other day, shook hands with President Bush, promised just and lasting peace forevermore, collected $50 million in U.S. aid, and accepted pledges of collegial harmony from Prime Minister Sharon. Then Abbas went home again, where he has proven to be the weakest of leaders. Abbas's ineffectiveness raises dire concern about the prospect of achieving peace in the Mideast. Abbas has barely attempted to disarm the militant gangsters in his midst; indeed, gunmen walk freely on the streets of his cities. His agencies are every bit as corrupt as they've always been. And he's allowed Hamas, a terrorist organization by anyone's definition, to become politically respectable. (New York Daily News)
  • Get Ready for the Hamas State - Uri Dan
    Everyone is participating in a big game of make-believe. Bush talked about the chances of success of the peace negotiations with Abu Mazen in Washington, because he wants to give the road map a real chance in a final attempt to stop Hamas. Egyptian President Mubarak talks about peace but makes no efforts to halt arms smuggling because he is the patron of Hamas, just as Iran is the boss of Hizballah. Using Hamas, Mubarak wishes to pressure Israel into modifying the peace agreement, canceling the demilitarization of the Sinai Desert, and thus permitting the deployment of thousands of Egyptian soldiers along the border with Israel.
        Prime Minister Sharon, aware of this dangerous situation, last Tuesday told the AIPAC conference in Washington: "Until now terrorist activities have not ceased. The smuggling of weapons and arms production continues and there is no real prevention of terrorist actions." Sharon apparently realizes that under the current political conditions Israel has no alternative but to join in the make-believe "peace process" game. The major difference between Sharon and his predecessors is that he is aware that the Israeli finger must be ready on the trigger when Hamas's arsenal in Gaza explodes. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Should Take Responsibility, Israel Won't Wait - Kobi Michael
    Many explanations have been offered for the Palestinian unwillingness to utilize the unilateral disengagement in order to advance its supreme interest, that is, the establishment of an independent state (even if its borders are temporary, as is the case with Israel itself). The Palestinian fright when it comes to taking responsibility and the inability to take advantage of political opportunities to promote national interests lead to the perpetuation of a wholly ineffective strategy, narrowed down to improving the efforts to lay the blame on Israel.
        It is time for the Palestinians to separate from the Israelis and act for the establishment of a Palestinian state, organize the activity of political institutions, improve the daily lives of residents, and ensure a state monopoly on the use of military power. Israel will not be waiting for the Palestinians, and rightfully so. It will not condition its moves on Palestinian good will. The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and a lecturer at Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    National Security Adviser Eiland: IDF Likely to Reoccupy Parts of Gaza to Protect Disengagement - Sheera Claire Frenkel (Jerusalem Post)

    • It is "very likely" that Israel will reoccupy Khan Yunis and other Palestinian villages in the Gaza Strip prior to disengagement, National Security Adviser Giora Eiland said Sunday. "In order to make the withdrawal possible we need to take preemptive measures....Among those measures, we may enter Khan Yunis and occupy it to secure the safety of our withdrawal."
    • Khan Yunis is very close to settlements in Gush Katif slated for evacuation. Eiland said he hoped to create a buffer zone that would keep out Palestinian terrorists. Otherwise, he said, Khan Yunis might provide cover for snipers and be used as a launching pad for mortars during the evacuation.
    • "If the Palestinian Authority can prove to us that they can secure Khan Yunis, then there will be no need for us to go in and occupy [it]," Eiland said. He said it was ironic that Israel would be going back into Palestinian areas of Gaza from which it withdrew in 1995.
    • "The Palestinian problem is, in one word, Hamas," he said. "They consider themselves equal to the PA....So now we are in a situation with two political entities and either can undermine the other one when dealing with Israel." "Hamas is now increasing its forces, rebuilding its chain of communication, and biding its time until its next cycle of violence," he added.
    • Eiland said Hamas would only go along with a cease-fire as long as it approved of what the PA was doing. "The moment that Hamas, or some other militia, are not happy with the political process, they will take up violence again," he said. "Israel will continue to be the hostages of the goodwill of Hamas."

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