Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 16, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Palestinians Know Pullout Is Not a Victory - Roi Nahmias (Ynet News)
    A senior IDF official said in an interview published Wednesday that while, outwardly, the Palestinians may say the disengagement plan marks a victory for the path of terrorism, they understand this is not the case.
    "This plan, which hinges on separation between the two populations, will deliver a severe blow to terrorism by significantly minimizing (terrorists') ability to hit Israel's civilian population," he said.
    Despite Palestinian warnings of a third intifada, the officer said that even if they resort to violence, the Palestinians might soon find their capabilities are limited.
    "It would be very difficult to carry out attacks originating in the West Bank because of the security fence, and also because there are fewer Palestinians who are willing to support this," he said.
    While everyone is dealing with what appears to be a dramatic surge in Hamas strength against Fatah, "the general trend within the Palestinian arena is that the entire system is losing power, Hamas included....The difference is that Hamas is more successful than Fatah at hiding its weaknesses," the official said.

52 Warnings of Palestinian Terrorist Attacks - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    On Wednesday, the security establishment registered 52 warnings of plans by terrorists to launch attacks.

Visual Hate Messages in the PA Media - May 2005 - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Visual hate symbols and images de-humanizing Jews - and promoting their murder, denying Israel's existence, and anticipating its demise - continue to appear in the PA-controlled print and television media.
    They include a dagger piercing the Star of David and maps claiming ownership to all of Israel.

Bush Suspends Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem (Xinhuanet - China)
    President Bush on Wednesday announced his decision to suspend the process of moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for six months, saying the decision was "necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States."
    Bush used the six-month waiver power he has under the 1995 law that calls for the move.

French Drone Armed with Israeli Missile - Arieh Egozi (Ynet News)
    The French company Sagem Defense Security unveiled its Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) armed with the Spike missile produced by Rafael, Israel's armament development authority, at the La Bourge air show on Tuesday.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Admits Tests on Path to Atom Arms - Richard Bernstein
    Iran has admitted that it conducted small-scale experiments to create plutonium, one of the pathways to building nuclear weapons, for five years beyond the date when it previously insisted it had ended all such work. The deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Pierre Goldschmidt, is expected to tell the agency's board Thursday that Iran made the admissions after being confronted with the result of laboratory tests conducted on samples collected from an Iranian nuclear site.
        Since 2003, when Iran first began admitting that it had hidden 17 years of work from the nuclear agency, it made assurances that its accounting of its activities was full. But it has repeatedly had to revise that accounting, often in the face of evidence from the agency's scientific analyses. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Judge Sentences Lebanese Man in Detroit for Aiding Hizballah
    An illegal immigrant from Lebanon was sentenced Tuesday to 4 1/2 years in prison for conspiring to raise money for the Islamic militant group Hizballah. Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, 34, hosted Hizballah fund-raising meetings at his home in suburban Detroit in 2002. The government said Kourani paid a Mexican consular official in Beirut $3,000 for a visa to enter Mexico, then sneaked across the U.S.-Mexican border in 2001 and settled in Dearborn. Federal prosecutors said his brother, Haidar, was chief of military security for the group in southern Lebanon and directed Kourani's U.S. activities. This is at least the sixth case in which suspected Hizballah supporters have been arrested in the Detroit area since 2001. (AP/Detroit Free Press)
        See also Hizballah: The Other Snake in American Grass - Bob Newman
    Kourani was a key member of a Hizballah cell, joining at least nine other Hizballah cells in the U.S. The Washington Times on May 20, 2005, noted last month's arrest of Nemr Ali Rahal, 41, at his Dearborn home on charges of smuggling funds to Hizballah. Rahal has been charged with stealing more than $400,000 by means of credit-card fraud. When he returned Feb. 9 from a trip to Canada, customs agents found traces of explosives on his passport. (Mens News Daily)
  • Gunmen Rally at Palestinian PM's Home, Demand Jobs
    Dozens of Palestinian gunmen fired in the air as they rallied outside the West Bank holiday home of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie on Wednesday to demand jobs in the security forces. Qurie was not in his Jericho villa and the gunmen, most of them members of Fatah, left after an hour. Witnesses said the 40-odd gunmen included former members of the Palestinian security forces who want to be reinstated. They also demanded that the PA guarantee their safe passage from Jericho to homes elsewhere in the West Bank. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Teen Suicide Bomber Cell Uncovered - Amos Harel
    Eight Palestinians from the Nablus region were arrested on suspicion of planning a series of suicide bombings, the Shin Bet security service announced Wednesday. The Fatah group received money and orders from Hizballah in Lebanon, and were in the last stages of planning the bombings when they were arrested in May. The four who had agreed to commit the attacks were 15 and 16-years-old. "The uncovering of the cell is additional proof of the continued operations of the Tanzim military wing in Balata [in Nablus], which in spite of agreements with the PA is still planning suicide missions against Israel," the Shin Bet said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Suicide Bombing in the Heart of Israel Thwarted (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Some Terrorists Disarmed in Jericho, Tulkarm - Margot Dudkevitch
    A third of Tulkarm and Jericho residents listed as terror suspects have been disarmed by the PA. However, this is not deemed sufficient, and the failure of the PA to deal with all the armed fugitives in both cities is the reason Israel has stalled handing over additional cities to PA security control, security sources said. They denied Palestinian reports that a deal to hand over Jenin was secured in a meeting between Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky and Jamal Abu Zaid, an aide to PA Interior Minister Nasser Youssef, on Tuesday. "The Palestinians must not only disarm all the fugitives in Jericho and Tulkarm, but must take serious steps to curb violence and combat terror," one source said. (Jerusalem Post)
        Israeli officials said Wednesday that no timetable was set for the transfer of Jenin and urged the PA to disarm 100 fugitives in the town first. Unlike Gaza, where Israel plans to end its permanent military presence along with removing the settlements, Israel has made no pledge to pull forces out of the northern West Bank. Israel is refurbishing a main military base on the outskirts of Jenin. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Reassessment - Ehud Ya'ari
    Abu Mazen's decision to postpone Palestinian parliamentary elections means that Israel will carry out its disengagement plan without knowing the extent of Hamas's political strength in the future administration of Gaza, thus sparing Sharon the risk of appearing as if he is transferring territory - for absolutely nothing in return - straight into the hands of the camp that rejects the very principle of a peace deal.
        There is no guarantee that Fatah will use the time-out it has granted itself for a much-needed revamp. Nor is there any guarantee that the completion of the disengagement will strengthen Fatah's electorability. Hamas, together with the "popular army" it is hectically building in Gaza, is already operating as a governing authority, in tandem with the weakened PA. (Jerusalem Report)
        See also Terror and Democracy - Michael Hirsh and Dan Ephron
    While U.S. officials insist they will have no dealings with Hamas, in private, the president has been gingerly laying out what one senior European official described as Bush's "theory of redemption." Administration officials have pointed to reform in groups like Sinn Fein - the political wing of the Irish Republican Army. After asking for clarification on Washington's current view of Hamas, "the president assured Prime Minister Sharon not only that there wouldn't be a change in policy towards Hamas but that the administration doesn't believe there will be a peaceful Hamas," says Sharon adviser Zalman Shoval. (Newsweek)
  • In the Mullahs' Shadow - Shirin Ebadi and Muhammad Sahimi
    Friday's Iranian presidential election, under the heavy hand of the Guardian Council, will not be free and fair because the Council controls who can stand. While the main reformist candidate, former Minister of Higher Education Mostafa Moeen, has been allowed to run, hardliners are exploiting many of the state's resources (including radio and television) to promote their candidates, while censoring many progressive positions of Dr. Moeen and attacking his supporters. The hardliners view victory in the upcoming elections as the final step in consolidating their grip on power, following last year's rigged parliamentary elections.
        The EU (and the U.S.) should declare unequivocally that foreign investment will be provided only if a truly democratic political system is established. The EU should make clear to Iran's hardliners that it will not expand its political and commercial relations with Iran (and is ready to curtail them, if necessary) unless Tehran undertakes meaningful reforms, including freeing political prisoners, allows true freedom of speech and the development of an independent press, and permits all political groups to participate in elections that are considered free and fair by the international community. (Wall Street Journal, 15June05)
        See also Not Our Man in Iran - Danielle Pletka
    Rafsanjani is likely to return to the Iranian presidency, but he is a corrupt and power-hungry wheeler-dealer. (New York Times)
        See also The Upcoming Presidential Elections in Iran - Ayelet Savyon (MEMRI)
  • Observations:

    Dancing to Washington's China Tune - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • One explanation for Prime Minister Sharon's about-face on the settlements is that in his mind as a statesman, a close strategic relationship with the U.S. will do more to protect Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Netanya 50 years down the line than a hilltop settlement.
    • When Sharon is asked what he is getting for disengagement from Gaza, he replies that he is not getting anything from the PA but is getting something very substantial from Washington: commitments that the U.S. will back Israel's position on the Palestinian refugee issue and on retaining the large settlement blocs.
    • Israelis may think the Americans are paranoid about the Chinese, but the U.S. does see China as a significant potential threat some 15, 20 years down the road. Israeli diplomatic officials say that pro-Israeli congressmen in America's heartland see red at the prospect that Israeli technology may some day be used by the Chinese in warfare against U.S. soldiers.
    • There is an infuriating asymmetry in the U.S. dictating to Israel what weapons it can and cannot sell to China, which may or may not threaten U.S. interests in the future, while at the same time Washington sells sophisticated planes and weapons systems to Arab countries that pose a threat to Israel here and now. But then again, this relationship is asymmetrical.
    • If you are asking yourself whether Israel should tolerate being treated this way, be honest and ask a follow-up question: The next time Israel finds itself facing an existential threat, where is it going to turn, to Washington or to Beijing?

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