Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 7, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Former Chief of Staff: Iran Funding Fatah - Neta Sela (Ynet News)
    Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Moshe Yaalon, speaking to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, accused Iran of funding Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction as well as Hizbullah and Hamas.

U.S. Military: Iraqi Lawmaker Is U.S. Embassy Bomber - Michael Ware (CNN)
    Jamal Jafaar Mohammed, who was sentenced to death in Kuwait for the 1983 bombings of the U.S. and French embassies, now sits in Iraq's parliament as a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's ruling coalition, according to U.S. military intelligence.
    Washington says he supports Shiite insurgents and acts as an Iranian agent, assisting Iranian special forces in Iraq as "a conduit for weapons and political influence."
    A Kuwaiti court sentenced Mohammed to death in 1984 for the bombings. Five people died in the attacks and 86 were wounded. He had fled the country before the trial.
    Western intelligence agencies also accuse Mohammed of involvement in the hijacking of a Kuwaiti airliner in 1984 and the attempted assassination of a Kuwaiti prince.

Detained Saudis Described as Democracy Activists - Faiza Saleh Ambah (Washington Post)
    Saudi police have arrested ten men and accused them of collecting donations to fund terrorist acts outside the kingdom, the Interior Ministry said.
    But Matrouk al-Faleh, a lawyer and prominent dissident who was jailed in 2004 for calling for more democracy in the kingdom, said that at least seven of the men were Saudi democracy activists whose arrest was a government attempt to abort their civic rights work.
    "The terrorist allegation is a cover-up," Faleh said. "It was used against me as well when I was arrested."

Top Secret Army Cell Breaks Terrorists - Sean Rayment (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
    Deep inside the heart of the "Green Zone," the heavily fortified administrative compound in Baghdad, is a cell from a small British Army unit known as the Joint Support Group (JSG) that has proved to be one of the Coalition's most effective and deadly weapons in the fight against terror.
    Its members are trained to turn hardened terrorists into coalition spies using methods developed in Ulster, when the Army managed to infiltrate the IRA at almost every level.
    Since 2003, they have been responsible for running dozens of Iraqi double agents and have supplied intelligence that has saved hundreds of lives.

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  • Israeli Official: Foreign Sources Arming Hizbullah, Hamas at Alarming Rate - James Rosen
    Hizbullah is presently receiving a "constant stream of armaments" from Syria, Iran and other foreign sources, senior Israeli officials said Tuesday. "They are getting all kinds of rockets, advanced anti-tank missiles, command-and-control systems, training, finance," an Israeli official said. The official said Hizbullah maintains an "operational" presence along the Lebanese-Israeli border. Enabling Hizbullah's rearmament is the "open border" Lebanon shares with Syria, and the lack of "real teeth for enforcement" in UN Security Council Resolution 1718, which established a ceasefire in the Israeli-Hizbullah war last August.
        At the same time, and in a similar way, foreign sources are providing Hamas with anti-tank missiles, high-trajectory rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and their launchers, explosive devices and automatic rifles. The armament of the Hamas commanders is "intensive" and "incessant," and intended for use against both their Fatah rivals and the Israelis. The official said the IDF has had "no operational activity whatsoever" in Gaza for the last three months, but that in the same time Hamas has launched more than 100 Kassam rockets at Israeli civilian targets.
        The official was skeptical about Western plans to shore up the Fatah security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas. "Every meeting we have on this subject always ends in the conclusion, 'Bolster Abbas,' as if that will solve all the problems. He was in power two years ago [before Hamas came to power], wasn't he? What did he do then?" The official said the Israelis provided Abbas with weapons and some have wound up in the hands of Hamas. (FOX News)
  • U.S. Moving Ahead with Plans to Train Palestinian Security Forces - Dion Nissenbaum and Warren P. Strobel
    The U.S. is planning to spend millions of dollars to train Palestinian security forces as part of a renewed effort to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas. American, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Monday they're fine-tuning a proposal that would send thousands of Palestinian forces loyal to Abbas to Jordan and Egypt for advanced training. Last week, the State Department told Congress how it intends to distribute $86 million in security assistance for the Palestinians: $35.5 million to equip 8,500 members of the National Security Force; $15.5 million to train 670 personnel to handle civil disturbances; $26 million to shore up Abbas' presidential guard; and $10 million to improve security at the Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza.
        The current proposal would send four groups of 1,400 Palestinian security members for two months of training in Jordan and Egypt. In Jordan, the troops are expected to go to a state-of-the-art training center near Amman that's used to train thousands of Iraqi police in counterterrorism. Other troops would be sent to Egypt to learn how to handle urban warfare. Palestinian military leaders want Israel to return large caches of weapons that it confiscated from the PA during the second Palestinian intifada. But the Israeli government has long argued that the West Bank and Gaza are saturated with weapons. (McClatchy)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Fire Four Rockets at Israel - Mijal Grinberg
    Palestinians in Gaza on Tuesday fired four Kassam rockets at Israel. One rocket caused damage to a health clinic and adjoining houses at a western Negev kibbutz. Two other rockets landed near the city of Ashkelon. (Ha'aretz)
        See also New York City Council Members Duck Rocket Fire in Israel - Matthew Chayes
    A delegation of New York City Council members experienced a rocket attack Tuesday on a trip to an Israeli town near Gaza. As local officials were explaining how often Sderot comes under Palestinian Arab fire, an alarm went off, warning of an imminent rocket attack. The 11-member City Council delegation, led by Speaker Christine Quinn, hurried to an underground room from the office of Mayor Eli Moyal. Quinn said the experience has renewed her support for Israel. "Israel is under attack, and they have every right, in my opinion, to protect themselves, just as we would if our neighbors on any of our borders were attacking us," she said. (New York Sun)
  • Israel Dismisses Egypt Spy Case as "Fabrication"
    Israel's public security minister Avi Dichter said during a visit to Ottawa on Tuesday that there was no basis for Egypt's decision to charge a dual Egyptian-Canadian citizen with spying for Israel. "I talked with people in Israel who probably may know about this issue. I would summarize it in one word - nonsense....It's a fabrication," he said. Egypt has also charged three Israelis in absentia with spying. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
        See also Blaming Israel Helps Egypt Cloak Internal Problems - Yaakov Ben-Zvi
    Spy scandals are a major tool used by Egyptian security to redirect public attention away from internal conflicts such as the struggle with the Muslim Brotherhood and to promote their own image as an institution working to protect its country's security. However, opposition newspapers highlighted the story as further proof of the error Cairo made in making and maintaining peace with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Palestinians at Mecca - Danny Rubinstein
    The Fatah-Hamas talks in Mecca reflect one of the lowest points in the history of the Palestinian national movement. The Palestinians, who claim to be a coherent national entity, are admitting they are incapable of managing their own affairs and are compelled to seek outside intervention. When the PLO was founded over 40 years ago, a main slogan was "independent decision-making," meaning that the Palestinians would make all decisions affecting themselves independently, regardless of the interests of other states. Recently, however, the increased involvement by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and now Saudi Arabia shows that the Palestinians have lost their "independent decision-making."
        Even the best Fatah-Hamas agreement will not turn Palestinian society into a Western democracy overnight. A traditional social structure, clan loyalties and political factionalism all create a need for an authoritarian leader, like those of the PA's Arab neighbors. Without a leader like Arafat, society collapses into the rule of violent gangs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why Iran Must Make the Next Move - Richard Dalton
    It has not yet sunk into Iran that their situation at home and abroad is not as strong as they maintain it is for domestic consumption. The Europeans can help here by being firm. Still it is a fact that Iran needs an accommodation with the U.S. because there are things only the U.S. can unlock, including UN and U.S. sanctions. Nor are bilateral U.S./Iran talks likely to get far before the U.S. has reduced the harm caused to its interests by the Lebanon war, Iraq, the festering of the Middle East peace process, and the perception of disunity at home and collapsed prestige abroad. It means showing that Hizbullah will not roll the Lebanese government over; that Iranian agents in Iraq have reason to fear arrest; that a balance of power can be maintained in the Gulf; and that the flow of oil will be safe. Sir Richard Dalton was British Ambassador to Iran in 2002-2006. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The "Moderates" Are Fanatics, Torturers and Killers - Mai Yamani
    As the Middle East lurches from crisis to crisis, Tony Blair, George Bush and Condoleezza Rice compulsively repeat the word "moderates" to describe their allies in the region. But who are they, and are they moderate? The Saudi Wahhabis are, after all, fanatics; Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is intolerant of dissent; and Jordan, the state closest to the Western ideal, is a marginal player. These countries' appalling human rights records, lack of transparency and repression rank them among the world's least moderate. Bribes, beheadings, and the oppression of women and minorities are traditional, and because whatever is traditional is not radical, it must be moderate. (Guardian-UK)
  • Observations:

    The Al-Aqsa Mosque Plot Hoax

        Bridge Over Troubled Water - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

    • Palestinian leaders, whether from Fatah or Hamas, have been keen to find an excuse to divert attention from their internal problems. So it is not surprising that many have jumped on Israel's reconstruction of an access bridge to Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The truth, of course, is that the bridge is simply a pedestrian walkway replacing the stone ramp leading up to the Mughrabi Gate that partially collapsed in a storm three years ago and was deemed unsafe by city engineers.
    • By law, the Antiquities Authority is required to carry out a salvage excavation before any construction at the site. Yuval Baruch, the authority's chief archeologist for Jerusalem, said the dig was at least 60 meters from the Mount. "We invite everyone to come see," he told Israel Radio.
    • The Prime Minister's Office stated: "The construction of the bridge, located in its entirety outside the Temple Mount, has no impact on the Mount itself, and certainly poses no danger to it."
    • Cynical appeals for a renewed intifada and violent resistance discredit the purported Palestinian moderates, who are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with extremists' efforts to whip up hostility.

        See also The Lethal Al-Aqsa Plot Hoax - Yaakov Lappin (Ynet News)

    • A century-long campaign of unfounded claims of a Jewish "plot" against the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem continues unabated.
    • While the work is not taking place on the Temple Mount where the mosque is located, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has called on Muslims "to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque," with Hamas charging Israel with "demolishing parts of the Aqsa mosque." Calls have been issued for Palestinians to "unite their guns in defense of al-Aqsa."
    • Since the 1920s, Palestinian leaders have used the site as a rallying cry to wage war against the Jewish presence in Israel, and to try and gain support from Muslims abroad.
    • Warnings of an Israeli plot to destroy the mosque are issued by the Hamas government every few days, ensuring that the flames of unfounded paranoia and incitement against Israel remain lit.

          See also Salvage Excavations in the Archeological Park near the Temple Mount (Israel Antiquities Authority)

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