Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 21, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Houses Urges Charges Against Ahmadinejad (JTA)
    The U.S. House of Representatives urged the UN Security Council to charge Iran's president under genocide conventions.
    The non-binding resolution, initiated by Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), passed Wednesday by 411-2.
    It cites an Oct. 27 speech in which Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" in its call to charge him under the 1948 convention for the prevention of genocide.
    Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) attempted to have read into the record alternate translations of Ahmadinejad's remarks that suggest the Iranian leader was calling Israel to come to an end through democratic means, and not through violence.
    Kucinich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a long-shot contender for the Republican presidential nomination, were the only votes against.
    See also Referral of Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide (JCPA)

PLO Official Says Iran Supported Hamas to Use Force in Gaza - (People's Daily-China)
    Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the PLO executive committee, on Tuesday accused Iran of supporting the Islamic Hamas movement to use force against the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.
    "Iran helped Hamas to lead a military coup against the legitimate Palestinian leadership and to control the Gaza Strip."
    "Iran supports those hostile powers in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories in order to serve its regional interests at the expense of the peoples and nations of the region," said Abed Rabbo.

Hamas Presses Clan Holding BBC Reporter - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Munir Dughmush, a member of the powerful clan in Gaza City that is holding BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, was shot to death Wednesday by masked gunmen.
    Hamas militiamen have been surrounding the homes of members of the Dughmush clan in Gaza City's Sabra neighborhood since Saturday, demanding that the clan release Johnston.

UK Trade Union Backs Israel Boycott - Ronen Bodoni (Ynet News)
    The UK's public services workers union, UNISON, advocated on Wednesday a total boycott of Israel.

BAE Paid for Luxury Saudi Honeymoon - David Leppard (Times-UK)
    The British arms firm BAE Systems secretly paid nearly £250,000 for a honeymoon for the daughter of Prince Bandar, the Saudi Arabian prince at the center of bribery allegations.
    A senior BAE executive authorized the payments, allowing Bandar's daughter to enjoy a six-week honeymoon in luxury resorts in Singapore, Malaysia, Bali, Australia and Hawaii.
    The honeymoon for Princess Reema was paid for through a £60m slush fund which the Serious Fraud Office believes was set up by BAE to encourage Saudi royals to continue with a £43 billion arms contract to supply Hawk and Tornado jets.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Leader Warns of West Bank Peril for Fatah - Steven Erlanger
    Former Palestinian foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar warned Wednesday that Fatah's effort to repress Hamas in the West Bank could lead to Fatah's downfall there as well. In an interview, Zahar said Hamas would not sit idle if Fatah continued to attack Hamas institutions and politicians in the West Bank. "If they continue to dismantle the local elections in the West Bank and punish Hamas there, the United States and Israel will face another surprise there," Zahar said. (New York Times)
  • U.S. to Increase Military Aid to Israel
    President Bush issued the following statement after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert on Tuesday: "I am strongly committed to Israel's security and viability as a Jewish state, and to the maintenance of its qualitative military edge....I am committed to reaching a new ten-year agreement that will give Israel the increased assistance it requires to meet the new threats and challenges it faces." (White House)
        This year, Israel will receive $2.4 billion in military aid from the U.S. Israel asked for a $50 million per year increase over a 10-year period, but the exact amount has yet to be determined. (Prime Minister's Office/Ha'aretz)
  • UN's Ban Faults Rights Council Over Israel - Patrick Worsnip
    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined Western nations on Wednesday in criticizing the UN Human Rights Council for picking on Israel. A UN statement said: "The Secretary-General is disappointed at the council's decision to single out only one specific regional item, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world." The EU, Canada, and the U.S. had already attacked the singling-out of Israel for continued special investigation by the council. Alejandro Wolff, deputy U.S. permanent representative at the UN, accused the council on Wednesday of "a pathological obsession with Israel." (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • In Israel, Palestinians Tell of Hamas Butchery - Fadi Eyadat and Mijal Grinberg
    Shadi, 23, a Palestinian policemen who was attacked by Hamas gunmen, is hospitalized in Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. "There were five of them. They stood over me and shot my legs from the knee down. One of them put his Kalashnikov to my head. Instinctively I moved the barrel aside and the bullet hit my hand," Shadi said Wednesday. He arrived at Ichilov with one leg amputated and the other leg crushed.
        "I wanted to shoot myself for voting Hamas," another patient said. He came with his brother, who had been shot in the head while evacuating wounded people in his taxi. "Hamas has money and weapons for the next 20 years. All the youngsters want to join it," he said. Zecharia Alrai, 39, an officer in Fatah's Force 17, had been abducted by four Hamas gunmen who shot three bullets into his leg. "How ironic that Israel is rescuing us from our Muslim 'brothers,'" he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Nine Palestinian Rockets Hit Israel, Ten People Hurt
    Three people were lightly wounded and at least seven others suffered from shock after a barrage of Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza hit Israel Wednesday evening. Two homes and a synagogue in Sderot sustained damage. A high-tension wire was hit near Kibbutz Nir Am, leaving the area in darkness. The Israel air force destroyed two rocket launchers in northern Gaza on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Shin Bet Foils Terror Plot - Efrat Weiss
    The Shin Bet security agency on Wednesday released details of a foiled plot to kidnap Israeli citizens in Jerusalem last year. The mastermind, Ala Hamad, 29, a Jordanian citizen who holds an Israeli ID, was recruited by Hamas operatives based in Damascus. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Failed in Gaza Won't Work in the West Bank - Editorial
    Abbas may have expelled Hamas from the PA government, but the Fatah party he leads has terrorist links of its own, not to mention a 40-year reputation for corruption. If "supporting Fatah" is now the Administration's policy, we are in for rougher times ahead. The Bush Administration continued to funnel money to Abbas and Fatah after Hamas took control of parliament. Yet Fatah's troops were routed last week despite being better armed and far more numerous than Hamas. Why the same recipe that failed in Gaza should now work in the West Bank is anyone's guess.
        The U.S. might be better served if it began to call on its allies in the Arab world to show some leadership. Egypt, Gaza's other neighbor, also has much to fear from a terrorist movement with historic links to the Muslim Brotherhood and current links to Iran. At a minimum, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must finally get serious about stopping the flow of arms from the Sinai to Gaza. Above all, the flow of Saudi money to violent Palestinian factions needs to be addressed and stopped. All of this runs contrary to the State Department's efforts to make yet another big push toward establishing a Palestinian state. If events of the last week demonstrate nothing else, that idea has been laid to rest by the Palestinians themselves. (Wall Street Journal, 21Jun07)
  • New Approach to Palestinian Question Just a Castle in the Sand - Nahum Barnea
    All the experts on the Palestinian issue are in agreement that the prospect of negotiating a final-status agreement with a Fatah regime in the West Bank is nothing but an illusion. Firstly, the separation between Gaza and the West Bank is unacceptable to the Palestinians. Fatah has not forfeited Gaza and Hamas has not forfeited the West Bank. Secondly, Fatah is so divided internally that it is doubtful whether it would be capable of stabilizing a regime that would meet the expectations of the U.S. and Israel. (Ynet News)
        See also New West Bank Government Is a Fiction - Israel Harel
    The Palestinian government sworn in earlier this week is a fiction and does not represent the Palestinians in the West Bank. In Ramallah, where the government sits, Hamas won four seats in parliament in the last elections, with only one seat for Fatah. In Nablus, four seats went to Hamas and two to Fatah. In Hebron, nine to Hamas and none for Fatah. In the cities of the West Bank Hamas won 30 parliamentary seats. Fatah got only 12. (Ha'aretz)
  • Gaza: Tehran's Greater Game - Amir Taheri
    Khalid Mashaal, Hamas' "Supreme Leader" who lives in exile in Damascus, initially endorsed the Mecca Palestinian unity government deal, but was persuaded to change his position under Iranian and Syrian pressure. During a visit to Tehran, Mashaal heard point-blank that Iran favored "an intensification of the struggle against the Zionist enemy" rather than an easing of tension that a coalition with Abbas implied.
        Iranian President Ahmadinejad has structured his foreign policy on the assumption that a military showdown with America and Israel is inevitable. He also thinks that the radical forces led by Tehran would be able to resist long enough and to raise the cost of the conflict in human terms to break the adversaries' will to fight. For Ahmadinejad's policy to succeed, it is imperative that Lebanon and the Palestinian territories become advanced posts for the Islamic Republic. (New York Post)
  • A Road to Ruin - Justus Reid Weiner
    Had Israel acquiesced to the U.S. plan several months ago when it was first brought up by Secretary of State Rice to allow truck convoys to connect Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas would have been well-positioned today to complete its conquest of the West Bank as well. For more than 10 years, initiatives have been undertaken to foist different versions of "connectivity," "contiguity" and "continuity" on successive Israeli governments. When diplomacy is restarted at some point in the future, officials will have to think out of the box and not just return to the policies of the 1990s that clearly didn't work. Maybe, considering their difference, Gaza and the West Bank will evolve separately and new political structures will have to be considered that take that possibility into account. (Washington Times)
        See also Linking the Gaza Strip with the West Bank: Implications of a Palestinian Corridor Across Israel - Justus Reid Weiner and Diane Morrison (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) (64pp., pdf file]
  • Observations:

    Fears in Arab World Following Gaza Coup: Hamas Is Threatening Entire Arab World (MEMRI)

    • The Arab world as a whole has not yet formulated a clear position on the events in Gaza. While the Arab countries fully backed Mahmoud Abbas in his struggle against Hamas, spokesmen and senior officials have refrained from burning bridges with Hamas.
    • The same trend is evident in the Arab media. Most articles avoided siding clearly with either Fatah or Hamas, calling on both sides to reach an understanding through negotiations. However, some op-eds have harshly condemned Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza, saying it has dealt a death blow to the Palestinian cause and has destroyed any hope of resolving the Palestinian problem.
    • Talal Salman, owner of the Lebanese daily Al-Safir, wrote: "Palestine has collapsed in a pool of its own blood, and the only ones to blame are those who promised to liberate it."
    • In an op-ed titled "The Gaza Earthquake," Asharq Al-Awsat editor Tariq Al-Humayd wrote: "The preparedness of the Hamas fighters...proves that while Hamas and its leaders were crying out about lack of funds, Hamas was amassing arms and ammunition. Someone is providing it with regular funding, and as a result it appeared to be better prepared than the legitimate authorities. The source of the funds is obviously Iran."
    • Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, wrote: "By means of Hamas' takeover in Gaza, the Iran-Syria axis has managed to destroy the Mecca agreement, to sabotage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and to block the role of Saudi Arabia."
    • Jordanian journalist Raja Talib wrote in the Jordanian government daily Al-Rai: "Reality has shown that even if Hamas was originally a Palestinian [movement], it is now completely [committed] to the ideological agenda of Tehran."
    • Egyptian intellectual Ma'moun Fandy likened Hamas to a computer virus that threatens to destroy the Arab world. He wrote in Asharq Al-Awsat: "The Muslims must understand that the Hamas emirate is a model that the Islamists aim to implant in all their countries....We are now faced with a dangerous virus, in the form of the Hamas Emirate. A symptom of this infection was Hizbullah in Lebanon, and we see some signs of it in Egypt and Algeria as well - especially since the mother virus, the Muslim Brotherhood, has existed in Egypt for ages, in all its potency."

        See also Hamas Conquest of Gaza Disturbs Arab World - Michael Slackman
    The conquest of Gaza by Hamas has frightened Arab leaders, demonstrating the rising threat to the status quo in places like Cairo, Amman, and Riyadh posed by political Islam. And it gave Iran yet another foothold on Arab borders. Egypt is trying to contain the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood, while Jordan is struggling to hold down the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Brotherhood. Much of the region has been unsettled by Qaeda-minded terrorist groups. (New York Times)

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