Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 28, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Mossad: One Nuclear Bomb Won't Suffice Iran - Ilan Marciano (Ynet News)
    If there is no extreme interference, and the Iranians continue with their enrichment program via centrifuge, they will reach a stage of independent technological ability within a number of months, Mossad Chief Meir Dagan told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday.
    "They won't stop when they reach the level which would supply one bomb, but will continue and create more fissionable material."
    He said that "there is much importance in bringing the matter in front of the Security Council, which will impose economic sanctions on Iran....Sanctions like these would be very significant."
    Israeli and Jewish targets hold an honorary place in the list of targets of the global jihad, he said.
    "The phenomenon which will keep us busy in the coming years are the 'Iraq graduates' who took part in the conflict with the Americans, and who are now returning to their original countries, and beginning to build infrastructures. We've seen similar manifestations in Jordan and in Egypt."
    "The most absurd thing is that as much as the American struggle in Iraq succeeds, so too does the security threat to Israel."

    See also Dagan: One Nuke Not Enough for Iran - Rafael D. Frankel and Oren Klass (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran has already produced 40 tons of UF6, a compound used in the uranium enrichment process that produces fuel for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.
    That amount of UF6 could produce 40 kilograms of fissile material, Dagan said.
    Iran is also continuing to "build and enhance" centrifuges, which are part of its nuclear program.

Gun Battle Erupts Outside Gaza Election Office (Reuters)
    Palestinian gunmen exchanged fire with police outside an election office in Gaza on Wednesday.
    An election official said employees at the Central Election Committee office in Gaza City took cover until police restored order and the gunmen, from Abbas' Fatah faction, left.

    See also More Armed Palestinian Protests Ahead of January Polls (VOA News)
    Dozens of Palestinian gunmen from the militant al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades took over an office of the Palestinian elections commission near Jerusalem Tuesday to press for changes in a slate of candidates for parliament.

Syria, Russia Sign $2.7B Oil Refinery Deal (AP/Los Angeles Times)
    Syria has signed a $2.7 billion memorandum of understanding with a Russian company for construction of a refinery and petrochemical plant in northeast Syria, the official Syrian news agency reported Tuesday.
    Syria would take full control of the facility after 25 years, earning 15-60% of revenue in the interim.

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  • Rockets Fired from Lebanon Hit Northern Israel
    Three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona on Tuesday, slamming into residential areas but causing no casualties. (Reuters)
        Three residents were treated for shock. One of the three houses hit was severely damaged. A fourth rocket apparently landed in the western Galilee town of Shlomi. In response, early Wednesday the Israel Air Force struck a Palestinian militant training base south of Beirut operated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a Syrian-backed group that has been waging a decades-long fight against Israel. The strike was the deepest in Lebanon since June 2004.
        IDF northern front commander Udi Adam said Wednesday that the army knew which Palestinian faction was behind the Katyusha attack, Israel Radio reported. "We will not allow Katyusha fire to become a routine of daily life, absolutely not," he said. The IDF said any attack on the northern border emanating from Lebanon is carried out on the initiative of Hizballah, which has sole control in southern Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Defends Israeli Firing on Gaza - Barry Schweid
    Defending Israel, the Bush administration on Tuesday said a rocket attack in Gaza was a response to rocket attacks on Israel. The Israeli barrage hit two offices of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and a bridge the army said was used by militants to reach areas where they fire rockets.
        At the State Department, spokesman Adam Ereli said Israel had responded to attacks on its own territory. "What we would like to see is effective measures against such acts so that the measures Israel is taking are not necessary," Ereli said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Terrorists Reject Abbas's Appeal to Halt Rocket Attacks on Israel
    More rockets were launched by terrorists at communities in southern Israel late Tuesday. The Israeli air force dropped leaflets into northern Gaza, warning residents to stay out of areas used by terrorists to fire rockets. "Terror organizations continue to launch projectile rockets at Israeli territory from your neighborhoods," the leaflet said. "Presence in areas used for projectile rocket launching puts your life in danger." (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. to Punish Nine Companies Said to Help Iran on Arms - David E. Sanger
    The Bush administration announced new sanctions on Tuesday against state-owned Chinese companies that it accused of aiding Iran's missile and chemical programs. The sanctions, announced by the State Department, are part of a diplomatically complex effort to cut off the flow of technology into Iran that could aid its weapons programs, while pressing both China and Russia to threaten action against Tehran at the UN Security Council. Administration officials said they had no evidence that President Hu Jintao or other Chinese leaders were aware of the sales, and they said the Chinese had been sporadically helpful in cutting off shipments of crucial technologies to the Iranians. The sanctions will have little practical effect on most of the companies cited since the Chinese companies are already barred from doing business with the U.S. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Seeks Solution for Jerusalem Arab Voters in Palestinian Elections - Aluf Benn
    Israel is seeking a solution that will permit residents of eastern Jerusalem to vote in the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, but allow the government to adhere to its opposition to Hamas' participation in the ballot. Israel also wants a solution that will prevent the state from being accused of delaying the elections. In a meeting on Monday with Labor chairman Amir Peretz, Prime Minister Sharon said "an arrangement will be found."
        Under an arrangement reached in the Oslo Accords, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are allowed to vote in the West Bank, or at polling stations set up at post offices in the eastern part of the capital, with the intention being to show that the ballots are being mailed to the PA. However, if Hamas participates in the elections, Israel has said it will not allow its post offices to be used. A senior political source said Tuesday that this position had not been changed. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Prepares for International Monitors in Palestinian Vote
    The IDF, Israeli Police, and Foreign Ministry were preparing Wednesday for the arrival of international observers including former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, coming to monitor the Palestinian legislative elections in January. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Shots Fired at Israeli Car in West Bank - Erik Schechter
    Palestinians fired on an Israeli car south of Nablus on Tuesday. A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an IDF unit that arrived on the scene. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Fearing Iraq's Instability, Jordan Seeks Its Unity - Oraib Al-Rantawi
    Jordan sees both challenges and threats in post-Saddam Iraq. Iraq is increasingly being transformed into an arena of Iranian influence and power. Jordanian officials are watching with concern the Iranian double game in Iraq. It supports fundamentalist elements and armed groups in the Sunni areas with the aim of confusing and threatening the American military presence in Iraq.
        As a result of a "constructive chaos" policy, Iraq has become a stronghold and a vanguard of international terrorism that spreads "destructive chaos" and seeks to export terror to neighboring countries, particularly Israel and Palestine. This is a new strategy al-Qaeda adopted shortly after the Afghanistan war. From its point of view, Jordan is an appropriate testing ground for the strategy. Since the fall of the Iraqi Baathist regime 33 months ago, tens of terrorist cells have been discovered in Jordan - more than a cell a month. The writer is director of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies in Amman. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Winning the Propaganda War - Daniel Pipes
    The now-suspended, Arab-language, taxpayer-funded Hi International magazine and other such U.S. government efforts as Radio Sawa and Al-Hurra Television are misconceived. Like generals fighting the last war, diplomats recall the successes of Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe in providing precious information to Soviet bloc peoples and helping to bring about the demise of the Soviet Union. But Muslims generally and Islamists specifically do not lack for reliable information; much less do they (as did Soviet-bloc populations) prefer Western sources of information to their own. Even Muslims living in Western countries (including Israel) who are fluent in one or more Western languages generally get their news from Muslim sources.
        Unlike the Soviet bloc, the Muslim world lacks not access to reliable information but interest in it. Rather than try to purvey information to Muslims, the U.S. should instead assert the case for liberal, secular, and humane values. More than facts, the Muslim world needs to understand the basics of what makes the West thrive - and thereby be inspired to emulate it. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Jerusalem's Dilemma - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • Israel's urban planners have tended to stress short-term considerations at the expense of long-term environmental and historical treasures. Now, Jerusalem is faced with a decision: whether to expand the capital's limits westward toward the forest and the suburbs of Mevessaret Zion or eastward, over the "green line," toward the settlement city of Ma'ale Adumim.
    • The Safdie Plan - to expand Jerusalem westwards - would deface a uniquely breathtaking landscape, the capital's beautiful landmark gateway. It calls for constructing 20,000 housing units on about 26,000 dunams of woodland.
    • The principal alternative to the city's westward expansion is the expansion of Jerusalem eastwards, according to the popularly dubbed E1 Plan. This plan would link the capital with Ma'ale Adumim and secure one of the country's key settlement blocs, a community of 32,000 souls. Solidifying such major settlements under Israeli control is widely supported by the Israeli public.
    • While the American government formally opposes all settlement construction, it was President George Bush who said: "It is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the 1949 armistice lines."
    • American and EU pressure has to date dissuaded a succession of Israeli governments, including that of Prime Minister Sharon, from going ahead with linking Jerusalem to Ma'ale Adumim.
    • Opponents of E1 argue that it would torpedo prospects for a viable Palestinian state by making it impossible for Palestinians to travel from Bethlehem to Ramallah. But surely a solution that allows Palestinians a north-south transit, while linking nearby Ma'ale Adumim to Jerusalem, is hardly beyond the creative capabilities of diplomats and transportation planners.

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