Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 21, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Arrests 52 Islamic Jihad Terrorists (Israel Defense Forces)
    52 wanted Islamic Jihad terrorists were arrested Tuesday throughout the West Bank by the Israel Defense Forces.
    Islamic Jihad is not committed to the "calm" declared in the Sharm al-Sheikh summit and operates continuously to carry out terror attacks against Israel.
    See also below Commentary: Jihad Operating at Full Steam - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)

Bomb Kills Anti-Syrian Politician in Beirut (Reuters)
    George Hawi, an anti-Syrian politician and former leader of the Lebanese Communist Party, died instantly Tuesday in Beirut when a bomb in his car was detonated by remote-control.

PA TV Welcomes Rice with Attack on U.S. "Crusaders" - Michael Widlanski (FrontPageMagazine)
    The Palestinian Authority welcomed U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East this past weekend by airing an hour-long interview on PA TV with Muhammad al-Zahar, the leader of Hamas, who claimed that the U.S. was leading an anti-Islamic "crusade" that had left thousands of Muslim martyrs.
    The comments were parallel to more than half a dozen speeches attacking the U.S. by official mosque speakers on Palestinian radio and television in the last month.

Terrorist Commander in West Bank to Become PA Policeman - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Zakariya Zubeidi, the senior commander of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin who has masterminded dozens of deadly anti-Israeli attacks, said Monday that he is joining the Palestinian police force.
    "I'm not going to stop any Palestinian activist," he said. "It's obvious for Palestinians that there are no arrests on political grounds."

CIA Chief: "I Know Where Bin Laden Is" - Timothy J. Burger (TIME)
    Q: When will we get Bin Laden?
    CIA Director Porter Goss: "When you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play.
    Q: It sounds like you have a pretty good idea of where he is. Where?
    Goss: I have an excellent idea of where he is.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Female Palestinian Suicide Bomber Planned to Blow Up Israeli Hospital
    Wafa al-Bas, 21, arrested on Monday at a Gaza checkpoint, planned to blow herself up in an Israeli hospital. Israeli officials said Bas was burned in a cooking accident five months ago and had received treatment on humanitarian grounds at Beersheba hospital. She was making another trip for follow-up treatment but planned to blow herself up instead. In an interview shown on Israeli television, Bas said her "dream was to be a martyr." She said she was recruited by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - an off-shoot of Palestinian leader Abbas' Fatah faction. Later, she pleaded for mercy because she "didn't kill anyone."  (BBC)
        The Shin Bet received a tip that Fatah was planning to send Bas on a suicide mission via one of the Gaza Strip crossings. Israel gave the PA and Chairman Mahmoud Abbas detailed information of the plan, but the PA did nothing. (Ha'aretz)
        Security forces were alerted when the biometric screener at the terminal crossing revealed that Bas was wearing 10 kilograms of explosives. She then attempted several times to detonate the explosives but failed. She said she had intended to blow up in a "crowded area in the hospital." A senior Israeli security official pointed out that human rights groups have criticized Israel in the past for carrying out inspections on Palestinians requiring medical treatment in Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians Attempt to Exploit Those in Need of Medical Treatment (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • U.S. and Allies Capture More Foreign Fighters - Eric Schmitt
    American and Iraqi military forces in Iraq are capturing larger numbers of Saudis, Syrians, and other foreign fighters, in a new indication that combatants from outside Iraq are playing a more prominent role in the increasingly violent insurgency. American officials estimate that the hardcore insurgency is made up of 12,000 to 20,000 Iraqi and non-Iraqi fighters. Forensic investigations have disclosed that up to 20% of the suicide car bombers in Iraq are Algerian.
        Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said last week after a trip to Iraq that senior American military and intelligence officials told him privately "about their belief that there had been a considerable increase in the number of jihadists coming across the border, more sophisticated and more capable than a month ago, five months ago, a year ago." "The mix has many more Islamicists coming across the border, particularly the Syrian border," Biden said, and officials told him that "a disproportionate number" of jihadists came from Saudi Arabia. (New York Times)
  • UN Pushes Palestinians to Keep Cease-Fire Alive - Irwin Arieff
    The PA must do more to ensure all Palestinian factions keep alive a fragile cease-fire and end all violence, UN undersecretary-general for political affairs Kieran Prendergast told the Security Council on Friday. The world body was particularly concerned over a serious escalation by Palestinian militants in rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli targets in recent weeks, he said. "We expect the Palestinian Authority to exert greater efforts to impose its authority on all Palestinian groups - including the militants - to establish law and order, to ensure the endurance of the current cease-fire, and to guarantee an end to all violence," he said. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon to Abbas: First End the Violence - Akiva Eldar and Amos Harel
    At Tuesday afternoon's meeting between Prime Minister Sharon and PA Chairman Abbas, Sharon intended to tell Abbas that he was deeply concerned by what the defense establishment terms the PA's "inaction" in the face of the escalating violence, sources in the Prime Minister's Office said Monday. The sources said Sharon will demand that Abbas present a detailed plan for how the PA security services intend to prevent attacks on soldiers and settlers during Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in August. He will also warn Abbas that he will order the IDF to use every means necessary to prevent attacks on Israeli targets during and after the disengagement.
        Sharon will tell Abbas that now is not the time to discuss diplomatic moves to follow disengagement, and that the next step will depend entirely on the success of the PA's efforts to end the violence. Sharon will demand that Abbas confiscate weapons from the terrorist organizations and prevent the launching of Kassam rockets into southern Israel and the Gaza settlements. Meanwhile, until the PA begins taking action against the terrorist organizations, the Israel Defense Forces plans to step up operations against Islamic Jihad, perpetrator of most of the recent attacks. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon Briefs Knesset on Gaza - Nina Gilbert
    Prime Minister Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that the Israel Defense Forces would be able to neutralize any fire from Palestinians during the pullout from Gaza. "We will halt the fire, not the disengagement plan," Sharon said. Sharon briefed the committee on progress in talks with Egypt on stationing 750 border police on the Egyptian side of the Philadelphi route instead of civilian police. The Egyptian forces are to be stationed along 14 km opposite Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        Sharon said that Israel could not take on itself the responsibility for the welfare of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, but that it should allow Palestinians contact with the world. "We can't fence them in, or be responsible for everything that happens there," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Jihad Operating at Full Steam - Amos Harel
    Only the precise intelligence from the Shin Bet and the efficient deployment by the Israel Defense Forces at the Erez crossing in Gaza prevented a total collapse of the calm in the territories Monday. If the would-be suicide bomber had managed to get through and blow herself up at Soroka Medical Center, the understandings reached between Israelis and Palestinians at Sharm al-Sheikh last February would have ended. The would-be bomber was dispatched by a local Fatah faction in the northern Gaza Strip. The fact that people from Abbas' own party can plan such an attack at the height of the most reasonable period the Palestinians have experienced since 2000 attests to the state Abbas is in.
        With blatant encouragement from headquarters in Damascus, within four days, Islamic Jihad attempted a sophisticated attack on Kfar Darom, fired rockets at Sderot, killed an Israeli soldier on the Philadelphi route, and murdered a civilian in the West Bnak. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Rice Visit - Editorial
    The U.S. needs to say bluntly to the Palestinians that they must accept the Jewish people's national rights in this land, just as Israel has accepted their national rights. This recognition must manifest itself politically in the abandonment of the "right of return" and physically in the permanent abandonment of terrorism and disarming of groups that refuse to do so. Finally, it must be made clear that the massive financial and diplomatic assistance to the Palestinian cause will be withdrawn if these steps, along with the democratization necessary to root such a revolution, are not taken.
        If the U.S. is unwilling to say such things in a straightforward manner, with the clarity of Bush's June 2002 call on the Palestinians to rid themselves of Yasser Arafat, then it should not be surprised to see its plans unravel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Third Intifada - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)

    • There is a certain amount of similarity between the situation today and that in the summer of 2000, after the five years of the interim agreement in the Oslo framework came to an end. The summit meeting of then prime minister Barak and PA chairman Arafat at Camp David failed - and the result of that dead end ultimately was the second intifada.
    • Now we can expect a similar outcome. The focal points of the coming crisis are clear: Although Marwan Barghouti has called from prison to hold huge victory celebrations after Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip, official Palestinian spokesmen are reiterating that the withdrawal from there is not a withdrawal as long as Israel does not hand over to them control of the land, sea, and air border-crossing points. There is hardly any chance for an agreement on these matters.
    • Although the Egyptians are talking about the border at Rafah (the Philadelphi route), there, too, an agreement is not in sight in the near future. The trap for Israel is clear: If the Israel Defense Forces remain on the Philadelphi route, the border strip will turn into a battlefield - and if we withdraw from it, vast amounts of materiel will flow into Gaza.
    • An equally important locus of crisis is the security fence around the West Bank, in general, and around eastern Jerusalem, in particular - and to this must be added the almost permanent problems concerning the security of the Palestinian public. Groups of armed men have turned the West Bank into the Wild West.
    • The first intifada was called the intifada of stones. The second intifada's headline was suicide attacks on buses and in Israeli entertainment centers. The third intifada, signs of which have already been seen in Gaza and Sderot, will be an intifada of mortar shells, rockets, and missiles.
    • The means for manufacturing them in Gaza - which will no doubt reach the West Bank as well - are rather primitive and these weapons usually do not exact many victims. But they do cause fear and panic, and thus are the most effective weapons at the disposal of the PA once the evacuation of the Strip is completed, and when the walls and fences are completed in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

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