Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 1, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Shin Bet: Hamas Involved in Attack at Gaza Crossing - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Orders for the attempted terrorist attack at the Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza last Wednesday were given by senior Hamas man Ahmed Randor, though the actual attack was by the Popular Resistance Committees, the Shin Bet said Sunday.
    See also Hamas Involved in Terror Attacks - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Security officials said that while Hamas has claimed it had ceased its terror activity, in reality the group was funding, training, and supplying weaponry to PRC cells which regularly fired Kassam rockets at Israeli targets from the northern Gaza Strip.
    "At no point since agreeing to a hudna (cease-fire) with Israel in 2005 has Hamas ceased its terror activity," a Shin Bet official said Sunday.
    Government officials noted that while the PA was lobbying to keep the Karni crossing open, Hamas was involved in an attack at the crossing.

Quality of New Israeli Satellite Photos "Excellent" - Ora Koren (Ha'aretz)
    Photographs sent over the weekend from a new Israeli satellite placed in orbit to monitor Iranian nuclear developments were of "excellent" quality.
    Eros B, launched on Tuesday from Siberia, transmitted its first pictures to Earth on Friday.
    "We see people walking in streets [in the photos], not to mention cars traveling," said ImageSat CEO Shimon Eckhaus.
    "The satellite can get a shot of any spot in the world....We also have a picture of an air force base in Sudan....The photos reach us minutes after they've been taken," he said.

    See also View Satellite Photos (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Photos from the satellite published in Israeli newspapers Sunday show vivid images of the Tabaqah Dam in Syria and helicopters at Kassala Airport in southern Sudan.
    See also Eros High-Resolution Imaging Satellites (ImageSat International)

Pakistan Test-Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile (Reuters)
    Pakistan on Saturday test-fired a nuclear-capable, surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), an official statement said.

Turkey, Israel Make Undersea Connections - Jay Bushinsky (Washington Times)
    Leaders in Israel and Turkey envision a network of four underwater pipelines for transporting Russian oil and natural gas, with feeder lines to Jordan, the PA, and Lebanon.
    A $50 million feasibility study is being financed by the Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank.
    India is a main backer of the proposed network because of the energy needs of its fast-growing economy.

Nation to Mourn Those Who Fell - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    A one-minute siren will sound across the country at 8 p.m. Monday to mark the start of Remembrance Day, mourning the 22,123 servicemen and women who have fallen defending the Land of Israel since 1860.

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  • Palestinians Smuggle Katyusha Rockets into Gaza - Steven Gutkin
    Palestinian militants have smuggled several Katyusha rockets into the Gaza Strip, potentially threatening towns well inside Israel, a senior Israeli military official said Friday. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza last summer, militants have managed to smuggle the Katyushas through tunnels along the southern border with Egypt, the official said, adding that some parts have entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing which is controlled by Palestinian security forces along with European monitors. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Mideast Envoy James Wolfensohn to Resign
    International Mideast envoy James Wolfensohn, a former president of the World Bank who has been serving as an envoy for the Quartet since last June, plans to step down when his term ends at the end of the month. Wolfensohn's efforts focused on rebuilding the Gaza Strip after Israel's withdrawal last year. Diplomatic officials said he had decided not to continue in the wake of the establishment of the new Hamas-led Palestinian government. (AP/Washington Post)
  • UN Agency Says Iran Falls Short on Nuclear Data - Elaine Sciolino
    Iran has drastically curtailed cooperation with nuclear inspectors over the past month as it has sped forward with its nuclear enrichment, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday. The UN nuclear agency documented its increasing difficulty in monitoring Iran's activities, and Iran's refusal to answer questions about suspected links between its civilian program and its military one. American officials said they planned to ask the Council as soon as next week to require Iran to stop nuclear enrichment under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which makes resolutions mandatory under international law and opens the way to sanctions or even military action. (New York Times)
        See also Tehran Found Even Closer to Nukes - Abraham Rabinovich
    Israel has told the Bush administration that Iran is closer to having a nuclear weapon than was previously thought. The head of the Mossad intelligence service, Meir Dagan, traveled to Washington last week to meet with counterparts in the CIA and pass on Israel's latest findings on Iran's nuclear progress. The London Sunday Times quoted an Israeli source as saying that the Mossad had evidence of hidden uranium enrichment sites in Iran "which can shortcut their timetable in the race for their first bomb." (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Al-Qaeda Offshoot in Gaza Threatens PA Heads - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A hitherto unknown group calling itself al-Tawhid and Jihad [Unification and Holy War], believed to be headed by Jordanian arch-terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi, has distributed leaflets in Gaza threatening to kill a number of top PA officials belonging to Abbas' Fatah party. The leaflet is an indication that al-Qaeda elements had begun operating in Gaza. The leaflet specifically mentioned five Abbas loyalists who it said would soon be "slaughtered" as apostates: Muhammad Dahlan, Yasser Abed Rabbo, Samir Mashharawi, Nabil Amr, and Abu Ali Shaheen. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Al-Qaeda? If Hamas Is Pushed into a Corner - Danny Rubinstein
    Is there a danger that Hamas and al-Qaeda could be linked? Warnings to such an effect could be heard last week, after the release of an Osama bin Laden tape expressing support for Hamas, which, he said, was defending itself against the "Zionist-Crusader offensive." Even C. David Welch, the U.S. assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, discussed such a danger. (Ha'aretz)
  • Security Fence to Be Rerouted - Herb Keinon
    The Israeli cabinet decided Sunday to reroute the security fence in the Ariel region, creating three thin settlement blocs, rather than one large bloc, and as a result drawing some 40,000 Palestinian residents outside the fence. According to the plan, three small fingers - instead of one large one - will be created. The Emanuel "finger" will be linked up with the Ariel "finger" by way of a bridge, below which traffic from the Palestinian areas would flow. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA on Verge of Bankruptcy, Civil War - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A growing number of Palestinians believe they are now closer than ever to civil war and bankruptcy. Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, who has just wrapped up a tour of a number of Arab countries, is returning home with a suitcase full of promises and little cash. Hamas officials are openly accusing PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his senior aides of conspiring with the U.S. and Israel to bring down the Hamas cabinet. Some of the Hamas ministers have also complained that their predecessors literally stole everything from the ministries, including teaspoons, fax machines, and couches. Hamas officials said on Sunday they had discovered that all the workers in Abbas' office had received their salaries for the previous month, while more than 140,000 other PA civil servants have not yet been paid. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A New Strategy on Iran - Dennis Ross
    If Iran succeeds in developing a nuclear weapons capability, in all likelihood we will face a nuclear Middle East. The Saudis - fearing an emboldened Iran determined to promote Shiite subversion in the Arabian Peninsula - will seek their own nuclear capability, and probably already have a deal with Pakistan to provide it should Iran pose this kind of threat. And don't expect Egypt to be content with Saudi Arabia's being the only Arab country with a nuclear "deterrent."
        As for those who think that the nuclear deterrent rules that governed relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War will also apply in a nuclear Middle East: Don't be so confident. The possible number of nuclear countries will drive up the potential for miscalculation. And with an Iranian president who sees himself as an instrument for accelerating the coming of the 12th Imam - which is preceded in the mythology by the equivalent of Armageddon - one should not take comfort in thinking that Iran will act responsibly.
        The challenge remains one of changing the Iranian calculus. Iran must see that it either loses more than it gains by proceeding to move toward nuclear weapons or that it can gain more by giving up the effort. Why not have the president go to his British, French and German counterparts and say: Let us agree on an extensive set of meaningful - not marginal - economic and political sanctions that we will impose if the negotiations fail. (Washington Post)
  • Land of Missed Chances - Youssef Ibrahim
    A stark reality is coursing through Arab consciousness: No one cares about Palestine. It has been the case for at least a decade. What's new is that even reasonable Palestinian Arabs now acknowledge the truth of their lost state. "It is not a secret that practically everyone outside Palestine have [sic] cleansed their hands," Fahmy Howeidi wrote Thursday in a fundamentalist Saudi newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat. The outside world has underestimated the degree to which most Arabs have tired of Palestinian Arabs' whining, corruption, and abuse of each other and outsiders. (New York Sun)
  • Al-Qaeda Wields Press as Terror Weapon - Jennifer Harper
    Terrorists use the press and public relations as weapons, said a study released Wednesday by Arizona State University. Steven Corman, director of the school's Consortium for Strategic Communication and a Defense Department consultant on communications networks and counterterrorism, analyzed 300 al-Qaeda statements and documents. He found that jihadist operations use consistent patterns of outreach that establish them socially and religiously, generate public sympathy, and intimidate opponents. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    Saying No to Jihad - Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury (Asian Tribune-Thailand)

    • In Bangladesh, gradually people are raising their voices against religious hatred and Islamist militancy, and they are echoing the concept of establishment of relations between Israel and Muslim countries.
    • I am a living contradiction to today's phenomenon in the Muslim world - a Zionist, a defender of Israel, and a devout, practicing Muslim living in the second largest Muslim country in the world.
    • Unfortunately, most of the Muslims in Bangladesh, as in many of the other Muslim countries, are under the impression that Jews are the ultimate enemies of Muslims and of Islam. My request to them, please visit Israel at least once, meet the Jews or at least find one Jew anywhere in the world.
    • The United States is not the greatest threat to us; neither are the Jews, Zionism, Western culture, nor so-called "infidels." No, the greatest threat to us is the same thing that threatens non-Muslims, that threatens us all. It is a dedicated cadre of individuals who justify killing innocents by falsely using our faith.
    • I am a devout Muslim and I know that my faith, my Koran, does not award 70 virgins to those who murder children and seek to destroy the faith of our mutual prophet Moses - our Jewish cousins who preceded us in our journey of faith.
    • I salute those brave Muslim brothers and sisters who have the courage to say: "No!" to hate; "No!" to Holocaust-denial; "No!" to jihad; "No!" to the demonization of Israel, the United States, and the Jews.

      The writer, editor of Bangladesh's largest tabloid weekly, Blitz, was jailed for 17 months in 2003 when he was about to leave for Israel to attend a symposium. The Bangladesh government will not allow him to go to Washington this month to receive the American Jewish Committee's Moral Courage Award.

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