Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 1, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

UN Claims Proof Iran Plans Nuclear Bomb (AP/ABC News)
    A 15-page document obtained by Iran on the nuclear black market serves no other purpose than to make an atomic bomb, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report to be presented to the IAEA board on Thursday.
    The agency said the document, showing how to cast fissile uranium into metal, was "related to the fabrication of nuclear weapon components."
    Diplomats familiar with the probe into Iran's nuclear program said that the papers apparently were instructions on how to mold highly enriched grade uranium into the core of warheads.

    See also Atomic Agency Sees Possible Link of Military to Iran Nuclear Work - Elaine Sciolino and William J. Broad (New York Times)
    The International Atomic Energy Agency says it has evidence that suggests links between Iran's ostensibly peaceful nuclear program and its military work on high explosives and missiles, according to a report from the agency released to member countries on Tuesday.

IDF: Hamas Still Trying to Attack Israel - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas has yet to suspend efforts to perpetrate terror attacks against Israel, a high-ranking IDF officer told the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
    According to the officer, the relatively low number of terror attacks in recent months was due to the military's intensive crackdown and arrest operations in the West Bank.
    "They are still highly motivated to carry out attacks and to obtain new technology to advance their weaponry and rockets," said the officer.
    The officer said that according to intelligence, Palestinian terror organizations have developed long-range rockets with the ability to reach Israel's coastal region.

U.S. Talking with Sunni Insurgents in Iraq (Newsweek)
    U.S. officials in Iraq are now holding face-to-face talks with "senior members of the leadership" of the Iraqi Sunni insurgents.
    The talks are taking place at U.S. military bases in Anbar province, as well as in Jordan and Syria.
    "Now we have won over the Sunni political leadership. The next step is to win over the insurgents," said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
     Two weeks ago, assassins killed Sheik Nassir Qarim al-Fathawe, an Anbar sheik who had been called on as a negotiator.
    "He was killed for talking to the Americans," says Zedan al-Awad, another leading Anbar sheik.
    Al-Qaeda, meanwhile, continues to gain territory in the Sunni heartland, he says: "Zarqawi is in total control of Anbar. The Americans control nothing."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Gives Ground on Iran and Hamas - Anne Gearan
    The U.S. is compromising in order to broker dual accords in confrontations over Iran's nuclear program and the future of aid to the Palestinians. In each case, the agreements put off potential conflicts by postponing harsh consequences for Tehran or the Palestinians. One agreement puts Russia and China on record supporting Iran's referral to the Security Council when the UN nuclear watchdog agency votes on the matter later this week. It was agreed, though, that the Security Council should wait until March to take up the Iran case. Secretary of State Rice described the move as a compromise between the U.S. preference for immediate referral and action and the Russian preference to put off referral.
        On the Palestinians, Rice won international support for the principle that overseas aid will be conditioned on a new Hamas government renouncing violence and accepting Israel's right to exist. The PA gets roughly half its annual budget of up to $1.9 billion from other governments and international organizations. Monday's statement from would-be Mideast peacemakers was less than an outright threat to boycott Hamas. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Hamas Head: We Will Never Recognize the Legitimacy of a Zionist State - Khaled Mashaal
    Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based head of the political bureau of Hamas, wrote in the Guardian on Tuesday: "When the Palestinians went to the polls last Wednesday they were well aware of what was on offer and those who voted for Hamas knew what it stood for....Our message to the U.S. and EU governments is this: your attempt to force us to give up our principles or our struggle is in vain....Our message to the Muslim and Arab nations is this: we expect you to step in and compensate the Palestinian people for any loss of aid."
        "We shall never recognize the legitimacy of a Zionist state created on our soil in order to atone for somebody else's sins or solve somebody else's problem. But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms." (Guardian-UK)
        See also Hamas: We Will Not Give Up a Single Inch of Palestine
    Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar told Al-Manar TV on Jan. 25: "Palestine means Palestine in its entirety - from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River....We cannot give up a single inch of it. Therefore, we will not recognize the Israeli enemy's [right] to a single inch. That is one thing. The second thing is that if the right of return is an individual right, neither Mahmoud Al-Zahar nor Abbas Zaki can relinquish it, because all these concessions will constitute a national catastrophe. The third point is that we can found a state on any piece of the land, and this will not mean we give up on any other part of the land."  (MEMRI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Fire Ten Rockets from Gaza, Hit Israeli Town - Shmulik Hadad
    A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in the Israeli city of Sderot Tuesday evening, causing damage to a parked car. Earlier two rockets landed near Sderot and another landed near Kibbutz Zikim. Palestinian sources said electricity was cut off in large parts of northern Gaza after two rockets aimed at Israel landed in Palestinian territory and struck a main electrical pole. The IDF identified at least ten rocket launchings from Gaza toward Israeli targets - six landed in Gaza. IDF officials said Islamic Jihad was behind the rocket attacks, (Ynet News)
  • Border Policeman Wounded by Islamic Jihad Terrorists Near Jenin - Margot Dudkevitch
    A Border Policeman was seriously wounded and two Islamic Jihad fugitives killed on Tuesday in a gun battle in Arabe south of Jenin. The border police anti-terror unit was on an operation to nab fugitives planning suicide bomb attacks in Israel. According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the two Islamic Jihad fugitives, Nidal Abu Sadah and Ahmed Tubassi, were members of the same infrastructure responsible for a series of suicide bomb attacks in Netanya, Hadera, and Tel Aviv last year that resulted in the deaths and injuries of dozens of Israelis. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Opposes Transfer of Security Services to Abbas - Amira Hass
    Hamas will oppose any attempt to transfer authority over the Palestinian security services to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Hamas' parliamentary slate, Ismail Haniya, told Ha'aretz on Tuesday. On Saturday, Abbas informed the security service chiefs that they answered directly to him. Haniya promised that current employees of the security services will not lose their jobs under the new government. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Holds the Power, But Fatah Has the Most Guns - Mitch Potter
    What happens when the winners of the religiously inspired Hamas want to change everything, but the losers of the soundly secular Fatah have far and away the most guns? (Toronto Star)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Hamas Takeover and Israel's Interests - Hillel Frisch
    Tough Israeli action against terrorism has been critical in the past in teaching Hamas the rules of the game. The targeting of key figures caused Hamas to reconsider the continuation of its terrorist activities, and provided the organization with a push into the realm of politics. If Israel remains on guard and acts swiftly and resolutely to end the activity of any and all Hamas leaders who return to terrorism, Hamas can be kept in line. Hamas has proven itself capable of recognizing and respecting certain red lines. Now is the time to sit tight, walk softy, carry a very big stick, and work with the international community to force Hamas to dismantle its arms and cease its incitement. Perhaps over time, the Palestinian public will sober up from this experience, and elect a more mature leadership that will be ready for a real end-of-war deal with Israel. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies/Bar-Ilan University)
  • Voting Isn't Democracy - Eytan Gilboa
    Hamas' victory reveals a major strategic deficiency in the American design for democracy in the Middle East. Current U.S. policy will not lead to democracy because democracy is much more than elections. Democracy is based on values, institutions, and constitutions - that by their very democratic nature cannot empower Islamic terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Commentators have suggested that radical Islamic movements become more moderate and pragmatic when they assume power. After 25 years, the Islamic theocracy in Iran is still extremist; the Taliban established a repressive regime in Afghanistan; and Hizballah remains a terrorist organization, although it has representatives in the Lebanese government.
        In the months ahead, Hamas is more likely to create a strategic relationship with Islamic radical forces such as Iran and Hizballah than to forge serious ties with the West. Democratizing the Middle East will take many years, and instant elections, however successful and legitimate, will prove insufficient in the quest for true democracy. The writer, a professor of politics and communication at Bar-Ilan University, currently is a visiting professor of public diplomacy at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Hamas, a Policy Puzzle for the West - Steven Erlanger
    The Quartet said in a statement Monday that Hamas "must be committed to nonviolence, recognize Israel and accept the previous agreements and commitments," like the Oslo accords that set up the Palestinian Authority and the "road map" peace plan, which calls for the dismantling of armed groups like Hamas. But this is like asking Hamas to convert to Christianity, diplomats concede. Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel, defends the right to use arms, and considers Oslo null and void. The most Hamas offers is a long-term truce with Israel, as a stage to Muslim rule over all of the former Palestine, if Israel agrees unilaterally to pull back to its pre-1967 boundaries and cede eastern Jerusalem. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Bush: "Hamas Must Recognize Israel, Disarm, Reject Terrorism" (White House)

    In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Bush said:

    • We are writing a new chapter in the story of self-government - with women lining up to vote in Afghanistan, and millions of Iraqis marking their liberty with purple ink, and men and women from Lebanon to Egypt debating the rights of individuals and the necessity of freedom. At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half - in places like Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran - because the demands of justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well.
    • No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam - the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder - and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously.
    • A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison, put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country, and show that a pledge from America means little.
    • Ultimately, the only way to defeat the terrorists is to defeat their dark vision of hatred and fear by offering the hopeful alternative of political freedom and peaceful change. So the United States of America supports democratic reform across the broader Middle East. Elections are vital - but they are only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote.
    • The Palestinian people have voted in elections - now the leaders of Hamas must recognize Israel, disarm, reject terrorism, and work for lasting peace. Saudi Arabia has taken the first steps of reform - now it can offer its people a better future by pressing forward with those efforts. Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens.
    • The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon - and that must come to an end. The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions - and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats. And tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom.
    • America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol....Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.

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