Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 9, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

"Bin Laden Ordered Rocket Attacks" on Israel - Zarqawi (AFP/Al-Jazeera)
    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, said in an audio tape on the Internet that rockets had been fired at Israel from Lebanon last month "on the instructions" of Osama bin Laden.
    "The rocket firing at the ancestors of monkeys and pigs from the south of Lebanon was only the start of a blessed in-depth strike against the Zionist enemy."
    "All that was on the instructions of the sheikh of the mujahedeen, Osama bin Laden, may God preserve him."
    See also Message from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Emir of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (SITE Institute)
    Zarqawi's message includes demands for the withdrawal of "infidels" from Palestine, Iraq, and other Muslim countries.
    "We will not stop our fight until Islam wins," he says.
    See also Al-Qaeda, Zarqawi, and Israel: Is There a New Jihadi Threat Destabilizing the Eastern Front? - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (JCPA)

In Video, Al-Qaeda's No. 2 Tells Bush to Admit Defeat in Iraq - Nelson Hernandez (Washington Post)
    Al-Qaeda's second-in-command said President Bush had admitted defeat in Iraq by announcing plans to reduce the American troop presence in the country, saying the move would be a victory for Islam.
    In videotaped remarks broadcast on Al-Jazeera television Friday, Ayman Zawahiri said: "Bush, you must admit that you have been defeated in Iraq and that you are being defeated in Afghanistan and that you will soon be defeated in Palestine."
    See also New Video Tape from Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri Exclaims an "Islamic Victory in Iraq" (SITE Institute)

Death Threats Sent to Journalists in PA - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Several Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza have received death threats from armed groups over the past few days because of their coverage of the anarchy in PA-controlled areas.
    See also The Continuing Struggle of Palestinian Journalists for Freedom of the Press in the Palestinian Authority - Khaled Abu Toameh (ICA/JCPA)

Saddam's Terror Training Camps - Stephen F. Hayes (Weekly Standard)
    The former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein trained eight thousand radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq.
    The secret training took place primarily at three camps - in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak - and was directed by elite Iraqi military units.
    Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis.
    The information on jihadist training camps in Iraq exposes the flawed assumptions of those experts and officials who told us for years that a secularist like Saddam Hussein would never work with Islamic radicals, any more than such jihadists would work with an infidel like the Iraqi dictator.

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  • Sharon Breathing on His Own - Matt Spetalnick
    Israeli Prime Minister Sharon began breathing on his own on Monday as doctors tried to rouse him from a medically induced coma after a massive stroke last Wednesday. While Sharon remained in critical condition, his surgeons say there is a good chance he will live. But medical consensus is he has suffered too much damage to ever return to politics. (Reuters)
        See also below Observations: Sharon's Last Interview (Ynet News)
  • Iran to Unseal Nuclear Sites
    Iran said Sunday that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency would remove seals from some nuclear facilities by Monday, opening the way for the Iranians to resume research on fuel production and heightening concerns in the West that the Iranians are moving toward building atomic weapons. (AP/New York Times)
  • British Close UK Embassy in Jordan - David Leppard
    The Foreign Office Saturday closed the British embassy in Jordan after MI6 received specific intelligence of an al-Qaeda suicide plot to blow up the building along with American targets in the country. Counter-terrorism sources said the prime suspect was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist who is now head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Before Zarqawi moved to Iraq, his goal had been to assassinate the King of Jordan. (Sunday Times-UK)
        See also Australia Closes Jordan Embassy
    The Australian and Canadian embassies in Jordan shut their doors to the public Sunday because of an undisclosed security threat a day after Britain closed its embassy in Amman for the same reason, diplomats said. (The Australian)
  • Palestinian Militants Order Vote Observers to Leave Jenin
    Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades members ordered international observers overseeing this month's Palestinian election to leave the Jenin area of the northern West Bank "as soon as possible." (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also Britain Advises Citizens to Leave Gaza
    Britain advised its citizens on Friday to leave Gaza unless they have round-the-clock professional bodyguards. "This is due to the continuing deterioration in the security situation," the Foreign Office said. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Arab-Trained Palestinian Terrorists Have Recently Entered Gaza - Amos Harel
    Weapons experts in Palestinian terror groups who have undergone training in Lebanon, Syria, and possibly Iran have recently infiltrated the Gaza Strip, a senior security official said on Sunday. Most of the experts are Hamas members who specialize in making explosive devices and improving high-trajectory weapons - specifically, building warheads and improving the rockets' aerodynamics ahead of a possible renewed confrontation with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Iran Increases Efforts to Infiltrate Israel - Margot Dudkevitch
    Sources in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Saturday that there has been a significant increase in attempts by Iran to infiltrate Israel and link up with Palestinian terror groups. Jaris Jaris, an Israeli Arab and former head of the Fasuta Local Council in the Upper Galilee, has been arrested on suspicion of spying on Israel for Iranian intelligence. The Iranians have also supplied Hizballah and Palestinian terror groups such as Fatah's Al-Aksa Brigades with funds to support their terror operations against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinian Analyst: "Hamas Will Never Change Its Agenda" - Steven Erlanger
    The PA may look like a failed state even before it becomes one. "All the chaos is coming from inside the PA and Fatah," said Khaled Duzdar, a Palestinian analyst at the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information. A senior Israeli intelligence officer said, "Hamas wants Israel gone and they want to keep the means of terror. Yet they are allowed into the political process by those who believe that afterwards, for some unknown reason, Hamas will change its soul or that Abu Mazen can deal with them." "Anyone who thinks Hamas will become pragmatic if they win and it will be easier to settle the conflict is unrealistic," Duzdar said. "Hamas will never shift or change its charter or agenda." Duzdar and the senior Israeli intelligence officer say they think Hamas will get 45% or more of the seats - if the election is allowed to proceed. (New York Times)
        See also Anarchy and the PA Elections - Danny Rubinstein
    The ones responsible for the lawlessness in the territories are affiliated with the Palestinian security services and the Fatah movement. In the Palestinian street, they understand that this is no coincidence. The popular interpretation is that this is intentional and organized chaos whose goal is to generate riots that will lead to the cancellation of the parliamentary elections. There is serious doubt that the elections will take place in the end. Nearly the entire world does not want elections that Hamas will win. (Ha'aretz)
  • Post-Disengagement Events Make Israelis More Cautious About Further Withdrawals - Gerald M. Steinberg
    Even if Sharon had remained healthy and done well in the Israeli election on March 28, further separation moves in the West Bank would have been much more difficult than the Gaza withdrawal. Instead of the hoped-for Palestinian moderation and emphasis on vital economic development, the reality is chaos and more terrorism. Mahmoud Abbas is barely a figurehead, while Hamas appears set to gain power if the Palestinian elections take place as scheduled in late January. And along what remains of the border with Gaza, Egyptian guarantees to prevent the smuggling of weapons and terrorists have disintegrated. As a result, even the most pragmatic Israelis will be far more cautious about withdrawal from areas that would bring Tel Aviv and Jerusalem into rocket-firing range. (Australian Financial Review, 9Jan06)
  • Palestinian Movement Rushing Headlong into the Past - Barry Rubin
    Sharon's illness may be distracting attention from the Palestinian crisis, but it is the Palestinian political situation which makes any progress toward peace impossible for years to come. The Palestinian movement is rushing headlong into the past, with both Hamas and the new Fatah leaders, headed by Marwan Barghouti, returning to the strategies of Arafat that have failed for four decades. The only ones who still think Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas counts for anything are the Western media.
        The single most remarkable event was a January 4 armed attack by Fatah on the Egyptian army, forcing that country's troops to withdraw from the Egypt-Gaza border. This event shows how ridiculous it is to expect Egypt to do anything to safeguard this border or prevent terrorists and arms from crossing it. The Egyptians are boiling mad and their anger will manifest itself in the future. No Arab state will give the Palestinians serious economic support. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Sharon's Last Interview - Ronen Bodoni (Ynet News)

    Prime Minister Sharon gave the Japanese newspaper Nikkei an interview just one day before suffering a massive stroke.

    • Q: Is it possible for the Palestinians to share the capital?
      Our position is that Jerusalem is not negotiable. We are not going to negotiate on Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be forever a united and undivided capital of Israel.
    • Q: Do you think it will go down in history that the Palestinians missed an opportunity at Camp David when it declined former Israeli PM Ehud Barak's proposal to divide Jerusalem?
      No, I don't think that practically they could have done that. I don't think the Jewish people are ready to divide Jerusalem and I believe the Palestinians made many mistakes but mainly as a result of terror and murder and bloodshed. I took a hard and painful step in the disengagement, but after we left Gaza, terror did not stop. I saw that after disengagement terror didn't stop.
    • Q: Do you have any vision of a unilateral disengagement plan for the West Bank similar to what you have in the Gaza Strip?
      No, no, the answer is no. In Samaria and Judea (West Bank) there is a plan that is the Road Map. We are not going to face now, also not in the future, any unilateral disengagement.
    • Q: In 1981, then Israeli PM Menachem Begin launched air strikes against Iraq in order to prevent Iraqi nuclear development. Facing an imminent nuclear threat from Iran, will you act like Mr. Begin did in 1981 if we reach the critical point and the diplomatic solution is not working?
      I was then a member of that cabinet when the decision was taken and I had an important role in making this decision then in 1981. First I believe there were different circumstances then. I believe we are still in the phase of diplomatic efforts. Iran should be brought to the Security Council and I believe we are in a phase where sanctions can be taken and we can still stop it.
    • Q: Do you think the Golan Heights will stay under Israeli sovereignty forever?
      I don't see any situation where Israel will not be sitting on the Golan Heights. For 19 years the northern part of Israel was under a heavy war of attrition. We are not going to return to this situation, although Israel will never attack Syria.

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