Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 23, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

New York Hunt for Hizballah - Niles Lathem (New York Post)
    The Hizballah terror group may be planning to activate sleeper cells in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Detroit to stage an attack as the nuclear showdown with Iran heats up.
    The FBI and Justice Department have launched urgent new probes targeting the Lebanese terror group.
     Law-enforcement and intelligence officials said about a dozen hard-core supporters of Hizballah have been identified in recent weeks as operating in the New York area.
    Additional law-enforcement attention is being centered on the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, where there have already been three episodes in the last four years in which diplomats and security guards have been expelled for casing and photographing New York City subways and other potential targets.
    The nationwide effort to neutralize Hizballah sleepers was triggered in January in response to reports that Iran's President Ahmadinejad had met with leaders of Hizballah during a visit to Syria.

    See also Venezuela and Terrorists - Editorial (Washington Times)
    Thomas A. Shannon, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, says Venezuela is providing shelter for organizations with ties to unspecified "terrorist organizations in the Middle East."
    Reports suggest that Hizballah is one of those unspecified organizations.

PFLP Leader Indicted for Terrorism - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Ahmed Saadat, seized during an Israel Defense Forces raid on a Palestinian jail last March, was indicted in a military court Sunday on 19 terrorism-related charges, including belonging to an outlawed group, overseeing the PFLP's military operations, incitement, and arms dealing.

Ford Foundation Is Criticized on Mideast Funding - Shlomo Greenwald (New York Sun)
    Three years after the Ford Foundation's grants to anti-Israel groups prompted a furor in Congress, the $10 billion philanthropy is at it again.
    The NGO Monitor issued a report targeting 11 Ford Foundation grants since the foundation adopted new standards against promoting violence, terrorism, or bigotry.
    Significant contributions were made to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, International Committee of Jurists, Miftah, Al-Haq, and Al-Mezan, whose "activities are primarily political, and they exploit human rights rhetoric to delegitimize Israel."
    Many of these organizations were active at the 2001 Durban Conference on human rights, which turned into an assault on Israel.
    "The cumulative effect of continued association with supporters of the academic boycott of Israel and the one-state solution is a serious challenge to the Ford Foundation's credibility," the report concluded.
    See also Ford Foundation Continues Support for Durban Agenda (NGO Monitor)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • West Bank, Iran, Top Olmert's U.S. Agenda - Jeffrey Heller
    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hold talks at the Pentagon and the White House on Tuesday, seeking to coordinate policy on the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear crisis. Olmert had dinner on Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. No major decisions are expected: Olmert's "convergence" proposal to reshape the Jewish settlement map in the West Bank is still largely on the drawing board. (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Uneasy about Israel's Plans for West Bank - Glenn Kessler
    Many European officials fear Olmert's plan is an attempt by Israel to set permanent borders without negotiating with the Palestinians - at a time when the Bush administration is struggling to win European support for unified action to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. Israel's Arab neighbors also are alarmed at the idea, believing it will encourage radicalism among the Palestinians. Jordanian Ambassador Karim Kawar said that because the Gaza withdrawal had not been negotiated, Hamas was able to claim credit and win the elections.
        In recent weeks, U.S. officials have pushed the Israelis to engage more with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli officials have made little secret of their view that Abbas is weak and cannot fulfill commitments. (Washington Post)
  • House of Representatives Set to Pass Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act - Eli Lake
    The House of Representatives is set to pass the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, legislation that would instruct the State Department to cut ties with PA officials and restrict everything except the barest of humanitarian aid to Palestinian Arabs. The lack of broad waiver authority for the president to overrule the intentions of Congress is one of the main objections the White House has given for opposing the law. The proposed legislation would only allow for contacts once Hamas renounced terror and recognized Israel. It would also instruct the Treasury Department to close down PA missions in Washington and New York, though it would provide the president a waiver in this case. (New York Sun)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Seizes Most-Wanted West Bank Terrorist - Amos Harel
    After an eight-year manhunt, Israeli security forces Tuesday arrested Ibrahim Hamed, 41, Hamas' Ramallah-area commander and Israel's most wanted man in the West Bank. He has been sought since 1998 for terror attacks that claimed the lives of 78 Israeli civilians and soldiers. Among the attacks Hamed is believed to have helped plan and direct were a car bombing in Zion Square in Jerusalem that killed 11 people, a suicide bombing at the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in which 12 people were killed, and a double suicide bombing in September 2003 which killed 17 people at Jerusalem's Hillel coffee house and outside the Tsrifin army base. (Ha'aretz)
  • Olmert Adviser: Some Settlement Blocs Beyond Fence to Be Retained - David Horovitz and Tovah Lazaroff
    Prime Minister Olmert's plans for the division of the West Bank involve the dismantling and relocation of 20 to 30 settlements, and not the previously assumed evacuation of the vast majority of the settlements to the east of the security fence, the prime minister's adviser for settlements, Uzi Keren, has told the Jerusalem Post. Keren said there were settlement blocs beyond the barrier route that would not be relinquished and for which other solutions would have to be found. The figure of 70,000 settlers to be relocated was thus exaggerated, he said.
        For example, Keren said he did not envisage "the Beit El group" of settlements north of Jerusalem being relinquished. He also explained that since the settlements would be replicated a short distance from their original sites, children would continue to attend the same schools, and adults would continue to commute to the same jobs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Hamas-Fatah War - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The question on the Palestinian street is no longer when civil war will break out, but when will it end. Armed clashes between Hamas and Fatah supporters have been taking place every day since the deployment of the new Hamas security force. Over the past two weeks, the homes and cars of at least seven security officers loyal to Abbas have been targeted by Hamas militiamen. Two Hamas militiamen have also been killed in separate attacks by Fatah.
        The unprecedented violence has been accompanied by a war of words being fought in the mosques and on television and radio stations, as well as in leaflets. (Jerusalem Post)
        Jordanian Embassy Staffer Killed in Gaza Crossfire - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Abbas Is Not a Factor - Sever Plocker
    Since elections to the Palestinian parliament in January, Mahmoud Abbas has steadily lost his grip on the reigns of power, while Hamas has established itself as the only legitimate ruling power. Abbas threatened and raged, but Hamas established its own legal militia and security apparatus. Slowly, the Palestinian parliament is passing Islamic laws to replace the secular laws enacted by the PLO.
        It is incorrect to describe the violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas as the opening battles of a civil war. There is no organized political-military force to oppose Hamas today. Fatah gunmen want only to be integrated into the new apparatus without losing their standing or (mainly) their salaries. There will be no bypassing Hamas in the PA today, not with regard to leadership or with regard to aid. (Ynet News)
        See also Is Fatah the Alternative to Hamas? - Barry Rubin
    While Fatah is somewhat less horrible than Hamas, it is Fatah's past incitement, terrorism, and refusal to make real peace that are at the root of the current situation. There is no reason to believe it would do better in the future if restored to power. Fatah is certainly not competing with Hamas by laying out an alternative, moderate line. If Fatah so wished, it could take the option available to it for a decade and urge an end to the eternal struggle with Israel that would quickly win it a state and international support.
        While a few people in Fatah do think this way, Abbas among them to some extent, there is no sign that anyone is seriously considering such a strategy. Instead, Fatah is competing to prove it is just as militant as the Islamists, including the escalation of its own attempts at terrorism. Since the election victory of Hamas, Fatah statements and actions are more, rather than less, extreme. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Lending a Helping Hand - Dennis Ross and David Makovsky (U.S. News)

    • Disengagement from the West Bank would be vastly more difficult than leaving Gaza: Not only will nearly eight times the number of settlers be involved, but the withdrawal would touch the biblical heartland of the Jewish people. Olmert must get something for this and will look for what Washington can provide for Israel in terms of recognition of a new border, financial help for the high costs of relocating settlers and settlements, and international acceptance of what Israel will do.
    • With the right kind of statecraft, the president and secretary of state may be able to turn the Olmert concept into a historic move that makes an eventual two-state solution possible. First, before accepting that nothing is possible with the Palestinians, President Bush should tell Olmert that he is prepared to test whether negotiations could still work with the Palestinians.
    • To that end, he would approach Mahmoud Abbas with two tasks that would create the environment necessary for negotiations and demonstrate that Palestinians are capable of delivering: Abbas would assume the responsibility for ending the daily rocket fire out of Gaza, and Hamas would prevent Islamic Jihad and others from carrying out attacks against Israelis. If both meet these tasks, we will push for direct negotiations. If neither performs, we will announce that "consolidation" is the only game in town.

      Dennis Ross was special U.S. Middle East envoy, 1988-2000, and is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. David Makovsky is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute.

        For a contrasting view, see also West Bank Terrorist State - R. James Woolsey (Wall Street Journal, 23May06)

    • The approach Israel is preparing to take in the West Bank was tried in Gaza and has failed utterly. The Israeli withdrawal of last year has produced the worst set of results imaginable: a heavy presence by al-Qaeda and Hizballah; street-fighting between Hamas and Fatah and now Hamas assassination attempts against Fatah's intelligence chief; rocket and mortar attacks against nearby towns inside Israel; and a perceived vindication for Hamas, which took credit for the withdrawal. This almost certainly contributed substantially to Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections.
    • Before his massive stroke last year Ariel Sharon repeatedly said he would not replay the Gaza retreat in the West Bank. With good reason: Creating a West Bank that looks like today's Gaza would be many times the nightmare. How would one deal with continuing launches of rockets and mortars from the West Bank into virtually all of Israel? A security barrier does no good against such bombardment.
    • How does moderate Jordan, with its Palestinian majority, survive if bordered by a West Bank terrorist state? Israeli concessions will also make the U.S. look weak because it will be inferred that we have urged them.
    • Three major Israeli efforts at accommodation in the last 13 years have not worked. These three accommodations have been based on the premise that only Israeli concessions can displace Palestinian despair. But it seems increasingly clear that the Palestinian cause is fueled by hatred and contempt.
    • Israeli concessions indeed enhance Palestinian hope, but not of a reasonable two-state solution - rather a hope that they will actually be able to destroy Israel. When they speak of "ending Israeli occupation," they mean of Tel Aviv. Under these circumstances it is time to recognize that the Israeli-Palestinian issue will likely not be the first matter settled in the decades-long war that radical Islam has declared on the U.S., Israel, the West, and moderate Muslims.
    • Someday a two-state solution may become possible, but it is naive in the extreme to believe that this can occur while the centerpiece of the radical Islamic and Palestinian agendas is maximizing Jewish deaths.

      The writer, a former director of Central Intelligence, is co-chairman of the Committee on the Present Danger.

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