Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 15, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Warns of New Attacks on London - David Leppard (Sunday Times-UK)
    American intelligence chiefs at the U.S. Department for Homeland Security have warned that al-Qaeda terrorists are plotting to drive hijacked fuel tankers into petrol stations in an effort to cause mass casualties in London and U.S. cities in the next few weeks.
    In the U.S., attacks involving suicide drivers are planned for New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles prior to September 19, according to the warning.
    In California and Australia, authorities are introducing remote-controlled shut-down devices to stop any fuel tanker if it is hijacked.

Egyptian Police Uncover Terror Cell Linked to Sharm Bombings (Ha'aretz)
    Egyptian security forces uncovered a terrorist cell linked to last month's deadly bombings in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Al Ahram reported on Sunday.
    Police arrested three men who authorities believe helped three suicide bombers plan and prepare the attacks.
    Police, acting on a tip-off, raided a farm owned by a Palestinian in Al Arish on the Sinai coast, where they recovered nearly a ton of explosives.
    More explosives and firearms were found at the hideouts of the suspects.

Al-Qaeda's Zarqawi in Northern Iraq, Turkey Suspect Says (Reuters)
    A suspected al-Qaeda militant arrested by Turkish police last week said Sunday that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of America's most wanted men, was hiding in northern Iraq.
    Luia Sakra, charged by a Turkish court last Thursday with plotting to bomb Israeli cruise boats in southern Turkey, said he had met Zarqawi in Iraq, the Referans daily said.
    Sakra, a Syrian-born bomb-making expert, said he had received training with explosives in camps run by al-Qaeda in northern Iraq.
    Turkish security sources say Sakra is the top figure in the al-Qaeda network in Turkey and is thought to have played a key role in bombings in Istanbul in November 2003 that killed more than 60 people.
    Turkish police found a large cache of weapons at a villa recently bought by Sakra in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya.

Fatah Gunmen Storm PA Offices in West Bank (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
    Dozens of Fatah members, some of them armed, stormed into a government building in Kalkilya in the West Bank on Saturday to demand jobs, witnesses said.
    "The offices will be closed until our demands for employment are met," one Fatah member told the employees, who complied immediately.

Useful Reference:

The Pullout from Gaza: Map and Profiles of Israeli Communities (New York Times)

Profiles of Families in Neve Dekalim (New York Times)

History of Israeli Settlement in Gaza (AP/Boston Globe)

The Disengagement Plan: An Opportunity for Peace (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

Latest News on Disengagement
(Conference of Presidents)
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Closes Gaza Strip to Israelis as Disengagement Starts
    Israel's defense forces shut the Gaza Strip to Israelis at midnight Sunday as the government started the final phase of its withdrawal from the area, an army statement said. For the next two days, Israeli forces will go house-to-house and ask residents who have stayed past the deadline to evacuate peacefully. After that, the military and police will begin removing remaining settlers forcefully. (Bloomberg)
  • Hamas Chiefs Insist Fight Goes On
    Hamas leaders made a rare public appearance together Saturday in Gaza to assert the Palestinian militant group's right to continue its armed campaign against Israel. "Hamas confirms it is committed to armed resistance," Ismail Haniya said. The Hamas leaders positioned themselves in front of their green flag and draped themselves in the group's color, defying PA officials, who said on Friday that only the Palestinian flag should be used to celebrate Israel's withdrawal. (BBC News)
        See also Hamas Vows to Continue Armed Fight
    A senior Hamas member in Gaza, Mahmud Zahar, said: "This army will continue to defend our homeland as long as one inch of Palestine remains occupied." (Gulf Times-Qatar)
        See also Fatah Armed Wing Praises Hamas on Keeping Guns
    The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah movement, Sunday praised a statement by Hamas that it intends to hold on to its weapons after Israel withdraws from Gaza. (DPA/Ha'aretz)
  • Ahmadinejad Fills Cabinet With Hard-Liners - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iran's new president nominated a cabinet on Sunday that has hard-liners in all key ministries and is likely to lead to more confrontation in the country's dispute with Washington and Europe over its nuclear program. Not one of the 21 ministers that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nominated is known to be pro-democratic reform in Iran. The proposed foreign minister is Manouchehr Mottaki, a conservative lawmaker who has criticized Iran's nuclear negotiations with the Europeans, saying the country should adopt a tougher position and make no concessions. Several other proposed ministers are either members of the Revolutionary Guards, or have a history of cooperating with the Guards and security agencies, which take hard-line positions on Iran's nuclear program. (AP/Yahoo)
        See also Unrest in Iran's Kurdish Region Leaves 17 Dead, Hundreds Wounded - Nazila Fathi (New York Times)
  • Inside Iran's Secret War for Iraq - Michael Ware
    The U.S. military's new nemesis in Iraq is Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, who is working for Iran. According to a U.S. military intelligence document, al-Sheibani heads a network of insurgents created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards with the express purpose of committing violence against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. The U.S. believes they train in Lebanon, in Baghdad's predominantly Shi'ite Sadr City district, and "in another country," and have detonated at least 37 bombs against U.S. forces this year in Baghdad alone. Perhaps most troubling are signs that the rising influence of Iran is exacerbating sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites, pulling Iraq closer to all-out civil war. A TIME investigation reveals an Iranian plan for gaining influence in Iraq that began before the U.S. invaded. (TIME)
        See also Iraqi Chemical Stash Uncovered - Ellen Knickmeyer
    U.S. troops raiding a warehouse in Mosul uncovered a suspected chemical weapons factory containing 1,500 gallons of chemicals believed destined for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces and civilians, military officials said Saturday. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Cabinet Ratifies Evacuation of Gush Katif - Amiram Barkat
    The Israeli cabinet Monday ratified the evacuation of Gush Katif, the largest settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip, by a vote of 16-4, Army Radio reported. (Ha'aretz)
  • Despite Heavy PA Deployment, Mortar Shells Hit Gaza Enclave
    Despite the deployment of thousands of Palestinian police in an effort to prevent terror attacks during the disengagement, Palestinians fired two mortar shells at the central Gaza settlement of Gadid early Monday, Israel Radio said. Prior to the mortar attack, a Palestinian gunman fired at a tent of anti-pullout protesters in the Kfar Darom settlement. (Ha'aretz)
  • Thousands of PLO Fighters to Move to Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The PA is planning to move thousands of PLO fighters from Lebanon to Gaza after the disengagement, senior PA officials disclosed on Saturday. Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah central committee, who arrived in Beirut last week, said the PA was planning to move PLO fighters to Gaza from other Arab countries as well. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also PA to Move Gunmen from Lebanon to Gaza - Roi Nahmias
    Palestinian gunmen residing in Lebanese refugee camps will be transferred to Gaza via Egypt immediately after the pullout is completed, the Lebanese newspaper al-Hayat reported Saturday. Palestinian sources associated with Abbas Zaki said the move aims to provide the PA with an armed force that is not connected to any of the armed militias active in Gaza. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Leaving Gaza Palestinians Infrastructure, Hothouses Worth $80 Million - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon told the National Press Club in Washington Friday: "We are not leaving scorched earth behind. We are leaving behind infrastructures, maps, and hothouses valued at $80 million." Ayalon stressed that "everything depends on the Palestinian Authority," and said it must use its authority to act against terrorism, create employment and build housing, and resettle Palestinian refugees. He also said the PA must act to prevent incitement and prevent the Gaza Strip from turning into a weapons warehouse and a terror haven. (Ynet News)
  • PA Headed Toward Confrontation with Islamists - Khaled Abu Toameh
    This weekend's celebrations by Palestinians in Gaza over the disengagement are a clear sign that there is more than one authority in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the paramilitary marches by masked Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen, brandishing all kinds of weapons, show that the PA security forces are not the only ones patrolling the streets.
        Hamas is now seeking to take credit for the "victory" by holding separate celebrations and sending its gunmen to street rallies. Top PA officials said on Saturday that Hamas's show of force over the weekend had seriously embarrassed Abbas. Islamic Jihad also surprised the PA on Friday by putting hundreds of its gunmen on display in the streets of the northern Gaza Strip. On top of all this, Abbas also has to worry about several unruly Fatah militias in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Factions Jockey for Leadership - Sa'id Ghazali and Thanassis Cambanis (Boston Globe)
  • Disengagement:

  • IDF: "No Battle, No War" - Margot Dudkevitch and Arieh O'Sullivan
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz told Gaza withdrawal commanders Sunday that, "We're not going out to battle; There's no battle here and no war." "You'll be required to look settlers in the eyes, feel their pain, shed a tear, and show them you love them," he said. "Success is the implementation of this mission without casualties," Halutz said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Golani Brigade Commander Embraces Settlers - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Soldier Speaks of Disengagement
    First Lieutenant Nitzan, a soldier who will take part in the clearing of settlements, explains what he feels on the eve of disengagement: "I'm going in to enforce the law. I'll go in, speak, hug, and cry, and I'll help to pack. If need be, I'll carry my brothers on my shoulders. I'll absorb everything they have to say, in the hope that the power of my compassion overcomes their fury."
        "During the first big protest at Ofakim I realized what we were dealing with. Suddenly, I grasped that there were families around us - the child playing a ball game with us, the women with the funny accent, the man who offered me watermelon, and the little girl who asked me who was stronger, a soldier or a policeman. There is no enemy in this mission. The people of Gush Katif are citizens of the country, and they will remain citizens after the disengagement." (Ynet News)
  • Former Shin Bet Head Views Gaza Withdrawal - Donald Macintyre
    Having come out in strong support of the plan to evacuate all 8,500 settlers from Gaza, former Shin Bet security services head Avi Dichter is Ariel Sharon's most potent weapon against the argument that withdrawal from Gaza is a "surrender to terrorism" and will increase rather than decrease attacks by Palestinian militants. Dichter argues that withdrawing from Gaza drastically reduces the "carpet of targets" open to militants in Gaza in the first place, and that "the probability to hit civilians or carry out successful terror attacks is going to decrease dramatically." He is optimistic that there won't be an organized outbreak of violence by Palestinian militants during the disengagement process and is skeptical that there will be after disengagement too. (Independent-UK)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • After Gaza Pullout, Still Much to Do - Dennis Ross
    By taking this unprecedented step to dismantle the 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza, Ariel Sharon has created a historic opportunity for the Palestinians. If they can show the world and the Israeli public that they can govern Gaza effectively and fulfill their security obligations, they will be in a strong position to argue that the Gaza model should also be applied to the West Bank. If they cannot, if Gaza devolves into chaos and violence, who is going to argue for Israel's turning over more territory for an eventual Palestinian state? (Miami Herald)
        See also A Mideast Crossroads - Editorial
    If Gaza is swept by riots, or if Hamas is allowed to rain rockets and AK-47 fire on Israeli soldiers and civilians as they depart or after, Israel and the world will rightly doubt not only Mr. Abbas's leadership but also the Palestinians' readiness to take control of their own state alongside Israel. (Washington Post)
  • A Peace Matrix at Hand - Jim Hoagland
    The immediate need from the Palestinians - in addition to the cessation of the campaign of terrorist attacks on Israelis - is to treat the Gaza withdrawal as an act of peace and not of armed liberation. Creating a false narrative of having "defeated" the Israelis by the force of arms will perpetuate the conflict. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Goes, But It Can't Get Far - Aharon Klieman
    Middle Eastern realities caution that, at most, Israel can hope to divest itself of all further primary responsibility over the Gazans. Yet any Israeli sense of relief is going to be conditioned by the Palestinian response in the supposedly liberated strip the morning after Israel's departure, once the boasting of a victory of arms over the Zionists and flag-waving end and the burdens of solidarity, self-rule, and security descend on the Palestinian Authority. "Disengagement" in the larger sense will in all likelihood prove little more than wishful thinking. For Israel, disentangling itself from Gaza may be one thing; separation from the Palestinians is quite another matter. The writer is director of the Abba Eban Graduate Program in Diplomatic Studies at Tel-Aviv University and a visiting professor at UCLA. (Newsday)
  • Observations:

    Israel Deserves Help - Editorial (Times-UK)

    • The forced withdrawal of more than 8,000 Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip this week will not, on its own, guarantee a better future for that troubled region. Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, ordered the disengagement without extracting concessions from the Palestinians. There is no guarantee that the intifada, led by groups such as Hamas, will not resume with a new intensity.
    • The current policy of disengagement is driven by pragmatism. Had more Israelis heeded the call to settle in Gaza, withdrawal would be a nightmare; 8,000 settlers can be forced from their homes, 100,000 probably could not. Disengagement from the West Bank, where there are 250,000 Jewish settlers, is not on the agenda.
    • Yet Mr. Sharon has made a gesture. He has acted with a boldness that most of his predecessors would not have contemplated, let alone pushed through. Such boldness deserves reward. If it is not to be an empty gesture, several things have to happen. The 1.3m Palestinians squeezed into this tiny strip have to be persuaded to choose peace. If the gesture is not to blow up in Mr. Sharon's face, Gaza must not now be used as a base from which to attack Israel.

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