Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 10, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

20,000 Islamists in Gaza Protest Against "Vampire" Bush - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Brandishing placards showing George W. Bush as a vampire swigging Muslim blood, some 20,000 Hamas supporters protested in Gaza on Wednesday against the U.S. president's visit to Israel and the West Bank.
    See also Bush Gets Hero's Welcome in Israel - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    In an effusive outpouring of support, the State of Israel rolled out the red carpet for President Bush when he arrived in Israel on Wednesday, with the entire cabinet and a full army band and honor guard welcoming the U.S. president.

Palestinians Attack American School in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinians in Gaza on Thursday launched a rocket attack on the local American International School in protest against President Bush's visit.
    Witnesses said large parts of the school were damaged by rockets, mortars and explosive devices.
    The attack came hours after several Palestinian groups called on Palestinians to kill Bush.

The Reality on the Ground in the Palestinian Authority - Richard Beeston (Times-UK)
    Mahmoud Abbas has failed to turn the Palestinian Authority into a viable government in spite of millions of pounds in aid and support from the West.
    During his tenure the balance of power has shifted to the militant Palestinian cause, generously supported from countries like Iran and Syria, who reject any notion of a peace deal with Israel.
    Moderate Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan stand ready to help, but none is likely to engage deeply in a process that seems doomed.

Olmert Gives Bush New Roadmap ... for Bikes (AFP/Yahoo)
    Israeli Prime Minister Olmert presented President Bush with a GPS navigation system for mountain biking, including trail maps around his ranch in Texas and Israeli biking routes.

Israeli Doctors Save American Jew at JFK Airport - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Dr. Reuven Bromiker of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and ER nurse Julie Benbenishti of Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem had just landed at New York's JFK Airport on Tuesday when an American Jew who was on the same flight collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.
    They were in the U.S. to accompany the return of a seven-year-old Israeli girl severely injured in a car accident, and had advanced medical equipment with them, including a respirator, heart monitor and defibrillator.
    The Israeli doctor and nurse immediately began to resuscitate the American with chest compression, cardiac massage, and defibrillation.
    After several minutes, the patient regained both his pulse and consciousness, as the crowd gathered in the terminal burst into cheers and applause.

Useful Reference:

Report: Palestinian Terrorism in 2007 (Israel Security Agency)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush in Israel: Palestinian State Cannot Be Launching Pad for Terrorists
    President Bush said in Jerusalem on Wednesday: "We're in conflict with radicals and extremists who are willing to murder innocent people to achieve a dark vision. And this is an historic opportunity for the world to fight those terrorists." "I believe that two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace, is in the best interests of America and the world. I believe it's in the long-term security interests of Israel....[But] there has to be a firm commitment by a Palestinian government to deal with extremists and terrorists who might be willing to use Palestinian territory as a launching pad into Israel....You can't expect the Israelis, and I certainly don't, to accept a state on their border which would become a launching pad for terrorist activities."  (White House)
  • Bush Gives Israel Scope for Antiterror Acts - John D. McKinnon and Cam Simpson
    President Bush signaled he would give Israel broad leeway to continue raids targeting Palestinian militants and to develop settlements in disputed parts of Jerusalem, despite international pressure to curb such actions. Bush and his aides suggested they were more focused on getting Olmert and Abbas to make progress in the negotiations over a Palestinian state and less worried about making sure each side immediately met all its existing international peace obligations.
        National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said that given Abbas' lack of control over the violence, the implementation of the roadmap obligations "may take longer" than the process of reaching an agreement in principle over the outlines of a Palestinian state. Hadley also said the issues surrounding some of the disputed settlements would become far easier to resolve once the borders of a Palestinian state had been decided. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Blacklists Iranian Commander, Syrian-Based TV Station
    The U.S. Treasury said Wednesday it had blacklisted Ahmed Foruzandeh, a brigadier general in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Qods Force, as well as Syrian-based Al-Zawra television. U.S. officials accused Foruzandeh of helping foment attacks in Iraq against Iraqi government officials and American troops. "Iran and Syria are fueling violence and destruction in Iraq. Iran trains, funds, and provides weapons to violent Shia extremist groups, while Syria provides safe-haven to Sunni insurgents and financiers," said Stuart Levey, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert Tells Bush of Iran's Deception Plan - Ben Caspit
    Prime Minister Olmert presented President Bush with proof gathered by Israeli intelligence of the existence of Iran's "third nuclear program." The material included evidence of systematic Iranian deception of the West. According to the information presented by Israel, Iran is continuing to advance in two vital areas: uranium enrichment and ballistic missile development. This progress indicates that Iran has not stopped its efforts to achieve a military nuclear capability. (Maariv-Hebrew, 10Jan08)
        See also Olmert Tells Bush Construction in Jerusalem to Continue - Roni Sofer
    Israel will not stop building in eastern Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods and in the settlement blocs, Prime Minister Olmert told President Bush on Wednesday. (Ynet News)
  • Libya Thwarts Security Council Censure of Missile Strike from Lebanon - Shlomo Shamir and Barak Ravid
    Libya, which last week took over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, is hindering diplomatic efforts spearheaded by Israel to issue a resolution condemning Tuesday's Katyusha strike on the Galilee, Ha'aretz has learned. Libya also seeks to include language condemning the Israel Air Force flights over southern Lebanon in any resolution. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Sderot Home, Wounds Four - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets at Israel Wednesday afternoon, including one that hit a house in Sderot. Four people sustained injuries, including a 17-year-old girl who suffered shrapnel wounds and a boy who was hurt while attempting to take cover. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    President Bush Visits Israel

  • Bush on a Divine Mission - Ari Shavit
    George Bush defined his truth concerning the Holy Land in a speech on June 24, 2002. He said the solution to the 100-year-old conflict is a two-state solution, but before that solution is implemented a Palestinian conversion must take place. Only after the Palestinian people undergo a conceptual, ideological and institutional conversion will it be possible to establish a Palestinian state that will exist alongside Israel in peace and prosperity. The right formula is the Bush vision. To act with determination in order to create Palestinian capability before precisely defining the borders of the Palestinian territory. To help the Palestinians bring about their conversion rather than pretending that the conversion has already taken place. (Ha'aretz)
  • Bush Visit Seeks to Counter Iran - Aluf Benn
    Bush's tour of the region became necessary following the publication of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which played down the seriousness of the nuclear threat and was interpreted in the area as America withdrawing from its commitment to protect Israel and Saudi Arabia from an Iranian atomic bomb. It was no coincidence that the trip was announced a day after the intelligence estimate was released, as the need to assuage America's allies in the region climbed to the top of Washington's list of priorities. Bush will try to give a booster shot to the pro-American regimes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, in order to slow their fall into Iran's sphere of influence. (Ha'aretz)
        See also No Great Miracle During Bush's Visit - Yoel Marcus
    Bush's visit to Israel in his final year in the White House is not a dramatic move to impose a peace agreement on Israel and the Palestinians. Imposing a settlement on Israel has not been on Bush's agenda throughout most of his presidency. His visit to Israel was tacked on to a swing through the Arab countries that are important to America to calm these countries' fear of the Iranian nuclear threat and to ease the embarrassing confusion created by the U.S. intelligence agencies' declaration that Iran is not manufacturing the bomb. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jerusalem Must Not Be Severed from Israel - Aron U. Raskas
    President Bush arrived in Jerusalem to discuss plans for a peace settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. According to news reports, this settlement may involve dividing Jerusalem - placing large segments of the city, including Christian holy sites, under the control of the Palestinian Authority. It is important to consider the dangers that would arise from any such plan. After centuries of strife, the State of Israel alone has been able to preserve the peace and freedom of Jerusalem.
        Most of the desecrations of Jewish and Christian holy sites in the Palestinian territories have occurred under the rule of the Fatah party, to which many suggest that parts of Jerusalem should now be ceded. Hamas' ascent to power in Gaza, and its threatened dominance of the West Bank, coupled with the increasing insurgence being attempted by al-Qaeda in the Palestinian territories, adds a growing, and thus troubling, Islamic component to any analysis of the likely fate of Jerusalem's holy sites under Palestinian rule.
        There is little doubt that ceding even a portion of Jerusalem to Palestinian control would strengthen the role of such radicals, much as Israel's retreat from Lebanon and evacuation of Gaza brought Hizbullah and Hamas to prominence. The Buddhist statues of the Bamiyan Valley were reduced to rubble with only the Islamic fundamentalists to blame. Western leaders must do all in their power to avoid being enshrined in history as the ones responsible for bringing to Jerusalem the Islamic regime that destroyed Judaism's and Christianity's holiest sites. (National Review)
        See also Poll: Israelis Support United Jerusalem under Israeli Rule - Elie Leshem
    A significant majority of Israelis oppose a withdrawal to the 1967 borders and feel that Jerusalem should remain the united capital of the Jewish state, according to a new poll conducted by B'nai Brith. Only 26% of Israelis support a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, while 66% oppose such a move. 29% favor a divided Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state, while 68% support a united Jerusalem under Israeli rule. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Iran Now Free to Achieve Its Military Nuclear Ambitions: An Israeli Perspective on the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, former Director of IDF Military Intelligence (2001-2006)
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the EU opened diplomatic negotiations in July 2003 to try to stop the Iranian nuclear program. By the end of that same year, in the wake of the U.S. victory in Iraq, Qaddafi had stopped Libya's nuclear military program. It was in this context of Western detection of their nuclear program and the Iraq War that led the Iranians to halt their nuclear program across the board in 2003. The NIE indeed admits that the Iranian halt in its nuclear programs came about from the international scrutiny and pressure that resulted from "exposure of Iran's previously undeclared nuclear work."
    • Together with developing a nuclear weapon, Iran has been developing an appropriate long-range delivery system. Its Shihab 3 missile can carry a warhead of approximately 700 kilograms over a distance of 1,300-1,500 kilometers. These missiles are under the command of the Revolutionary Guard that reports to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, not President Ahmadinejad. Iranian missile exercises showed that the missiles are aimed at both Tel Aviv and Riyadh.
    • Paragraph C of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) summary report states that Iran made significant progress in 2007 installing centrifuges at Natanz. Based upon this finding, Israeli military intelligence estimates that late 2009 is the earliest possible date that Iran will be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon.
    • In my view, any distinction between Iranian military and civilian nuclear programs is artificial. The enrichment of uranium, critical to both civilian and military uses, is continuing. Once they have enough enriched uranium, they will be 3-6 months away from building a nuclear bomb if they decide to do so.
    • The NIE has clearly weakened international support for tougher sanctions against Iran and has weakened Turkey and the moderate Sunni countries in the region that were seeking to build a coalition against Iran. So, ironically, the NIE opens the way for Iran to achieve its military nuclear ambitions without any interference.

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