Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 26, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Hizballah Moving Rockets Near Israeli Border - Aaron Klein (World Net Daily)
    Hizballah has been transporting rockets and heavy weaponry to Palestinian camps in south Lebanon just a few miles from the Israeli border, according to Lebanese officials.
    The office of Lebanese Prime Minister Faud Siniora sent a letter last week to Abbas Zakir, the PA's most senior representative in Lebanon, outlining the Hizballah weapons transfers into Palestinian camps.
    A senior Lebanese official said Hizballah started building a new set of bunker systems, this time in Palestinian camps.
    "The Lebanese Army doesn't have the authority to patrol inside the camps," said the official.
    "Hizballah knows it is safe there to rebuild their war bunkers, and they began doing so with Iranian help."
    See also Hizballah Arms Widen Lebanon Political Divide - Jacques Charmelot (AFP/Yahoo)
    Deep divisions are emerging in Lebanon's political elite as anti-Syrian politicians accused the Damascus-backed Hizballah of smuggling in more arms in defiance of UN disarmament demands.

Israel Campus Beat
- September 25, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    How Was the Jewish Year 5766 for Israel?

Russia Offers Iran Surface-to-Air Missiles to Protect Nuclear Facilities (Middle East Newsline)
    Moscow has been negotiating to sell Iran a range of anti-aircraft systems to protect its nuclear facilities, Russian diplomatic and industry sources said.
    "Russia has already installed and manned SAM systems around [the] Bushehr [nuclear reactor]," a diplomatic source said. "The current talks regard an air defense umbrella that would protect all strategic sites in Iran."
    In November 2005, Russia reached agreement for the sale of 29 TOR-M1 short-range anti-aircraft systems to Iran in a deal valued at more than $700 million.
    Iran has also sought the strategic S-300PMU SAM system, capable of detecting and intercepting enemy aircraft at a distance of 300 km.
    See also Iran Introduces into Iraq Weapons Used by Hizballah (Middle East Newsline)
    U.S. military intelligence has detected the use by Iraqi insurgents of Russian-origin RPG-29 rocket-propelled grenades, used by Hizballah against Israel's military.
    The RPG-29, designed to penetrate Western main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers, was modified by and produced in Iran.

Jericho to Connect to Jordanian Electricity Grid - Sharon Kedmi (Ha'aretz)
    National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer on Monday approved connecting the West Bank town of Jericho to the Jordanian electricity grid.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Close to Nuclear Suspension - Bill Gertz
    Iran is close to an agreement that would include a suspension of uranium enrichment but wants the deal to include a provision that the temporary halt be kept secret, according to Bush administration officials. The suspension of uranium enrichment by Iran would be for 90 days, so additional talks could be held with several European nations. Many U.S. officials are opposing the agreement as a further concession to Iran, which continues to defy a UN call for a complete halt to uranium enrichment. (Washington Times)
  • Australian PM: Arab World "Must Accept" Israel
    The Arab world must recognize Israel's right to exist if the world is to ever live in peace, Prime Minister John Howard said Tuesday. "There must be unconditional acceptance throughout the entire Arab world, without exception, of Israel's right to exist in peace and security behind recognized borders," he said. "The entire Arab world - including Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas, and in addition Iran - must give up forever the idea that the Israelis can be driven into the sea." Howard also warned the UN must take a firm line with Iran over the country's push to develop a nuclear capability. (Herald Sun-Australia)
  • EU Makes Cash Handouts to Palestinians for Ramadan
    The EU has begun distributing $51 million in aid to 40,000 of the poorest Palestinian families at the start of Ramadan, the EU's executive said on Monday. The new aid would be distributed in cash via local banks and will go to Palestinian families whose normal welfare support was cut off in February. (Reuters)
  • Qaeda Operative, an Escapee in '05, Killed in Iraq - Sabrina Tavernise
    Omar al-Faruq, a senior al-Qaeda operative who escaped from a high-security American prison in Afghanistan last year, was killed Monday by British soldiers in Basra in southern Iraq. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Woman Hurt in Palestinian Rocket Attack on Sderot - Tova Dadon
    Two Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza Tuesday landed in the Israeli town of Sderot. One rocket landed in a public square where a woman soldier sustained moderate injuries to her stomach from shrapnel. The second rocket landed in the yard of a private home. The attack caused a power outage throughout the city. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Says 90% of South Lebanon in Hands of UN, Lebanese Army - Amos Harel
    The Israel Defense Forces has transferred control of 90% of the territory it held in southern Lebanon to UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army, a senior military source said Monday. There are still a number of issues regarding the day-to-day conduct of forces in southern Lebanon that have to be settled before the IDF withdrawal is completed. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel to Continue Surveillance Flights Over Lebanon Until UN Resolutions Are Implemented - Yaakov Katz
    The IDF said on Monday it did not plan to suspend its aerial activity over Lebanon until UN Resolution 1701 was fully implemented, the kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were released, and the Lebanese border with Syria was hermetically sealed to weapons transfers to Hizballah. Israel would also continue flying surveillance aircraft over Lebanon until Resolution 1559 - which calls for the disarmament of armed groups, including Hizballah in Lebanon - was also implemented. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Olmert Sees No Threat in Egypt's Plans to Build Nuclear Plants - Herb Keinon
    Israel does not consider Cairo's newly declared nuclear ambitions a military threat, Prime Minister Olmert said Monday, a day after an Egyptian cabinet minister said his country would soon begin building nuclear power plants. "It's not similar in any form or manner to what the Iranians are trying to do," the prime minister said, adding that Egypt's proposed program fell into the civilian category. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Thousands of Fatah Supporters Stage Anti-Hamas March in Gaza
    Thousands of Fatah supporters, led by hundreds of gunmen firing in the air, staged an anti-Hamas march Friday chanting slogans against Prime Minister Haniyeh of Hamas. Hamas-Fatah tensions in Gaza have been running high after months of skirmishes between rival gunmen and the assassination of a top Fatah-allied security chief last week.
        Earlier Friday, Palestinian gunmen opened fire in the midst of a long group of people waiting to cross from Gaza into Egypt and tossed a grenade at Palestinian officials, wounding two of them. Palestinian sources said the militants were trying to clear the way for their relatives to get closer to the border. (Ha'aretz)
  • Irish Academics' Call to Boycott Israel Criticized - Haviv Rettig
    Israeli academics slammed a call for an EU boycott of Israeli academic institutions as proposed in a letter by 61 Irish academics in the Irish Times. In a letter sent to European Commission members, Prof. Yosef Yeshurun of Bar-Ilan University and Dr. Edward Beck of Walden University blasted the boycott, calling it "antithetical to the universal principle of academic freedom."
        Their letter, written "on behalf of the 510 international academic members of the International Advisory Board for Academic Freedom (IAB) and the 6,800 international academic members of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East," called the Irish petition "completely counterproductive to the fostering of peace and understanding in the Middle East." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Abbas Gives Assurances on Israel; Hamas Breaks Them - Stephen Farrell
    Hours after Mahmoud Abbas assured the UN that a Palestinian national unity government would recognize Israel, Hamas pulled the rug from under his feet by insisting that it would not. The rift between Abbas and Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh illustrates the gulf over a long-term vision. (Times-UK)
  • Saudi Initiative Endangers Israel
    Former UN Ambassador Dore Gold told Israel TV Monday that the Saudi initiative now being revived includes a full Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley. This could result in an unimpeded flow of weapons to West Bank-based terrorists, posing a threat to population centers in central Israel. He also said he was not certain it was in Israel's interest to try to join in a Sunni anti-Shiite coalition, and noted that the U.S. Treasury Department had charged in August that two branches of an official Saudi charity were funding al-Qaeda. View the interview. (IBA English News)
  • Offensive Words in Britain
    23 members of the House of Lords wrote in a letter published Saturday: "Baroness Tonge evoked a classic anti-Jewish conspiracy theory when she said [on Wednesday]: 'The pro-Israel lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips.'...In addition, she repeated her past comments of sympathy for suicide bombers living in the Palestinian territories. Two weeks ago the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism reported a disturbing rise in anti-Semitic incidents and discourse in the UK. Baroness Tonge's remarks demonstrate the reasoning behind the report's concerns about the creeping acceptance of anti-Jewish prejudice within mainstream politics and media. The report warned that anti-Israel discourse evolves all too quickly into anti-Semitic rhetoric. We believe that the language deployed by Baroness Tonge, as a member of the House of Lords, was irresponsible and inappropriate."  (Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    An Economic Coalition of the Willing - Ilan Berman
    (Wall Street Journal, 26Sep06)

    • Washington has not yet seriously tackled the economic dimension of the current Iranian nuclear crisis, or explored the financial levers by which Iran can be confronted.
    • Iran's first vulnerability is its dependence on foreign investment. The regime in Tehran currently needs $1 billion a year to maintain current oil output levels, and $1.5 billion to increase them. Without it, Iran could quickly become a net energy importer. By complicating the flow of foreign investment into Iran, the U.S. and its allies can force the regime to draw down its hard-currency reserves, reducing the resources that it has available to forge ahead with its nuclear program - or to fund radicalism in the region.
    • Iran's second weakness stems from its centralized economic hierarchy. The vast majority of the regime's wealth remains concentrated in the hands of a very small number of people. The extended family of former Iranian president Rafsanjani, which practically controls copper mining, the lucrative pistachio trade, and a number of profitable industrial and export-import businesses, is just one example.
    • Far and away the biggest chink in Iran's economic armor is its reliance on foreign gasoline. 40% of gasoline in Iran now comes from foreign sources. A comprehensive gas embargo could quickly wreak havoc on Iran's industrial sectors.
    • Instead of relying on the UN, the White House should be thinking creatively about an economic "coalition of the willing" capable of implementing the specific financial levers that are most likely to alter Iranian behavior, and of doing so without further delay.

      The writer is vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council.

          See also Rice: No Gas Embargo on Iran
      U.S. Secretary of State Rice said Tuesday she did not support a gasoline embargo on Iran as a way of punishing Tehran for refusing to give up its uranium enrichment program. Such a move would serve merely to reinforce the Iranian leadership's desire to make the local population feel that America was against the Iranian people, she said. (Reuters/Washington Post)

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