Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 4, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Air Force Role in Terror War Soars - Amir Rappaport (Maariv-Hebrew, 1Jul05)
    Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy said in an interview:
    Q: Will the Israeli Air Force operate in the skies of the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria even after disengagement?
    A: "Israel's airspace will continue to include all the territory. That is one of the keys for the security and existence of the state. In the war against terrorism the last year was extremely significant for the utilization of airpower."
        "At the beginning of 2004, the air force was responsible for 10-15% of the terrorists hit by the IDF. By the end of that year the air force was responsible for 60-80%."
    "At the same time, the number of collateral Palestinian casualties dropped dramatically."

IDF: Hizballah Infiltration Cell Planned Kidnapping (Jerusalem Post)
    The Hizballah cell which infiltrated into Israel last Wednesday had intended to kidnap an Israeli soldier and carry out a terrorist attack but was quickly detected by Israeli security forces, Head of the Israel Defense Forces Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Benny Ganz told Army Radio on Sunday.
    The body of one of the Hizballah terrorists remained in Israel's hands, Ganz noted.
    Two more terrorists, who were also hit by Israeli gunfire and escaped, left behind a great deal of equipment, including night goggles, digital cameras, sawed-down M-16 assault rifles with laser sights, and camouflage gear.

Bush Furious at Ireland's Terror Haven - Maeve Sheehan and Jody Corcoran (Sunday Independent-Ireland)
    Jihad Jara, described as one of Israel's most wanted men, was granted safe haven in Ireland under an international agreement to end the siege at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002.
    The Palestinian terrorist was supposed to be monitored but he managed to leave Ireland and travel to Spain for several weeks last year until he was picked up by Spanish authorities and forcibly returned to Ireland.
    However, U.S. officials, including the CIA, are suspicious as to what he was doing in Spain.
    NBC's Dateline assigned an investigative team headed by Lisa Myers to prepare a broadcast probing the activities of Jara and other suspected terrorists in Ireland.
    According to government sources in Dublin, the program-makers claimed to Irish justice officials that Americans suspect Jara of continuing to direct terrorism while in Ireland, and cited senior figures in Bush's administration as being unhappy with Ireland's response to its concerns.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • PA Invites Hamas to Join Government - Robert Berger
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas asked Hamas to join his cabinet to help ensure a peaceful Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip next month. Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said, "Hamas is a terrorist organization that's been responsible for countless acts of indiscriminate violence against Israeli civilians....From our point of view, as Israel, Hamas is part of the problem, it's not part of the solution." Israel says Abbas should not be negotiating with terrorists, but rather disarming them, as demanded by the internationally-backed "Road Map" peace plan. (VOA News)
        See also Hamas Set to Steer Clear of Palestinian Government Until Elections
    The radical Islamist movement Hamas looked likely to resist calls from Palestinian leader Abbas to enter a national unity government before it takes part in legislative elections. The offer has already been rejected by Islamic Jihad. Hassan Yussef, the leader of Hamas's political wing in the West Bank, indicated Sunday that it was not the right time to join forces with Abbas's dominant Fatah faction inside the PA and that Hamas would rather await the outcome of legislative elections. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Egyptian Envoy to Iraq Kidnapped in Baghdad - Edward Wong
    Ihab al-Sherif, appointed by Egypt as ambassador to Iraq, was kidnapped Saturday by gunmen in western Baghdad, marking the most prominent abduction of a foreign Arab official during the war, Iraqi officials said Sunday. (New York Times)
  • Iraqi Rebels Turn Their Guns on al-Qaeda - Oliver Poole
    Tribal leaders in Husaybah, an entry point for al-Qaeda jihadists being smuggled into Iraq, are attacking followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist. The U.S. military believes the reason is frustration at the heavy-handed approach of the foreigners, who have kidnapped and assassinated local leaders and imposed a strict Islamic code.
        The trigger was the assassination of a tribal sheikh from the Sulaiman tribe, ordered by Zarqawi for inviting senior U.S. marines for lunch. Following al-Qaeda's seizure of the city a number of residents fled. Arkan Salim, 56, who left with his wife and four children, said: "We thought they were patriotic. Now we discovered that they are sick and crazy." (Telegraph-UK)
  • Iran's New Leader Suspected in '89 Attack in Vienna - William J. Kole
    Austrian authorities have classified documents suggesting that Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have played a key role in the 1989 execution-style slayings of an Iranian Kurdish leader and two associates in Vienna, the Austrian daily Der Standard reported Saturday. In Austria, Green Party leader Peter Pilz told the newspaper he wants a warrant issued for the arrest of Ahmadinejad, who he alleged "stands under strong suspicion of having been involved."
        Pilz accused Ahmadinejad of planning the murders of Kurdish resistance leader Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou and two of his colleagues, all of whom were shot in the head at a Vienna apartment by Iranian commandos on July 13, 1989. He said Ahmadinejad, then a high-ranking member of Iran's elite revolutionary guard, traveled to the Austrian capital a few days before the slayings to deliver the murder weapons to the commandos who carried out the attack. (AP/USA Today)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Government Rejects 3-Month Pullout Delay - Aluf Benn and Mazal Mualem
    The Israeli cabinet on Sunday in a 19-3 vote rejected a proposal to postpone the disengagement by three months. (Ha'aretz)
  • Defense Minister Mofaz: Palestinian Terror Attacks Continuing
    Defense Minister Mofaz told the cabinet Sunday that Islamic Jihad has not accepted the "calm" and terrorist attacks are continuing along the roads in Judea and Samaria, as are rocket attacks in Gaza. He said anarchy still prevails in some Palestinian cities, and that in spite of this, Israel continues to coordinate with the Palestinians. Israel is continuing to carry out arrests to foil Palestinian attempts to perpetrate acts of terrorism. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Foreign Minister Shalom: UN Report to Revive Security Fence Controversy
    Foreign Minister Shalom told the cabinet Sunday that this week a Swiss government official is due to present a report on the humanitarian significance of the security fence to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) President as per the decision of the July 2004 emergency UNGA session. It is expected that the Palestinians will call for the UNGA emergency session to reconvene in order to make further decisions condemning Israel; it is possible that there will be calls for concrete steps against Israel. This Palestinian decision shows that they still cling to Arafat's legacy, including attempts to internationalize the conflict. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Shin Bet Nabs Two Palestinians for Murder of Security Guard - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    The Shin Bet domestic security service announced Sunday that it had arrested two suspects in the murder of security guard Sami Kamalat near the West Bank separation barrier last December. Security forces arrested Islamic Jihad operative Mohammed Awad in the village of Idna near Hebron, and on Friday arrested a second suspect, Tarek Batran. (Ha'aretz)
  • Saudi Terrorist Leader Killed - Raid Qusti
    The man alleged to be the leader of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, Younus Mohamed Al-Hayari, was shot dead by security forces in Riyadh Sunday. Al-Hayari, a Moroccan, was No. 1 on the Interior Ministry's recently issued list of 36 wanted terrorists. Police also seized a large cache of weapons, ammunition, communication devices, computers, and documents (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Shaba Farms Isn't Hizballah's Only Excuse - Yoav Stern
    Between 1920 and 1923, about 20 villages in the Upper Galilee were considered part of Lebanon under the French Mandate, and not as part of Palestine under the British Mandate. In 1923, the border was redrawn further to the north, an action that placed these settlements under British Mandatory rule. Hizballah is demanding that the territory between the two borderlines be returned to Lebanon. During last month's election campaign in Lebanon, Hizballah declared that Lebanese territory includes not only the Shaba Farms area, but also the region formerly occupied by "the seven villages" - the region that was transferred to the British Mandate in the 1920s. (Ha'aretz)
        See also "Our Role is to Prevent Peace Between Lebanon and Israel" - Itamar Eichner
    The prevention of peace between Israel and Lebanon is one of the main missions of Hizballah, the secretary-general of the organization, Shaikh Hasan Nasrallah, recently confessed. He told a European ambassador in Beirut that "dismantling Hizballah from its weapons will create a situation whereby Lebanon might sign a peace treaty with Israel." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 4Jul05)
  • In Jenin, Palestinian Gunmen Reluctant to Abandon Uprising - Scott Wilson
    Jenin is at the center of efforts by PA Chairman Abbas to merge armed groups across the West Bank into a police force capable of enforcing law and order in the Palestinian territories. Yet Palestinian officials expressed doubt that the men of the uprising would trade the grim allure of guerrilla warfare for the drudgery of walking a beat, especially when polls show that 60% of Palestinians favor maintaining the armed groups as a way to pressure Israel.
        Zakaria Zbeida, the Jenin leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a military wing of Fatah, commands more than 200 armed men. He and his fighters have signed up to join the police force, but none has actually done so. The other armed factions, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, will remain largely outside the new security arrangement.
        Sometime after Aug. 15, Israeli forces are scheduled to begin evacuating about 700 Israelis from the Ganim and Kadim settlements, just a few miles east of Jenin. Israeli military officials say the communities have begun taking nightly rifle fire. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Heading for a Failed State - Efraim Inbar (Jerusalem Post)

    • Much of the international community is expecting that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will facilitate the return of the Israeli and Palestinian parties to the negotiating table within the framework of the road map.
    • However, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will actually strengthen the divisive trends in Palestinian society, making it poorer, more violence-prone, and less willing to reach a deal with Israel.
    • The lack of law and order in the PA is inimical to a climate that encourages economic growth, and the chaos hinders the efforts of the international community to deliver aid to the Palestinians.
    • The PA is further weakened by the ascendance of Hamas in Palestinian politics, filling the vacuum left by an inept PA.
    • Hamas's growing role in Palestinian politics portends increasing difficulty regarding the dismantling of its armed wing, which will, in turn, make Abbas's quest for monopoly over use of force a more distant goal.
    • Hamas's growing influence will also harden Palestinian positions on the conflict with Israel. There is little reason to believe that empowerment of radical Islamists leads to moderation.
    • Finally, the PA's ability to prevent the looting of Israeli property left behind after the Israeli withdrawal is far from certain.

      The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.

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