Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 24, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Leader Mashaal: "PA Provides Protection for Forces of Jihad"  (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
    Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal confirmed that the Palestinian Authority under Hamas rule has become a hothouse for the growth, development, and encouragement of terrorists.
    "Our government is a big tent that provides protection for the forces of Jihad," he said at a meeting near Damascus.
    The intent of Mashaal's remarks were confirmed by Islamic Jihad spokesman Ali Abu Shahin, who told the Israeli Arab newspaper Kol al-Arab, published in Nazareth, that his organization received inspiration for last week's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv from the new Hamas government.
    "The attack matches the plan of the Hamas government which supports the resistance (armed struggle)," he said.

Israel Campus Beat
- April 23, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    How Should Israel Treat the PA after the Passover Attack?

France Denies Visa to Hamas Minister - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    France announced Friday it would not issue a visa to PA Planning Minister Samir Abu Eisha to attend a conference in Paris later this week.
    French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said the visa was denied in line with European policy to cut off political contact with the Hamas-led PA.
    See also Swedish Government Not to Meet Hamas Member - Luan Shanglin (Xinhua-China)
    A Swedish foreign ministry spokesperson said no representative of the Swedish government will meet with Hamas member of parliament Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil, who is scheduled to visit southern Sweden in May as the guest of local Palestinian groups, Radio Sweden reported on Friday.
    Sweden, in line with the rest of the EU, does not have political contacts with the Hamas-led PA.

Thousands Pray for American Teen Wounded in Tel Aviv Bombing - Talya Halkin (Jerusalem Post)
    Daniel Wultz, 16, remains in intensive care since he was critically wounded in last week's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.
    See also Florida Teen Victim in Tel Aviv Bombing - Stephanie Chen (Miami Herald)
    Family, friends, and members of the Jewish community have prayed for the recovery of the critically injured Weston, Florida, teen.

Israel Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day Starting Monday Evening - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    The State of Israel will mark the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday evening to remember the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
    Six torches will be lit by Holocaust survivors.
    At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, a two-minute siren will sound.
    An estimated 250,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel.
    See also Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2006 (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Recruits Hizballah Terror Master; Iranian Officers in South Lebanon Take Command of Hizballah Rockets Aimed at Israel - Sarah Baxter and Uzi Mahnaimi
    U.S. officials and Israeli intelligence sources believe Imad Mugniyeh, the Lebanese commander of Hizballah's overseas operations, has taken charge of plotting Iran's retaliation against Western targets should the U.S. strike Iranian nuclear sites. This comes after a meeting in Syria earlier this year between Mugniyeh and Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Jane's Intelligence Review cited "reports in recent weeks" of Mugniyeh's presence alongside Ahmadinejad.
        Mugniyeh lives in Iran and has evaded capture for more than 20 years, despite a $5m American bounty on his head. Mugniyeh first attracted attention when he was involved in the kidnapping, torture, and mutilation of William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, in 1984. Mugniyeh has also been linked to the demolition of the American embassy and marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and is wanted in Argentina for his role in recruiting the bombers of the Israeli embassy and Jewish center in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s.
        Elite Iranian army officers who arrived in south Lebanon this month have taken command of thousands of rockets aimed at cities across Israel. They are believed to have been given control of the missiles by Hizballah to deter possible Israeli attacks against Iran's nuclear facilities. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Banks Balk at Sending Funds to Hamas Government - Adam Entous and Mohammed Assadi
    Under U.S. pressure, regional and international banks are balking at transferring funds from donors to the Hamas-led PA, Western diplomats and Palestinian officials said on Saturday. U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said: "If an organization or individual is facilitating direct fundraising for Hamas, they open themselves up to action by the United States."
        Hamas officials say the U.S. pressured the Amman-based Arab Bank to freeze the PA's main treasury account. A Palestinian official said the Arab Bank recently turned away a transfer of $50 million from Qatar. Under U.S. law, any foreign bank that refuses to cooperate with the United States in cutting off funding to Hamas could have its U.S. assets frozen and its access to U.S. financial markets denied. (Reuters)
        "The Arab League has not been able to transfer even one penny due to the warnings to the banks," Nabil Amr, a top aide to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said Saturday. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Bin Laden Condemns Isolation of Hamas
    Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said the international isolation of the Hamas-led Palestinian government proves there's a "war by crusaders and Zionists against Islam,'' according to an audiotape broadcast on al-Jazeera. (AFP/Bloomberg)
        See also Transcript: Bin Laden Accuses the West (Al-Jazeera-Qatar)
  • Judge in AIPAC Lobbyists' Trial Considers Motion for Dismissal - Walter Pincus
    U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said Friday that constitutional issues surrounding the charges against two former pro-Israeli lobbyists for violating the 1917 Espionage Act represent "a very, very, hard problem" and that he would continue to study the defendants' motion to have them dismissed. During an unusual second day of argument on the dismissal motion, Ellis's toughest questions went to government lawyers. He particularly took issue with Kevin DiGregory, the lead prosecutor, for comparing the lobbyists' actions to stealing classified information. "They didn't steal," Ellis said, noting that a now-convicted former Defense Department official, Lawrence A. Franklin, gave it to them.
        Ellis reset the trial date to early August and granted a defense motion that may set the stage for the calling of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns as witnesses. Defense attorney Abbe Lowell said "others" gave his client information similar to what he received from Franklin without accusations of wrongdoing. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Fire Katyusha Rocket at Israel - Gideon Alon and Nir Hasson
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet Sunday that Islamic Jihad on Friday launched a Grad, also known as a Katyusha, rocket from the Gaza Strip at Israel. Grad rockets have a range of 15-30 kilometers and carry warheads weighing 20 kilograms, considerably larger than that of Kassam rockets. A Grad rocket had previously been launched on March 28. Mofaz said Palestinians had fired 15 Kassams last week, compared to 35 the previous week. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Gunman Fires at IDF Troops Near Gaza Border - Amos Harel
    An Palestinian gunman was killed Monday after he opened fire on IDF soldiers along the Gaza-Israel border. The incident came amid a steep increase in the number of alerts for attacks planned by Fatah cells. Military sources said Sunday that Fatah-linked alerts now exceed alerts linked to Islamic Jihad. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: New PA Security Official a "Criminal and Murderer" - Ronny Sofer
    Jamal Abu Samhadana, appointed Thursday as director-general of the Palestinian Interior and National Security Ministry, "is a criminal, a murderer hired by Hamas, who should be jailed by Israel at the first opportunity," said former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) chief Avi Dichter. "The Samhadana family is a known criminal family from Rafah," Dichter said. "With the breakout of the intifada on September 2000, they took advantage of the situation to smuggle weapons from Sinai to Rafah and sell them in the Gaza Strip to the highest bidder. Then they also began carrying out terror attacks, while establishing the organization called the Popular Resistance Committees." (Ynet News)
        See also New Hamas Security Chief: "Jews Are Our Enemy" - Jane Flanagan
    Jamal Abu Samhadana, appointed chief of the Palestinian security services, revealed to the Telegraph his ambitions for the paramilitary force under his control. "This will be the nucleus of the future Palestinian army," he said. "The resistance must continue." "We have only one enemy. They are Jews. We have no other enemy. I will continue to carry the rifle and pull the trigger whenever required." In recent months, he has directed the continuing barrage of Kassam rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.
        Fatah still controls the 60,000-strong Palestinian security forces, which Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas tried to reinforce recently by appointing loyalist Rashid Abu Shabak as security supremo. Hamas responded by appointing Samhadana. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Hamas: Samhadana Appointment Stands - Ali Waked
    Hamas on Saturday turned down a demand by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to cancel the appointment of Jamal Abu Samhadana as general supervisor of the Interior Ministry. (Ynet News)
  • Fatah, Hamas Supporters Exchange Gunfire in Gaza - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Supporters of Fatah and Hamas exchanged gunfire and hurled firebombs at each other on Saturday in Gaza after Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal accused PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah of being a traitor. Dozens of Palestinians were wounded in the clashes. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Fatah, Hamas Clashes Continue - Ali Waked
    Fatah gunmen attempted to force their way into the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza City on Sunday, a move that led to exchanges of fire with Hamas members in which several Palestinians were hurt. Fatah protests continued at other locations across the West Bank and Gaza. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Terrorist Government, Elected or Not, Deserves No Support from America - Editorial
    It is not just the Palestinian leadership that bears responsibility for Monday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, but the electorate that put that leadership in place. The main difference between the Hamas government and Arafat's is that Hamas is more honest about its terrorist ambitions. Ultimately, Palestinians need to confront the consequences of their electoral choices, at least if there's any hope of altering their destructive ambitions toward their neighbors. That means imposing, as the Bush Administration has done, a diplomatic and economic embargo, and encouraging other countries to join ranks. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Can Hamas End the Anarchy? - Danny Rubinstein
    Jamal Abu Samhadana, appointed as inspector general in Hamas' Interior Ministry, is very popular in Gaza, in part because of the terror attacks he has carried out and which many Palestinians think led Israel to withdraw from the Strip. The Hamas government has barely any chance of succeeding in restraining the militias and the gangs running around the streets of Gaza. Every important clan, every neighborhood, every political group has a kind of private army. Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam and Abu Samhadana do not plan to dismantle the existing militias, but only to bring them into a joint framework. Everyone will want jobs and salaries, and there isn't enough money for that. (Ha'aretz)
  • Under the Shadow of the Iranian Bomb - Guy Ronen
    Can we even imagine life here under the shadow of the Iranian bomb, when any minor operation in Gaza or Lebanon, and possibly in Chechnya and the Muslim suburbs of Paris or London, leads to an implied, not-quite-conventional threat? There is only one regime in the world still using apocalyptic terminology to discuss the extermination of another people and making remarks unheard around here since the German dictator's departure. And to this regime of all others, the world is willing to give access to doomsday weapons.
        If there's one lesson from the death camps that must resonate today more than ever in Washington and also in Jerusalem, it's this: Do not take this chance, at any price. For Ahmadinejad and some leading ayatollahs, the "final solution" is clear. And therefore, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, it might be a good idea to treat this - as well as our friends around the world that are letting it happen again - a little more seriously. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    Will Hamas Moderate? - Joel Himelfarb (Washington Times)

    • Advocates of "engagement" with Hamas have been saying that the terrorist group will be forced by the realities of governing to moderate its approach to Israel. Can a revolutionary terrorist organization like Hamas transform itself into a democratic political entity that respects pluralism and the rule of law?
    • There are two prominent cases in the Arab world - in Egypt and Jordan - in which radical Islamists have moderated their behavior as members of the political opposition. But in each case, the Islamists were constrained in their freedom of action by authoritarian regimes and strong central governments that were determined to rein them in.
    • In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas' parent organization) advocated violence from its establishment in 1928 until it was outlawed in 1954. Subsequently, it split into two groups: The radicals joined Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which would become aligned with al-Qaeda, while relative moderates renounced violence and entered politics.
    • However, there will be no authoritarian government or secret police with the ability to constrain Hamas' action. Indeed, Hamas itself is now the dominant force inside the PA, in command of the coercive powers of the state.
    • Hamas' own history and the recent historical record leave little reason for optimism that the organization will moderate its approach toward Israel or behave in a responsible way toward its own people.

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