Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 8, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF Sends Aid Team to New Orleans (Israel Defense Forces)
    A humanitarian and medical aid team led by Brig.-Gen. Yuval Kimhi left Israel Thursday with 80 tons of aid for the hurricane struck areas of New Orleans.
    The cargo onboard the plane - which includes food packages, diapers, beds, blankets, generators, and other essentials - was decided upon jointly with the U.S government.

Moussa Arafat's Killing Strengthens Dahlan - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Who gains the most from Moussa Arafat's assassination?
    The answer is Palestinian Minister for Civilian Affairs Mohammed Dahlan, the patron of the Preventative Security apparatus, and its head, Rashid Abu-Shabak, who for the past two years have been waging a war to the death against Moussa Arafat.
    The "death squads" of Preventative Security official Nabil Tamus and other mercenaries in the Gaza Strip have clashed consistently over the past two years with the "hell squads" of Moussa Arafat's son, who was abducted Wednesday when his father was killed.

    See also Is Hamas Behind Moussa Arafat's Murder? - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    In 1996, Moussa Arafat's Military Intelligence detained senior Hamas operatives and shaved off their beards in what is still remembered as a major humiliation.
    Moussa Arafat was linked to many incidents of corruption, extortion, and decadent hedonism, but other Fatah and PA officials have been linked to extortion rumors, including Preventive Security chief Rashid Abu-Shabak and national security chief Mohammed Dahlan.
    People are sure their salaries could not support their luxury homes.

Jewish Public Rejects Unilateral Pullout from West Bank - Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann (Ha'aretz)
    According to a survey conducted Aug. 30-Sep. 1, 2005, by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, 42% of the Jewish public would not support a far-reaching evacuation in the West Bank under any conditions (up from 37% in April), 34% would support it only in the framework of a peace agreement with the Palestinians (up from 28%), and 14% would favor it even on a unilateral basis (down from 26%).
    67% believe chaos will prevail after the IDF leaves the Gaza Strip, whereas only 16% think the PA will succeed in maintaining law and order.
    68% believe the chances are high or very high that after an IDF withdrawal, attacks on Israel from this area will intensify, including the firing of Kassam rockets.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Abbas Likely to Seek Deal Over Militants' Weapons - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    PA Chairman Abbas is likely to seek a deal, rather than confrontation, with militant groups, political analysts say. Abbas has neither the intention nor the ability to disarm Hamas, said Israeli analyst Ehud Yaari. Palestinian political analyst Talal Awkal said that with Hamas running for the first time in a parliamentary election, scheduled for January, it was unlikely to seek a violent face-off with the PA. Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Youssef, who has wide security powers, renewed an invitation to gunmen to join the security forces after the Israeli pullout, promising to "put them in the positions they deserve."  (Reuters)
        See also State Department: We Welcome Abbas's Commitment to Dismantle Palestinan Terrorist Infrastructure
    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Wednesday: "We welcome President Abbas's comments...that he committed himself and the Palestinian Authority to...dismantle terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian territories....It's the responsibility of any governing authority, any government to provide a safe, secure environment where the people can realize a better life for themselves." (State Department)
  • Medical Records Say Arafat Died From a Stroke - Steven Erlanger and Lawrence K. Altman
    The medical records of Yasser Arafat, which have been kept secret since his unexplained death last year at a French military hospital, show that he died from a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unidentified infection. (New York Times)
        See also Experts: Arafat Died of AIDS or Poisoning - Amos Harel
    An analysis of the confidential medical report on Yasser Arafat's death reveals three main possibilities as to the cause: poisoning, AIDS, or an infection. Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi, Arafat's personal physician, said he knows that French doctors found the AIDS virus in Arafat's blood. Prof. Gil Lugassi, president of the Israel Hematologists Association who read the report, said that the symptoms described could be typical of AIDS. Another senior Israeli physician who read the report said, "It is a classic case of food poisoning" that should have been countered with antibiotics. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mubarak Poised to Win Egypt Vote - Daniel Williams
    Egyptians voted Wednesday in the country's first multi-candidate presidential election, with predictions that President Hosni Mubarak, 77, was guaranteed victory by a wide margin because of popular support and his party's undisguised dominance of the polling process. (Washington Post)
        See also below Commentary: Cairo Dispatch: False Choice - Joshua Hammer (New Republic)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel to Accept European Inspectors on Egyptian-Gaza Border - Amos Harel and Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon on Wednesday approved an Egyptian compromise proposal regarding control of the Gaza-Egypt border following the Israeli pullout from Gaza. Under the arrangement, Egypt will close the Rafah border terminal for six months of repairs as soon as Israel leaves. During this time, people and goods will enter Gaza through the Israeli terminals at Kerem Shalom and Nitzana. At the end of this period, people will resume entering and leaving through Rafah under the supervision of European border inspectors. Israeli inspectors will be able to keep tabs on traffic through Rafah via cameras installed in the terminal. This is the first time that Israel has accepted the principle of European supervision of Gaza's borders, and it could set a precedent for the Gaza port and airport that the PA is planning. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF to Respond Harshly to Gaza Attacks - Sheera Claire Frenkel
    The army should respond to terrorism with a heavier hand following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also International Community Won't Give Israel Free Hand in Gaza - Herb Keinon
    Israel is mistaken in believing that, by withdrawing from Gaza, the international community will tolerate all types of military retaliation against rocket fire originating from Gaza, a senior Western diplomatic official said Wednesday.
        The official said the international community did not accept Prime Minister Sharon's interpretation that the first stage of the road map was sequential, with the Palestinians obligated to dismantle terrorism before Israel had to freeze all settlement construction and remove unauthorized settlements. Rather, the official said, the Europeans believed that the steps must be taken in parallel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel: Hamas Can Run for Palestinian Council If It Disarms - Aluf Benn
    Israel is demanding that Hamas disarm and abrogate its charter as a condition for participating in the elections for the Palestine National Council, scheduled to take place in January 2006. Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Shalom have been mentioning Israel's opposition to Hamas' participation in the PNC elections in their meetings with foreign diplomats, pointing to the organization's violent activities and to its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel. Senior Israeli diplomatic sources say the international community is deaf to Israel's pleas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Moussa Arafat Was a Relic of His Uncle's Misrule - Khaled Abu Toameh
    After the signing of the Oslo Accords, Yasser Arafat appointed his nephew Moussa as commander of the PA Military Intelligence Force. Moussa Arafat's main task was to crack down on opponents and critics of the PA government. Like many of the PA security chiefs, Moussa quickly became notorious for his ruthlessness and involvement in various corruption scandals. Many Palestinians who were arrested by his men later complained that they had been brutally tortured.
        The only question being asked in Gaza on Wednesday was not who was responsible for the assassination of Gen. Arafat, but who was next in line. "The bad guys are killing one another and that's good for the Palestinian people," commented a respected Palestinian academic in Ramallah. "Let's just hope that they will continue until they're all gone." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lawlessness in Gaza Threatens All Prospects of Statehood - Editorial
    In recent months, Palestinian and international human rights groups, lawyers, judges, and activists have been sounding the alarm about the climate of chaos in the Gaza Strip and warning that it threatens to undermine all prospects for peace, security and statehood. The law of the gun is now governing Gaza, and it is the PA, which ought to be governing Gaza, that is ultimately responsible for the climate of lawlessness. The climate of impunity must be replaced with a climate of accountability in which everyone - including members of the security forces - is held accountable for their crimes. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Cairo Dispatch: False Choice - Joshua Hammer
    As Egypt prepares for its first multiparty presidential election, the Mubarak regime's strategy can be summed up by a single word: containment. Mubarak grudgingly green-lighted the vote last February, bowing to pressure from the Bush administration, feisty opposition groups inside Egypt, and a new generation of Western-educated technocrats inside his ruling National Democratic Party. Since then, the ruling party has stage-managed every aspect of the process. Voting is open to all Egyptians, as long as they registered by December 2004 - two months before Mubarak called for the multiparty vote. By some estimates 15 million Egyptians, many of whom have become excited about politics for the first time, have been disenfranchised.
        Numerous Egyptians insist that the process Mubarak has set in motion could easily spiral out of the party's control after the election. "They can't stuff the genie back in the bottle," said Diaa al Rashwan, an analyst with the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. (New Republic)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Government Insists on Dismantling Gaza Synagogues - Dan Izenberg
    (Jerusalem Post)

    • The Israeli government on Tuesday asked the High Court of Justice to reject the petition calling on it to seek Palestinian or international guarantees for the survival of the Gaza Strip synagogues and to leave them intact even if no such guarantees are forthcoming.
    • According to the response to the court submitted by the state's representative, attorney Avi Licht, it is not in Israel's interest to ask for international protection. The international community has not intervened to protect Israel from Palestinian terrorism, and Israel is not interested in having an international force dispatched to protect the synagogues. An international presence in Gaza would only hamper Israel's future attempts to fight back against Palestinian terrorism.
    • Licht also rejected arguments that the destruction of synagogues by Israel would encourage other governments to destroy the synagogues in their lands. He wrote that the situation in Gaza, where there is no law and order, was different from those in sovereign states with effective governments. If anything, wrote Licht, the pictures of Palestinian mobs destroying the synagogues might encourage mobs in other lands to do the same.

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