Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 6, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

PA Demands Further Gaza Withdrawal from Territory in Israel Proper - Nina Gilbert (Jerusalem Post)
    National Security Council chief Giora Eiland told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that PA Civil Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan, in charge of coordinating the disengagement with Israel, claimed that the northern Gaza border had been moved 2 km to the south, and demanded that it be recognized as such according to the 1949 armistice lines.
    Eiland made it "clear" to the Palestinians that the Gaza border recognized by Israel was set with Egypt in 1950, and the same border was reconfirmed in 1994 under the Oslo accords.
    The Israeli moshav Netiv Ha'asara is situated in the area.

Palestinian Gunmen Shoot at West Bank Rock Concert (AP/Ha'aretz)
    Shooting in the air, dozens of masked Palestinian gunmen from the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades cut short a rock concert in the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday by Ammar Hassan, who won second place in the "Superstar 2" competition on the Lebanese TV channel al-Mustaqbal.
    The singer was whisked onto stage 45 minutes late by bodyguards, and opened his show with a song about "holy Jerusalem" in an effort to appease the gunmen.
    Palestinian policemen did not make any moves to arrest the gunmen but tried to persuade them to calm down.

50 Terror Groups Believed to Be in Canada - Beth Duff-Brown (AP/Yahoo)
    Intelligence officials believe at least 50 terror groups now have some presence in Canada.
    Bin Laden named Canada one of five so-called Christian nations that should be targeted for acts of terror, along with the U.S., Britain, Spain, and Australia.
    The Canadian Security Intelligence Service said terrorist representatives are actively raising money, procuring weapons, "manipulating immigrant communities," and facilitating travel to and from the U.S. and other countries.
    Besides al-Qaeda, these groups include Islamic Jihad; Hizballah and other Shiite groups; Hamas, Palestinian Force 17, Egyptian Al Jihad, and various other Sunni groups from across the Middle East, CSIS said.
    See also U.S.-Canada Border Leaves Many Jittery - Beth Duff-Brown (AP/Washington Post)

Islamic Radicals Storm Temple Complex in India - John Lancaster (Washington Post)
    Six men thought to be Islamic radicals stormed a disputed temple complex in Ayodhya, India, and five of them died in a gun battle with police, authorities said Tuesday. The sixth man apparently blew himself up.
    See also Islamic Group Emerging as Al-Qaeda's Successor - Indrani Bagchi and M. Saleem Pandit (Times of India)
    Tuesday's Ayodhya attack is a deadly reminder of Lashkar-e-Taiba's core ideology.
    According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the Lashkar's agenda, as outlined in a pamphlet titled, Why Are We Waging Jihad, includes the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of India.
    The terrorist group started out as a wholly owned subsidiary of ISI, Pakistan's intelligence outfit, but has grown beyond its creator and is now regarded by many terrorism analysts as the successor to al-Qaeda.
    It propagates a narrow Islamist fundamentalism that is uncomfortably close to Saudi Wahhabism.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • United Church of Christ Adopts "Economic Leverage" (Formerly "Divestment") Proposal - Errin Haines
    The United Church of Christ voted Tuesday to use "economic leverage" to promote peace between Israel and Palestinians and to call for the dismantling of the Jewish state's security fence. A last-minute compromise was reached whereby no mention of divestment would be made.
        Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called the resolutions "functionally anti-Semitic." He accused the UCC, which has 1.3 million members, of holding Israel to a different moral standard. David Elcott, the American Jewish Committee's U.S. Director of Interreligious Affairs, said, "We understand Christian concerns about a wall, but we believe that saving human lives is more significant than property." (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • France: EU Will Never Accept Iranian Resumption of Nuclear Weapons Activity
    The EU will never accept a resumption of any nuclear arms activity by Iran, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Tuesday after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Jordan King Criticizes Muslim Extremists - Jamal Halaby
    The king of Jordan told Islamic scholars and clergy Monday that Muslim extremists are to blame for "malicious" attacks against their religion by non-Muslims. Terrorists "give justification to non-Muslims to judge Islam according to acts that Islam disavows, and subsequently interfere in Muslims' affairs," King Abdullah II told 180 religious leaders from 40 countries meeting in Amman. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF: Palestinian Terror Organizations Planning Increased Attacks in West Bank
    The director of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that Palestinian terror organizations are planning to increase attacks in the West Bank if their strategic goals are not achieved in the near future, Army Radio reported. Farkash said the standing of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had weakened, and that the possibility that he would succeed in changing the current trend of terror is very slim. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Agreement Seen on Egypt's Redeployment at Gaza Border - Gideon Alon
    Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi Farkash told the Knesset committee Tuesday that Egypt sees the stationing of 750 border guards as the first step in a more widespread deployment along the Egyptian-Israeli border. He said the agreement would allow them to be equipped with light arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
        A security source said Monday he expects the agreement with Egypt to be signed within two weeks. He said the Israel Defense Forces would not withdraw from the Philadelphi route before it assesses the effectiveness of the Egyptian force after it has been stationed there for "at least a few months." The source said Israel would continue to insist that Egypt take full responsibility for preventing smuggling between Egypt and Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Permits Egyptian Military Port in Sinai to Combat Smuggling - Aluf Benn
    Israel has agreed to allow Egypt to place a movable military port on the El Arish coast in the northern Sinai for the use of guard boats meant to prevent weapons smuggling. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Seeks Liberation of "All Palestine," Not Just West Bank and Gaza
    Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said in an interview Tuesday that Hamas has lost confidence in Abu Mazen, "who failed to implement what we have agreed upon." Al-Zahar asserted that "Hamas will keep its weapons in its hands and will defend any part of the homeland." Hamas, he said, sees the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Jerusalem [al-Quds] as one geographical unity and it will not be silent in Gaza if the West Bank is under attack by Israel. "Our national problem is not related only to the West Bank, Gaza, and al-Quds...but to Palestine, all [the territory of] Palestine." (Trans. Jonathan D. Halevi) (al-Hayat al-Jadida-PA, 5 Jul05)
  • Palestinian Mortar Fire in Gaza Continues
    Eight mortar shells were fired at Gaza settlements on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fatah Postpones Internal Elections
    Some Fatah leaders in the West Bank have strongly criticized the postponement of Fatah internal elections until after the legislative elections, as decided in a Fatah executive committee meeting in Amman. Hani al-Masri, a columnist affiliated with Fatah, wrote on Tuesday of the senior Fatah leadership: "They are clinging to their chairs, they realize that Fatah's rank and file and grass-root supporters will not elect them." Masri argued that the executive committee wanted the Fatah primaries to involve only hundreds of carefully-selected local leaders. He said the Fatah old guard are worried that their chances of getting elected will diminish drastically if thousands of young Fatah members are allowed to choose Fatah's candidates for the legislative elections. (Palestinian Information Center-UK)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Investing in Gaza - Thomas L. Friedman
    The Palestine Securities Exchange, located in the West Bank town of Nablus, has skyrocketed since the Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire went into effect in February. And check out Paltel, the Palestinian phone company. It's almost as hot as Google. Palestinian restaurants in Ramallah are full again. Israel is again awash in tourists. Even Hamas cannot ignore how much people want this calm to hold. Ghazi Hamad, editor of the Hamas newspaper Al Risalat, said to me, "One reason Hamas agreed to the cease-fire was to give people a chance to breathe and rest." Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, has not put his security forces in order. I spent a day in Gaza and did not see one Palestinian policeman, but I saw green Hamas flags everywhere. (New York Times)
  • The Prez and the Hit Squad - Amir Taheri
    The winner in Iran's recent presidential election, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, makes no secret that he is a professional revolutionary, having spent all his adult years in the service of the Khomeinist movement. But it is almost certain that he was not directly involved in the occupation of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979-80.
        Ahmadinejad's presence at the killing of three Kurdish dissident leaders in Vienna on July 13, 1989, however, is an established fact. He was wounded in the shoot-out and spent a day in a Vienna hospital before being whisked out of Austria with a diplomatic passport. (New York Post)
  • Syria at a Crossroads - Stephen Glain
    The Syrian economy is stagnating even as the population (now at 18.4 million) is expanding rapidly. Petroleum, long the leading resource, is being depleted at such a rate that Syria will be a net importer of oil in only a few years. And when oil income dwindles, so, too, may the government subsidies with which the regime has curried public favor. The most charitable assessment of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, 39, is that he is the Syrian everyman's fellow inmate. Syria today remains a garrisoned state. Human rights organizations estimate that thousands remain in Syrian jails, and there have been many reports of systematic torture. A Western diplomat in Damascus told me that Syria is playing poker when everyone else is playing chess. It is an apt characterization of a regime that is too insular and backward-looking to realize it is waging a war abandoned long ago by its allies, peddling the remains of the pan-Arab dream. (Smithsonian Magazine)
  • Arabian Might - Carla Power
    With benchmarks for oil rising fast, Middle East economies grew 5.6% last year, recording the highest per capita growth rate in a generation and triggering an unexpected golden era that shows no sign of ending soon. Last year Saudi Arabia based its budget on a forecast of $19 a barrel; the average price over the year was $35, giving Riyadh the biggest surplus in Saudi history. (Newsweek)
  • Observations:

    Disengage from the Rhetoric - Hillel Halkin (New York Sun)

    • Disengagement from Gaza will take place. Yet its ultimate success depends not only on Jerusalem but also on Washington. Recent U.S. declarations, most but not all coming from the State Department, have criticized Israel for continued "settlement activity," even in those areas near the 1967 Israeli-Jordanian armistice lines with large Jewish concentrations that have been publicly acknowledged by the president to be unsurrenderable; and reiterated the traditional U.S. position that any changes in the 1967 lines have to be mutually agreed upon in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
    • The assumption that a formal Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty is not achievable is the entire logic behind Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan. In the absence of such a treaty, Israel must act on its own to demarcate its permanent borders.
    • These borders must strive to be both militarily and demographically optimal, that is, to include within them as many strategic assets and Jewish settlements as possible while freeing a maximum of Palestinians from Israeli domination.
    • An Israel existing within such borders, even if unacceptable to the Palestinians in principle, stands a reasonable chance of being tolerated by them if it is backed by Israeli military might, a relatively unified Israeli society, and - the support of the United States. This support is crucial.
    • To continue to insist on a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty is therefore to continue to insist on never-ending Israeli-Palestinian territorial conflict.

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