Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


December 26, 2007

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Fatah al-Islam at Work in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The radical Islamist group Fatah al-Islam, which was recently crushed by the Lebanese army, has begun operating in Gaza, PA officials said Tuesday.
    The Sunni Islamist group, whose name means "Conquest of Islam," was established in November 2006 and draws inspiration from al-Qaeda.
    Earlier this year, the group engaged in fierce fighting with the Lebanese army in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
    "Hamas is responsible for the presence of Fatah al-Islam in Gaza," said Ahmed Abdel Rahman, a top aide to Mahmoud Abbas.
    "This is an extremely dangerous development because Fatah al-Islam, which is not linked to Fatah, is a radical terrorist organization."
    See also Absi Is in Syria and Fatah al-Islam Is in Gaza (Ya Libnan-Lebanon)
    According to intelligence reports based on an al-Qaeda website, Fatah al-Islam has relocated to Gaza.
    The same report states that Shaker al-Absi, the fugitive leader of Fatah al-Islam who escaped from Nahr el-Bared in north Lebanon following the final assault by the Lebanese army, is now in Syria.

Poll Shows Peace Pessimism - Jonathan Beck (Jerusalem Post)
    A new survey by the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah released Tuesday revealed that only 16% of Israelis and 11% of Palestinians believe the Annapolis conference will advance the peace process.
    Only 23% of Palestinians and 8% of Israelis believe an agreement will be reached by the end of 2008.
    In addition, 32% of Palestinians and 55% of Israelis feel that violent confrontations will not cease.

"Miracle" - Mortally Wounded IDF Soldier Fully Recovers - Sarit Rosenblum and Dan Evan (Yediot Ahronot/IMRA)
    Pvt. Avi Dorfman has fully recovered after shards of a Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza entered his brain last September.
    Dorfman was among the 69 soldiers wounded in the attack on the IDF base in Zikim, south of Ashkelon, where new recruits sleep in tents. He was unconscious for three weeks and lost his right eye.
    "Everyone was certain he would remain with serious damage but it is not possible to identify any sign of the serious damage he sustained. His intellectual ability and cognitive function is completely restored," his doctors report.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
G-Alert (Hebrew)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli and Palestinian Peace Negotiators Present Positions - Ken Ellingwood
    Meeting for the second time this month as part of a new U.S.-launched peace effort, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators Monday discussed Israel's demand that the Palestinians crack down on armed groups, as well as proposed Israeli construction in areas the Palestinians claim for a future state. Israel sees little chance of progress unless the Palestinians take action against militias that have carried out hundreds of attacks against Israelis, including regular rocket attacks from Gaza. "We demanded that they carry out their public commitments on security," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel.
        Israeli media have reported that Israel's proposed 2008 budget includes funds to build more than 700 housing units in Har Homa and in Maale Adumim. Israel views Har Homa as part of the municipality of Jerusalem and thus subject only to Israeli law. Israeli officials contend that any construction in Maale Adumim, a suburb of Jerusalem, would comply with the Roadmap because it would occur only in areas that are already built up. Israel views Maale Adumim, with a population of over 33,000, as one of the settlement blocs that would end up in its hands in any treaty with the Palestinians. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iranian Jews Arrive in Israel - Rory Kress
    A group of 40 new immigrants from Iran arrived in Israel on Tuesday. "I was scared in Iran as a Jew," said Michael, 15, who also said all his friends wanted to come. 200 Iranian Jews have immigrated to Israel in 2007. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Defense Minister Meets Egyptian President in Egypt - Amos Harel and Barak Ravid
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak traveled to Egypt on Wednesday for meetings with the Egyptian leadership on the continued arms smuggling from Sinai into Gaza, and efforts to achieve a tahadiyeh, (calm) between the Palestinian militant groups and Israel. The increasingly dominant assessment in the Israeli defense establishment is that the Hamas leadership is inclined to support a tahadiyeh even though it is not unified on this matter. (Ha'aretz)
        See also More Tapes Showing Egyptian Complicity in Gaza Smuggling - Roni Sofer
    Government officials told Ynet on Tuesday that the IDF has in its possession additional videotapes which prove Egypt's complicity in the ongoing smuggling of weapons and terrorists into Gaza. "The Egyptian unease is trivial in comparison to the lack of security for citizens of the State of Israel - to whom the rocket attacks, explosive devices, and mortars smuggled into Israel from the Philadelphi corridor are addressed," a government official said. Israel has said that given the tons of explosives that have been smuggled into Gaza in recent months, it was left with no choice but to confront the Egyptians on the matter. The Intelligence Branch of the IDF's Southern Command claims that weapons and explosive materiel pass through Egypt's Sinai desert unhindered and there has been a steep increase in the extent of smuggling in the last year. (Ynet News)
  • Barak to Confront Mubarak with Gaza Smuggling Evidence - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
    One senior defense official said that Egypt's decision to unilaterally open the Rafah crossing earlier this month and allow 2,000 Palestinians, including a number of terrorists en-route to Iran, to leave Gaza was "grounds for a diplomatic crisis." A government source said that Israel wants good relations with Egypt and sees its relationship with Cairo as a key strategic interest. But, the source said, "there is frustration on the Israeli side about what goes on at the border. We understand that the Egyptians can't do everything, but they must do more. The strengthening of Hamas is not just a threat to Israel, but a threat to the Palestinian Authority and to regional stability."
        Diplomatic officials said that Egyptian inaction stems from a number of different reasons, including: An economic interest, since the arms smuggling is a multi-million dollar "industry" for those involved on the Egyptian side. An interest in not exacerbating ties with Sinai Bedouin, who are believed to be involved in the smuggling and who have a tense relationship with the central government in Cairo. An interest in letting the arms smuggling continue in order to place pressure on Israel to open up the Camp David Accords and let the Egyptians increase the number of soldiers on the border. General ineffectiveness of the Egyptian security forces. A belief that Hamas is now well ensconced in Gaza, and that it is not in Egypt's interest to push Hamas too hard, lest they push back and cause domestic problems in Egypt via the Muslim Brotherhood. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Nine Palestinian Rockets Hit Israel on Tuesday - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired nine rockets at Ashkelon and Sderot on Tuesday. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Russian Nuclear Strategist Alarmed by U.S. Intelligence Estimate on Iran - Uzi Arad
    Retired Russian General Vladimir Dvorkin told the "Luxembourg Forum" of nuclear strategists that the thrust of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate was disquieting rather than reassuring. In his opinion, the central finding of the report was the very fact that until 2003, Iran had a nuclear weapons program.
        Dvorkin does not see the fact that Iran's military program was allegedly suspended as encouraging; on the contrary, it could point to the fact that Iran's mission to build simple "gun-type" mechanisms has been accomplished. In his opinion, the program was frozen in order to allow for the production of the larger amounts of fissile material that such mechanisms require. Now all that remains for Iran to complete an operational nuclear weapons arsenal is to produce the necessary amounts of fissile material.
        If the observation of the NIE's authors is correct - that Iran is motivated by cost-benefit calculations - then it is now more urgent than ever to intensify the political and economic sanctions against Iran, particularly in the critical area of the importing of oil products and the exporting of oil and gas. Moreover, it is crucial to restore credibility to the military option. The writer heads the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Ynet News)
  • Experts View Israel's Options After NIE Report - Joel Greenberg
    Israel's freedom of action to strike at Iran's nuclear program has been curtailed after a recent American intelligence assessment that Tehran stopped its work on nuclear weapons, but force remains an option of last resort should Israel eventually conclude that the weapons threshold is about to be crossed, according to Israeli experts and former intelligence officials. Iranian nuclear weapons development work has apparently resumed clandestinely, said former chief of Israeli military intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash. "Israel's job is to continue trying on the intelligence level to find a smoking gun and to see to it that the West takes action so that [Iranian nuclear weapons capability] doesn't happen," Zeevi Farkash said.
        In the wake of the NIE, Israel has three options, according to Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who headed the research division in Israeli military intelligence, with responsibility for preparing the Israeli national intelligence assessment. Israel can launch a military strike to set back the Iranian nuclear program, try to persuade the U.S. that its intelligence approach is flawed and press for more vigorous diplomacy to block Tehran's nuclear ambitions, or it can acquiesce in a nuclearized Middle East with a Cold War-style balance of power that would deter any attack on Israel. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Observations:

    Stupid Intelligence on Iran - James Schlesinger (Wall Street Journal)

    • The release of "key judgments" from the National Intelligence Estimate - including the bald assertion "that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program" - has caused both astonishment at home and consternation overseas, where it has resulted in confusion about America's policy goals and steadiness.
    • The crucial decision, hidden in a footnote, was to define the "nuclear weapons program" which had been halted to mean only "Iran's weapon design and weaponization work and covert...uranium enrichment-related work." Thus it excludes Iran's overt enrichment program.
    • We have long understood that the production of fissile material, whether overt or covert, remains "the long pole in the tent" in the development of a nuclear capability. Thus the NIE defines away what has been the main element stirring international alarm regarding Iran's nuclear activity.

      The writer is a former U.S. secretary of defense, secretary of energy, and director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert