Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 8, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Fatah, Hamas Holding Reconciliation Talks - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Fatah and Hamas officials said Tuesday they are conducting secret talks, after PA Chairman Abbas told Prime Minister Olmert during their meeting in Jericho on Monday that he had no plans to talk to Hamas.
    Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh said Tuesday, "There are attempts to open channels of communication between the two sides."
    According to one official, the talks were being held in the West Bank, Beirut, Cairo and Damascus, as well as a number of Gulf capitals.
    "It's premature to talk about a breakthrough, but at least we are talking again," the official said.
    Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said Tuesday that Israel strongly opposed a renewal of negotiations that would lead to another Palestinian unity government, and that Israel would cut off contact with a PA government that included Hamas.

Palestinian Militants Explode Bomb at Hamas Compound in Gaza (Reuters)
    Palestinian militants exploded a bomb outside a major Hamas security compound in Gaza on Tuesday, the first such attack on the Islamic group since it seized power in June.

Hamas Denies Tapping Mobile Phones Using Iranian Technology (DPA/Cellular-News)
    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied on Saturday reports that his organization had tapped the mobile phones of top Palestinian Authority officials using Iranian technology.
    Al-Hayyat newspaper, a London-based Arab daily, quoted a Palestinian security official as saying that Hamas obtained the tapping equipment from Iran before the Islamic movement took control of Gaza in June.
    He said Hamas used the equipment to eavesdrop on the calls of Fatah members in Gaza.
    A few weeks ago, a member of the government that Abbas formed after dismissing the Hamas-led coalition said his mobile was being monitored by Hamas.

Iran Donates $25 Million for South Lebanon Reconstruction (AKI-Italy)
    Iran continues to assist in the reconstruction of southern Lebanon, delivering $25 million to the Council for the Reconstruction of Lebanon, a body set up by Hizbullah in the aftermath of the six-week long conflict with Israel.
    An Iranian envoy in Beirut, Hossein Khoshnevis, said Sunday that Iranian funds over the last year have helped rebuild villages; refurbished schools, mosques, and medical aid centers damaged in the fighting; helped remove explosive mines; and repaired roads and bridges.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Says Iran-Supplied Bomb Is Killing More Troops in Iraq - Michael R. Gordon
    Attacks on American-led forces using a lethal type of roadside bomb said to be supplied by Iran reached a new high in July, according to Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq. The devices, known as explosively formed penetrators, were used in 99 attacks last month and accounted for a third of the combat deaths suffered by the American-led forces. Such bombs are used almost exclusively by Shiite militants. According to Gen. Odierno, Shiite militants carried out 73% of the attacks that killed or wounded American troops in Baghdad in July. (New York Times)
  • Russian Navy Covets Mediterranean Sea - David R. Sands
    With Moscow's coffers replenished by the global oil boom, Adm. Vladimir Masorin, Russia's naval commander, has announced ambitious plans to expand the country's primary Black Sea base and establish a "permanent presence" in the eastern Mediterranean for the first time since the Cold War. "The Mediterranean is very important strategically for the Black Sea Fleet," the admiral told reporters Friday on a visit to the Russian base at Sevastopol. "I propose that, with the involvement of the Northern and Baltic fleets, the Russian navy should restore its permanent presence there," the admiral said. The rebuilding of the Russian navy has been a pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin and reflects the Kremlin's growing confidence and willingness to project power.
        The admiral's comments have fueled speculation that Russia is considering the creation of a permanent, full-service naval base in the Syrian town of Tartus, on the Mediterranean. Russian engineers have been involved in dredging the waters around both Tartus and Latakia, a second Syrian town. (Washington Times)
  • Hamas Collects Taxes on Food Imports from Israel - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Since the Islamists took over Gaza in June, Israel has shut the main commercial crossing at Karni, citing security concerns. That left the Sufa crossing, where, in the absence of formal Israeli-Palestinian coordination, goods from Israel are offloaded during the morning and then Palestinian merchants are allowed in to pick up the cargo and take it to market. Merchants said they can't get their products to market without first paying 2,000 shekels ($465) in fees to Hamas, despite a decree by Mahmoud Abbas exempting individuals and companies from paying such taxes. "(Abbas) is not here. Hamas is here and they say pay and load your trucks - so we pay," said Gaza produce dealer Mohammad Attaweel. (Reuters)
  • Palestinians Go Home But Hamas Still Trapped in Egypt
    Around 1,000 Palestinians, including hundreds of Hamas supporters, are thought to remain in Egypt from the original 6,000 trapped there after the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was closed following the Hamas takeover. Supporters of the Islamist Hamas movement face arrest if they return via the Kerem Shalom crossing controlled by Israel. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Barak: Missile Defense Is Precondition for Pullout - Amos Harel
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak considers the development of technological defenses against rocket fire on the home front a precondition for any significant withdrawal from the West Bank. Such a withdrawal would put Israel's main population centers in Kassam rocket range of the Palestinian Authority. Therefore, Israel must first develop and deploy an effective anti-missile system - a process that is expected to take three to five years. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Eitan: Don't Even Consider West Bank Withdrawal Yet
    As long as Israel does not possess defense systems against high-trajectory weapons, it should not even consider withdrawing from territories in the West Bank, security cabinet member and Pensioners party chairman Rafi Eitan said Wednesday. Eitan said hills and areas opposite the Judean desert were vital for Israel's security. "We should not even speak about the possibility of giving them up," he told Israel Radio. "As long as there are threats from the east, including Ahmadinejad in Iran, al-Qaeda and Shi'ite groups in Lebanon and Syria, Israel must not relinquish territories that are vital for its security."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Shot on Major Cross-Country Highway; Palestinian Celebratory Gunfire Blamed - Roni Singer Heruti
    A 51-year-old man was shot and wounded on Tuesday in central Israel while traveling on Route 6, the country's only toll highway, which at some points runs adjacent to the separation fence with the West Bank. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the shots came from the West Bank and struck the driver in the chest. According to an initial inquiry, it appears the man was hit by a stray bullet fired in the air during celebrations at a high school graduation in a nearby Palestinian village. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinians Fete School Exam Scores with Gunfire - Mohammed Daraghmeh and Dalia Nammari
    The streets of West Bank cities reverberated with the boom of gunfire in an emotional response to the publication of the results of the high school final exams. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Link $20B Deal to Saudi Behavior - Robert Chamberlain
    The time has come for the U.S. to challenge Saudi Arabia to act as an ally. Half of the suicide bombings in Iraq are carried out by Saudi citizens, and of the 135 foreign fighters in American detention facilities, half are Saudi. Instead of help from Saudi Arabia, we get high-ranking Saudi officials who encourage Saudis to join the insurgency in Iraq. Elements of the Saudi government do indeed fight terrorism - by exporting Saudi terrorists to Iraq.
        It's time for the administration to take off the blinders when assessing bilateral relations with the Saudis. The U.S. should threaten the Saudis with the prospect of losing the recently announced $20 billion arms deal unless the Saudi government shuts the faucets of terror and extremism spewing suicide bombers. The writer is an associate analyst at the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington. (New York Post)
  • The Smiling Face of a Terrorist Murderer - Frimet Roth
    Ahlam Tamimi - the person who planned the Jerusalem terror massacre that killed my daughter Malki - and dozens of other Palestinian terrorists star in the Israeli documentary "Hot House." Shimon Dotan's film exposes astonishing aspects of life behind bars in Israel where convicted Palestinian terrorists enjoy country-club-like conditions. They all have access to Israeli and Palestinian radio, television and newspapers. They enjoy bi-weekly family visits. Prison garb is waived. Prayer halls are available for the free practice of the very faith that inspired their crimes. And many of them earn university degrees, at the Israeli citizen's expense.
        Dotan says he sat with my daughter's murderer for two hours, having a "gripping" conversation. He asked whether she knew how many children had perished in the Sbarro bombing. Smiling, as she generally does, she guessed "three." "It was eight," Dotan corrected her. She seemed delighted and smiled again, asking, "really?" You may emerge convinced that this film conveys a balanced picture of the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a film without a single appearance by a victim of the terrorists. (Ha'aretz)
  • What the West Should Learn from the Assault on Israel and the Jews - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    European states over the past decades did not understand that the threats Israel was encountering in those years were essentially precursors of the menaces they would face as well. Had leading European politicians realized that a broader assault by radical Islam was underway - ultimately directed at their countries rather than at Israel alone - they likely would not have made the major errors they committed - particularly in the area of immigration - that have undermined European security today. Those who represent a major menace to the Jews and Israel will also increasingly threaten Western democracy as a whole. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    African Countries Support Israel More Than They Do the Palestinians - Amnon Rubinstein (Jerusalem Post)

    • What country in the world boasts the highest rate of support for Israel? The Ivory Coast, where 61% support Israel and only 16% support the Palestinians.
    • This surprising finding is part of a global opinion survey conducted this year by the PEW Research Center in 47 countries. In Ethiopia, which is half Muslim, the rate is 37%, as opposed to 25% who support the Palestinians. Similar rates can be found in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Even the Muslim country of Mali has a perceptible support rate for Israel - 13% - higher than in Spain and Italy.
    • None of the African countries polled, with the exception of Mali, demonstrated opposition to Israel of the kind we find in Britain, where 29% support the Palestinians, as opposed to only 16% percent who support Israel.
    • The exception to this rule is Egypt, in which the opposition to Israel is all-embracing and support for Hamas especially high.
    • Support for Israel in African countries is exceptionally striking in view of the fact that the global anti-Israel campaign consistently presents Israel as an "apartheid," colonialist and racist country.

      The writer, former president of the Interdisciplinary Center-Herzliya, has been minister of education.

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