Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 19, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Former IDF Intelligence Head: NIE Will Enable Iran to Get Nukes (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran's covert nuclear weapons program is continuing, and the American intelligence community's misassessment of it has opened the door for Iran to achieve its nuclear ambitions, the former head of IDF Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash, warned on Tuesday at a Hebrew University seminar.
    Noting that he had headed Military Intelligence at the time of the ostensible Iranian "halt" in 2003, Ze'evi-Farkash said the Iranians, recognizing that the international community had discovered their covert weapons program, set about hiding its traces, but then resumed their activities.
    For instance, weapons system development at the Lavizan site, identified by Iranian opposition groups, was halted and moved elsewhere, and all traces of activity were removed.
    He noted that the Iranian Shihab-3 missile, with a range of 1,500 km and a 700-kg warhead, was already operational. "We saw [such] missiles, in Iranian maneuvers, pointed at Tel Aviv and at Riyadh," he said.
    Ze'evi-Farkash cited longer-range missiles in development, gradually bringing Europe into range and even, by 2010, the east coast of the U.S.

Lebanese Man Sentenced in Failed Attempt to Bomb German Trains - Bassem Mroue (AP/Washington Post)
    A Beirut court sentenced Jihad Hamad to 12 years in jail Tuesday for a failed attempt to bomb German trains.
    Hamad confessed to planting the bombs and said the aim was to protest cartoons that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Bomb Plot Suspect Escaped While Praying - Zahid Hussain, Sean O'Neill, and Catherine Philp (Times-UK)
    Rashid Rauf, a key suspect in the alleged Heathrow bomb plot, escaped police custody in Pakistan after officers allowed him to pray at a mosque as he was being driven back to prison after a court hearing on Britain's request for his extradition.
    Rauf left court in his uncle's car, accompanied by two police officers, and was allowed to stop at a mosque to pray. The two officers waited in the car while Rauf and his uncle entered the prayer room, but when they failed to emerge, the officers discovered that the men had escaped through the back door.
    Rauf is suspected of playing a vital role in the development of the al-Qaeda threat to Britain and is believed to have acted as a facilitator for young Britons arriving in Pakistan for jihadi training.

Useful Reference:

Video: "Red Alert" at Kibbutz Kindergarten (YouTube/
    When Palestinians fire rockets at Kibbutz Saad in Israel, the kindergarten children run for shelter as "Red Alert" sounds.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Security Envoy in Israel for Talks - Adam Entous
    U.S. envoy for Middle East security James Jones met Israeli leaders on Tuesday. Secretary of State Rice said Jones would help the Palestinians build up their security forces and would look into security issues with others in the region such as Jordan and Egypt, as well as with Israel. Officials said Jones will not directly serve as the "judge" of whether Israel and the Palestinians are meeting their first-phase commitments under the Roadmap peace plan. (Reuters)
  • Israel: Construction Is in Settlement Blocs that Bush Agrees Israel Will Keep
    Vice Premier Haim Ramon told Israel Army Radio Tuesday that almost all building activity in the West Bank is taking place in "settlement blocs that we want in the end of the process to see as part of Israel." "There is no doubt that the Palestinians understand that in the end of the peace process, the settlement blocs will be under Israeli sovereignty in return for an exchange of territory," Ramon said. Israel says the U.S. supports its position on retaining settlement blocs, pointing to a 2004 letter in which U.S. President George W. Bush said a final peace deal would have to recognize new realities on the ground.
        Ramon also said Israel should take further economic sanctions to undermine Hamas in Gaza. "We're only at the beginning," he said. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • President Bush to Travel to Middle East
    President Bush will travel to Israel, the West Bank, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt from January 8-16, 2008. This visit will follow up on the progress made at Annapolis in helping Israelis and Palestinians to advance their efforts toward peace. (White House)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Mortar Strikes Near IDF Training Base - Mazal Mualem, Avi Issacharoff, and Yuval Azoulay
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a mortar that struck near an Israel Defense Forces base in Zikim early Wednesday. Six female soldiers were treated for shock. In September, a Kassam rocket struck the same IDF base, wounding 69 soldiers, one of them critically.
        After Israel Air Force raids killed Majed Harazin, Islamic Jihad's military commander for Gaza and the West Bank, and master rocket-maker Karim al-Dahdouh, Prime Minister Olmert said Tuesday, "We will continue to seek out the heads of the terror organizations and strike at them....We will get all those who are responsible for firing rockets on the communities near Gaza and on Sderot."
        Thousands of Gazans took to the streets in funeral processions for the dead militants, many firing assault rifles. In northern Gaza, bullets from the rifles of mourners severed an electric wire that fell and injured five people, medics said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Could Be Next - Ron Ben-Yishai
    As long as the IDF does not possess a system for intercepting short-range rockets, the elimination of leaders of the Kassam rocket launching apparatus is the almost sole means available to Israel to end or at least minimize Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza. Israeli security officials know that eliminating several Islamic Jihad leaders would not eliminate the organization's technical capability to produce and launch rockets. However, an all-out targeted elimination offensive may undermine the organization's motivation, and Islamic Jihad (with the approval of its masters in Teheran) may agree to declare a unilateral ceasefire.
        Hamas leaders are considering a ceasefire declaration that would enable them to continue to gain strength, reinforce their rule in Gaza, and reach an agreement with Mahmoud Abbas that would grant them international legitimacy and a chunk of the funds promised to the PA in Paris. From an Israeli standpoint, such a ceasefire would enable Hamas and Islamic Jihad to build up and boost their military power. (Ynet News)
  • Arab States Must Stop Vilifying Israel - Haviv Rettig
    "The time has come [for Arab states] to cease using international forums to vilify Israel and to [stop] indulging in point-scoring, which merely serves to postpone confidence-building in the region," said Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee Tuesday at the Mediterranean Seminar in Tel Aviv held by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "We urge the pragmatic countries of the region to ask themselves what is the greatest threat to their future," he said. "Is it Israel, which has no designs on any of them, or is it the hatred and viciousness propounded by those who strive to drag them into a backward world order?" The seminar is an effort by the 56-nation OSCE to promote cooperation with countries of the Mediterranean basin. Only two junior Arab diplomats attended. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • There'll Be No Peace in Our Time - Greg Sheridan
    Even in the West Bank, the real power of the Palestinian Authority is very limited. Several West Bank cities are ruled by warlords, not the Authority. Indeed, Palestinian leaders cannot travel safely in all their own cities and are not ready to take over security in most of their cities from Israeli security forces. In truth, the PA does not have functioning state institutions. Two years ago, Israel did pull out of Gaza - and the result was that Hamas took over. Every day now, terrorists fire rockets - aimed at civilians - from Gaza into Israel. Eventually, one of these rockets will kill a large number of Israeli civilians and there will be a huge Israeli military response inside Gaza.
        The Annapolis process requires the fulfillment of the conditions of the Roadmap, the very first of which is that the Palestinians stamp out terrorism and stop attacks on Israeli civilians. There is no sign the PA can do this, or even that it really wants to. Its educational materials are full of hatred against Israel and incitement to terrorism. And that is the fundamental problem. Neither the Palestinian leadership, nor most of the surrounding Arab states, have really come to grips with Israel's right to exist at peace behind secure borders. Until that happens, no agreement is likely to work on the ground. The writer is foreign editor of The Australian. (Sunday Telegraph-Australia)
  • Getting Past "Normalization" - Ray Hanania
    Palestinians are too focused on the past. Progress is impossible because Palestinians have chained themselves to what they call "normalization" - in reality a commitment against genuine normalization. Palestinian activists use "normalization" to keep Palestinians in line like sheep. During my latest trip I worked closely with many Palestinian journalists. All said they wanted to attend a journalism conference in which editors and reporters of several prominent Israeli newspapers were also scheduled to speak. But they said they were pressured to stay away. "Normalization," they said, means Palestinians are not yet ready to deal with Israelis as regular people. Only as enemies. To my Palestinian compatriots I say: Why not just be honest and tell the truth. You don't want peace. You want revenge.
        Palestinians are suffering from several layers of occupation, and one of them is a self-imposed oppression that has become an excuse for their failings. They say they want peace with Israel, but many deep down can't accept the damage to their pride that compromise would entail. They can't accept that their efforts over the past 60 years have been futile - because of their own leadership. The ability of Palestinians to establish their own state continues to erode. That the people driving this erosion are Palestinians themselves is most troubling to me. Imprisoned by a wall of ignorance constructed by their own foolish failure to see through the rhetoric and the hatred of the past to the reality of today, Palestinians have only one option: They can either start living in reality or they can disappear in the past. The writer is a Palestinian American columnist. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Weapons Smuggling from Egypt to Gaza: What Can Egypt and Israel Do? - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Dr. Yom Tov Samia (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The Palestinians have brought into Gaza more than 30,000 rifles during the past two years, more than six million rounds of ammunition, more than 230 tons of explosives, and scores of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. These are the weapons Israel will face next time. The next round in Gaza will look more like Lebanon than what Israel faced in Operation Defensive Shield in Judea and Samaria in 2002 or in previous rounds in Gaza.
    • The Egyptian police and army have not yet received a clear order to block infiltration or smuggling from Sinai into Gaza. If they have a clear order, they will act. If the Egyptian side will declare the border inside Sinai a closed military zone for three kilometers, I'm sure they can do it.
    • The Philadelphi corridor between Egypt and Gaza should be the first priority for Israel. We should not expect the Egyptians to do the job for us, so this means we should clear the three kilometers from our side. As I have been saying for years, Israel should reoccupy Philadelphi and should stay there until we have had a peaceful relationship with the Palestinians for at least 25 years.
    • The terrorist groups in Gaza, especially Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are looking only toward the next war with Israel. They are not preparing themselves for any other option. The next round is unavoidable from my point of view, and sooner is better for us.
    • Even if a political agreement is reached with the Palestinians, who will implement it? The weak Fatah or the strong Hamas, who is waiting for the day to fight Israel? There can be no political solution if there is no force to implement it.

      The writer was Commander of the IDF Southern Command during 1997-2001 and was a member of the Israeli negotiation team during the Taba and Cairo talks for the implementation of the Oslo Accords.

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