Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 19, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Rocket Fired from Gaza Again Strikes Ashkelon - Amir Buhbut (Maariv-Hebrew, 19Dec05)
    For the second time this week, a Palestinian rocket fired Sunday evening from the ruins of the evacuated Israeli settlement of Dugit in northern Gaza struck the Ashkelon industrial zone.
    Security officials are concerned that the rockets may strike key infrastructure components such as the power station, the oil pipeline, or the water desalination plant.

    See also Hamas Providing Missiles to Other Terrorist Groups to Fire at Israel (Middle East Newsline)
    Israeli military sources said Hamas has relayed scores of extended-range Kassam missiles to the Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees to fire toward Israel.
    "Formally, Hamas has pledged to honor a ceasefire arranged by the Palestinian Authority, so rather than fire the Kassams themselves, they give them to their terrorist allies," a military source said.

    See also When Will the PA Security Services Stop the Rocket Launchers? - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    The Palestinian security services, with their thousands of armed men in the Gaza Strip, do not take action against the rocket launchers.
    The absurdity of it is that the U.S. pressured Israel to consent to providing these security services with tens of thousands of Egyptian bullets.
    However, many bullets remain in storage (and not used for the purpose of enforcing law and order) or else are used in gang warfare.

Military Intelligence Warns of "Hamastan" - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)
    The head of Israel's Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash, told the cabinet Sunday:
    "I think there is a good chance that in 2006, Judea and Samaria and Gaza will be split into separate geographic divisions....Soon we may find ourselves looking at Hamastan in Gaza and Fatahstan in Judea and Samaria."
    "In Arab countries, weapons are being produced at a quantity and quality that threaten the heart of the State of Israel. Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas are accumulating missiles from Kassams to Shihab-3 missiles."
    "I don't see a real possibility for diplomacy preventing Iran from becoming armed with nuclear weapons. In the coming months, we will witness the end of the abilities of our diplomatic maneuvers, and that of the world, against Iran."

Shiite Militias Joining Iraqi Army and Police - Dexter Filkins (New York Times)
    In recent months, the Shiite parties in Iraq have moved thousands of their militiamen into the police and army, giving their gunmen at least implicit state approval to carry out what appears to be a widespread campaign of murder and torture in Sunni neighborhoods.

Thousands of Scholarships Lift Saudi Enrollments in U.S. - Joel Brinkley (New York Times)
    The Saudi Arabian government is promoting a scholarship program that has already more than doubled the number of new Saudi enrollments at American colleges and universities since last year.
    The Saudi government offered 5,000 students full four-year scholarships, complete with living allowances, with about two-thirds enrolling in American schools.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Sharon "Stable and Joking" in Hospital after Minor Stroke - Ian MacKinnon
    Ariel Sharon, Israel's 77-year-old prime minister, is expected to remain in hospital for several days after being taken there Sunday. Yuval Weiss, the hospital deputy director, said: "Initial checks showed he had a light stroke and during checks his condition improved. He was always conscious and didn't need any surgical intervention." Boleslav Goldman, Sharon's personal physician, said he would "be in hospital for a few days for sure," but "there is no reason for fear." "He is fully lucid, in full control," said spokesman Raanan Gissin. (Times-UK)
  • EU May Cut Aid if Hamas Wins at Polls - Josef Federman
    EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned Sunday that the EU could halt tens of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians if the militant Hamas group wins next month's Palestinian elections and fails to renounce violence. "All the political parties have the right to be part of the elections, but there is a certain code of conduct that has to be accepted by everybody," Solana said in Tel Aviv.
        A Palestinian government that includes a party that fails to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist could not continue to receive EU funding, he said. "It would be very difficult for the help and the money that goes to the Palestinian Authority to continue to flow," he said. The Palestinians receive about $1 billion a year in international aid - about half the PA's budget - and EU assistance is slated to reach $312 million in 2006. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Congress Calls to Ban Terrorist Groups from PA Elections - Ran Dagoni
    On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 397-17 that terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, should not be permitted to participate in Palestinian elections until such organizations recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, cease incitement, condemn terrorism, and disarm and dismantle their terrorist infrastructure. The resolution further stated that Hamas' or any other terrorist group's inclusion into the Palestinian governing structure will inevitably raise serious U.S. policy considerations, potentially undermining the ability of the U.S. to provide financial assistance and conduct normal relations with the PA. Progress in the peace process requires sustained Palestinian effort to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, it said. (Globes)
        See Text of House Resolution 575 (IMRA)
  • EU Condemns Iran President for Holocaust Denial
    EU leaders on Saturday condemned Iran's president for denying the Holocaust, and warned Tehran the chance of a diplomatic solution on its disputed nuclear program would not last forever. The 25 EU heads of state and government said of Ahmadinejad's statement that the Nazi mass extermination of Jews was a myth: "These comments are wholly unacceptable and have no place in civilized political debate." (Reuters)
  • UN Investigator Says Syria Behind Hariri Murder
    Detlev Mehlis, the outgoing head of a UN investigation into the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, has directly blamed "Syrian authorities" for the first time. In comments published in the Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday, Mehlis said some countries wanted him to rewrite a report that implicated Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies in the Feb. 14 murder, but that he had refused. Asked if he thought the Syrian government was behind Hariri's killing, Mehlis said: "yes, the Syrian authorities." (Reuters)
  • State, Justice Will Appear at Muslim Public Affairs Council, Causing Concern - Meghan Clyne
    Outrage and puzzlement are mounting over the Bush administration's participation this weekend in the fifth annual convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. The convention also will include leaders of MPAC who have made statements considered by many to be anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, and to be supportive of the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hizballah. "It's really regrettable, because it sends the wrong message," the vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein, said. "We try to counter the extremism in other countries and seem here to countenance it." Another participant, by video, is Tariq Ramadan, an author and Muslim scholar who had his visa to teach at the University of Notre Dame revoked by the American government in 2004 over concerns about his alleged ties to terrorism. (New York Sun)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Father of Five Murdered in West Bank Shooting - Jonathan Lis and Nadav Shragai
    Yossi Shok, 35, of Beit Hagai, was shot to death by Palestinian terrorists while driving in the southern Hebron Hills on Friday. Two hitchikers riding with him were wounded. One of them, Anat Sofer, said that before the shooting she noticed a car traveling next to theirs with the windows open. "It was unnatural, because it was raining," she said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF Receives Warnings of Six Planned Palestinian Terror Attacks - Gideon Alon
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet Sunday that the defense establishment has received specific warnings of six planned Palestinian terror attacks and 43 other warnings. Mofaz said violent anti-Israel activities in the West Bank and Gaza have increased during the past several days due to the continued failure of the PA to act against terror organizations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Terrorist from Gaza Carrying Explosives Belt Caught in Southern Israel
    Israeli security forces Monday captured a Palestinian terrorist who had managed to infiltrate southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported. The terrorist, who was carrying an explosives belt, firearms, and grenades, was captured near Kibbutz Nir Am near Sderot in the western Negev. (Ha'aretz)
  • Shin Bet: Hamas May Defeat Fatah in PA Elections - Ben Caspit
    The head of Israel's Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, has said in closed meetings that he wouldn't be surprised if Hamas won the PA legislative elections in January. Previously, Israel had expected Abbas and Fatah to win, and that support for Hamas would reach 20-30% in the new parliament. However, due to the continued chaos in the PA, Abbas's total loss of control, and especially the splits in Fatah, Diskin now believes that Hamas could win a clear victory and become the new ruling Palestinian party. The first sign could be seen Thursday when Hamas won 70% of the vote in municipal elections in Nablus, the West Bank's largest city. (Maariv-Hebrew, 16Dec05)
            See also Hamas Victory Boosts Chances in Parliamentary Elections - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Nablus was known as one of the most significant bastions of Fatah, but on Thursday, Fatah leaders watched with disbelief as thousands of Hamas supporters poured into the streets to celebrate their victory. According to many residents, the PA's failure to contain dozens of local militias and gangs that have been terrorizing them for years was one of the main reasons behind Hamas's success. Aware of Hamas's growing popularity, Abbas has decided to postpone local elections in Hebron and Gaza City, where Hamas is also certain to defeat his Fatah party. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also 1.1M Palestinians Live in Local Councils Controlled by Hamas - Arnon Regular
    Since December 2004, elections have taken place in 263 local authorities in the West Bank and Gaza. Fatah has the lead in 121 towns as opposed to Hamas's 81. However, Hamas took a number of large towns, with a population of 1.1 million, as opposed to 700,000 that live in communities where Fatah won. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Perfidious Princes Teaching Tolerance? - Abby Wisse Schachter
    Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal gave $20 million each to Harvard and Georgetown last week, as he explained, because "the understanding between East and West is important for peace and tolerance." One question: Is American intolerance of Muslims really a major world problem? Isn't it more the other way around? Who's funding religious understanding, pluralism, and tolerance in Saudi Arabia? Not Prince Alwaleed, that's for sure. Saudi Arabia outlaws religious pluralism. After oil (maybe), religious intolerance is its biggest export, with countless billions spent to promote only the most intolerant strand of Islam - what the Saudis call Hanbali Islam, and critics call Wahhabism.
        Let's see him fund "cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogue" at a Saudi school. And why don't those Saudi-funded madrassas start offering classes in religious diversity and understanding? (New York Post)
  • Al-Qaeda Infiltration of Gaza: A Post-Disengagement Assessment - David Keyes
    In a September 2005 interview, leading Hamas spokesman Mahmoud az-Zahar confirmed the infiltration of al-Qaeda members into Gaza. In addition to physical infiltration, he said that telephone contact from Gaza with other al-Qaeda centers in foreign countries existed as well. Leaflets in Khan Yunis distributed by al-Qaeda's "Palestine branch" proclaimed that the terrorist group has started its work of uniting Muslims under an Islamic state. The group stated that their primary goal was enforcing sharia law worldwide. The leaflets were signed by al-Qaeda of Jihad in Palestine. Though al-Qaeda in Gaza currently may have only a limited numerical presence, preventing it from gaining a real foothold needs to be an important counterterrorism priority of all interested parties. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    An Open Letter to EU Representative Javier Solana - Shlomo Avineri (Jerusalem Post)

    • As the EU's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy you have an opportunity to again remind skeptics what Europe really stands for. That opportunity has to do with recent statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Israel.
    • Despite the shock caused by his statements, there are no adequate international mechanisms to deal with such a case wherein a head of a member-state of the UN openly calls for the destruction of another member-state.
    • But the EU can strike the right note: It should declare Ahmadinejad persona non grata in the countries of the EU. No EU country would allow his entry.

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