Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 20, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

1,000 Arab Missiles Can Hit Israel - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
    The Arab countries surrounding Israel have 1,000 missiles that can fire 500 tons of explosives at any spot in the country, the former head of the Defense Ministry department responsible for ballistic missile defense, Uzi Rubin, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday.
    "This is a missile threat equivalent to a simultaneous attack of some 120 fighter-bomber jets," he said.
    "If Israel does not present a credible response, the missile threat will endanger the security of its citizens, limit its military and political freedom of action, constitute a serious obstacle to any political agreement, and endanger the stability of any agreement that is reached," Rubin said.
    Syria alone has 400-500 missiles, Rubin said.

Rajoub Rejects Sharing Power With Hamas Before Elections - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    PA National Security Advisor Jibril Rajoub rejected Hamas's demand to establish a "national committee" consisting of all the Palestinian factions to oversee the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
    "They can make any demand they want, but there is only one legitimate authority that is authorized to govern the Palestinian people until elections are held," Rajoub said.

Security Chief: Palestinian Terrorists Exploit Israel's Humanitarian Entry Laws - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
    Head of the Shin Bet security service Yuval Diskin told the Knesset Interior Committee Tuesday that of the 225 Israeli Arabs involved in terror, 25 (11%) had come to live in Israel through family reunification.
    16 were involved suicide bombings and other attacks that killed 19 Israelis and wounded 83.
    Diskin said Palestinians had perpetrated 25,375 attacks since the beginning of the violence in 2000, killing 1,048 Israelis and injuring 5,600.
    He said there had been 142 suicide bombings which caused more than half of the casualties.
    "We will have to continue protecting the security of Israelis until the Palestinians let white doves fly," Diskin told the committee.

Tourism to Israel Up Nearly 30% (Tourism Ministry/IMRA)
    864,200 tourists entered Israel in the first six months of 2005, 27% more than last year, Israel's Ministry of Tourism said Tuesday.
    Tourist arrivals in June jumped 29% to 157,000.
    "We are witnessing enormous momentum in tourism," says Israeli Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Key Job for Hizballah in Lebanon's New Cabinet - Ramsay Short
    Lebanon's new 24-member cabinet was finally approved by the pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, but the new government is primarily made up of an anti-Syrian opposition alliance. Hizballah, alongside the other Shia party, Amal, gained four portfolios between them including the energy ministry for the militant group's representative, Mohammed Fneish. Hizballah won 30 seats in the 128-seat parliament. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Hizballah Must Be Disarmed, Israel Says - Julie Stahl (CNSNews)
  • Civilian Toll in Iraq Reaches Nearly 25,000 - Hassan M. Fattah
    A report by a London-based group called Iraq Body Count, using a statistical tally of civilian deaths reported in the news media, has counted 24,865 civilians killed since the invasion of Iraq began in March 2003. Michael E. O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the Iraq Body Count figures were within the realm of reason. "We've used their data before," he said. "It's probably not too far off."  (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA-Hamas Clashes Wound 15 - Arnon Regular
    At least 15 Palestinians were wounded Tuesday in clashes between PA security forces and Hamas activists in Jabalya and Gaza City. For the first time, the Palestinian Preventive Security force, headed by Rashid Abu Shabak, deployed armed members of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and units known as "death squads," according to Palestinian sources. The Palestinian police prefers to deploy the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades rather than face a head-on clash with Hamas, which has fielded a group of its own, known as the Murabatun.
        In Ramallah, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, Abbas's bureau chief, warned that "Hamas is playing with fire and...the PA will have no choice but to defend itself and the national project. If not, only chaos will remain in the Gaza Strip and we will lose everything." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Gunmen Open Fire on Fatah in Gaza - Arnon Regular
    Hamas gunmen opened fire Wednesday on a Fatah command center and on the home of a senior Fatah official, despite a cease-fire deal worked out overnight between the two sides. Al Jazeera TV reported five people were wounded in the latest clashes on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Takes Part of Northern Gaza - Ali Waked
    Hamas forces took control of the Tel-Zaatar area in northern Gaza Tuesday amid heavy fighting with PA forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas in the Gaza Strip. (Ynet News)
        See also Fatah Bans Coverage of PA Clashes with Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday instructed local reporters and photographers to refrain from covering the clashes between Hamas and PA security forces. The syndicate is controlled by members of the ruling Fatah party. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Islamic Jihad Terrorists Killed in West Bank
    In an arrest operation Tuesday, Israeli security forces killed Ibrahim Abhara and Warad Abhara, heads of the Islamic Jihad terror infrastructure in Yamun, northwest of Jenin. Forces encircled the building in which several wanted terrorists were hiding. Two Palestinians surrendered, but others remained inside. As the forces began to demolish the structure, two terrorists exited the building, wearing flak jackets and armed with guns and grenades, and opened fire at the soldiers. The soldiers returned fire.
        Ibrahim Abhara, 28, was an expert in the production of explosive belts, and was involved in planning numerous suicide bombing attacks, shooting attacks, and the detonation of explosive devices. Warad Abhara, 27, Ibrahim's top aid, was also an explosives expert. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Six Palestinian Mortars Explode in Neve Dekalim in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    Six mortar shells fired by Palestinian terrorists landed and exploded in Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif Tuesday evening. A civilian was treated for shock and one building was damaged in the barrage. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Disengagement:

  • Tens of Thousands Join Long March to Save the Settlements - Ian MacKinnon
    Israeli security forces tried Tuesday to halt in their tracks tens of thousands of settlers opposed to a Gaza pullout who mounted the largest Jewish gesture of civil disobedience in the history of the country. (Times-UK)
  • Nation, Family Divided in Standoff Over Gaza - Dan Ephron
    Shaul Ariel and his son met Tuesday on opposite sides. The father joined protesters from all over the country trying to march into the Gaza Strip to prevent next month's evacuation of Jewish settlers. The son, a captain in the Israeli Army, was part of a huge force sent to block their advance. Ariel described his family as politically diverse. His wife supports the Gaza withdrawal, while one of his daughters was among the protesters. (Boston Globe)
  • Battle of Wills Over Gaza Pull-Out - Matthew Price
    If you want to test the level of quiet determination in the settler community, come to Kfar Maimon. Thousands are here - men, women, children, the elderly, many dressed in the trademark orange which has come to symbolize this protest movement. (BBC News)
        See also The Heat May Rule - Nadav Shragai
    Kfar Maimon is an Orthodox community whose residents opened their homes and their hearts to the demonstrators, providing running water and toilets. Common to the leadership group was the desire to prevent violence, almost at any price, and there has been almost no violence. Pullout opponents and the IDF and the police are not struggling with each other, but against the intolerable heat and humidity. (Ha'aretz)
  • Knesset Defeats Bills to Postpone Pullout - Gideon Alon
    The Knesset on Wednesday defeated three bills postponing the disengagement plan. The primary bill was defeated by a margin of 69-41. (Ha'aretz)
        See also below Observations: In Gaza, a Test Case for Peace - Ambassador Daniel Ayalon (Washington Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinians Missing an Opportunity, Again - Yoel Marcus
    As we watch the Palestinians acting crazy a month before Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, sending out suicide bombers and shelling Israeli towns, there does seem to be a screw loose somewhere. Sharon's plan for a Gaza pullout should have been welcomed by the Palestinians as the best news that ever came their way. I don't remember them being offered an independent Palestinian state, or the return of any land seized in 1948, when they were living under Jordanian occupation.
        Every time Palestinian organizations get into an argument, they shoot at the Jews. In the last four days, more than 100 Kassam rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israeli settlements. When Sharon says there will be no withdrawal under fire, he doesn't mean that the disengagement will be called off. What he means is that the army will move en masse into Gaza and put out the fire. (Ha'aretz)
  • What Cease-Fire? - Barry Rubin
    There has been a formal cease-fire since February 2005, but the Palestinian terror war against Israel continues. In the five months between February 8 and July 8, Palestinians carried out 812 attacks on Israeli targets. In thousands more cases attacks were disrupted by Israeli arrests or defensive operations. Nearly half (47%) of these attacks have been claimed by Fatah, the ruling group in the PA, into whose hands the international community now proposes to place $3 billion in aid.
        Continuing casualties on the Palestinian side are due to the continuing war conducted by Palestinian political organizations. If the Palestinians stopped all attacks on Israel, Israel would not conduct any operations against the Palestinians. But even when Israel stops all military operations against the Palestinians, the attacks continue. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    In Gaza, a Test Case for Peace - Ambassador Daniel Ayalon (Washington Post)

    • Next month thousands of Israelis will be uprooted from their homes in 25 settlements, against the backdrop of widespread political opposition and intensifying Palestinian terrorism.
    • Prime Minister Sharon is boldly determined to move forward with disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank out of a deep conviction that it is critical to Israel's future. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership has failed to meet him halfway. The Palestinian Authority's refusal to disarm terrorist organizations has enabled the terrorists to regroup and renew deadly attacks against Israelis, casting an ominous shadow on the possibility of future progress.
    • While Israel is committed to completing the disengagement as planned, we will not sit idly by while our civilians are under attack. Time is running out for the Palestinian leadership to confront the terrorists. Should it fail to do so, Israel will be forced to take the necessary steps to defend its people.
    • Disengagement is an immense undertaking aimed at reducing friction between Israelis and Palestinians, jump-starting the peace process, and providing the Palestinians with a unique opportunity to build institutions of responsible self-governance.
    • At the same time, it puts a terrible burden on thousands of Israelis called on to leave their homes against their will. Many have lived there for more than three generations. Living, breathing communities, some more than 30 years old, will simply vanish. Businesses, factories, and farms will be shut down. Schools, synagogues, and cemeteries will be relocated. The removal of graves, including those of terrorism victims, will be especially heart-wrenching.
    • Public anxiety in Israel has increased because of the resurgence of Palestinian terrorism, including suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, and rocket attacks. The terrorist organizations must be disarmed as called for in the "road map" if Palestinian statehood is to be achieved. This is non-negotiable.
    • Gaza is both the opportunity and the test for the Palestinian leadership. Will that leadership prove itself capable of governing a functioning democratic society, free from terrorism and focused on improving the lives of its citizens, or will it squander yet another opportunity?

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