Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 27, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizballah Sets Up Forward Base in Gaza - Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Yaalon (Maariv-Hebrew, 24Feb06)
    A terrorist arrested in the West Bank has explained during interrogation how he acted under instructions from Hizballah in Gaza.
    We know that Hizballah set up a forward base in Gaza, after the disengagement, to operate terror cells in the West Bank.
    This new base enables Hizballah wider freedom of operation than in the days when it could only instruct Palestinian terror cells from Beirut.

Hamas Leader Vows Release of Israeli Minister's Killers (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Friday that the new Hamas-led Palestinian parliament would release the assassins of former Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi from the Jericho jail where they have been incarcerated for the past four years.
    Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ze'evi was assassinated at Jerusalem's Hyatt Hotel by the Palestinian assailants on October 17, 2001, the first Arab assassination of an Israeli minister.
    The five convicts, including Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Secretary-General Ahmad Sa'dat, were being held under Palestinian supervision, along with American and British jailers.
    The assassins had found sanctuary in Arafat's compound in Ramallah, but were transferred to Jericho after the IDF besieged the area.

IDF Receives 70 Terror Warnings - Efrat Weiss (Ynet News)
    The security establishment has 70 warnings about Palestinians' plans to carry out terror attacks in Israel, including 13 pinpoint alerts.

Report: German Intelligence Gave U.S. Iraqi Defense Plan - Michael R. Gordon (New York Times)
    German intelligence agents in Baghdad obtained a copy of Saddam Hussein's plan to defend the Iraqi capital, which a German official passed on to American commanders a month before the invasion, according to a classified study by the U.S. military.
    The German role is not the only instance in which nations that publicly cautioned against the war privately facilitated it.
    Egypt gave access for refueling planes, while Saudi Arabia allowed American special operations forces to initiate attacks from its territory, U.S. military officials say.

Europe Objects to El Al's Anti-Missile Shield - Eldad Beck (Ynet News)
    El Al passenger planes will be barred from landing in some European countries because they have been equipped with defense systems against shoulder-held missiles, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported.
    "If we catch Israeli planes fitted with this system in our airports, they will be grounded," said a spokesman for the Swiss aviation authority.
    The battle-proven system is capable of detecting an approaching missile and automatically activating countermeasures in the form of flares that will divert the missile from its course.
    A source at the Ministry of Transportation noted that the countries who oppose the system are not those where the threat of a missile attack is high.
    "Therefore, this is not such a big problem."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Denies Suggesting It May Recognize Israel - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Hamas' prime minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday denied he had suggested the Palestinian Islamist group might one day recognize Israel. (Reuters)
        See also Hamas: Haniyeh Did Not Say He Wants Peace - Ali Waked
    Haniyeh was quoted as saying that his organization was willing to recognize Israel if it withdraws to the June 1967 lines. However, "Hamas has the full interview recorded and there is no connection between what the sheikh said and the headlines in the newspaper," said Hamas party list spokesman Dr. Salah al-Bardaweil. Haniyeh was quoted as saying that "Hamas does not want to throw the Jews into the sea" and that "if Israel withdraws to the '67 borders, then we will establish a peace in stages." The Hamas spokesman disassociated his organization from the comments and said that the quotes in the newspaper were inaccurate (Ynet News)
        See also Haniyeh: Washington Post Misquoted - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas Prime Minister Q&A - Lally Weymouth (Washington Post)
        See also Hamas Leaders Say They Will Not Recognize Israel, Hold Talks - Mark Lavie
    In Jordan, Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Saeed Syiam dismissed any future peace talks with Israel, calling past negotiations "a failed experiment.'' "We don't consider the Israeli enemy a partner," Zahar asserted. "Why should we recognize Israel?" (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • Al-Qaeda Pledges War on Saudi Oil Facilities - Syed Rashid Husain and Peter Conradi
    Al-Qaeda has threatened to launch further strikes to force "infidels" out of the Arabian peninsula, after admitting responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in Saudi Arabia on Friday at the world's largest crude oil processing plant. A local branch of al-Qaeda said Saturday it had carried out the raid on the complex at Abqaiq, in eastern Saudi Arabia, which processes 5m-7m barrels of oil a day - up to 8% of the world's consumption. Lt.-Gen. Mansour al-Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, said the attack began when two cars tried to drive through the gates of the outermost of three fences. Guards shot at the cars and both vehicles exploded. Unofficial reports suggested the cars, both bearing Saudi Aramco logos, had succeeded in getting through the first gates. (Sunday Times-UK)
        See also Five Wanted Saudi Militants Killed in Riyadh
    Saudi forces on Monday killed five suspected militants believed to be linked to an al-Qaeda attack on the world's biggest oil processing plant, the Interior Ministry said. (Reuters/Washington Post)
        See also The Vulnerability of Saudi Oil Installations - Mordechai Abir (ICA/JCPA)
  • UN Nuclear Watchdog Accuses Iran of Making Fuel for Bombs - Peter Conradi
    Iran is believed to have begun small-scale enrichment of uranium, raising the stakes in its dispute with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the extent of its nuclear ambitions. A report to be published by the UN nuclear watchdog Monday is expected to claim that scientists at Iran's plant in Natanz have set up a "cascade" of 10 centrifuges to produce enriched uranium - the fuel for nuclear power plants or bombs. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Iran, Russia Reach Tentative Nuclear Deal - Peter Finn
    The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said Sunday that his country had agreed in principle to set up a joint uranium enrichment project with Russia. Among the outstanding issues is whether Iran will continue the small-scale uranium enrichment it began earlier this month. (Washington Post)
  • Quartet Seeks to Avert Fiscal Collapse of PA - Harvey Morris
    Members of the Quartet will consult this week on how to avert the imminent financial collapse of the PA even before a new Hamas-led government takes office. With the Islamist party as much as a month away from forming a cabinet, the outgoing PA government faces a deficit of up to $370m. PA officials have warned international donors they need $60m-$80m this week if they are to begin paying public sector salaries. The PA on Sunday faced the threat of an immediate suspension of fuel shipments after failing to meet a payment of more than $30m to Dor, the Israeli supplier. The Israeli government decided a week ago to suspend monthly transfers of about $50m in tax and customs receipts that it collects on behalf of the PA. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also France and European Commission Push for Palestinians to Get £23M Blocked Aid - David Rennie (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Lands Near Israeli School - Ronny Sofer
    The barrage of Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians from northern Gaza continued over the weekend, with one rocket landing some 50 meters from an elementary school. Another rocket hit near Moshav Mavki'im just south of Ashkelon, next to a gas station. On Sunday, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz instructed the IDF and Shin Bet to step up operations against terrorist organizations, especially Kassam rocket cells in the Gaza Strip. (Ynet News)
  • Defense Minister Mofaz: Don't Believe Hamas - Ronny Sofer
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told visiting American Assistant Secretary of State David Welch on Sunday: "The recent talks between Hamas and Iran as well as Khaled Mashaal's visit to Tehran were aimed at securing the support of the Iranians and at forming an alliance with Iran, a thing that would help bring the axis of evil of Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas here." (Ynet News)
        See also Israel: U.S. Money May Fund Terror - Itamar Eichner
    Israeli officials are expected to warn the U.S. that American aid transferred directly to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas could nonetheless reach Hamas, Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday. The warning follows reports that State Department official David Welch promised the Palestinians Washington would not freeze aid to the Palestinians but, rather, merely redirect it. (Ynet News)
  • Foreign Minister Livni: Abbas Is "Irrelevant"
    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is "irrelevant" because of Hamas' victory in last month's elections and the militant group's subsequent takeover of the Palestinian parliament and cabinet. "Abu Mazen [Abbas] cannot serve as a fig leaf to a terrorist authority. Abu Mazen cannot be the pretty face of the ugly terror hiding behind him," Livni told Israel Radio. (Ha'aretz)
  • Iran Wants to Turn Hamas into Hizballah - Herb Keinon
    Henry A. Crumpton, the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator, told the Jerusalem Post that Iran wants the same control over Hamas it has over Hizballah, which he said is "just an extension of the Iranian government" and nothing less than a "delivery system" for Iranian weapons. "You combine the Iranian nuclear weapons program with Hizballah, and that is a pretty nasty mixture," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Potential for Escalation - Editorial
    The continued firing of Kassam rockets at the northern Negev and Ashkelon does not bode well. Life in communities near the Gaza border has become intolerable, and the moment the rockets exact a price in human life, the government will no longer be able to make do with the limited response of artillery and aerial bombardment. The Kassam launches have a potential to inflame the situation: They could cause the Israel Defense Forces to return to Gaza.
        Hamas is the dominant power in Gaza and if it wanted to stop the launches it could do so. Mahmoud Abbas behaves as if he continues to govern the PA, but his power was taken away by the elections. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas and Us - Editorial
    The Palestinians have elected, by a significant majority, a movement that stands brazenly for theocracy and terrorism and the destruction of Israel. The democratic legitimacy of the Hamas victory says nothing about the moral and historical legitimacy of the Hamas program. The Palestinians now have an Islamist leadership; worse, a jihadist leadership. These are killers. Yes, Hamas also presides over institutions of social welfare. So what? This is the oldest of fascist alibis. Are they to be admired because they will murder but will not steal? (New Republic)
  • Chaos in Iraq Sends Shock Waves Across Middle East and Elevates Iran's Influence - Michael Slackman
    Even before the bombing of one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines in Samarra set off sectarian fighting last Wednesday, the chaos in Iraq helped elevate Iran's regional influence - a great concern to many of the Sunni-led governments - while also giving al-Qaeda sympathizers a new foothold in the region. "The spillover of this is of concern for everybody in the region," said Ali Shukri, a retired Jordanian general who for 23 years served as an adviser to King Hussein. "When you take western Iraq, Anbar Province borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia; the southern part of Iraq borders Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. If there is a conflict, a surge in violence, it becomes contagious in the region."
        The rising tensions in Iraq are also happening at a time when two other powerful dynamics are at work: the rise of Islamic political parties, like Hamas in Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the effort of Iran's leadership to once again try to spread its ideas around the region. How all these forces combine and ultimately influence each other has become a source of deep worry.
        The tiny Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan absorbed about a million Iraqis after Saddam Hussein's government fell, and now, faced with serious economic problems, its leaders worry about another flood of refugees rushing across the border. In Saudi Arabia, officials face the dual threat of a restive Shiite population at home and the increased power of the Iraq-based group that calls itself Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which has already stated its desire to take down the Saudi monarchy. The Qaeda group in Iraq has already claimed responsibility for a triple bombing in Amman last year, and several political analysts said they believed that the attempted suicide bombing of a Saudi oil refinery on Friday had its roots in Iraq. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    What's Needed from Hamas - Henry A. Kissinger (Washington Post)

    • A serious peace process assumes 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.
    • Even relatively conciliatory Arab statements, such as the Beirut summit declaration of 2003, reject Israel's legitimacy. Almost all official and semi-official Arab and Palestinian media and schoolbooks present Israel as an illegitimate, imperialist interloper in the region.
    • The emergence of Hamas as the dominant faction in Palestine should not be treated as a radical departure. Hamas represents the mind-set that prevented the full recognition of Israel's legitimacy by the PLO for all these decades, kept Yasser Arafat from accepting partition of Palestine at Camp David in 2000, produced two intifadas, and consistently supported terrorism.
    • Far too much of the debate within the Palestinian camp has been over whether Israel should be destroyed immediately by permanent confrontation or in stages in which occasional negotiations serve as periodic armistices. Only a small number of moderates have accepted genuine and permanent coexistence.
    • The 1967 lines were established as demarcation lines of the 1948 cease-fire. Not a single Arab state accepted Israel as legitimate within these lines or was prepared to treat the dividing lines as an international border at that time.
    • The most logical outcome would be to trade Israeli settlement blocs around Jerusalem - a demand President Bush has all but endorsed - for some equivalent territories in present-day Israel with significant Arab populations.

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