Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 22, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S.: PA Performance "Far From Satisfactory" - Dan Robinson (VOA News)
    U.S. officials have briefed members of Congress on what the Bush administration believes must happen in the wake of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza.
    Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, C. David Welch, said: "Although President Mahmoud Abbas has taken some steps to assert control, overall Palestinian Authority performance to date has been far from satisfactory."
    "The [PA] must move quickly to establish order and to take steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terror," he said.
    Some members of Congress expressed concern that without a strong PA commitment to control radical groups, money the U.S. is providing to Palestinians to help spur economic growth will be wasted.

Poll: Palestinians See Withdrawal as Victory But Support Ceasefire (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    According to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and Gaza on Sep. 7-9, 2005, 84% see the Israeli withdrawal as a victory for Palestinian armed resistance; 40% give Hamas credit, while 21% give credit to the PA and 11% to Fatah.
    62% oppose and 35% support continued attacks against Israel from Gaza and 60% support and 37% oppose collection of arms from armed factions in Gaza. 77% support and 22% oppose the current ceasefire.
    73% support and 25% oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state that would start first in Gaza and gradually extend to the West Bank.
    56% view the Israeli withdrawal as the end of occupation and the start of independent Palestinian statehood.
    However, 60% expect that internal infighting will follow the Israeli withdrawal.

Former PA Minister Escapes Assassination - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hani al-Hassan, a former PA interior minister, escaped an attempt on his life Tuesday when a group of masked men fired several shots at him during a visit to Nablus.
    Sources said the assailants belonged to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

Egyptian Brides Smuggled into Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian sources estimated on Tuesday that at least 100 Egyptian brides were smuggled into Gaza in the past week.
    "It's much cheaper to marry a woman from Egypt," said a source.
    Some of the men were already married and decided to take a second or third wife after discovering that Egyptian families were eager to send their daughters to a relatively better life in Gaza.
    One of the brides, Samira, 28, of Al-Arish in Egypt, said she agreed to marry the man she met only hours earlier "because this was an opportunity that should not be missed."
    "The economic situation in Egypt is not as good as in the Gaza Strip."


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  • Israel Security Director: Expect More Attacks from West Bank - Greg Myre
    The director of Israel's Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, said Wednesday that armed Palestinian factions were increasingly likely to initiate attacks from the West Bank after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. (New York Times)
        See also Shin Bet: PA Is Crumbling, Fatah in Disarray - Arieh O'Sullivan
    The PA is crumbling, its leader Mahmoud Abbas is too weak to enforce law and order, his Fatah party is in disarray, and Hamas is taking control of the Gaza Strip, Diskin said. "(Abbas) has no apparatus to control Fatah. He is a general without soldiers. Giving him more weapons won't give Fatah strength." Diskin said the Palestinians were making enormous efforts to acquire rockets and other weapons in the West Bank, smuggled in from Sinai. Hamas and other groups took advantage of the chaos after the IDF abandoned the Philadelphi corridor to smuggle in huge amounts of weapons and arms as well as return wanted fugitives. In one incident, a Hamas convoy of 15 jeeps crossed one day and returned laden with arms and explosives. According to the Shin Bet, 3,000 rifles, 1.5 million bullets, 150-200 rocket-propelled grenades, and hundreds of kilograms of explosives have been smuggled in so far.
        The Shin Bet believes Islamic extremists who follow an al-Qaeda ideology were still targeting the Sinai resorts and that Israelis should stay away. "There is a strong infrastructure of world Islamic Jihad there, stronger than even the Egyptians themselves were aware of," Diskin said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Shin Bet: "Engineers of Terror" Being Smuggled In from Outside Israel - Hamas Connection to Al-Qaeda and Global Jihad Probed - Amir Buchbut
    Diskin revealed that "engineers of terror" were being smuggled from outside Israel and from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to reinforce efforts to produce high trajectory weapons. He also stated: "We have suspicions that Hamas has connections to the global Jihad; we are investigating this in order to prove it." (Maariv-Hebrew; 21Sep05)
        Diskin also discussed the issue of the security fence. "As long as the West Bank is not sealed off, effective supervision must be in place. I also oppose any passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, excluding humanitarian cases," he said. (Ynet News)
  • Rice: PA Should Disarm Fatah Militias First
    In an interview with TIME magazine published Monday, Secretary of State Rice said: "Any functioning democracy has to have one authority and one gun, as Mahmoud Abbas has put it. So I think we will want to work with the international community to address this question. I think it is an extremely important question because I don't, frankly, think Hamas can have it both ways.
        Now, I think it would be a good start for the Palestinians, by the way, if they would disarm the militias of Fatah. That would be a good start. They have a roadmap obligation to disarm terrorist organizations and militias. But as a starting point, because I understand that there are complications with Hamas and there are questions about how capable they would be of actually insisting on disarmament of Hamas." (State Department)
  • Israel: Frontier with Gaza an "International Border"
    Israel declared its frontier with the Gaza Strip an international border on Wednesday. Israelis and foreign nationals will now need a passport to move between Israel and all parts of Gaza. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA Rejects Quartet Call to Dismantle Militias - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday rejected an appeal from the Quartet to dismantle armed militias and called on the international community to stop meddling in the Palestinians' internal affairs. Ministers of the Quartet said in a joint statement Tuesday that following Israel's pullout from Gaza, Palestinians needed to "dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructures." Hatem Abdel Kader, a legislator representing the ruling Fatah faction, said, "The Quartet is not authorized to make such a demand." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Kofi Annan to Sharon: Withdraw from Shaaba Farms Near Lebanese Border - Eliel Shahar
    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan this week called on Israel to consider withdrawing from the Shaaba Farms [located on Israel's side of the border with Lebanon]. In a meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Annan stressed that Israel indeed withdrew from all of Lebanon's territory, but "the Shaaba Farms are a thorn that should be removed." In international circles there are an increasing number of voices that call on Israel to withdraw from the Shaaba Farms in exchange for the disarming of Hizballah. Sharon replied that the territory in question is Syrian and Israel has no intention of initiating discussions with Syria on withdrawal. (Maariv-Hebrew, 22Sep05)
  • Former Gaza Synagogue to Become Hamas Museum - Ali Waked
    The destroyed synagogue in the evacuated Gaza settlement of Netzarim is expected to be converted into a temporary Hamas museum. Members of the Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, plan to exhibit the terror group's "military industry." Instruments used in suicide attacks and the "tunnel war," as well as missiles and rockets, will be on display. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel's Borders Not a Legal Issue - Ephraim Halevi
    Since its inception, Israel has been forced to defend itself in a series of wars that have collected a heavy toll in lives. A central issue of this far-from-ending battle revolves around the ultimate location of the border that will run between the two states - the one which already exists, the other that is now in the making. No court has ever ruled on the border between two belligerent countries. This is why, among other reasons, the UN Security Council stated in its 1967 resolution (Resolution 242), that Israel has the right for safe, defensible borders. It was clear then, just as it is clear today, that the borders are an issue that should be decided upon in political - not legal - negotiations. The writer was head of the Mossad in 1998-2002. (Ynet News)
  • There Has Been No Genocide Against the Palestinians - Alan Dershowitz
    The Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain proposed the abolition of Holocaust Memorial Day and its replacement with Genocide Day, a holiday devoted to recognizing, among other genocides, the "mass murder of Muslims in Palestine." There has been no genocide against the Palestinian people. When Palestinian bombers target Israeli civilians, Israel refrains from targeting Palestinian civilians in turn. Many Palestinian civilians have died during the many Arab-Israeli wars and intifadas of the past several decades. But that number is dwarfed by the number of Palestinians and Arabs killed by Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Iran during the same period. (Times-UK)
  • Palestinian Violence in Gaza Means Peace Must Wait - Jonathan Gurwitz
    Now the Israelis are gone. And upon their departure, Palestinians celebrated by torching abandoned synagogues and houses and turning Gaza into a three-ring circus of lawlessness, weapons, and violence - inflicted chiefly on fellow Palestinians. If Gaza sovereignty is the first step toward Palestinian statehood, then what has transpired since the Israeli withdrawal doesn't engender support for that state. After Israeli troops departed, Palestinian militants breached Gaza's border with Egypt, overwhelming Egyptian troops. Thousands of people and weapons crossed unimpeded, prompting fears that al-Qaeda has established a new stronghold in Gaza. Is there any doubt now what would happen if Israel withdrew to its pre-1967 borders on the West Bank? (San Antonio Express-News)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Nuclear Policy Requires A Collective Response - Philippe Douste-Blazy, Joschka Fischer, Javier Solana, and Jack Straw (Wall Street Journal, 22Sep05)

    • Two-and-a-half years ago, Iran was forced to admit to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it was building secret installations to enrich uranium and to produce plutonium, which could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons. It was and still is building ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear warheads.
    • If Iran continues on its path, Central Asia and the Middle East, the world's most volatile areas, may well be destabilized. Other states would be likely to enhance their own capabilities. The NPT will be badly damaged, as will the goal of creating a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, a cause to which we are committed. This helps explain the wide support we have.
    • Last month, Iran decided to defy the international community by restarting uranium conversion at its plant in Isfahan, a unilateral step halting our talks. Iran claims it is doing no more than enjoying its right to make peaceful use of nuclear technology. These arguments do not stand up. No one is trying to stop Iran from generating electricity by nuclear power. We do not question Iran's - or any country's - rights under the NPT.
    • For nearly two decades Iran hid enrichment-related and reprocessing activities which, if successful, would enable it to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon. Only since 2002, as the extent of its undeclared activities was uncovered, has Iran admitted to them, and then only under the pressure of IAEA investigations. Iran initially denied having enriched any nuclear material, but was found to have done so using two separate processes. Iran also claimed it had no outside help for its centrifuge enrichment program. But it was found to have worked with the same secret network that helped Libya and North Korea develop clandestine nuclear weapons programs.
    • There is no economic logic to the facilities at the center of the dispute - at Isfahan and Natanz - if they are, as Iran claims, solely to produce fuel for nuclear reactors. Iran does not have any nuclear power station in which the fuel it says it wants to produce could be used. It has only one under construction, for which Russia is contracted to supply fuel for 10 years and has offered to supply fuel for the lifetime of the reactor. In breaking the Paris Agreement by resuming suspended activities, Iran rejected, without any serious consideration, detailed proposals for a long-term agreement that we presented last month.
    • In his speech to the General Assembly on Sept. 17, President Ahmedinejad gave no hint of flexibility, talking of a "nuclear apartheid" and insisting that Iran would exercise its right to develop fuel cycle technology, regardless of the concerns of the international community. The spotlight is now on the IAEA Board of Governors to respond. IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei's latest report concludes that "after two and a half years of intensive inspections and investigation, Iran's full transparency is indispensable and overdue."

      The authors are, respectively, the foreign ministers for France and Germany, the EU High Representative, and Britain's foreign secretary.

        See also EU Backs Down on Iran under Russia, China Pressure - Louis Charbonneau
    The European Union's three main powers have dropped a demand that the UN nuclear watchdog report Iran to the Security Council over its atomic plans, due to opposition from Russia and China, diplomats said on Thursday. (Reuters)

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