Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


August 9, 2007

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

PA Government Pays One-Year's Salary to Hamas Militia (Maan News-PA)
    The new Palestinian ministry of finance mistakenly transferred one year's salary (12 months) to 3,500 members of Hamas' Executive Force in Gaza - and not just one month's salary, as earlier reported.
    See also Abbas Pays Salaries to Outlawed Hamas Militia (AP/Ha'aretz)
    The salaries were paid out of funds transferred by Israel, which specifically stipulated that the money mustn't reach Hamas.

Hamas Establishes Coastal Defense Force - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Hamas has established a new naval defense force headed by Jamil al-Dahashan that will be entrusted with guarding the Gaza coast.
    While the force does not yet own any vessels, the force's members have already deployed several heavy machine guns and mortars along the beaches to be used against IDF forces, should they approach the shore.

U.S. Kills Iraqi Militants "Smuggling in Arms from Iran" - Andrew England (Financial Times-UK)
    U.S. forces launched raids and air strikes on Baghdad's Sadr City Wednesday, killing 32 militants suspected of smuggling arms into Iraq from neighboring Iran.
    The U.S. military said the suspects were believed to be members of a "special-groups terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq."
    They were also alleged to have been involved in bringing militants from Iraq into Iran for training.
    One of the targets of the raid was acting as a proxy between the Iraqi EFP network and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force.

Iran Foils Terror Plot in Restive Province (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Iran announced Tuesday it has foiled a rebel plan to carry out a "terrorist act" in an oil-rich border province, adding it was on guard against Western plans to topple the clerical authorities.
    The restive province of Khuzestan borders Iraq and is home to a substantial Arab community.
    The provincial capital Ahvaz was the scene of deadly attacks in October 2005 and January 2006 that Iran blamed on elements linked to Britain.

Anti-Saudi Tide Rises in Iraq - Sam Dagher (Christian Science Monitor)
    An unprecedented wave of anger toward Saudi Arabia is rising in Baghdad as government and religious leaders charge that the neighboring kingdom is doing little to stem the flow of its nationals to Iraq to wage "holy war" on Shiites.
    The Saudi backlash is being fueled by Iraqi media reports and Shiite leaders' condemnations of apparent fatwas, religious rulings by Saudi muftis calling for the destruction of Shiite shrines in Iraq.
    "So far, the Saudi attitude in particular, and the Arab one in general, has been negative toward the political process in Iraq," says Ridha Jawad Taqi, an Iraqi Shiite parliamentarian.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • In the Debate Over Iran, More Calls for a Tougher U.S. Stance - Robin Wright
    Fourteen months after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered to talk to Iran, the failure of carrot-and-stick diplomacy to block Tehran's nuclear and regional ambitions is producing a new drumbeat for bolder action, including the possible use of force. The drumbeats are also louder because of Iraq. Explosives that U.S. officials say come from Iran accounted for one-third of U.S. combat deaths last month in Iraq.
        "There's a sense of frustration with the strategy....The one clear alternative with some proponents is the bombing option," said Suzanne Maloney, a former Iran expert with the State Department and now a fellow at the Brookings Institution. "Deterring the Ayatollahs," a new publication by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, backs economic sanctions and diplomacy, but co-editors Patrick Clawson and Michael Eisenstadt also conclude that neither may work, and that deterring Iran once it develops a nuclear weapon will be "much more difficult than deterrence was during the Cold War." The Heritage Foundation's Web site has a section labeled "Iran: The Rising Threat," advocating aggressive diplomacy and tough sanctions with a willingness to use force to stave off Iran's becoming a nuclear power. (Washington Post)
  • Payout Debate Delaying New U.S. Aid Agreement with Israel - Dan Williams
    Completion of a deal to boost U.S. defense aid to Israel to $30 billion over a decade has been held up amid a brewing dispute over when and how the new funds would be disbursed, a senior Israeli official said on Wednesday. The Bush administration, faced with a yawning budget deficit, wanted to increase the aid incrementally. Israel, which has been scrambling to build up its military since last year's Lebanon war and ahead of any showdown with Iran, has asked to receive a chunk of the funds up front, or for the money to be spread evenly over ten years. "Israel has acute security needs, particularly over the next two or three years," the Israeli official said. With President George W. Bush - a major ally for Israel - leaving office in 17 months, the Israelis are keen to lock down a stable aid-payout deal now. (Reuters)
  • Sunni Fighters in Iraq in Tentative Alliance with U.S. - Ann Scott Tyson
    Sunni insurgent leader Abu Lwat explained why he'd stopped attacking Americans: "Finally, we decided to cooperate with American forces and kick al-Qaeda out and have our own country." Abu Lwat is one of a growing number of Sunni fighters working with U.S. forces. The tentative cooperation is driven as much by political aspirations as by a rejection of the brutal methods of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, U.S. officers and one-time insurgents said. "This is much less about al-Qaeda overstepping than about them [Sunnis] realizing that they've lost," said Lt. Col. Douglas Ollivant of the U.S. military command in Baghdad. As a result, Sunni groups are now "desperately trying to cut deals with us," he said. "This is all about the Sunnis' 'rightful' place to rule" in a future Iraqi government, he said. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Troops Kill Three Hamas Gunmen Near Gaza Security Fence
    IDF soldiers exchanged fire with two Hamas gunmen near the fence surrounding the Gaza Strip near the Karni crossing on Wednesday and killed them. In a second incident, soldiers opened fire at two armed Hamas operatives approaching the fence near the Erez crossing, killing one. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 142 IDF Soldiers Honored for Lebanon War Heroism - Yaakov Katz
    142 soldiers who fought in the Second Lebanon War were chosen by an IDF committee to receive medals of valor and citations of excellence for the courage they displayed during Israel's war against Hizbullah last summer. Maj. Roi Klein will receive the Medal of Valor, Israel's highest award. Klein, deputy commander of Golani Battalion 51, was killed in Bint Jbail when he jumped on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. "The courageous stories that were discovered during the war demonstrate the IDF's valor and camaraderie," IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Wednesday. "These soldiers are a source of pride for the entire IDF." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed near the Israeli city of Sderot on Wednesday night, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians in Lebanon Expel Saudi Extremists
    Today, the most immediate security threat to the lives of the Sunni Palestinian refugees in Lebanon comes not from Israel but from Arabs living within their own refugee camps. In the northern camp of Nahr al-Bared, lax security from the mainstream secular Palestinian faction Fatah provided a suitable environment for the rise of Fatah al-Islam. The Al-Qaeda-styled Sunni extremist group comprises some Lebanese and Palestinians, but is also made up of foreign Arabs, including veteran jihadis from Iraq, and fighters from Saudi Arabia who follow the Wahhabi ideology of takfiri, which condemns to death anyone who does not follow their austere form of Islam.
        In Ain al-Hilweh, several thousand armed militants vie for control in the tiny 1.5 square-kilometer cinder block camp. Sheikh Haj Maher Oweid, military commander of the Palestinian Islamist group Ansar Allah, said that dozens of Saudi extremists had been expelled from Ain al-Hilweh over the past year. "There were many Saudis expelled from here. They are connected to al-Qaeda and they want to spread chaos. Lebanon is now the new front for al-Qaeda," he said. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • U.S.-Arab Alliance Aims to Deter Terrorism, Iran - Jay Solomon
    With Iraq's future an open question and Iran's regional clout likely to keep growing, the Bush administration is forging a long-term strategy to secure energy supplies that relies on drawing Arab governments into an alliance to coordinate defenses of oil-related infrastructure, combat terrorism, and thwart Tehran's nuclear and regional ambitions. The Pentagon hopes the tens of billions of dollars of new weaponry for Middle East allies announced last week will underpin various regional defense initiatives. Next month, the U.S. and the "GCC Plus Two," as the group is called, will hold their sixth meeting of the year. One U.S. official involved in the diplomacy said it seeks to build a consensus on Iraq and fighting al-Qaeda, as well as "deterring an increasingly hegemonic Iran."
        Many security strategists say Washington has misidentified the challenges. While the U.S. is backing large-scale armies, they say, Tehran has expanded its influence in places such as Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories through backing militias such as Hizbullah and Hamas. Iran has also improved its strategic position through the effective use of charities. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Children of Iranian Revolution Need Change - David Blair
    The first stirrings are now visible of political change which could hasten Ahmadinejad's departure and dramatically change Iran's direction. The president is best known abroad for denying the Holocaust and threatening to wipe Israel "from the pages of history." Iranians, however, associate him with hardship and repression. At a time when high oil prices should be causing an economic boom, inflation has risen to about 40%, hitting the living standards of millions. A country with 130 billion barrels of proven oil reserves has imposed petrol rationing.
        "Ahmadinejad is the first president in the history of the Islamic Republic to lose his popularity so quickly," said Mohammed Atrianfar, a leading reformist politician. Ahmadinejad's bellicose foreign policy has bolstered his popularity across the Muslim world - but not inside Iran. At home, he stands accused of playing into America's hands by making it easier for Washington to marshal a coalition against Iran. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Undercutting a Culture of Militancy: Designating Hamas Charities as Terrorist Organizations - Matthew Levitt
    On Tuesday the U.S. Treasury Department designated as a terrorist organization one of the largest Hamas charities in Gaza, the al-Salah Society, along with its director, Ahmed al-Kurd. The new U.S. designation criminalizes American donations to al-Salah and officially informs banks and donors of the organization's ties to and activities on behalf of Hamas. As the Treasury designation makes clear, al-Salah and similar Hamas organizations actively radicalize Palestinian society, recruit new members, provide operatives with day jobs, launder funds for the Qassam Brigades' terrorist cells, and provide logistical support for their terrorist attacks. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Don't Relinquish the Road Map - Dov Weisglass (Ynet News)

    • For several years the international community widely maintained that Palestinian terror would cease with the establishment of a Palestinian state. Ariel Sharon's cabinet did not believe this would be the outcome. Israel demanded first the cessation of terror and its demise, and only later diplomatic progress.
    • The Road Map plan for managing a reconciliation process between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab world was prepared by the international Quartet and adopted in a UN General Assembly resolution.
    • In its initial phase the Palestinians were required, among other things, to end terror: Disarm terror organizations, confiscate their weapons, establish efficient intelligence, security and policing apparatuses in order to prevent terror, enforce the law, develop appropriate government and administrative systems - namely, create a regime free of terror that functions properly and is fit to run a state.
    • In the second phase - following the probation period - a Palestinian state would be established within the current borders of the Palestinian Authority, and only later - in the third phase and following an additional probation period, negotiations would commence with the aim of achieving an agreement pertaining to borders, refugees and the status of Jerusalem.
    • This is the Road Map: Advancement to a later stage subject to full implementation of the previous phase; the entire process is conditioned on the establishment of an efficient and functioning PA that prevents terror and enforces the law; judgment as to whether the phase was implemented in a manner that enables commencement of the next phase would be in the hands of the U.S.
    • In recent weeks there have been indications of a change in Palestinian activity towards switching from gang rule to a functioning government; yet it still comes nowhere near the first phase of the road map. Skipping to talks on a final-status agreement in the current situation means that the conditions stipulated in the phased progress of the road map are being ignored and Israel's most important diplomatic achievement in recent years is being relinquished.
    • The Road Map constitutes recognition on the part of the majority of the international community of Israel's right not to accept a Palestinian state as long as it cannot guarantee that it can prevent terror from within its territory. This premise must not be relinquished and should not be ruined.

      The writer was former Prime Minister Sharon's bureau chief and senior adviser.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert