Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 30, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Shin Bet: Abbas Possesses More Power Over PA Than He Admits - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
    The head of the Shin Bet security services, Yuval Diskin, said on Wednesday that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had more power in the PA than he claims to possess.
    Speaking to a security cabinet meeting, Diskin said that "there is no calm on the ground, only a temporary lull."
    Mossad chief Meir Dagan said during the meeting that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad's position was considerably weakened.

Pollster: "Hamas Will Own the Disengagement" - Julie Stahl (CNSNews)
    Dr. Khalil Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, says that after initially rejecting the idea of disengagement as a trick, "the overwhelming majority of the Palestinians welcome the disengagement," and "3/4 of the public believe this is a victory for armed struggle."
    Since Abbas has spoken out against the militarization of the intifada, he cannot claim the victory since the people are linking it to violence. But Hamas can.
    "Hamas will own the disengagement," said Shikaki.

    See also Dahlan: Any Israeli Withdrawal Is a Victory for Palestinians (PA Press Center)

U.S. to Sell Anti-Aircraft Missile Launchers to Egypt (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    The Bush administration has authorized the sale of 25 Avenger anti-aircraft missile launchers to Egypt.
    The Avenger, sometimes seen around Washington during terror alerts, is a Humvee that carries a launcher which fires Stinger surface-to-air missiles.
    The U.S. also authorized the sale of 50 replacement engines for Egypt's CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
    In the past, Israel has raised concerns about U.S. arms sales to its Arab neighbors, while Israeli and American officials are in discussions to limit what technology Israel will sell to China and other countries.

Ottawa Issued Travel Visas to Syrian General's Family - Michael Del Tandt (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    The daughter and daughter-in-law of hard-line Syrian general Bahjat Suleiman, until last week chief of Syrian interior intelligence, received visitor's visas from the Canadian embassy in Damascus to allow them to give birth in Canada and confer citizenship on the general's grandchildren, sources say.
    It is common for the children of senior Syrian regime figures to travel to Canada to deliver their children, the source added.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • IDF Soldier Killed in Hizballah Attack on Israeli Border - Scott Wilson
    The Lebanese radical group Hizballah fired at least 15 mortar shells across Israel's northern border Wednesday, killing one Israeli soldier and wounding four others. (Washington Post)
        Cpl. Uzi Peretz, 20, of Beersheba, was killed in a coordinated attack on an IDF force and IDF posts in the area of Mount Dov. As Hizballah fired dozens of mortar shells from Lebanese territory at IDF posts, simultaneously, an IDF force identified a Hizballah terrorist cell that crossed the international Israeli-Lebanese border and infiltrated into Israel. An IDF soldier was moderately wounded by gunfire from the terror cell. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Five Americans Say Iran's New Chief Was '79 Captor
    A quarter-century after they were taken captive in Iran, five former American hostages say they got an unexpected reminder of their 444-day ordeal in the bearded face of Iran's president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had been one of their captors. Meisan Rowhani, a close aide to Ahmadinejad, denied the president-elect took part in the seizure of the embassy or in holding Americans hostage. (AP/New York Times)
        See also Photo Shows Iranís Ahmadinejad as Hostage-Taker of U.S. Diplomats (Iran Focus)
  • Lebanon's Anti-Syrian Leaders Reconcile - Sam F. Ghattas
    Saad Hariri, son of slain former Premier Rafik Hariri, and Michel Aoun, a former Lebanese military commander, on Tuesday joined together to form the first government free of Syrian domination in three decades. Saad Hariri and his allies hold 72 seats in the 128-member legislature. Joining with Aoun and his allies, who have 21 seats, would give the anti-Syrian groups massive powers as they seek to end the remaining vestiges of Syrian control. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Saudi Ambassador to U.S. Resigns - Stephen Fidler and Guy Dinmore
    Prince Bandar bin Sultan, 56, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S. since 1983, has resigned his position. He was said to have lost influence in Riyadh as the ailing King Fahd weakens and his expected successor, Crown Prince Abdullah, gathers more of the reins of power. Prince Sultan, Prince Bandar's father, is expected to assume the title of Crown Prince when Abdullah becomes king. Prince Bandar's high profile had become a source of increasing controversy within the U.S., and there were questions about whether this was helping Saudi efforts to improve relations with Washington. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Islamic Jihad Holds Rally in Gaza - Mark Willacy and Peter Cave
    The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad held a rally in the Gaza Strip Tuesday - a reminder to Israel and the Palestinian leadership that this shadowy organization has no intention of laying down its arms or abiding by a ceasefire. While other Palestinian militants, like Hamas, have agreed to stick to the truce brokered by Mahmoud Abbas, Islamic Jihad has been intensifying its campaign of rocket attacks and attempted suicide bombings. Before me in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza are dozens and dozens of masked Jihad militants clutching Kalashnikov assault rifles and American-made M-16s. Some are even holding aloft rocket-propelled grenade launchers. (ABC-Australia)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Delays Kalkilya Handover - Amos Harel
    Israel will not transfer the West Bank town of Kalkilya to the PA this week as previously announced. Israeli officials said the delay is due to escalating Palestinian violence in the West Bank where a series of shooting attacks over the last 10 days, perpetrated mainly by Islamic Jihad, killed three Israelis.
        U.S. Secretary of State Rice and the American security coordinator in the region, Gen. Ward, both told Israeli officials recently that Israel must allow PA forces to obtain more arms to enable them to impose order in the PA, particularly on Hamas. But Israel rejected this demand, saying that to date, the PA has not demonstrated any interest in acting against the terrorist organizations, and any weapons its policemen receive are more likely to be used in attacks against Israelis, as happened last week. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Policeman Involved in Ramallah Lynching Arrested
    Wassim Radi, a Palestinian policeman who was directly involved in the murder of Sgt. Yosi Avrahami in the October 2000 Ramallah lynching in which two IDF reserve soldiers were brutally murdered, was arrested on May 22, 2005. The IDF will continue to hunt all those who were involved in the murders until they are brought to justice. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Israeli Forces Clear Out Gush Katif Hotel - Matthew Gutman
    The IDF and police cleared out disengagement opponents from the Maoz Hayam hotel in Gush Katif on Thursday, hours after the IDF declared the Gaza Strip a closed military zone. The evacuation was completed in less than 30 minutes, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Temporary Limitation of Entry to the Gaza Strip
    The IDF Thursday issued an order temporarily limiting the entrance of non-residents to the Gaza Strip. It should be noted that this order is not the order of limitation to be issued by the political echelon as part of the preparations for the implementation of the disengagement plan. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Saudis Becoming Top Threat to U.S. Troops - Niles Lathem
    U.S. commanders in Iraq are facing a growing security threat from Saudi Arabia - which is emerging as a major center for recruitment and financing of terrorist operations in Iraq. New intelligence suggests that after Abu Musab Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden earlier this year, there has been an increase in financing and other support from al-Qaeda cells, radical clerics, and wealthy businessmen inside Saudi Arabia, officials said. "The Saudi border is becoming a real problem - almost as big as Syria," said one official. A series of reports from counterterrorism think tanks found that as many as 55% of Zarqawi's suicide bombers were Saudis. (New York Post)
  • The Silver Lining in Iran - Abbas Milani
    The hottest book in Iran these days is Bill Clinton's My Life, Iranian newspapers report - the most recent indication of the overwhelmingly favorable disposition of the Iranian population toward the U.S. Ayatollah Khamenei and his allies may have unwittingly opened the door for democracy - because their hardball tactics have created the most serious rift in the ranks of ruling mullahs since the inception of the Islamic Republic. (New York Times)
        See also Iran's New President - Editorial
    Unless the long-stalled talks with Britain, France, and Germany make some real progress in the very near future, these European powers should acknowledge that diplomacy has failed and refer the Iranian nuclear issue to the UN Security Council. There is no point prolonging negotiations if Iran intends only to use them to buy time to further advance its nuclear weapons ambitions. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    A Pro-Israel Lobby and an FBI Sting - Jeffrey Goldberg (New Yorker)

    • The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbies for Israel's financial and physical security. Before Steven Rosen came to AIPAC in 1982 (he had been at the Rand Corporation, the defense-oriented think tank), the group focused mainly on Congress. But Rosen arrived brandishing a new idea: that the organization could influence the outcome of policy disputes within the executive branch - in particular, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the National Security Council.
    • Rosen began to court officials, and his reports to AIPAC's leaders helped them track currents in Middle East policymaking before those currents coalesced into executive orders. Rosen also used his contacts to carry AIPAC's agenda to the White House. President Bush, speaking at the annual AIPAC conference in May 2004, said, "You've always understood and warned against the evil ambition of terrorism and their networks. In a dangerous new century, your work is more vital than ever."
    • Rosen was fired earlier this year, nine months after he became implicated in an FBI espionage investigation. Rosen's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, expects him to be indicted on charges of passing secret information about Iranian intelligence activities in Iraq to an official of the Israeli Embassy and to a Washington Post reporter. Keith Weissman, who served as an Iran analyst for AIPAC until he, too, was fired, may face similar charges.
    • The person who, in essence, ended Rosen's career is Lawrence Franklin, until recently the Pentagon's Iran desk officer, who was indicted last month on espionage charges. In February 2003, Franklin told the lobbyists that Secretary of State Powell was resisting attempts by the Pentagon to formulate a tougher Iran policy. He apparently hoped to use AIPAC to lobby the Administration. On June 26, 2003, Franklin reportedly told Rosen and Weissman about a draft of a National Security Presidential Directive that outlined a series of tougher steps that the U.S. could take against the Iranian leadership. Franklin did not hand over a copy of the draft, but he described its contents, and, according to the indictment, talked about the "state of internal U.S. government deliberations."
    • In June 2004, FBI agents searched Franklin's Pentagon office and his home in West Virginia, and allegedly found 83 classified documents. Franklin faced ruin - the documents could cost him his job, the agents said. Franklin agreed to cooperate in the investigation of Rosen and Weissman. He was wired, and on July 21, Franklin called Weissman and said that he had to speak to him immediately.
    • Franklin, who held a top-secret security clearance, allegedly told Weissman that he had new, classified information indicating that Iranian agents were planning to kidnap and kill Israelis in northern Iraq. American intelligence knew about the threat, Franklin said, but Israel might not. He also said that the Iranians had infiltrated southern Iraq, and were planning attacks on American soldiers. Rosen and Weissman, Franklin hoped, could insure that senior Administration officials received this news.
    • Weissman hurried back to AIPAC's headquarters and briefed Rosen and Howard Kohr, AIPAC's executive director. Rosen and Weissman called the political counselor at the Israeli Embassy, Naor Gilon, and told him about the threat to Israeli agents in Iraq, and called Glenn Kessler, a diplomatic correspondent at the Washington Post, and told him about the threat to Americans.
    • Last month, I met with Rosen, who said, "Our job at AIPAC was to understand what the government is doing, in order to help form better policies, in the interests of the U.S. I've never done anything illegal or harmful to the U.S. I never even dreamed of doing anything harmful to the U.S." Later, he said, "We did not knowingly receive classified information from Larry Franklin."
    • Rosen said that he was particularly upset by the allegation that, because he had informed Gilon that Israeli lives might be in danger, he was a spy for Israel. "If I had been given information that British or Australian soldiers were going to be kidnapped or killed in Iraq, I think I would have done the same thing," he said. "I'd have tried to warn them by calling friends at those embassies."

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