Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 8, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Department of Justice to Focus on Palestinian Terror - Uriel Heilman (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. Department of Justice is opening an office aimed at intensifying the effort to capture and prosecute Palestinian terrorists who have killed Americans abroad.
    The Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism was mandated by the passage last December of the Koby Mandell Act, named for the 13-year-old Israeli-American boy who was killed along with a friend while spelunking in the West Bank in 2001.
    The bill, which requires the U.S. government to give equal treatment to all U.S. citizens harmed by terrorism overseas, regardless of the terrorists' country of origin or residence, was conceived to force U.S. authorities to pursue Palestinian murderers of Americans in Israel more actively.
    A total of 52 Americans have been killed by Palestinians in Israel and the territories since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, according to the ZOA.
    See also U.S. Attorney-General Announces Establishment of Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (U.S. Department of Justice)

PA Rejects Israeli Info on Gaza Installations - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
    PA officials refused to accept a dossier containing maps and other details about Israeli infrastructure in the Gaza Strip at a joint coordination meeting Monday, saying the information was insufficient.
    A government source in Jerusalem said the PA officials demanded information about communications infrastructures and detailed information about the settlements, which if divulged could endanger Israeli lives.

Public Outcry in Nablus Against Use of Teenagers for Terrorist Missions (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center-Center for Special Studies)
    MSNBC's correspondent Martin Fletcher interviewed the parents of Muhammad [Mustafa al-Nadi], a 15-year old boy stopped by IDF soldiers in May at the Hawara checkpoint carrying two pipe bombs.
    The parents expressed great anger at Fatah/Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, calling its operatives criminals and saying that Allah would punish them.
    The correspondent spoke with the boy and read him a letter from his mother asking him to give Israel all the information in his possession about the men who had sent him.
    The boy admitted that the Brigades had approached him five times before he finally agreed to cooperate.

Muslim Schools in Sweden Seek Funding from Saudi Fundamentalists - Andy Butterworth (The Local-Sweden)
    The Swedish Radio program "Kaliber" reported on Sunday that "almost all" Islamic schools and congregations in Sweden have contacted potential sponsors in Saudi Arabia.
    Many of these Saudi foundations ask for influence in return.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Syrians Sustaining and Replenishing Hardest Core of Iraq Insurgency - Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
    A stream of fighters from Syria - most of them Syrians, but lately many of them Saudis - has sustained and replenished the hardest core of the Iraq insurgency, and supplied many of its suicide bombers. Nurtured by a militant interpretation of Islam, they insist they are fighting for their vision of their faith. Syrian smuggler Abu Ibrahim, who worked in Saudi Arabia for seven years, calls 9/11 "a great day. America was defeated."
        In Saudi Arabia, Abu Ibrahim heard about Abu Qaqaa, a charismatic Syrian religious sheikh who preached a radical version of Islam in Aleppo. "We were Wahhabis. Abu Qaqaa was preaching what we believed in." Returning to Aleppo, he became Abu Qaqaa's right-hand man. Two weeks after the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon, his group celebrated in public with a "festival," featuring video of hand-to-hand combat and training montages of guerrillas leaping from high walls. They called it "the Festival of America the Wounded Wolf." By 2002 the anti-American festivals were running twice weekly. Jihad was being allowed into the open. Abu Ibrahim said Syrian security officials and presidential advisers attended festivals, one of which was called "The People of Sham [an ancient name for the region] Will Now Defeat the Jews and Kill Them All." Money poured in from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
        Abu Ibrahim credited Abu Musab Zarqawi with revitalizing the insurgency, especially since October, when he pledged fealty to Osama bin Laden. "Six months ago, Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden were different," he said. "Osama did not consider the killing of Shiites as legitimate. Zarqawi did that. Anyone - Christian, Jew, Sunni, Shiites - whoever cooperates with the Americans can be killed. It's a holy war." Recently, he said, his contacts in Iraq have said they were not in need of fighters, but money. He said he personally carried cash, provided by sympathetic Saudis, between Saudi Arabia and Syria. "Our brothers in Iraq are asking for Saudis," he said. "The Saudis go with enough money to support themselves and their Iraqi brothers." (Washington Post/Guardian-UK)
  • Britain's Straw Sets Conditions for Hamas Contacts
    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, visiting the Middle East on Tuesday, said, "We are not dealing with Hamas leadership and won't deal with them until they have done two fundamental things, which is dropped their charter committing themselves to the destruction of Israel and given up violence as a legitimate tool." (Reuters)
  • Hurdles Ahead for Syrian Reform - Nicholas Blanford
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dashed reformers' hopes at a highly anticipated three-day Baath Party Congress Monday, steering clear of specifying any broad and imminent reforms that could help lower international pressure and appease rising domestic frustration. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Attack on Gush Katif Kills Two Palestinians, One Chinese - Hanan Greenberg and Efrat Weiss
    Two Palestinian and one Chinese workers were killed and five other Palestinian workers were injured Tuesday when a Kassam rocket slammed into a greenhouse in the Gush Katif settlement of Ganai Tal. Islamic Jihad and Hamas both claimed responsibility for the attack. A total of three Kassam rockets, five mortar shells, and five anti-tank missiles were fired at Gush Katif settlements and IDF outposts in Gaza on Tuesday. (Ynet News)
  • Islamic Jihad Leader Killed in Jenin
    On Tuesday, Maruh Kamil, one of the most senior Islamic Jihad operatives in the Jenin area, was killed after he opened fire and threw a hand grenade at the IDF force that came to arrest him. An IDF officer was lightly wounded in the shooting. Kamil, 27, a resident of Kabatiya, was planning to carry out a suicide terror attack in the heart of Israel. Kamil had been imprisoned in the PA prison in Jericho for several months, then escaped in May 2004. Kamil maintained direct contact with Islamic Jihad headquarters abroad and was responsible for distributing funds and weaponry to terrorists in the northern West Bank and Jenin. He was personally responsible for directing Islamic Jihad terror attacks against Israeli targets. After the declaration of calm, Kamil personally carried out a shooting attack in April 2005 in the Jenin area, wounding an IDF soldier. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Islamic Jihad Seen as Top Threat - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Islamic Jihad has become the leading Palestinian terrorist threat as it has continued to disregard the ceasefire to which Hamas adheres. Israeli security sources said the group, which is strong in Samaria but also has cells in Judea, has the potential to disrupt the entire process with the Palestinians. The current assessment in the security establishment is that the terror threat today is at the same level as it was last year. Since the beginning of the so-called ceasefire, Islamic Jihad has been under orders from Damascus to renovate their terrorist infrastructure to prepare for "quality" attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Jihad Leader: "Calm" is Over - Khaled Abu Toameh and Arieh O'Sullivan
    The period of calm is over and the Palestinians should be prepared to resume their attacks on Israel, senior Gaza Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh said Tuesday. Islamic Jihad was one of the few Palestinian groups that had refused to accept the tahdiah (calm) agreement that was reached in Cairo in February. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • First, Reform the Palestinian Authority - Yezid Sayigh and Khalil Shikaki
    If the Palestinian electorate votes at the legislative council elections as it did in the local elections on May 5, Hamas could take 35-40% of the 132 seats. Indeed, if Fatah is unable to resolve its internal differences, and again fields two or more rival lists as happened in some municipalities, Hamas could achieve a landslide victory and take control of the Palestinian parliament. A key issue is the public's perception of corruption in the PA and Fatah, in contrast to the "clean hands" image of Hamas. Reform is crucial if the PA is to improve its standing with the public and shift Hamas's share of the vote back toward the 20% range that the movement would normally receive.
        The PA must signal its determination to rebuild institutions that are capable of delivering on the commitments it makes to Israel and the international community, and of improving Palestinian social cohesion and political dialogue. Reform is an imperative, not a choice, for the PA and its partners in the international community. The writers are the principal authors of the ''Report of the Independent Task Force on Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions'' published by the Council on Foreign Relations. (International Herald Tribune)
        See also Scare of Hamas Leads to Delayed Elections - Joshua Brilliant
    The prospect that the Islamic Hamas might win in Palestinian parliamentary elections seems to be the real reason PA leader Abbas postponed the vote. In recent local elections some 600,000 voters voted for lists associated with Hamas and only 250,000 voted for people associated with Fatah, noted Tel Aviv University professor Nissim Mishal. (UPI/Washington Times)
        See also As Hamas Makes Gains, Will Abbas' Ruling Party Unravel? - Joshua Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Defusing Iran's Bomb - Henry Sokolski
    Iran is now no more than 12 to 48 months from acquiring a nuclear bomb, lacks for nothing technologically or materially to produce it, and seems dead set on securing an option to do so. Iran's continued insistence that it acquired its nuclear capabilities legally under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would, if unchallenged, encourage its neighbors (including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Algeria) to develop nuclear options of their own.
        With a nuclear weapons option acting as a deterrent to U.S. and allied action against it, Iran would likely lend greater support to terrorists operating against Israel, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Europe, and the U.S. The objective would be to elevate Iran as an equal to the U.S. and its allies on all matters connected to the Persian Gulf and related regions. The writer is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Washington. (Policy Review-Hoover Institution)
  • Observations:

    Former IDF Chief of Staff: Complete Quiet Only If We Leave Tel Aviv
    - Interview with just retired Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon by Ari Shavit (Ha'aretz)

    • In this violent round we succeeded in making the Palestinians aware of the need to stop the terrorism. We did this by means of the transition from defense to offense, from Operation Defensive Shield [spring 2002] and afterward. The freedom of action we acquired as a result of taking control of the territory was what generated the turnabout. It reduced the number of casualties; reinforced our staying power; improved the economic situation; and obtained international legitimization. Even before the disengagement plan and even before Arafat's death, they started to do some mental stocktaking. The awareness was forged that terrorism does not pay. That was the great Israeli achievement in this war.
    • A fence does not solve the problem of terrorism. The fence is an important means in the ability to prevent infiltration, but it is not the ultimate means. The ultimate means is the ability to get to the terrorist in his bed.
    • We have a situation of reverse asymmetry. The State of Israel is ready to give the Palestinians an independent Palestinian state, but the Palestinians are not ready to give us an independent Jewish state. Thus the situation here is not stable. That is why every agreement that will be made is the point of departure for the next development of irredentism, for the next conflict, the next war. Despite their military weakness, the Palestinians feel that they are making progress. They have a feeling of success.
    • The whole question is whether your withdrawal is perceived by the other side as an act of choice or an act of flight. If it is perceived as a flight, they will continue to come after you.
    • The Palestinians have in interest in demonstrating that after the pullout from Gaza there will be a period of quiet there. You left Gaza? You get quiet. You will leave Judea and Samaria? You will get quiet. Leave Tel Aviv and things will be completely quiet.
    • We are talking about a viable Palestinian state. But the Palestinian side does not harbor a feeling of thus far and no farther - not even in regard to the 1967 borders. They are talking about Safed and Haifa and Tel Aviv. And economically, too, Judea and Samaria and Gaza are not a viable state.
    • Q: You maintain that what is agreed by the whole world and a large part of the Israeli public is without foundation.
      Ya'alon: It is not relevant. Not relevant. It is a story that the Western world tells with Western eyes. And that story does not comprehend the scale of the gap and the scale of the problem.
    • Q: What alternative paradigm do you posit in place of the two-state paradigm?
      Ya'alon: The paradigm of a far longer process. Far longer. One that obliges above all a revolution of values by the other side. Another possibility is to go beyond the paradigm of the western Land of Israel, to enter into regional solutions.
    • Q: If a Palestinian state is established now, will it necessarily be a hostile state?
      Ya'alon: It will be a state that will try to undermine Israel. As long as there is no internalization of our right to exist as a Jewish state, and as long as there is insistence on concrete elements of the right of return, any such agreement will be like the construction of a house in which you plant a bomb. At some stage, the bomb will explode.

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