Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 2, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Terror Hits 18-Month High, Despite Truce - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    July was the worst month for terrorist attacks in the last year and a half - with 436 incidents, including the firing of 142 mortar shells.
    In February, when the truce started, there were only 129 incidents.
    21 Israelis were killed and 238 wounded by Palestinian terrorists during the first seven months of 2005, according to figures published by the Shin Bet security service.
    Planned terror attacks thwarted by the Shin Bet during this period included abductions of soldiers and settlers in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, suicide bombings in the heart of Israel, shooting attacks on Israeli vehicles, and a suicide bombing on the Temple Mount. (Ynet News)

    See also Troops Find Tunnel Under Gaza Settlement (Ha'aretz)
    IDF soldiers uncovered a tunnel into the Gush Katif settlement of Neve Dekalim dug by Islamic Jihad operatives, just hours before the completion of its construction.
    The Shin Bet security service said suicide bombers were to infiltrate through the tunnel into the settlement.

Palestinian Police Receive Vehicles from EU (WAFA-PA)
    Palestinian Police Chief Brig.-Gen. Alaa Husni said Monday that his forces in Gaza received 100 cars and 50 motorcycles from the Spanish government, in addition to other police equipment.

PA Coverage Restriction Ires Journalists - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The PA on Saturday issued a ban on the publication of any news related to its security forces.
    The PA Interior Ministry said the ban applied to local, Arab, and international news organizations working in Palestinian territories.
    The ban follows complaints by some Palestinians that the PA security forces are partly responsible for the growing state of lawlessness and anarchy in the West Bank and Gaza.

Property Market in Gaza Booming - Joshua Mitnick (Washington Times)
    Real estate prices are skyrocketing in Gaza amid optimism that Israel's planned withdrawal next month will attract hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and a wave of development.
    The most dramatic jump in value has been for properties adjacent to Jewish settlements and military bases.

Israeli Zoo in Gaza Poised to Evacuate Animals - Jonathan Saul (Reuters)
    Hundreds of snakes, birds, and other animals from the 10-acre Katifari zoo in Gush Katif will join the 9,000 settlers in the evacuation.
    "The decision has been taken by the management to find homes for them ahead of the expulsion," said zookeeper Eli Moses.
    A spokesman for the Disengagement Authority said, "The animals are to be sent to a zoo and other animal centers (inside Israel)."
    "I will visit them wherever they are. They are my family," Moses said.


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  • ''Today Gaza, Tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem''
    The Palestinian Authority has commissioned tens of thousands of flags as well as mugs, bumper stickers, and posters with the slogan ''Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem'' - props meant to portray the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as an achievement of the Abbas government. The PA is spending $1.7 million on withdrawal celebrations. Hamas is striking back, preparing for military-style victory parades and sewing thousands of martial uniforms and flags in the group's trademark Islamic green. (AP/New York Times)
  • U.S.: Iran Seen 10 Years from Nuclear Bomb - Dafna Linzer
    A U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources. What is clear is that Iran is acquiring and mastering technologies that could be diverted to bombmaking. A senior intelligence official said, "it is the judgment of the intelligence community that, left to its own devices, Iran is determined to build nuclear weapons." (Washington Post)
        For a contrasting view, see New Israeli Estimate on Iranian Nukes: 2008 to 2012 - Orly Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Agrees to 750 Egyptian Troops Guarding Gaza Border - Aluf Benn and Amos Harel
    Israel and Egypt have agreed in principle to a deployment of 750 Egyptian soldiers along the Philadelphi route. The Egyptian presence is supposed to help stop arms smuggling from Sinai to Gaza. The Egyptians will apparently deploy in September, and Israel will withdraw from the Philadelphi route in October.
        According to the agreement, Egyptian forces are not to bring tanks or anti-tank weapons, or construct permanent military infrastructure. Its soldiers will carry light arms only, and be outfitted with observation equipment and armored vehicles suitable for police. The Egyptians announced that they would shortly be dispatching a large force of security advisors to assist the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
  • Assad Regime Seen Shaky - Amos Harel
    The stability of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime will come under threat during the year ahead, Israeli defense officials believe. "Assad is making every possible mistake," a senior defense official said. "He is on a collision course with the U.S. - and under certain circumstances, this could cost him his hold on power." In addition, the U.S. is not happy that Syria has yet to implement fully UN Security Council Resolution 1559 - Syrian intelligence officials continue to operate in Lebanon and Damascus is preventing Beirut from deploying its army in the south of the country, along the border with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Sweating It in Syria - Amir Taheri
    Iran's President-elect Ahmadinejad refused to hold substantive talks with Assad during his rushed visit to Tehran. Ahamdinejad believes that Syria has lost much of its value for Iran, and with Syria out of Lebanon, Iran itself could become the major foreign influence in the country. Shiites, accounting for 40% of the population, represent the largest community in Lebanon and provide Iran with the strongest domestic base any foreign power would need in that country.
        The demise of Saddam Hussein means Iran no longer needs Syria to counterbalance Iraq within Arab regional politics. It is hard to see where Assad's Baathist regime could go from here, except out. (New York Post)
        See also Time to Tighten the Noose on Syria - Peter Schweizer (U.S. News)
  • Palestinians See Jerusalem as Next Battlefield After Gaza - Danny Rubinstein
    Thousands of Arabs have been added recently to the population of Jerusalem's Old City. Hundreds of Arab families who fear that the separation fence will cut them off from various services are abandoning their residences in distant neighborhoods and returning to the Old City. From the point of view of the Palestinian leadership, Jerusalem is the next battlefield following the completion of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
        There almost certainly isn't a single Palestinian who believes that the disengagement from Gaza will be followed by the implementation of the "road map" plan and the renewal of the peace process. Sharon has repeatedly said that the road map means, first and foremost, the dismantling of the Palestinians' terror infrastructures and an end to the incitement. But the Palestinians say there is no chance of this happening. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Kingdom and the Power - Gerald Posner
    The death of the octogenarian King Fahd of Saudi Arabia - incapacitated since a 1995 stroke - had been largely expected since he was hospitalized in May. Saudi Arabia has no formal procedure for succession, but Crown Prince Abdullah has effectively run the day-to-day operations of the government for the past decade and Fahd's death merely formalizes Abdullah's powers. Prince Sultan, the longtime defense minister and a brother of King Fahd, has been elevated to the title of crown prince. Yet Abdullah is over 80 and Sultan is in his late 70s. Thus, the potential crisis comes not with the post-Fahd succession, but upon Abdullah's death. (New York Times)
        See also Next Generation of Saudi Princes Jostling for Power - John R. Bradley
    The founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz, had at least 40 sons. The passing of the second generation, of whom Prince Sultan and the interior minister Prince Naif are the last, is not far off, and is likely to lead to competition that could be profoundly destabilizing. All the more dangerous is the fact that the various armed forces are commanded by competing princes. Jealous of their privileges and faced with new challenges to their status, they may have to fight to maintain their authority. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Israel's Withdrawal Will Make No Difference to the Arabs - Barry Rubin
    The total end of any Israeli presence for about half the Palestinians will not have much impact on the Arab states in the region. The usual stereotypes will hold in the Arab media: Israel can do nothing good. The regimes need to demonize Israel to justify their continued dictatorship and misrule.
        What about the conclusion that the withdrawal proves Israel is weak and shows terrorism is working? There will be those in Hamas and Hizballah that will make such claims, but they will not be repeated too often by others. Why? Because the Arab states and Iran do not want the image of a weak Israel. To be useful, Israel must be seen as strong, as an imminent threat. Only if this is so can the "Zionist menace" justify continued dictatorship, high military spending, and a denial of internal freedom. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sinai Bombings Renew Old Tensions Between Bedouins and Egyptian Authorities - Hassan M. Fattah
    After the Taba bombing last year, Egyptian authorities blamed the Bedouin tribes in Sinai for not maintaining control of the region. In the subsequent police roundup, Egyptian security forces arrested more than 2,500 Bedouins from northern Sinai, Human Rights Watch reported in January. A Bedouin man admitted under questioning that he sold explosives to a Palestinian who led the bombings, the government said. (New York Times)
        See also My Vacation in Sharm e-Sheikh - Daoud Kuttab
    We were in Sharm e-Sheikh over the July 23 weekend for our annual family vacation. One of the main topics of discussion was why the attack netted so many Egyptian casualties. Perhaps Egyptian security had received a tip minutes before the blast, which explains why they fortified protection outside the main hotels frequented by foreigners. The bomber reportedly drove past one of these checkpoints and detonated his device near the old market, killing many Egyptians.
        Another theory is that the attack was connected to angry Sinai Bedouins. They had it good during the years when Israel controlled the peninsula and once Egypt regained sovereignty, most of the best hotel and resorts jobs went to mainland Egyptians, leaving only menial work for the Bedouins. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Challenge for Muslims - Editorial (Chicago Tribune)

    • After every suicide bombing, we search for meaning, the reasons that the bombers have left behind in their trail of human misery and destruction. We seek clues for why these men and women, often from affluent homes, embrace the kind of seething hatred that allows someone to believe that killing innocents is the pathway to heaven.
    • These days, answers often are filtered through the political prism of Iraq. But the debate about whether U.S. policies in Iraq or elsewhere are to blame for suicide bombings or other terrorist acts is largely misguided and futile. It not only blames the victim for the crime, but allows the terrorists to dictate American foreign policy and specify the terms upon which they may be persuaded to stop the attacks.
    • The question of what motivates suicide bombers "will not be answered by focusing on the grievances by which the terrorists later claimed to have been propelled: The sociopath's motivations are revealed in his behavior, not in his grandiose self-justifications," military history professor Caleb Carr wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal.
    • Murderous hate has been nurtured in many Arab countries through a combination of corrupt and repressive leadership and brutal intolerance for dissent or human rights. It's been fueled by regimes anxious to deflect anger from themselves to the Great Satan.
    • The result often is a culture that glorifies death. As one Hamas leader said: "Our suicide operations are a message...that our people love death." Until that culture changes, nothing else will. This war of ideas won't be won until suicide bombers occupy a place of contempt in Islamic culture somewhere below child molesters.

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