Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 15, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Qatar FM: Arabs Should Talk to Israel (Aljazeera-Qatar)
    Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani told the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations Wednesday that Arab hardliners were pursuing the "wrong policy" by refusing to talk to Israel.

American Jewish Soldier to Receive Medal of Honor - President George W. Bush (White House)
    President Bush announced Wednesday: "One of the greatest Jewish soldiers America has ever known is Tibor Rubin. After surviving the Holocaust and the Nazi death camp, this young man came to America. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and fought in the Korean War. He was severely wounded and was later captured by the enemy."
    "For two-and-a-half years, he survived in a POW camp. He risked his life for his fellow soldiers nearly every night by smuggling extra food for those who were ill - a skill he had learned in the Nazi camps - and because of his daring, as many as 40 American lives were saved."
    "Next week, I will bestow upon this great patriot our nation's highest award for bravery, the Medal of Honor."
    See also Were Tibor Rubin and 137 Other Soldiers Denied the Medal of Honor Because of Anti-Semitism? - Tom Tugend (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles)
    Should Rubin receive all the medals for which he has been recommended, he would become the most decorated American soldier of the Korean War.

How Islamists Are Infiltrating Britain's Top Companies - Shiv Malik (Independent-UK)
    The militant Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, that Tony Blair has said should be banned, has members in some of Britain's most important institutions including IBM and Reuters, an Independent on Sunday investigation has revealed.
    The group seeks to form a global Islamic state regulated by sharia law.

Israeli Manufacturers Win $150M Turkish UAV Contract (Defense Industry Daily)
    Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Elbit Systems have won a contract estimated to be worth $150 million to supply unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the Turkish military.

Useful Reference:

Israeli Casualties in the Gaza Strip (Israel Defense Forces)
    Since 1967, 87 Israeli civilians and 179 members of the Israeli security forces were killed in the Gaza Strip; of these, 43 civilians and 97 members of the security forces were killed since September 2000.
    In addition, 1,074 civilians and 3,777 members of the security forces were wounded since 1967; of these, 749 civilians and 668 members of the security forces were wounded since September 2000.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Smuggle Weapons into Gaza from Egypt
    Palestinian gunrunners smuggled hundreds of assault rifles and pistols across the Egyptian frontier into Gaza, dealers and border officials said Wednesday, confirming Israeli fears about giving up border control. Black market prices for weapons dropped sharply, with the price of AK-47 assault rifles nearly cut in half, to $1,300, and even steeper reductions for handguns. Israel voiced concern about chaos along the Egypt-Gaza border in the three days since its pullout, sending messages to the U.S., Egypt, and the Palestinians. "We will not put up with this," Defense Minister Mofaz said. Egypt had assured Israel that it would prevent weapons smuggling once its troops took over from Israel along the Gaza frontier, and Cairo and the PA pledged to seal the border. Thousands have crossed unhindered since Monday. (AP/New York Times)
        See also Israel Fears al-Qaeda Infiltration into Gaza from Egypt - Ze'ev Schiff, Amos Harel, and Arnon Regular
    After the collapse of the Gaza-Egyptian border in the three days since Israel withdrew from the Strip, Israel is fearful not only of massive arms smuggling into Gaza, and consequently to the West Bank, but also that al-Qaeda operatives will be able to enter Gaza freely. The border collapse is occurring at a time when Egypt is having trouble eliminating al-Qaeda cells in Sinai, and Jerusalem fears that al-Qaeda will renew its efforts to send operatives into Gaza and the West Bank.
        Israeli intelligence officials say Palestinian terror organizations have been making a concerted effort in the last few days to smuggle as many weapons as they can into Gaza via the breached border with Egypt, which wanted Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists have been crossing freely. "All the terror organizations are working energetically now," an IDF source said. "The goal is to bring in large quantities of weapons before the Egyptians close the breach."
        Some militants who have stayed out of Gaza for fear of being arrested by Israeli security forces are now heading back in. In addition, Israeli officials are worried about Palestinians who have crossed the border into Sinai and may continue south, from where they can infiltrate into Israel in areas where there is no fence between Egyptian territory and the Negev, in an effort to carry out terror attacks in Israel. Israeli forces Thursday arrested 20 Palestinian from Gaza attempting to infiltrate into Israel from Sinai. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Will a Gaza "Hamas-stan" Become a Future Al-Qaeda Sanctuary? - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and David Keyes (JCPA)
  • Iraqi Insurgents Kill 160 in Baghdad - Ellen Knickmeyer and Naseer Nouri
    Insurgents struck the Iraqi capital Wednesday with at least a dozen attacks that targeted Shiite Muslim civilians, Iraqi security forces, and American troops, killing more than 160 people in the deadliest day of violence in Baghdad since the U.S. invasion. U.S. military officials said the attacks bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda in Iraq, led by Abu Musab Zarqawi. (Washington Post)
        See also Terrorists Unite to Plot Iraqi Civil War - Anthony Loyd
    According to U.S. military intelligence sources, Abu Musab Zarqawi, the man responsible for the bloodiest acts of terror in Iraq over the past two years, now commands thousands of fighters from various rival groups and is set to order further waves of bombings. (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Bush Tells Sharon: No More Steps Till Gaza is Quiet - Herb Keinon
    At a meeting with Prime Minister Sharon in New York on Wednesday, President Bush said that from the U.S. perspective, Gaza is a test ground, and for there to be any further steps in the diplomatic process the Palestinians must ensure quiet, security, and proper governance. Bush also told Sharon the U.S. would press the Egyptians to take control of the Egyptian-Gaza border. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Bush Condemns Destruction of Gaza Synagogues
    President Bush, speaking at a commemoration of 350 years of Jewish life in America on Wednesday, said: "To stand for religious freedom, we must expose and confront the ancient hatred of anti-Semitism, wherever it is found. When we find anti-Semitism at home, we will confront it. When we find anti-Semitism abroad, we will condemn it. And we condemn the desecration of synagogues in Gaza that followed Israel's withdrawal."  (White House)
  • Official PA Gaza Pullout Celebration Ends in Gunfire
    An official PA celebration to mark Israel's withdrawal from Gaza ended in gunfire Wednesday, when a militant grabbed a microphone away from a rap singer. Police fired in the air as they escorted the singer away, and the crowd of 2,500 quickly dispersed. PA Chairman Abbas earlier decided to skip the celebration after it became clear that the crowd would be small. At a Hamas rally in Gaza City on Tuesday, tens of thousands filled the streets. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Supreme Court: West Bank Fence Is Legal - Yuval Yoaz
    Israel's High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected a July 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague and ruled that Israel had the authority in principle to build a separation fence in the West Bank, beyond the "green line," for security reasons. The court also ruled that the state must consider an alternative route for the fence near the West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe.
        The nine-justice panel ruled that according to international law, an army in occupied territory is authorized to erect a fence in order to protect the lives of Israelis, including settlers. The justices ruled that since the judges at The Hague were not presented with the complete evidential basis for Israel's security needs, the international court's ruling does not bind the Israeli High Court of Justice. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Toward a Quartet Position on Hamas: European Rules on Banning Political Parties - David Makovsky and Elizabeth Young
    It will be interesting to see whether the EU supports the same restrictions on Hamas that European states place on extremist parties at home. Were it to follow the European practice, the EU would require the PA to enact eligibility rules requiring Hamas (and any other party wishing to participate in the January ballot) to disarm, disband militias, forswear violence, and end all forms of incitement to violence.
        A party running on a platform calling for Israel's destruction by its very nature is an advocate of violence. Furthermore, any party that could use force of arms as political leverage is a threat to the entire democratic process. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • New Legal Standing of Gaza Stirs Debate - Joshua Mitnick
    "From our point of view, with our pullout from Gaza, Gaza becomes Palestinian jurisdiction," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Ron Prosor. "We urge the Palestinian people to step up to the plate and start an urgent and vital process of nation building." Israel's government refused to describe the territories conquered in the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict as occupied, saying there was never an internationally recognized sovereign power there. (Washington Times)
  • The Perils of Post-Pullout Gaza - Amir Taheri
    The current euphoria about the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is misplaced and dangerous. The most conservative estimates put the number of mini-armies in Gaza at 22. To these must be added the PA's security force and police, which also operate as rival factions. For a total population of perhaps 1.2 million, Gaza is believed to have over 100,000 armed men. It is also the single biggest producer of "volunteers for suicide-martyrdom" in the world. The worst-case scenario could make Gaza a magnet for Islamist jihadists, who appear determined to create "a crescent of fire" from Iraq to Egypt. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Bad Start in Gaza - Editorial (Washington Post)

    • Only days after the final withdrawal of Israeli forces, the Gaza Strip is on the verge of anarchy. Despite promises to impose law and order, the Palestinian Authority has allowed mobs of looters and armed extremists to rampage through former Jewish settlements, where they have burned or bulldozed synagogues left standing by Israel.
    • Many of the valuable greenhouses that, with the generous help of international donors, were saved for use by the Palestinians have been stripped of equipment as police stood by and watched.
    • Despite a formal agreement with Israel to maintain security, Egypt has allowed thousands of Palestinians to illegally cross its border, including rifle-brandishing militants. If it is not quickly checked, the disorder will destroy Palestinian hopes that the Gaza transfer will become a step toward statehood.
    • This week's events further undermine the claim of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he can impose democratic rule of law in Gaza without directly confronting armed extremist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
    • Unless Palestinian and Egyptian leaders take immediate steps to fulfill their commitments in Gaza, they will bear the responsibility for a new stalemate - or worse - in the Middle East.

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