Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 27, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Leads, Abbas Third in PA Election Poll - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Hamas would win the upcoming Palestinian elections with 31% of the vote were they held today, according to a poll conducted by al-Najah University in Nablus.
    The Fatah faction led by jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti would win 27%, while the Fatah list headed by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was third with 18%.
    The Third Way list, headed by PA Finance Minister Salam Fayad and Hanan Ashrawi, would win 5%.
    66% said it was vital to have international monitors scrutinize the elections.

Hamas: Spain Will Be Returned to the Muslims (
    Hamas has a children's newspaper which writes about the city of Seville, calling on Muslims to liberate it from infidel rule, as well as the rest of Spain.

Google Limits Resolution on Satellite Photos for Sensitive Israeli Sites - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
    Since Google began offering satellite photographs of locations everywhere in the world in April 2005, countries have feared that high-resolution photographs of sensitive sites would expose their weak points to terrorists.
    However, legal restrictions in the U.S. and understandings between Israel and other countries are reducing Israel's vulnerability.
    An independent survey of the Google Earth site shows that available photos of Israel sites have limited resolution, a restriction that does not exist for other countries.

Prof. Rivka Carmi Named President of Ben-Gurion University - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Prof. Rivka Carmi, dean of the medical school at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, was chosen to be president of the university, the first woman president of any Israeli university.
    She replaces Prof. Avishay Braverman, who left to go into politics.

Out to Out-India India - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
    Israel is beginning to look like an attractive outsourcing center for U.S. companies.
    "Israel is an outsourcing boutique, not an outsourcing supermarket like India," said Israeli economic official Zohar Pery.
    "We aren't competing with India. Our competition is costs in the U.S. Israel is the natural choice for U.S. companies seeking a high level of service at a competitive price, in an environment that is similar to the U.S. in terms of culture and language."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Sharon to Undergo Heart Procedure - Ramit Plushnick-Masti
    Doctors next month will seal a small hole in Ariel Sharon's heart that they said Monday led to his recent stroke. The procedure will almost eliminate the risk of a similar stroke, said Dr. Haim Lotem, head of cardiology at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital. Doctors said the hole is a birth defect found in 15-20% of the population. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Sharon Was Incapacitated on Night of Stroke - Aluf Benn, Gideon Alon and Mazal Mualem
    Prime Minister Sharon was not qualified to make decisions the night he was hospitalized for a stroke on Dec. 18, his physicians said Monday at a press conference in Jerusalem. The physicians said Sharon recovered quickly and was functioning properly the next day, but that the stroke was not considered "mild," as originally had been reported, since it lasted more than 24 hours. Prof. Tamir Ben-Hur of Hadassah University Hospital said Sharon came to the hospital because he was having difficulty speaking. However, Sharon was able to describe exactly what happened the night of his hospitalization, signaling that the speech problem had not been a sign of a confused state, Ben-Hur said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel, Arab World Engage in Hidden Trade
    Camouflaged trade has been going on for years between Israel and its officially hostile Arab neighbors, with Israeli-made goods moving to Arab customers through third countries such as Cyprus or the Netherlands. Israeli exports to Arab countries are mostly from three categories: agricultural equipment, animal vaccines, and "technological knowledge and components," said Gil Feiler, an economics professor at Bar-Ilan University. Arabs of Lebanese origin in Israel sell counterfeit Lebanese certificates of origin complete with forged government stamps. Some ships even sail from the northern Israeli port of Haifa to Beirut, Lebanon, Feiler said. (AP/ABC News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Lands Near Kibbutz Kindergarten - Shmulik Hadad
    A Hannukah party attended by kindergarten children and their parents in Kibbutz Sa'ad was disrupted Monday by an exploding Kassam rocket nearby. Another rocket landed Monday south of Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinan Groups Threaten Israel with Long-Range Missiles that May Have Been Smuggled from Egypt - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Three armed Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip on Monday threatened to continue their attacks on Israel and said they have long-range missiles capable of reaching more Israeli towns and cities. The Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, claimed it possessed Grad missiles with a range of 25 km. The 122-mm. Grad missile, officially known as BM-21, was first used by the Soviet Red Army in 1963. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed its members had developed a homemade rocket with a range of 15 km. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Democracy Is Alive and Well in Iraq - Amir Taheri
    The U.S.-led coalition has achieved all its principal objectives in Iraq: The Baathist regime has been dismantled. Democracy seems to be flourishing after several local elections, a constitutional referendum, and two general elections. A one-party system has been replaced with a pluralist one with more than 200 political groups and parties. Baghdad, which once hosted the headquarters of 30 international terror organizations, is now one of the few capitals in the Middle East in which terrorists are no longer welcome.
        Iraq may have to live with some level of insurgency for years. What matters is that the terrorist insurgency has already been defeated in political terms. The U.S.-led coalition came to Iraq not to impose democracy by force but to use force to remove impediments to Iraq's democratization. That task has been achieved in record time. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • For a More Secure Iraq, Wall Off Syria - Paul Staniland
    Unless the U.S. and its Iraqi allies can seal the border with Syria, enduring peace will not come to Iraq. Many of the suicide bombers who have taken such a toll in American and Iraqi blood are foreigners - from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East and Europe. Sealing the entire border with a wall patrolled by troops would be ideal, but even just fencing off the most commonly used areas of infiltration, including along the Tigris-Euphrates river basin, would help. (Los Angeles Times)
  • It's the Societies, Stupid - Hazem Saghieh
    We have just seen how Egypt voted in big numbers for the Muslim Brotherhood, and how Iran left behind the peaceful Islamism represented by President Mohammad Khatami for a rougher kind, represented by his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has revealed two radical Islamic currents, one Sunni and one Shiite, while in Syria, it's said that the Islamists will take over from the Syrian Baath Party, if the regime falls.
        When it comes to Palestine, we see the rise of Hamas in local elections (and probably in legislative elections in a few weeks' time). We also see it in the street, with clothing, behavior, and general appearance, in Islamic countries and in the diaspora. (Dar Al-Hayat-Lebanon)
  • Persecuting the Holy Land's Christians - Jamie Glazov
    "Eight years ago I met a Christian pastor who, knowing that I was a human rights lawyer, urged me to investigate the human rights abuses directed at Muslims who converted to Christianity," said Justus Reid Weiner in an interview. "These are acutely trying times for the Christian remnant residing in areas 'governed' by the Palestinian Authority. Tens of thousands have abandoned their holy sites and ancestral properties to live abroad, while those that remain do so as a beleaguered and dwindling minority. They have faced virtually uninterrupted persecution during the decade since the Oslo peace process began, living amidst a Muslim population that is increasingly xenophobic and restless....Bethlehem runs the risk, in another 15 years, of becoming a Christian theme park for tourists - with no "real" living Christians."
        "As long as the international community continues to ignore the human rights problems in the Palestinian territories, there will be no chance for a proper liberal democracy to emerge upon completion of the peace process."  (FrontPageMagazine)
        See also Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society - Justus Reid Weiner (JCPA)
  • Observations:

    A Unilateral Withdrawal from the West Bank Might Bring Iran to the Suburbs of Tel Aviv - Amnon Rubinstein (Jerusalem Post)

    • Gaza is becoming a base for waging war against Israel. The missiles which hit Ashkelon are just a prelude of things to come.
    • Worse, a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank might bring the agents of the pro-Nazi regime in Teheran - headed by a demagogue who wants to do to Israelis what he claims the Nazis did not do to the Jews - close to our fragile borders. In these circumstances, a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank might bring Iran to the suburbs of Tel Aviv. This is the unthinkable scenario which must be taken into account.
    • The demand made by the Quartet's road map - that the PA put a total end to terror - is a just, elementary, sine qua non for any further progress toward a settlement with the Palestinians.
    • These hard days should not deter the lovers of peace from holding on to their aim, but blindness to reality will not help us achieve it. Indeed, despite self-deluding talk about Israel's power and omnipotence, the Jewish state is now thrown back to its dawn, to the days of the 1948 War of Independence, when the very survival of this Jewish island in an Arab-Muslim sea was at stake.

      The writer, a former education minister, is dean of the Radzyner School of Law at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

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