Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 18, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Has Video of Egypt Helping Hamas Terrorists Cross Gaza Border - Yaakov Katz, Herb Keinon, and Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel is sending video footage - which shows Egyptian security forces assisting Hamas terrorists cross illegally into Gaza - to the U.S. Congress to pressure Egypt to clamp down on Hamas smuggling activities.
    The House and Senate agreed Sunday to hold back $100 million in military aid for Egypt unless Secretary of State Rice certifies that concerns about smuggling weapons into Gaza and human rights abuses have been addressed.
    Last week, Israel filed an official complaint with Cairo after Egypt unilaterally opened the Rafah Crossing and allowed Palestinians who claimed to be traveling to Mecca for the hajj pilgrimage to leave Gaza.
    Israel has received intelligence indicating that among the 1,700 pilgrims are a significant number of Palestinian terrorists who traveled to Iran and Lebanon for military training.

PA Terrorists Killed Israeli with Weapons Allowed in from Jordan - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    The terrorists who killed Ido Zoldan near Kedumim in the West Bank last month used weapons the PA received from Jordan with Israel's approval, a government official said Monday.
    The three members of the terrorist cell were members of the PA security forces.

U.S. Helps Turkey Hit Rebel Kurds in Iraq - Ann Scott Tyson and Robin Wright (Washington Post)
    The U.S. is providing Turkey with real-time intelligence that has helped the Turkish military attack Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, including a large airstrike on Sunday, according to Pentagon officials.
    The U.S. is providing imagery gathered from U.S. aircraft and unmanned drones flying over the mountain redoubts of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).

South Korea Chooses Israeli Unmanned Surveillance Plane (AP/Ha'aretz)
    South Korea has decided to buy the Israeli-made Skylark II unmanned surveillance plane, Elbit Systems said Monday.
    The drone aircraft has a range of more than 60 kilometers, can operate day or night and in adverse weather conditions, and has a silent electrical propulsion system.
    According to Elbit, Skylark is currently deployed in the global war on terror in Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Police in Iran Shut 24 Internet Cafes (Reuters/New York Times)
    The Iranian police have closed down 24 Internet cafes, detaining 23 people, as part of a broad crackdown on immoral behavior, official news media said Sunday.
    The action in Tehran Province was the latest move in a campaign against Western fashions and other practices deemed incompatible with Islamic values.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Russia Ships Nuclear Fuel to Iran - Peter Finn
    Russia announced Monday that it has delivered an initial shipment of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, and said it had received written assurances from the government in Tehran that the 82 tons of fuel would be used only at the Bushehr plant. President Bush expressed support for the Russian delivery, saying it obviates the need for Iran to proceed with a program to enrich uranium. (Washington Post)
  • Donors Pledge $7.4 Billion for Palestinians - Elaine Sciolino
    87 countries and international organizations pledged $7.4 billion in aid to the Palestinians on Monday at a one-day conference in Paris. However, many countries do not fulfill pledges that they make at such conferences. Egypt and other Arab countries are known for pledging funds to the PA that they do not deliver. (New York Times)
        See also Hamas Denounces Paris Donors Conference
    "The Paris conference is coating poison with honey and is a dangerous conspiracy," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said Monday. "(Abbas) is cosying up to the Zionist enemy and the American project (in the region) in exchange for millions of dollars to strengthen his security forces for his own personal interests," he added. Hamas had earlier slammed a French proposal for an international force to deploy in the Palestinian territories, calling it a "new plan to destroy the democratic choice of the Palestinian people."  (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Blair: No State Unless Palestinians Act on Security, No Engaging Hamas - James Blitz and Roula Khalaf
    Four months into his new role as Middle East envoy, Tony Blair said in an interview that the creation of a Palestinian state does not simply amount to defining territory, but is also about how the Palestinians manage themselves, particularly on the security front. "The single most important thing I can do to help the Palestinians is tell them the truth. And the truth is that there will not be a [Palestinian] state unless the nature of that state is clear," he said. Blair did not believe in engaging Hamas. He stressed that the Islamist group could only be brought into negotiations once it recognized Israel and renounced violence. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Libya's Gaddafi a Tricky Guest in Paris - Charles Bremner
    Rarely was a host so happy to see the back of a guest as President Sarkozy was when Muammar Gaddafi and his caravan of 400 followers finally left Paris. For many Parisians, the five-day official visit by the Libyan leader seemed endless after he held court in a big Bedouin tent over the wall from the Elysee Palace. The colonel has reveled in provocation, insulting his hosts, snarling traffic and indulging his whims. He lectured his hosts for abusing the human rights of North African immigrants. Unlike France, Libya has an impeccable rights record, he added.
        Gaddafi also wants to ease "the tragic conditions of the European woman, who is forced sometimes into a job that she does not want," he told a hall full of fans. At another session, he told the audience that "the [Christian] cross that you wear has no sense, just like your prayers have no sense." Gaddafi insisted on French television that "My close friend Sarkozy" was not telling the truth when he said that he had brought up Libya's record on human rights during their sessions. "Gaddafi is making fools of us," screamed the France Soir front page. (Times-UK)
        See also Libya Doesn't Deserve the Red Carpet - David Schenker (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: PA Negotiators, Abbas Out of Sync - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Olmert is dismayed that Mahmoud Abbas has not passed down to his negotiating team the same pliable positions he has discussed in private, a government official said Monday. Olmert and Abbas have met eight or nine times and told their respective teams to write a paper that would form the basis for negotiations. But when the teams sat down, the official said, the Palestinian side did not do what Abbas had told Olmert would be done.
        Following the Paris donors meeting, the Quartet - the U.S., EU, Russia, and the UN - met and issued a statement that "expressed concern over the announcement of new housing tenders for Har Homa." The government official said that Israel had made clear to both the Palestinians and the Americans that building in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem will continue. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Targets Islamic Jihad Terrorists in Gaza - Yuval Azoulay
    Early Tuesday, IDF aircraft killed three Islamic Jihad gunmen, including a senior commander, in northern Gaza. In a pair of airstrikes Monday night, IDF aircraft struck two cars in Gaza City, killing six Islamic Jihad militants, including Majed Harazin, the group's overall commander in Gaza and the West Bank and a master rocket maker. Also Tuesday, Islamic Jihad announced that its commander in the northern West Bank had been killed by an undercover IDF unit in the village of Kabatiyeh. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • International Aid to PA No Guarantee for Boosting Moderates - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Since its establishment in 1994, the PA has received nearly $6.5 billion in international aid. The assumption was that economic prosperity would weaken radicals and boost the moderates among the Palestinians. But hundreds of millions of dollars went into secret bank accounts or to build villas for senior PA officials. The international community that was pouring money on the PA did not seem to care about the stories of financial corruption and embezzlement. Nor did the donors pay attention to the fact that Arafat was inciting his people not only against Israel, but also against the same "infidels" who were signing his checks.
        While the billions of dollars promised at the Paris conference on Monday are likely to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians and strengthen their economy, there is no guarantee that the financial aid would have a moderating effect on many of them. This money is mainly designed to keep Fatah in power and prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank. Unless the PA changes its rhetoric and starts promoting real peace and coexistence with Israel, the millions of dollars are not going to create a new generation of moderate Palestinians. The only way to undermine Hamas is not by channeling billions of dollars to the PA leadership, but by offering the Palestinians a better alternative to the Islamist movement. (Jerusalem Post)
  • America's New Talk Policy with "Rogue" States - Helene Cooper
    America is about to enter a new age of talk. Seven years of President Bush's Don't-Talk-to-Evil policy are over. Now administration officials are openly making nice with Syria, holding round after round of talks with Iran over the fate of Iraq, and making preliminary plans for Secretary of State Rice to visit Libya. "Will we talk to the rogues or not?" says Robert J. Einhorn, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He says the answer is clear: We will. (New York Times)
  • The Algerian Terror Lesson - Editorial
    The suicide bombings at UN headquarters and the Supreme Court building in Algiers this month were crimes against humanity. They also offered clues about the aims of al-Qaeda and true scope of the threat from fanaticized jihadists. The primary objective of al-Qaeda and likeminded groups is to overthrow Arab regimes they consider to be un-Islamic, such as the regime in Algeria. In the Algerian press, the bombings were seen as a sign that government efforts to co-opt violent Islamists by pardoning them have failed.
        There remains a lingering threat from small bands of radicals intoxicated by a fanciful vision of restoring the glory of a vanished Islamic caliphate around the world. Yet when Muslim communities experience what it would be like to live under the al-Qaeda version of a restored caliphate - as in Iraq's Anbar province - they recoil in horror. (Boston Globe)
        See also Al-Qaeda Leader: Restore the Islamic Caliphate from Chechnya to Spain
    On December 14, 2007, the Islamist website Al-Hesbah posted an audio address by al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, titled "The Treason...of Annapolis." In it, al-Zawahiri calls on Hamas to reject any political negotiation over the future of Palestine, and to declare its commitment to waging jihad until all Islamic lands - from Chechnya to Andalusia (Spain) - are liberated and subjugated to Islamic rule and until the caliphate is restored. (MEMRI)
  • Observations:

    A Peaceful Palestinian State Is an Israeli Interest - Tzipi Livni (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    Israeli Foreign Minister Livni told the Paris donors conference on Monday:

    • "The establishment of a peaceful and prosperous Palestinian state that respects law and order and fulfills the legitimate national aspirations of its people is not just a Palestinian dream - it is also an Israeli interest."
    • "With your assistance, these efforts can help produce effective, transparent and accountable Palestinian governance, security forces that fight terrorism comprehensively, bring law and order and ensure the principle of 'one authority, one gun,' and educational institutions that end incitement and prepare the next generation for coexistence and economic progress."
    • "I hope also that we can work to rid Gaza of terror, and restore it to the control of the legitimate Palestinian government so that reform and economic development can be possible there as well."

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