Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 5, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

UK Terror Plot - Why the Bombs Failed - Richard Esposito and Jim Sciutto (ABC News)
    The London bomb plot failed because a medical syringe used as part of the firing mechanism caused a malfunction, despite multiple calls to the cell phones designed to remotely trigger the devices.
    Had the fuel-air bombs rigged inside the Mercedes parked near the front door of a nightclub successfully ignited into a superhot fireball filled with roofing nails, casualties were almost a certainty.
    A second Mercedes rigged with a similar incendiary device was parked several hundred yards away.
    The same two men believed to have planted the bombs in London attempted the incendiary attack at Scotland's Glasgow Airport.

Terror Cells Favor Simple Ingredients in Building Bombs - Craig Whitlock (Washington Post)
    The 39-page memo recovered from an al-Qaeda laptop computer in Pakistan three years ago read like an Idiot's Guide to Bombmaking.
    The manual advised a shopping trip to a hardware store or pharmacy, where all the necessary ingredients for a terrorist attack are stocked on the shelves.
    So far, al-Qaeda and its affiliates have relied almost solely on simple, homemade bombs crafted from everyday ingredients - such as nail-polish remover and fertilizer - when plotting attacks in Europe and the U.S.
    Kitchen-built backpack bombs killed 52 people in the London public transit system on July 7, 2005.

Russia Says Iran Nuclear Plant Will Not Open Before 2008 (AFX/Forbes)
    Iran's first nuclear power plant, which Russia is building in Bushehr, will not be completed before 2008, Russia's top nuclear official said Wednesday.
    "It's perfectly clear...that the launch can happen no earlier than 2008," said Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the federal nuclear agency Rosatom.
    Kiriyenko said the latest hold-up to the project was a result of Iran falling behind on payments and delays in shipping parts for the plant from third countries.

Freed BBC Reporter Recounts Long Ordeal in Gaza - Scott Wilson (Washington Post)
    At a news conference at the British Consulate in Jerusalem hours after his release, Alan Johnston described in detail the anti-Western philosophy of the group that held him, daily life in the dark rooms of captivity, and what he said was the "special journalism hell" of missing the biggest story of his time in Gaza - the Hamas takeover - because he was locked up.
    He said Western journalists were right to be "wary" working in Gaza.
    See also Alan Johnston in His Own Words (Guardian-UK)
    "Three years of Gaza as a correspondent followed by four months of kidnap in Gaza is probably more Gaza than most people need in their lives and I do not think I will be going back for some time."

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  • No Fast Gain for Hamas After Release of Journalist - Isabel Kershner and Taghreed El-Khodary
    The role of Hamas in securing the release of kidnapped BBC correspondent Alan Johnston is not enough to warrant any immediate change in policy toward it, Western and Israeli officials said Wednesday. They said Johnston's freedom would not translate into international recognition and support for the group, which the U.S., Israel and the EU still classify as a terrorist organization and formally boycott. (New York Times)
        See also Kidnappers Emerge with Their Weapons Intact - James Hider and Sonia Verma
    Certain members of the Dughmush clan had been pressing to release Johnston because the clan's arms smuggling business had been boycotted by some of its best customers because it was holding the British journalist. (Times-UK)
  • EU's Solana Suggests Iran Behind Gaza, Lebanon Attacks
    EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana suggested on Monday that Iran could be linked to the Hamas military takeover of Gaza, recent attacks on the Lebanese army, and on European peacekeepers in Lebanon. "All this is connected," Solana said. "It didn't happen by accident or miracle, it was probably planned." "It would be difficult to understand without seeing other important regional players behind it," he added, referring to "other forces" in Iran and Syria. (Reuters)
  • Damascus in a Belligerent Mood - Michael Young
    The French daily Le Monde last Saturday published the minutes of a meeting between Syrian President Bashar Assad and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on April 24 at the presidential palace in Damascus. When Ban called on Syria to support the Hariri tribunal, Assad noted that Lebanon's "most peaceful years were when Syrian forces were present. From 1976 to 2005 Lebanon was stable, whereas now there is great instability." He warned that instability "will worsen if the special tribunal is established. Particularly if it is established under Chapter VII. This might easily cause a conflict that would degenerate into civil war, provoking divisions between Sunnis and Shiites from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea....This would have serious consequences beyond Lebanon."
        The cult of "engagement" of Syria is being battered by the fact that most European powers are realizing that Damascus will not accept any of the quid pro quos that engagement requires. Instead, they are all hearing the Syrian language of the gun. We are caught in a process of confrontation - with Iran, Syria, and their allies in Hizbullah and Hamas on the one side; and the UN, the U.S., Europe, the Arab states, and their allies on the other. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Bringing "the Calm of the Cemetery" to Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    Only six months ago, Hamas was still collaborating with the Army of Islam, the name taken on by the bandit Dughmush clan. Hamas used Dughmush gunmen as contract killers against Fatah (in the murder of Mousa Arafat), for the launching of Kassam rockets against Israel while declaring it was adhering to a cease-fire, and for the abduction of Gilad Shalit. The leader of the Army of Islam, Mumtaz Dughmush, used to spend time with the heads of the Hamas military wing.
        After it took over Gaza, Hamas needed proof for the international community that its intentions are serious about restoring calm, so on Wednesday Hamas delivered kidnapped BBC reporter Alan Johnston. Gaza is becoming increasingly calm, stemming from the scare tactics and the force utilized by Hamas. For some Gaza residents, the quiet reminds them of the calm of a cemetery. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Army of Islam: Hamas Is Holding Captured Israeli Soldier
    Army of Islam deputy commander Abu Mutha'ana told Israel's Channel 10 television Wednesday that it had transferred IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit to the full control of Hamas. "We kidnapped Gilad Shalit and handed him over to Hamas," he said. A high-level security source said Shalit was handed over in exchange for large sums of money and weapons. Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Olmert, called on Hamas to free Shalit immediately. "The Hamas that brought about Alan Johnston's release is the same Hamas that abducted Gilad Shalit," she said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Succeeded Where Abbas Failed in Winning Reporter's Release - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston is undoubtedly a severe blow to the credibility of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, who have yet to explain why they had failed where Hamas succeeded. Many powerful clans have handed over their weapons to Hamas and Palestinian journalists say they no longer see armed gangs on the streets. By contrast, Abbas' decision to outlaw armed militias in the West Bank has fallen on deaf ears as many Fatah gunmen continue to patrol the streets and to intimidate the public. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Threats Keep Thousands of Palestinians Stranded in Egypt - Yaakov Katz
    Hamas' threat to open fire at thousands of Palestinians stranded in Egypt has thwarted Israeli plans to open the Kerem Shalom crossing to let the travelers return to their homes, Israeli defense officials said Wednesday. Palestinians shelled the crossing last week, forcing its closure after it had been used to send food and other supplies into Gaza. Some 6,000 Palestinians have been marooned on the Egyptian side of the border. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Ya'alon: Land for Peace Concept Failed - Etgar Lefkovits
    The concept of land for peace is a proven failure in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and any future withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank will create a "Hamastan" there too, former Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon said at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem on Wednesday. He said faulty conceptions included the notions that the Palestinians wanted - or were able - to establish an independent state on the 1967 borders, that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the creation of two states on the 1967 borders, that land for peace should be the basis for any peace agreement, that peace would bring security, and that the key to stability in the Middle East was the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
        Ya'alon argued that the violent Palestinian rejection of the peace offer put forward to them at Camp David seven years ago, which would have awarded them with a Palestinian state on upwards of 95 percent of the West Bank, and the refusal of both Hamas and the more moderate Fatah to recognize the existence of a Jewish state, negated the very essence of Israeli and international policymaking. He said Israel must treat Hamas-run Gaza as an "enemy entity," and should "disengage" from being the provider of its water, electricity, and goods. At the same time, Israel should give the Fatah-run PA in the West Bank a chance to establish autonomy, while Israel would be in charge of security. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arabs Should Accept the Truth of Our Own Defeats - Khairi Abaza
    Last month, the Arab world remembered one of its greatest defeats of the 20th century: the June 1967 war, which marked the end of the hope to wipe out Israel. Arabs will not progress before they face the truth about their own history. The Arab media failed to remind us that because of Nasser's bluff and provocation, in June 1967 Israel was able to win a devastating war. They failed to remind us how Nasser encouraged King Hussein of Jordan to take part in the war only hours after he knew that Egypt had been defeated.
        What was Hizbullah's "victory" against Israel in summer 2006? A victory that left around 1,200 Lebanese dead, led to billions of dollars in damages and losses in tourism income, and the entry of UN troops in southern Lebanon? With such a balance sheet, how could Hizbullah and its Arab supporters mislead the Arab public and claim victory? Yes, Nasrallah was left standing, just as Nasser was. But is that enough when their nations and people were left battered? The writer is a senior fellow at the Center for Liberty in the Middle East. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Observations:

    Halting Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program: Iranian Vulnerabilities and Western Policy Options - Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Despite Iran's enormous oil and gas reserves, ironically, one of its most glaring areas of vulnerability is in the economic sphere.
    • According to an analysis by the World Bank, Iran must create 700,000 jobs per year, but only 500,000 new jobs have been created annually at the economy's current growth rate.
    • Iranian vulnerabilities in the oil sector may in fact be growing. Iran needs to invest about $10 billion annually in its energy sector to maintain current output from its oilfields; however, Tehran is only spending a third of that amount.
    • For that reason, Iran's oil minister, Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh, announced in September 2006 that the country's oil production could drop 13 percent annually unless there is new investment in its energy infrastructure. There are predictions that at that rate Iranian oil exports will shrink to zero by 2015.
    • It is essential to recall that economic sanctions take a very long time to have a decisive effect. Yet Iran, according to a June 2007 assessment by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, is "speeding up its enrichment capacity." In early February 2007, IAEA reported that Iran was operating only 328 centrifuges for uranium enrichment, and by May 2007 IAEA was already reporting 1,312 operating centrifuges. Moreover, IAEA was privately assessing that 8,000 operating centrifuges would be in place by the end of the year.
    • For significant sanctions to be effective and genuinely sharpen the regime's dilemma, they must be accompanied by a credible threat of military force against the nuclear program and, to the extent necessary, against other targets in Iran as well.

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    One long year has passed since IDF soldiers Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hamas and Hizbullah.

    Join us in demanding their immediate and unconditional release.
    Monday, July 16, 2007
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    For more information contact: Conference of Presidents at 212-318-6111 or [email protected].