Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 25, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Muslim Rejection of Suicide Attacks on the Rise - Except Among Palestinians - Harry Dunphy (Washington Times)
    Muslims around the world increasingly reject suicide bombings, according to a survey of international attitudes in 47 countries released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
    The percentage of Jordanian Muslims who have confidence in bin Laden as a world leader fell 36 points to 20% since 2003, while the proportion who say suicide bombing is sometimes or always justified dropped 20 points to 23%.
    Other countries where support for bin Laden declined are Lebanon, Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan and Kuwait.
    But support for suicide bombings is widespread among Palestinians, the report said, with 41% asserting that such attacks are often justified while another 29% say they can sometimes be justified.
    Only 6% of Palestinians say such attacks are never justified - the smallest percentage in any Muslim public surveyed.
    Read Summary of Survey (Pew Global Attitudes Project)

U.S. Airports Warned About Terror Dry Runs - Michael J. Sniffen (AP/Forbes)
    Airport security officers around the U.S. have been alerted by federal officials to look out for terrorists practicing to carry explosive components onto aircraft, based on four curious seizures at airports since last September.
    The seizures at airports in San Diego, Milwaukee, Houston and Baltimore included "wires, switches, pipes or tubes, cell phone components and dense clay-like substances," including block cheese, said an unclassified alert distributed on July 20 by the Transportation Security Administration.
    A joint FBI-Homeland Security Department assessment found that terrorists have conducted probes, dry runs and dress rehearsals in advance of previous attacks.
    See also Incidents at U.S. Airports May Suggest Possible Pre-Attack Probing (Transportation Security Administration)

Israeli-Arab Hizbullah Agent Arrested - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israeli Arab woman was arrested by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) last month after she was recruited by Hizbullah, it was released for publication on Tuesday.
    She told investigators she had been recruited to join Hizbullah while studying dentistry at the University of Amman in 2003, and that Hizbullah ordered her to transfer cellular phones and USB keys to its agents in Israel.

PA Arrests Hamas Executive Force Members in Bethlehem - Najeep Faraj (IMEMC-PA)
    Ahmad al-Hadar, the commander of the Palestinian security forces in Bethlehem, announced on Tuesday the arrest of 13 Palestinians accused of being members of the Hamas Executive Force.
    The men confessed that they were part of the group that was forming the Executive Force in Bethlehem.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S., Britain, France Pressure UN to Stop Arms Flow to Lebanon - Claudia Parsons
    The U.S., Britain and France said Tuesday they want UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to pursue ways to stop weapons flowing into Lebanon over the Syrian border, according to a draft UN Security Council statement. The draft statement also calls on Syria to do more to control its border with Lebanon and for Iran to abide by an arms embargo. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Acts Against Groups Aiding Hizbullah - Jeannine Aversa
    The U.S. Treasury Department took action Tuesday against the Martyrs Foundation and Goodwill Charitable Organization of Dearborn, Mich., an Iran-based foundation, for allegedly providing support to the terrorist group Hizbullah. FBI agents seized files, paperwork and financial records. "We will not allow organizations that support terrorism to raise money in the United States," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Trial Begins for Islamic Charity Charged with Funneling Money to Hamas - Robert Barnes
    Federal prosecutors opened their case Tuesday against what was once the nation's largest Islamic charity, arguing that the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation knowingly sent at least $12 million to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group officially designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Administration officials say the trial is an important battle in the fight to cut off funding to terrorists. Some 300 individuals and groups were named in the indictment as unindicted co-conspirators, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
        The indictment charges that the foundation in part directed the money to take care of the families of suicide bombers, an action to "effectively reward past, and encourage future, suicide bombings and terrorist activities." Assistant U.S. Attorney James Jacks said the foundation and defendants shared Hamas' goal of the destruction of Israel. (Washington Post)
  • Pension Funds Pressure Oil Companies on Iran Links - Jad Mouawad
    Some of the nation's largest public pension funds are leaning on European and Asian oil companies to reconsider their investments in Iran. In letters citing the risk that international sanctions might jeopardize their investments, a coalition of funds from New York, California, North Carolina and Illinois has cautioned eight foreign energy companies working in Iran about investing there. These pension funds hold $3.7 billion worth of shares in energy companies involved in Iran. The letters were sent to Royal Dutch Shell, Total of France, Repsol of Spain, Eni of Italy, and Gazprom of Russia. In Asia, they were sent to the China National Petroleum Corporation, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India, and Inpex Corporation of Japan. (New York Times)
        See also Pension Dollars in Pockets of Terrorists - Ginger Adams Otis
    More than $28 billion in New York state pension funds have been invested in companies doing business with terrorist nations Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea, according to a breakdown issued by state Sen. Jeff Klein. (New York Post)
        See also Iran: "We Have Enough Centrifuges to Go to a Bomb" - Anne Penketh
    A senior Iranian official said that with almost 3,000 centrifuges now running at Natanz, "we have at the moment enough centrifuges to go to a bomb." (Independent-UK)
  • UN Seeks Dutch Venue for Hariri Tribunal - Marlise Simons
    The UN asked the Netherlands to be the host of a new international tribunal to try the suspected killers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, a UN spokeswoman said. The Dutch government, although responding positively, wants its concerns addressed regarding an understanding of the tribunal laws, its financing, security for witnesses and tribunal staff, and a commitment from another country where convicts would serve their sentences. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Offers to Discuss "Agreement of Principles" with Abbas - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Olmert is offering to hold negotiations toward an "Agreement of Principles" for the establishment of a Palestinian state, based on his view that it is important to first discuss issues that are relatively easy for the two sides to agree upon. The two sides would begin negotiations on the characteristics of the Palestinian state, its official institutions, its economy, and the customs arrangement it will have with Israel. In the prime minister's view, difficult final status issues such as borders, Jerusalem, and refugees should be left to the end of the negotiations. (Ha'aretz)
  • Dozens Wounded in Hamas-Fatah Clash at West Bank University - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Dozens of Palestinian students were wounded in clashes at An-Najah University in Nablus between Hamas and Fatah supporters on Tuesday. Eyewitnesses said some of the students fired pistols and Kalashnikov assault rifles during the melee. "They fought each other with chairs, knives, swords and everything they could get their hands on," said one eyewitness. The university decided to suspend studies until further notice. Bir Zeit University north of Ramallah was also closed down earlier this month following severe violence between Hamas and Fatah supporters. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Turkey Is Not Iran - Roee Nahmias
    After Sunday's Turkish elections reflected growing strength for the ruling Islamic party, Silvio Ovadia, president of Istanbul's Jewish community, said Tuesday, "We do not fear the Islamization of Turkey. Even during the Ottoman Empire the Sultan was very congenial to the Jews, so we do not fear for Jewish life here....Turkey is not Iran; we do not have Mullahs here. There are indeed religious communities, but that is not the same. They are far more modern than Iran, and as opposed to the situation in Iran, the secular sector in Turkey is very strong." (Ynet News)
        See also Jerusalem: Israel Has Nothing to Fear from Turkish Election - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Economy Trumps Religion in Turkey - Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Is Peace with Syria Worthwhile? - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland
    Is an Israeli-Syrian peace agreement, assuming it is possible, good for Israel? If such an agreement would be similar to the one almost achieved in 2000, it would be predicated on the return of the Golan Heights to Syria in exchange for: Peace reminiscent of the peace agreement with Egypt; security arrangements; a Syrian assurance that that it would not support terror against Israel; and an assurance that the streams of the Golan will continue to flow (cleanly) into the Sea of Galilee.
        Israel should have reservations towards such an agreement since it does not solve a single one of Israel's other security problems. It doesn't impact on the Iranian threat or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it does not ensure the disarmament of Hizbullah in Lebanon. A peace agreement with Syria would not impact the relationship between Israel and the Arab world and would not contribute to our international legitimacy, just as the peace agreement with Jordan did not. A peace agreement with Syria would expedite the end of the artificial Alawite minority regime in favor of the Sunnis (which comprise 80% of Syria's population). When the Sunnis take over, with the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is unclear whether they would adhere to the agreement signed by Basher Assad.
        The most important reservation is security-related. Through in-depth familiarity with the security arrangements discussed in 2000, I believe that it cannot provide Israel with a minimal level of required security. The writer is former head of Israel's National Security Council. (Ynet News)
  • A PA Confederation with Jordan? - Reuven Pedatzur
    Recently, Abdelsalaam Majali, who was and who may be again the Jordanian prime minister, paid a visit to Israel and spoke of the confederation plan between Jordan and the Palestinians as if it were his own initiative, but one could discern that he had received the blessings of King Abdullah. Quite a few senior members of the Fatah leadership are starting to believe that the plan could perhaps be a way out of the dead-end where they have been trapped since the Oslo agreements. The reason for the resurrection of the confederation plan lies in the fear in Amman that the struggle between Fatah and Hamas will spill over into Jordanian territory.
        The condition for the establishment of the federation, Abdullah's aides say, is an Israeli-Palestinian agreement over the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Only after that will the independent state be invited to join the proposed confederation. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Blair's New Role - Tim Butcher (Telegraph-UK)

    • Israelis are acutely sensitive about outsiders coming to address the Israeli-Palestinian question, but Blair's eloquence has bestowed on him a sort of star status in the Jewish state.
    • For many Israelis, the threat they have faced from militant Palestinians for decades is no different from the threat faced by the West from militant Islam and they have lapped up Blair's post 9/11 rhetoric.
    • But perhaps the thing Israelis feel most comfortable about is that Blair's new job does not really involve Israel. He is mandated to help Palestinians prepare for statehood by exploring ways to build their economy, organs of state and infrastructure.
    • Blair's remit does not, so far, stray one inch beyond this. As Condoleezza Rice, the American Secretary of State, made clear last week, the tough politics between Israelis and Palestinians will be led not by Blair, but by Washington.

        See also Blair Avoids Hamas on Mideast Trip - Louise Roug (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Why Blair Can Enjoy the Lebanon Effect - Tim Hames (Times-UK)

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