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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 12, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Announces 2,000-Km.-Range Missiles - Yaakov Lappin (Ynet News)
    Iran is producing missiles with a 2,000-km.-range (about 1,243 miles) and new warheads to place on them, Minister of Defense Mohammad-Najjar declared on Sunday.
    Earlier, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, Maj.-Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, announced that Iran had begun mass producing drones invisible to radar.
    In the past week, Iranian state information agencies have boasted a number of Iranian "achievements," including an alleged AIDS cure, as part of a build-up to official celebrations marking the 28th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

Israel Campus Beat
- February 11, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    Civil War in Gaza

Arrow Missile Defense System Intercepts Simulated Nighttime Iranian Shihab-3 Missile - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israel successfully tested the Arrow anti-missile system Sunday in its first nighttime trial, intercepting a test target that simulated the warhead of a long-range Iranian surface-to-surface Shihab-3 missile.
    This is the 15th test of the Arrow. The previous one, in December 2005, was also successful.

IDF Warns of Tunnels Under West Bank Security Fence - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    It is only a matter of time before Palestinians in the West Bank begin digging tunnels under the security fence in attacks against Israel, said Maj. Eran Davidi, deputy commander of Sayeret Yahalom, the Engineering Corps unit responsible for defusing bombs and mines and destroying tunnels.

Lebanon's Premier Denies Hizbullah Claim that Israel Is Moving Border - Rym Ghazal (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Lebanon's premier Fouad Siniora on Sunday denied Hizbullah accusations that the UN-demarcated Blue Line was being redrawn to give Israel more land, saying Hizbullah's accusations were "totally baseless."

Lebanon Hit by Black Market Weapons Boom - Joelle Bassoul (AFP/Yahoo)
    In response to fears of a new civil war, the price of a Kalashnikov assault rifle in Lebanon has soared from $100 to more than $700.
    "Those who have guns are keeping them or not selling except for a huge profit, and those who don't have them are buying so they can face any eventuality," an arms dealer said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Says Arms Link Iranians to Iraqi Shiites - James Glanz
    Senior U.S. military officials on Sunday displayed evidence of how Iran supplies Shiite extremist groups in Iraq with lethal weapons used to kill Americans. The weapons included explosively formed penetrators - canisters designed to explode and spit out molten balls of copper that cut through armor. An E.F.P. and an array of mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades were shown with visible serial numbers that the officials said link the weapons directly to Iranian arms factories. (New York Times)
  • Hamas and Fatah Engage in Battle of Hostages - Harry de Quetteville
    Da'ass Qanna, who heads the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, in the town of Kufar Qalil outside the West Bank city of Nablus, has specialized in kidnapping Hamas stalwarts to use as bargaining chips in Fatah's fierce power struggle with its militant Islamic rival. Only the tactics of groups such as his, he said, forced Hamas to sign the deal to form a unity government with Fatah on Thursday. The snatching of Hamas figures in the West Bank has been largely mirrored by attacks on Fatah loyalists in Gaza, where Hamas holds sway. Qanna claims to have taken captive a dozen members of Hamas' executive force after catching them training in the hills above Nablus. (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
  • Across Arab World, a Widening Sunni-Shiite Rift - Anthony Shadid
    The growing Sunni-Shiite divide is roiling an Arab world predominantly shaped by a disintegrating Iraq and an ascendant Iran. Newspapers are replete with assertions, some little more than incendiary rumors, of Shiite aggressiveness. "This tension is the most dangerous problem now in the region," said Ghassan Charbel, editor of the Arabic-language daily al-Hayat. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Jerusalem Mayor Postpones Construction Near Temple Mount - Jonathan Lis
    Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski announced Sunday that he has decided to postpone construction of the walkway at the Mugrabi Gate to the Temple Mount until zoning authorities complete plans for the area. Lupolianski said, "the plan to construct the walkway engendered a wave of rumor and speculation about Israeli intentions regarding the [Al-Aqsa] mosque. We therefore decided to be totally transparent with all residents about the walkway construction plan, so they will know clearly where it is to be built and to allow members of the public to express their positions to the zoning board....The move is slated to help people understand that the walkway is in no way injurious and does not enter the Temple Mount." The salvage excavation being conducted by the Antiquities Authority is expected to continue at this stage. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Caught with Bombs at West Bank Checkpoint - Efrat Weiss
    Two explosive devices weighing 1.5 kilos each were found by IDF soldiers Saturday during a routine search of a Palestinian's belongings at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus in the West Bank. Palestinian sources said he is a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's armed wing. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets toward the Israeli town of Sderot and the western Negev on Monday. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Very Partial Palestinian Peace - Editorial
    Peace with Israel was not the subject of the summit meeting Palestinian leaders held in Mecca last week. The Saudi government summoned the leaders of Hamas and Fatah to negotiate a halt in their incipient civil war, which was alarming and embarrassing the Arab world. Before Europe and the U.S. will release aid to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas must recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. Saudi Arabia should make clear that continued aid will require clear proof that the new government is reining in terrorism. (New York Times)
  • New PA Government Creates a Problem for Israel - Avi Issacharoff
    The new Palestinian unity government will be headed by Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh. It will not recognize Israel and does not pretend to meet the Quartet's conditions. Yet at the same time, Hamas will not have a majority in the cabinet. The finance minister-designate, Salem Fayad, is the White House's darling. The foreign minister-designate, academic Ziad Abu Amar, has lectured at many American universities and does not have extremist positions on Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Victory in Mecca - Sever Plocker
    With the signing of the Mecca Agreement, Hamas is celebrating its final victory: Mecca paved the way to its international legitimacy as an elected representative of the Palestinian people. Hamas got what it wanted without having to relinquish any of its principles and beliefs. The Mecca Agreement is the result of a Saudi dictate that tends to favor Hamas by some 85%. A unity government wasn't established in Mecca, but, rather, a government under Saudi patronage. Even if the international blockade is not lifted quite yet, the Saudi benefactor and its allies can funnel the Palestinian protectorate aid amounting to $3 billion every year without batting an eyelid. Their oil revenues last year totaled $480 billion.
        The Mecca Agreement will establish an emboldened Hamas government that would dance to the tune played by Khaled Mashaal and composed in Riyadh. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Won the Jackpot - Ronny Shaked
    The agreement will help Hamas recover from its economic crisis, strengthen its hold on government, and arrive at the next elections in a position to win the presidency as well as the elections for the legislative council. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Clear Winner at Mecca Summit - Khaled Abu Toameh
    One Hamas leader in Gaza City said, "Fatah made 90% of the concessions, while Hamas made only 10%." The same deal could have been struck several months ago, when Hamas and Fatah launched the unity talks. "On Thursday evening, the Saudis told us that we [had] only two hours to sign an agreement and that they [wouldn't] accept any excuses," a top Fatah official said. "It was a real threat that made President Abbas very nervous and forced him to accept almost all of Hamas' conditions."
        Hamas' 4,000-strong paramilitary Executive Force will be incorporated into the Palestinian security forces, which means that their salaries will be paid by the U.S. and EU. This is the same force that was recently outlawed by Abbas. The Mecca summit has enhanced Hamas' role as a major political force in the Middle East. The fact that Hamas leaders are put on equal footing with the heads of the Saudi royal family and the PA carries symbolic importance. The agreement has buried any chance of dismantling the Hamas-led government, at least in the next three years. Abbas' threat to call early elections has gone down the drain. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Mecca Deal and Beyond - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The Mecca deal is first and foremost an intra-Palestinian matter. It reflects the new balance of power, both politically and militarily, between Hamas and Fatah. The agreement between the two factions is pragmatic and meant to enable them to end the mutual bloodshed and receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the Saudis and Europeans. Therefore, from a diplomatic point of view, the deal is bad for Israel. It lifts the international pressure on Hamas to moderate its positions and enables it to establish itself in power without changing its ideological stance. On the other hand, the Mecca deal weakens the influence of Iran.
        Hamas will continue building its new military infrastructure in Gaza based on the second Lebanon War's lessons. The smuggling tunnels on the Philadelphi route are operating with no interruptions and the lack of monitoring at the Rafah crossing allows arms, technological know-how and terrorists to constantly pour into Gaza. Therefore, it would be appropriate to keep expectations low in Israel and prepare for a situation where in a few months Israel will have no choice but to launch a wide-scale operation in Gaza. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    Digs, Lies and the Mugrabi Bridge - Nadav Shragai (Ha'aretz)

    • The Mugrabi bridge plan exposes the great Muslim denial - the denial of the Jewish bond to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Temple. Thousands of Islamic rulings, publications and sources deny the Jewish roots in Jerusalem and its holy places. They claim that the Temple didn't even exist in Jerusalem but was located in Nablus or Yemen. Many Muslim adjudicators attach the word "so-called" to the word "temple."
    • Muslim religious figures attempt to portray the Jewish presence in Jerusalem as having been short-term. The Western Wall is a Muslim site, they argue, and say Judaism "contaminates the city's Muslim character."
    • Muslim religious leaders are rewriting Jerusalem's history and introducing new terms and content into Muslim and Palestinian discourse that are total nonsense.
    • It is therefore easy to understand why the Muslims are so afraid of archaeological digs around the Temple Mount. Muslims fear these excavations not because they physically endanger the al-Aqsa mosque's foundations, but because they undermine the tissue of lies proclaiming that the Jews have no valid historical roots in the city and its holy sites.

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