Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 18, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Militants Threaten to Attack Jews Abroad - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Palestinian militants linked to Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement threatened on Monday to attack Jews overseas to force Israel to release Palestinian prisoners.
    "This is an open call to all our fighters in the homeland to focus on kidnapping Israeli soldiers and civilians inside our occupied land. And if the enemy does not release our prisoners, then Zionists outside Palestine will be an easy target for our fighters," the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said in a statement.
    Israel freed nearly 400 prisoners in June as part of pledges to secure the ceasefire, but has said it will not release prisoners who have "blood on their hands."

Hamas PM Refuses to Stop Rocket Attacks on Israel - Paul Martin (Washington Times)
    The Hamas-led Palestinian government says it will not act against armed factions lining up to attack Israel with rockets.
    "We do not give instructions, at all, to any party on the ground," Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said last week, adding that his government was committed to resistance.

Professor in Terror Case to Be Deported (Chicago Tribune)
    Federal authorities have decided to deport former Florida professor Sami Al-Arian after failing to convict him on charges he helped finance terrorist attacks in Israel.

Poll: Palestinians Support Hamas' Refusal to Recognize Israel (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    A Palestinian poll conducted March 16-18, 2006, asked: Do you expect Hamas to succeed or fail in managing the PA? Succeed - 70%, Fail - 22%
    Should Hamas recognize the State of Israel? Yes - 36%, No - 61%
    Can the PA do without Western assistance? Yes - 31%, No - 68%
    Will Hamas find alternative resources from Arab and Muslim countries? Yes - 78%, No - 19%
    Concerning armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel, I... Support - 52%, Oppose - 45%
    Have armed confrontations helped achieve Palestinian rights in ways that negotiations could not achieve? Yes - 67%, No - 31%

Keeping Al-Qaeda in His Grip - Craig Whitlock (Washington Post)
    According to intelligence officials in the Middle East and Europe, a growing rivalry has developed between Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy leader of al-Qaeda, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian who leads the al-Qaeda faction in Iraq.
    Although Zawahiri has been reduced to launching rhetorical attacks from hideouts, Zarqawi has gained notoriety and respect among jihadists as an aggressive commander who continues to defy the U.S. military.
    Zarqawi pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda two years ago, but analysts and officials suspect that their alliance is a marriage of convenience.
    Before the invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi kept his distance from the group, operating his own training camps.
    He has also held different strategic objectives: the overthrow of the monarchy in his native Jordan and war against Israel, neither of which have been priorities for al-Qaeda.

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Daily Alert will not appear on Wednesday, April 19
We wish our readers a Happy Passover holiday

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Suicide Bombing in Israel Kills 9; Hamas Approves - Greg Myre and Dina Kraft
    A Palestinian suicide bomber on Monday detonated his explosives at a restaurant in the Neve Shaanan section of Tel Aviv - an act that Hamas, which leads the new Palestinian government, called legitimate. Nine people were killed and sixty were wounded in the blast. The same restaurant was hit by a suicide bomber just three months ago on Jan. 19, injuring 20 Israelis. According to witnesses, a security guard at the entrance stopped the bomber and asked to see his bag. At that moment, the bomber detonated his explosives. Islamic Jihad released a video of the bomber, Sami Hammad, 21, from outside Jenin in the West Bank. (New York Times)
        See also Hamas Defends Attack on Tel Aviv - Joel Greenberg
    Officials of the new Palestinian government led by Hamas defended the attack. Ghazi Hamad, the government spokesman, said the bombing was part of "legitimate Palestinian resistance." Calling the bombing "a despicable act of terrorism for which no excuse or justification is possible," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said: "Defense or sponsorship of terrorist acts by officials of the Palestinian Cabinet will have the gravest effects on relations between the Palestinian Authority and all states seeking peace in the Middle East." "Hamas' constant preaching of the destruction of Israel serves as a catalyst for these attacks," said David Baker, a spokesman in the prime minister's office. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Islamic Jihad: "Our Struggle Will Only End with the End of the State of Israel" - Stephen Farrell
    "Our ideology, through the way we understand Islam, is that our struggle will only end with the end of the State of Israel. For us it is an existential struggle, it is either us or them," said Abu Ahmad, an Islamic Jihad leader. Stark, uncompromising, and with the utter clarity of the fundamentalist, this was the Islamic Jihad worldview spelled out to The Times in Gaza just days before Monday's bombing. Islamic Jihad claims that by continuing attacks it has recruited dozens of disillusioned hardliners from Hamas' military wing. (Times-UK)
        See also Islamic Jihad: 70 Suicide Bombers Ready to Attack Israel (Times of India)
  • Qatar Pledges $50 Million to Palestinians
    Qatar said Monday it would give the Palestinian government $50 million in aid to help make up for a shortfall after the U.S. and EU cut off funding. The Bush administration launched a campaign Monday to reverse creeping assistance to the Palestinian government. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said American diplomats "would seek a little clarity" from Qatar "as to exactly what their intentions are, to whom they actually intend to give this money, and under what circumstances." (AP/ABC News)
        See also Japan to Halt Funding Hamas
    The Japanese government plans to suspend any new financial support to the PA, in line with similar policies adopted by the U.S. and EU, aimed at forcing the Hamas-led government to change its anti-Israel stance. (Yomiuri-Japan)
  • Israel Warns of New "Axis of Terror" - Edith M. Lederer
    Israel warned the UN Security Council Monday that a new "axis of terror" - Iran, Syria, and the Hamas-run Palestinian government - is sowing the seeds of the first world war of the 21st century. Recent statements by the Palestinian government, Iran, and Syria, including one by Hamas on Monday defending the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, "are clear declarations of war, and I urge each and every one of you to listen carefully and take them at face value," said Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman. He urged the international community and the Security Council "to take swift actions to try and prevent the next murder which is already on its way." Israel will not sit idly by and allow "human bombs" or rockets to penetrate the country and kill Israelis - and he asked whether every country wouldn't do the same to eliminate a similar danger. (AP/Forbes)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Victim's Son: Dad Hugged Us Tightly
    Philip Balhasan, 45, from Ashdod, traveled to Tel Aviv with his two children, Linor and Uri, after promising to buy them CDs and computer games for Passover. The family was standing next to the fast food stand at the time of the explosion. Uri recalled: "When we heard the blast, Dad wrapped his arms around me and Linor and hugged us tightly. Then he said 'grab the phone, call mom and tell her about the attack.'" Balhasan died on the way to the hospital. (Ynet News)
        Guy Sadeh, 32, said: "I happened to be passing by...when I heard the blast. I was about 50 meters from there. I'm a trained paramedic, I went over to help the wounded. A store nearby sells belts, so I, together with others, made tourniquets for several people whose legs were amputated." (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharp Blow Calls for Sharp Response - Ze'ev Schiff
    The large amounts of Iranian money flowing to Islamic Jihad clearly is allowing it to draft many volunteers for suicide attacks in Israel. The responsibility for such attacks rests with the Hamas government. Islamic Jihad knows full well that Hamas will not move against it. All of the militant Palestinian organizations are participating in Kassam rocket launchings, including Hamas. One day soon the range of the rockets will be extended. Israel must respond with more forceful fire on the Gaza Strip, and with more arrests, especially of Islamic Jihad activists in the northern West Bank, where most of the suicide bombers originate. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mission Impossible - The Scope of Security - Amos Harel
    For three years, since the traumatic Seder night of 2002, the security forces have managed to prevent terror attacks on Passover. But Monday, on the fourth Passover since the Park Hotel bombing in Netanya, a suicide bomber from Islamic Jihad blew himself up at the old bus station in Tel Aviv. Last week the army reported that 90 would-be suicide bombers had been arrested in the West Bank since the beginning of the year. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas' Weasel Words Bode Ill for Peace - Editorial
    Monday's suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv restaurant, described as "self-defense" by Hamas, was a wicked act of terrorism (though the BBC once again declined to use the word "terrorism" on its website to describe the slaughter of innocent civilians). The weasel words of Hamas remind us of how right America and the EU were to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Canada's Right to Play Hardball with Hamas - Norman Spector
    Canada is under no obligation to provide taxpayer dollars to any foreign government. And it's well within our rights to use aid programs - or the withdrawal of aid - to stimulate changes in policies with which we fundamentally disagree. Having said that, Canada will continue to be one of the largest per capita contributors to UNWRA, the special UN relief agency for Palestinians. Diplomatically, Canada's decision helped set the bar for the EU, which gives substantially more direct aid to the PA and, thus, has greater influence over its policies. The author served as Canada's ambassador to Israel. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • To Bomb, or Not to Bomb: That Is the Iran Question - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    A French diplomat explained to me recently in Paris why he - and many others in the French foreign ministry - thought the U.S. would, in the end, bomb Iran's nuclear-weapons facilities. Owing to Chinese and Russian obstreperousness, the UN would probably fail to agree on any sanctions. The Europeans - at least the French, Germans, and British if not the Italians - would do a bit better, primarily because the French have developed a strong distaste for the clerics. The mullahs did, after all, once bomb Paris and kill a slew of prominent Iranian expatriates on French soil; and the French don't particularly care for religious Third Worlders joining the nuclear club.
        France might even lead the sanctions charge against Tehran - an astonishing historical moment for the Fifth Republic, which has usually aligned itself with Muslim Middle Eastern regimes or cultivated a profitable neutrality, especially when the U.S. was involved on the opposite side. (Weekly Standard/American Enterprise Institute)
        See also Three Reasons Not to Bomb Iran - Yet - Edward N. Luttwak
    Because of the continuing flow of detailed and timely information out of Iran, it is possible both to overcome the regime's attempts at dispersion, camouflage, and deception and - if that should become necessary - to target air strikes accurately enough to delay Iran's manufacture of nuclear weapons very considerably. At the same time, there is no reason to attack prematurely, because there will be ample time to do so before it is too late - that is, before enough fissile material has been produced for one bomb. (Commentary)
  • Observations:

    Judge Hamas on What It Says and Does about Terrorism - Editorial (Times-UK)

    • A suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, conducted during Passover and involving more casualties than any similar mission for more than a year, is an atrocity and a political event of enormous importance. That it follows recent parliamentary elections in the Palestinian Authority and Israel increases the salience of the matter.
    • Mahmoud Abbas, who condemned it as a "terrorist attack," has been rendered a principally ceremonial individual after his Fatah party was beaten at the polls by Hamas in January.
    • The instant declaration of a spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of the Interior was that the blast was a "legitimate" response to the situation that the Palestinians are in and that no remorse, let alone any regret, would be forthcoming. This is hardly the basis for dialogue.
    • Israel's interim prime minister should seek to target the political and "military" representatives of Hamas rather than the Palestinian population in whose name they choose to speak and to endorse appalling violence.
    • Other states must comply with civilized standards in what they demand of Israel. To suggest that Mr. Olmert has talks with an administration that cannot bring itself to repudiate terrorism with any sincerity is utterly incredible.

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