Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 31, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Row Over Hamas Vow to Free Jailed Terrorist - Tim Butcher (Telegraph-UK)
    The Hamas leadership has declared it would release Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who has been in jail in Jericho since 2002 under the scrutiny of British and U.S. monitors after the 2001 assassination of Israeli government minister Rehavam Ze'evi.
    Israel has said in the past it would hunt Saadat down if he was ever released.

Al-Qaeda Eyes Options in Lebanon - Alon Ben-David (Janes Defence Weekly-UK)
    Hizballah's exclusive dominance of southern Lebanon has been interrupted in recent weeks by what appears to be an attempt by al-Qaeda to establish a foothold in the country.
    On 13 January, Lebanese security forces arrested 13 alleged al-Qaeda members.
    A senior Israeli intelligence officer said the arrests signal Hizballah's growing discomfort with al-Qaeda's "encroachment in their backyard."
    "I can confidently say that terrorism is closing on us from all sides," Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said at the Herzliya National Security Conference on 22 January.
    Gen. Halutz said that Israel now faces "Global Jihad, which doesn't have an address, but is a virtual union with a common ideological denomination."
    "It is a matter of time until we see an al-Qaeda attack inside Israel," intelligence sources said.

19 Zarqawi Terrorist Suspects Arrested in Yemen (Yemen Observer)
    Yemen has detained 19 people on suspicion of planning attacks against Westerners on the orders of the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
    Several members of the group had returned from Iraq after Zarqawi told them to go back to Yemen and carry out terrorist attacks, including killing American citizens.
    One of the targets was the Aden Hotel and the suspects had bought arms, explosives and detonators.
    In an audio tape earlier this month, Zarqawi urged Muslims in countries neighboring Iraq and in Yemen to join the insurgency against U.S. forces and Baghdad's government.

Useful Reference:

Palestinian Election Results (WAFA-PA)
    See also Final Results: Hamas 74 Seats, Fatah 45 (WAFA-PA)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • China and Russia Support Sending Iran Case to UN - Steven R. Weisman
    The U.S. and Europe won support from Russia and China Tuesday to refer Iran's nuclear activities to the UN Security Council. A statement by the top foreign officials of China, Russia, the U.S., and leading European countries also called on Iran to restore the suspension of all uranium enrichment. "This is certainly the most decisive action taken on Iran by the international community in years," a senior State Department official said. "This is a clear signal that the international community is saying, 'Enough.'" (New York Times)
  • Quartet, Bush: Hamas Must Change Policy
    The international community is willing to provide crucial aid to Palestinians if the new Hamas-led government commits to non-violence, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and accepts current Mideast peace agreements, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Monday at the end of a meeting of the Mideast Quartet. President Bush said Monday, "The Hamas Party has made it clear that they do not support the right of Israel to exist, and I have made it clear, so long as that's their policy, that we will not support a Palestinian government made up of Hamas." (CNN)
        See also Putin: Hamas Must Renounce Extremism, Recognize Israel (TASS-Russia)
        See also Hamas Rejects Quartet's Calls to Disarm and Recognize Israel (Ha'aretz)
  • Some Warn of Rising Islamist Tide in the Middle East - Timothy M. Phelps
    Dov Zakheim, a former top official in President Bush's Pentagon, said Thursday after the Islamist terrorist Hamas movement swept Palestinian elections, "We have a situation not unlike Germany in 1932 when we had an upstart [Nazi] party ruled by thugs that preached hatred and racism, and also claimed they would clean up a corrupt Weimar Republic."
        Robert Satloff, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the Bush administration has "an almost messianic commitment to the idea of voting - that people will be transformed from what they were before into something new. But evil people take advantage of the democratic process for evil ends, which is precisely how I would describe what is happening. It's a democratic coup against the institution of peacemaking." (Newsday)
  • Norwegians Told to Leave Gaza
    Norway's Foreign Ministry was heeding a warning Monday from Islamic groups that want all Scandinavians out of Gaza. The groups claim the Scandinavians have offended them by printing controversial caricatures of their prophet Mohammed. Armed members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade handed out pamphlets in Gaza encouraging Danes and Swedes to leave, and burned a Danish flag. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store last week urged Norway's embassies to apologize for the caricatures, but that has spurred counter-criticism that Muslim countries should respect freedom of expression. (Aftenposten-Norway)
        See also Poll: Denmark Should Not Apologize for Cartoons
    A majority of Danes feel their government and media should not apologize to Muslims for controversial cartoons published in the daily Jyllands-Posten last September and reprinted in a Norwegian magazine this month. In a poll for Danish Radio Saturday, 79% said Prime Minister Rasmussen should not apologize on Denmark's behalf. (AFP/Yahoo)
        See also Caricature of Mohammed Leads to Boycott of Danish Goods - Hassan M. Fattah (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • PA Owes Israel $47M in Unpaid Electric Bills - Ofer Petersbourg
    Yediot Ahronot newspaper reports that the Palestinian Authority's arrears to the Israel Electric Company recently reached NIS 220 million ($47 million). The company has asked the Finance Ministry to deduct the debt from tax repayments to the Palestinians. "With any other customer we would have switched off the switch," a senior Electric Company official said. (Ynet News)
  • Fayyad Won't Join Hamas Government - Rafael D. Frankel
    The Third Way Party led by former PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad will not join a coalition government led by Hamas, a top party official said Sunday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Believe It: Hamas Target Is Israel - Richard Cohen
    If you would have asked a random German in 1932 if he was voting for the murder of Jews, he would have said, "Nein!" What he really wanted was an end to the brawling in the streets and a big thumbs-up to traditional German culture. In due course we will be told that what Hamas has been insisting on for years - the utter destruction of Israel - is not really a serious goal, and that Hamas will be forced to moderate by the reality of governing.
        The leaders of Hamas brim with the word of God and the certainty of their cause. From here on they will lie about their ultimate aim and smilingly assure us that what they have always said they no longer mean. All over the world, people will believe them and urge the U.S. and Israel to do the same. Take my word for this. Anyone can see the future. It's all in the past. (New York Daily News)
  • The Garbage Collection Theory of History - George F. Will
    Some will interpret the Hamas victory in the benign light of the Garbage Collection Theory of History. On Sunday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told ABC: "My hope is that as a consequence of now being responsible for electricity and picking up garbage and basic services to the Palestinian people, that they recognize it's time to moderate their stance." Perhaps. But their stance - Israel must die - is, they say, the will of God, who has not authorized moderation in the name of sanitation.
        Jimmy Carter suggested a way to evade the U.S. law against providing funds to terrorists: the U.S. could launder money destined for Hamas by passing it through the UN. This suggestion has a certain piquancy, coming as it does after the oil-for-food program in Iraq, which demonstrated the UN's financial aptitude. (Washington Post)
  • We Don't Need Any Favors from Hamas - Yoel Marcus
    The very idea that the whole world is down on its knees, begging a Koran-centric organization whose goals are achieved by murdering Jews to recognize Israel's right to exist, is insulting. Israel was accepted as a member of the United Nations in 1949, the 51st country out of a total of 190. Israel maintains diplomatic relations with 170 of them. Israel is the only democracy in the world that has been fighting from the day it was born to safeguard its national security. It is infuriating when fanatic, backward countries declare that Israel, one of the most stable, progressive democracies in the world, has no right to exist. We will go on living and flourishing even without the recognition of Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Why Hamas Won - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
    The Oslo accords brought a corrupt Palestinian group to power that did everything it could to get rich from the public purse. In hindsight, it was a terrible mistake to accept these people as partners in the diplomatic process and to impose them on the Palestinians. More than 80% of Palestinians believe Hamas and its terrorism forced Israel to withdraw from Gaza. What Israelis believe is "determination" is interpreted in Gaza as "weakness."
        This is the time for Israel to signify, via its actions and behavior, the complete rejection of Hamas as a terrorist group and that no one will negotiate with it. The writer is former head of the IDF's research and assessment division, and former military secretary to the Minister of Defense. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    Watching Hamas - Ari Shavit (New Yorker)

    • Shalom Harari is a former Israeli military intelligence officer who has been following the rise of Hamas for almost a quarter century. While most TV channels were broadcasting scenes of Hamas celebrating its victory, Harari had tuned in to a seemingly tedious military ceremony on Egyptian state television. "Look at the wives of the generals," he said. "Many of them are wearing traditional head scarves. This was not so ten years ago. And this tells you where we are heading. When the women of Egypt's pro-Western military elite are dressed like that, you know that the Hamas victory is not about Palestine. It's about the entire Middle East."
    • "In Jordan, too, wherever there are free elections - trade unions, student unions, professional guilds - the Islamists have the upper hand. If the Hashemite kings [Hussein and Abdullah] had not played all kinds of tricks, the Islamists would have had a large representation in parliament as well....Today in the Arab world, the choice is clear between democratically elected Islamists and Western-leaning dictators."
    • "Look at these campaign posters, they are all from recent weeks. Notice the difference: while the Hamas ads are calm and tranquil, with no hint of violence, the Fatah ads are full of guns and grenades and jihad rhetoric. While Hamas projects religious dignity, Fatah goes back to its aggressive revolutionary ethos. There was no real talk of peace."
    • The impact of the Hamas victory, he said, is not local but regional. "As we speak, there are growing fears not only in Israel but in Jordan, Egypt, and even Syria. The Hamas victory is a Middle East earthquake. Its shock waves will be felt in every town between Casablanca and Baghdad."

          See also Towards Palestinian Elections: The Democracy of the Rifles - Brig. Gen. (res.) Shalom Harari (ICA/JCPA)

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