Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 3, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Mossad: Hizballah-Backed Palestinian Terror Groups Are Already in Sinai - Maya Ben-Gal and Ben Caspit (Maariv-Hebrew)
    A Palestinian terror cell run by Hizballah is already in Sinai and is planning to kidnap Israeli tourists during the coming Jewish holidays, Israel's Counter-Terror Bureau has learned.
    The bureau recommends not to travel to Sinai and for Israelis there to return immediately.

Israel Campus Beat
- October 2, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    Pakistan's Overture to Israel

Hamas Won Most Votes in West Bank Local Elections - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    In the third round of local council elections in the West Bank, held last week, Fatah won 53% of seats in the local councils and Hamas only 26%.
    Yet if you take a closer look at the numbers of voters for the two movements, it becomes clear that Hamas actually carried more votes.
    Hamas clearly is the ascendant power among the Palestinian public.

Will Terror Increase in the West Bank? - Amir Rappaport (Maariv-Hebrew, 30Sep05)
    "Unlike others, I'm very optimistic," says Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Yair Golan.
    "As long as we control the territory, and we operate in the heart of Ramallah and Bethlehem and everywhere else, we can continue to prevent high trajectory (rocket and mortar) fire."
    Terror has declined not only due to Israeli preventive actions, but also as a result of political processes which have led to a reduction in activities by Fatah's Tanzim and by many in Hamas, he said.

U.S. Troops Kill 28 Insurgents Near Syria-Iraq Border - Mohammed Barakat (AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune)
    U.S. troops battled insurgents holed up in houses and driving explosives-laden vehicles in a town near the Syrian border, killing at least 28 Sunday in an expansion of their offensive against al-Qaeda fighters along the Euphrates River valley, the military said.

Terror Trail of Cash Leads to Iran, Saudis - Uri Dan (New York Post)
    In the war with Palestinian terrorists, Israel is learning to follow the money. What investigators have uncovered is the secret funneling of millions of dollars from Iran and Saudi Arabia to groups like Hamas in the West Bank.
    A report by the Israeli secret service showed how the money trail worked: Iran "invested more than $10 million to encourage terrorist activity against Israel."
    The money was funneled through Hizballah guerrillas in Lebanon, as well as Western Union, money launderers, and Mideast banks.
    Muntafar Abu Ralyub, a Tanzim militia commander in Jenin captured in 2004, revealed that the basic payment from Hizballah for a terrorist attack ranged from $600 to $1,100.
    If the attack resulted in the death or wounding of an Israeli, there was a $900 bonus, he said.

Dubai Hospital Returns Medical Equipment Manufactured in Israel - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Medical equipment manufactured in Israel worth over $50 million was returned recently by a Dubai hospital in the United Arab Emirates because it carried Made in Israel labels.

How Dumb Could He Be... - Editorial (New York Daily News)
    Goodbye to Imam Intikab Habib, who quickly quit his new gig as a Fire Department chaplain Friday after his private 9/11 views became publicly known.
    Seems that the Saudi-educated cleric - hired to minister to a department still mourning the loss of 343 of its members at the World Trade Center - does not believe that the twin towers were brought down by 19 Islamic skyjackers and thinks there must have been some broader "conspiracy" at work.
    There is abroad in the Muslim world a dead certainty that 9/11 was personally orchestrated by President Bush, or by the Mossad, or by Frosty the Snowman, or by Betty Crocker, take your pick.

Useful Reference:

Israel's Population on Eve of New Year: 6.955M - Zeev Klein (Globes)
    On the eve of the Jewish New Year 5766, the State of Israel's population stands at 6.955 million.
    Israel's Jewish population is 5.3 million; the Arab population is 1.4 million (20%), and there are 299,000 persons classified as "other," for the most part, new immigrants and their families.
    There were 19,000 new immigrants in 5765, 46% from the former Soviet Union, 18% from Ethiopia, and 11% from France, Argentina, the U.S., and other countries.

Prime Minister Sharon's New Year's Greetings (Prime Minister's Office)

President Bush Sends Greetings for Jewish New Year (VOA News)


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Suspends Weeklong Gaza Offensive - Josef Federman
    Israel has suspended its offensive in the Gaza Strip following a lull in rocket fire by Palestinian militants, but it is ready to restart the operation if attacks resume, the army said on Sunday. The operation, which included a series of airstrikes on weapons factories, storage facilities, and launching areas, achieved its goal of weakening militants' ability to attack Israel from Gaza, the army said. Militants have not fired rockets into Israel since last Tuesday. "Just because there have not been attacks does not mean there will not be more," said army spokeswoman Capt. Yael Hartmann. "We will continue the operation when we see the need to rein in possible attacks." Hartmann said the militants' declarations "don't mean anything to us." But after several nights of activity, Israel halted its airstrikes last Thursday. (AP/Newsday)
  • Rice: Hamas Has to be Disbanded, It is a Block to Peace
    Answering questions at Princeton on Friday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "Hamas is a terrorist group and it has to be disbanded, both for peace and security in the Middle East and for the proper functioning of the Palestinian Authority. After all, it is a roadmap obligation of the Palestinian Authority to disband militias and armed resistance groups. There are periods of time of transition in which one has to give some space to the participants, in this case the Palestinians, to begin to come to a new national compact. But I cannot imagine, in the final analysis, a new national compact that leaves an armed resistance group within the political space. You cannot simultaneously keep an option on politics and an option on violence. There simply isn't a case that I can think of internationally where that's been permitted to happen."
        Hamas "stands for the destruction of Israel. Hamas is an organization that asks Palestinian mothers and fathers to give their children up to make themselves suicide bombers. And it is a real detriment and block to further peace in the Middle East. We do, I think, need to give the Palestinians some space to try and reconcile their national politics, but they're going to eventually have to disarm these groups. They can't have it both ways." (State Department)
        See also Hamas Leader Says U.S. Calls to Disarm Group are "Rude"  (AP/Macleans-Canada)
  • Iraq Blasts Saudi Arabia for Anti-Shi'ite Remarks - Suleiman al-Khalidi
    Iraq's interior minister lashed out on Sunday at a Saudi minister who voiced worries about growing Iranian influence and Shi'ite power, saying Iraq would not be lectured by "some Bedouin riding a camel." "We will not allow anyone to interfere in our internal issues, regardless of their political status," said Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabor, a member of the Shi'ite Islamist SCIRI party. "If they want to push 17 million Shi'ite Arabs in Iraq and tell them 'You are Persian' - you are pushing matters along a dangerous path," Jabor said. He said allegations that many Iranians were infiltrating into Iraq were baseless. Jabor hit back at Saudi Arabia's treatment of its own Shi'ites. These are believed to make up 10% of its native population, and complain of being marginalized by a government allied to Wahhabi Sunni scholars who consider Shi'ism a heresy. (Reuters)
  • Suicide Bombings in Bali Kill 22 - Ellen Nakashima and Alan Sipress
    Suicide bombers attacked three tourist restaurants in Bali, Indonesia, Saturday, killing at least 22 people including several foreigners. Terrorist bombings on the island three years ago killed 202 people. Security analysts based in Jakarta said the attacks were probably carried out by Muslim extremists. (Washington Post)
        See also The Stakes in Bali - C. Holland Taylor
    Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and democracy. Last Saturday's attacks in Bali are intended to isolate the country from Western influence, and pave the way for further radical inroads in what was long considered the home of the most liberal and tolerant Islamic culture on earth. Backed by Arab petrodollars, radicals are on the move throughout Indonesia - forcibly shuttering scores of Christian churches; destroying homes, shops and mosques that belong to minority Muslim sects. Half the world's shipping passes through Indonesian territorial waters, and the status of Indonesian Islam is a key barometer of extremist attempts to radicalize the world's entire Muslim population. (Wall Street Journal, 3Oct05)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas and PA Clash in Gaza, Three Dead - Arnon Regular
    One policeman and two civilians were killed and at least 50 people were wounded during clashes between the Palestinian police and Hamas members in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. The clashes erupted when a police patrol in Gaza City stopped a car containing four armed Hamas operatives and tried to confiscate their weapons. According to Palestinian sources, one of the four was Mohammed Rantisi, the son of former Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi. The Hamas men opened fire, and the ensuing confrontation sparked gun battles between Hamas operatives and policemen, with armed Fatah operatives joining in on the side of the police. (Ha'aretz)
        As the PA forces clashed with Hamas members, Hamas used Gaza's mosque speaker system to mobilize its forces. Palestinian sources in Gaza said Hamas terrorists were firing mortar shells at PA police stations in Gaza City neighborhoods. A number of police stations were completely demolished, while others were set ablaze.
        Also on Sunday, one Palestinian was killed and two others were wounded in Gaza when Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorists opened fire at Palestinian taxi and truck drivers demonstrating against the increase in gas prices. (Ynet News)
  • Sharon: Ball in Palestinian Court - Diana Bahur-Nir
    Prime Minister Sharon told the cabinet Sunday that "the message we conveyed during our meetings (at the UN) was that we need to focus on Gaza in order to ensure that the pre-disengagement process is successful." "The responsibility for what happens in Gaza has been passed on from Israel to the Palestinians. They have to prove themselves capable to succeed in Gaza," Sharon said.
        "We warned that Israel views the participation of Hamas in the elections under the current conditions as a threat. This reality contradicts the Road Map and our understandings with the Palestinians. We said that Hamas can participate in the elections only if it renounces violence, disarms, and retracts its pledge to destroy the State of Israel." "Although the elections are an internal Palestinian affair in which Israel cannot interfere, the participation of Hamas will determine the nature of Israel's cooperation with the PA during these elections."
        Defense Minister Mofaz said that Israel made it clear to Hamas that the rules of the game in Gaza have changed and made it more difficult for the terror group to continue rocket attacks in the near future. "On the one hand the organization is interested in calm in order to gain legitimacy for parliamentary elections, but on the other hand its extensive terror activity continues all the time." (Ynet News)
  • Israel Seeks Support Abroad for Blocking Hamas in PA Elections - Aluf Benn and Gideon Alon
    According to political sources, the fight against Hamas' participation in the Palestinian legislative elections now tops Israel's agenda in its international relations. In response to criticism of its intervention in the democratic process in the PA, Israel will emphasize its democratic right to defend itself, and will argue that ruling out a terror group's participation in elections is "an essential, legitimate, and acceptable" step. Prime Minister Sharon posed two conditions that Hamas must meet if it wants to participate in the vote: The movement must disarm, and it must revoke its charter which calls for the destruction of Israel. Jerusalem will demand that the international community restrain the organization and create conditions for elections "in keeping with accepted democratic norms." (Ha'aretz)
        See also German Minister: Hamas Should Not be Allowed to Participate in Elections - Ali Waked
    German Interior Minister Otto Schily said during his visit to Israel that terrorist organizations such as Hamas should not be allowed to participate in Palestinian elections until they commit to ending attacks against Israel. "My personal view is that in an election process only decent groups can take part," he said. "If it is true that Hamas takes part in terrorist attacks and actions, it is so far impossible to see that they can take part in democratic elections." (Ynet News)
  • Israel to U.S.: Reduce the UNIFIL Force in Lebanon - Ben Caspit
    Israel is insisting on a reduction in the activity and presence of the UN's UNIFIL peacekeeping force in Lebanon in light of "serious disappointment" with its operations, information about its cooperation with Hizballah, and its failure to create security along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Israeli representatives would prefer the complete cancellation of UNIFIL and its mandate, but because that is not possible they are prepared to accept its reduction. In the IDF, criticism of UNIFIL's role is increasing due to its permitting Hizballah complete freedom of action along the "blue line" - and the force even cooperates with combatants from the terrorist group. (Maariv-Hebrew, 2Oct05)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Up in Arms Over No Arms - Danny Rubenstein
    The backdrop to the exchanges of gunfire in the Gaza Strip is an attempt by the PA to enforce the decision to ban the carrying of arms in public. The clashes Sunday between Hamas men and PA police were some of the fiercest ever seen in the Strip, but the flare-up appears localized, and not a precursor for a civil war. The decision by the PA to ban the carrying of weapons in public has widespread support in the Strip. "After all, the Israeli occupation of Gaza has ended, and there's no longer any need to walk through the street carrying arms," a Palestinian journalist said. In addition, public anger against Hamas, in the wake of a rally at which an explosion led to the death of 19 people including children, prompted PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to begin to implement the decision. (Ha'aretz)
  • Chalabi: The Survivor - Lesley Stahl
    To his supporters, Ahmed Chalabi is the George Washington of Iraq, a brilliant leader who is more responsible than anyone for persuading President Bush to invade Iraq. To his detractors, he is a snake-oil salesman whose bogus tales of weapons of mass destruction snookered the U.S. into a military quagmire. But there is one thing his friends and enemies agree on: Chalabi may be one of the most resilient and shrewd politicians alive. He is a deputy prime minister in Iraq. In May, he became the chairman of the Energy Committee with authority over Iraq's oil industry.
        Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Chalabi promised that a post-Saddam Iraq would establish diplomatic relations with Israel. When asked if he still stood by those pronouncements, Chalabi said, "I'm not denying that there should be relations, but to say that this is a priority for Iraq now...." "The answer is yes," Chalabi said. "I see no reason why Iraq would not have relations with Israel."  (CBS News-60 Minutes)

    Holiday Features

  • It's Crowded Around Here - Uri Elitzur
    Central Israel is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. In fact, it is four or five times more crowded than the Gaza Strip, and by the way, it's not a bad place to live in. We make up about 2 1/2% of the Middle Eastern population but we don't even have a quarter of a percent of the land in the Middle East. If Abraham were to come and say, "Yitzhak and Ishmael my sons, you are brothers, stop fighting one another, and divide the land among yourselves fairly, and in proportion to the population size," the Arab nation would have to give us back lands about ten times the size of the State of Israel. (Ynet News)
  • Israel: A Middle Eastern Hub of Innovation and Enterprise - Luke Johnson
    Israel has reinvented itself in the past 15 years as an extraordinary hub of innovation - despite the Palestinian conflict. The roots of its economic success lie in its connections to America and its significant industrial-military strength. U.S. software, telecoms, and electronics industries have invested heavily in Israel, taking advantage of tax breaks and a skilled workforce, and stimulating hundreds of spin-off ventures.
        America also taught Israel the importance of venture capital. Today it has 80 local VC funds which manage more than $10bn - the second largest pool of such risk capital in the world in a nation with fewer than 7m people. The economy has grown at rates of up to 6% annually in recent times. GDP per capita at $19,000 is now higher than Spain, Portugal, or New Zealand. Israel is yet another example of a small nation which has outperformed much larger countries endowed with far greater natural resources: Singapore, Ireland, and Switzerland are other cases in point. Each demonstrates that intellectual capital is the most important asset any state can possess. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Human Spirit - Barbara Sofer
    "Do you know when was the last time I went to synagogue services?" Frank, an elderly visitor from Australia, asked Rabbi Shimon Freudlich at the four-year old Chabad House in Beijing, China. He told the rabbi that his last services were on April 13, 1945, two days after he'd been liberated by the U.S. Third Army from Buchenwald. At dinner that evening, one of the guests tentatively approached Frank. "I know it's a long shot," she said. "But might you remember my father Leonard Katz, who survived Buchenwald, too?" Rivers of tears began streaming from Frank's eyes. "Of course I remember him," Frank said. "Like me, he was one of the few kohanim." Leonard was living in Connecticut. The daughter would reunite them.
        The following week, Rabbi Freudlich traveled to New York City where he was the Shabbat guest of Satmar hassidim, and told his host this story. To his shock, the head of the Satmar kollel began to weep. "Please tell Frank and Leonard that Yankel, the third kohen in the minyan, is also still alive."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Southern Provinces - Ehud Ya'ari (Jerusalem Report)

    • Hamas is considering making a concerted effort to seize power via a combination of the ballot box, pressure on the streets, and growing challenges to the authority of Mahmud Abbas. An assumption is gaining ground within Hamas that the administration of Abu Mazen, despite the international support it enjoys, is not able to defend itself as it ought and that the PA security branches are lacking in motivation and completely ineffective. Moreover, the Hamas leadership is close to concluding that it would prefer to fight to preserve the army it has established from a position of legitimacy, following a perceived victory at the polls.
    • Since the disengagement, the PA and its parent movement Fatah have not managed to organize a single successful celebration rally anywhere in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Hamas is holding military marches and rallies for the masses. Throughout the recent period, Hamas has been displaying levels of discipline among its rank and file that the PA can only envy. By contrast, among the Palestinian security apparatuses, the refusal to carry out orders is growing to massive proportions. Most Gazans do not look forward to a Hamas government, but the alternative - the corrupt PA - is not so attractive either.
    • During the week that chaos prevailed at the breached Gaza-Egyptian border following the Israeli army's departure, Hamas smuggled in a large quantity of rifles, RPGs, anti-tank missiles, and a handful of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, all of which will increase their military power by 50% almost overnight. Hamas will carry on blowing up parts of the high wall that the army left along the border with Egypt. They want an open door to Sinai, which serves as their weapons-smuggling corridor.
    • A scenario could develop whereby Hamas de facto takes over the Strip, while the Abu Mazen administration "withdraws" to the West Bank and maintains only nominal authority in the "southern districts." This is a serious possibility, even if many want to believe the assurances of Abu Mazen's confidants that "things will yet work out." Truth is, things may not.

          See also Undermining Mahmud Abbas: The "Green Revolution" and the Hamas Strategy to Take Over the Palestinian Authority - Lt.-Col. Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA, 14Apr05);
      Will a Gaza "Hamas-stan" Become a Future Al-Qaeda Sanctuary? - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and David Keyes (ICA/JCPA, 8Nov04)

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