Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 28, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

EU Monitors to Stay Away from Gaza-Egypt Border Crossing - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    European monitors will not return to the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt while Hamas is in control there, Patrick Delval, the deputy head of the EU monitoring force, said Wednesday.
    The border crossing has been closed since June 9 and is now in Hamas' hands.
    The EU's ambassador to Israel, Ramiro Cibrian, said that the November 2005 agreement on the deployment of the force clearly stipulated that Abbas' Presidential Guard would control the crossing.
    The 70-man EU force is in Ashkelon, waiting for further orders.

French Troops in Lebanon on the Alert - Arnaud de La Grange (Le Figaro-France)
    The attack that claimed the lives of six UN soldiers on Sunday is causing the utmost concern to French troops deployed in southern Lebanon.
    It is curious that a real jihadist threat has materialized specifically in southern Lebanon, since Westerners could be hit in Beirut or elsewhere.
    In southern Lebanon Hizbullah is everywhere and controls everything. Moreover, the attack occurred in Khiam, a Hizbullah stronghold.
    Did Hizbullah allow the attack to take place, or did it steer the attack by remote control?

The Dismantling of Resolution 1701 - Michael Young (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    The deadly attack on Sunday against soldiers of the Spanish contingent of UNIFIL was expected. Among the UN troops, it was the Spaniards who had the reputation for most forcefully implementing their mandate. The undermining of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 has, plainly, started.
    Hizbullah views UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army as grave obstacles to the pursuit of "resistance" in the South.
    For an organization that could not survive without armed struggle, that recently saw its Hamas comrades establish an autonomous territory alongside Israel in Gaza, now is the time to act, in collaboration with Iran and Syria, to again make South Lebanon a front line against Israel.
    The attack was also a warning to the UN not to contemplate sending observers along the Syrian-Lebanese border to prevent the supply of weapons to Hizbullah.

Israel Sends Firefighting Aid to Cyprus (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel sent two fire-extinguishing airplanes and 20 tons of equipment to Cyprus on Thursday to assist in extinguishing fires on the island that have been raging for several days.

The Fall of the House of Yasser - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)
    Do you really believe that the Hamas coup is going to scare Fatah straight?
    I do believe Fatah is preferable to Hamas - though the gap is far narrower than many people think.
    But even if you want to believe that Mahmoud Abbas is some peace-loving good guy, he is weak, incompetent, has no following and no intention of really confronting the culture of terrorism and extremism his own group created and maintains.
    He will also never give up the demand that all Palestinians should be able to live in pre-1967 Israel which is a deeply personal belief of his.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Tony Blair Named Quartet's Mideast Envoy - Adam Entous
    The Quartet of international mediators - the U.S., UN, EU, and Russia - named Tony Blair as their Middle East envoy on Wednesday, handing the outgoing British prime minister a daunting new challenge. (Reuters)
        See also Blair Will Tackle Economics, Not Peace Efforts - Helene Cooper
    In his new role as envoy to the Middle East, Blair will be charged with shoring up Palestinian institutions, but not with trying to nail down a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians because Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, is handling that job herself, administration officials said Wednesday.
        Administration officials defined Blair's mandate as mobilizing international assistance to Mahmoud Abbas, securing financing for Palestinian institutions and governing tasks, and hashing out plans to promote Palestinian economic development. A senior Bush administration official maintained that Blair did not press American officials to allow him to take on the final status issues. Abbas welcomed the Blair appointment, while the Hamas leadership in Gaza rejected it, saying Blair had always sided with Israel and the U.S. (New York Times)
  • In Egypt, Fears that Muslim Brotherhood May Seize Power Like Hamas
    Tariq Hasan, a columnist for the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, wrote on June 23: "In Egypt there are those who are trying to reproduce what Hamas did in Gaza....In light of this severe threat...we must learn the lessons without delay."
        The editor of Al-Gomhouriya, Muhammad 'Ali Ibrahim, wrote on the same day: "It is possible that Hamas will receive orders from Iran and will carry them out, and then it will drag the region into a destructive total war. It is also possible that Tehran will convince the Hamas leaders to repeat Hizbullah's experience....All that Hamas is capable of doing is to be crack troops of suicide. Unfortunately, however, they are not committing suicide alone. They are forcing the entire people to commit suicide, and I fear that this is the same tactic and path that the Brotherhood in Egypt is taking." (MEMRI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Five IDF Troops Wounded in Nablus in West Bank - Yuval Azoulay
    At least five Israel Defense Forces troops were wounded Thursday in clashes with Palestinian militants during an arrest operation in the West Bank city of Nablus. Soldiers entered Nablus' Old City and a local refugee camp a little after midnight to search for wanted militants, weapons and ammunition.
        At least 12 Palestinians were killed and two IDF soldiers wounded Wednesday in two separate IDF operations in Gaza. At least 10 of the Palestinians killed were militants. Roughly 40 Palestinians were wounded in the fighting, the heaviest between the IDF and Palestinians inside Gaza in months. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Pushing Hamas Back - Ron Ben-Yishai
    In recent days, the IDF Southern Command has noticed that Hamas fighters in Gaza are operating closer to the security fence and border crossings. The primary objective of IDF raids in Gaza on Wednesday was to push back Hamas fighters and the armed groups that joined them away from the border fence. After the bitter experience with Hizbullah's deployment along the border fence in southern Lebanon, Israel decided to thwart a similar process in Gaza. Therefore, the IDF is creating a "buffer zone" that is roughly 1,500 meters deep to prevent Hamas from digging tunnels in close proximity to Israeli communities, border crossings, and IDF troops. (Ynet News)
  • Hizbullah Preparing for Next War with Israel - Michel Moutot
    "Immediately after last summer's war Hizbullah began refortifying its positions and working on new ones," said Judith Palmer Harik, author of the book Hizbullah: The Changing Face of Terrorism. "They are rearming....In fact, there has been no interruption in their receiving of more arms," she said. A Western military observer in Beirut said, "Hizbullah has far stronger positions in the rear, north of the Litani river, that no one knows about and that they are fortifying all the time." Even in the border zone, patrolled by blue-helmeted international peacekeepers and the Lebanese Army, Hizbullah is busy preparing for the next round of hostilities. The militants are so accepted by villagers in the area that no outsider gets to know what is really going on there. (AFP/Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • An Academic Hijacking - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Many of the British academics who have been pushing the boycott of Israel are not advocates of the two-state solution, but of a one-state dissolution of Israel, with the resulting state being controlled by Hamas. If these union activists cared about the actual plight of the Palestinians, they would be supporting the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to make peace with Israel based on mutual compromise, rather than Hamas in its futile efforts to destroy Israel as well as the PA.
        As soon as the academic boycott against Israel was reported, I helped draft a simple petition in which signatories agreed to regard themselves as honorary Israeli academics for purposes of any boycott and "decline to participate in any activity from which Israeli academics are excluded." We have secured nearly 6,000 signatures, including those of 20 Nobel Prize winners, 14 university presidents as well as several heads of academic and professional societies. The British boycott appears to be backfiring. British academics are on notice that if they try to isolate Israeli academics, it is they - the British academics - who will end up being isolated from some of the world's most prominent academics and scientists. (Wall Street Journal, 28Jun07)
  • A Changing Israeli Consensus on West Bank Withdrawal - Aluf Benn
    There is a growing consensus in all the camps and across the political spectrum in Israel that a withdrawal from the West Bank is no longer possible. President-elect Shimon Peres wrote last week in Yediot Ahronot: "It is unclear when we will pull out entirely from the territories....Even if we are ready to pull out, we have no one to hand them over to at this stage, because of the Palestinian inability to establish a single army, and a single state that will assert their control over the territories." In the current public discourse, any talk of withdrawing from the territories is perceived as a dangerous illusion.
        The reason is obvious: Israel does not want Kassam rockets on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Ben-Gurion International Airport. Most Israelis assume, in view of the experience from Lebanon and Gaza, that any territory that will be evacuated will become a launching pad for rocket attacks against Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • A Shadow on the Human Rights Movement - Jackson Diehl
    In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council - established a year ago in an attempt to reform the UN Human Rights Commission - listened to reports by special envoys condemning the governments of Cuba and Belarus and then abolished the jobs of both. While ending the scrutiny of those dictatorships, the council chose to establish one permanent and special agenda item: the "human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories." In other words, Israel, alone among the nations of the world, will be subjected to continual and open-ended examination. In the council's first year, eleven resolutions were directed at the Jewish state. None criticized any other government. Is there a point at which a vicious and unfounded campaign to delegitimize one country - which happens to be populated mostly by Jews - makes it unconscionable to collaborate with the body that conducts it? (Washington Post)
  • Our Enemy's Attrition - Victor Davis Hanson
    Hamas is high on victory in Gaza for now, but all it has accomplished is to further concentrate its nexus of terror into one small miserable - and quite vulnerable - locale in the midst of Jordan, Israel, and Egypt, while sacrificing the Palestinians' greatest advantage: deniability of culpability. It will be harder now for the tired good cop/bad cop excuses, "militant wing," etc. and all the other justifications for terror that the Palestinians use. Since Hamas bragged that it had routed the Palestinian Authority from Gaza, the next barrage of rocket attacks from there, rightly or wrongly, will liberate Israel in its response from the past worries of collateral damage.
        For all the talk of losing the Lebanon War, it is Iran and Syria, not Israel, that are stuck with billions in reconstruction costs for their battered Shiite pawns on the front lines. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Hamas, Fatah, and the New Palestinian Reality - Tom Rose (Weekly Standard)

    • The birth of the world's first truly terrorist state in Gaza was quickly followed by a Western response that, if sustained, all but guarantees that terror state's survival. After 45 years of ground work preparing for Hamas' takeover by radicalizing Palestinian society through blood-curdling terrorism, mind-boggling corruption, and world-class inefficiency, the U.S. and Israeli governments have announced their gratitude to Fatah with a billion dollar emergency aid package.
    • Force-feeding life back into the PLO will not weaken Hamas. Palestinian society cannot be transformed by reviving the group responsible for its degradation. How does one fight terrorism by rewarding those who invented it? Do "Fatah first" advocates believe that financially rewarding the already heavily-armed and well-funded "security" fighters of Fatah, who turned tail and ran at the sight of Hamas gunmen, will lead them now to fight to retake their posts, having gotten a check from Washington? Do they think the PLO's corruption is best combated by re-upping the employment contracts for its 200,000 dysfunctional bureaucrats - 60,000 of whom are the gangsters, thugs, and terrorists associated with the PLO's 13 so-called "security services"?
    • The PLO is finished. The Palestinians know it. The Arabs know it. Only we don't know it. As far as most Palestinians are concerned, Abbas is nothing but a figment of the West's imagination. The militias and armies that make up Fatah control Abbas. He does not control them. Abbas has no following and the plan to prop him up won't succeed for long.
    • It is in Gaza that Hamas can assemble serious and dangerous weaponry with which to attack Israel (not to mention other Palestinians). It is in Gaza, not the West Bank, where agents of the Iranian regime will plant themselves for renewed war against Israel. It is in Gaza where al-Qaeda and other terrorists are already establishing themselves. Gaza is a terror threat, and the West Bank could well become even more of one than it is now. This is the reality democratic leaders should face, rather than wishing what is happening were not.

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