Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 6, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Launched "Secret" Rocket Test (Australian)
    Iran secretly tested a new surface-to-surface missile on January 17, seeking to establish the measurements needed for long-range missiles, the German daily Die Welt reported.
    The test was conducted by the Revolutionary Guard led by Yahya Rahim Safavi.
    On January 28, Safavi said that Iran would use its ballistic missiles if it was attacked and that "Iran has a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers."

Shin Bet: Israel in Midst of "New Wave of Terror" - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin told the cabinet Sunday that Israel is at the peak of a new wave of terror by Islamic Jihad and Hizballah.
    Diskin said that over the weekend the IDF and the Shin Bet had thwarted at least two suicide bombings planned by Islamic Jihad cells in Nablus, and that in the past ten days "12 potential suicide bombers" had been arrested.
    Security sources said the Islamic Jihad and Hizballah headquarters in Damascus and Beirut were streaming large sums of money into the territories to spur terror cells to carry out attacks.

Israel Campus Beat
- February 5, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    Another Disengagement after the Hamas Victory?

Hamas to Boost Ties with Iran, Syria - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas is expected to grow much closer to Iran and Syria.
    Ties with Iran will center on financing, operational know-how, and political support.
    Israel believes agreements were already reached on the eve of the elections at a meeting in Damascus with visiting Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who promised Hamas financial and political support and closer military ties.

Corrupt Officials Stole $700 Million from PA (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    About $700 million has been pilfered from the PA coffers, PA Attorney General Ahmad al-Moghani said Sunday. "Some of these millions were transferred into personal accounts here and abroad."
    See also PA Tries to Stop Officials from Fleeing - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Several top PA officials have fled the West Bank and Gaza since Hamas' election victory, PA security sources revealed Sunday.
    The officials, suspected of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds, include Sami Ramlawi, former director-general of the PA Finance Ministry, who is believed to be in Jordan.
    Harbi Sarsour, head of the PA's Petroleum Authority, was arrested recently by the PA.
    A close associate of Arafat, Sarsour established, together with senior PA officials, a monopoly over gasoline in the West Bank and Gaza.
    Sarsour is threatening to implicate many top officials if the PA does not release him.

Terrorist Alert After Yemen Jail Breakout - Francis Harris (Telegraph-UK)
    Interpol issued an "urgent global security alert" Sunday after Jamal al-Badawi, an al-Qaeda terrorist who helped mastermind the attack on the USS Cole and was sentenced to death two years ago, escaped from a Yemeni prison during a mass break-out by convicted Islamist radicals.
    Twenty-three men broke out after digging a 150-yard tunnel from the jail in the capital, San'a.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Nuclear Agency Reports Iran to Security Council - John Ward Anderson and Karl Vick
    The UN nuclear agency reported Iran to the UN Security Council on Saturday, signaling growing worldwide unease about Iran's nuclear program. Iran responded Saturday by announcing that it would resume "commercial-scale uranium enrichment" and halt snap checks of its nuclear facilities by UN inspectors. The 27-3 decision by the IAEA board was a diplomatic victory for the U.S. and Europe. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran Ends Voluntary Cooperation on Nukes - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP/Washington Post)
  • Three Israelis, Including Infant, Injured in Palestinian Rocket Attack - Scott Wilson
    At least three members of an Israeli family, including a 7-month-old infant, were wounded Friday when a rocket fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip struck their mobile home in the Negev region of southern Israel. Two more missiles struck an industrial park in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, damaging part of a desalination complex. The Israeli military responded with artillery fire. (Washington Post)
        See also Baby Injured in Palestinian Rocket Attack on Israeli Kibbutz - Anat Bershkovsky
    Seven-month-old Osher Amar sustained skull fractures Friday when a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza struck his family's home in Kibbutz Karmiya, south of Ashkelon. Osher's father and uncle also sustained injuries in the attack. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Tells West to Take Its Aid and "Get Lost" - Paul Martin
    The leader of Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank, Mahmoud Zahar, said Friday the militant Islamic movement can manage without Western aid when it assumes government of the Palestinian territories. "The Western nations can take their aid and get lost," he told the Washington Times. "Israel is not a legitimate entity, and no amount of pressure can force us to recognize its right to exist," he said. (Washington Times)
        See also Hamas: Palestinian Recognition of Israel a Mistake - Amil Khan
    Palestinian recognition of Israel was a mistake that needs correction, senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said Sunday in Cairo. (Reuters)
  • Going Atomic Over a Comic - Andy Soltis
    The insane fury over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad escalated sharply Friday as tens of thousands of Muslim protesters vented their rage in more than a dozen countries - chanting Osama bin Laden's name and calling for more 9/11-style terrorism. Demonstrators burned European flags and merchandise from Iraq to the Sudan. "Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up!" protesters chanted in the West Bank town of Ramallah. In the Gaza Strip, a bloodthirsty cleric told midday worshippers, "We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible." In Gaza City, Palestinian militants threw a grenade at a French cultural center. About 10,000 militants, including Hamas gunmen, marched through Gaza City chanting, "Down, down Denmark!" In the West Bank, thousands more demonstrated in Nablus, Jenin, and Ramallah. (New York Post)
        See also Syrians Torch Danish, Norway Embassies over Cartoon - Rasha Elass (Reuters)
        See also Danish Consulate Torched in Beirut - Joseph Panossian
    The U.S. accused the Syrian government of backing the protests in Lebanon and Syria. (AP/Forbes)
        See also Some See Government Roles in Cartoon Protests - Bassem Mroue
    The fact that the biggest riots occurred in the Syrian capital and in Beirut raised questions: Syria has an extensive security network to make sure that little happens inside its borders without the approval of the national leadership. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Palestinians Burn German Flag in Gaza - Ali Waked
    Two dozen Palestinians stormed the German cultural center in Gaza City Saturday, smashing windows, breaking doors, and burning the German flag, to protest cartoons deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammad. (Ynet News)
        See also Iran President Orders Economic Reprisals for Cartoons
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad has ordered the cancellation of economic contracts with countries where the media have carried cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Kills One, Wounds Five in Central Israel - Yuval Azoulay
    Kinneret Ben-Shalom Hajbi, 58, was killed and four others are in serious condition after a Palestinian stabbed several passengers on an interurban minibus in Petah Tikva on Sunday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hizballah Strikes IDF Outposts on Northern Border
    An Israeli soldier was lightly injured Friday after Hizballah fired at least 30 mortar shells at IDF outposts on Israel's northern border. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Agrees to Transfer Money to Palestinians - Aluf Benn
    Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday authorized the transfer of NIS 250 million in tax revenues to the PA which Israel had withheld following Hamas' election victory. Olmert decided that future transfers of the VAT and customs money will be examined on a monthly basis. The defense establishment advised Olmert to transfer the money in order to prevent the collapse of public services in the West Bank and Gaza. The Quartet decided this week to continue assistance to the PA as long as there is no change in its government and asked Israel to transfer the tax money. (Ha'aretz)
  • Islamic Jihad Rocket Commander Killed
    Adnan Bustan, head of Islamic Jihad's Technical Committee and responsible for its rocket launchings, was killed Sunday in an aerial attack by the IDF. Adnan also transferred rockets and bombs to other terror groups. (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also IDF Renews Anti-Rocket Operations in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • No Treating with Terror - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    The election of a terrorist group to a majority in the Palestinian parliament is a stunning setback for Washington. The birth of a Hamas terrorist statelet will destroy the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, it will threaten America's regional friends, such as Jordan and Egypt, and it will embolden all of America's enemies in the region - Syria, Iran, the Islamic insurgents in Iraq, al-Qaeda, and Hizballah. Hamastan, as they call it, will become a training ground for terrorism - a sort of Afghanistan-lite. It is critical, then, not to grant a scrap of legitimacy to Hamas under its present leadership, for to do so would undermine Palestinian moderation, and make it harder to forestall the development of terrorist training grounds in the West Bank. (U.S. News)
  • Political Islam: Forty Shades of Green
    The Hamas triumph has brought delight to all its fellow members of the international fraternity known as the Muslim Brotherhood - from the refugee camps in Jordan to their counterparts in the Islamic diaspora in Europe. Whatever Hamas now does, its success may be remembered as the biggest victory for political Islam since Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini brought to the modern world the idea that Islam might be a formula for governance, law, and spreading revolution.
        The two best-known forms of political Islam (broadly speaking, al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood) have common ideological origins. Both have their roots in the anti-secular opposition in Egypt, a conservative reading of Sunni Islam, and the wealth and religious zeal of the Saudis. But they differ hugely over politics and tactics. (Economist-UK)
  • We Are All Danes Now - Jeff Jacoby
    The current uproar over cartoons of Mohammad illustrates yet again the fascist intolerance that is at the heart of radical Islam. That anything so mild could trigger a reaction so crazed - riots, death threats, kidnappings, flag-burnings - speaks volumes about the chasm that separates the values of the civilized world from those in too much of the Islamic world. Freedom of the press, the marketplace of ideas, the right to skewer sacred cows: militant Islam knows none of this. And if the jihadis get their way, it will be swept aside everywhere by the censorship and intolerance of sharia. The freedom of speech we take for granted is under attack, and it will vanish if it is not bravely defended. Today the censors may be coming for some unfunny cartoons, but tomorrow it is your words and ideas they will silence. Like it or not, we are all Danes now. (Boston Globe)
  • Observations:

    Rice to Hamas: "In Order to Receive International Assistance You Have to Be Committed to Nonviolence" (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)

    U.S. Secretary of State Rice told Asharq Al-Awsat in London on Thursday:

    • "I think what you are hearing from the international community is that in order to receive international assistance you have to be committed to nonviolence, you have to be committed to the obligations that have been there for a very long time concerning the peace process and how to move the peace process forward. In order to expect the Israelis to deal with the issues of freedom of movement or to deal with issues - the kind of intertwined economies that exist between the Palestinian territories and Israel, a government of the Palestinian Authority would have to recognize the right of Israel to exist. There are just certain practical realities and I would hope that now having received this mandate from the Palestinian people that Hamas will think hard about its obligations and how it can discharge them in a way that does not harm Palestinian interests."
    • "Hamas is a terrorist organization and I don't see that we have much to talk about until it is clear that Hamas is prepared to live up to these very important obligations that have been taken on behalf of Palestinians for more than a decade. And, you know, there is not much to talk about if Hamas doesn't recognize the right of Israel to exist. It is not a matter of political recognition even; it is a matter of recognizing the right of Israel to exist. There is not much to talk about if there is a commitment to violence, particularly for a country like the United States that believes the war on terrorism is indivisible, that terrorism and violence are indistinguishable wherever you find them."
    • "I don't think anybody is prepared to tolerate a nuclear Iran, and it means that we and the Europeans, and I think the Russians also agree with this....There should not a nuclear Iran. The Chinese agree that there should not be a nuclear-armed Iran. That we have to mobilize all of our diplomatic skill and efforts and means to make sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon....I think you will see more and more tools available to the international system to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon."
    • "When Ahmadinejad went to Damascus, that was quite a gathering. The leadership of Palestinian rejectionists, the leadership of Hizballah, the Iranians, and the Syrians. That says something about the Middle East that Syria and Iran see and it is 180 degrees from the Middle East that everybody else is trying to build, and so I think it's worth paying attention to."

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