Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 27, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Islamic Jihad: Suicide Attack on the Way - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Sheikh Mohammad Saadi, the head of the Islamic Jihad in Jenin, called Monday on Palestinian factions to reject a cease-fire with Israel that went into effect on Sunday because it doesn't apply to the West Bank.

Israel Campus Beat
- November 26, 2006

Point Counter-Point:
    Political "Realism" in the Middle East

Panel to Weigh U.S. Overture to Iran and Syria - David E. Sanger (New York Times)
    A draft report on strategies for Iraq by the 10-member Iraq Study Group urges an aggressive regional diplomatic initiative that includes direct talks with Iran and Syria but sets no timetables for a military withdrawal, according to officials who have seen the document.
    President Bush made it clear that he is not bound by the commission's recommendations and would also give considerable weight to studies underway by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his own National Security Council.

Russia Exports Anti-Aircraft Missiles to Iran (Times-UK)
    Russia has begun delivery of Tor-M1 air-defense missile systems to Iran.
    Officials had said previously that Moscow would supply 29 of the sophisticated missile systems to Iran under a $700 million contract.

Explosive Teddy Bears Found in West Bank Bomb Lab - Efrat Weiss (Ynet News)
    Israeli security forces uncovered an explosives lab in the West Bank city of Nablus Friday that contained teddy bears with wires hanging from them, slated to be used as explosive devices.

Former South Lebanese Army Commander: Syria Behind Gemayel's Murder - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    "I have no doubt about who assassinated Lebanese Minister Pierre Gemayel last week. It was the Syrians, there's no question. It could be that one of their proxies in Lebanon carried out the actual assassination, but the order came from Damascus," said Antoine Lahad, the former commander of the South Lebanese Army, in an interview.
    "The Shiites are no more than 30 percent, at most a third, and not all of them support Hizballah....If Nasrallah is the one who starts a civil war, ultimately he will be disarmed," he noted.

Report: Poisoned Spy Visited Israel with Oil Dossier (Ynet News)
    The Times (UK) reports that Alexander Litvinenko traveled to Israel just weeks before he died with evidence of how agents working for Putin dealt with his enemies running the Yukos oil company.
    Litvinenko reportedly passed this information to Leonid Nevzlin, the former second-in-command of Yukos, who fled to Tel Aviv in fear for his life after the Kremlin seized and then sold off the $40 billion company.

Useful Reference:

Exposed: The Extremist Agenda - Glenn Beck (YouTube/CNN)
    View this CNN Headline special on the threat posed to the American people by radical Islam.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Olmert Offers Wide-Ranging Concessions if Palestinians Turn Away from Violence
    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 and Syria Helping Hizballah Rearm - Elaine Shannon and Tim McGirk
    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)
  • U.S. General: We're Not Preparing Abbas' Guard to Confront Hamas - Ari Rabinovitch
    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:

  • IDF Won't Fire on Palestinian Rocket Crews - Avi Issacharoff and Aluf Benn
    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)
  • Will Abbas Enforce a Cease-Fire? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    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)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Sderot House - Tova Dadon
    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):

  • Where Will the Truce Lead? - Ron Ben Yishai
    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)
  • Realism, and Values, in Lebanon - Jim Hoagland
    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)
  • Observations:

    The Gaza Cease-Fire (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • As part of the cease-fire announced on Sunday, Israel announced it was withdrawing all of its forces from the Gaza Strip. This decision was taken in an effort on Israel's part both to bring about a calming of the situation and as a signal of Israel's readiness to contribute to an improvement in the security and political condition of the region.
    • Israel is interested in maintaining a cease-fire as a means to end the violence and to enable progress in the political negotiations.
    • In doing so, Israel is knowingly undertaking the risk that the terrorist organizations will exploit the cease-fire to rearm and rebuild their infrastructure.
    • If the Palestinians do not observe the cease-fire completely, Israel will have no choice but to respond.
    • It does not matter which organization carries out the firing - the obligation to observe the cease-fire absolutely applies to the Palestinian Authority, which bears the responsibility to enforce it without exception.
    • Israel left Gaza last year with no intention of returning, but was forced to act there in order to prevent acts of terrorism. Accordingly, Israel will refrain from operating in Gaza as long as all acts of terrorism and rearming there cease.

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