Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 16, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

France: Iran Has Secret Military Nuclear Program (BBC News)
    French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told French TV Thursday: "No civil nuclear program can explain the Iranian nuclear program. It is a clandestine military nuclear program."
    "The international community has sent a very strong message to the Iranians - show reason, suspend all nuclear activities and uranium enrichment. And they're not listening to us."
    "That is the reason why, for the first time...the international community is united. It's not just the Europeans - France, Germany, and the British - it's also Russia and China."

Arab-Owned American Ports? - Editorial (Washington Times)
    Some of America's busiest ports - New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, and three others - are about to become the property of the United Arab Emirates.
    Do we really want our major ports in the hands of an Arab country where al-Qaeda recruits, travels, and wires money?
    We should be improving port security in an age of terrorism, not outsourcing decisions to the highest bidder.
    The ports are thought to be the country's weakest homeland-security link, with good reason.

Jordan Sentences Zarqawi, Eight Militants to Death - Suleiman al-Khalidi (Reuters)
    Jordan handed down its fourth death sentence in absentia against al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on Wednesday, after finding him and eight others guilty of plotting chemical attacks in the kingdom.
    Jordan's state security court said it had evidence that Zarqawi oversaw plans to attack Jordanian intelligence headquarters and U.S. interests with a series of suicide bombings using trucks laden with chemical explosives.
    Five of the nine sentenced to death are in custody.

Israel to Share Intelligence with Four European Countries - Yigal Grayeff (Jerusalem Post)
    Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra announced that Israel has agreed to share intelligence information with Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Greece.

Syria Switches from Dollars to Euros (AP/Boston Globe)
    Syria has switched the primary hard currency it uses for foreign goods and services from the U.S. dollar to the euro in a bid to make it less vulnerable to pressure from Washington.

Useful Reference:

Palestinian Legislative Council Elections - Final Results (JMCC-PA)
    Party vote totals and names and affiliations of 132 new council members.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice Says No U.S. Aid for Hamas-Led Government - Barry Schweid
    Secretary of State Rice informed Congress on Wednesday that no U.S. assistance will be provided to a Hamas-led Palestinian government. Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the Bush administration would not turn its back on such humanitarian programs as immunizing children against disease. "But no money will go to that government," Rice said. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) told Rice, "I don't want a penny of taxpayer money going to Hamas." "Neither do I," she replied. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Congress Urges Halt of Direct Aid to Palestinians
    The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on Wednesday urging that direct U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority be stopped as long as the militant group Hamas, which is expected to form a new Palestinian government, calls for Israel's destruction. The nonbinding resolution was approved 418-1. The Senate passed the measure earlier this month. A number of House members are pushing binding legislation to halt U.S. aid and withhold U.S. funds to the UN equal to the amount the world body provides the Palestinians. For 2006, the U.S. has budgeted $150 million in assistance to the Palestinians, and a further $84 million to the UN fund. (Reuters)
  • Canadian Prime Minister Outlines Terms for Palestinian Aid - Terry Pedwell
    "Future assistance to any new Palestinian government will be reviewed against that government's commitment to the principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Palestinian leader Abbas Tuesday during a telephone conversation. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
        See also Canada Reviewing Aid to Palestinian Authority
    Canada will be reviewing the $25 million aid package it gives to the PA in the wake of Hamas' election to power. An additional $37 million pledged by former Prime Minister Paul Martin last year will also be reviewed. (Embassy-Canada)
  • Hamas Win Threatens Palestinian Prosperity - Steven Gutkin
    The world had big dreams for the Gaza Strip after the Israeli pullout: a seaport, an airport, bus convoys to the West Bank, and open border crossings. But with Hamas militants' impending takeover of the PA, understandings painstakingly brokered by the U.S. are in deep peril. Most of the deals require coordination between Israel and the Palestinians, including a Palestinian commitment to prevent militants from infiltrating border crossings. It's difficult to envision Hamas, which is pledged to Israel's destruction, taking on that task.
        Unless the militants renounce violence and recognize Israel, previous agreements will be meaningless. Israel "will not be having political negotiations with people who think we should all be killed," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Rice Asks for $85 Million to Promote Political Change Inside Iran - Steven R. Weisman
    Secretary of State Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday that the Bush administration proposed to spend $85 million to promote political change inside Iran by subsidizing dissident groups, unions, student fellowships, and television and radio broadcasts. "We are going to begin a new effort to support the aspirations of the Iranian people," Rice said. "We will use this money to develop support networks for Iranian reformers, political dissidents, and human rights activists." (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Sworn In - Israel to Cut Off Funds - Ronny Sofer
    The Palestinian parliament with a Hamas majority will be sworn in this Saturday. Indications are that Israel won't declare a total cessation of contacts with the PA, but will cut off funds. International funding will still be permitted to reach Palestinian civilians in order to prevent Iranian money from filling the vacuum. (Ynet News)
  • Jordan Invites Hamas for First Visit Since 1999 Expulsion
    Jordan, which has moderated its stance toward the Palestinian terror group Hamas since its election win, said on Wednesday it invited Hamas leaders to make their first visit since the kingdom expelled them in 1999. The delegation will be led by Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, who had been expelled from Jordan after being accused of illegal activities. (Reuters/Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Delegation Visits Turkey for Talks
    A delegation led by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal arrived in Turkey on Thursday for talks, the first visit by senior members of the militant Islamist organization to a non-Arab country since it won a Jan. 25 election. The Hamas trip to Turkey - like its planned visit to Moscow - challenges the campaign of the U.S. and Israel to isolate the group to force it to give up violence and recognize the Jewish state. (Reuters)
  • Hamas Video: We Will Drink the Blood of the Jews - Nadav Shragai
    The Hamas website this week presented the parting video messages of two Hamas suicide terrorists, according to Palestinian Media Watch. The first said: "We are a nation that drinks blood, and we know that there is no blood better than the blood of Jews. We will not leave you alone until we have quenched our thirst with your blood, and our children's thirst with your blood." The second said: "We will destroy you, blow you up, take revenge against you, [and] purify the land of you, pigs that have defiled our country." (Ha'aretz)
        View the Video (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Religious-Cultural Conflict of the Darkest Kind - Ari Shavit
    While the fundamentalists may still be a minority in Palestinian society, this minority is now in power and represents the Palestinian people. While some of its leaders are characterized by tactical pragmatism, Hamas does not and will not recognize Israel's right to exist. Until further notice, we are up against a Palestinian neighbor whose countenance has changed beyond recognition; and he is telling us to go, to cease to exist. It is hard for us to contemplate the possibility that truly, deep down, there is no one to talk to. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that now, when we have finally accepted the idea of two states, the Palestinians are rejecting it. (Ha'aretz)
  • For Islamists Only God's Word Counts - Abdel Monem Said Aly
    Tension on the Palestinian-Israeli front is only one small part of the much deeper strategic transformation that is taking shape in the Middle East, of which the Hamas victory is only one manifestation. In fact, Hamas' ascent to primacy in the Palestinian Legislative Council has contributed to a series of similar changes in the region that extends from Tehran to Cairo.
        It began in Iran when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the Iranian presidential elections and completed the conservative fundamentalist hold on Iranian institutions and politics. Not much later the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt achieved an impressive electoral and political victory in the 2005 parliamentary elections. The Brotherhood gained 88 seats, or 20% of all seats, up from 17 seats or 4% in 2000. Similar developments are taking place in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, where Hizballah and versions of the Muslim Brotherhood are politically consolidating their status on the ground or underground.
        In time, Iran will seek to build the new front of "Momanaa" - a modern-day copy of the Rejection and Steadfastness Front of the 1980s, but this time in religious garb and featuring aggressive policies. The writer is director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Sharon's Legacy and Hamas - Henry A. Kissinger
    The so-called peace process has assumed a reciprocal willingness to compromise. But traditional diplomacy works most effectively when there is a general agreement on goals; a minimum condition is that both sides accept each other's legitimacy, that the right of the parties to exist is taken for granted. Such a reciprocal commitment has been lacking between Israel and the Palestinians.
        The emergence of Hamas as the dominant faction in Palestine should not be treated as a radical new departure. Hamas represents the mind-set that prevented the full recognition of Israel's legitimacy by the PLO for all these decades; kept Arafat from accepting partition of Palestine at Camp David in 2000; produced two intifadas and consistently supported terrorism, on occasion explicitly, always tacitly. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Observations:

    The Hypocrisy of Britain and France - Jeffrey Herf (New Republic)

    • Two weeks ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to refer Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council. At the insistence of Egypt, and with the backing of the EU, the text contains a clause calling for the creation of "a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery" - a pointed jab at the region's only nuclear power, Israel.
    • The American delegation tried unsuccessfully to block the clause, rightly fearing that it could be used as anti-Israel propaganda and would provide an excuse for Iran to sidestep its obligations in the future.
    • Between 1981 and 1983, the U.S. and the Soviet Union conducted Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force negotiations in Geneva. Throughout this time, Moscow insisted that the nuclear arsenals of Britain and France be included in the balance of forces to be discussed - a proposal that London and Paris adamantly opposed.
    • Aware that the slogan of a "nuclear-free Europe" might lead to demands for their unilateral nuclear disarmament, the British and French governments persistently rejected this Soviet negotiating ploy.

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