Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 22, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Mubarak: Egyptian Forces Cannot Seal Gaza Border Hermetically - Semadar Peri (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 19Aug05)
    Q: With the deployment of Egyptian forces along the Philadelphi Route, how do you provide assurances that terrorists won't infiltrate and there won't be smuggling of arms and military equipment?
    Egyptian President Husni Mubarak: When our forces will be there, there will be smuggling? That's a strange thought."
    "There isn't a country in the world that can commit itself 100% to close off a border from smuggling. Neither the U.S. nor Russia."
    "The truth is we catch in Sinai much of the smuggling of weapons to Gaza....But the presence of our forces will not seal off the border hermetically."

    See also Hamas: Egyptian Role on Gaza Border to be Carried Out "In the Interest of the Palestinian Cause" (Asharq al-Awsat-UK)
    Q: How do you view the Egyptian role in the Salah-a-Din gate, otherwise known as the Philadelphi crossing?
    Musa Abu Marzuq, deputy political bureau chief of Hamas:
    "We value the role that Egypt and President Husni Mubarak are playing in this issue. Everyone welcomes this role and no one disagrees with it."
    "We do not expect that this role will be carried out except in the interest of the Palestinian cause and to serve the Palestinian people."

    See also Philadelphi Deal Signing Delayed - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
    Israel and Egypt have concluded the drafting of an agreement on the deployment of Egyptian border guards in the area of the Philadelphi route in Rafah.
    Final agreement now awaits a response to an Israeli request for a specific appendix to the agreement in which Cairo would undertake not to transfer arms and ammunition to the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.

IDF Soldier Wounded by Palestinian Sniper (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    An IDF tank commander was lightly wounded Sunday by a Palestinian sniper near the evacuated settlement of Neve Dekalim, head of Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel said.
    Harel said that since the withdrawal began last Monday there had been 19 shooting incidents and 12 mortar attacks.
    See also Two Palestinians Injured Planting Bomb Near Kfar Darom (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Two Palestinian Hamas members were injured Friday when an explosive device they were carrying accidentally blew up before they could place it near Kfar Darom, which had been evacuated on Thursday, Palestinian officials said.

PA Doubles Salaries of Security Forces (Jerusalem Post)
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has decided to double the salaries paid to the PA's security forces in an attempt to prevent them from joining terrorist organizations, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

    See also Palestinian Gunmen in Gaza Demand Jobs - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    At least 200 al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades gunmen from the ruling Fatah party converged on the Gaza parliament building on Sunday armed with assault rifles to demand jobs.


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  • Israeli Bulldozers Level Gaza Houses - Oded Raz
    Israeli bulldozers knocked down houses in four Gaza settlements Sunday, leveling once-thriving villages in hours. Clouds of cement dust loomed over the Gaza settlements of Nissanit, Dugit, Peat Sadeh, and Ganei Tal, adding an air of finality to the pullout. Katif, Atzmona, and Slav - the remaining communities in Gush Katif - were being emptied Sunday, as was the northern Gaza settlement of Elei Sinai. The last of the Gaza settlements, Netzarim, is to be evacuated Monday. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
  • Hamas Pushing for Lead Role in a New Gaza - James Bennet
    Hamas has "a mission," said Ziad Abu Amr, a political scientist and independent legislator who serves as a liaison between Abbas and Hamas. "They want to Islamicize the state and society. Yes, in the final analysis, they want control."
        As he quoted leaders of Hamas who were killed by Israel - but never mentioned Arafat or Abbas - the imam at the Caliph Mosque spoke of a bigger dream. "Tomorrow there will be the West Bank and Jerusalem, and all the Palestinian sands," he said, meaning lands. "We will go on, on that road, for the resistance to move inside the West Bank, then into all our Palestinian sands. This victory is due to the resistance strikes." (New York Times)
            See also Britain Sends Intelligence Agent Back into Gaza - Con Coughlin
    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has authorized a team of MI6 counter-terrorism experts led by Alistair Crooke to be deployed to Gaza on to persuade Hamas to observe a ceasefire. Crooke has been heavily criticized by the Israeli government for arguing that Hamas should be treated as a serious negotiating partner in the peace talks. In June 2005, the Israeli foreign ministry formally asked Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, to withdraw the MI6 team. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Aqaba Attack May Signal New Zarqawi Front in Jordan - Suleiman al-Khalidi
    A rocket attack which narrowly missed two U.S. warships in Jordan may be a signal Iraq's al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has opened a new front against Washington's closest Arab ally. "Zarqawi appreciates more than ever that by hitting the U.S. military in Jordan he would score not just a symbolic victory but maybe disrupt a hitherto safe supply route for the U.S. army into bases in the western desert (of Iraq)," said one intelligence expert. Jordan denies providing logistical backing to Washington's military campaign, though the U.S. military have said in briefings it has used the country as a main supply route.
        The last major attempt by Zarqawi's group last year was a plot to wage a chemical attack using suicide bombers against government and U.S. targets in the kingdom. Audio tapes purportedly from Zarqawi have vowed to punish Jordan's rulers for "aiding the treacherous enemy America." Security sources say Jordanian militants, who have become battle hardened in Iraq, may have brought their first-hand fighting skills closer to home. (Reuters)
        See also Jordan is Another Base of Preparations for Al-Qaeda - Zvi Bar'el
    Jordan's main concern is over the increase in the influence of terrorists operating in Iraq, because of the relative porousness of Jordan's borders. The official crossings between Jordan and Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are closely monitored by the Jordanians, but the kingdom's long borders do not allow it to really stop illegal infiltration. Large quantities of weapons and ammunition are smuggled from Iraq to Saudi Arabia, and these weapons then make their way to other countries in the region, including Jordan. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Iraq Accuses Jordan of Allowing Financing of Insurgency - Richard A. Oppel, Jr.
    The Iraqi government accused Jordan on Sunday of allowing family members of Saddam Hussein to finance an insurgent campaign to destabilize Iraq. "There are a lot of figures, not only senior regime members, but those who supervise the terrorist groups, in Jordan," said Laith Kubba, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. (New York Times)
  • Al-Qaeda Cell Sought to Attack Parliament with Nerve Gas, Chemicals, or "Dirty Bomb" - David Leppard and Robert Winnett
    Scotland Yard believes it has thwarted an al-Qaeda gas attack aimed at the House of Commons. The plot, hatched last year, was discovered in coded e-mails on computers seized from terror suspects in Britain and Pakistan. Police and MI5 then identified an al-Qaeda cell that had carried out extensive research and video-recorded reconnaissance missions in preparation for the attack. This weekend a senior officer disclosed that cell members "were planning to use chemicals, a dirty bomb, and sarin gas. They looked at all sorts of ways of delivering it." (Sunday Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Security Officials: Calm in Gaza Strip Will Collapse After Pullout - Gideon Alon
    The head of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, told the Israeli cabinet Sunday that "the calm prevailing in recent days in the Gaza Strip does not attest to a Palestinian ability to control the area." Diskin said it is too early to shower praise on PA Chairman Abbas as though the current calm is his doing. Head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi Farkash told the cabinet, "The patience of the Palestinians waiting to enter the evacuated areas is expiring." He also cautioned that, after the last settlers have exited Gaza, Palestinian factions intend to attack Israeli soldiers remaining there. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas to Continue Terror Attacks after Disengagement - Danny Rubinstein
    The Hamas leaders who have orchestrated the terror attacks of recent years have openly stated their intention to continue the campaign following the disengagement - and you can believe them. Hamas spokesmen are demanding that the PA be given responsibility for land, sea, and air crossings. For if not, "anywhere in which an Israeli presence remains in Gaza will be deemed by us a Gazan 'Shaaba Farm' [an area still claimed by Hizballah after Israel's UN-recognized withdrawal from Lebanon]," as Hamas leader Khaled Mashal said.
        It appears that among Hamas, as is the case among the Palestinian public in general, there is a desire to begin rehabilitation and development enterprises in Gaza. The bad news is that Hamas activists are promising to take the violent struggle to the West Bank and Jerusalem. All the organization's leaders are saying this at every opportunity. One can speak of a period of relative quiet that will continue perhaps until the end of the year and the Palestinian elections. And then - a new outbreak of violence. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon: "There Will Be No Second Disengagement" - Herb Keinon
    "There will be building in the settlement blocs," Prime Minister Sharon vowed Sunday. "Ma'ale Adumim will continue to grow and be connected to Jerusalem," and Ariel and its satellites would be a part of Israel forever, he said. Asked why people should believe him now, after he made similar comments in the past about Gush Katif, Sharon said: "This is something you will be able to see in a short time, that there will be no second disengagement."
        Senior Israeli officials have consistently maintained that although the road map called for a settlement freeze, Israel had a tacit agreement with the U.S. - which the U.S. has never admitted - that construction could continue in the built-up areas inside the large settlement blocs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Disengagement:

  • Israel's Courage - Editorial
    The Palestinians - and their cheerleaders around the world - should be under no illusions about the necessary next steps. Israel has made a historic concession, in the interests of peace and prosperity. The evacuation of Gaza is not an act of weakness, but precisely the opposite. Mr. Sharon has taken this step because he feels it is safe to do so. What he now - quite reasonably - expects is reciprocation from the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas must take control of the vacated territories and crack down mercilessly on terrorism. The Israelis have behaved with under-appreciated nobility of purpose. The ball is now emphatically in the Palestinian court. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Arafat's Gaza Legacy - Editorial
    Seizing the opportunity requires Palestinians now to overcome a fundamental challenge: finally parting ways with Arafat. His pernicious and schizophrenic legacy still grips and defines them. Arafat's government, the Palestinian Authority, was riddled with corruption and nepotism. Sneakily, even as he promised peace, he encouraged both terrorism and the goal of destroying Israel. Palestinians can't have it both ways. (USA Today)
  • The Dispossessed - Elie Wiesel
    What is missing from the chapter now closing in Gaza is a collective gesture that ought to be made, but that hasn't been made, by the Palestinians. Let's imagine that, faced with the tears and suffering of the evacuees, the Palestinians had chosen to silence their joy and their pride, rather than to organize military parades with masked fighters, machine guns in hand, shooting in the air as though celebrating a great battlefield victory. Yes, imagine that Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues, in advising their followers, extolled moderation, restraint, respect, and a little understanding for the Jews who felt themselves struck by an unhappy fate. They would have won general admiration.
        Last May, at an official dinner offered by King Abdullah II of Jordan, I spoke with the Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qurei. When I asked him what he thought of Mr. Sharon's courageous decision regarding Gaza, it was with a wave of the hand that he objected, adding with disdain: "All that is worth nothing, means nothing. If Sharon doesn't begin right away to negotiate definitive borders, a great catastrophe will be the result." He repeated those words: "right away" and "a great catastrophe." The optimist in me wants very much to believe that those were just words. Gaza, after all, is but one chapter in a book that must ultimately be about peace. (New York Times)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran and Diplomacy - Editorial
    MEMRI, which translates Middle East broadcasts from their native languages, recently captured Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Hosein Musavian, on Iranian TV: "Thanks to the negotiations with Europe, we gained another year, in which we completed" Isfahan. Iran suspended enrichment "in Isfahan in October 2004, although we were required to do so in October 2003....Today we are in a position of power. We have a stockpile of products, and during this period we have managed to convert 36 tons of yellowcake into gas and store it." The Iranians themselves are now admitting that all of this is no happenstance but is a calculated effort to exploit what the mullahs perceive to be American weakness and Europe's lack of will.
        Perhaps it's time to try a different strategy. The Iranian regime is vulnerable to diplomatic pressure from without and even more so to democratic pressure from below. Yet the Bush Administration has given comparatively little support to Iranian pro-democracy groups, and it has made no effort to organize bans on Iranian participation in international forums. Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy suggests, for starters, barring the Iranian national soccer team from the World Cup. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    Sharon Delivers, Abbas Blathers - Editorial (New York Daily News)

    • PLO boss Mahmoud Abbas promises the sun and the moon and the stars to the jubilant Palestinians of freshly Jewless Gaza, though his pledge-keeping record to date is downright dismal.
    • Abbas has held up precious little of his end of the current road-map-for-peace bargain with Israel, not yet troubling himself to disarm and dismantle the terrorist gangs still openly prowling his streets as was long ago required of him. He has not even the grace to acknowledge the conciliatory nature of Israel's pullout from the Gaza settlements.
    • Sharon removed thousands of his countrymen from Gaza in a remarkably efficient and humane operation of which the world should take full note. There will indeed be more pullouts from Gaza and from a few settlements in the West Bank. And, says Sharon, that will be the end of it. And so it must be.
    • Israel, unilaterally, has taken a giant step toward a negotiated peace in the cauldron of the Middle East. Now, says Sharon, it is up to Abbas to follow through. "The burden of proof now rests on the Palestinian side," he said.
    • How true. The Palestinians are well on their way to having their own piece of land to make of it what they will. The question is whether they will build toward a democratic state by meeting Sharon's bold stroke with one of their own, an end to the terrorism that has made it impossible for Israel to negotiate a peaceful future.

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