Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see


February 19, 2007

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

IDF: Hizbullah Has Rebuilt Its Force - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
    Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that Hizbullah has managed to rebuild its military wing to match its force prior to the war in Lebanon this summer.

Israel Denies Report of Muslim Prayer Room at Mughrabi Dig (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Antiquities Authority on Sunday denied a report that an archaeological dig at the Mughrabi Gate near Jerusalem's Temple Mount found a Muslim prayer room.
    An IAA spokesman said: "We did in fact find a room three years ago but we didn't have permission to dig at the site. Now that we have permission, we are going to try and identify what this room is."
    The spokesman denied that Jerusalem district archaeologist Yuval Baruch had released a statement in which he described the ruins that were discovered after the snowstorm three years ago as containing an alcove covered with a dome, a kind of Muslim prayer niche.
    The spokesman said further research was needed before authorities can say exactly what the room was used for.

Lebanese Stone Spanish Peacekeepers - Iman Azzi and Mohammed Zaatari (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Lebanese youths threw stones at Spanish troops from the UN peacekeeping forces in the village of Debbine over the weekend. The Lebanese Army intervened to defuse the situation.
    The incident was the latest in a series of confrontations between southern Lebanon residents and UNIFIL.
    In the area of Qassimiyeh at the entrance to Tyre, Energy and Water Minister Mohammad Fneish of Hizbullah unveiled a monument of an armored personnel carrier with two fake rockets pointed toward Israel.
    A sign hanging from the monument declared: "[Hizbullah] has more than 20,000 rockets."

Clan Law Rules in Anarchic Palestinian Hebron - Haitham Tamimi (Reuters)
    Fathi Jadua Oweiwi, 75, the head of one of Hebron's largest families, and Naji Mustafa Abu Seneineh, 56, head of Hebron's largest clan, said the power of the clans has prevented Palestinian factional warfare from breaking out in the West Bank on the same scale as Gaza, where dozens of people were killed in December and January.
    However, in December, a police station in Hebron was attacked in what security sources said was revenge for the killing by police of a member of a leading local clan.
    The attackers kidnapped 15 policemen, shot six in the legs and set fire to 16 police cars.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Al-Qaeda Chiefs Are Seen to Regain Power - Mark Mazzetti and David Rohde
    Senior leaders of al-Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up training camps near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials. American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. The U.S. has identified several new Qaeda compounds including one that might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.
        The concern about a resurgent al-Qaeda has been the subject of intensive discussion at high levels of the Bush administration and has reignited debate about how to address Pakistan's role as a haven for militants without undermining the government of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Analysts said North Waziristan became a hub of militant activity last year, after President Musharraf negotiated a treaty with tribal leaders in the area and pulled back Pakistani troops. Officials in Washington and Islamabad conceded that the agreement had been a failure. (New York Times)
        See also Borderlands Where the Terrorists Thrive - Isambard Wilkinson (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Rice Pressures Musharraf to Rein In Taliban Militants - Declan Walsh (Guardian-UK)
  • Iran and Syria Stress Ties - Nasser Karim
    Syria's President Bashar Assad accused the "enemies" of Islamic countries of trying to sow discord, Iranian state television reported Sunday after the Syrian leader ended his fifth visit to Iran since taking office in 2000. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Syrian President Denies Iran Rift
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied rumors of a rift between Damascus and Iran during a visit to Tehran. "We should cooperate and work to make the public aware of the sinister aims of the United States and the Zionists," Assad said Saturday after talks with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Al-Jazeera-Qatar)
  • Seven Sentenced to Life in Istanbul Truck Bombings - Laura King
    A Turkish court handed down life sentences Friday to seven men, accused of having links to al-Qaeda, in connection with truck bombings that targeted two synagogues, the British Consulate, and a London-based bank in Istanbul in November 2003 that killed nearly 60 people. Louai Sakka, a Syrian accused as the mastermind and chief financier of the bombings, who received a life sentence, proclaimed: "We are close to victory....I'll win my freedom and once again join the jihad." (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rice, Olmert, Abbas Meet in Jerusalem - Aluf Benn
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Monday for two hours with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem. Afterward, she said, "All three of us affirmed our commitment to a two-state solution [and] agreed that a Palestinian state cannot be born of violence and terror." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Interview with Condoleezza Rice - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
  • Bush: U.S. Won't Accept Rejectionist PA Government - Herb Keinon
    The U.S. will not recognize a Palestinian unity government that does not recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and accept previous Israel-Palestinian agreements, President George Bush told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in a telephone conversation on Friday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Rice: U.S. to Judge PA Based on Whether It Meets International Demands - Aluf Benn
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday during a visit to Israel that the U.S. will determine its policy towards the new Palestinian unity government on the basis of whether or not it meets the Quartet's demands that it recognize Israel, renounce violence, and accept prior accords. Yasser Abed Rabbo, an aide to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, said, "The Americans told us that this [unity government] agreement does not meet the Quartet conditions."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians: Rice Reprimanded Abbas for Mecca Agreement - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA officials described Sunday's three-hour meeting between Secretary of State Rice and PA Chairman Abbas in Ramallah as "difficult." A top PA official said, "It was a tough meeting....Rice actually reprimanded Abbas for signing the unity government deal with Hamas." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rice Visit Overcome by Events - Herb Keinon
    The idea for Monday's trilateral meeting was hatched during Rice's last visit to Israel in mid-January. The idea was to make a clear distinction between Fatah and Hamas. The idea was to show the Palestinians all they could gain by distancing themselves from the extremists, and hugging the moderates. In the interim, at Mecca, Abbas showed a willingness to form a partnership with Hamas, and ended up becoming more Hamasized himself. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Truth about the Temple Mount Controversy - David Gelernter
    The hysterical Arab reaction to the replacement of a ramp to the Temple Mount must be understood in context. Why are Muslim religious authorities in charge of the Temple Mount anyway - Judaism's holiest site, in the heart of Israel's capital city? And who built the Temple Mount in the first place, and what makes this site holy? Furthermore, the real question is how can the Arab world be cured of its blood-lust against the Jews of Israel?
        Muslims revere this site in consequence of the Temple that once stood here. The Temple was as real as the World Trade Center. No sane historian doubts its existence. It is attested in many contemporary sources, Jewish and otherwise. Simon Goldhill, professor of Greek at Cambridge University, called the Temple "the largest and most awe-inspiring religious monument in the world....There is nothing like this anywhere else in the ancient world."
        Israelis created (long ago) the platform on the Temple Mount and the Temple itself, and the religious community that gave it all meaning. Thousands of years later, Israel in 1967 turned over the keys to the Waqf in a peace offering, an act of friendship. Today, Arab leaders demand (in violent outrage) that the world protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque - their precious, sacred cultural treasure - by stopping an Israeli construction project that won't go anywhere near it. The writer is a national fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (Weekly Standard)
  • Money for Nothing - Emanuele Ottolenghi and Daniel Rackowski
    There is a view in Europe, voiced principally in the EU Parliament, that Damascus is today part of the solution in the Middle East, and that a fresh approach with Syria, one of engagement with the regime, is needed. Since 1995, the EU has granted 259 million euros to Syria in aid under the MEDA program, and the European Investment Bank has given Syria 589 million euros. Since 2000, the EIB has signed loans for 925 million euros. By providing 40% of Syria's trade, the EU has become that country's largest trading partner.
        The Syrian regime needs all the aid it can get. This would be a good moment to demand good behavior in return for a generous carrot. Giving Syria carrots before tangible signs of change is not going to create incentives for the regime. If anything, it is a reward for bad behavior. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Illusion of "Peace in Exchange for Territories" - Mordechai Kedar
    (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies/Bar-Ilan University)

    • Since the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, Arab leaders have repeated the mantra that peace with Israel hinges upon a withdrawal to the pre-1967 border. Yet it remains unclear whether the Palestinians will be satisfied with a homeland in the West Bank and Gaza following an Israeli withdrawal to the "green line." Palestinian insistence on the refugees' right of return, ending the Jewish majority in the State of Israel, indicates hostile intent.
    • Relations between Israel and its Palestinian and Arab neighbors are not dominated by the issue of disputed territory, but by the issue of the alleged right of return. The preservation of the refugee ethos through the media and the education system is intended to prevent concession on the right of return.
    • All Palestinian symbols and illustrations depict Palestine as the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. These illustrations do not show the Palestinian state as Gaza and the West Bank.
    • Western negotiators and Israelis tend to brush the refugee problem under the table, but for Arab societies surrounding Israel, the refugee issue is acute. Those who believe that the return of territory will bring peace must analyze and understand what is being said in the Arab media and on the Arab streets.
    • If a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan and Judea and Samaria (including Jerusalem) were to occur, Israelis would be bitterly disappointed to discover that the main problem between Israel and its neighbors - the problem of the State of Israel's very existence - has not been solved.

      The writer, a Begin-Sadat Center research associate, served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence.

    Subscribe to the Daily Alert

    Unsubscribe from the Daily Alert