Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 18, 2006

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Stand with Israel National Solidarity Rally (Conference of Presidents)
Sep. 20, 12 Noon,

Hammarskjold Plaza, 2nd Ave. at 47 St., NYC.

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Leader Arrives for New York Showdown - Francis Harris (Telegraph-UK)
    Iran's radical anti-American president arrives in New York on Monday to face his Western enemies in what is expected to be a fiery showdown over his country's nuclear ambitions.
    See also Iran and Venezuela Strengthen Ties - Elizabeth M. Nunez (AP/Washington Post)
    Iran's president made his first visit to Venezuela on Sunday, seeking to strengthen ties with a government that also opposes the U.S. and has become a leading defender of his nation's nuclear ambitions.
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that he and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez are like "brothers" in a great global struggle.

Israel Campus Beat
- September 17, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    The Effect of the War on the Media

PA Intelligence Official, Aides Slain in Gaza - Ken Ellingwood (Los Angeles Times)
    Masked gunmen shot and killed Maj.-Gen. Jad Tayeh, a senior official in the Palestinian intelligence service, and four aides Friday in Shati near Gaza City. Tayeh was affiliated with Abbas and Fatah.
    See also Fatah Gunmen Rampage in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Eyewitnesses said a group of gunmen in a jeep chased Tayeh's car as soon as it left the headquarters of the General Intelligence Force. The gunmen then opened fire with automatic weapons, killing Tayeh and his four companions instantly.
    The gunmen then stole weapons, documents, and cellular phones from the victims and fled the scene.
    "The whole incident lasted about two minutes only," said one witness. "It was like watching a mafia film."
    Fatah gunmen went on a rampage in Gaza City on Saturday, raiding several schools and firing into the air in protest against the assassination of Tayeh.
    The families of the victims held a press conference in Gaza City on Saturday where they threatened to take the law into their hands if the PA security forces did not catch the assassins.

Shots Fired at Oslo Synagogue (Reuters)
    Norwegian police said gunshots were fired at a synagogue in Oslo at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday. The Mosaic Religious Community, which owns the synagogue, had asked for better protection of its property following threats and after the site was vandalized in August.

Report: Freed Palestinian Terrorists Were Behind 14 Attacks - Nadav Shragai (Ha'aretz)
    Members of Palestinian terror organizations who were released from Israeli custody after being defined as not having "blood on their hands" perpetrated 14 terror attacks in the past several years, killing 132 Israeli civilians and wounding many others, according to a report released by the Almagor Terror Victims Association.
    From 1993 to 1999, Israel released 6,912 terrorists in the context of various confidence-building gestures, some of whom returned to terror activities "at the cost of huge destruction of life."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Muslims Attack Five Christian Churches - Ali Daraghmeh
    Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, following remarks by Pope Benedict XVI that angered many Muslims. The attacks left church doors charred and walls pockmarked with bullet holes and scorched by firebombs. At least five firebombs hit Nablus' Anglican church and firebombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of Greek Orthodox churches as well. Later Saturday, four masked gunmen doused the main doors of Nablus' Roman and Greek Catholic churches with lighter fluid, then set them afire. They also opened fire on the buildings. In Gaza City, militants opened fire at a Greek Orthodox church. Explosive devices were set off at the same Gaza church on Friday.
        George Awad, a cleric at the Greek Orthodox church in Nablus, said he and other Christians have apologized for the pope's remarks and urged Muslims to use restraint. "There is no reason to burn our churches," he said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Pope "Deeply Sorry" But Muslim Protests Spread - John Hooper (Guardian-UK)
  • Israel Will Respond If Palestinians Moderate Views, Release Soldier
    If Hamas softens its position and an Israeli soldier captured in June by Hamas-allied militants is released, Israel would transfer millions of dollars in tax rebates frozen after Hamas came to power and release prisoners, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Monday. "If they do that, then the Israeli commitment is to immediately follow through with substantial confidence-building measures that would reinforce a positive momentum," Regev said. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
        See also Palestinian PM: New Government Won't Recognize Agreements with Israel
    Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haneya said on Saturday that his new government would not recognize signed agreements with Israel. (Xinhua-China)
  • Israel Hands Over Most of South Lebanon to UN
    Israeli forces have withdrawn from more than 80% of Lebanese territory conquered during the offensive against Hizballah, handing it over to UN peacekeepers, the Israeli army said on Sunday. The army said the pace of pullouts depended on the full deployment of a UNIFIL contingent. There are currently 4,600 international troops in southern Lebanon. (Reuters)
  • Hizballah, Lebanon at Odds - Henry Meyer
    In a political struggle between the Western-backed government and Hizballah, Lebanese Prime Minister Saniora on Thursday vowed to impose army control over the south, a day after Hizballah leader Nasrallah boasted that his armed fighters remained in villages and towns on the border with Israel. "We want this area to be under the army's and the Lebanese state's control," Saniora said.
        For years the government ignored the shipment of weapons to Hizballah, but is now heightening checks at the borders, while European warships are patrolling Lebanese waters. EU personnel are to monitor Beirut airport and Syria's border with Lebanon for weapons imports. The Lebanese army has been sending thousands of troops to the south, where it has been absent for decades, and has been taking over control of border areas as the Israeli forces withdraw. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also French General Hints at Disarming Hizballah (AFP/Jordan Times)
    Southern Lebanon "must become a region entirely controlled by the Lebanese army and by the reinforced UNIFIL," French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in an interview with the Lebanese daily L'Orient Le Jour. The French general leading the troops hinted they would disarm Hizballah if the Lebanese army does not. "If the (Lebanese army) fails to act, we must assume our responsibilities as a UN force," Gen. Alain Pellegrini said. "Someone will have to intervene, with all the consequences that this might have for the Lebanese authorities." In the Hizballah stronghold of Baraasheet, the mayor issued a blunt warning to the French not to attempt to disarm the group.
        See also Italian Peacekeepers Hit Snag in Lebanon (AFP/Kuwait Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Tells Abbas Aides It Won't Abandon Quartet Demands of PA - Avi Issacharoff
    Senior State Department officials informed envoys of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that the U.S. will not lift the economic siege on the PA and will not work with the planned unity government so long as it fails to meet the three conditions set for the Hamas regime by the international community: recognizing Israel, recognizing agreements previously signed by the PA and PLO, and renouncing violence. Abbas is scheduled to meet with President Bush on Wednesday in New York. EU foreign ministers agreed Friday to back the PA unity government, despite U.S. misgivings. (Ha'aretz)
  • Islamic Leader in Israel: Jerusalem Will Be Capital of Muslim Caliphate
    Sheikh Raid Salah, head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, declared that Hizballah and Hamas should not release kidnapped IDF soldiers until Israel releases all security prisoners including Israeli Arabs imprisoned for security reasons. At the movement's annual rally in Umm el-Fahm, which drew about 50,000 people, Salah also said that the day "was not far off" that Israeli rule over the Temple Mount would be thrown off, and Jerusalem would become the capital of a new Muslim caliphate. (Jerusalem Post)
  • State Department Adviser Links Iran Policy to Palestinian Issue - Shmuel Rosner
    Philip Zelikow, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Rice, told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Friday that the U.S. must ensure progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track so that it can preserve a coalition of Arab and European states that are interested in containing Iran and international terrorism.
        Israel's ambassador to Washington, Danny Ayalon, described Zelikow's statements as "an intellectual exercise." Following consultation with senior administration officials, Ayalon said that he believes "that there will be no change in American policy in the Middle East," and that "there will be no linkage between the Iranian issue and the Palestinian one." (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rockets Wound Israelis in Sderot - Mijal Grinberg
    One person was lightly wounded and two others were treated for shock Sunday when a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza fell in the Israeli town of Sderot. A second rocket, which fell shortly afterward, killed dozens of chickens and caused damage to farm equipment. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why There's No Jump-Starting the Peace Process - Jackson Diehl
    Lots of people have ideas for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. Most of them are bad: grandiose proposals for international conferences or non-starters that would require Israel to accept the "return" of millions of Palestinians to its own territory as a condition for Arab recognition of what would no longer be a Jewish state. Nonetheless, the UN Security Council may debate the various schemes at the end of this week. However, one U.S. official said that "there will be no major diplomatic initiative."
        Why the paralysis? There are some important substantive reasons, including the simple fact that the end of Israeli unilateralism means an Arab partner is needed - and the Palestinian Authority is not ready for a serious peace process. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. to Sideline Arab League UN Initiative - Nathan Guttman
    In discussions among Israeli and U.S. officials over the past few days, it was agreed that the U.S. will use its diplomatic power to sideline an Arab League initiative which intends to use the UN Security Council as the main vehicle for convening an international peace conference to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Cease-Fire Drives Into a Mirage on a Border That Disappears as It Gets Closer - Craig S. Smith
    There is no fence, no marking, no sense of a border at all in the broad track-crossed swaths of open land and rugged mountains that lie between Lebanon and Syria. Israel is concerned that Hizballah will continue to receive missiles and other sophisticated weapons from Iran across the 205-mile long, sparsely guarded frontier. Local residents say it would be a simple matter requiring only the barest collusion of either side for a tractor or truck to haul weapons from one side to the other.
        Lebanon has put more than 8,000 soldiers along the border to monitor traffic, but few people here believe the Lebanese Army is capable of stopping the arms flow. At the new army checkpoint in Al Qasr, half a dozen soldiers idle away the day beside a blue metal sign reading, "Stop. Lebanese Army." The cars and trucks slow down but rarely stop. The line separating Lebanon from Syria is arbitrary, drawn in the 1920s by France. The border left 15 Lebanese villages in Syria and 9 Syrian villages in Lebanon. The border region is dominated by Shiites, who have a strong allegiance to Syria. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    A Real Test for the Palestinians - Editorial (New York Times)

    • After six months of crippling sanctions, Hamas' leaders are trying to figure out the very minimum they need to say - and the even less they plan to do - to end their isolation and salvage their government. Skepticism is more than warranted. But Hamas' admission of weakness could provide at least a chance to quell the violence and resuscitate peace talks.
    • The radical Islamist Hamas - which came to power after last January's legislative elections - has been negotiating to form a national unity government with the Palestinian chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate, and his Fatah party. Hamas still refuses to say the words necessary to unlock international aid: that it will renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.
    • Words are important. But worrying about who said what should not divert attention from what should be the real test of any Palestinian government: whether it will commit to a genuine cease-fire and use its security forces to halt, rather than abet, rocket and terrorist attacks against Israel.
    • The cutoff of financing has taken a harsh toll on the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza. Even then, Hamas began to buckle only after government employees, unpaid for months, went on strike. The Europeans are eager to resume aid, but all that leverage will be lost if they settle for words rather than deeds. The Bush administration is right to warn against that.
    • Working with the Europeans and moderate Arab states - all desperate to see Washington engage - the administration should take the lead in trying to negotiate a cease-fire and a prisoner exchange.

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