Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 30, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Interim Report by Committee Investigating Lebanon War Due Monday (Ynet News)
    More than eight months after it was convened to investigate the conduct of Israel's political and military leadership during the Second Lebanon War, the Winograd Committee will release its interim report on Monday at 5 p.m. (Israel time).
    The report will address the war's first five days and what came before that, starting in the year 2000.
    The committee, appointed by Prime Minister Olmert in September 2006, will issue its final report in the summer.
    See also Four Post-Winograd Committee Political Scenarios - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

Israel Campus Beat
- April 29, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    Should Israel Change Its National Anthem?

Ex-CIA Chief: Nuclear Bomb Is Biggest Al-Qaeda Threat - Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times)
    The main threat posed by al-Qaeda lies in its quest to obtain a nuclear bomb, former CIA Director George J. Tenet writes in his new book.
    In At the Center of the Storm, Tenet writes at some length about al-Qaeda's attempts to obtain or develop a nuclear weapon.
    Just weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, a Pakistani organization, Ummah Tameer-e-Nau, had met in Afghanistan with Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, to discuss how al-Qaeda "should go about building a nuclear device," the CIA was told.
    Tenet also sketches out details of an attempt by al-Qaeda leaders in Saudi Arabia to buy three black-market Russian nuclear devices in 2002 and 2003.

7/7 "Mastermind" Seized in Iraq - Sean O'Neill, Tim Reid, and Michael Evans (Times-UK)
    The al-Qaeda leader who is thought to have devised the plan for the July 7 suicide bombings in London and an array of terrorist plots against Britain was captured by the Americans last year.
    Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, 45, a former major in Saddam Hussein's army, was apprehended as he tried to enter Iraq from Iran and was transferred last week to the "high-value detainee program" at Guantanamo Bay.
    Abd al-Hadi recognized the potential for turning young Muslim radicals from Britain who wanted to become mujahidin in Afghanistan or Iraq into terrorists who could carry out attacks in their home country.
    He realized that their knowledge of Britain, possession of British passports, and natural command of English made them ideal recruits.
    After al-Qaeda restructured its operations in Pakistan's tribal areas, he sought out young Britons for instruction at training camps.

    See also Al-Qaeda Supporters Working at Strategic UK Sites - Ben Leapman (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
    Suspects linked to al-Qaeda have obtained sensitive jobs in vital industries that could be the target of terrorist attacks.
    The individuals were uncovered by police and the security services in operations designed to protect key British sites such as transport hubs, power stations, and the water supply.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rice Refuses to Rule Out Iranian Meeting - Andrew Ward and Gareth Smyth
    U.S. Secretary of State Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki are due to attend a regional conference in Egypt aimed at helping to stabilize Iraq. Asked on Sunday about the possibility of face-to-face contact with senior Iranian officials, Rice said: "I will not rule out that we may encounter one another." She said the conference - at Sharm el Sheikh on Thursday and Friday - would focus on stemming the flow of bombs and foreign fighters into Iraq and insisted Iran's nuclear program would not be on the agenda. "This isn't an opportunity to talk about U.S.-Iran issues," she said. "This is an opportunity for all of Iraq's neighbors to talk about how to stabilize Iraq." (MSNBC/Financial Times-UK)
  • Saudis Arrest 172 in Anti-Terror Sweep - Michael Slackman
    Saudi security officials said Friday that they had broken up a vast terrorist ring, arresting 172 men who planned to blow up oil installations, attack public officials and military posts, and storm a prison to free terrorist suspects. Authorities seized a cache of weapons buried in the desert and more than $5.3 million in cash. The government referred to the ring as a "deviant group," the phrase often used to describe al-Qaeda.
        Officials said that the suspects had trained abroad, in Somalia, Afghanistan, and especially Iraq. "It is the beginning of jihadi operations leaking out of Iraq," said Abdul Aziz al-Qassim, a retired Saudi judge. An Interior Ministry statement said there were seven cells scattered around the country, comprised mostly of Saudi nationals. (New York Times)
        See also Saudis: Foiled Plot Mirrored 9/11 Attack - Abdullah Shihri and Maggie Michael
    Al-Qaeda-linked plotters hoped to reproduce the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, planning to send suicide pilots to military bases and attack oil refineries, the government said Saturday. Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki said some of the attackers trained as pilots, hoping to use the planes to carry out suicide attacks. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Saudi Says Al-Qaeda Threat Has Not Ended
    The arrest of 172 suspected militants did not end the al-Qaeda-linked threat in Saudi Arabia, the interior minister said Saturday. Prince Nayef told the Al-Riyadh daily that a Saudi man was being held on suspicion of leading one of the seven cells. "We cannot say that we are finished," Nayef said. (Reuters/Gulf Times-Qatar)
  • A Saudi Prince Tied to Bush Is Sounding Off-Key - Helene Cooper and Jim Rutenberg
    Current and former Bush administration officials are wondering if the longtime reliance on Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia has begun to outlive its usefulness. In February, Bandar's uncle, King Abdullah, effectively torpedoed plans by Secretary of State Rice for a high-profile meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas by brokering a power-sharing agreement with Abbas' Fatah and Hamas that did not require Hamas to recognize Israel or forswear violence. The Americans had believed, after discussions with Prince Bandar, that the Saudis were on board with the strategy of isolating Hamas.
        During a speech before Arab heads of state in Riyadh three weeks ago, the king condemned the American invasion of Iraq as "an illegal foreign occupation." The Bush administration, caught off guard, was infuriated "The problem is that Bandar has been pursuing a policy that was music to the ears of the Bush administration, but was not what King Abdullah had in mind at all," said Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who is now head of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. (New York Times)
        See also The Honeymoon's Over for Bush and the Saudis - Martin Indyk (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas: Abbas Does Not Have Authority to Negotiate with Israel, We Will Oppose Any Agreement
    On April 17, Ayman Muhammad Saleh Taha, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, noted in an interview with Al-Alam, an Iranian TV channel in Arabic, that Abbas does not have full authority to engage in negotiations with Israel and that Hamas rejects any agreement reached in such negotiations. He said the meetings held by Abbas with Olmert "are pointless and do nothing to further the Palestinian cause."  (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Hizbullah Trying to Move South - Ronny Sofer
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told the Israeli cabinet Sunday that Hizbullah "is attempting to descend south of the Litani River, to open areas. UNIFIL and the Lebanese army are operating, but the smuggling of weapons from Syria to Lebanon continues, as there is no effective mechanism controlling the process along the very long border."
        "Since the start of the ceasefire on November 26 until April 26, five months, there were 250 incidents of 'high-trajectory' fire, both Kassam rockets and mortar shells....With 250 incidents in five months, I would not refer to this situation as a ceasefire." "If this situation continues, there will be no choice but to operate," he added.
        The deputy Shin Bet chief told the ministers that the rocket fire on Independence Day was directed by Hamas' top military echelon and was also backed by Syria. He defined the situation in the PA as "anarchy," saying that the government was unable to impose order. At the same time, large numbers of weapons were reaching the area, gunmen were being trained in Iran and Syria, and experts in explosives were arriving in Gaza and improving the terror organizations' abilities. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Vows to Continue Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas on Saturday rejected any possibility of declaring a unilateral truce with Israel and promised to continue firing rockets, as PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas held talks in Cairo with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal over the weekend. In Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum emphasized his movement's "right" to fire rockets at Israel. Saleh Kallab, a Gaza political analyst, said the rocket attacks were aimed at undermining the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and showing that Abbas was weak. He said those behind the attacks were trying to prove that important decisions regarding the Palestinians were being taken in Syria and Iran, and not in Gaza City and Ramallah. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Lands Near Strategic Facility in Ashkelon - Shmulik Hadad
    A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza Sunday evening landed near a strategic facility in Ashkelon's southern industrial zone. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Kills Three Hamas Terrorists Planting Explosives in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    Israel Defense Forces troops Saturday killed three Hamas terrorists as they were attempting to place an explosive device near the Gaza security fence. In two separate incidents, two additional Palestinian terrorists were killed while preparing or carrying explosive charges. Palestinians have attempted to plant more than 50 bombs near the border since a cease-fire took effect last November, the IDF said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Nuclear Fever in the Mideast - Editorial
    Almost every Arab regime in the Mideast has been gripped with nuclear fever. Suddenly, despite the immense oil and gas reserves beneath many of them, they must have nuclear power plants. Why the sudden surge of interest in nuclear power? Iran. Spreading nuclear know-how across the region invites a nuclear holocaust. There is no such thing as a proliferation-proof nuclear reactor. The U.S. can't - shouldn't - simply stand by while one country after another in the Middle East goes nuclear. The best way to persuade these Arab states to shelve their plans is to stop Iran from enriching uranium on an industrial scale. (Chicago Tribune)
  • The Real Jimmy Carter - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Recent disclosures of Jimmy Carter's extensive financial connections to Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia, had deeply shaken my belief in his integrity. Carter and his Center have accepted millions of dollars from suspect sources, beginning with the bail-out of the Carter family peanut business in the late 1970s by BCCI, a now-defunct and virulently anti-Israeli bank indirectly controlled by the Saudi royal family. If money determines political and public views as Carter insists "Jewish money" does, Carter's views on the Middle East must be deemed to have been influenced by the vast sums of Arab money he has received. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Observations:

    Sharansky: "One-Sided Concessions to Terror Will Bring More Terror" - Russell Working (Chicago Tribune)

    Former Soviet dissident and Israeli Cabinet member Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in a gulag because of his human-rights activities, spoke to the Tribune on Wednesday:

    • With the money of the free world, the Palestinian Authority is producing the most anti-Semitic types of propaganda in history....Saudi Arabia and Iran are competing to see who could put the classical anti-Semitic stories into more powerful ways.
    • When the Iranian president proclaims that there should be a world without Zionism, he means that he will use nuclear weapons. It is so dangerous because there are too many people that it doesn't frighten....What kind of contribution can this Iranian regime bring to the dialogue for peace when they made it very clear that for them peace means no more Israel?
    • Israel again and again and again showed that the moment there was some very small, illusory hope for peace, they were ready to go ahead for all kinds of concessions....But I believe that one-sided concessions to terror will bring more terror.
    • It took time for the West to understand that the only way to really force the Soviet Union to cooperate was to make economic and political links to human rights. And that until now hasn't happened with Iran.
    • Q. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
      Sharansky: I am optimistic....Israel is very strong, much stronger than people think. It has a very strong economy, it has a strong democracy and, as this war showed, it has a very strong spirit....The wildest part of my optimism is that I do believe that Palestinians want and can and should and would live in a free society.

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