Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 18, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Reenforced with 50,000 Captured Fatah Firearms - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    On Saturday, a senior Hamas official in Gaza City said his men had captured more than 50,000 rifles and pistols during raids on the headquarters of the Fatah-controlled security forces.
    Hamas also seized dozens of vehicles and "important" military equipment, according to the official.
    "You can say that Hamas is much stronger than it was last week," he said. "We have also captured tons of ammunition and thousands of mortars and rocket-propelled grenades."

Israel Campus Beat
- June 17, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    The June 1967 War

Hamas Activists Burn Gaza Church - Jonathan Dehoah Halevy (News First Class-Hebrew)
    Hamas activists broke into a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza, stole its contents, and set on fire an adjacent monastery. They also attacked a school for nuns.
    PA Chairman Abbas condemned the attack as a "barbaric act" and called on the Palestinian people to unite against Hamas. He added, "Now they are attacking holy sites and places of prayer."

Gaza Islamists Uproot Statue for Arab Dead - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Radical Islamists in Gaza destroyed a cement statue for the Unknown Soldier, a memorial to Palestinian and Egyptian soldiers killed in the fight against Israel in 1948, because they see the depiction as a violation of strict religious laws.
    A Hamas security source said those who attacked the statue were members of the so-called radical Salaf group, which abides by strict religious edicts.
    Radical Muslims say statues are sacrilegious because "non-believers" who predate Islam used to worship them as idols.
    The presence of radical Islamist groups in Gaza has grown recently. Some say they follow the lead of al-Qaeda.

Palestinians Loot Arafat's Gaza Home, Steal His Nobel Prize - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A Palestinian crowd on Friday looted Yasser Arafat's home in Gaza.
    "They stole almost everything inside the house, including Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize medal," said Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman.
    "They stole many of Arafat's documents and files, gifts he had received from world leaders, and even his military uniforms."
    Eyewitnesses said most of the looters were ordinary citizens. "They stole almost everything, including furniture, tiles, closets and beds."

EU to Keep Paying Palestinian Government Salaries in Gaza (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
    An EU aid program plans to continue making payments to tens of thousands of Palestinian government workers and pensioners in Gaza, EU officials said on Sunday.
    The EU's Temporary International Mechanism provides allowances to more than 77,000 government workers and pensioners, 60% in the West Bank and 40% in Gaza.

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  • Katyusha Rockets Fired from Lebanon Strike Northern Israel
    Two Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Sunday, the first since last summer's war with Hizbullah. One rocket hit a factory and the other hit a car near Kiryat Shmona. The Lebanese LBC channel reported three rockets were fired at Israel from the village of Taibeh. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
        The third rocket struck next to a UNIFIL base in the southern Lebanese village of Houla. An Israeli official accompanying Prime Minister Olmert on a visit to the U.S. said: "It seems that it was Palestinians, not Hizbullah."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Seeks European Support to Isolate Gaza - Allyn Fisher-Ilan
    Israel sought on Monday to shore up European support for a U.S.-backed strategy of isolating Hamas in Gaza while freeing funds for Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said she would try to persuade EU foreign ministers in talks in Strasbourg, France, on Monday to continue an aid boycott against the Islamist Hamas which refuses to recognize Israel. The Bush administration plans to lift a ban on direct aid to Abbas' government this week. Washington wants to accelerate talks on Palestinian statehood between Olmert and Abbas in the West Bank while isolating Hamas in Gaza. (Reuters)
        See also Hamas' Gaza Takeover Was Months in the Making - Mark MacKinnon
    Hamas spent months planning and preparing to take over the Gaza Strip, importing weapons from abroad and training for a confrontation that the militant group's leadership believed had become inevitable, officials in the Islamist movement said Friday. Sheik Yazeeb Khader, a Hamas newspaper editor who is now in hiding in the West Bank as Fatah steps up its retribution there, said that Hamas had learned from the success of Lebanon's Hizbullah movement. Hizbullah used a network of tunnels to smuggle weapons into position ahead of its war last summer against Israel. Khader gave credit to the international Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot, for "never being stingy" in providing financial and other aid to the Palestinian wing. Hamas also makes its own weapons, he said, including the Kassam rockets it uses to attack Israel. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • Iran Strategy Stirs Debate at White House - Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger
    A behind-the-scenes debate has broken out within the administration over whether its strategy toward Iran has any hope of reining in its nuclear program. The debate has pitted Secretary of State Rice, who appears to be winning so far, against the few remaining hawks inside the administration, especially those in Vice President Dick Cheney's office who are pressing for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.
        Iran is emerging as an increasing source of trouble for the Bush administration by inflaming the insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and in Gaza, where it has provided military and financial support to the militant Islamic group Hamas, which now controls the Gaza Strip. R. Nicholas Burns, an undersecretary of state who is the chief American strategist on Iran, told a closed-door White House meeting that negotiations with Tehran could still be going on when Bush leaves office in January 2009. The hawks in the room reported later that they were deeply unhappy - but not surprised - by Burns's assessment, which they interpreted as a tacit acknowledgment that the Bush administration had no "red line" beyond which Iran would not be permitted to step. (New York Times)
  • Illinois Governor Gets Iran Divestment Bill
    The Illinois Senate passed an Iran divestment bill Thursday, sending it to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The five state retirement systems would have to divest holdings in Iran-connected companies in energy and other natural resource areas. (Pensions and Investments)
  • Bush Meets with Jewish Leaders - Michael Abramowitz
    President Bush held an unannounced meeting Thursday with the top leadership of the U.S. Jewish community to discuss the Middle East and other foreign policy issues. Bush meets with smaller groups of Jewish leaders from time to time, but this was the first time he had met with the entire leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, about 50 heads of Jewish advocacy, service and religious organizations of different political orientations. Present for the session were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten and political adviser Karl Rove. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: Multinational Force in Gaza Impossible - Ronny Sofer
    A senior political source traveling with Prime Minister Olmert, who landed in New York Sunday, said placing a multi-national force on the Philadelphi route between Egypt and Gaza would be impossible. "The Egyptians will not agree to a mulit-national force on its border, and neither will Hamas." (Ynet News)
  • Olmert to Release Frozen PA Tax Funds - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Sunday: "We will defreeze monies that we kept under our control because we didn't want these monies to be taken by Hamas to be used as part of a terrorist action. And we will do what we can to upgrade the quality of life [in the West Bank]." Olmert said there were still terrorists in the West Bank waiting for the opportunity to attack Israel, and the right balance had to found to allow more access to Palestinians without risking Israel's security. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Gets International Backing But Not Full Arab Support
    Abbas was surprised not to get full backing from the Arab League. Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee secretary-general Yasser Abed Rabbo said the PLO has rejected an Arab League decision to dispatch a commission to investigate Hamas' seizure of power in Gaza. The PLO headed by Abbas rejected an offer for dialogue with Hamas Saturday, accusing the Islamist movement of "massacres." Abed Rabbo issued a blunt rejection of the olive branch offered by Hamas' exiled political chief, Khaled Meshaal. (Albawaba-Jordan)
  • 160 Palestinians Killed, 800 Wounded in Gaza Fighting - Khaled Abu Toameh
    At least 160 Palestinians were killed and 796 wounded in last week's fighting between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza, according to a report Sunday by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. More than half of the casualties were Fatah activists and members of the PA security forces. Hamas lost 28 of its men, while 45 civilians were killed during June 10-17.
        Fatah officials in Ramallah warned Palestinian journalists against reporting on the arrival of dozens of Fatah leaders from Gaza. Most of the "refugees" have been placed in hotels throughout the city. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How to Handle Hamas - Editorial
    Israel, the West and other Arab governments have rushed to offer financial support to the Fatah regime in the West Bank while isolating Hamas. Revolutionary violence is not, as Marx thought, the product of economic despair; more often, revolutions happen at times of rising prosperity and rising aspirations. By lavishly funding the Fatah administration, the international community might recreate the resentment against a corrupt elite that drove many Palestinians into voting Hamas in the first place. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Assert Israel's Right to Resist Hamas Aggression - Editorial
    The events in Gaza, with what passed for the authority there being overwhelmed by forces supporting an Islamic state, create a new, dangerous situation. Israel has long shared borders with potentially hostile forces, but never, until now, have they included Islamic fundamentalism. Hatred not merely of the State of Israel, but of the very existence of Jews themselves, informs the new masters of this Palestinian territory. America, Europe, and preferably the UN Security Council must do all in their power to assert Israel's right to resist any Hamas aggression. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Hamas Is Disguising Itself in Moderate Garb - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    Hamas militants have been conducting a murderous political purge of Gaza, including the arrests of dozens of senior Fatah officials, the looting of the Presidential Palace, and the robbing of homes of anyone ever associated with Fatah, including Mohammed Dahlan's mother. Hamas is wrapping itself in moderate garb and explaining that it didn't act against Fatah, only against Dahlan's branch. But Hamas militants who abused corpses, threw fellow Palestinians off high-rises, burned and looted, will have trouble getting up the next day looking law-abiding. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Arafat's Children: Gaza's Mayhem Is the Bitter Fruit of Terror as Statecraft - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

    • The cult of violence that has typified the Palestinian movement for much of its history has been tolerated and often celebrated by the international community. If Palestinians now think they can advance their domestic interests by violence, nobody should be surprised: The way of the gun has been paying dividends for 40 years.
    • In 1972 Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Yet only two years later Arafat addressed the UN General Assembly - the first non-government official so honored. In 1970 Arafat attempted to overthrow Jordan's King Hussein and tried to do the same a few years later in Lebanon. Yet in 1980, the European Community, in its Venice Declaration, recognized Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization as a legitimate negotiating partner.
    • In 1993, Arafat was welcomed in the White House for the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel. That same year, the British National Criminal Intelligence Service reported that the PLO made its money from "extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud."
    • In 2000, Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of statehood midwifed by President Clinton and instead initiated the bloody intifada that left 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead.
    • Pressure will surely mount on Israel and the U.S. to accept Hamas' ascendancy and begin negotiations with its leaders. But is it wise to negotiate with a group that kills its fellow Palestinians almost as freely as it does Israelis? And what would there be to negotiate about? A suspension of hostilities in exchange for renewed international funding would simply give Hamas time and money to consolidate its rule and rebuild an arsenal for future terror assaults.
    • A society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing has inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses. It is the bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism as statecraft that Yasser Arafat instilled among Palestinians.

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