Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 25, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Races to Defend Nuclear Facilities - Thomas Harding and Anton La Guardia (Telegraph-UK)
    Iran is racing to dig a network of tunnels and upgrade its air defenses to protect its nuclear facilities from possible attacks by America or Israel, Jane's Defence Weekly reported.
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued orders for the underground complexes to be completed by the beginning of July.
    The network of facilities deep underground or in the sides of mountains has been built with help from North Korean designers.

Iran: UN Sanctions May Lead Us to Close Persian Gulf - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    Mohammed-Nabi Rudaki, deputy chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, threatened that Tehran may forcibly prevent oil export via the Straits of Hormuz if the UN imposed economic sanctions due to Iran's nuclear program, an Iranian news website said on Monday.
    "We have the power to halt oil supply to the last drop from the shores of the Persian Gulf via the Straits of Hormuz," he said.
    25% of the world's oil production passes through the Straits of Hormuz, which connect the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean, including all production from the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

Israel vs. Iran: Family Feud? (Economist-UK)
    Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says Israel is an alien implantation whose people should return to Europe or perhaps settle in Alaska.
    So it is an irony that Israel's president, Moshe Katzav, is in fact a Farsi-speaker born in Iran, as is Israel's defense minister, Shaul Mofaz.
    Israel's chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, was born in Israel but both his parents were born in Iran.
    Asked how far Israel would go to stop Iran's nuclear program, Halutz replied: "two thousand kilometers."

Hamas Ready to Unite Forces Under Single National Liberation Army (Palestine-info-UK)
    Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mishaal told Arabiya satellite TV in Damascus that Hamas is willing to unite the Palestinian weapon provided it will be under a national liberation army that would continue the liberation march of the Palestinians, rather than placing it under the control of the security apparatuses.
    See also Hamas to Enact Islamic Laws if Elected (Palestine-info-UK)
    Hamas would enact "laws and legislation compatible with the Islamic Sharia [religious law] and would do our best to nullify the non-Islamic ones," Dr. Fuad Al-Nahal, a Hamas parliamentary candidate, told an election meeting in Rafah Monday.

Iraqis Demonstrate Against Al-Qaeda (Al-Bawaba-Jordan)
    Between 700 and 1,000 Iraqi citizens poured into the streets of Samarra on Tuesday in a massive demonstration against al-Qaeda.
    The demonstration was organized by two major Sunni groups, the Iraqi Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars Association, who blamed al-Qaeda for the deaths of some 40 Iraqi police recruits last week.
    Vocal opposition to al-Qaeda in Samarra began last year after the death of local tribal leader Sheikh Hikmat al-Mumtaz, head of the Albu Baz tribe, at the hands of Islamist nationalists.

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  • IDF Rescue Units Save Lives in Kenya
    "I do not believe I'm alive," said Martin Muhinda after being buried for the last 24 hours when a 5-story building under construction collapsed on Monday in Nairobi. The Israeli rescue team was instrumental in his rescue as they pulled him out using highly specialized equipment and sniffer dogs. (Reuters)
        Since arriving in Kenya on Tuesday, the Home Front Command's rescue team has pulled out four survivors and seven bodies. "Our goal is to save lives, regardless of religion, gender or origin. That is the beauty of our work," said Brig.-Gen. Avraham Ben-David. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Sigh of Relief as Israeli, U.S. Rescuers Take Over - Cyrus Ombati and Ochieng Oreyo
    The 130 Israeli soldiers offloaded their equipment and pitched a tent near the scene before beginning the search and rescue mission. With four sniffer dogs, they moved from one corner to another, locating possible survivors and bodies. The rescuers were armed with special lights mounted on helmets, floodlights, oxygen cylinders, jackhammers, grinders, metal rods, ropes, and other rescue equipment. Meanwhile, 17 U.S. Marines, among them construction experts and paramedics, arrived in Nairobi. (Standard-Kenya)
        See also Photos of Israeli Rescue Team in Nairobi (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Israel to UN: "Iran May be Preparing Another Holocaust" - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, on Tuesday called Iran's plan for a conference to examine the evidence for the Holocaust as proof that Iran was run by an "extreme, fundamentalist, lunatic regime" and "proof of what a global threat Iran really is." "I fear that the only reason Iran is showing so much interest in the Holocaust is because they may be preparing another Holocaust and it is up to the world and the United Nations to prevent that from happening," Gillerman said on the sidelines of the opening of the "No Child's Play" exhibit at the UN commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Week. (AP/ABC News)
  • UN Security Council Leaders to Meet on Iran Issue - Mark Heinrich
    Foreign ministers of the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany will meet on Monday to bridge differences over Iran's nuclear work before a crisis meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna on February 2. (Reuters)
  • UN Renews Pressure on Lebanon to Disarm Hizballah - Irwin Arieff
    A unanimous UN Security Council put fresh pressure on Lebanon on Monday to disarm the Hizballah guerrilla group, as required by Resolution 1559, adopted in September 2004. A council statement also called on Syria to take measures to stem the flow of arms and people across its border into neighboring Lebanon. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also Rice Phones Lebanon PM over Hizballah Arms
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Lebanon's prime minister on Tuesday to discuss renewed UN Security Council pressure to disarm Hizballah. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Eight Killed in Bombings in South Iran - Nazila Fathi
    Two separate bombs exploded Tuesday morning in the southern city of Ahwaz at a bank and a government building, leaving 8 people dead and 46 wounded, state-run news agencies reported. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been expected to meet his cabinet in the city, but the trip was canceled Monday evening because of bad weather. The explosions occurred at the time he had been expected to make a speech. Ahwaz is the capital of Khuzestan Province, bordering Iraq and home to a Sunni Arab minority. (New York Times)
  • Turkey Feels Iran Chill - Iason Athanasiadis
    Iran's supply of natural gas to Turkey was inexplicably slashed by 70% last Friday, in one of the coldest months of the year. On the same day, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul had called for greater Iranian "transparency" over Tehran's nuclear program. "We don't want a new nuclear power in the region," a Turkish diplomat in Tehran said. Turkey is the only country in Iran's vicinity on which the U.S. has prepositioned tactical nuclear weapons (an estimated 90) that it could deploy against Iranian facilities. (Asian Times-Hong Kong)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA Deputy Prime Minister: Fatah Unable to Dismantle Militias
    "We can't honor Abbas' commitment to dismantle the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militias," PA Deputy Prime Minister and Fatah campaign chief Nabil Shaath told Spain's El Pais newspaper Monday. Shaath said the new PA that would emerge from Wednesday's elections would need to "rebuild the security forces....That will take time." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
        See also Hamas Not Expected to Halt Attacks - Yaakov Katz
    Hamas is expected to continue perpetrating attacks against Israel even if it does well at the polls on Wednesday in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, senior Israeli defense officials predicted on Tuesday. Officials said they believed Hamas would keep up its anti-Israel activity even from a position within the PA cabinet. "Hamas is built on an ideology that calls for Israel's destruction and its leaders speak like anti-Semites. The assumption is that they will not give up the Izz a-Din el-Kassam military wing so quickly," one senior defense official said. The IDF would not be restricted in taking military action against Hamas if warranted, even if the organization became part of the PA government, the official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 31 Palestinian Prisoners Running for PA Legislature - Yigal Grayeff
    31 security prisoners in Israeli jails are running in Wednesday's Palestinian Legislative Council elections, the Palestinian Central Elections Commission's website shows. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket early Wednesday at the western Negev in Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Oil for Missiles: Our Friends the Saudis Make Friends with the Chinese - Richard L. Russell
    It was no coincidence that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah this week chose China for his first official trip outside the Middle East since acceding to the throne in August. With a pact for closer cooperation in oil, natural gas, and minerals signed during the visit, the two countries are laying the foundations for a strategic relationship that challenges U.S. interests. Since 9/11, and the American public's backlash over the fact that the majority of the hijackers were Saudi nationals, Riyadh's search for a new strategic partner has assumed fresh impetus. China, for its part, is importing ever increasing amounts of oil from the Gulf to fuel its rapidly expanding economy. Saudi Arabia's CSS-2 missiles are now obsolescent and Riyadh would welcome modern Chinese models as replacements.
        In the old days of the Cold War, the U.S. viewed the security relationships in the Middle East through the prism of its rivalry with the Soviet Union. Today, Russian power in the Middle East has withdrawn, but China's power, especially in the Persian Gulf, is increasing, a dimension of world politics that American policy makers need to begin focusing on. The writer teaches at the National Defense University's Near East and South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • How to Head Off the Imam Bomb - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    Just using Cold War parallels from the Soviet Union, or past activities in Iran, there is a long laundry list of things we could be doing. Is there any ethical or strategic reason Iranians who want clandestine U.S. support for pro-democratic activities deserve it less than did Poles in the 1980s? Why don't we let Iranians themselves judge whether they want to work clandestinely with the U.S.?
        It is for them, not us, to decide whether helping dissidents stay afloat and organizing unions is worthwhile. If serious Iranians don't want to do these things, then such efforts will go nowhere. Covert action is a means of encouraging voluntary activity where the proof is always in the pudding. The writer is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (Weekly Standard)
  • Osama's Unmistakable Message - Walid Phares
    What the public ignores about the "cease-fire" offered by bin Laden is that the international community, and the U.S., will have to recognize al-Qaeda as the representative of the Muslim world, that all Muslim governments would elevate bin Laden as the world caliph. Also, he will be able to "resume" the jihad after the "cease-fire," since it is only a truce after all. The world, thus, would be divided in two spheres, with Osama as emperor from Morocco to China, with his full sovereign control of the resources - that is, oil - and the nuclear toys of Pakistan. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Hamas Poised to Become Insiders - Scott Wilson (Washington Post)

    • Mahmoud Zahar, among the most obdurate leaders of the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, will almost certainly be among those who emerge victorious as Palestinians vote Wednesday for parliament for the first time in a decade. Zahar is among the sternest personalities in a movement whose members celebrate the grim culture of suicide attacks and hope to establish Islamic law in the Palestinian territories.
    • Zahar said Hamas will not abandon its goal of establishing a Palestinian state across a territory that includes what is now Israel. He argued that Hamas is not joining the existing Palestinian Authority so much as creating a new government through its presence.
    • Zahar said Hamas would not give up its military wing after joining the government, which Mahmoud Abbas has said would be required. Zahar also warned that the cease-fire with Israel that Abbas brokered with armed Palestinian factions last year was no longer operative, saying, "We are outside the calm, but it is in our hands."
    • "Israel must take a chance with Hamas inside the system," said Shalom Harari, a retired senior Israeli military intelligence officer now with the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya. "We're already faced with a failing peace process that had them on the outside. Israel has nothing to lose. They are already here. Let's try to tame them."
        See also Towards Palestinian Elections: The Democracy of the Rifles - Brig. Gen. (res.) Shalom Harari (ICA/JCPA)

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