Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 17, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas' Stocktaking and Its Implications - Jonathan D. Halevi (JCPA-Hebrew)
    On July 15, 2007, Al-Hakika al-Dawlya published a "secret report" by Hamas to the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, its parent movement, reviewing the Hamas takeover of Gaza.
    The report emphasizes the message that there is no dispute with Abbas but rather with the security forces headed by Muhammad Dahlan, and that Hamas is prepared for dialogue with Fatah to establish a unity government or technocratic government.
    Hamas made a strategic error with its military takeover in Gaza, since it became the common enemy of Israel and Fatah.
    Even though Fatah is a bitter enemy of Israel, Israel has an opportunity to repair the error of its unilateral disengagement and help rehabilitate the PA as a ruling force in the West Bank.

Iran Locked On to 600 Targets in Israel (Israel Today)
    Iran has marked 600 targets for its long-range missiles inside Israel, the Qatari newspaper Al Watan reported on Sunday.

Bee Replaces Mouse on Hamas TV to Teach Kids Martyrdom and Jihad (New York Times)
    Hamas television, which was criticized for a Mickey Mouse-like character named Farfur who spouted anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish nostrums at children, has replaced the mouse with a bee named Nahoul, who says he is Farfur’s cousin.
    Nahoul, the bee, says: "I want to continue on the path of Farfur, the path of 'Islam is the solution.' The path of heroism, the path of martyrdom, the path of jihad warriors."

Hamas Forces Arrest, Beat Fatah Members in Gaza (Maan News-PA)
    Ihab Nasser said members of the Hamas Executive Force (EF) surrounded his family's house in Khan Yunis in Gaza on Friday, assaulted family members, and "shot at the family and injured my 30-year-old brother, Islam, in the foot."
    Nasser's brothers, Mohammad, 30, and Suheib, 21, were detained for many hours, then released after being "beaten all over their bodies, especially their faces."
    Eyewitnesses said the EF was reinforced by Fatah al-Yasir, the newly declared Fatah faction in Gaza led by Khaled Abu Hilal, the former spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior and a Fatah leader.

French Government Funding of Political NGOs (NGO Monitor)
    The French government provides local and international NGOs with substantial financial support, in addition to its support for the PA.
    Many of these NGOs, which claim to promote human rights, democracy, and development, are in reality engaged in intense political advocacy campaigns directed against Israel, in contravention of French governmental funding guidelines.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • President Bush Announces International Conference on the Middle East
    President Bush said Monday: "In Gaza, Hamas radicals betrayed the Palestinian people with a lawless and violent takeover. By its actions, Hamas has demonstrated beyond all doubt that it is [more] devoted to extremism and murder than to serving the Palestinian people. This is a moment of clarity for all Palestinians. And now comes a moment of choice. The alternatives before the Palestinian people are stark. There is the vision of Hamas, which the world saw in Gaza - with murderers in black masks, and summary executions, and men thrown to their death from rooftops. By following this path, the Palestinian people would guarantee chaos, and suffering, and the endless perpetuation of grievance. They would surrender their future to Hamas' foreign sponsors in Syria and Iran. And they would crush the possibility of any - of a Palestinian state."
        "Prime Minister Olmert must continue to release Palestinian tax revenues to the government of Prime Minister Fayyad. Prime Minister Olmert has also made clear that Israel's future lies in developing areas like the Negev and Galilee - not in continuing occupation of the West Bank....At the same time, Israelis should find other practical ways to reduce their footprint without reducing their security - so they can help President Abbas improve economic and humanitarian conditions."
        "I will call together an international meeting this fall of representatives from nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties. The key participants in this meeting will be the Israelis, the Palestinians, and their neighbors in the region. Secretary Rice will chair the meeting." (White House)
        See also Israel Lauds, Hamas Blasts Bush Call for International Meeting - Hilary Leila Krieger
    Prime Minister Olmert's spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, said that Israel hoped to see the involvement of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Morocco at the international meeting, but played down the mandate of such a gathering, saying that Bush had not called it an international peace conference but rather a regional "meeting" of participants who support the idea of a two-state solution. The purpose of the meeting, she said, was not to come up with a conclusive peace agreement, but rather to bring together those backing a two-state solution to lend support to the sides.
        Speaking in response to Bush's speech, Hamas spokesman in Gaza Sami el-Zuhri told Al Jazeera on Monday, "President Bush is leading a new crusade against the Palestinians." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arabs Pile into Darfur to Take Land "Cleansed" by Janjaweed - Steve Bloomfield
    Up to 30,000 Arabs from Chad and Niger have crossed into Darfur in the past two months, prompting claims that the Sudanese government is trying systematically to repopulate the war-ravaged region. The Arabs, who arrived with all their belongings and large flocks, were greeted by Sudanese Arabs who took them to empty villages cleared by government and janjaweed forces. The arrivals have been issued official Sudanese identity cards and awarded citizenship. Analysts say the Sudanese government is making it "virtually impossible" for displaced people to return home. (Independent-UK)
  • Jerusalem Seeks Return of Ancient Tablet - Matti Friedman
    Jerusalem's mayor, Uri Lupolianski, has asked the Turkish government to return a 2,700-year-old tablet uncovered in an ancient subterranean passage in the city, as a "gesture of goodwill" between allies. Known as the Siloam inscription, the tablet was found in a tunnel hewed to channel water from a spring outside Jerusalem's walls into the city around 700 BCE - a project mentioned in the Old Testament's Book of Chronicles. It was discovered in 1880 and taken by the Ottoman rulers to Istanbul, where it is now in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Sderot Home - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets towards Sderot on Monday. One rocket directly hit a home, causing structural damage. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Human Rights Groups Call for Probe of Hamas over Prisoners' Deaths -
    Palestinian human rights groups on Monday called for an investigation into the deaths of at least two Palestinians who they said were illegally detained and tortured by Hamas in Gaza. Mahir Abu Dhalfa , 45, was nabbed last week by Hamas' Executive Force in Gaza City. On Monday, his body was brought to Shifa Hospital with signs of suffocation, Palestinian medical officials said. Hamas promised amnesty for its vanquished Fatah rivals in Gaza, but since then, at least nine Fatah loyalists have been killed, according to local human rights workers. (AP/Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Settling Old Scores in Gaza - Mehdi Lebouachera (AFP/Yahoo)
  • PFLP Refuses to Surrender Arms to PA
    The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), refused on Monday to hand over its arms to the PA. (Maan News-PA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas-Allied Fatah Forces in Gaza - Steven Erlanger
    Palestinians never used to do these things to one another. Putting bullets in the back of the heads of men on their knees. Shooting up hospitals. Killing patients. Knee-capping doctors. Executing clerics. Throwing handcuffed prisoners to their deaths from Gaza's highest apartment buildings. Hamas claimed it was fighting infidels, with a holy sanction to kill. Poor young men, their heads filled with religious slogans and revolutionary cant, took off their black masks to pose in front of the gilded bathrooms of the once-powerful and rich men of Fatah. Then they stole the sinks, toilets, tiles and pipes.
        Khaled Abu Hilal, 39, is an ex-Fatah man now associated with Hamas in Gaza. Two weeks after Hamas pulled Fatah down in early June, Hilal announced he would lead a new Fatah movement and military force in Gaza, allied with Hamas, called Fatah al-Yasir. The major mistake of Arafat and Fatah was to accept the Oslo accords, Hilal says. Hilal brought with him, he told me, 1,000 members of the Fatah-affiliated Aksa and Abu Rish Brigades. (The Israeli security agency, Shin Bet, confirmed this information to me.) Israel is now confronted with a dilemma. There is a hostile entity on its southern border, run by an armed group that is committed to fighting Israel and is opposed to its existence. Should Israel now let a Gazan Hamastan grow? (New York Times)
  • Will Immunity Gesture Restore Terror Infrastructure in West Bank? - Guy Bechor
    Nightly IDF actions have completely impeded the operations of the Palestinian terror infrastructure in the West Bank for at least a year. Instead of plotting terror attacks against Israelis, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Islamic Jihad activists are busy seeking refuge, escaping and living underground in constant fear of the IDF. If hundreds of persecuted Fatah activists get immunity, the West Bank will once again become an immune paradise for anti-Israel terror.
        True, Israel wants to bolster Fatah vis-a-vis Hamas, yet these very same people also perpetrate terror acts against Israel. In prisoner release deals with Ahmed Jibril and Hizbullah, 80% percent of released Palestinians, all of whom had made a commitment not to be involved in terror, immediately resumed their terror acts against Israel. In 2005, a few prominent prisoners were released as a gesture to Mahmoud Abbas. Within a month they were apprehended for preparing the infrastructure for firing rockets at Israeli communities in the West Bank. The writer is a lecturer in Arab Law and Middle East Politics at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    Can Fatah Compete with Hamas? - Dennis Ross
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • It may be fashionable among some in Washington to believe that it is time to talk to Hamas. But to the members of Fatah and the Palestinian independents in the West Bank with whom I have been meeting, it surely is not. What you hear from them is that Hamas is made up of killers; that they want to be part of a larger Islamist empire; that they are already trying to bring Iran to Gaza; and that the worse thing to do now is to reward Hamas with recognition.
    • I was struck by the almost unanimous sentiment that the reconciliation talks which both the Saudis and Egyptians are pushing will not change Hamas' behavior. Instead, Hamas will use them as a tactic to try to build its international acceptability. Worse, it would use a new national unity government to try to do in the West Bank what it has now done in Gaza.
    • The Palestinian public is basically secular and wants a national, secular future. Hamas' position has grown within Palestinian society by default. The Palestinian public remains more alienated from Fatah than attracted to Hamas.
    • Fatah can regain its position in Palestinian society, but to do so, Fatah must have new leaders and must be seen as delivering. Fatah and the PA must be seen as active at the local level and being responsive socially and economically. Being responsive also means ending corruption and re-establishing not only the rule of law but a sense of security for Palestinians.

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