Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 26, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Egyptian Charged with Spying for Israel Pleads "Not Guilty," Says He Confessed Under Torture (AP/USA Today)
    Mohammed el-Attar, an Egyptian who also holds Canadian citizenship who is charged with spying for Israel, pleaded not guilty at the start of his trial on Saturday at the State Security Emergency Court in Cairo and claimed he had confessed under torture, a court official said.

Israel Campus Beat
- February 25, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    Palestinian Statehood?

Secret UK Report: Terror Threat Worst Since 9/11 - Sean Rayment (Sunday Telegraph)
    A secret intelligence document entitled "International Terrorism in the UK" states: "The scale of al-Qaeda's ambitions towards attacking the UK and the number of UK extremists prepared to participate in attacks are even greater than we had previously judged."
    "We still believe that AQ [al-Qaeda] will continue to seek opportunities for mass casualty attacks against soft targets and key infrastructure. These attacks are likely to involve the use of suicide operatives."
    Eliza Manningham-Buller, the director general of MI5, warned recently that there were more than 1,600 "identified individuals" actively engaged in plotting terrorist attacks.
    There were 200 known networks involved in at least 30 terrorist plots.

Hamas Delegation Arrives in Moscow (Pravda-Russia)
    Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshaal called for the removal of an international aid embargo on the Palestinians and thanked Russia for its support on the issue during a visit to Russia on Monday.

Israeli Film Wins Oscar (Reuters)
    A musical satire about dueling Arab and Israeli falafel stands on the West Bank took home an Oscar on Sunday for best live action short film. Its title? "West Bank Story."
    David, an Israeli soldier, falls in love with the beautiful Palestinian cashier Fatima despite the animosity between their families' dueling restaurants and centuries of Middle East conflict.
    View Movie Trailer (YouTube)

Useful Reference:

Hamas-Fatah Agreement Does Not Meet Requirements of the International Community (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Foreign Ministry Position Paper on the Hamas-Fatah Mecca Agreement
    See also The International Implications of the Hamas-Fatah Mecca Agreement - Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (ICA/JCPA)
    See also The Mecca Accord: The Victory of Unity Over Progress - Robert Satloff (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Fires Sub-Orbital Rocket
    Iran has launched a sub-orbital rocket for scientific research, not a missile capable of reaching space as earlier reported, Ali Akbar Golrou, an official of Iran's aerospace research center, told the Iranian Fars News Agency on Sunday. The rocket would not stay in orbit but could rise to about 150 km (94 miles) into the atmosphere before falling to earth by parachute. Iranian advances in building missiles capable of reaching space are watched closely by the West because the same technology could be used to build intercontinental ballistic missiles. (Reuters)
        See also The Global Range of Iran's Ballistic Missile Program - Uzi Rubin
    A space launcher that can orbit a satellite weighing 300 kg can be altered into an ICBM that could drop more than 300 kg on Washington. (ICA/JCPA)
  • Hizbullah Regroups in Southern Lebanon - Nicholas Blanford
    Hizbullah is building a new line of defenses just north of the UN-patrolled zone in south Lebanon ahead of a potential resumption of war with Israel. The military build-up is being conducted in valleys and hillsides guarded by uniformed Hizbullah fighters in the mountains north of the Litani River. "The state of Hizbullah is already in existence in south Lebanon," said Druze leader and Hizbullah critic Walid Jumblatt. Some Lebanese officials view Hizbullah's rearming as part of the looming showdown between the U.S. and Iran over its nuclear ambitions. (Times-UK)
        See also Hizbullah: We Are Rearming and Transporting Arms to South Lebanon
    On February 16, 2007, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in a speech in south Beirut, admitted that Hizbullah was rearming and secretly smuggling arms and ammunition to south Lebanon, in blatant violation of Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the second Lebanon war. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Europeans Tell Abbas New Government Must Meet Quartet's Conditions - Wafa Amr
    European leaders told Mahmoud Abbas that a Palestinian unity government must clearly recognize Israel, renounce violence, and accept interim peace deals for sanctions to end, Abbas aides said on Sunday. "We have asked the Europeans to help us lift the sanctions but their response was that the Palestinian government must be clear in its acceptance of the Quartet conditions," senior Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said after a European tour by Abbas. (Reuters)
  • Israel's Boom Scores a Victory Over War - Abraham Rabinovich
    The month-long war against Hizbullah in Lebanon last summer has turned out to be a barely visible blip on Israel's economic chart. The Central Bureau of Statistics in Jerusalem reported last week that the cost of the war was only 0.3% of GDP, leaving Israel's growth last year at 5.1%, the third year in a row the economy's growth has topped 5%. (The Australian)
        See also Palestinian Economy Shrinks 21 Percent in Fourth Quarter of 2006 (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Stabbed to Death in West Bank - Efrat Weiss
    Erez Levanon, 42, a father of three and a resident of Bat Ayin in the West Bank, was found stabbed to death Sunday in a valley near the Palestinian village of Beit Omar. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Intelligence Chief: Israel Facing Increasing Risks from Iran, Hizbullah - Ronny Sofer
    IDF Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin presented the 2007 Intelligence Assessment to the government Sunday and said that Israel was surrounded by greater risks than in years past. He said Iran is one of the most extreme forces in the region, as a financer of local terror groups such as Hizbullah. He also said, "The Syrians are building up their military strength, but the odds of a full-scale war launched by Syria - like the Yom Kippur or the Six-Day War - are low."
        Mossad Chief Meir Dagan said, "Hizbullah is building up its military force, including a renewal and upgrading of its systems, and is simultaneously strengthening its political power in the Lebanese government." (Ynet News)
  • IDF Raids West Bank Explosives Lab - Efrat Weiss
    IDF forces on Sunday exposed the second explosives laboratory in two days in the West Bank city of Nablus, a major hub of terror activity. The laboratory contained a LAW guided missile, five pipe bombs, a large explosive device, two bottles of TNT, and four sacks of fertilizer to be used in bomb manufacture. (See IDF Video). (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Operates Against Terror Capital - Yaakov Katz
    In 2006, 117 out of the 190 would-be suicide bombers captured in the West Bank were caught in Nablus, and 9 out of the 11 suicide belts seized were found there. "This is a terror capital where all the groups work together to carry out attacks against Israel," said Brig.-Gen. Yair Golan, commander of the Judea and Samaria Division. He noted that the residents of Nablus "were not like they used to be" and did not take to the streets in massive riots in response to the IDF operation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel to Get Acting Druze President
    Israel will appoint Majali Wahabe its first acting Druze president this week, to replace acting president Dalia Itzik who leaves for a week-long visit to the U.S. Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Impossibility of Keeping Order in Gaza - Mitchell Prothero
    A month ago, Majed Ghrayeb, a top Fatah security official, was at home in Jabaliya in Gaza when the Hamas Interior Ministry's Executive Force attacked his house. Within minutes of the attack, Mahmoud Abbas called Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in an effort to get Ghrayeb released. Haniyeh reached the commanders on the ground, ordered them to release Ghrayeb, and was promised that he would be let go "in five minutes," according to an official in the room at the time. The Hamas fighters executed Ghrayeb and dumped his body in the street. Despite Abbas' and Haniyeh's recent moves toward cooperation, the two men have failed to address what might be the only issue that currently matters: who will command the thousands of underpaid and overarmed gunmen who wander the streets of the Gaza Strip "keeping order."  (Slate)
  • How Bad Is the UN? - Anne Bayefsky
    A newly released UN report epitomizes the foul anti-Semitism which has overtaken the UN human-rights machinery. In language reminiscent of Nazi Germany, John Dugard, the UN's "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967," has announced that Jews seeks racial domination. In Dugard's words: "The IDF inflicts serious bodily and mental harm on Palestinians....Palestinians throughout the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territory] are denied freedom of movement. Can it seriously be denied that the purpose of such action is to establish and maintain domination by one racial group (Jews) over another racial group (Palestinians) and systematically oppressing them?" American tax dollars were used to pay for the Dugard report and its dissemination worldwide by the UN. Isn't it about time the tap was turned off? (National Review)
  • Israeli-Arab Journalist Views Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Tyler Sandson
    Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, reporter and editor for the Jerusalem Post, US News & World Report and NBC News, spoke in Austin on Sunday. He said, "A two-state system is great, but it's not going to work. Gaza and the West Bank are too far separated geographically, politically and culturally to work. And instead of focusing on the ideal promotion of love and harmony in the area, we need to look at reducing violence and friction, because the divisions are too wide." He spoke of the different attitudes toward freedom of the press in Palestinian newspapers versus Israeli papers: "Simply enough, Israel has freedom of the press, and Palestine doesn't." "I believe true democracy is possible in the area, but not anytime soon," he concluded. (Daily Texan-University of Texas)
  • Observations:

    In the Arab Mind, Peace Equals Capitulation - Saul Singer (Jerusalem Post)

    • As hard as it is for us to comprehend, we must accept that in the Arab mind, peace with Israel - far from success - still represents capitulation, humiliation and defeat.
    • The Arab-Israeli peace that is a shining prize in Western eyes would be a source of shame and mourning for much of the Muslim world.
    • In Western eyes, peace is so obviously desirable that the idea that it could be seen negatively is rarely considered. But try, for a moment, to look at the situation through Arab eyes. Peace would be the ultimate ratification of Israel's existence. It would be seen as an abject surrender to the West's bid to dominate the Arabs.
    • The most pro-peace policy is the one that most convinces the Arabs of Israel's permanence. When it comes to a "political horizon," the problem is not that the Arabs cannot see a Palestinian state, but that they can see a Jewish one.
    • The Arab world will settle for a Palestinian state only when it is convinced of the permanence of Israel.

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