Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 5, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Sending Emergency Relief Supplies to U.S. (Ha'aretz)
    The Bush administration has accepted Israel's offers of assistance to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, with a first shipment of supplies to be sent on Tuesday or Wednesday.
    "Israel was one of the first nations to offer relief aid, if not the first," said Israeli Ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon.
    Among the relief items most requested by the administration are IDF-type "battle ration" field meals, preserved foods, water, blankets, clothes, tents, generators, and sanitary facilities.
    See also Israel Sending Experts to U.S. to Offer Hurricane Relief Aid (Ha'aretz)
    Prime Minister Sharon told the cabinet Sunday that a delegation of Israeli government experts would leave this week to determine areas in which Israel could help the relief effort in the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast.
    "The United States has stood at Israel's side through difficult times, and I believe it our duty to help her in those spheres in which we can be of assistance," he said.
    See also Tulane Med Students Can Attend in Israel (UPI/Space Daily)
    Medical students unable to attend the Katrina-ravaged Tulane University in New Orleans can attend Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine, said Itamar Rabinovich, president of Tel Aviv University.

Israel Campus Beat
- September 4, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    How Should Average Israelis Have Reacted to the Disengagement?

Institutionalized PA Support for Terrorism - Jonathan D. Halevy (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew, 4Sep05)
    The Palestinian Authority appropriates more than $50 million from its annual budget to support terrorists in Israeli prisons, including those who dispatched suicide bombers.
    The Palestinian Minister for Prisoner Affairs, Sufayan Abu Zayda, revealed official data showing that his office receives $4 million per month from the PA for supporting these prisoners, distributing NIS 1,200-4,500 per month to each prisoner and covering his legal expenses.

Muslims Torch 14 Christian Homes in West Bank - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    At least 14 houses belonging to Christian residents of Taybeh, a West Bank village northeast of Ramallah, were torched by Muslims from neighboring Dir Jarir on Sunday, to avenge what they termed the dishonor of a Muslim woman.
    "The young men, who were holding Molotov cocktails, threw them at the houses, which began to go up in flames, one after another," said Buthaina Sha'aban, a Taybeh resident.
    "They vandalized parked cars and beat village residents who went out into the streets. Entire families were thrown into the street after their homes were torched. Not much remains of their property. We urge all international, Israeli, and Palestinian actors to intervene and protect village residents from the Muslim rage."
    The attackers also torched stores, a farm, and a gas station.
    PA security sources said the rampage was triggered by an incident last week in which a 23-year-old woman was killed by her relatives because they suspected her of carrying on a romance with a Christian man from Taybeh.
    The woman was quickly buried, but last Tuesday, the PA police exhumed the body for an autopsy.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran's Leader Calls for Jihad Against Israel
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed Palestinian militants for "expelling the Zionist regime from Gaza" and said "the only way to confront the Zionist enemy is the continuation and fortification of resistance and jihad." Speaking Saturday in a meeting with Islamic Jihad's secretary general Ramazan Abdullah, he added that "with the cooperation of jihadi groups," further "success is also possible in other parts of the occupied territories." (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also UN: Iran Produced Enough Stock for Nuclear Weapon - George Jahn
    Iran has produced about 7 tons of the gas it needs for uranium enrichment since it restarted the process last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Friday. A former UN nuclear inspector said that would be enough for an atomic weapon. (AP/Chicago Tribune)
        See also Russia Opposes Reporting Iran to Security Council
    "Moscow sees no reason why the question of Iran's nuclear program should be sent to the UN (Security Council)," Alexander Yakovenko, a Russian deputy foreign minister, said Monday. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Urging Allies to Refrain from Pressing Israel for Concessions - Steven R. Weisman
    The Bush administration, hoping to strengthen Prime Minister Sharon in the Israeli turmoil after the Gaza withdrawal, is urging allies of the U.S. to refrain from pressing Israel to make new concessions to Palestinians, senior American officials said this week. The officials said President Bush and his top aides had begun emphasizing that the first priority in the Middle East was for Israel to complete the pullout from Gaza and for PA Chairman Abbas to demonstrate control over security there. "Realistically, what happens now in Gaza is very important. We have to see whether a stop can be put on terrorism in Gaza," said a senior administration official. (New York Times)
  • Pakistani Minister: No Harm in Recognizing Israel
    Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Sher Afgan told the BBC on Saturday, "There is no harm if Pakistan recognizes Israel. It should prefer its own interests. If all the Arab countries located around Israel and the president of Palestine have recognized it, then Pakistan should not hesitate." (PakTribune-Pakistan)
        See also Few People Turn Out in Pakistan to Protest Meeting with Israel
    Only a couple of hundred people joined protests Friday in Pakistan against a meeting by the foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan. (UPI/Space Daily)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Legislator Convicted of Terror-Related Crimes Against Israel - Amos Harel
    Palestinian parliament member Husam Khader was convicted Sunday by an Israel Defense Forces court of a string of terror-related offenses against Israel, including the transfer of funds used to purchase weapons for carrying out terror attacks. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Develops Improved Rocket - Alex Fishman
    Hamas terrorists have developed a Kassam rocket with a 16.5 km (10 mile) range. As a result, the power station in the southern town of Ashkelon, as well as Prime Minister Sharon's private residence, Sycamore Ranch, are now in range of the Kassams. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Divulges Names of Commanders - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas revealed over the weekend the identities of the commanders of its armed wing, Izzaddin Kassam, in a move seen by many Palestinians as another challenge to the PA. Hamas distributed 250,000 free copies of a bulletin called Fajr al-Intisar [Dawn of Victory], whose front cover features a Hamas gunman standing on the rubble of a settlement and bloodstained bodies of IDF soldiers, hoisting the movement's green flag. Izzaddin Kassam commander Muhammed Deif was quoted as saying, "We will respond to any attack, whether from the authority or from the Israelis." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Biggest Arms Buyer in Middle East - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Egypt has become the principal arms buyer in the Middle East and the developing world's third largest buyer of weapons after China and India, according to a report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service. According to the report, entitled "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations," Egypt recorded $6.5 billion worth of weapons purchases from 2001 to 2004. Israel bought $4.4b. during the same period and Saudi Arabia recorded $3.8b.
        Egyptian arms purchases added up to over $1b. more than the amount of military grants Cairo received from Washington, said Hillel Frisch, an expert on the Egyptian military at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. "This is surprising since it comes at a time when the long-term Egyptian economy has been in decline. It is clear that Egypt doesn't have any other enemies," Frisch said. Since 1979, the Egyptian army has undergone a dramatic Westernization, acquiring American Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters, and a state-of-the-art navy. "What are they amassing all these kinds of weapons for?" Frisch asked. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Among Arab Reformers - Joshua Muravchik
    Skeptics ask whether there are really any native democrats to be found in the Middle East who could be the backbone of a new political order. In March I attended a conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah at Riad Malki's Center for the Dissemination of Democracy and Community Development - a large, well-equipped facility built with foreign donations - on "Ten Years of the Palestinian Authority: Evaluation, Assessment, Prospects for the Future." Some 450 Palestinians turned up, together with five to ten Europeans but only one other American. Near the entrance, a life-size cardboard cutout of Arafat smiled broadly at us as we passed; inside, the criticisms of his legacy were intense.
        If there was much to warm a democrat's heart in the spirited talk about Palestinian governance, there was, alas, no comfort at all to be had in the discourse about peace with Israel. Hani al-Hassan, a long-time Arafat confidant and former minister of the interior, explained that "Zionist forces assassinated Kennedy," Israel stirred up civil war in Lebanon, and former Israeli Prime Minister Shamir had told President George H.W. Bush in 1989 that "Israel would not make peace until Iraq is destroyed" - which is what "we are witnessing before our eyes." An Israeli Arab, Muhammad Ali Taha, said: "They call us the 'Arabs of Israel,' but we are not the Arabs of Israel. We are the Palestinian Arab nationality in Israel. We are the Arabs in Israel, not the Arabs of Israel." (Commentary/American Enterprise Institute)
  • Engaging Israel: The Significance of the Istanbul Meeting between Israel and Pakistan - Simon Henderson and Soner Cagaptay
    The Sept. 1 meeting in Istanbul between Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom and his Pakistani counterpart, Khurshid Kasuri, represents a major breakthrough in Jerusalem's efforts to overcome diplomatic isolation. For Islamabad, the public contact carries high risks. Several Pakistani political leaders from the Islamist opposition have condemned the meeting. While Pakistan's declared new policy towards Israel has yet to develop, its immediate effect may well be to dent Palestinian diplomatic efforts at the UN to claim that Israel still occupies Gaza even though the settlers have left and the Israeli army is soon to depart.
        Egypt, Jordan, and Mauritania are the only Arab countries with formal diplomatic relations, while Morocco, Tunisia, Qatar, and Oman maintain less formal links. Israel's ties with non-Arab Muslim countries have grown immensely since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of the Turkic Muslim countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • A Rumble in Gaza - Ned Parker
    It started when Sidqi Barbakh, 29, revved the wheels of his blue Mercedes, spewing dirt in the faces of Hamas fighters manning a nighttime checkpoint in Rafah's Brazil neighborhood. Barbakh counted on his status as a PA intelligence agent and his tribal ties with his 15,000-strong clan that flaunts a reputation for never steering away from a fight. A few days later Hamas members jumped a car carrying someone they thought was Barbakh, whom they proceeded to beat. Finally, the Hamas men hunting Barbakh for a week pumped 12 shots into his car when he tried to speed by their checkpoint, wounding him and his brother Walid.
        Within minutes, a car of men sprayed bullets into the home of Hamas' political leader in Rafah, Issa Nashar. At daylight, the Barbakhs' filed an arrest warrant against four Hamas members, including Nashar's son. Policemen went to arrest one of the Hamas members and gunmen fired warning shots. At least 40 Fatah and Hamas men flooded the area, poised with weapons. In backroom meetings, the sheikhs from the Barbakh tribe and Hamas and Fatah leaders reached a deal to defuse the crisis. Later, Barbakh vented angrily about Hamas' continued nighttime checkpoints on the streets of Rafah: "I refused to stop at their checkpoints because they are not the police. They are only masked men." (AFP/Jordan Times, 5Sep05)
  • Observations:

    Expert Says Palestinians Don't Need Financial Aid - James Sterngold (San Francisco Chronicle)

    • While the U.S. and other donors have pledged billions of dollars, a senior member of the Palestinians' new economic team says the flood of money is largely unnecessary at this time - and some of it may be counterproductive. "If you poured in a lot of financing at this time, it would not have a big impact. It would not be very effective," said George T. Abed, who retired earlier this year from a senior position at the International Monetary Fund, then was appointed governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority. "Governance is poor. It would be wasted."
    • Abed, 66, a UC Berkeley-trained economist, said although unemployment and poverty are rampant inside the territories, Palestinian banks are overflowing with deposits and many wealthy Palestinian entrepreneurs living overseas are eager to invest in the territories. The immediate challenge is building a modern system to handle the existing capital efficiently, not attracting more.
    • The Palestinians already receive the highest per-capita donor aid in the world, according to James Prince, a consultant to the Palestinian Investment Fund and co-author of a recent report, "The Economic Road Map: Beyond the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict." The funds, Prince said, have not done much beyond ensuring a minimum standard of living. "Many of the donor programs have not only been ineffective, they have harmed the economy," said Prince. "Cash is not the issue. What you need is investor confidence."
    • According to World Bank figures, the Palestinian per capita gross domestic product plummeted from $1,493 in 1999 to an estimated $904 this year.
    • The 22 Palestinian banks regulated by Abed's authority have a total of $4.3 billion in deposits, but only $1.8 billion in loans in the territories. Glenn Yago, director of capital studies at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica and co-author of the "Economic Road Map" report, estimates that overseas Palestinians may have as much as $60 billion in wealth, at least some of which could be funneled into the territories if the financial climate becomes attractive.

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