Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 20, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

UAE Red Crescent Aided Kin of Palestinian Militants - Julia Preston (New York Times)
    In the past four years the United Arab Emirates has provided substantial financial support, through its Red Crescent Society, to families of Palestinians, militants as well as civilians, who have been wounded or killed by Israeli forces, according to Red Crescent documents.
    In 2002, the UAE Friends Society in Jerusalem, the local branch of the Red Crescent, designated $100,000 to pay 50 annual stipends of $2,000 under a "martyrs' families sponsorship" program.
    U.S. officials say payments to families of violent militants constitute direct support for their cause and encourage others to join.

Israel Campus Beat
- March 19, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    Ramifications of the Jericho Prison Operation

Released Saddam Papers Hint at Links to Al-Qaeda, Chemical Weapons - Sarah Baxter (Times-UK)
    Newly released documents seized in Iraq immediately after the American invasion in 2003 point to the presence of al-Qaeda members in the country before the war and moves to hide traces of "chemical or biological materials" from UN weapons inspectors.
    An Iraqi intelligence report dated September 15, 2001 - four days after the attacks on America - says bin Laden and the Taliban were in contact with Iraq and al-Qaeda members had visited the country.
    In one tape recording, an official named as Comrade Husayn discusses chemical weapons with Saddam: "We have not told them that we used it on Iran, nor have we told them about the size or kind of chemical weapons that we produced, and we have not told them the truth about the imported material."

Fatah's "Young Guard" Faces Old Problems - Ben Fishman and Mohammad Yaghi (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Hamas' landslide victory in the January 25 Palestinian legislative elections was also a crushing defeat for the younger generation of Fatah leaders who had hoped the election would facilitate a leadership transition.
    If the elites within Fatah were divided before the election, they are even more so in its aftermath.

Bin Laden Offered to Buy Votes for Islamist Pakistani Prime Minister Candidate (Dawn-Pakistan)
    Jamaat-i-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed has revealed that Osama bin Laden had offered to buy loyalties of legislators to see Mian Nawaz Sharif become Pakistani prime minister.
    In an interview with an Urdu newspaper on Sunday, Qazi Hussain Ahmed said that bin Laden had visited the JI headquarters in Mansoora and wanted to strike an agreement with the Jamaat, but "we declined the request."
    Recalling that Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League and JI were components of the then-Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, Qazi said bin Laden was a big supporter of IJI and Nawaz Sharif and wanted to see him as Pakistan's prime minister.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Tehran Courts Support of Arabs - Daniel Williams
    Iran has embarked on a charm offensive in the Arab world aimed at expanding economic and political ties and circumventing efforts by the U.S. and its allies to isolate Iran over its nuclear program. Iran also moved to shore up its longtime alliance with Syria. During a recent meeting with Iranian officials in Damascus, Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otri publicly endorsed Iran's assertion of the right to develop nuclear technology.
        The activity coincides with Iran's stated support for Hamas. Ahmadinejad has offered to fill gaps in the PA budget created by a withdrawal of international aid as Hamas takes over. (Washington Post)
  • Syria Muslim Brotherhood Scents Power - Paul Taylor
    The leader of Syria's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, London-based Ali Bayanouni, scents power after forming a coalition with secular, nationalist, liberal, Communist, and Kurdish opposition parties. He said only international acquiescence was keeping President Bashar al-Assad in power, and urged the West to boycott his government, predicting that the regime would collapse without international protection as it had no public support. Bayanouni voiced a close affinity for the Palestinian militant movement Hamas. (Reuters)
  • Al-Qaeda in Lebanon - Thair Abbas
    The wave of bombings that targeted Beirut and southern Lebanon and the arrest of several cells whose members have confessed to belonging to al-Qaeda, in addition to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claiming responsibility for an attack on Israel using Katyusha rockets, have all heightened the fear that al-Qaeda is seeking a permanent base in Lebanon. Security sources have indicated that a number of Lebanese and Palestinian extremists, who left for Iraq a few months ago to join the insurgency and fight against the Americans, have returned after strengthening their ties with al-Qaeda leaders.
        Four months ago, a new leadership emerged "under the leadership of the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine- General Command (Ahmad Jibril) in support of the Syrian security forces under the banner of "al-Qaeda." They include many Arabs who came in their thousands to Syria to cross illegally into Iraq. (Asharq Alawsat-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Supplies to Gaza to Enter from Egypt - Yaakov Katz
    The PA agreed Sunday to open the Kerem Shalom crossing to goods coming from Egypt. Kerem Shalom is a three-way crossing at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip which connects Israel, Egypt, and Gaza. The PA has been demanding the reopening of the Karni crossing, but Israeli security officials said Israel had intelligence information regarding several terror cells planning attacks against the terminal. Karni had become a primary target for terror groups since it was the only place where Israelis were stationed near the Gaza Strip. The warnings included tunnels terrorists were digging near Karni or plans to infiltrate a bomb into the terminal. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Presents New Cabinet - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday presented the new Hamas cabinet, which includes no factions other than Hamas. Haniyeh confirmed that Mahmoud Zahar would serve as foreign minister, while Said Siam would head the Interior Ministry. The new finance minister is Omar Abdel Razek. Nasser Eddin Shaer was chosen to be deputy prime minister, and will essentially serve as prime minister of the West Bank because Israel has barred Haniyeh from leaving Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Members of New Palestinian Cabinet (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Uncovers Explosives Near Gaza Border - Hanan Greenberg
    Egyptian security forces recently uncovered 1.5 tons of TNT explosives near the border with Israel, two km south of the Kerem Shalom crossing. Security officials in Israel believe the explosives were earmarked for terrorists in Gaza. IDF sources said the discovery proves the high motivation to smuggle bomb-making materials through the Gaza-Egypt border. Meanwhile, Southern Command forces have been deployed to counter the threat of a tunnel being dug from Gaza to one of the nearby Israeli communities. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Israel on Sunday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
        Two members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades were killed on Friday and three were wounded after a Kassam rocket they tried to fire at Israel blew up prematurely. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Jericho Raid: A New Era - Alex Fishman
    Israel's takeover of the Jericho prison last Tuesday marked a new strategy in Israel's dealings with a Hamas-controlled Palestinian entity. The operation's effect on PA leader Mahmoud Abbas did not interest anyone. Defense officials sense that Israel is headed for an unavoidable clash with the PA. They are not certain whether it will happen in May, June, or July, but they know it will happen. Unilateral moves will become the name of the game. There will be no dialogue with the other side.
        Palestinian police at the prison, closely monitored by Israel throughout the operation, showed a clear lack of desire to fight back and die. IDF officials are already feeling the declining level of dialogue with their Palestinian counterparts. The two sides still talk, but the Palestinian willingness to uncover explosive devices and prevent terror attacks is evaporating. Meanwhile, external forces are pushing the Palestinians to resort to violence. The Syrians, Iranians, and Hizballah are pressing the Islamic Jihad and Fatah to carry out attacks. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Reports to Cabinet on Jericho Raid - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)
  • Zarqawi Gains Ground - Henry Schuster
    Iraq is possibly headed to civil war, if not already there. Listen to Sheik Zeidan, once one of the most prominent tribal chieftains in Anbar province, now an exile across the border in Jordan. "If there was a gap between the Sunnis and Zarqawi before Samarra, this brought it together," he said. In Zeidan's view, Zarqawi - who is from the largest tribe in Jordan - has used his knowledge of tribal loyalties to bind him to the local population. He's also killed any sheiks who dare disagree.
        Ali Shukri, a retired Jordanian general and former adviser to the late King Hussein, agrees. "Those tribal leaders who are in Iraq are definitely living in fear," he said. Shukri says the Sunni tribes in western Iraq are key to ending strife in Iraq because their leaders could keep the peace there and end the insurgency. Now, he says, there is a power vacuum that is being filled by Zarqawi. "Historically, these people kept the peace in the western part of Iraq," Shukri said. "Now we see the tribes becoming indifferent. It has reached the point where some of my tribal friends say Zarqawi has become more important in the traditional tribal areas of western Iraq than the actual historical leaders. This is bad."
        Civil war in Iraq and Zarqawi's growing strength there have the Jordanians worried. "The more the situation continues in Iraq, the more [Zarqawi] will have a free hand. And it will come across us, not only across Jordan, but we are going to see worse things happening in Saudi Arabia," said Shukri, pointing to the recent failed al-Qaeda attack on an oil facility in Saudi Arabia. (CNN)
        See also Global Oil Supply Security and Al-Qaeda's Abortive Attack on Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia - Mordechai Abir (ICA/JCPA)
  • How I Learned to Love the Wall - Irshad Manji
    The phrase "apartheid wall" is spewed on almost every university campus I visit in North America and Europe. This barrier was birthed by "shaheeds," suicide bombers whom Palestinian leaders have glorified as martyrs. Since the barrier went up, suicide attacks have plunged, which means innocent Arab lives have been spared along with Jewish ones. Israel's intent is not to keep Palestinians "in" so much as to keep suicide bombers "out." Before the barrier, there was the bomber. The barrier can be dismantled, but the bomber's victims are gone forever. Young Muslims, especially those privileged with a good education, cannot walk away from these questions. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Time for Donor Nations to Help Africa's Hungry, Not Palestinian "Security Forces" - Sever Plocker (Ynet News)

    • The headline "Palestinian Authority in danger of economic collapse" reminds me of hundreds of similar headlines since the PA was established back in 1994. Since then the PA has been receiving foreign aid at levels unprecedented in history, relative to the product and income generated by the Palestinians. The aid provided so far reaches $10 billion and dwarfs the Marshall Plan of U.S. aid to Europe after World War II.
    • In retrospect the aid was a colossal mistake. It relieved the Palestinian leadership of its responsibility for the economic well-being of the residents. Responsibility was placed on the shoulders of the international community, including Israel. The PA became used to solving its problems by begging others for handouts.
    • The Palestinian administration learned to ignore economic considerations and the Palestinian bureaucracy grew to monstrous proportions. Dozens of unnecessary projects were started in the PA areas that were not completed. Senior PLO officials opened private funds into which international aid money was channeled, escaping international scrutiny. The PA became hooked on foreign aid as if it were an addictive substance.
    • Because of the huge and readily available aid a strong middle class did not emerge in the PA, but a rotten and corrupt class of government officials appointed to their offices by the ruling party. Because of the foreign aid, private investors avoided coming to the PA. It is a known choice: either you have foreign aid or you have foreign investment. Because of the aid, almost all of which was public, the Palestinian business sector was stifled. Had the donor countries restrained themselves in the amount of aid they gave the Palestinians, Palestinian per capita income today would be twice what it is.
    • Anyone who wants what is good for the Palestinians, a hard-working, educated, and enterprising people, must demand not that the aid to the PA be increased but that it be sharply cut. The Hamas electoral victory only proved the futility of the aid. It is time for the Palestinians to take their fate in their hands. It is time for economic considerations to take their place in their national strategic picture.

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