Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Islamic Jihad: Suicide Attack on the Way - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
Israel Campus Beat
- November 26, 2006
Political "Realism" in the Middle East
Panel to Weigh U.S. Overture to Iran and Syria - David E. Sanger (New York Times)
Russia Exports Anti-Aircraft Missiles to Iran (Times-UK)
Explosive Teddy Bears Found in West Bank Bomb Lab - Efrat Weiss (Ynet News)
Former South Lebanese Army Commander: Syria Behind Gemayel's Murder - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
Report: Poisoned Spy Visited Israel with Oil Dossier (Ynet News)
Exposed: The Extremist Agenda - Glenn Beck (YouTube/CNN)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered wide-ranging peace concessions to Palestinians on Monday if they turned away from violence, saying they would be able to achieve an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in real peace talks with Israel. Olmert promised to reduce checkpoints, release frozen funds, and free prisoners in exchange for a serious Palestinian push for peace. In exchange, Olmert said Palestinians would have to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to live in peace and security, and give up demands to allow refugees from the 1948 Mideast War to return to what is now Israel. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
See also Palestinian Attacks Continue Despite Truce - Amy Teibel and Ibrahim Barzak
Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza as an unexpected truce took hold Sunday, but some Palestinian militant groups said they had no intention of stopping their attacks and fired volleys of rockets into Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "Even though there are still violations of the cease-fire by the Palestinian side, I have instructed our defense officials not to respond, to show restraint, and to give this cease-fire a chance to take full effect." However, Hamas militants claimed responsibility for firing rockets into Israel after the truce took hold. Islamic Jihad also claimed responsibility for firing rockets into Israel and a spokesman, Abu Hamza, denied his group had signed on to the truce. (AP/ABC News)
See also below Observations: The Gaza Cease-Fire (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Iran is smuggling weapons through Syria to re-arm Hizballah. Israeli military officials say Hizballah replenished nearly half of its pre-war stockpiles of short-range missiles and small arms, but Western diplomats in Beirut say Hizballah has now filled its war chest with over 20,000 short-range missiles, similar to what they had at the start of the conflict.
Over the past three months, Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers have been operating out of a military base outside Damascus from which weapons have been shipped across the border into Lebanon. Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi security advisor, contends that "a huge stream of trucks" has been crossing the border ferrying thinly disguised shipments of arms. Moreover, Obaid says, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security are using the Iranian embassies in Damascus and Beirut as command and control centers - an allegation confirmed by Israel. (TIME)
The U.S. is building up Mahmoud Abbas' forces but is not preparing them to confront Hamas, U.S. security coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot. "We are involved in building up the presidential guard, instructing it, assisting it to build itself up, and giving them ideas. We are not training the forces to confront Hamas," Dayton said. "Hamas is receiving money and arms from Iran and possibly Syria, and we must make sure that the moderate forces will not be erased," he said.
Dayton said most of his efforts are focused on border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel and Egypt. "We have money to train the presidential guard to work the Karni crossing (between Gaza and Israel), and the aim is to open the crossings like last year with 400 trucks going into Israel every day." Washington envisions the guard eventually taking control of all border crossings, including those in the West Bank. (Reuters/DefenseNews)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel Defense Forces troops in Gaza received a direct order from Chief of Staff Dan Halutz on Sunday to avoid opening fire against any Kassam rocket crews.
At IDF Southern Command there is a great deal of skepticism about the agreement. Senior officers have warned that without an end to the smuggling of weapons through tunnels from Sinai to Rafah, the cease-fire is a dangerous development. The officers maintain that Hamas is making enormous efforts to arm itself and that when it is ready, its members will resume the violence and then its military capabilities will pose a greater threat to IDF troops. Senior Israeli security sources pointed out that militant groups spoke of a cease-fire only for rocket attacks, and did not commit themselves to stopping other forms of attacks in other parts of the territories. (Ha'aretz)
See also Israeli Defense Officials Skeptical of Cease-Fire - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
See also Dichter: Palestinians Wary of Gaza Offensive - Shmulik Hadad
Israeli Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said Sunday that the Palestinians declared a cease-fire to prevent Israel from launching a large-scale military operation in Gaza. (Ynet News)
Abbas has control over at least 45,000 members of a dozen or so security forces in Gaza, some of whom were trained by American and European security experts. This is in addition to thousands of gunmen and activists belonging to his Fatah party. Hamas, by contrast, has less than 5,000 militiamen, who are not as effective as Abbas' policemen and security agents. Abbas appears to be comfortable with the image of the weak leader low on funds and resources. His message to the outside world is: If I only had more weapons, policemen, and money, I'd be able to move against the terrorists. This was the same excuse that Arafat used whenever he was asked why he was not doing anything to stop suicide bombings against Israel.
Millions of dollars continue to pour into Abbas' office almost on a weekly basis. The U.S. has also been arming and funding Abbas. Yet what the Palestinians need is not more rifles - which they never use to stop Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or other militias anyway - but good governance and credible leaders. The only way to bring about regime change in the Palestinian territories is by exerting pressure on Abbas to reform his Fatah party, which he will only do when he feels that he is under pressure from donors. He will also only start moving against the Kassam rocket squads and weapon-smuggling when someone bangs on the table and demands immediate action. (Jerusalem Post)
A rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in a house in Sderot on Saturday adjacent to the residence of Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal. The residents of the house, which was completely destroyed by the rocket, were not home at the time. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israel has had some bad experiences with cease-fires with the Palestinians in the past. It can already be ascertained that the primary motive for calling for a cease-fire can be attributed to the pressure emanating from the Palestinian street in Gaza and directed at the armed factions. For almost a year the population has been under an economic and military siege and is paying a heavy death toll for the "Kassam Intifada." The losses incurred by the IDF's operations, plus the fear of a broad military offensive by Israel in the near future, filled a crucial role in the agreement by the leaderships of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to Abbas' pleas for holding fire.
Hamas and the other organizations need a truce to replenish their stockpiles of rockets and other munitions, to give their people a break, and to reorganize their ranks. Even terror groups reach a breaking point following which they call for a cease-fire. From Israel's point of view, the primary danger of a cease-fire is the continued smuggling of arms and explosives via the Philadelphi Route and the strengthening of Hamas. A cease-fire binds the hands of the IDF and prevents it from taking military action to stop the strengthening of the terrorist factions. (Ynet News)
The sickening series of murders of Lebanese politicians and journalists opposed to Syrian control of their country is a new sign of desperation in Damascus that the U.S. must not misread or mishandle. This may well be President Assad's blood-soaked way of saying, "Let's make a deal." It is an offer that must be refused. Washington must avoid giving the impression that it is willing to allow Syria to regain hegemony over Lebanon in return for smoothing the U.S. path in Iraq. The debacle in Iraq has given the international promotion of democracy a bad name in some quarters. But any "realistic" deal that undermines Lebanon's hard-won freedom from Syrian control and protects murderers in Damascus would quickly become a fool's bargain. (Washington Post)
See also The New Middle East - Editorial
Mr. Bush signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act in 2003 but opted to impose only the two weakest sanctions on the list provided by Congress. The U.S. has repeatedly accused Damascus of providing material support for the insurgency in Iraq, but it has never acted in a way that would show Mr. Assad it is serious about stopping him. Now the U.S. foreign-policy establishment is talking about the need to "engage" Damascus, and a weakened Bush Administration might be tempted to appease the Assad clan. The result is likely to be more of "the new Middle East" now on display in Lebanon. (Wall Street Journal, 27Nov06)
The Gaza Cease-Fire (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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