Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 15, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

International Donors Deny Extra Funds to PA - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    The PA was denied extra funds at Wednesday's donor conference in London because it failed to adhere to spending limitations, according to Israeli and international sources at the meeting.
    The PA had hoped to use the meeting to secure additional money, but the donors expressed concern that the Palestinians had exceeded their budget on payroll and weren't inclined to provide more funds.
    A World Bank study reported that the PA has been running a monthly deficit of $57 million, accumulating a total deficit of $542 million through September.

Terror Attacks Down in 2005 - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    In 2005, 52 Israelis were murdered in terrorist attacks, compared to 118 in 2004, IDF statistics show.
    Five suicide bombings were carried out this year, compared to 14 the previous year. Islamic Jihad is responsible for almost half of the terrorist attacks.
    In 2005, there were 164 incidents of Palestinian mortar and rocket fire into Israel, compared to 288 in 2004.
    However, there was an increase in attacks along the northern border, with 31 incidents in 2005 compared to 18 attacks in 2004.

CIA Director Reportedly Warned Turkey of Iranian Threat (Turkish Press)
    During his recent visit to Ankara, CIA Director Porter Goss is said to have asked for Turkey's support for Washington's policy against Iran's nuclear activities, charging that Tehran had supported terrorism and taken part in activities against Turkey.
    Goss also asked Ankara to be ready for a possible U.S. air operation against Iran and Syria.
    The CIA argued that Iran was supporting terrorism, the PKK, and al-Qaeda, and that Tehran sees Turkey as an enemy and would try to "export its regime."

Israel Aircraft and Boeing Australia Win $100m Australian UAV Contract - Hadas Manor (Globes)
    Israel Aircraft Industries and Boeing Australia have won a $100 million Australian Defense Force (ADF) tender for unmanned aerial vehicles.
    Boeing Australia managing director David Gray said, "The I-View system that Boeing Australia and our partner, IAI, will deliver is among the most advanced tactical unmanned aerial vehicles in the world today."

Iran to Upset Egypt with "34 Bullets for Pharoah" (AFP/Yahoo)
    An extremist Iranian Islamist group is working on a film about the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat entitled "34 Bullets for the Pharoah."
    Produced by the Committee for the Glorification of Martyrs for the World Islamic Movement, "the documentary will feature raw images of the assassination of Sadat, the trial of the martyr Khaled Islamboli and his companions...and their motivation for executing the signatory of the first peace treaty between an Arab country and Israel," said a statement by the group.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush Says Iran a "Real Threat"
    President Bush on Wednesday called Iran a "real threat" and lashed out at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the country's nuclear program and calls for the destruction of Israel. "I called it [Iran] part of the 'axis of evil' for a reason," Bush told Fox News in an interview. "I'm concerned about a theocracy that has got little transparency, a country whose president has declared the destruction of Israel as part of their foreign policy, and a country that will not listen to the demands of the free world to get rid of its ambitions to have a nuclear weapon." (Reuters)
        See also Text of Bush Interview (FOX News)
  • U.S. and Israel Sign $50 Million Agreement on Scanning Equipment for Crossings
    The U.S. and Israel signed an agreement last week to provide state-of-the-art scanners and other inspection equipment to facilitate the passage of people and goods at crossing points between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. The U.S. Agency for International Development will finance $50 million to purchase, deliver, and install the devices at crossing points. (USAID/ReliefWeb)
  • India to Revive Strategic Talks with Israel
    After a four-year gap, India will resume defense and security talks with Israel on Jan. 15, the Indian Express newspaper said Monday. The resumption of meetings of the Joint Working Group on Defense was planned following tactical overtures by Pakistan President Musharraf towards Tel Aviv. An official said discussions will revolve around Iran's nuclear program, Islamic fundamentalism, the exchange of counter-terror intelligence, and the effectiveness of Israeli's counter-infiltration devices being used in Kashmir. (UPI)
        See also India's Middle East Shuffle - P.R. Kumaraswamy (Indian Express)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Bows to U.S. Pressure, Will Allow Gaza-West Bank Convoys - Akiva Eldar and Gideon Alon
    Succumbing to pressure, Israel informed the U.S. on Wednesday that Palestinian bus convoys between Gaza and the West Bank will start next week, reversing a cabinet decision made after last week's suicide bombing in Netanya to freeze talks on convoys until the PA takes significant measures to improve security. (Ha'aretz)
  • Kassam Rocket Found in West Bank Raid - Efrat Weiss
    IDF paratroopers uncovered a Kassam rocket in a raid on a large explosives lab in the West Bank town of Nablus on Wednesday. Security officials have warned that terror groups were seeking to transfer rocket know-how from Gaza to the West Bank. The explosives lab, containing 130 pounds of explosive materials, belonged to Hamas and was located in a residential home. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Thwarts Terror Attack at Gaza-Israel Border Crossing
    The IDF carried out an aerial attack Thursday against a vehicle loaded with explosives, carrying four members of the Popular Resistance Committees and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who were on their way to carry out a terrorist attack at the Karni crossing. During the past several years, terror organizations have repeatedly carried out attacks at crossings, despite the disruption of the daily lives of Palestinian civilians who are not involved in terror activity. (Israel Defense Forces)
  • Fatah Splits Ahead of Palestinian Elections - Ali Waked
    Prominent Fatah leaders Marwan Barghouti, Jibril Rajoub, Mohammed Dahlan, and Kadoura Fares have formed a new party - al-Mustaqbal (The Future) - that will run against Fatah in upcoming elections. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian "Third Way" Rises - Ilene R. Prusher
    Hamas and Fatah have a new political rival. A group of Palestinian leaders and intellectuals has formed an independent list to run in January's Palestinian legislative elections, headed by Salam Fayyad, the respected finance minister, and Hanan Ashrawi, a former Palestinian spokeswoman. Many of those who perceive secular-nationalist Fatah as rife with corruption and infighting don't necessarily support Hamas's continued suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israelis - nor its plans to Islamicize Palestinian society. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Get Serious on Syria - Editorial
    In his last column Gebran Tueni, the late Lebanese publisher and legislator, wrote that Syria would only be satisfied with one verdict by the UN team inquest into the killing last February of Rafiq Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister - that he and other anti-Syrian politicians assassinated since then had in fact committed suicide. What would be the point of the U.S. and Europe promoting Arab journalists' freedom of expression if they do not support their freedom to life? It is therefore time to start the diplomatic process of isolating Syria by imposing travel and financial sanctions on top members of the Assad regime. (Financial Times-UK)
  • The Elephant in the Middle East Living Room: Watching Wahhabis - R. James Woolsey
    In February 2005, a secularist reformer, Muhammad Ahmad al-Rashid, headed the Saudi Education Ministry. As he was beginning to respond to internal criticism of curricula that incited hatred of non-Muslims and non-Wahhabi Muslims, he was replaced by Abdullah bin Saleh al-Obaid, a hard-core Wahhabi. Controlling 27% of the national budget, al-Obaid will have a substantial effect on the views of the next generation of Saudis.
        From 1995 to 2002, al-Obaid headed the Muslim World League (MWL). According to the U.S. Treasury, the MWL's Peshawar office was led by Wael Jalaidan, "one of the founders of al-Qaeda." Moreover, the main arm of the MWL is the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). The Egyptian magazine Rose al-Youssef describes the IIRO as "firmly entrenched with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization." The writer is a former director of U.S. Central Intelligence. (National Review)
  • You'll Never Guess Who's to Blame for 7/7 - Dean Godson
    I don't know what effect some of the Muslim "moderates" have on the Islamist "radicals" - but, as the Duke of Wellington might have said, by G-d they frighten me. The unerring instinct of the government in picking many of the wrong partners within the Muslim community finds its apotheosis in the recent report of the Home Office, "Preventing Extremism Together." As might have been expected from a panel on which the most reactionary strains of Islam, such as Wahhabism and Salafism, were highly over-represented - as well as one member who believes that there is a plot between Freemasons and Jews to run the world - the panel came up with some pretty reactionary conclusions. The concerns of the majority of British Muslims, including theological moderates such as the main Sufi orders, were underplayed. (Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    Zarqawi and Israel: Is There a New Jihadi Threat Destabilizing the Eastern Front? - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • For the first time, Israeli defense experts are noting that groups identifying with al-Qaeda - or the global jihad - are determined to acquire operational footholds close to Israel's borders. The most dramatic sign was the November 9, 2005, suicide bombing of three Jordanian hotels in Amman by "al-Qaeda Mesopotamia" - the organization led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Militant Islamic websites immediately announced: "After the attack in the heart of Jordan, it will soon be possible to reach Jewish targets in Israel."
    • Al-Qaeda operations around Israel are becoming more prominent. In August 2005, an al-Qaeda rocket strike at the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba also reached the Israeli resort town of Eilat. To Israel's south, a growing al-Qaeda presence in Sinai led to attacks on Israeli tourists in Taba and other coastal resorts in October 2004, followed by a major bombing at a hotel in Sharm al-Sheikh in July 2005. Sinai has also served as a rear base for the beginning of an al-Qaeda presence in the Gaza Strip. Zarqawi's terrorist network formally joined al-Qaeda in October 2004.
    • Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy head of al-Qaeda, has encouraged Zarqawi to extend his jihad in Iraq to neighboring states (i.e., Jordan and Syria), where there are already increasing signs of jihadi activity. In the next stage, Zawahiri envisions "the clash with Israel." The head of Israeli military intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi (Farkash), concluded recently: "We are not a high priority [for al-Qaeda], but our prioritization for them is increasing."
    • Many Western sources are convinced that Zarqawi was training his recruits in the use of toxins, including poisons and chemical weapons, at the Herat training camp in Afghanistan. In 2004, a Zarqawi associate named Azmi al-Jailusi confessed to trying to set off a chemical explosion in central Amman, near the headquarters of Jordanian intelligence, which had the potential to kill 80,000 people. In April 2005, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned that recurrent U.S. intelligence reports indicated that Zarqawi was seeking to obtain a "radiological explosive."
    • It would be a cardinal error for Israel to conclude that after the U.S. war in Iraq, the region to Israel's east is moving in the direction of greater stability and, therefore, Israel can take the risk of conceding its strategic assets in the West Bank. Zarqawi now wants to destabilize Jordan, but clearly seeks to target Israel as well. Dismissing the value of Israel's security fence, Zarqawi's organization has declared: "the separation wall...will feel the might of the mujahideen," hinting that Israel could face the same waves of insurgent volunteers that have entered Iraq.

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