Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 27, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Saudi-Israeli Contacts a Sign of Need, Not Love - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    The apparent willingness of a senior member of the Saudi royal family to meet with Prime Minister Olmert in Jordan earlier this month was an indication of just how threatened the Saudi monarchy feels.
    Despite denials from both Olmert and the Saudi royals, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem have confirmed that a high-level meeting between senior officials from the countries did indeed take place.
    The Saudis are worried about a nuclear Iran, Shi'ite extremism, and al-Qaeda no less than Israel is.
    See also 12 Israeli Firms Exporting to Saudi Arabia - Tani Goldstein (Ynet News)
    12 Israeli companies currently have export relations with Saudi Arabia, compared to only four which exported to the kingdom in 2004, data published by the Manufacturers Association of Israel revealed.
    The Israeli companies export medical equipment, fertilizers, minerals, metals, machines, mechanical appliances, and more.
    Israeli exporters sold products worth $245 million in Arab countries in 2005, including exports to Arab countries through third parties, according to the Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute.

Hizballah Inspires 63% of Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Nearly two-thirds of Palestinians (63%) agree that Palestinians should emulate Hizballah by firing rockets at Israeli cities, while 35% disagree, according to a poll conducted last week by the Truman Institute at Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.
    The poll also showed that 57% of Palestinians support attacks against Israeli civilians inside the "green line, and 75% of Palestinians support the kidnapping of IDF soldiers.

Christian Leaders Show Support for Israel (Ynet News)
    Fifty Christian politicians from Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa will join with members of Israel's Knesset on Wednesday at the third annual Christian Government Leaders Luncheon hosted by the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus and sponsored by the "All Nations Convocation."

Israel Builds Tourist Bridges with Neighbors (Telegraph-UK)
    Tourism co-operation reaches new heights in the Middle East as Israel's tourism board and Emirates, the UAE's national carrier, co-sponsor the Arsenal football club this season.

Useful Reference:

Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States (New York Times)
    Declassified key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate (April 2006)

Key Links 
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Related Publications:
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice Calls for Widened Sanctions on Syria
    The U.S. would like other nations to join it in imposing sanctions on Syria, Secretary of State Rice said in an interview with the New York Times published Tuesday. The Bush administration accuses Syria of failing to stop anti-U.S. guerrillas from crossing its border into Iraq, supporting terrorism generally, and pursuing weapons of mass destruction. "We'd like to get some others to join us in other kinds of sanctions," Rice said. "We're going to have to look at tougher measures if Syria continues to be on the path that it's on." In May 2004, Washington banned U.S. exports to Syria, severed banking relations, and barred Syrian flights to the U.S. (Reuters)
        See also Text of Interview (State Department)
  • Russian-Built Iranian Reactor to Be Fully Operational by November 2007
    Russia and Iran have signed a deal in Moscow to launch Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr in September next year, Russian atomic energy agency spokesman Sergey Novikov said. The Russian-built reactor will be fully operational in November 2007. The agreement came after Iranian officials urged their Russian counterparts to speed up work to finish the plant. (BBC News)
  • In Germany, Mozart Bows to Mohammed
    On the eve of the first German Islam Conference, a Berlin opera house has sparked controversy for canceling a Mozart show due to threats of Islamist violence. The Deutsche Opera said in a statement security risks presented to the company by Berlin's police had caused them to cancel their show "Idomeneo," a Mozart opera in which King Idomeneo sets the severed heads of religious figures, including the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ, on chairs and laughs at them. The scene would pose an "incalculable security risk" for the house and its visitors, the opera said in a statement. The decision has sparked extensive furor in Germany, with top political and cultural figures arguing the threat of violent retaliation should not constrain freedom of expression in a Western democracy. (UPI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Withdrawal from Lebanon Stalled Until UNIFIL Role Clarified - Amos Harel
    Israel's interpretation of Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought about the cease-fire, expects that both UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army will initiate efforts to locate Hizballah arms depots and armed militants and disarm them.
        In addition, in the IDF view, after the withdrawal, if Israeli soldiers along the border fence feel threatened and the peacekeeping forces do not deal with the situation, the soldiers will be entitled to defend themselves. However, the UN view of UNIFIL is of a police force which is unlikely to disperse Hizballah demonstrations along the fence. Israel is waiting for clarifications from the UN on the creation of a mechanism for dealing with such emergency situations. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF, UNIFIL Talks Break Down - Yaakov Katz and Michal Lando
    Talks between IDF officers, representatives of the Lebanese Armed Forces, and UNIFIL broke down Tuesday, threatening to delay a complete Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. A source in Northern Command said the IDF would stay in Lebanon until UNIFIL "took its job seriously." IDF officers took issue with an interview by UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini who said the peacekeeping force would not actively engage Hizballah guerrillas even if they were in the midst of an attack against Israel. The officers said Pellegrini's comments were in direct contradiction to previous understandings and interpretations of UN Resolution 1701. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Missing the Government of Thieves - Amira Hass
    The protesters in Ramallah - Palestinian Authority workers who have not received their salaries for the last seven months - shouted: "Not Ismail, not Haniyeh [the Hamas prime minister], we want back the government of haramiyeh." Haramiyeh means "thieves." What is heard in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is: Hamas may be clean, but when the Fatah thieves were in power, our salaries were assured. Fatah is having a hard time digesting its removal from office and is behind the strikes, acting to topple the elected government. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • UNIFIL's Mission - Yossi Melman
    There is still no concise definition for the missions, authority, and final makeup of the UNIFIL forces. "The problem does not lie in the capabilities of the armies comprising UNIFIL, but in their willingness to act and the definition of their task," says Binyamin Amidror, an expert on military doctrines and a former head of basic combat doctrine at the General Staff. "These armies are not here to fight. An army intending to take part in warfare must be equipped with mortars and cannons and intelligence systems such as sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles, and it does not seem like they are carrying such equipment with them."
        "The task they are sent to perform depends 90 percent on intelligence, and they will have no intelligence on Hizballah. The real significance of this is that UNIFIL will serve more as a restraint against the IDF. Israel's past experience with international observer forces and troops since the War of Independence has not been favorable. For the most part they are helpless when confronted with the Arab elements among which they operate, but they manage quite well when faced with the IDF." (Ha'aretz)
  • Under Egypt's Volcano - Scott Anderson
    With at least 80 million inhabitants, Egypt is not only the most populous nation in the Arab world but in many ways its intellectual and political nexus, the fount from which nearly every major political or religious force to spread through the region in the past century has emerged. Fundamentalist trends first fostered in Egypt, with their specifically anti-Western tilt, have fanned the flames of jihad throughout the region.
        The Gama'a al-Islamiyya, a social movement espousing a rejection of Western values and a return to Islamic traditions, originated in Egypt in the 1970s before spreading throughout the Middle East. Islamic Jihad also has its roots in Egypt. Osama bin Laden was a disgruntled Saudi rich kid bankrolling resistance fighters in Afghanistan until he came under the sway of his Egyptian spiritual mentor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and decided to go global; 4 or 5 of the 10 original founders of al-Qaeda were Egyptian. Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, one of the masterminds behind the first World Trade Center bombing? Egyptian. Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of 9/11? Egyptian. Wherever one turns in the arena of Islamic jihadists, one is likely to find either the direct or spiritual influence of an Egyptian.
        Egypt as a whole bears scant resemblance to the placid image that its boosters - the Egyptian government and its friends in the West - wish to project. It is, instead, something of a seething volcano. (Vanity Fair)
  • Israelis Reassess Territory Strategy - Thanassis Cambanis
    A year of violent clashes has reshaped Israel's strategic picture. Calls by the government to give up territory and redraw Israel's borders have given way to a less ambitious agenda that will seek to bolster the country's military, lower expectations about making further unilateral moves, and dampen hopes for a quick resolution with Palestinians. Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said, "We have two concrete examples where Israel redeployed behind internationally recognized frontiers, in Lebanon and in Gaza, and did not create the peace people predicted. Obviously, that affects our thinking about the West Bank." (Boston Globe)
  • Observations:

    Same Old UNIFIL? - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • The existing 2,000-member UNIFIL contingent has expanded to 5,500 troops and is expected to grow to 8,000 in November. Time and again, Israel and the U.S. were assured that the new, more robust UNIFIL would be nothing like the old, discredited force which acted as human shields for the massive Hizballah weapons buildup that led to the recent war.
    • Signs are already growing, however, that the "new" UNIFIL, though larger and better armed, will not act appreciably differently from the "old" UNIFIL that has existed since 1978. Asked whether UNIFIL would intervene against Hizballah forces on their way to attack Israel, UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini said UNIFIL was not there to disarm or engage Hizballah, and if it saw "something dangerous" unfolding, it would "inform the Lebanese army" and would take action only if asked to do so by the Lebanese army.
    • Hizballah leader Nasrallah has openly rejected the UN mandate that he disarm, and Syrian President Assad has warned Europe not to "waste time" trying to prevent weapons shipments to Hizballah.
    • UNIFIL is already showing signs that it may not take the actions necessary to prevent a return to the status quo ante. What, then, will prevent the next war? If there is any lesson to be learned from the last war, it is that the only way to prevent a renewed conflict is to prevent Hizballah from being in a position to start one.
    • This means disarming Hizballah, and keeping it away from the border, not just "sharing" that border and standing by as it becomes a potential flashpoint. It is hard to see how this can happen if UNIFIL refuses to use its new capabilities to fulfill its new mandate.

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