Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 27, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

IDF: We Know Where Kidnapped Soldier Is - Ilan Marciano (Ynet News)
    A senior military intelligence officer told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that the IDF has information pointing to the area where kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is apparently being held.
    The officer said the kidnappers had planned the operation for over two months.
    He also noted that Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal in Damascus was holding contacts with Ahmed Jaabari, the head of Hamas' military wing, who is considered to be the man behind the abduction.
    The officer noted that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail "Haniyeh is limited in his actions, because the significant decisions are taken in Damascus by Khaled Mashaal."

Israel Rejects U.S. Anti-Kassam System - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
    U.S. sources say that Israel has rejected an initiative by Northrop Grumman Corp. to jointly develop a defense system against Palestinian Kassam rockets.
    Northrop Grumman recently proposed to Israel to resume development of an improved version of the Skyguard tactical high energy laser (THEL) (previously known as Nautilus) to destroy incoming Katyusha and other rockets after launch.
    The system intercepted a Katyusha in a test in the U.S. in 2000.
    However, Israeli officials decided against the proposal because of the high development cost ($180-200 million) and the long development period (at least five years).
    In addition, the chemical laser produces toxic gases.

Israel to Provide PA with Ambulances - Meital Yasur-Beit Or (Ynet News)
    Israel's Magen David Adom will provide the Palestinian Authority with six ambulances bearing the Red Crescent symbol and Israeli license plates, MDA officials said Sunday.
    The ambulances will be allowed to cross IDF checkpoints with a minimum security check.

Montana Mother Fights al-Qaeda from Home - Francis Harris (Telegraph-UK)
    Shannen Rossmiller, 37, an American mother-of-three, has uncovered the whereabouts of al-Qaeda fighters in Pakistan, tracked down an Islamist designing a nuclear device, and much more.
    For four years, she has donned a range of virtual disguises and uses her functional, self-taught Arabic to navigate into radical Internet chat rooms frequented by real terrorists.
    In America, the authorities have made several arrests based on Rossmiller's work.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice Urges Diplomacy Over Israeli Hostage in Gaza
    U.S. Secretary of State Rice urged Israel on Monday to give diplomacy a chance to win the release of an Israeli soldier taken hostage by militants in Gaza. "There really needs to be an effort now to try and calm the situation, not to let the situation escalate, and to give diplomacy a chance to work to try to get this release," Rice said. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said, "The time is approaching for a comprehensive, sharp, and severe Israeli operation. We will not wait forever....We will not become a target of Hamas-terrorist blackmail."  Reuters)
  • Hamas Lawmaker: Attack on Israeli Army Post "Fantastic"
    A Palestinian lawmaker from the ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on Sunday praised the Palestinian armed attack on an Israeli army post in southern Gaza. "The fantastic operation came at a suitable time, and it is of a pride for Arab and Islamic nations," Yehia Abadssa told the local radio Voice of Palestine. He also called for "boosting and uniting resistance" against Israel. (Xinhua/People's Daily-China)
        See also In Gaza, Defiantly Awaiting Israeli Retaliation - Ian Fisher
    To many Israelis, Gaza should be quiet now: Israel withdrew the last of its troops and settlers last September. Yet, in recent months, hundreds of Kassam rockets have been fired from Gaza at civilians in pre-1967 Israel. For Palestinians, the issues are different: Israel's leaving Gaza did not mean an end to the struggle. (New York Times)
  • Iran to Ration Gasoline
    Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh said Friday that Iran would stop importing gasoline in September and begin rationing it, ironic for a country that is OPEC's number-two exporter of crude oil. Iran's refineries have a capacity of 40 million liters of gasoline a day, but demand is close to 70 million liters. Gasoline is extremely cheap in Iran thanks to massive subsidies. A liter of regular gasoline costs just nine cents. An explosion in car ownership and gasoline smuggling to Iran's neighbors, where prices are far higher, has caused an explosion in demand. Iran loses more than $1 billion a year because of the smuggling. The shortfall has up to now been met by importing gasoline. (AFP/Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Clock Is Ticking for Talks on Soldier's Release - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas issued a proclamation on Monday demanding the release of women and teens from Israeli prisons in return for information on the condition of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. But any such deal would provide a boost for additional kidnappings.
        On the Palestinian side, there has been a major devaluation in Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's standing. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is no longer depicted as the only weak figure in the PA leadership. Haniyeh also appears devoid of any practical influence over events. He is utterly dependent on operatives of Hamas' military wing, who get their orders from Khaled Mashaal in Damascus. (Ha'aretz)
  • Kidnappers Unsure What to Do - Zvi Bar'el
    Members of the Egyptian delegation conducting negotiations over the release of the abducted IDF soldier are under the impression that those holding him are unsure what to do with him. The Egyptians believe that ideological disputes among the kidnappers are likely to make it difficult to reach agreement that would facilitate his release. According to an Egyptian source in Cairo, there will be "lengthy talks with irregular and undisciplined forces." (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Prisoners' Families: Don't Release Soldier - Khaled Abu Toameh
    On Monday, many Palestinian groups appealed to the Hamas kidnappers not to release the soldier unless Israel agreed to set free a large number of Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian analysts said a prisoner exchange would bolster Hamas' popularity. "If Hamas succeeds in releasing even a small number of prisoners, they will score many points," said one. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rockets Wound Four Israelis - Shmulik Haddad
    Four residents of the Israeli city of Sderot were injured from shattered glass Monday after Palestinians fired three Kassam rockets into Israel. Eleven people were treated for shock. The rockets caused an electrical blackout in a large section of the city. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Can Abbas Do? - Roee Nahmias
    Israeli analysts didn't know whether to laugh or cry when they read on Monday that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas "ordered the security forces to carry out searches in southern Gaza after the kidnapped soldier." Shalom Harari, former adviser on the Palestinian territories at the Ministry of Defense, says that "if in the West Bank, Abbas' influence reaches 100 meters around his office, then in Gaza, his ability is close to zero." Harari thinks that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Interior Minister Said Siam are "running to search for the soldier because from their perspective, the alternative is to stay in the bunker for the foreseeable future." (Ynet News)
  • The True Hamas - Editorial
    When Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh swapped his Kalashnikov for a suit, it fueled hopes of a transformation of the governing Hamas from a terrorist organization to a half tolerable and calculable Islamist party. But the latest attacks should bring optimists back down to reality: Israel is still dealing with the same military organization, one that is defined by its fight against the Jewish state. The military arm of Hamas seems to have a "life of its own," and rather than looking to Haniyeh, it looks to its radical exile leadership in Damascus (Syria) for its killing orders.
        Of course Hamas also has moderate forces, but a change in the entire organization might take years. Violence has been promoted as the only way to solve the problems for a very long time. So the West needs to prepare for the fact that, for the time being, Hamas will not change radically. (Financial Times Deutschland/Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • Christians Still "Swine" and Jews "Apes" in Saudi Schools - Harry de Quetteville
    Freedom House, a non-partisan American research group which monitors civil rights worldwide, has found that despite promises of change from leading Saudi officials, schoolbooks in the kingdom still promote hatred of those who do not practice its strict form of Wahhabi Islam. The report quotes the following exercise for the youngest children: "Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than --- is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ---." (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Text: Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance (Freedom House)
  • Observations:

    Exacting a Price from the PA - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • The immediate challenge goes beyond better fortifying ourselves against attack, whether by missiles or through tunnels. It relates to ending the attacks. Such attacks can only be prevented if the price the Palestinian leadership pays for ordering or acquiescing in them is much higher than any conceivable benefit.
    • The price to be exacted must necessarily combine military and non-military actions by Israel, preferably supported and supplemented by sanctions imposed by the international community. But if necessary, Israel must be prepared single-handedly to raise the price of attacking us to prohibitive levels.
    • Hamas knows that Israel can deal a serious setback to the terrorist infrastructure that it has been building rather than dismantling, and that Israeli military action will mean that Hamas has delivered the opposite of the improved situation for Palestinians that it promised in the elections that brought it to power.
    • Israel cannot become reconciled to a war of attrition with the Palestinians; the Palestinian attacks must end. And this can only be done by substantially raising the price of Palestinian aggression through diplomatic, economic, and military means.

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