Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 11, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Israeli Public Overwhelmingly Rejects Unilateral West Bank Pullback - Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann (Steinmetz Center for Peace Research-Tel Aviv University)
    According to the December 2005 Peace Index Poll, 81% of the Israeli Jewish public thinks the PA is not making genuine efforts to prevent the firing of Kassam rockets from Gaza, and 68% think Israel's retaliatory policy is too weak.
    63% believe that most of the Palestinians have not accepted Israel's existence and would annihilate it if they could.
    However, 73% support peace negotiations with the PA in principle, and 67% favor an independent Palestinian state.
    Only 8.5% support a unilateral initiative to evacuate West Bank settlements, in keeping with Israel's security concerns.

Syria "Tried to Fuel Holy War in Iraq Against U.S. and Britain" - Francis Harris (Telegraph-UK)
    President Bashar al-Assad of Syria secretly incited Iraq's top Shia leader to declare holy war against U.S. and British forces, according to Washington's former administrator in the country, Paul Bremer, in his new book, My Year in Iraq.
    The report came from an extremely senior source, the supreme leader of Iraq's majority Shia community, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
    "This was an act of extraordinary irresponsibility from Syria's president," Bremer writes. "We had good intelligence showing that many insurgents and terrorists were coming into Iraq through Syria."

European Women Join Ranks of Jihadis - Sebastian Rotella (Los Angeles Times)
    The women of a Dutch extremist network, 14 members of which are now on trial, saw themselves as full-fledged partners in jihad.
    Wives watched videos about female suicide bombers, posed for photos holding guns, and fired automatic weapons during clandestine target practice.
    In the Netherlands and Belgium, police are investigating militants' wives suspected of plotting suicide attacks with their husbands, or on their own.

Useful Reference:

The Year In Grief: Portraits of Israelis Killed in 2005 - Jonathan Mark (New York Jewish Week)
    This past year will be remembered as a peaceful one in Israel, the most peaceful in the last five years, but for 51 Israeli families touched by terrorism this was a year of mourning and sudden endings, lives lost to bombs in the afternoon at falafel stands and to midnight gunfire on West Bank roads.
    Hundreds more suffered injury and disability.
    See also 2005 Terrorism Review (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    2,990 terrorist attacks were perpetrated against Israeli targets in 2005.
    The firing of Kassam rockets increased over 2004.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinians in Jerusalem Will Vote, Olmert Tells Rice - Scott Wilson
    Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke by phone with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and outlined a proposal to allow Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem to cast ballots in the Palestinian legislative elections. Olmert told Rice he would permit the estimated 120,000 eligible Palestinians to cast ballots either outside the municipal boundaries or at designated post offices inside them. But Olmert said he would not allow Hamas, which does not recognize Israel, to appear on the ballot in the city. (Washington Post)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fear War between Fatah and Hamas after Vote - Craig S. Smith
    Gaza threatens to turn on itself now that Israel has withdrawn. Palestinian security forces said they were girding for violence, fearing that the legislative elections scheduled for Jan. 25 could lead to fighting. Many members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades say that if Hamas wins a substantial share of the vote, more than 30%, there could be fighting. Eyad el-Sarraj, a psychiatrist in Gaza, said: "If Hamas wins, do you think the security forces of these guys will leave their posts? Do you think the leaders will give up their offices, that the masses of people who have jobs from Fatah will give up their livelihoods? The big boys with money will disappear, the rest will fight." (New York Times)
  • Iran Rips Up Nuclear Deal with West - Anton La Guardia
    Iran tore up an international nuclear deal Tuesday when it restarted its uranium enrichment program, setting the stage for a clash with the West. Iranian officials broke international inspectors' seals on equipment at three sites, including a plant to enrich uranium buried underground at Natanz. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Iranians Reopen Nuclear Centers - Steven R. Weisman and Nazila Fathi
    Though both Russia and China have called on Iran not to resume enrichment, it was unclear whether they would support UN sanctions on Iran. (New York Times)
        See also Lantos: U.S. and EU Should Sanction Iran If UN Won't - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
  • Spain Arrests 20 Islamist Militants - Elizabeth Fullerton
    Spain on Tuesday arrested 20 people suspected of recruiting Islamist fighters for Iraq. The Spanish Interior Ministry said the Barcelona-area cell was responsible for recruiting an Algerian suicide bomber who killed 19 Italians and nine Iraqis in an attack on an Italian police base in southern Iraq in November 2003, in the deadliest attack on Italian forces since World War II. Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said it was possible that the militants also may have planned "violent actions" in Europe. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • 3,000 Rifles Streaming Monthly into Gaza - Yaakov Katz
    Since the disengagement from Gush Katif, there has been a significant increase in the amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. "The amount of weapons and explosives smuggled into the Gaza Strip from Egypt has grown drastically, by more than 300 percent," he said. "If before the disengagement they smuggled in 200 to 300 rifles a month, they are now smuggling in close to 3,000."
        Since the pullout, Diskin said, Palestinians have smuggled three anti-aircraft missiles into Gaza compared to none before disengagement. He added that close to 200 RPGs and tons of explosives were also smuggled into Gaza on a monthly basis. With external assistance, he warned, the terror groups would have long-range rocket capability within a matter of months. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Shin Bet: Weapons Flowing into Gaza Since Disengagement - Ilan Marciano
    "The Palestinians are preparing terror attacks, also from Judea and Samaria," Diskin said. A significant increase in terror attacks and attempted bombings against Israel has been noted since the pullout, he explained. In October, 48 were registered, compared to 277 in December. (Ynet News)
  • "Hamas Win Would Destroy PA" - Margot Dudkevitch
    The security establishment has warned that a strong Hamas victory in the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections would lead to the total destruction of the Palestinian Authority. Security officials said that a significant Hamas win may spur Fatah factions to stir up trouble and resort to violence, perceiving the move as the only way to reach Hamas's level of popularity. A Hamas victory means there will be no mutual base for Israel to enter any kind of dialogue, said the officials, adding that no one in Hamas would agree to recognize the State of Israel or put terror aside for the sake of entering a dialogue. "Whatever the outcome, Israel will be faced with an upsurge in violence and a breakdown in the situation," an official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • UK Bank Sued in U.S. for Serving Hamas - Jonathan Schneider
    A lawsuit has been filed in New York's Federal Court by a group of American victims of Palestinian terror against a major British bank accused of permitting a recognized Hamas charity to open accounts and transfer funds. Despite continuous warnings from the Mossad and British intelligence services, the National Westminster Bank declined to prevent Interpal, a UK-based organization, from using its services. Lawyer Nitzana Darshan-Leitner said there was clear evidence to suggest that money from Saudi Arabia reached Hamas terrorists via Interpal. "In 2003, both the U.S. and British governments declared that the charity in question was undoubtedly linked to a functioning terrorist organization and all their bank accounts were frozen," she said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Iran Thinks of European Diplomacy - Editorial
    After more than two years of nonstop diplomacy and appeasement, the world is no closer to resolving its nuclear stand-off with Iran. But Iran is considerably closer to acquiring the critical mass of technology and know-how needed to build a nuclear weapon. It should not be Israel's lot to safeguard the security of the West in the face of a common threat, as it did when it destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. But if we're going to avoid this grim scenario, both Europe and the U.S. need to threaten, and apply, stiffer penalties against Iran than they have suggested so far. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Great Obstacle to Progress - Palestinian Capabilities - Fareed Zakaria
    The great obstacle to progress in the Middle East is Palestinian capabilities. The big story that no one wants to admit yet is that the Palestinian Authority has collapsed, Gaza has turned into a failed state, and there is no single Palestinian political organization that could create order in the territories and negotiate with Israel. Palestinian dysfunction is now the main limiting factor on any progress in the peace process. Gaza lacks a single authority, a functioning government, and as a result is in a "state of anarchy," in the words of the Christian Science Monitor. This is not the model that people had hoped for. (Newsweek)
  • International Media: Still Vilifying Sharon? - Tom Gross
    Compared to past international media coverage of Ariel Sharon, which on a number of occasions in recent years has gone beyond personal demonization to outright anti-Semitism, the reporting on Sharon since he suffered a massive stroke last week has been relatively benign. But only up to a point. Many articles in the Western media have retailed untruths, almost in passing, as though they were incontrovertible historical facts: Sharon initiated the second intifada, Sharon ordered the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and so on.
        There have also been some nasty headlines and cartoons. "He is the King Kong of massacres" ran a headline of a news report on Sharon on Jan. 8 in The Observer, the Sunday affiliate of Britain's Guardian newspaper. "Ariel Sharon, agent of perpetual war," was a headline in the relatively moderate Lebanese paper, the Daily Star, on Jan. 7 by its editor-at-large and frequent guest on America's NPR, Rami Khouri. "Sharon's legacy does not include peace," introduced a Jan. 5 feature on the BBC News web site by world affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Slightly Pregnant - Nibras Kazimi (New York Sun)

    • Folks in Washington nowadays have taken note of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its sister organization in Iraq, the Islamic Party, and optimistically tag such phenomena as "moderate" or "mainstream" Sunni Islamism.
    • The chief doctrinal difference between the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda is merely tactical: one wants to subvert the system from within, and the other wants to overthrow the establishment.
    • In many ways, al-Qaeda is the reincarnation of the Brotherhood's military wing that was set up in the mid-1930s as a proto-fascist disciplined corps of youths. Membership in the Muslim Brotherhood was historically a "gateway affiliation" leading to more hardcore and radical fundamentalist ideologies. Al-Qaeda's no. 2, Ayman Zawahiri, was once a Muslim Brother.
    • While some, like the Brotherhood, dissemble their actions and more radical others assemble for a head-on confrontation, the goal is one and the same: resurrecting the Islamic Empire. They may argue over gestation periods, but both camps are definitely expecting the birth of the New Caliphate.
    • Accepting the Muslim Brotherhood as "Plan-B" should the regimes in Egypt and Syria or an alternative leadership for Iraq's Sunnis falter and fail is a compromise that is self-defeating for America and what it stands for.

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