Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 8, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Jordan Aided U.S. in Hunt for Zarqawi (Jerusalem Post)
    Jordan provided the U.S. military with information that helped in tracking down and killing Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian official with knowledge of the operation said.
    Some of the information came from Jordan's sources inside Iraq and led the U.S. military to the area of Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, where Zarqawi was killed in an air strike.
    Jordan is known to have intelligence agents operating in Iraq to hunt down Islamic militants.
    Jordan also analyzed a video issued by Zarqawi in April and helped pinpoint where it was filmed.

British Brigade of Islamists Join Al-Qaeda Foreign Legion in Iraq - David Leppard (Sunday Times-UK)
    Up to 150 Islamic radicals have traveled from Britain to Iraq to join up with a "British brigade" established by al-Qaeda leaders to fight coalition forces.
    Senior security sources say leaders of the Iraqi insurgency have set up a "foreign legion" composed entirely of Westerners to fight alongside the insurgents in the war against British and American forces.
    The so-called "British brigade" is said to be operating under the direct command of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Israel Eyes Caspian Oil - Leah Krauss (UPI)
    Israel's Minister of Infrastructure Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, visiting Azerbaijan for the Caspian Oil and Gas Conference, said oil from the new Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline could reach customers in Asia via Israel's Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline, rather than being transported through the small and expensive Suez Canal or around Africa.

Sweden Labels Israeli Wine "Made in Occupied Syrian Territory" - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Sweden's state alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget has recently decided to label wines produced in Israel's Golan Heights as made in "occupied Syrian territory" instead of as coming from Israel.

Inside a Gaza Rocket Factory - Ben Wedeman (CNN)
    At a rocket workshop run by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the TNT for the warheads comes through the tunnels dug under the border between Gaza and Egypt.
    Ahmed showed us packets of iron shards they pack into rocket warheads for extra lethal effect.
    One of these missiles recently slammed into a school classroom in the Israeli town of Sderot. Ahmed was proud that his missile had hit the school.
    Since September 2000, Palestinians have fired more than 5,000 rockets into Israel, or into Gaza settlements before the Jews left, killing 13 civilians and two soldiers.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Forces Kill Al-Qaeda in Iraq Leader Zarqawi
    U.S. Gen. George W. Casey Jr. on Thursday announced the death of Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants, spiritual advisor Sheik Abd al-Rahman, in an air strike against a safe house on Wednesday. Coalition forces were able to identify Zarqawi by fingerprint verification, facial recognition, and known scars. "He is known to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis. Zarqawi's death is a significant blow to al-Qaeda," said Gen. Casey. (New York Times)
        See also Zarqawi "Terminated" in U.S. Air Raid
    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Zarqawi was killed along with seven aides in a house 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. Al-Maliki said the air strike was the result of intelligence reports provided to Iraqi security forces by residents in the area. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called the death of Zarqawi "a huge success for Iraq and the international war on terror." The Jordanian-born militant is believed to have personally beheaded at least two American hostages. In the past year, he moved his campaign beyond Iraq's borders, claiming to have carried out a Nov. 9, 2005, triple suicide bombing against hotels in Amman, Jordan, that killed 60 people, and even a rocket attack from Lebanon into northern Israel. (MSNBC)
  • Palestinian Authority Teeters Toward Shutdown - Wafa Amr
    The wheels of the Palestinian Authority's infrastructure are grinding to a halt since Israel and the West cut assistance over the militant Islamist group Hamas' refusal to recognize the Jewish state. A government union says 60% of civil servants no longer turn up for work. "Even if we show up at work, there's nothing for us to do," said Raed Hammad, a government accountant. Palestinian government workers who do show up in the morning said they sit at their desks, read newspapers, chat with colleagues, and then leave around noon. Some local banks made payments to the lowest paid workers this week, mainly from their own funds. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rockets Hit Southern Israel - Shmulik Haddad
    Southern Israeli communities on Thursday awoke to sounds of exploding Kassam rockets fired at Israel by Palestinians from the northern Gaza Strip. In Kibbutz Gavim, which took most of the barrage, houses were damaged but no one was injured. A rocket landed near a school. Another rocket landed in the Shaar HaNegev industrial zone. (Ynet News)
        See also below Observations: Before Our "Luck" Runs Out - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Refuses Israeli Medicines, Demands Cash - Ronny Sofer
    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch on Wednesday that Israel sought to transfer medications worth NIS 50 million to the PA, but the Palestinians asked that the sum be delivered in cash. Israeli defense officials said that "the Palestinians' stance reveals that there is no real health crisis in the PA and that they are trying to use the money for other needs." (Ynet News)
        See also U.S. Envoy Discusses PA Funding - Herb Keinon
    According to senior Israeli sources, Welch was in the region primarily to gauge the situation in the PA, and not to go into details about Olmert's realignment plan. The U.S. will not begin "heavy lifting" on this plan for at least another six months, the sources said, in order to see whether there may be a way for Israel and the Palestinians to begin some sort of dialogue. According to Israeli officials, Welch agreed with Israel that the aid to the Palestinians should not take the form of salaries paid to PA employees. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Security Forces to Recruit Hamas Men - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Thousands of Hamas militiamen are expected to be recruited into the PA security forces under an agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza on Wednesday. The deal is seen as a great achievement for the Hamas-led government, which had openly challenged Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah by deploying its own "security force" in the streets of Gaza. The Hamas force has been involved in numerous clashes with Fatah gunmen and members of the Preventative Security Service over the past few weeks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Calling Iran's Bluff - Editorial
    Last Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki accepted Washington's offer to talk about Tehran's nuclear program - with one condition. There could be no conditions. Iran would not freeze its enrichment of uranium, which the Bush administration had demanded in exchange for bringing the U.S. to the table for negotiations. Cutting through the diplomatic verbiage, what Iran's really telling the world is: Get lost. We'll keep enriching uranium and we dare you to stop us. (Chicago Tribune)
        See also Iran Won't Budge - Hillel Fradkin
    The Bush administration has offered to join the negotiations with Iran on one condition: Iran must suspend all enrichment activities in a verifiable manner. Will Iran agree to our condition and enter direct talks? Not likely. The most important reason is the great value Iran, and in particular Ahmadinejad, sees in the pursuit of nuclear enrichment and weaponry. Possession of nuclear weapons would aid in the survival of the clerical regime - as the North Korean case made clear. The writer is director of the Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World at the Hudson Institute. (Weekly Standard)
  • Syria's Dictatorship Survives to Fight Another Day - David Schenker
    When Hafez al-Assad was president-for-life of Syria, Washington overlooked the misdeeds of his Baathist dictatorship because it always seemed the brass ring of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal was just around the corner. Now that Assad is dead and his son Bashar nears the six-year mark of his own rule, Washington is again in effect tolerating the Baathist dictatorship. This time, the explanation is that not peace, but war is just around the corner - in Iraq. With so much on the administration's Middle East agenda, Syria seems poised once more to escape penalty from Washington. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002 to 2006 he was the Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestinian affairs adviser in the office of the Secretary of Defense. (Weekly Standard)
        See also The Syria Accountability Act: Two Years On - David Schenker
    The litany of Syrian misdeeds includes support for terrorism, undermining stability in Iraq, continued meddling in Lebanon, and ongoing development of WMD and ballistic missile programs. The prospect of implementation of additional SAA sanctions appears to be spooking Western investors. Last month, Houston-based Marathon Oil indicated it would divest from its Syrian holdings, including contracts worth $127M. Another positive development has been the emergence of an active and courageous Syrian reform movement. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Come to Londonistan, Our Refuge for Poor Misunderstood Islamist Victims - Melanie Phillips
    According to security sources, no fewer than 1,200 Islamist terrorists are biding their time within British suburbs. Since the 1990s, Islamist radicals have been given free rein in Britain in a "gentlemen's agreement" that if they were left alone, they would not turn on the country that was so generously nurturing them. The result was "Londonistan," as Britain became the hub of al-Qaeda in Europe. (Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    Before Our "Luck" Runs Out - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • On Tuesday morning, a Kassam rocket fired from Gaza plunged into a home in Sderot, landing on the bed of a boy who had just left for school. Two other rockets hit the center of Sderot near a school, wounding one woman. Three other rockets landed in or near the town.
    • Is it moral or wise to wait until civilians are killed before taking further action to stop these terrorist attacks?
    • What most nations would do when attacked by another country is to hold that country accountable, both directly and through international action.
    • While there is no state of Palestine, the Palestinian Authority likes to pretend there is one, and the UN goes along, treating "Palestine" as the equivalent of a member state for most purposes.
    • Last summer Israel even destroyed the three northern Gaza settlements that could have been kept without harming Palestinian contiguity in any way - all so that it could hold the PA responsible for the territory it unambiguously controls.
    • Whether this or that part of the PA is incapable or unwilling to stop attacks from the territory it controls should not be relevant to Israel or the international community: the PA as a whole must be held responsible.

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