Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 12, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Fatah: Ceasefire Ends at Year's End; Fires Rocket at Northern Israel - Jonathan D. Halevi (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
    In an official announcement Sunday in Gaza, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, joined Hamas to announce that the temporary ceasefire will end at the end of 2005, in accordance with the Cairo agreement among the Palestinian groups.
    The statement emphasized that the Brigades continues to support the armed struggle as the only way to liberate Palestine.
    The al-Aqsa Brigades in Gaza claimed responsibility for firing Kassam rockets at Nativ Ha'asara, Kfar Aza, Sderot, and an army base near Nahal Oz in Israel.
    In Jenin, the al-Aqsa Brigades announced for the first time that they had launched a Kassam rocket from the northern West Bank at an Israeli community near Afula.
    See also Palestinian Groups Support Hamas Call to Prepare for Renewed Fight Against Israel - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Palestinian groups have announced they support Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal's call to prepare for the renewal of fighting against Israel.
    On Saturday, Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah said the group will not renew its truce with Israel when it expires at the end of the year.
    In addition, the Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees' Salah al-Din Brigades, and several groups associated with the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades announced in a joint statement that "the calm has gone to hell."

Israel Campus Beat
- December 11, 2005

Point Counter-Point:
    What to Do about Iran?

Syria Accused Over Mass Graves Found at Intelligence HQ in Lebanon - Nicholas Blanford (Times-UK)
    Dozens of bodies have been exhumed from mass graves in the Bekaa Valley, close to the site of the former Syrian military intelligence headquarters in the ethnic Armenian town of Anjar in Lebanon, about two miles from the border with Syria.
    Ghazi Aad, the head of Solide, which works to release Lebanese detainees in Syrian jails, told The Times: "These are not the only mass graves in Lebanon."
    "There are others around the offices of Syrian military intelligence. We need to have an international commission of inquiry to investigate these atrocities."

Egypt Fears al-Qaeda Attack on Suez Canal - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    Egypt put its installations along the Suez Canal on high alert over the weekend after receiving warnings of a possible terrorist attack by al-Qaeda on ships in the strategic waterway.
    See also Bethlehem Fears Al-Qaeda Attack on Christmas Eve - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

Prof. Robert Israel Aumann Accepts Nobel Prize - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Hebrew University mathematics Prof. Robert Israel Aumann accepted the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics in Stockholm on Saturday evening.
    Aumann brought 34 family members to Stockholm, including children, spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
    The Israeli laureate stood out among the other Nobel recipients, with his flowing white beard and a white crocheted kippa on his head.

Take Action Against the Iranian Nuclear Threat (Conference of Presidents)
 * Urge Congress to pass the Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005.
    Find their addresses at and
 * Urge foreign governments on the IAEA Board of Governors to support the referral of Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council.
    Find their addresses here.
 * Urge U.S. policymakers to maintain the policy of not allowing Iran to acquire a domestic nuclear fuel cycle.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Denies British Report It Plans Iran Attack - Robert Berger
    Israel reacted swiftly to a report in London's Sunday Times that it plans an attack on Iran in March if Teheran does not halt its nuclear program. "This is ridiculous. I do not know of any decision. I think it is entirely baseless," said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "It would be a nightmare for all of us if this kind of regime will hold a nuclear bomb," he said. "It will destabilize not only our region, it will destabilize the whole world." However, "we believe that this is the ultimate responsibility of the international community. There are contacts, negotiations, and initiatives to move it forward to the UN Security Council, and I hope that it will come there soon." (VOA News)
        See also Israel: Action Against Iran to be Diplomatic Only
    Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's foreign policy department, denied the assertions that Israel planned to attack Iran. Gilad told Israel Radio that an international diplomatic effort was underway to put a stop to the Iranian nuclear threat. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Proposal: Ban Iran from World Cup Finals
    Former West German international midfielder Wolfgang Overath suggested on Friday in an interview on German television that Iran should be banned from the 2006 World Cup finals because of a call by Iran's president to move Israel to Europe. (Reuters/Ynet News)
  • Israel Says EU is Breaching International Terror Law - Sharmila Devi
    Israel has accused the EU of breaching international laws against terrorism by maintaining contact with the radical Islamist groups Hamas and Hizballah. "The EU in its contacts with Hamas and Hizballah is clearly not maintaining its legal commitment concerning the war against terrorism," said an Israeli official familiar with the legal analysis prepared by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The analysis cites UN Security Council Resolution 1373, adopted after the September 11 attacks on the U.S., which stipulates that member states must refrain from providing either active or passive support to those involved in terrorism. (Financial Times)
  • World Bank Sees Palestinian Economy Expand
    The Palestinian economy will expand by at least 8% in 2005 with unemployment expected to fall sharply, a World Bank report predicted Sunday. Growth was strong this year, raising personal incomes by an estimated 12%, the World Bank said.
        "Of greatest concern is the serious deterioration in internal law and order," which is deterring potential private investment, the report said. The PA has not done enough to combat corruption and has agreed to salary and pension demands it cannot afford, the report said. Donor payments this year are expected to reach $1.1 billion, up 20% from 2004, the report noted, cautioning that donors will not increase payments without visible progress in security, governance, and economic management. (AP/Forbes)
        See also Palestinians Export Crops from Gaza Ex-Settlements - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Palestinians exported the first load of crops on Sunday grown in Gaza greenhouses left behind by evacuated Jewish settlers. Officials from the Palestine Economic Development Company, which is running the greenhouses, said 2.5 tons of peppers left Gaza through the Karni commercial crossing for sale in Israeli markets. (Reuters)
  • Car Bomb Kills Anti-Syrian MP in Beirut
    A car bomb explosion killed staunch anti-Syrian member of parliament and journalist Gebran Tueni in Beirut on Monday, police said. Three other people also died and 10 were wounded in the explosion that blew up Teuni's armored SUV in Christian east Beirut. (Reuters/ABC News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Opposes Convoy Passage from Gaza - Ronny Sofer
    Israel has insisted it will not allow the passage of Palestinian convoys through its territory on Dec. 15, despite U.S. pressure and American mediation attempts. "The prime minister's decision from last Monday after the bombing attack in Netanya still stands," a diplomatic source in Jerusalem stated. Over the weekend, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch met with Sharon, Mofaz, and Abbas in a bid to reach a settlement. However, the talks failed. Government officials in Israel continue to insist that the PA exhibit clear steps against Islamic Jihad terror cells and prevent the firing of rockets at Israel before negotiations are resumed. (Ynet News)
        See also Unsafe Passage - Editorial
    Convoys and Kassams cannot flow at the same time. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Defense Officials: "The Palestinians Are Playing With Us" at Rafah Border Crossing - Ronny Sofer
    Israeli defense officials have criticized the Palestinians' work in the Rafah crossing. One of the problems was that online information about the people entering the crossing was not transferred to Israel, contrary to the agreement signed following Rice's pressure. At first, images of people entering from Egypt were only transferred 15 minutes later. In the past few days the delay was reduced to five minutes.
        The more serious problem from Israel's point of view was, according to aides of Mofaz, "the feeling that the Palestinians are fooling us with the names and the details of the people entering." "We have information about al-Qaeda members and people from the black list of the Palestinian terror entering the crossing from Egypt to the Gaza Strip," Defense Ministry officials said. "In light of the feeling that the Palestinians are playing with us and are not meeting their commitments to the crossings agreement mediated by the secretary of state, we said that we plan to reexamine what is happening in the Karni and Erez crossings," the officials added. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Finds Tunnel Used for Smuggling Terrorists from Gaza to Israel - Jonathan Lis and Yuval Azoulay
    Israel Defense Forces troops on Saturday uncovered an uncompleted tunnel for smuggling Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip to Israel near the Erez crossing. A few weeks ago a senior IDF official said that the Palestinians were working on digging tunnels into Israel ever since the IDF withdrew from Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Navy Foils Weapons Smuggling into Gaza - Hanan Greenberg
    On Saturday, Ashdod region Israeli Navy Commander Yoram Lax reported, "We hit two swimmers who attempted to smuggle in combat means from Egypt to the Gaza Strip" in "another incident in a series of smuggling attempts thwarted in the past two weeks." "We are seeing terror group motivation to smuggle combat means by sea," he added. In Saturday's incident, a joint force of naval commandos and forces aboard a Navy vessel spotted two swimmers carrying bags containing weapons.
        IDF officials estimate the two were carrying what they termed "special weapons," rather than guns and other arms that are usually smuggled in on the ground. "Usually it's not worthwhile to undertake such efforts in order to smuggle regular combat means," a Navy official said. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Caught with Bombs at Bethlehem Checkpoint - Efrat Weiss
    A 20-year-old Palestinian carrying two ready-to-use explosive devices packed with nails was arrested by Border Guard police officers Saturday at the Bethlehem checkpoint south of Jerusalem. The man told his interrogators that he had planned on carrying out a terror attack in Jerusalem because of his "hatred of Jews." (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Mein Kampf, Iranian Edition - Editorial
    Keep it up, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Speak with your heart about Israel. Say what you feel and repeat it as often as you like. Ahmadinejad issues his pronouncements with such raw gusto that he seizes the world's attention. Countries as diverse as Germany, China, Turkey, Britain, Canada and of course the United States have condemned Ahmadinejad's statements, as have the UN Security Council and European Union. Suddenly it is no longer acceptable to ignore the festering danger lurking in Tehran. The only question is whether the world will do more than protest. Iran is vulnerable to economic sanctions, and it should be made an international pariah, soon. Maybe if Ahmadinejad continues his bellicose patter, it will. (Rocky Mountain News)
        See also Iran Expert: What's Behind Iran Remarks? - Roee Nahmias
    "In my opinion, these declarations have been made due to internal circumstances, a wish by Ahmadinejad to be treated as a leader in the sphere of external affairs, and not just on social affairs, on which his elections campaign was based," said Prof. David Menashri, head of Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. Furthermore, "his declarations stem from a lack of experience," Menashri said. "It's important to remember that he is not the deciding factor, and that spiritual leader Khamenei is at the end of the day the one who ultimately approves the president's actions."
        The statements mark the flexing of the president's muscles - at times, a show that stems from the Iranian revolution's weakness - and Israel in this case is the victim "on which to take it out on." Menashri concludes: "This is a revolution that has failed, and it's good for it to have a distant enemy to focus its attention on. Hence, the revolution boosts its prestige by showing how Israel and America are frightened of it. In fact, Israel is used as the revolution's reason for living." (Ynet News)
  • Egypt's Ugly Election - Editorial
    Government security forces and gangs of thugs from the ruling National Democratic Party blockaded access to dozens of polling sites where opposition candidates were strong. In several cases they opened fire on citizens who tried to vote; 10 people were reported killed. Inside the election stations, government appointees blatantly stuffed ballot boxes in full view of judicial monitors. President Hosni Mubarak, who received a new six-year mandate in another unfair election in September, used such fraud last month to take away the parliamentary seat of Egypt's foremost liberal democrat, Ayman Nour, who was the runner-up in the presidential election.
        Will Mr. Mubarak's behavior be linked to the $1.8 billion in annual U.S. aid Egypt receives? Egyptians will now see if Mr. Bush is serious about defending the cause of freedom in the center of the Middle East. (Washington Post)
        See also Saving Egypt from Mubarak - Saad Eddin Ibrahim
    It is now clear that Mubarak's scare tactics, oppressive policies, and corruption have boosted the Muslim Brotherhood. U.S. officials fear that Islamists would take Egypt in an Iranian direction, something I believe is highly unlikely if the political process is opened to their most moderate leaders. It is time for the U.S. to support the Egyptian people directly by starting to talk to all its citizens, including Muslim democrats. The writer, a professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo, was imprisoned three times for pro-democracy activities between 2000 and 2003. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    The Promise of Democratic Peace - Condoleezza Rice (Washington Post)

    • Who truly believes, after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that the status quo in the Middle East was stable, beneficial, and worth defending?
    • How could it have been prudent to preserve the state of affairs in a region that was incubating and exporting terrorism; where the proliferation of deadly weapons was getting worse, not better; where authoritarian regimes were projecting their failures onto innocent nations and peoples; where Lebanon suffered under the boot heel of Syrian occupation; where a corrupt Palestinian Authority cared more for its own preservation than for its people's aspirations; and where a tyrant such as Saddam Hussein was free to slaughter his citizens, destabilize his neighbors, and undermine the hope of peace between Israelis and Palestinians?
    • It is sheer fantasy to assume that the Middle East was just peachy before America disrupted its alleged stability.

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