Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 2, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Anti-Ballistic Missile Test Pushes Altitude Boundaries - Alon Ben-David (Janes Defence Weekly)
    Israel's anti-ballistic missile Arrow Weapon System successfully intercepted a target simulating an Iranian Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile in a test over the Mediterranean on Dec. 2.
    The interception was conducted at a record low altitude.
    "We have never before tried the Arrow against the Shahab characteristics, but we know now that we are capable of intercepting all existing ballistic missile threats in the region, whether conventional or non-conventional, and we are developing capabilities to deal with future threats," Director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization Arieh Herzog said.

Scandinavians Warned to Leave West Bank (SVT-Sweden - in Swedish, 1Mar06)
    New threats against Scandinavians have led UNRWA to request that all Scandinavian UN-personnel leave the West Bank. Denmark has already evacuated its personnel.
    According to the threats, a "Danish diplomat or similar" will be kidnapped and murdered.
    All Swedish organizations in the West Bank and Gaza have been warned, says Sweden's consul-general in Jerusalem, Nils Eliasson.
    According to UN security personnel, the information comes from sources considered very trustworthy.

Israelis Advised to Avoid Jordan, Egypt - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau advised Israeli citizens to avoid any visits to Arab countries and particularly to Egypt and Jordan due to concrete warnings regarding global Jihad plans to strike at Israeli targets such as embassies and tourists.
    A senior defense official warned that in recent days, authorities are seeing extensive activity by global Jihad groups, particularly in neighboring countries and near the border with Israel.

Terrorist Growth Overtakes U.S. Efforts - Sharon Behn (Washington Times)
    Thirty new terrorist organizations have emerged since the September 11, 2001, attacks, outpacing U.S. efforts to crush the threat, said Brig. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, the Pentagon's deputy director for the war on terrorism.
    "We are not killing them faster than they are being created," he said.
    The enemy is "a transnational movement of extremist organizations, networks, and individuals that use violence and terrorism as a means to promote their end."
    It is not a global insurgency "because it lacks a centralized command and control," he said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Abbas: Al-Qaeda Is In Gaza, West Bank
    "We have indications about a presence of al-Qaeda in Gaza and the (West) Bank. This is intelligence information. We have not yet reached the point of arrests," Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the London-based al-Hayat in remarks published Thursday. "This is the first time that I've spoken about this subject. This is a very serious matter."  (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Jordan Says It Foiled an Al-Qaeda Suicide Bomb Plot - Suleiman al-Khalidi
    "The intelligence department has foiled a terrorist plot of a group belonging to the al-Qaeda network, of Iraqi, Libyan and Saudi nationals, to execute by a suicide bombing an operation targeting a critical civilian installation," Jordanian state television said Wednesday. Jordan was the target of an al-Qaeda-linked attack last November on luxury hotels which killed 60 people. (Reuters)
        Yediot Ahronot reported that the al-Qaeda cell infiltrated Jordan last week and planned to blow up a car bomb at the entrance to one of the large hotels in the Jordanian capital. (Ynet News)
        See also Prisoners Loyal to Al-Qaeda Free Hostages in Jordan Jails
    Prisoners loyal to al-Qaeda took a prison chief and six policemen hostage Wednesday during riots at three Jordanian jails to stop the transfer of inmates convicted for killing a U.S. diplomat, but released their hostages after receiving promises they would not be punished. The three prisons are among eight jails holding more than 6,000 common criminals and political prisoners, many of whom belong to al-Qaeda and have been sentenced for attacks against Israeli, American, and other Western targets. Among the prisoners is Azmi Jayousi, a Jordanian aide to Zarqawi, who was sentenced to death last month over his leading role in plotting chemical attacks in 2004. (Times of Oman)
  • U.S. Urges UAE to End Boycott of Israel - David R. Sands and Shaun Waterman
    The Bush administration said Wednesday it is pressing the United Arab Emirates to drop its economic boycott of Israel - a major sticking point in the proposed takeover of key U.S. ports by a UAE-owned firm. "The United States wants to see the boycott against Israel dropped completely by everybody, said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. (Washington Times)
        See also Dubai's Israel Ban Violates U.S. Law - Michael McAuliff (New York Daily News)
  • Iran: No Need to Stop Uranium Enrichment
    Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, in Moscow for talks on a Kremlin proposal to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian territory, said Wednesday there was no need for Tehran to resume a moratorium on uranium enrichment activity. (AP/ABC News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Abbas to Transfer Broad Security Powers to Hamas - Arnon Regular
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he intends to transfer broad security powers to the future Hamas government, including the national defense branch, preventive security, and the civilian police. In an interview with Al-Jazeera television in Qatar earlier this week, Abbas said that the only security branch which would not be subject to the government would be General Intelligence, headed by Tawfik A-Tirawi. "We'll grant Hamas authority over the Palestinians' national security because we need to have one body controlling the situation to ensure security. I don't intend to deprive Hamas of what I demanded in the past from Yasser Arafat," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets at Israel on Wednesday. The rockets fell near Kibbutz Karmiya and Kibbutz Zikim, south of Ashkelon. Security officials said they believed the rocket fire would continue. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Stabbed Near Jerusalem - Amos Harel and Michal Greenberg
    An Israeli truck driver was stabbed in the neck at the Atarot industrial zone north of Jerusalem on Thursday. The victim worked with the perpetrator, a Palestinian laborer, who stole the victim's gun. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Al-Qaeda Attack on Abqaiq: The Vulnerability of Saudi Oil - Simon Henderson
    The February 24 attack by al-Qaeda on Saudi Arabia's giant oil processing facility at Abqaiq, which handles more than half Saudi Arabia's daily exports, should serve as a warning. Osama bin Laden, in a December 2004 audio message, had called for attacks against oil, and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, repeated the call in autumn 2005. Washington must be keenly aware that Saudi oil production remains extremely vulnerable to sabotage. At particular risk must be the twelve thousand miles of pipelines in the kingdom. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Saudi Qaeda Ideologue Sets Rules for Oil War
    Al-Qaeda has advised followers to attack pipelines in Saudi Arabia and Iraq but to steer clear of oil wells because they are the lifeline of Muslim states, according to a document recently posted on the Web. The guidelines were laid out in a manifesto written by Abdulaziz al-Enezi, arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2005 and described by the Saudis as a prominent al-Qaeda ideologue. (Reuters)
  • Syria and Political Change - Scott Lasensky and Mona Yacoubian
    The Syrian regime continues to consolidate its grip on power, but with a narrowing base of support among the ruling elite. At present, hardliners are in the ascendancy. President Bashar al-Assad favors the anti-American and pan-Arab mindset, which remains the regime's default position. Syrians may not like the current regime, but in view of the situation in neighboring Iraq, they prefer stability to chaos. The opposition will no longer settle for reform, but is coalescing around the demand for regime change. (U.S. Institute of Peace)
  • Hamas More Don't We Know? - Andrew C. McCarthy
    Is the UAE a source of support for Hamas? Analysts Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen described extensive strands of UAE funding for the terror organization in FrontPage Magazine: "On July 27, 2005, the Palestinian Information Center carried a public Hamas statement thanking the UAE for it's 'unstinting support....The sisterly UAE had...spared no effort to offer financial and material aids to the Palestinian charitable societies.'" Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan, father of the current UAE president, is described as having been an ardent benefactor of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad until his death in 2004 - three years after 9/11.
        Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism recently told MSNBC's Rita Cosby that "Hamas couriers as late as last year...were sent to the West Bank or Gaza [who] came in with UAE cash. So there is still a problem of terrorist supporting operations." (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Bomb Victims' Parents Petition Academy Awards to Reject Movie - Chris McGreal (Guardian-UK)

    • The parents of three Israeli children killed in a suicide bombing have sent a petition with 32,000 names to Hollywood to demand that the Palestinian film "Paradise Now," about two suicide bombers planning an attack, be dropped from the Oscars this weekend on the grounds that it promotes terrorism.
    • "Paradise Now is artistic terror," said Yossi Mendellevich, whose son, Yuvi, 13, died in the bombing of a Haifa bus three years ago that killed 17 Israelis including nine children. "The film contributes to the death industry and the myth of the suicide bombers. By promoting and praising the film as an Oscar nominee, I'm sure the queue to become suicide killers will be much longer."
        See also Putting "Palestine" on the Map? - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)

    • It was bad enough that "Paradise Now" was nominated for an Oscar. But then the official Academy Awards website listed the film's country of origin as "Palestine." This sparked protests from Israeli officials since no state of Palestine exists.
    • "Unfortunately, Israel often concedes the struggle over terminology and then pays the price in negotiations later," asserts Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN. He points to the widespread application of the phrase "occupied territories" rather than "disputed territories" to the West Bank and Gaza.
    • Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, asks: Why would Palestinians compromise if they feel they are "getting everything," including international recognition, already?

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