Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 20, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Terrorist Released as Goodwill Gesture Re-Arrested - Planned Suicide Attack Inside Israel (Jerusalem Post/Israel Defense Forces)
    An IDF force uncovered an Islamic Jihad explosives laboratory containing 50 kg. of explosives in Jenin Friday night.
    Rami Muhammed Hassan Kandil, 21, one of the 900 Palestinian security prisoners recently released by Israel in a goodwill gesture to the PA, was arrested in the operation.
    Kandil had planned to carry out a suicide terror attack inside Israel.

Al-Qaeda's No. 2 Calls on Palestinian Militants to End Cease-Fire with Israel (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, released a new video, aired on Al-Jazeera television Friday, in which he called on Palestinian militant groups to end a cease-fire with Israel and stay out of upcoming legislative elections in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
    See also Al-Zawahiri Video on Al-Jazeera (MEMRI)
    Transcript; Video

Hunt for Sinai Resort Terrorists Continues in Egypt (AP/Washington Post)
    Egyptian security forces in the Sinai mountains clashed Friday with suspects in deadly attacks last year on Red Sea resorts.
    Security officials said a soldier and a fugitive were killed and four other soldiers were wounded.
    The October attacks, which destroyed a wing of the Taba Hilton hotel, killed 34 people including 11 Israeli tourists and wounded more than 100 others.

Fatah Shootout in Ramallah - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Rival Fatah gunmen exchanged gunfire in the Ramallah area over the past 48 hours, wounding several people.
    The clashes first erupted in the village of Beit Rima, north of the city, and later extended to surrounding villages.
    Meanwhile, representatives of various Palestinian groups in Ramallah called on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei to resign unless they took real measures to end the state of lawlessness and anarchy.
    The Gaza-based Mizan Center for Human Rights said on Sunday that 19 Palestinians have been killed and 177 wounded since the beginning of the year as a result of ongoing lawlessness in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
    The center urged the PA to enforce law and order and to confiscate illegal weapons from individuals and groups.
    In Gaza, scores of Palestinians went on a rampage inside the offices of the PA Ministry of Social Welfare, destroying furniture and equipment to protest the ministry's failure to provide them with jobs.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice Warns Israel: Don't Stop with Gaza; Don't Create "Facts on the Ground" East of Jerusalem
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters Saturday: "First we're going to get through Gaza successfully. Because the real point about Gaza is not to stop with Gaza. The President has been clear, we've been clear with the Israelis that it cannot be Gaza only; there has to be a day after the successful withdrawal from Gaza."
        Q: While the focus is clearly going to be on Gaza, will you engage the Israelis on the settlement issue east of Jerusalem? Because...Sharon reiterated his intention to build those 3,500 homes [in Maale Adumim]?
        Rice: "I will certainly say to the Israelis what we've continued to say to the Israelis, which is that the United States has very clear policy on this. They also have very clear obligations under the roadmap. And we don't intend to give - we don't intend that the Israelis try to create facts on the ground. They simply cannot engage in activities that are supposed to somehow prejudge a final status outcome." (State Department)
        See also Agreement Set on Destroying Israeli Houses in Gaza - Steven Weisman and Greg Myre
    Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to cooperate on the demolition of the 1,600 Gaza houses to be vacated by Israeli settlers in less than two months, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Sunday. The Israelis will tear down the houses and the Palestinians will be paid to clean up the rubble, providing the Palestinians money for job. (New York Times)
        See also Israel to Demolish Every Jewish Home in Gaza - Tim Butcher (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israel Apologizes to U.S. Over China Arms Sale - Megan Goldin
    Israel publicly apologized to the U.S. on Sunday over the planned upgrading of Harpy attack drones exported to China that has drawn criticism from Washington and strained U.S.-Israeli security ties. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on Israel Radio, "If things were done that were not acceptable to the Americans then we are sorry, but these things were done with the utmost innocence." "The United States is our biggest ally and none of the things that were done were done with the intention of harming U.S. interests," Shalom added. (Reuters)
  • Victorious Anti-Syrians Promise Change for Lebanon - Nadim Ladki
    A Lebanese anti-Syrian alliance promised sweeping change on Monday after winning control of parliament. An unofficial count for north Lebanon on Sunday showed an alliance led by Saad al-Hariri sweeping all remaining 28 seats, while its rivals conceded they were heading for defeat. Hariri's bloc has now won 72 seats in the 128-seat assembly. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • U.S., Iraq Launch Large Assault on Insurgents Near Border With Syria - Patrick J. McDonnell
    About 1,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops, backed by aircraft, tanks, and amphibious vehicles, fanned out Friday in a coordinated strike near Iraq's border with Syria in search of insurgents. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Terrorists Kill Israeli Motorist in West Bank - Amos Harel
    Palestinian gunmen near the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm opened fire on a car carrying two Israelis in a drive-by ambush on Monday, killing Yvgeny Reider, the 30-year-old driver, and lightly wounding his passenger, 16. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Kill IDF Soldier, Wound 2 in Gaza Attack - Amos Harel
    Palestinian gunmen firing anti-tank missiles and small arms killed Sergeant Major Avi Karuchi, 25, and wounded two other soldiers Sunday in attacks on the Philadelphi Route in the southern Gaza Strip. Soldiers returned fire, killing one of the attackers.
        Recent weeks have seen an average of 50-80 attacks a week in the Gaza Strip, as opposed to an average of 10-15 in February. Encouraged by its headquarters in Damascus, Islamic Jihad is ignoring the period of calm and various Fatah factions are following suit. Coordination with the Palestinian security forces is very limited. Last week, Israel demanded that the Palestinians post additional policemen opposite the Philadelphi Route and in the area of Khan Yunis, but the Palestinians have been slow to respond and the situation in the area is deteriorating. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Nabs Female Suicide Bomber at Gaza Crossing; Military Intelligence Head: PA "Doing Nothing" Against Terrorism - Amos Harel and Gidon Alon
    Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Monday caught a female would-be suicide bomber at the entrance to the Erez border crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. The woman, who was wearing an explosives belt under her clothing, has a permit to enter Israel for medical treatment.
        Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, the Head of the Military Intelligence Research Division, Brig.-Gen. Yosef Kuperwasser, said the Palestinian Authority "excels at doing nothing in the fight against terrorism." (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Teen Nabbed at Checkpoint with Five Bombs - Ali Waked
    IDF soldiers arrested Khalil Mohammed Hashash, 16, on Sunday trying to smuggle five pipe bombs across the Hawara checkpoint near the city of Nablus. Over the past three months the IDF has thwarted 21 attempts to smuggle explosives into Israel where the suspects have been under age 18. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Foils Kfar Darom Attack - Margot Dudkevitch
    An Islamic Jihad gunman was killed and a Fatah Al-Aksa Brigades gunman was wounded by IDF gunfire while attempting to launch an attack in Kfar Darom in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • When to Talk to Hamas - Editorial
    Hamas is holding a loaded gun to Abbas' head, employing threats in an attempt to increase its share of power. There is great temptation to speak to Hamas without the mediation of Abbas, both to collect information and to gain influence, but this is an illusion. Hamas has long-term goals which include the establishment of a Muslim religious state in all of Palestine, i.e., on the ruins of the State of Israel. Direct talks with Hamas, as long as it continues to stockpile weapons for the renewal of attacks at a time of its convenience, goes against the shared interests of both Israel and Abbas. The policy that insists on negotiating with governments and not with independent armed organizations is still valid.
        It is permissible, perhaps even desirable, to talk with mayors in the territories, whatever their organizational affiliation, because all sides should work to improve the situation of the population, weed out corruption, and provide humanitarian and economic hope for the future. But it would be wrong to be dragged into negotiations with them out of an illusion that they are able to moderate Hamas' overall aspirations, which are in any case set by a leadership that is mostly outside the territories. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Opposes the Acceptance of Hamas as a Legitimate Player
    Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev stated: "Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization responsible for countless acts of violence. Anything that demonstrates acceptance of Hamas as a legitimate player is a problem. We think the international community should be engaging the moderates in Palestinian society. We would be critical of a policy that could be perceived as appeasing the extremists."  (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Moving Forward by Falling Back - Isaac Herzog
    Seen from America, the evacuation of some 8,000 Jews from their homes may seem simple. I have heard it compared to moving residents to make room for a railroad or highway. But what is happening here is a deeper psychological drama. It brings out fears that are never far from the surface; memories of the displacement and murder of innocent Jews not only during the Holocaust but also in Islamic countries after Israel's founding. And memories of wars Israel did not start, and of terrorist attacks that we fear will never stop. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Rice's Response to PA's Demands: Counter-Demands - Arnon Regular(Ha'aretz)

    • In return for "a quiet withdrawal," the Palestinians want the U.S. to press Israel to allow them to control the Philadelphi Route, as well as the border crossings into Egypt. Instead, the Palestinians received counter demands from visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rice, who asked them not to "burden the withdrawal agenda with superfluous issues."
    • Rice bombarded her interlocutors with a long series of questions - to which she did not receive answers - with regard to the PA's ability to restore order to its security mechanisms in the Gaza Strip prior to the disengagement. Rice also questioned the PA's apparent inability to preserve the period of quiet and prevent Islamic Jihad and certain Fatah elements from escalating the situation.
    • There has been a significant and dangerous fall-off in the PA's ability to preserve the calm and rein in the various opposition groups.
    • Under the current situation, with large question marks surrounding Fatah, Abbas' leadership, and his ability to continue to withstand internal pressure, no PA official is willing to sacrifice himself in a conflict with the opposition elements.

        See also Prime Minister Discusses Rice Visit in Cabinet
    Prime Minister Sharon told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "I have just met with U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice....I found that the U.S.'s avowed policy regarding Israel is valid and cogent. I did not find any change in the American position....Moreover, our position - that the continuation of the process and the transition to the Roadmap is conditional on the complete cessation of terrorism, violence and incitement, the dismantling of the terrorist organizations and the collection of their weapons, and the implementation of the reforms to which the Palestinian Authority has committed itself - is abundantly clear." (Prime Minister's Office)

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