Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 2, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Abbas Not Demanding Hamas Recognize Israel (Reuters)
    An official close to Palestinian chairman Abbas denied a report from Egypt on Wednesday that Hamas would have to recognize Israel to join the next government.
    The Palestinian official said formal recognition of Israel would not be a prerequisite for Hamas or any Palestinian party joining a government.
    See also Egypt Insists that Hamas Stop Violence - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
    Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman insisted Wednesday that Hamas renounce violence, confirm existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and recognize Israel's legitimacy if it wants to form the next Palestinian government.

Gunmen Surround EU Office in Gaza (Reuters)
    About a dozen Palestinian gunmen surrounded European Union offices in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, demanding their closure to protest caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that appeared in European newspapers.
    The gunmen, from the Islamic Jihad and an armed faction of Fatah known as the Yasser Arafat brigade, fired into the air as they climbed the surrounding walls of the EU compound.
    "This place is closed until the government makes an apology," a spokesman for the gunmen said.
    See also Norway Shuts West Bank Mission after Threats in Cartoon Row (AFX/Forbes)

Egypt's Concerns over Hamas Win - Saif Nasrawi (UPI)
    The political earthquake resulting from the landslide victory of Hamas - the "Palestinian branch" of the Muslim Brotherhood - over the longtime dominant Fatah movement reverberated especially in Egypt.
    The Muslim Brotherhood grabbed an unprecedented 88 seats in last year's general elections to the 454-member Egyptian parliament.
    Amro Abdel Rahman, a political writer in al-Boussola, noted Hamas' win will constitute a driving force and incentive for Islamic movements in Egypt, especially the Muslim Brotherhood.

Iran Accuses Israel of Liquor Smuggling (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting)
    Iranian police announced on Tuesday that Israel is behind the smuggling of liquor into Iran.
    Local police commander Colonel Hossein Abdi said that Israeli security organizations are behind efforts to spread corruption among the younger generation in order to harm the Islamic establishment.

Useful Reference:

The PA's Fiscal Situation - Current Status (World Bank)
    The PA's fiscal situation has become increasingly unsustainable mainly as a result of uncontained government consumption.
    The significant increase in public sector salaries and public hiring is a setback to placing the PA on an orderly fiscal footing.
    The PA has not yet committed to any mitigating measures to bring the fiscal situation under control.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: "You Bet We'll Defend Israel" - Glenn Kessler
    In an interview with Reuters Wednesday, President Bush said he is concerned about Iranian President Ahmadinejad's "menacing talk" about Israel. "Israel is a solid ally of the United States. We will rise to Israel's defense, if need be. So this kind of menacing talk is disturbing. It's not only disturbing to the United States, it's disturbing for other countries in the world, as well." Asked whether he meant the U.S. would rise to Israel's defense militarily, Bush said: "You bet, we'll defend Israel."  (Washington Post)
  • Putin Says Russia, U.S. Differ on Hamas Win - Peter Finn
    Russian President Vladimir Putin described the electoral victory of the radical Islamic group Hamas as "a big blow to American efforts in the Middle East," but he said Russia would not support any efforts to cut off financial assistance to the Palestinians. "Our position on Hamas is different from that of the United States and Western Europe," said Putin. "The Russian Foreign Ministry has never regarded Hamas as a terrorist organization." (Washington Post)
        See also Hamas Praises Putin for Continued Support (Radio Free Europe)
  • More European Papers Print Cartoons of Muhammad - Alan Cowell
    Several European newspapers on Wednesday reprinted cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an unflattering light, supporting a Danish newspaper in a sharpening debate over freedom of expression. In Paris, France Soir printed all twelve cartoons, declaring, "No religious dogma can impose its view on a democratic and secular society." In Germany, Die Welt printed one image on its front page. In Italy, La Stampa and Corriere della Sera published the cartoons. In Spain, they were printed in El Periodico, and Switzerland's Tribune de Geneve planned to publish them on Thursday. (New York Times)
        See also French Editor Fired Over Cartoons
    Jacques Lefranc, the editor of France Soir, has been sacked by the newspaper's owner, Raymond Lakah, a French Egyptian. France Soir printed a new cartoon on its front page showing Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian holy figures sitting on a cloud, with the caption, "Don't worry Muhammad, we've all been caricatured here." (BBC News)
        See also This Is Not Just about Cartoons, But Standing Up for Our Values - Anthony Browne
    Flemming Rose, the culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, who brought the fury of the Muslim world on his country by printing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad, defiantly declared Tuesday: "We do not apologize for printing the cartoons. It was our right to do so." "This is about standing for fundamental values that have been the (foundation) for the development of Western democracies over several hundred years, and we are now in a situation where those values are being challenged." (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. to Israel: Transfer Funds to PA - Yitzhak Benhorin
    The U.S. wants Israel to continue transferring funds to the PA during the transition period before the establishment of a Hamas government. American Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones has already held contacts on the matter with officials in Jerusalem. The U.S. is interested in maintaining the flow of funds in an effort to boost the standing of PA chairman Abbas. (Ynet News)
        See also U.S. Working to Strengthen Abbas - Nathan Guttman
    The U.S. administration is working to strengthen Abbas' position and has publicly called on him not to resign. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rockets Hits Ashkelon Industrial Zone and Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians fired Kassam rockets from Gaza Thursday that hit the southern industrial zone of Ashkelon and the southern Israeli town of Sderot. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How Not to Help Hamas - Editorial
    Palestinians receive more international aid, per capita, than any people in the world. The upset victory by Hamas in the Palestinian elections offers a rare opportunity for the U.S. and the international community to rethink under what conditions humanitarian aid could be provided to Palestinians without the risk that it would be siphoned to Hamas. President Bush is right to threaten to cut off U.S. aid to a Palestinian government controlled by Hamas. U.S. law and common decency preclude taxpayer money from going to a terrorist group that has vowed to annihilate Israel. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Hamas and "Peace" - Editorial
    In the wake of the Hamas victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, Washington is already under pressure to emulate the wrong-headed policies of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when American policy-makers labored to persuade Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization to say they recognized Israel's right to exist. The result was the 1993 Oslo Accords and the endless and naive "peace process" that followed: seven years of substantial Israeli political and territorial concessions in exchange for empty promises to end the conflict with Israel and to prevent Palestinian terrorism. Now there is a new drumbeat of demands that Washington court Hamas - in other words, that we repeat what failed.
        It makes no sense to go chasing after the likes of Hamas boss Mohammed Zohhar, to cajole him into making a meaningless statement laden with caveats about continuing "a ceasefire" with Israel - even as Hamas and its terrorist allies fire rockets into Israel and prepare for a new round of terrorist strikes. Washington and the EU should never, ever, subsidize Zohhar and his ilk. (Washington Times)
  • Hamas Invites Sanctions If It Clings to Terror - Michael Kraft
    Hamas leaders have repeatedly called for the end of Israel and use terrorist attacks against civilians as a tactic to achieve that goal. Should a Hamas-controlled government support terrorism in deed as well as rhetoric, a new Palestinian state should be declared a state sponsor of terrorism, lose foreign aid, and face economic sanctions.
        State sponsors of terrorism face sanctions that include a ban on economic and military assistance; export controls over equipment that could be used for military or terrorist as well as civilian activities; and no tax credits for American individuals and firms doing business in the country - which discourages investment. The sanctions also require the U.S. to oppose loans from the World Bank and other international institutions. The writer is a former senior adviser in the State Department Counterterrorism Office. (Detroit News)
  • Why Hamas Leaves Me Neutral - Daniel Pipes
    Not much separates Hamas anti-Zionism from Fatah anti-Zionism except that Hamas terrorists speak forthrightly while Fatah terrorists obfuscate. Differing emphases and styles, more than substance, distinguishes their attitudes toward Israel. Hamas and Fatah together won all but 13 seats in the legislative council. A leftist terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, got three seats. With the possible exception of some marginal figures, then, the Palestinian legislative council wall to wall rejects Israel's right to exist. Or, in David Horowitz's biting description, Palestinian Arabs are "the first terrorist people." (New York Sun)
        See also The First Terrorist People - David Horowitz
    Hamas is a party of Islamic fanatics who are part of the global jihad against the U.S. and the West, whose hero is Osama bin Laden. Hamas was the biggest foreign supporter of Saddam Hussein. With this vote in record numbers, the Palestinian people have joined en masse the Axis of Evil. The Palestinians are the first people in the history of humanity to embrace terror and genocide as a way of life. Palestinian schools train kindergarteners and first graders to aspire to murder innocent Jews by blowing themselves up alongside them. At the core of this sickness is a hatred for the West and Israel for the crimes of being successful, democratic, and tolerant. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Observations:

    The Palestinian Authority and the Challenge of Palestinian Elections
    - Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The government of Israel could accept the roadmap because it differed from the Oslo process in one significant respect. In Oslo, the notion was that peace would bring security. The political process was to develop certain horizons for the Palestinian people, and hopes for a better future were to reduce the incentives and motivation for terrorism. But it didn't work.
    • The roadmap is based on the opposite concept, in which the security problems have to be addressed first. Israel does not intend to repeat the same mistake again and have a political process under the continuous threat of another wave of terrorism.
    • Israel made a historic decision in February 2003 to accept the roadmap, which envisions a two-state solution, with the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. However, the Palestinians have yet to make two crucial strategic decisions which they cannot ignore or escape. The first is to understand that political achievements cannot be gained through terrorism. The second is to recognize that a two-state solution means that on one side there will be a Palestinian state, but on the other side there will be a Jewish state. I have never heard any real Arab leader say loud and clear that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state.
    • Prime Minister Sharon did not think a further unilateral withdrawal in the West Bank was a smart thing to do. This was not his intention and there were no such plans. The prime minister believed that Israel has to stay exactly where we are as far as territory is concerned, and to insist that the Palestinians begin to do what they have to do in the security realm before other political movement can take place.

      The writer is the head of Israel's National Security Council. This article is based on his presentation of November 16, 2005.

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