Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 27, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Head of IDF Military Intelligence: Assad's Chair is Shaky - Itamar Eichner (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 24Jun05)
    "The chair of Syrian President Bashar Assad is shaky" and among those around him are some who aspire to the "crown."
    "The Syrian-Lebanese system is falling apart" - thus said the head of Israeli military intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Zeevi-Farkash, in a closed meeting at the Foreign Ministry.
    The head of intelligence added that at the top of Assad's priorities is the stability of his regime and not the Golan Heights.
    "It's not that he is giving up on an [Israeli] withdrawal from the Golan, but this is placed fourth in his list of priorities."

Hamas Gathers Several Thousand Gaza Fighters and Arsenal of Kassam Rockets - Matthew Gutman (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas is using the lull in fighting to raise an "army" of several thousand fighters in the Gaza Strip to complement its developing arsenal of Kassam rockets and mortars, an IDF source said Sunday.
    Hamas is believed to have stockpiled an arsenal of hundreds of Kassam rockets and many more mortars. "The Kassam factories continue to operate, and we are not doing anything to stop them," the source said.
    During Sunday's cabinet meeting Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz raised the issue of Hamas's building of a "people's army."
    The Hamas military build-up is seen as directed not only against Israel, but against the PA as well, "just in case [PA Chairman] Abu Mazen moves to strip Hamas of its weapons," the source said.
    The upper IDF intelligence echelon has been paying extremely close attention to Hamas's development into a political powerhouse since the death of Arafat last November.

Radical Palestinian Groups in Lebanon and Syria Plan to Move to Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian radical groups in Lebanon and Syria are planning to move to the Gaza Strip after Israel evacuates the area, Palestinian sources confirmed on Sunday.
    The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported over the weekend that PA Civil Affairs Minister Muhammad Dahlan, who is in charge of coordinating the withdrawal with Israel, has invited Hamas leaders to move to Gaza.
    "We want to see you among us," Dahlan reportedly told Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and his top aides.
    Nayef Hawatmeh and Khaled Abdel Majid, the leaders of two other Syrian-based groups, are also planning to move to the Gaza Strip, the sources revealed.
    PA officials said that the PLO's Farouk Kaddoumi, who is based in Tunis, is also planning to move to Gaza.
    Asi Shariv, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said, "It's not really bothering us, because they can't just arrive at the airport. They can't come in without our permission."

Israel Apologizes to New Zealand over Spy Case, Normal Relations Resume (DPA/Ha'aretz)
    New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Sunday that Israel had made a formal apology for sending two agents into the country last year to try to obtain a false passport.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. "In Talks with Iraq Rebels" - Hala Jaber
    After weeks of delicate negotiation involving a former Iraqi minister and senior tribal leaders, a small group of insurgent commanders came face to face with American officials on June 3 and June 13 in the hope of negotiating an eventual breakthrough that might reduce the violence in Iraq. Washington seems to be gingerly probing for ways of defusing home-grown Iraqi opposition and of isolating the foreign Islamic militants who have flooded into Iraq to wage holy war against America. (Times-UK)
        See also Rumsfeld Confirms U.S. Talks with Iraqi Insurgents - Dana Priest (Washington Post)
  • How Long Can the Syrian Border Remain Porous?: How Foreigners Flock to Join Holy War - Richard Beeston and James Hider
    Syria is the final point of departure for thousands of young men, drawn from across the Arab world and from Muslim communities as far away as Spain, France, and even Sheffield, England, seeking to fight the war against U.S. forces in Iraq. According to former fighters in Damascus, volunteers are given a crash course in using Kalashnikov rifles, firing rocket-propelled grenades, and the use of remote detonators. The training takes place at secret camps in the Syrian desert, near the Iraqi border. Some attacks are even planned in advance in Damascus and Aleppo. According to Lt-.Gen. John Vines, the commander of coalition forces in Iraq, 150 foreign volunteers now cross into the country from Syria every month. (Times-UK)
  • France Joins U.S. on Syria Demands - Nicholas Kralev
    France joined the U.S. Thursday in calling for a firm stance against Syrian involvement in Lebanon, where Washington says Damascus' intelligence services are still active and plotting against anti-Syrian figures. "We are wondering about Syrian intelligence who may still be active in Lebanon," French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rice in London. "[UN] Resolution 1559 must be respected and the firmness of the international community must be expressed in the coming days vis-a-vis Syria," he said. (Washington Times)
  • Hard-Line Tehran Mayor Wins Iranian Presidency - Karl Vick
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-line mayor of Tehran who has invoked Iran's 1979 revolution and expressed doubts about rapprochement with the U.S., won a runoff election Friday and was elected president of the Islamic republic in a landslide. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Two Israeli Teens Murdered by Palestinian Gunmen - Amos Harel, Arnon Regular and Nadav Shragai
    Aviad Mansour, 16, of Otniel, died Sunday of wounds sustained Friday in a drive-by terror shooting near Beit Haggai in which Avichai Levy, 17, of Beit Haggai was also killed when two Palestinian gunmen opened fire from their car on a hitchhiking post. (Ha'aretz)
        "Without a doubt, the terrorists took advantage of the easing of restrictions to launch the attack," said IDF Col. Moti Baruch, the Judea district commander. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arms Export Agreement with U.S. "A Great Achievement" - Ran Dagoni
    Israel Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Ayalon said that Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz would sign a memorandum on his visit to the U.S. in July, after which Israel's participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project would be renewed. "This settlement will tighten the partnership with the U.S.," Ayalon said. According to Ayalon, the memorandum will expand penetration of U.S. markets, where the potential is greater than in any other country, by Israeli defense industries. It will also upgrade technological cooperation with the U.S. "Close allies of the U.S., such as the UK and other NATO countries, have signed similar agreements," Ayalon noted. (Globes)
        See also Israel, U.S. Draft Agreement for Openness, Equality in Arms Deals - Aluf Benn
    The memorandum will state that the U.S. and Israel are "strategic partners" and that each country will be considerate of the other's concerns about military technology being transferred to other countries. The countries "arousing concern" will be specified separately. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Bowing to U.S. Pressure, Israel to Curb Arms Deals - Ze'ev Schiff
    Israel has decided to comply with all of Washington's demands regarding the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) deal with China and changes in the supervision of Israel's arms exports. The decision means that once again Israel will have to violate an agreement to supply defense equipment to China, five years after it canceled the Falcon airplane deal. China is expected to demand compensation fees, since Israel had undertaken to supply China with spare parts for the UAVs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Terror Tunnel Uncovered in Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    The IDF uncovered a tunnel on Monday that had been dug from the town of Khan Yunis toward an industrial zone in Neve Dekalim. The tunnel, which appeared freshly dug, was meant to bypass a checkpoint to allow Palestinian terrorists to infiltrate Israeli territory, Israeli military sources said. It was discovered after the PA relayed intelligence information to Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Inside the Mind of an Iraqi Suicide Bomber - Aparisim Ghosh
    Marwan Abu Ubeida, 20, a Sunni Muslim from Fallujah, says he has been training for months to blow himself up along with as many U.S. or Iraqi soldiers as he can reach. While he waits, he spends much of his time rehearsing that last prayer. "First I will ask Allah to bless my mission with a high rate of casualties among the Americans," he says, speaking softly in a matter-of-fact monotone, as if dictating a shopping list. Marwan asked his commander to consider him for a suicide mission last fall but had to wait until the beginning of April. There are, he says, scores of names on that list, and it can be months before a volunteer is assigned an operation. "I can't wait," he says. "I am ready to die now." (TIME)
  • Reading Them the Riyadh Act - Jonathan Karl
    The Saudis figure U.S. concerns about the flow of oil and the fight against terrorism will continue to trump all this talk about freedom and democracy. By virtually any measure of political rights and civil liberties, Saudi Arabia deserves a spot on Rice's "outposts of tyranny" list. Three separate State Department reports over the past year - on human rights, on religious freedom, on human trafficking - portray Saudi Arabia as one of the most repressive places on earth. Freedom House gives Saudi Arabia its lowest rating for political freedom, a distinction shared by North Korea. Three of the six countries Rice called "outposts of tyranny" (Iran, Belarus, and Zimbabwe) are actually rated higher by Freedom House. (Weekly Standard)
  • Egypt is Playing with Fire - Uri Dan
    Egypt's land and air forces, equipped with the latest American weapons, constitute the greatest potential threat to Israel. It is therefore of vital importance not to change the 1979 peace agreement between Israel and Egypt guaranteeing that the Sinai Desert given up by Begin would remain demilitarized. The Egyptians are demanding that Israel agree to the deployment of about 5,000 Egyptian troops in Sinai, along the border with Israel from Rafiah to Eilat, equipped with armored fighting vehicles. Egypt has not given up its attempts to regain complete sovereignty over the desert region and is exploiting the current opportunity to destroy the principle of the demilitarization of Sinai. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Has a Million Arab Citizens, Yet a Palestinian State Must be Free of Jews - Clifford D. May
    The Palestinian Arabs who remained in Israel were granted citizenship and there are now more than a million Israeli Arabs - about 20% of the country's population. They have more rights than Jews in Arab countries had in the past; indeed, they have more rights than Arabs in most Arab countries have in the present. Yet what passes for the moderate view holds that a future Palestinian state must be Judenrein - ethnically cleansed of Jews. (
  • Observations:

    Scripts for the Day After - Zalman Shoval (Ha'aretz)

    • Does the death of Arafat in fact herald a basic change in the strategic goals that the Palestinian leadership has posited for itself?
    • There are two scripts for the day after the disengagement. According to the more optimistic one, there will be a majority among the Palestinian population and its leadership that will say to itself that terror has basically failed, and that an opportunity has been created to rehabilitate the Palestinian economy and to progress toward the establishment of a recognized and well-run political entity, with the practical support of the U.S.
    • But there is also a pessimistic script, which says that immediately after the withdrawal, a new wave of terror and violence will erupt, directed mainly at the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but also at places within Israel, in its pre-1967 borders. The goal? To force Israel to make additional far-reaching concessions.
    • Those behind this strategy are hoping that the U.S. will make every effort to advance at least the appearance of an agreement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - even if that involves pressure on Israel. That was exactly the strategy used by Arafat before and after the Camp David summit, and although it was a total failure, we should not conclude that the Palestinians have learned the lesson.
    • As both outgoing IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon and former head of the Shin Bet security services Avi Dichter admitted, the Palestinians consider the disengagement a victory of terrorism, regardless of the facts. Moreover, large sectors of the Palestinian camp are in any case not interested in agreements and in compromises according to the "road map" peace plan or any other plan, and their goal remains the destruction of the State of Israel.
    • Abu Mazen is not Arafat, but his objectives, not only according to intelligence assessments but according to his own statements as well, are no different from those of his predecessor. Even if the truth is on the side of those who say that Abu Mazen's deficient conduct, both with respect to terror and to the reforms that are not being carried out, actually stems from weakness - it makes no difference. What matters are the results.

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