Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 18, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas: Disengagement Will Lift Morale of Global Islamist Forces, Affect Battle for Afghanistan and Iraq (News First Class-Hebrew, 17Aug05)
    At the height of Israel's disengagement, Mahmoud Zahar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, said that from the Palestinian perspective the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza signifies the collapse of the Zionist outlook and is "a sign of the final battle that will decide the conflict."
    "It is a defeat for Israel, which did not find an answer to the Kassam rockets or the war of the tunnels or to suicide attacks."
    Zahar expressed confidence that the disengagement will lift the morale of the Arab and Islamic world and will affect the battle for Afghanistan and Iraq.
    "We are part of the great world plan whose name is the world Islamic movement."
    "We do not recognize the State of Israel nor its right to control any of the land of Palestine."
    "Palestine is holy Islamic land that belongs to Muslims the world over," he emphasized.

    See also Hamas: Pullout is Beginning of the End for Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal declared on Wednesday that the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank marked the beginning of the end of the Zionist dream in Palestine.

Most Palestinian Missile Casualties Are Palestinian - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    The main headline in the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Ayyam on Aug. 3, reported that a boy of 6 had been killed in the northern Gaza Strip and another 10 children had been wounded by the explosion of a "locally made" missile.
    Ever since the Palestinians began to manufacture and launch locally produced missiles, about four years ago, most of the casualties they have inflicted - dead and wounded - have been Palestinian, and not Israeli.

"Bedouins of Palestinian Origin" Behind Sinai Blasts (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
    Bedouins of Palestinian origin who were behind attacks on Sinai tourist resorts in the past year also carried out a bombing that damaged a peacekeeping force vehicle in Sinai this week, the Egyptian newspaper al-Gomhuria said on Wednesday, quoting a high-level security source.
    "They are Bedouins of Palestinian origin living in north and south Sinai," the security source added.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Soldiers Evacuate Gaza Settlers - Scott Wilson
    Israeli soldiers removed hundreds of Jewish residents from homes across the Gaza Strip Wednesday in a military operation that exacted a high emotional toll on troops and the settlers they came to evacuate. (Washington Post)
        See also Five Gaza Settlements Evacuated
    Security forces completed the evacuation of five Gaza settlements on Wednesday: Morag, Kerem Atzmona and Tel Katifa, Bedolah and Ganei Tal. Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinski said Wednesday he believed that the evacuation of the Gaza Strip settlements would be completed in a matter of days. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Ambassador Says Hamas Gaining Strength - Barry Schweid
    The Palestinian group Hamas is engaged in a massive buildup of manpower and weapons and must be dismantled by Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon says. "They have taken a tactical decision to keep terror on a low flame but not stop it entirely," Ayalon said of Hamas. "But we observe a very massive buildup with recruitment and training of new terrorists, of mobilizing more financial support and explosive munitions, and having the cells ready and the chain of command ready," Ayalon said.
        Does the PA have the means to take on Hamas? "Absolutely. The Palestinian Authority has the support of the Palestinian people and has the manpower and weapons. There are 60,000 security people on the payroll, and that outnumbers Hamas 30 to 1," Ayalon said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Rice Urges Israel and Palestinians to Sustain Momentum - Joel Brinkley and Steven R. Weisman
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday offered sympathy for the Israeli settlers who are being removed from their homes in Gaza but also made it clear that she expected Israel and the Palestinians to take further steps in short order toward the creation of a Palestinian state. "Everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing," Rice said in an interview, but added, "It cannot be Gaza only." She insisted that Israel must take further steps, including loosening travel restrictions in the West Bank and withdrawing from more Palestinian cities. At the same, she added, the PA must take its own steps, moving quickly to disarm Palestinian factions intent on breaking the cease-fire. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Diplomat Named in AIPAC Case - David Johnston and James Risen
    The second-highest diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is one of the anonymous government officials cited in an Aug. 4 indictment as having provided classified information to an employee of a pro-Israel lobbying group, people who have been officially briefed on the case said Wednesday. David M. Satterfield was identified in the indictment as a U.S. government official, "USGO-2," the people briefed on the matter said. In early 2002, USGO-2 discussed secret national security matters in two meetings with Steven J. Rosen, who has since been dismissed as a top lobbyist for AIPAC, and who has been charged in the case. (New York Times)
        See also Former AIPAC Officials Plead Not Guilty in Secrets Case - Nathan Guttman (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Kills Four Palestinians in West Bank - Amiram Barkat and Arnon Regular
    Asher Weissgan, 38, shot to death four Palestinians and wounded two others on Wednesday in Shiloh in the West Bank, before he was overpowered by an Israeli security guard. Weissgan worked as a driver for Palestinian workers in the Shiloh industrial zone. (Ha'aretz)
        Prime Minister Sharon and President Moshe Katsav denounced the killings, saying there was no justification for spilling the blood of innocent people. Benzi Leiberman, head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, also denounced the attack, saying it was incomprehensible. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Islamic Jihad Suicide Attack on Gush Katif Thwarted - Hanan Greenberg
    A major terror attack was thwarted Wednesday when Israeli security forces found an explosive belt weighing eight kilograms in the Mouasi area near Gush Katif. Ten Palestinians suspected of belonging to the terror cell were arrested, including two who were to act as suicide bombers, army officials said. (Ynet News)
  • Sharon: "The Palestinians Will Steal Everything" in Gaza Settlements - Maya Ben-Gal
    The minute Israel completes its withdrawal from Gaza, the Palestinians will steal everything, Prime Minister Sharon warned the ministerial committee on disengagement Thursday. The prime minister expressed skepticism about the ability of the Palestinian security services to prevent widespread theft and looting. "Thousands of Palestinians will break in," he said. Sharon estimated that the evacuation of settlers would be completed by Monday. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • Palestinians Fire Two Mortar Shells at Atzmona in Gush Katif
    Palestinians fired two mortars at the Gush Katif settlement of Atzmona Thursday morning, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Woman Sets Self on Fire to Protest Pullout - Yaakov Katz
    A 50-year-old woman, a resident of Kedumim in the West Bank, set herself on fire to protest the disengagement at an intersection near Netivot in the northern Negev. Her condition was reported as critical. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Disengagement:

  • IDF Evacuation Strategy Succeeding - Arieh O'Sullivan
    As the IDF wound up the first day of the Gaza evacuation, an initial critique shows the doctrine of using overwhelming might together with compassionate angst and strong persuasion appears to have been a success. The scenes of security personnel carting off screaming youth were actually quite rare, but prominently photographed during the first day of the forced evacuation. Most of the settlers chose or were persuaded to leave on their own. Some asked to be carried out and the forces complied. The IDF allocated weeks for the evacuation, but after just one day, nearly all of the settlers are out or on the verge of leaving. The sight of columns of disciplined soldiers and police lining streets was aimed at driving home the total futility in attempting to resist evacuation. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Evacuators Go All Out to Let Settlers Leave with Dignity - Sheera Claire Frenkel
    Treating each family on an individual basis became the prevailing tactic Wednesday as the IDF and police officers attempted to evacuate communities using as little force as possible. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon's Magnanimity - R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
    What we are seeing this week in the withdrawal from Gaza of 8,000 Israeli citizens is as noble an act on behalf of peace as has been recorded in modern history. No peace demonstration on record has involved so much personal sacrifice. There is plenty of evidence that firebrands from the Islamic Resistance Movement known as Hamas, among others, will be emboldened by Sharon's generosity to see his withdrawal as a sign of weakness, or worse, a sign that Hamas's terrorist violence has caused an Israeli defeat and could cause still more Israeli defeats. Thus Sharon's noble gesture could encourage more violence and legitimatize in the eyes of Palestinian voters the most militant of Israel's enemies.
        This is an enormous effort on behalf of peace made by a noble leader and a noble nation. If it is repaid by continued terror, let the critics of Israel shut down. On behalf of peace this time the Israelis have done all they can - and Sharon's Nobel Prize for Peace should await him either way. (American Spectator)
  • Hamastan? Gaza Pullout Is Worth the Risk - Max Boot
    Opponents of the withdrawal cite parallels with the 2000 Israeli evacuation of southern Lebanon, which helped spark the second intifada, but the danger now is much less. Even if Palestinians want to attack Israel - and they do - they will be hard-pressed to do so. All of Gaza is fenced in and so is most of the West Bank, reducing opportunities for suicide bombers to penetrate Israel. If the Palestinians fire rockets from Gaza, Israel will be free to mount a military response - more free, in fact, when the threat comes from a sovereign Palestinian state than when it emanates from Israeli-occupied territory. The Palestinians will no doubt stockpile heavy weapons in Gaza but, as is the case with Hizballah in southern Lebanon, they can be deterred from using them.
        The real danger from Gaza may not be to Israel but to the rest of the West. The Israeli army has battled terrorist groups in a way that the Palestinian Authority has neither the power nor, in all likelihood, the desire to do. If, following the Israeli pullout, Gaza becomes another training ground for Islamo-fascist fanatics - a successor to Afghanistan under the Taliban - the resulting terrorists will find the U.S. and Europe much easier targets than Israel, which is the world's most heavily defended state. Irony of ironies, perhaps in a few years enlightened Westerners will rue the day when Israel gave up control of Gaza. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Agony, Palestine's Future - Editorial (Wall Street Journal, 18Aug05)

    • Even for those who believe - as we do - that Prime Minister Sharon is right to withdraw Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip, the past few days in Israel have been heart-rending to watch. The international community, including the U.S., which has long demanded sacrifices from "both sides" for the sake of peace, now has the satisfaction of seeing that sacrifice vividly offered, at least on the Israeli side.
    • At the same time, the risks of withdrawal are also clear, the main one being that the Palestinians will view it as a sign of weakness. There are indications this is happening, with Hamas declaring in a slogan that "resistance wins, so let's go on." Gaza may yet become a kind of "Hamastan" - a regional terrorist enclave threatening not just Israel but also neighboring Egypt and perhaps Europe.
    • The man who could make the withdrawal work and stop Hamastan in its tracks is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Abbas came to office democratically in January with a pledge to confiscate illegal weapons and "make the law the leader in this country." Less than a year later, however, the Palestinian territories are more lawless than ever.
    • Mr. Abbas has been unable to rein in the Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, which is the terrorist paramilitary wing of his ruling Fatah party. He has also failed, or perhaps refused, to enforce his will on Hamas, trying instead to coax them into the political process and getting them to agree to a ceasefire. Hamas has not abandoned its arms, but it has seen its political popularity soar in the face of Mr. Abbas's obvious weakness.
    • In the coming months, Mr. Abbas may seek to deflect attention from his government's shortcomings by demanding further Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank. But Israel cannot be expected to make further wrenching withdrawals if the message from the international community is that they are never enough. And Palestine will have no hope of becoming a functional and civilized state if no serious demands are made of it to reform its institutions and eliminate its culture of terrorism and hooliganism.
    • The problem with Palestine today isn't the absence of land - Singapore isn't much larger than Gaza, and is four times as populous - but the poverty of expectations as to what it ought to be and might become. Israel has now done what it had to. It's time the Palestinians follow suit.

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