Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 24, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Rescue Team Rushed to Kenya After Building Collapse - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel dispatched a plane with 80 members of a Home Front rescue team to Kenya on Monday to help extricate survivors from a building that collapsed in central Nairobi trapping more than 280 construction workers inside.
    Israel dispatched a similar team to Nairobi in 1998 after the terrorist bombing of the U.S. embassy.

The Hamas Campaign Platform - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    On Jan. 17, PA Television broadcast the following Hamas election ad:
    "We do not recognize the Israeli enemy, nor his right to be our neighbor, nor to stay, nor his ownership of any inch of land."
    "Therefore, we do not see [Israel] as an ally, not in policy, not in security, not in economy, and not in any form of cooperation."
    "Israel is an enemy who is interested in uprooting us, and we are interested in restoring our full rights to return all the people of Palestine to the land of Palestine."
    "Our principles are clear: Palestine is a land of Waqf [Islamic trust], which cannot be given up."

Study: Fears of an Oil Weapon are Baseless (
    In a peer-reviewed journal article, Johns Hopkins University researcher Roger J. Stern argues that the decades-old belief that petroleum-rich Persian Gulf nations must be appeased to keep oil flowing is imaginary, and the threat of deployment of an "oil weapon" is toothless.
    The real security problem, says Stern, comes from market power. Persian Gulf oil producers collude to command artificially high prices that could never exist in a competitive market.
    "U.S. appeasement of the oil market power not only helps create these problems, it makes them inevitable," said Stern.
    Recent history shows that attempts to use an oil weapon have consistently failed.
    In 1973 Persian Gulf states unleashed the oil weapon, but because the U.S. could obtain fuel from elsewhere, and because the Persian Gulf nations were dependent on oil revenue, their "attack" was quickly abandoned.
    Panic buying kept prices high for a while, but actual supply fell only a small amount.

IDF Arrests Islamic Jihad Terrorist (Israel Defense Forces)
    The IDF arrested Hassin Behagat Anis Jerdat, 33, on Sunday in Silat Al-Haratia, northwest of Jenin.
    Jerdat is one of the heads of Islamic Jihad in northern Samaria, the group that committed five suicide bombings in Israel during 2005.

Palestinian Killed Protecting Campaign Posters - Atef Sa'ad (Reuters)
    Gunmen shot a Palestinian man in the head on Monday in Nablus when he tried to prevent them from removing campaign posters of Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: Israel Is Our Ally; We Won't Be Blackmailed by Iranian Bomb
    President Bush said Monday, "I'm concerned when the country of Iran, their president, announces his desire to see that Israel gets destroyed. Israel is our ally. We're committed to the safety of Israel, and it's a commitment we will keep. Secondly, I'm concerned about a non-transparent society's desire to develop a nuclear weapon. The world cannot be put in a position where we can be blackmailed by a nuclear weapon." (White House)
  • Rice: No Change in Policy on Hamas
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Monday that Washington would have practical problems dealing with Hamas after the Palestinian election because of its U.S. classification as a "terrorist" group. "In addition to the fact that the United States won't change its policies toward Hamas, the practical problem is that the (current) Palestinian leadership in the roadmap is committed to a renunciation of violence, committed to dismantling terrorist organizations, committed to a peaceful road," said Rice. "It is not possible to foot in terrorism and the other foot in politics. It simply does not work."  (Reuters)
        See also Blair: "We Will Not Talk to a Terrorist Hamas"
    Britain will not deal with a Palestinian government containing Hamas members unless the militant group renounces violence, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday. "It is very difficult for us to be in the position of negotiating or talking to Hamas unless there’s a very clear renunciation of terrorism," he said. (Times-UK)
  • Hamas Leaders Praise Jihad and Renew Calls to Fight Israel - Anne Barnard
    Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas leader, and other candidates went out of their way to deny they would ever give up their insistence on the destruction of Israel and the right to armed struggle. ''We are entering the legislative council to make it a project of resistance," he told a cheering crowd Monday night in Gaza, adding, in a jab at Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, ''Do you want to abandon the program of sacrifice and jihad for the program of fancy cars and big salaries?" Zahar said Palestinians have the right to all the land of Israel, including ''Jerusalem, east and west." Once Hamas enters parliament, he said, ''If we find any trace of Oslo we will kill it. If we find a mouse from Oslo we will kill him." (Boston Globe)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • "Defensible Borders Are Key to Israel's Safety" - Rafael D. Frankel
    To defend itself against future threats, Israel must retain control of the Jordan Valley and all West Bank border crossings in any future arrangement - whether negotiated or initiated unilaterally - that defines the state's borders, a panel comprised mainly of former military men told the Herzliya Conference Monday. Israel must assume there will be global and local threats that stretch decades into the future, and should not draw borders that compromise Israel's ability to defend itself from a ground- or air-based attack. All major Israeli population centers and Ben-Gurion Airport were already within the range of rockets if fired from the West Bank, the panel reported.
        Former ambassador to the UN Dr. Dore Gold said international law and numerous agreements with the U.S. specified that Israel was not required to return to the pre-1967 borders. Citing the April 2004 letter from President Bush and UN Security Council Resolution 242, he said international law supports Israel's entitlement to "secure and defensible borders" that did not directly correlate to the pre-1967 lines. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Barrage Directed at Israeli Town - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Monday evening. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Palestinians' Crisis of Leadership - Aaron David Miller
    The Palestinians deserve a large share of the responsibility for their tragic predicament. Their leaders have failed to outline a coherent strategy, to devise effective tactics, or to condition their public for compromise. Instead, a political culture of grievance and avoidance of responsibility has been the Palestinians' operating software.
        Armed struggle as a tactic has been a disaster. While Hamas boasts (with some justification) that it was the gun that forced the Israelis out of the Gaza Strip, the gun has also wreaked havoc on the Palestinian society and image. Suicide terrorism has not only alienated Israel and America but also pushed them closer together. And without Israel and America, a Palestinian state will be stillborn. (Washington Post)
  • The U.S. and Hamas - Dennis Ross
    The U.S. should lead an international effort to affect Palestinian behavior by emphasizing: First, that the international community will not deal with Hamas unless it renounces violence, gives up its weapons, and commits to co-existence. Second, that international assistance will be immediately forthcoming for job-creating projects but will cease if Palestinians do not immediately establish law and order in Gaza and the West Bank. Third, that continuing assistance to the PA will depend on its assumption of its real governing responsibilities, including a sustained effort to prevent acts of terror against Israel.
        Hamas and the PA cannot have it both ways; it cannot be acceptable for Hamas to go along with law and order internally while it still tolerates and supports terrorism against Israel. (USA Today)
  • Don't Make Exceptions for Hamas - David Makovsky
    Hamas will not be forced to make pragmatic decisions unless the international community is united. Importantly, the U.S., EU, Russia, and the UN - the group of countries monitoring the Palestinians' political development - declared in their last statement that "a future Palestinian Authority cabinet should include no member who has not committed to the principles of Israel's right to exist in peace and security and an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism." Hamas needs to be forced to choose. Peace in the Middle East requires tough choices, not quick fixes. (Newsday)
  • Regime Change in Palestine? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Many Palestinians are convinced that Arafat's death has created a golden opportunity to get rid of the corrupt regime he left behind. Hamas's decision to focus on financial corruption, nepotism, and anarchy is regarded by many Palestinians as wise. Had the Islamic movement put the destruction of Israel and the continuation of suicide bombings at the top of its platform, it would not have attracted such support: The majority of Palestinians are either exhausted by the intifada or simply don't believe that the elimination of Israel is realistic.
        The rampant corruption of Arafat and the PA top brass - the ones who are accused of mishandling the billions that the international community, including the U.S., poured in after Oslo - has been a boon to Hamas. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Palestinian Democracy - Editorial
    Free elections may well produce governments composed of Muslim radicals who promote terror and have little respect for pluralism. Our sense is that if democracy is truly going to take root in the Middle East, then Islamists are going to have to be allowed to compete for power. The danger of an outright Hamas victory is that it could bring one man, one vote, one time. The entire 1993 Oslo peace accord was built, and later collapsed, on the idea that political responsibility would make Arafat and his Fatah party followers more moderate.
        Future Israeli leaders can't be expected to discuss the terms of their country's destruction with Hamas, nor will the U.S. and Europe endorse the aims of Hamas simply because it was able to win the votes of a desperate population. (Wall Street Journal, 24Jan06)
  • Observations:

    Former IDF Chief Yaalon: Gaza Now Hamastan, Al-Qaedastan - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)

    • Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon told the Herzliya Conference on Israel's National Security on Monday that Gaza has turned into "Hamastan, Hizballahstan, and al-Qaedastan" following Israel's withdrawal from the area last summer.
    • "The Arabs' refusal to recognize Israel is the source of all the violence directed against it from the dawn of Zionism to this day," he added. "As long as this does not change, Israel will be prone to violence."
    • "The 1967 borders do not provide an answer to the threat of rocket and suicide bombing attacks, nor do they provide an answer to the threat of conventional attacks."
    • Yaalon said the Palestinian Authority has breached every agreement with Israel. "The Palestinians do not recognize our right to live within the 1967 borders. Their decision to wage war in September 2000 was aimed at dodging the need to recognize Israel as a sovereign state."
    • "All of these are warning signs ahead of determining the country’s permanent borders - either by way of agreement or unilaterally. As long as there is no acceptance of our right to exist, the Israeli leadership should assume any determined border will be challenged by violent acts, unless there is deterrence. The more vulnerable we appear, the bigger the temptation is to attack us."

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