Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 22, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Shin Bet: Israeli Prime Minister Escaped August Terror Attack in Jericho - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)
    A group of Fatah gunmen attempted to hit Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's convoy as it made its way from Jerusalem to Jericho for a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas on Aug. 6, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told the cabinet Sunday.
    The attack was thwarted by the Shin Bet and the Palestinian Intelligence Service.
    The plot to assassinate Olmert was originally planned for June 6, when the prime minister was first scheduled to meet with Abbas in the territories, and included five members who were involved in previous terror attacks in the West Bank.
    See also Olmert's Would-Be Assassins Were Meant to Guard His Convoy (IMRA/Jerusalem Post)
    Some of the five Fatah operatives suspected of plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Olmert were members of the PA security forces and were meant to guard the prime minister's convoy, Channel 2 television quoted Israeli security officials as saying on Sunday.

Israel Campus Beat
- October 21, 2007

Point Counter-Point:
    What Does Last Week's Swap with Hizbullah Mean?

Iran to Fire "11,000 Rockets in Minute" If Attacked (AFP/Yahoo)
    If the U.S. launched military action against Iran, "In the first minute of an invasion by the enemy, 11,000 rockets and cannons would be fired at enemy bases," Brig.-Gen. Mahmoud Chaharbaghi of the Revolutionary Guards said Saturday.

Senior Hamas Figure Criticizes Gaza Takeover - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Ghazi Hamad, a former spokesman of the Hamas-led government, on Saturday publicly criticized the group's seizure of Gaza.
    "I have regarded it as a grave strategic mistake," Hamad said in a letter addressed to Hamas leaders.
    "Instead of expanding its relations with the Arab and international community...(Hamas) has become isolated and besieged in the narrow strip."

Lebanon's Jumblatt Accuses Hizbullah of Political Assassinations (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Senior Lebanese pro-government leader Walid Jumblatt called on the U.S. on Sunday to impose sanctions against Syria, warning that Lebanon would not enjoy stability and independence as long as Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime was in power.
    He also accused Hizbullah of involvement in political assassinations in Lebanon along with its Syrian allies.

Israeli Surgeons Helping Swaziland Curb HIV - Craig Timberg (Washington Post)
    Small teams of Israeli surgeons have begun circumcising Swazi men in hopes of curbing AIDS.
    Studies have shown that circumcised men are at least 60% less likely to contract HIV.
    Swaziland has fewer than 100 doctors and the world's highest rate of HIV infection.
    The World Health Organization said in March that making circumcision widely available could prevent 5.7 million HIV infections over the next 20 years.

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  • The Case for Israel's Strike on Syria: Israel Had Detailed Photos of Syrian Nuclear Facility - Martha Raddatz
    Israeli officials believed that a target their forces bombed inside Syria last month was a nuclear facility because they had detailed photographs taken by a possible spy inside the complex, ABC News has learned. The Israelis first discovered a suspected Syrian nuclear facility early in the summer, and the Mossad - Israel's intelligence agency - managed to either co-opt one of the facility's workers or to insert a spy posing as an employee. As a result, the Israelis obtained many detailed pictures of the facility from the ground.
        When the Israelis came to the CIA with the pictures, the U.S. backed it up with very detailed satellite imagery of its own, and pinpointed "drop points" to determine what would be needed to target it. The Israelis urged the U.S. government to destroy the complex, but the U.S. hesitated because it couldn't be absolutely proved that it was a nuclear site since there was not yet any fissionable material. However, a senior U.S. official said, "It was unmistakable what it was going to be. There is no doubt in my mind." (ABC News)
  • Cheney: U.S. Won't Let Iran Get Nuclear Arms - Matthew Barakat
    "We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," Vice President Dick Cheney told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Sunday. "Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions," he said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Iran Replaces Top Nuclear Negotiator with Ahmadinejad Ally - Carrie Melago
    Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, has stepped down. His replacement, senior foreign ministry official Saeed Jalili, is Ahmadinejad's ally. (New York Daily News)
  • Hizbullah Warns U.S. Not to Set Up Base - Hussein Dakroub
    Hizbullah's deputy leader Sheik Naim Kassem warned the U.S. on Sunday against setting up a military base in Lebanon, saying the group would consider such a move "a hostile act." The warning came days after a senior Pentagon official said the U.S. military would like to see a "strategic partnership" with Lebanon's army to strengthen the country's forces so that Hizbullah would have no excuse to bear arms. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Israel: Hizbullah Arms Smuggling Still Going On
    Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni charged on Sunday that weapons were still being smuggled from Syria to the Shiite Muslim Hizbullah, undermining the UN mission in Lebanon. "Continued smuggling of weapons and ammunition from Syria damages UNIFIL's ability to dismantle Hizbullah's armaments and will do so in the future as well if the smuggling continues," she told Claudio Graziano, the UN force commander. (AFP/Yahoo)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: Annapolis Conference Will Not Bring Historic Breakthrough - Mazal Mualem, Aluf Benn and Avi Issacharoff
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday that the Annapolis conference "is not meant to be an event on its own or an event for an agreement or a historic breakthrough." Olmert said the conference should instead be viewed as a chance for the international community to support statehood negotiations, expected to formally begin following the gathering. (Ha'aretz)
  • Ron Arad's Wife Views Letter, Photo from Twenty Years Ago - Shimon Shiffer
    Tami Arad, the wife of missing Israeli air force navigator Ron Arad, viewed a letter written by Ron Arad in 1986 and a photograph of him, handed over by Hizbullah as part of a prisoner exchange deal last week. Arad's letter to his wife was lengthy and he wrote of his love for her, their daughter and his family. Tami Arad, Yediot Ahronot reported Monday, recognized her husband's handwriting and the pet names used in it and burst into tears as she saw the photo. Hizbullah claims it doesn't know what became of Arad. (Ynet News)
  • Archaeological Remains from First Temple Period Discovered on Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai
    Israeli archaeologists overseeing infrastructure work to replace electrical cables on the Temple Mount have discovered a sealed archaeological level dating back to the era of the first biblical Jewish Temple, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Sunday. The Antiquities Authority announced it had discovered fragments of ceramic table ware and animal bones dating from the 6th to the 10th centuries BCE. "The layer is a closed, sealed archaeological layer that has been undisturbed since the 8th century BCE," said Jon Seligman, Jerusalem regional archaeologist for the Antiquities Authority. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Photos of Archaeological Finds (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Study: East Jerusalem Pullout Won't Bring Peace - Etgar Lefkovits
    An Israeli pullout from Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem as part of a peace accord with the Palestinians without an agreement regarding the Old City and the Temple Mount will not solve the dispute over Jerusalem, according to a working paper over a future division of Jerusalem released Sunday by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. The academics and experts note that any Israeli pullout from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem without an agreement is likely to lead to serious deterioration in the security situation in the country, both because it will be viewed by the Palestinians as an additional indication of the weakening of Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem, and because the local Arab residents who are cut off from their jobs and the holy places in Jerusalem as a result could end up assisting or even joining Palestinian terror groups due to their increased animosity towards Israeli policies. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Bernard Lewis: We Must Mobilize the Muslims on Our Side - Amanda Gordon
    Emeritus professor at Princeton University Bernard Lewis told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Wednesday, "It's misleading to say we are engaged in a war against terrorism. If Churchill had told us that we were engaged in a war against submarines and war craft, we'd be in a different world today. Terrorism is a tactic, it is not the enemy." The enemy, he said, is Islamism, which he placed as the third in a sequence of ideological deformations that have taken place in his lifetime, the first two being Nazism and Bolshevism. "There is only one way to deal with Islamism: to mobilize the Muslims themselves on our side," Lewis said. (New York Sun)
  • A "Win-Win" Situation for Palestinian Workers and Settlement Businesses - Scott Wilson
    Since the September 2000 start of the most recent Palestinian uprising, according to the World Bank, the Palestinian gross domestic product per capita has shrunk 30% - to $1,129. By contrast, the International Monetary Fund estimates that Israel's per-capita GDP is $31,767, nearly double what it was on the eve of the Palestinian uprising.
        Seeking to improve Abbas' tenuous political standing, the Israeli government is allowing more Palestinian trade and employment inside Israel and its settlements. "The West Bank economy will go up, and Gaza will go the other way," said Lt. Col. Baruch Persky, who heads the economic branch of Israel's military administration in the territories. On the eve of the uprising, 136,000 Palestinians, or nearly a quarter of the labor force, worked inside Israel or in Israeli-owned enterprises in the territories. Today, 47,400 Palestinians from the West Bank, or less than 9% of the workforce, have such permits. Half of the Palestinians with Israeli work permits are employed by Israeli-owned enterprises in the territories, an arrangement Persky calls "a win-win situation" for the Palestinian workers and settlement businesses. (Washington Post)
  • Persistent Illusions - Barry Rubin
    The Muslim Brotherhood, particularly in Egypt and Jordan, is said to be moderate because its members do not directly commit terrorist violence (though they do endorse it) and participate in elections. This does not prove, however, that they are moderate, merely that they are not stupid. Rather, they abstain from a terrorist strategy because they fear the local regimes which keep a tight hold on them.
        The West has been trying to break the Syria-Iran alliance for a quarter-century, without success. Damascus and Teheran both understand how mutually beneficial, natural, and long-term is their partnership. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Maj.-Gen. Kaplinsky: Next Time We'll Know How to Handle Hizbullah - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)

    • Former Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky said Saturday that "Israel will know how to handle Hizbullah when the next round of fighting erupts."
    • Speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Kaplinsky said, "We know how to deal with these types of terrorists....We've done it before in the West Bank."
    • "In the next round of fighting it will take us less time; we will send more ground forces into Lebanon, seize control of the area for weeks, or even months if needed, in order to dismantle Hizbullah."
    • "They lost 600 fighters and a lot of equipment....Hizbullah is not ready for another round, but they are in the midst of a rehabilitation process."
    • UNIFIL "should operate north of the Litani River and deploy along the Syrian border."

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