Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 5, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Abbas Asks Rice for Weapons, Previous American Arms Shared with Terrorists - Aaron Klein (WorldNetDaily)
    In his meeting Wednesday with Secretary of State Rice, PA Chairman Abbas requested a large shipment of weapons from the U.S. purportedly to arm his group against Hamas.
    "She said an answer to our requests would likely be affirmative," said a PA official.
    The U.S. government previously sent weapons to Abbas in May to bolster Fatah against Hamas.
    In June, it was reported that assault rifles that were part of a cache of weapons transferred by the U.S. made their way to members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, and some may have been used in a string of shootings, including an ambush against a busload of Israeli school girls.

"Al-Qaeda in Palestine" Posts Web Video - Maamoun Youssef (AP/Washington Post)
    A group calling itself Al-Qaeda in Palestine posted a web video Wednesday denouncing those who "work in the service of the Jews."
    The 5-minute video includes footage of a masked man who identifies himself as Abu Hafs, a field commander for Al-Qaeda in Palestine, sitting alongside an automatic weapon and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

U.S. Aerospace Giant Stalks Israeli Missile Defense Market - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
    The battle to develop defense systems against short- and medium-range missiles is heating up, with the marketing potential for these systems expected to expand beyond Israel's borders.
    As a result of mergers and acquisitions, Northrop Grumman now owns the Skyguard tactical high energy laser (THEL) program, a follow-on program of the Nautilus short-range anti-missile system.
    While the program was largely shelved in recent years, the second Lebanon war has changed the picture.
    An Israeli source said, "Northrop Grumman's people claim that they can fix the flaws in the laser mechanism, the system's Achilles' Heel."

Poland Abruptly Cancels Speech by Israel Critic - Ira Stoll (New York Sun)
    The government of Poland Tuesday abruptly canceled a scheduled speech by NYU professor Tony Judt, who has become hostile to Israel, just hours before the event was to have taken place at Poland's consulate in New York.

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  • U.S. Urging Bigger Force for Abbas - Steven Erlanger
    The U.S. is proposing to expand the presidential guard of PA Chairman Abbas to 6,000 men from the current 3,500, as part of a $26 million plan to shore up Abbas' position, according to donors who have been briefed by Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, Washington's security coordinator for the Palestinians. (New York Times)
        See also Abbas Builds Up Forces - Adam Entous
    A 16-acre plot in the West Bank city of Jericho is being transformed into new training grounds for troops loyal to PA Chairman Abbas. With support from the U.S., Abbas' presidential guard has been expanding as a possible counterweight to the Hamas Islamists who lead the government and have been busy building up their own "Executive Force." (Reuters)
  • Iran: Sanctions Won't Derail Enrichment - Ali Akbar Dareini
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Wednesday that sanctions will not stop Iran from enriching uranium. On Tuesday, senior UN diplomats said that nearly two years of intermittent negotiations had failed, suggesting an emerging consensus that the time has finally come to consider Security Council sanctions. Diplomats said the Security Council could meet as early as Monday to start work on a resolution imposing the first of a series of sanctions meant to make Iran roll back its program. U.S. officials have said they intend to start with lower-level punishments as a way to persuade Russia and China to sign on. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Raises Jordan Aid to Over $500 Million
    The U.S. on Wednesday granted Jordan an extra $50 million in aid to bolster its economy, bringing total assistance this year to over $500 million. The supplemental aid was a reward for Amman's strong backing of U.S. policies in the region, officials say. Overall, the kingdom has received over $7 billion in U.S. aid, including $4 billion in economic aid and $3 billion in military help, American officials say. (Reuters)
  • Palestinian Strike Disrupts Flow of Goods into Gaza
    A strike by Palestinian government workers has virtually halted the flow of goods at Karni, the main commercial crossing between Israel and Gaza, Palestinian official Salim Abu Safiyah, director of security at crossings with Israel, said Wednesday. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert to Rice: Hamas Must Release Kidnapped Soldier First - Attila Somflavi
    Prime Minister Olmert told U.S. Secretary of State Rice during her visit Wednesday that Israel would not agree to release Palestinian prisoners prior to the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. According to Olmert, releasing prisoners first would bring about heightened demands from Hamas. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas-Fatah Friction Delaying Shalit's Release - Moran Rada
    The infighting between Fatah and Hamas makes the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit extremely difficult, said Lt.-Col. Moshe Marzouk, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. "Hamas considers Shalit to be an important bargaining chip....Due to the disagreements between the two sides, the soldier's release is not in sight," he said. "Due to Hamas' firm rejection of the international community's conditions, there is no chance that a Palestinian unity government will be established at this stage," he added.
        Polls in the territories show that support for Hamas is declining. "We are seeing a phenomenon of corruption within the Hamas government. They take care of their relatives, and remove senior Fatah officials from central positions or kill them," Marzouk explained. (Ynet News)
  • Lebanese Army Prevents Hizballah Supporters from Protesting Near Israel Border
    Lebanese army troops prevented a group of Hizballah demonstrators from reaching the border with Israel on Wednesday, witnesses said. Soldiers in the border town of Kafr Kila stopped buses carrying about 100 Hizballah supporters who were traveling to the nearby Fatima Gate border crossing to stage a demonstration. The troops blocked the road with two armored personnel carriers. After an hour of negotiations, the troops allowed a group of boys to hang up a large caricature poster mocking U.S. Secretary of State Rice on the border fence. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that landed Thursday morning in Israel's western Negev. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Lessons and Implications of the Israel-Hizballah War: A Preliminary Assessment - David Makovsky and Jeffrey White
    Objectively, the war with Hizballah was not without achievement for Israel. Hizballah's capabilities in terms of personnel and arms were eroded by Israel's military campaign. It is possible, furthermore, that the sizable deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in southern Lebanon, coupled with the deployment of multinational forces, may reestablish the Lebanese government's control of the southern part of the country.
        This war brought into international focus the fact that Iran is a destabilizing force in the region: Tehran provided missiles to a militia not even adjacent to its borders. Indeed, the fear of Iranian regional ascendancy brought together an unusual group of Sunni Arab states - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan - in publicly blaming Hizballah for recklessness in provoking the war. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • A Nation of Holocaust Deniers? - Azadeh Moaveni
    It's pretty vile having a Holocaust denier as a president. I feel partly responsible, because I didn't vote in the election that brought President Ahmadinejad to power. Who knew the man stood any chance of winning? Most Iranians don't share Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel worldview. They have no blood feud with Israel, and would cheerfully accept better relations if it meant their daily lives would improve. It's worth remembering that under the Shah, Iran had relations with Israel and no one much minded. Besides, Iranians are no dummies. Millions of middle-class Iranians travel to Turkey on vacation and see the shiny cars, international banks, and consumer bounty that come along with a policy of accommodation. They want that for themselves. Sadly, their government wants to share its bounty with Hizballah. (TIME)
  • Observations:

    The Arab Temptation - Joshua Muravchik (American Enterprise Institute)

    • Outside of Lebanon itself, Hizballah's popularity remained firm. And what drew the admiring gaze of Arabs everywhere, in the words of the scholar Vali Nasr, was the sight of Israeli blood - the specter of Israeli vulnerability.
    • This helps explain why the Arab-Israel conflict has defied resolution. A leading Arab-American liberal said to me recently: "Of course the creation of Israel was an injustice, but I want to move on." But if it comes to seem possible that the "injustice" can once and for all be redressed, that the stain on Arab honor can at last be removed, how effectively will those in the region who think as he does oppose the call?
    • There are those who not only know in their hearts but are prepared to say publicly that the fight with Israel is, for the Arabs, worse than a dead end, and that their real enemy lies within. But the radicals hold powerful cards. One of them is the rising regional influence of Iran, with its frank aim of returning to Nasser's intention of throwing the Jews into the sea.
    • The second card held by the radicals is that, whenever they choose, they can still pick a fight with Israel that will at once put immense pressure on all the other Arabs to back them. That is what Arafat did in 2000 when he spurred the al-Aqsa intifada, and what Nasrallah did this past summer. And if such an Arab attack shows the least sign of being successful, the temptation to join in can be irresistible.
    • Peace requires not one-sided declarations but sitting together and talking. It also requires, as in the example of Anwar Sadat's 1977 visit to Jerusalem, at least a measure of active reconciliation. Above all, it requires that a peace-seeking Arab majority be prepared to stand against the minority that does not want peace.
    • There is no other way for the Arab world to take its future in its own hands, to cease looking in vain for rescue either to the UN or to a new Nasser, and to put an end at last to a conflict of its own making that, in addition to all the misery and death it has visited on Israel, continues to take an incomparably high human toll of the Arabs themselves.

      The writer is a resident scholar at AEI.

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