Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 8, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Russian Weapons Diverted by Syria to Hizbullah - Jacques Schuster (Die Welt-Germany/IMRA)
    On Jan. 31, a Russian transport plane landed at Damascus airport carrying 600 containers of Russian antitank weapons.
    Representatives of Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were waiting on the runway.
    While a Syrian officer watched, 100 containers were loaded onto trucks and sent to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
    The delivery to Hizbullah violates UN Resolution 1701, adopted on August 11, 2006, after the war in Lebanon.
    Syria has frequently diverted Russian arms to its allies in Lebanon, but always claimed the weapons were stolen from Syrian military camps.

UNIFIL Soldiers Face Hizbullah Threats - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    High-ranking officers from the French contingent of UNIFIL have recently complained of being mistreated by Lebanese villagers - under orders from Hizbullah - due to their decision to deploy a UAV squadron in southern Lebanon to conduct intelligence-gathering missions.
    French officers told IDF officers in the Northern Command that shopkeepers in southern Lebanese villages are not allowed to sell them food or supplies.
    Sources in the Northern Command said the French contingent - together with Spanish and Italian soldiers - were doing an exemplary job at preventing Hizbullah from reestablishing its terror infrastructure in southern Lebanon and were particularly effective in locating and destroying Hizbullah weapon caches.
    "Because they are actually doing their job they are being harassed and threatened by Hizbullah," explained an IDF officer.

Internal Violence in 2007 Has Killed 86 Palestinians, Including 11 Children (Ma'an News-PA)
    The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that 86 people have been killed due to internal Palestinian violence in 2007, including 11 children, and the number of injured totaled 486.
    This compares to 146 dead in 2006.

Syrian Regime Fears Domestic Challenges - Gilad Sharon (Ynet News)
    The Syrian regime is a minority dictatorship run by the Alawite sect. The Alawite minority, which makes up some 12% of the overall Syrian population, is a pagan religious sect that worships the sun and moon.
    The sect is shunned by the other Muslim denominations, which advocate its death. According to Islam, Alawites are worse than Christians and Jews.
    Because of the ongoing threat hovering above them, the Alawites' main goal is the preservation of their rule, and this is the prism through which their various acts towards Israel should also be viewed.
    The Alawite regime's major problem is not the Golan Heights, but, rather, how the minority will continue to brutally rule the majority of the population.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • IDF, Lebanese Army Exchange Fire Across Israel's Northern Border
    Lebanese army troops fired Wednesday on Israeli troops hunting for explosives along the Israel-Lebanon border. UNIFIL spokesman Milos Strugar said, "The exchange was initiated by the Lebanese army after an IDF bulldozer crossed the technical fence in an apparent attempt to clear the area between the technical fence and the Blue Line [the international border] of mines." Israeli military sources said their troops were at the border near Avivim when the Lebanese troops fired into the air. The Israelis warned them to stop, but the Lebanese forces fired at the Israelis, military sources said. The Israelis responded with "accurate fire." (CNN)
        See also Israeli Forces Did Not Cross International Border - Hanan Greenberg
    Israeli troops were operating in the area between the Israeli fence and the Lebanese border, combing for additional Hizbullah explosive devices similar to the ones found earlier this week. IDF forces did not cross the international border, although Hizbullah's mouthpiece, al-Manar TV, falsely reported that Israeli troops had entered into Lebanese territory. (Ynet News)
  • American Awarded $16M in Mideast Attack - Curt Anderson
    A federal jury in Miami awarded $16 million to an American who claimed that Palestinian groups backed a terrorist attack in Israel in which he was injured. Moshe Saperstein was attacked in February 2002 by gunmen who sprayed his car with AK-47 rounds, wounding him in the hand. Saperstein, who has dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, claimed that the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization were complicit in the attack. After the Palestinian defendants defaulted by not defending themselves, a federal jury heard evidence this week and returned the $16 million verdict. Under the overseas terrorism law, that amount will likely be tripled to $48 million. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rice: Israel-Palestinian Peace Won't Help in Iraq - Yitzhak Benhorin
    There is no correlation between efforts to promote negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the troubles in Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the House Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. "I don't wish to suggest that we think if we do that (resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), we're going to get something for it in some other part of the diplomacy," Rice said. Secretary Rice clarified that the Bush administration does not share the views of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group whose report recommends that Washington advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as a precursor to stabilizing the situation in Iraq.
        However, the U.S. does plan to launch a fresh diplomatic initiative aimed at reinvigorating the peace process. Rice, Prime Minister Olmert, and PA leader Abbas are scheduled to meet on February 19 to discuss what an autonomous Palestinian state would look like. "There are elements that we simply never talk about, like Palestinian capacity to govern a state," Rice said. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas-Fatah Violence Threatens Mecca Talks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A series of attacks on Hamas officials in the West Bank and Gaza is threatening to spoil the Hamas-Fatah summit in Mecca. Hamas accused Fatah of trying to assassinate PA minister Atef Udwan when his convoy came under fire near Jabalya in northern Gaza. In Ramallah, Fatah gunmen stormed the offices of the Hamas-run Ministry of Health and kidnapped Dr. Bilal Aboushi, director-general of hospitals in the West Bank. On Tuesday, two senior members of Hamas' armed wing, Muhammad Abu Karsh and Muhammad Abu Namus, were gunned down in Gaza City. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoun accused supporters of Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan of being behind the killings. Fatah gunmen in Gaza City also raided the home of Wasim Saksak, a top aide to Prime Minister Haniyeh, and kidnapped his brother, Muhammad. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Temple Mount Truths - Editorial
    There has been a commotion since work began to replace a pedestrian bridge that links the Western Wall with the Mugrabi Gate. For those who have forgotten, the situation that prevails at the Temple Mount and the Western Wall plaza is based on a quite stable status quo that has been in place for forty years. David Ben-Gurion described the situation in June 1967 by saying: "The Western Wall is for the Jews at the moment, and the Temple Mount is for the Muslims at the moment, and that is the reality we have to accept." At the same time, Moshe Dayan determined that the Mugrabi Gate would remain in Israel's exclusive control, to prevent the Muslim authorities from having the ability to unilaterally close all the gates to the Temple Mount. The construction of the bridge from the Western Wall plaza to the Mugrabi Gate is therefore a crucial Israeli interest, which even the Waqf authorities do not deny, and it is part of the status quo.
        The incitement against the construction of the bridge is a clear attempt to undercut the status quo. Therefore, it must not influence the authorities' decision to replace the temporary bridge. The situation in the Temple Mount area must be dealt with with sensitivity and intelligence - but also with resolution, to safeguard crucial Israeli interests that were determined two generations ago and retain their validity to this day. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Archeologists: Muslim Waqf Damaging Temple Mount Remains - Yaakov Lappin
    Israeli archeologists complained Wednesday that more must be done to protect Jewish artifacts from construction work by the Muslim Waqf, which controls the Temple Mount. "The Waqf has acted terribly, taking thousands of tons of artifacts from the First Temple, the Second Temple, as well as Muslim artifacts, and throwing them away," said Dr. Eilat Mazar from Hebrew University. "They want to turn the whole of the Temple Mount into a mosque for Muslims only. They don't care about the artifacts or heritage on the site." (Ynet News)
  • Palestine's House Divided - Editorial
    At least 20 Palestinians were killed last week in gun battles pitting Fatah against Hamas. Most of the internecine killing has taken place in Gaza following Israel's withdrawal of 8,000 settlers in 2005, who once were seen as the primary obstacle to Palestinian development. So much, then, for the notion that what is mainly needed for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement is a change in Israeli policies. If the experience of Gaza demonstrates anything, it is that the absence of Israeli occupation is not a sufficient condition for a Palestinian state.
        The U.S. must insist that Abbas dismantle Hamas as a military entity, by force if necessary. Lebanon already provides a depressing example of what happens to a state that tolerates an independent militia such as Hizbullah within its borders. As with Hizbullah, Iran has now become Hamas' primary financial and perhaps military backer.
        Palestinians were entitled to elect Hamas to parliament, but that choice hardly obliges the world to support a government part of which is sworn to Israel's destruction. The aid cut-off has been the one effective tool in bolstering Abbas and delegitimizing Hamas among Palestinians. (Wall Street Journal, 8Feb07)
  • Iranian Chutzpah - Editorial
    Get this: Iran is griping that one of its envoys was kidnapped in Baghdad. Iran - complaining of a kidnapping. We're talking the world's leading terror sponsor - a regime that practically invented modern-day terror-snatching. What do the mullahs expect when they support terror - especially in Iraq? Or when their president vows to wipe America's ally, Israel, off the map - and to defeat America itself, for that matter? It was the kidnapping of an Israeli by Iranian-backed Hizbullah terrorists that ignited last summer's war in Lebanon.
        Tehran can complain all it wants about a single kidnapping. But it's only reaping what it has sown. The mullahs should thank Allah that the world has been so restrained in confronting its terror. For the time being, that is. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Still Time for International Community to Block Iranian Nuclear Program
    - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Olmert told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Tuesday:

    • For the last few months, Israel has shown an enormous degree of restraint. There is formally a ceasefire. This ceasefire has not been observed one day by the Palestinians. Every single day, since November when this ceasefire was adopted, we have had the full right, by normal international standards, to react with our military in order to stop these Kassam rockets from falling on the heads of people in the southern part of the country.
    • There is a genuine chance that if all the international community joins forces and applies the necessary, restrictive measures on the economy of Iran, that it will have such an impact that, at the end of the day, it will force them to reconsider their position.
    • Israel never pushed anyone for any extreme action. However, Israel will not hesitate and will act relentlessly everywhere, in order to remind the world of its responsibility to take the necessary measures that will stop the Iranians from moving forward on their nuclear program....There is still time to fight in a responsible, comprehensive and powerful manner, and we expect the international community to do it.
    • What concerns us as Jews is, first and foremost, the reality in which a leader of a nation of over seventy million people can stand up openly and publicly, and threaten that he or his country will annihilate another nation, a member of the United Nations. This is totally intolerable and unacceptable. It is, first and foremost, a fundamental moral issue of the highest order.

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