Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 13, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Leader Prays in Gaza Synagogue - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Hours after thousands of Palestinians desecrated synagogues in Gaza, setting them on fire and taking buildings apart by hand, members of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, headed by senior Hamas chief Mahmoud Zahar, arrived at the synagogue in Kfar Darom and held a Muslim prayer session at the site.
    Ahmad Jabari, another senior figure in Hamas, said that Hamas would continue to attack Israel.
    "The withdrawal proves that the resistance is the only legitimate weapon. We will strike at any hand that reaches for our weapons," said Jabari.

EU-Funded NGOs Behind Threat to Arrest Israeli General in London - Gerald Steinberg (Jerusalem Post)
    When IDF Gen. Doron Almog landed in London, he was forced to return without leaving the aircraft, after a low-level British official threatened him with arrest.
    The pseudo-legal process against Almog was led by European-funded Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that exploit the language of human rights to pursue the goal of political genocide - in the language of Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.

Britain Won't Change Holocaust Tribute (Ynet News)
    Prime Minister Blair's office said Monday it had no plans to rename Britain's Holocaust Day, despite calls from Muslim groups to make the annual memorial more inclusive.

Israel Allows Unrestricted Pakistani Imports (AFP/Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Israel on Monday authorized unrestricted Pakistani imports on a temporary basis, just after the two countries made first official diplomatic contact.
    The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the move was made "in the context of warming relations between Israel and Pakistan."
    See also Musharraf: Pakistan Not Going to Recognize Israel (PakTribune)

Saudis Partially Lift Boycott on Israel - Nathan Guttman (Jerusalem Post)
    Saudi Arabia has agreed to lift certain aspects of its boycott against Israel to satisfy U.S. demands regarding the Saudi request to join the World Trade Organization.
    As part of an agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia signed last week, the Saudi government declares it will not enforce a boycott against American firms that have trade relations with Israel.
    A group of 47 congressmen had sent a letter to President Bush, calling upon him not to sign a new agreement with Saudi Arabia before the boycott issue was resolved.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Favor Establishment of Independent State in Gaza - Joshua Brilliant
    73% of Palestinians favor the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip that would gradually extend to the West Bank, a public opinion poll conducted last week by Khalil Shikaki's Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research established. 84% consider the withdrawal a victory for the armed resistance. (UPI)
  • Britain May Send "Third Party" Monitors to Gaza-Egypt Border Crossing - Tim Butcher
    Under a secret plan, accepted in principle by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, security and customs officials from Canada as well as Britain and other European nations would be sent to monitor the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. This would be the first time that Israel has allowed another country to take responsibility for security matters. The job of the British experts will be to scrutinize the security screening procedures by both Egyptian and Palestinian sides at Rafah to ensure no weapons or terrorists are allowed to enter Gaza. This "third party'' scrutiny of the border crossing's security arrangements satisfies the Israeli authorities who are anxious that Gaza does not morph into a giant terror headquarters for operations against them. (Telegraph-UK)
  • U.S. Envoy Says "Patience is Running Out" with Syria - Barbara Slavin
    Syria is harboring training camps for Iraqi insurgents, U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said Monday. U.S. patience with Syria is running out, he said. The U.S. has ruled out no option, including military force, for dealing with the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Khalilzad said during a State Department briefing. Syria is already under U.S. economic sanctions. Khalilzad said Syria is a bigger threat to Iraq than Iran and more of a problem than Pakistan had been for Afghanistan. He called Syria "the No. 1 offender" in the region to "the success of Iraq." (USA Today)
        Syria "should not allow youngsters misguided by al-Qaeda, from Saudi Arabia, from Yemen, from North Africa, to fly into Damascus international airport. It shouldn't be that hard, if you see young men between the ages of 18 and 28, who are coming without a return ticket, landing in Damascus airport to control that," said Khalilzad. (AFX/Forbes)
        See also below Commentary: Regime Change Slowly Advances Along the Road to Damascus - Dean Godson (Times-UK)
  • Syria Braces for Inquiry in Lebanon Murder Case - Hassan M. Fattah
    In an increasingly tense atmosphere, security guards have become more prevalent on the streets of Damascus. Senior UN investigator Mehlis is initially expected to interrogate senior Syrian security officials who were based in Lebanon, including Maj. Gen. Rustom Ghazali, former head of Syrian military intelligence in Beirut, and several of his associates. But many Syrian officials fear that Mehlis may also interrogate much higher-level officials, such as the interior minister and others in Assad's inner circle. That, many say, could link the government directly to the assassination. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Looters Ransack Greenhouses
    Palestinian police on Tuesday were unable to halt looting of Gush Katif's prized greenhouses. The greenhouses, left behind by Israel as part of a deal brokered by international mediators, are a centerpiece of Palestinian plans for rebuilding Gaza's economy. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei implored Palestinians to leave the structures intact. Neve Dekalim was turned into a buzzing bazaar, with people haggling over bricks, scrap metal, and other building materials they had collected.
        Palestinians in Rafah continued to cross the Egyptian border on Tuesday, climbing over a wall and digging tunnels under it. Israeli lawmaker Ephraim Sneh said it was essential for the Egyptians to control the border. "This is their test and this is how they will be judged," he told Israel Radio. "We didn't bring them there for anything else."  (AP/Ha'aretz)
        See also Anarchy in Gaza Strip - Ali Waked
    Thousands of Palestinians raided evacuated Gaza Strip settlements in the wake of the IDF's withdrawal, resorting to an orgy of looting and vandalism. What was supposed to be an orderly process of assuming control over the area turned into a huge scene of chaos mostly controlled by armed terrorists. In Netzarim, thousands rushed into the community with vehicles and are looting whatever they can find, including wood, aluminum, furniture, and plenty of mangos, taken from the orchards. (Ynet News)
        See also An Orgy of Looting and Arson - Matthew Gutman (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egyptian Forces Kill Palestinian at Border - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Egyptian border policemen on Monday opened fire at a group of Palestinians trying to cross the border into Egypt south of Rafah, killing one and wounding three, PA security sources reported. Eyewitnesses said thousands of Palestinians from Rafah and Khan Yunis crossed the border with Egypt during the day. The shooting apparently took place after gunmen from Hamas and Islamic Jihad approached Egyptian security control towers, eyewitnesses said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon to Tell UN: Israel's Responsibility for Gaza Over - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Sharon will leave for New York on Tuesday, where on Thursday he will address the UN General Assembly, which this year will feature heads of state. Israel wants to strengthen international recognition for the end of its control of Gaza, and for the PA's responsibility for the fate of its residents. While at the UN, Sharon will meet with President Bush and the leaders of Russia, Turkey, Britain, Canada, Australia, and the EU, as well as the UN secretary general. Foreign Minister Shalom will meet at the UN for the first time with his Indonesian counterpart. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Ambassador: No Excuse for Gaza Terror - Herb Keinon and Greer Fay Cashman
    With Israel now out of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. will defend "even more vigorously" Israel's right to defend itself if terrorism continues to emanate from the area, departing U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer said Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Sharon: We Are Not in the Road Map Yet - Lally Weymouth
    In an interview published Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon said: "The only plan that exists is the road map. We are not in the road map yet. We are in the pre-road map phase now. To enter the road map, there should be a full cessation of terror, hostilities, and incitement. The Palestinian Authority should dismantle the terrorist organizations, collect their weapons, and implement serious reforms in [the] security [services]. Once they take these steps, we will be able to start negotiations along the road map plan....We're not going to have another disengagement." (Washington Post)
  • Regime Change Slowly Advances Along the Road to Damascus - Dean Godson
    In a stunning display of the Syrian regime's vulnerability, President Bashar Assad has aborted his visit to this week's meeting of the UN General Assembly. Assad was terrified that he might be indicted while in New York off the back of the inquiry into the killing of Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, conducted by the chief UN investigator, Detlev Mehlis. The dogged German had already fingered four pro-Syrian Lebanese security officials and is now - with the help of the French and other secret services - following the powder trail all the way back to Damascus. This is likely to bring him very close to Assad himself. There was a second, connected reason for Assad's unwillingness to travel at this time: fear of a coup. Some Baathist old stagers are desperately unhappy with his ineptitude.
        The Americans certainly want "behavior change," and would shed no tears if Assad fell. The Jordanians and Saudis might not be too unhappy, either: these Sunni monarchies are increasingly fearful of a radical Shia bloc stretching from Iran into Iraq and thence into Syria. (Times-UK)
        See also Justice in Lebanon - Editorial
    If Mehlis can provide details of Syria's involvement in the Hariri killing, Assad could find himself in the pariah's box once occupied by Libya's Moammar Gaddafi, who suffered years of international sanctions because of his sponsorship of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing of an American airliner. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Palestinian State of Nature - Richard Cohen (Washington Post)

    • Last week in Gaza, former head of Palestinian military intelligence Moussa Arafat (Yasser's cousin) was dragged out into the street and shot.
    • The killing says more about the prospects for peace in the region than do assurances that everything is going just fine.
    • Doesn't it say something troubling about a political entity (the Palestinian Authority) that two armed groups could battle for half an hour and not one of the PA's security forces could get to the scene and intervene? This is what passes for Palestine.
    • As a society, the Palestinians have exalted suicide bombings, tolerated senseless and atrocious terrorism, and for years they apathetically supported the kleptomaniacal Yasser Arafat, whose peace plan consisted, basically, of waiting for Israel to evaporate.
    • Gaza is lawless. Kidnappings are common. Armed gangs roam the streets. Under these conditions, it will be impossible for the Palestinians to secure outside investors. Who's going to put money in a business when there's virtually no rule of law?
    • The murder of Moussa Arafat and the ordinary lawlessness of Gaza show that when it comes to enemies, Palestinians don't need Israel. They do just fine on their own.

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