Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 19, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas: Kassam Rockets Brought Pullout - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar on Monday rejected PA claims that firing rockets on Israel was causing damage to Palestinian interests, saying the attacks had brought about the Israeli decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.
    "History has proven that the rockets have been in the interests of the Palestinians. The rockets have forced Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, and they will end the occupation in the future."
    "It's the resistance, and not the negotiations, that brought about the end of the occupation," Zahar said.

UN Urges Hizballah to Join Lebanese Army (Reuters)
    Terje Roed Larsen, the UN Special Envoy overseeing Syrian withdrawal and the restoration of Lebanon's sovereignty, called on Lebanon's militant Hizballah movement on Monday to join the country's army, saying there was no logic to the group keeping its own militia.

Palestinian Leader: "The American and British Peoples Will Pay the Price" (MEMRI)
    Al-Jazeera television interviewed Palestinian National Council member Mamoun Al-Tamimi on the London bombings, on July 12, 2005:
    "This operation will bring down the [British] government. Blair will fall just like Aznar [of Spain] did."
    "Since this war is ongoing, the people you strike have the right to strike back at you, in your home, your country, anywhere."
    "The American and British peoples will pay the price if they don't put an end to these governments."

2,000-Year-Old Torah Scroll Fragments Found in Judean Desert (AP/Ynet News)
    Two fragments from a 2,000-year-old parchment scroll have been found in the Judean Desert - the first such finding in decades, Bar-Ilan University archeologist Prof. Chanan Eshel said Friday.
    The two small pieces of brown animal skin, inscribed in Hebrew with verses from the Book of Leviticus, are from caves in Nachal Arugot, a canyon near the Dead Sea where Jews hid from the Romans in the second century, Eshel said.

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Hamas Summer Camp in Gaza - Photo (AFP/Yahoo)


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • EU Ministers Pile Diplomatic Pressure on Syria - Daniel Dombey
    EU foreign ministers chaired by British foreign minister Jack Straw, under the British presidency of the EU, on Monday agreed to increase diplomatic pressure on Syria. The EU wants Syria to end all interference in Lebanon, crack down on insurgents entering Iraq, and end its backing for anti-Israeli groups. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Iraq Accuses Syria of Not Stopping Insurgents - Louis Meixler
    Iraq's interior minister accused Syria on Monday of not making a serious effort to crack down on insurgents in its territory or prevent them from crossing into Iraq, adding that he had pictures and addresses of militant leaders in Syria. Bayan Jabr also said many Jordanians and Iraqi expatriates in Jordan were still succeeding in getting significant financial support to the militants. (AP/Yahoo)
  • Syria Chokes Lebanese Border - Katherine Zoepf
    Syria has suddenly increased inspections on commercial traffic coming from Lebanon, leaving hundreds of trucks stranded at border crossings for more than a week. More than 300 trucks used to cross into Syria daily, they say, but now no more than about 40 are allowed to enter. The new border inspections, which began about three weeks ago, are putting a huge strain on Lebanon's farms and industries, which must ship their products through Syria in order to sell to other Arab markets. Judith Harik, a former political science professor at the American University of Beirut, said Syria could be taking revenge for its humiliating forced retreat from Lebanon. (New York Times)
  • British Seek New Laws to Confront Terror - Alan Cowell
    British authorities are readying new laws that would give the police stronger powers to try to pre-empt terror attacks and to silence clerics regarded as "preachers of hate." Lord Charles Falconer, the government minister in charge of the judiciary, said Sunday that the proposed legislation would seek to outlaw "indirect incitement" to commit terrorist acts, to prevent "acts preparatory" to terrorism, and to prevent "providing or receiving training" in terrorism. The proposed laws would permit the imprisonment or deportation of people "attacking the values of the West" or "glorifying the acts of suicide bombers."  (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Shelling from Gaza Continues - Arieh O'Sullivan
    A foreign worker was wounded on Monday evening by a mortar shell which hit the Gaza Strip settlement of Gadid. On Monday morning, six mortars were fired at Israeli settlements and an IDF post in the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas Claims Responsibility for Shelling Settlements (Peoples Daily-China)
  • PA, Hamas Clashes Resume in Gaza - Ali Waked
    At least seven Palestinians were injured in the northern Gaza Strip as clashes between PA security forces and Hamas terrorists resumed Tuesday. Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades members joined PA forces in the battle against Hamas. At one point, Fatah members set a Hamas religious studies center on fire. There are increasing reports of Palestinian residents in the northern Gaza Strip and Khan Yunis areas who have been confronting Hamas terrorists in a bid to prevent them from launching rockets and mortars at Israeli targets. (Ynet News)
  • PA Seeks UN Condemnation of Israel's Security Fence
    Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa is trying to get the UN to renew its condemnation of Israel's separation fence, and is considering requesting either an emergency General Assembly session or a Security Council meeting to discuss the matter, UN sources said. European countries led by France and Russia oppose the idea, arguing that the eve of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza is the worst possible time for such an initiative. America also opposes it, for the same reason, the sources said, as do some Arab countries. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Truth in Labeling - Martin Peretz
    To usher in the Israeli disengagement from Gaza, Palestinian militants hurled in a day and a half more than a hundred rockets and mortar bombs across the 1949 lines into the Negev. Forgive my insistence on truth in labeling. But the habit of naming these lines "1967 borders" is meant to deceive, as if it was Israel that broke the ceasefire and not Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, and as if all the troubles started with the occupation. This little correction reminds that the Palestinians had not and have not yet come to terms with the very existence of Israel. After all, the PLO was founded long before Israel held any part of the West Bank or Gaza and while Jerusalem was divided, with the Western Wall and other Jewish holy sites in Arab hands. (New Republic)
  • How Do We Stop the Suicide Bombers? - Niall Ferguson
    Until ten days ago, London Underground bomber Shehzad Tanweer might have been mistaken for an example of successful racial integration. He now looks like the proof that no amount of economic, educational, and recreational opportunity can prevent the son of a Muslim immigrant from being converted into a religious fanatic and a terrorist. The problem today is not immigration per se; it is the fact that a pernicious ideology has been allowed to infiltrate Europe's immigrant communities. And that has happened because we have blindly allowed our country to be a haven for fanatics.
        "If al-Qaeda indeed carried out this act, it is a great victory for it," declared Dr. Hani al-Siba'i to al Jazeera the day after the London bombings. "It rubbed the noses of the world's eight most powerful countries in the mud." He went on to say that it was legitimate for al-Qaeda to target civilians because "the term 'civilians' does not exist in Islamic religious law in the modern Western sense. People are either of Dar al-Harb [the domain of war, meaning territory ruled by non-Muslims] or not." Dr. al-Siba'i is the Director of the al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies - in London. The writer is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Secret World Beneath the Israeli-Egyptian Border - Marie Colvin
    I lived in Rafah for a week with the "tunnel people" who smuggle weapons from Egypt to Gaza. A Kalashnikov rifle sells for $200 on the Egyptian side, but fetches $2,000 in Gaza. Bullets - 50 cents in Egypt, $8 in Gaza - are even more profitable. The tunnels are financed by wealthy families who run them as businesses. Guns used to come from Egypt and Yemen; now the great bulk come from Darfur in Sudan, where civil war is raging. (London Sunday Times)
  • Save Resolution 1559 - Ehud Yaari
    Will Hizballah Secretary General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah be allowed to freeze the implementation of the last paragraphs of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which demands the subsequent disarmament of the country's militias? There's no doubt that a mood of depression and distress has come over Hizballah of late and has colored all Nasrallah's recent speeches and declarations, including the explicit threats he broadcast during the recent election campaign against anyone who dared demand that he disarm.
        Only outside intervention can set 1559 in motion again. And that will require Security Council reconfirmation of the resolution, a Western decision to delay dealing with Lebanon's requests for an improved economic package, and above all, a U.S.-EU focus on Iran and Syria. There are already signs that pressure on Bashar al-Asad could force him to stop the weapons transfers from Iran via Syria to Hizballah. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Observations:

    Are There Signs of a Jordanian-Palestinian Reengagement? - Dan Diker and Pinchas Inbari (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • For the first time in Arab diplomatic history, the Jordanians drafted a peace proposal in March 2005 calling for normalization of relations with Israel before the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. King Abdullah's proposal omits past Arab preconditions to peace with Israel, such as return to the 1949 Armistice lines and repatriation of Palestinian refugees. Arab League delegates reported that at least 13 of the 22 Arab countries expressed initial support for the Jordanian proposal.
    • In an unexpected last-minute switch, former Jordanian monarch King Hussein passed the throne to his oldest son Abdullah, who had married the Palestinian Rania, instead of the kingdom going to his full brother, Prince Hassan. Abdullah's Palestinian family pedigree has served him well among Palestinians in Jordan.
    • More intensified consultation between the PA and Jordan since 2004 reflects the growing concern that widespread chaos in the West Bank threatens the continuation of the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority. As a result, some prominent West Bank Palestinians requested that Jordan send security forces to the West Bank to help establish law and order. King Abdullah has agreed to send several thousand members of the Jordanian-commanded Palestinian Badr Brigade, comprised of Palestinian refugees of the 1967 war who are part of the Jordan-based Palestine Liberation Army.
    • There are close family ties between West Bank towns such as Nablus and Hebron and East Bank towns such as Salt and Karak. It was King Hussein himself who used to say in the 1950s and 1960s that "Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan." The political roots of the links between the East and West Banks actually predate Jordan's annexation of the West Bank after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Jordan was formally part of Britain's Mandate over Palestine until March 1946, when it gained its independence.
    • A Palestinian-Jordanian confederation of some variety seems to be the most natural political alternative from historical, cultural and ethnic standpoints. The idea should also be reconsidered by American policy-makers, for whom a viable and contiguous Palestinian state is a stated policy goal.

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