Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 18, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Attack on Palestinian Terrorists in Bethlehem Meant to Send a Message - Amos Harel and Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    The killing of four armed Palestinian terrorists in Bethlehem last Wednesday was authorized at the highest levels of the General Staff. Defense Minister Ehud Barak was briefed about the operation in advance.
    Israel's political leadership said the move reflects an intentional policy of decoupling the West Bank and Gaza.
    Israel reserves the right to arrest - and at times kill - terrorist fugitives in the West Bank as part of its continued anti-terror activities there.
    Hamas is demanding that any cease-fire deal also apply to the West Bank.
    The Israeli leadership also argues that at a time when Hizbullah is planning to avenge last month's killing of terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyah, the current period requires preemptive actions.

The 2006 Hizbullah-Israeli War - Matt M. Matthews (U.S. Army Combined Arms Center)
    After years of conducting successful counterinsurgency operations against the Palestinians, the Israeli military encountered substantial problems in shifting its focus to major combat operations against Hizbullah.
    The missteps committed by the IDF in this war provide the U.S. Army with valuable examples of potential difficulties when counterinsurgency operations are abruptly changed to major combat operations.

London Arab Daily: Yeshiva Attack Was Justified - Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post)
    In an editorial last Sunday, Abd al-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, said the terrorist attack on Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva on March 6 was "justified" and that the celebrations in Gaza that followed symbolized the "courage of the Palestinian nation."
    Atwan is a regular commentator on CNN, Sky News and BBC News.
    "This article is alarming, since Atwan is perceived as a legitimate and unbiased analyst by the British media, and is often invited to voice his views in different media platforms," said Lior Ben-Dor, spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in London.
    In an interview on ANB Lebanese television in June, Atwan said, "If the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by God, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight."

Shrine for a Palestinian Terrorist - Leon Otu and Jorg Luyken (Jerusalem Post)
    After her son killed Dr. Lyubov Razdolskya, 73, and left her husband of almost 50 years, Edward, critically wounded, as well as wounding 37 others in the Feb. 4 Dimona suicide bombing, Muhammad Hirbawi's mother turned her apartment in Hebron into a makeshift public relations department, in tribute to her child.
    She received visitors by handing them Hamas flyers on which her son was pictured, smiling, beside his accomplice Shadi al-Zughayar, holding aloft a copy of the Koran.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Seeks to Build Deterrence in Fight Against Terrorists - Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker
    U.S. officials say a combination of efforts could establish deterrence against terrorist organizations, the strategy that helped protect the U.S. from a Soviet nuclear attack during the cold war. Interviews with senior officials involved in the effort provided the outlines of previously unreported missions to mute al-Qaeda's message, turn the jihadi movement's own weaknesses against it, and illuminate al-Qaeda's errors whenever possible.
        To counter efforts by terrorists to plot attacks, raise money and recruit new members on the Internet, the government has mounted a secret campaign to plant bogus e-mail messages and Web site postings, with the intent to sow confusion, dissent and distrust among militant organizations, officials confirm. At the same time, American diplomats are quietly working behind the scenes with Middle Eastern partners to amplify the speeches and writings of prominent Islamic clerics who are renouncing terrorist violence. (New York Times)
  • Facebook Reverses Decision Moving West Bank Jews to "Palestine"
    The social networking Web site Facebook, which had begun automatically listing Jewish residents of the West Bank as living in "Palestine," reversed itself Monday and now is allowing them to list themselves as residents of Israel. "I was surprised and disappointed to find that my hometown of Ariel is listed in Facebook as being part of a country called 'Palestine,'" Ari Zimmerman wrote in a posting on Facebook. "I am a citizen of Israel, as are all of the other residents of Ariel. We do not live in 'Palestine,' nor does anyone else." Brandee Barker, Facebook's director of communications, said users now can choose between Israel or "Palestine" as their permanent residence. (FOX News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert to Merkel: Israel Will Continue to Build in Jerusalem
    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday that Israel would continue building in those areas of Jerusalem that it expects to keep under a final peace agreement. "Everyone knows that there is no chance that the State of Israel will give up a neighborhood like...Har Homa. It is an inseparable part of Jerusalem," Olmert said. "We have announced that there will be places where there will be additional building. These are places that will remain with Israel in any constellation, and this includes first and foremost Jerusalem, and everyone knows it," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel, PA Renew Talks on Core Issues - Barak Ravid
    Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Sunday officially renewed negotiations on the core issues of a final settlement following more than two weeks in which the talks were suspended due to the fighting in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli, Palestinian Officials Meet on Civilian Issues - Yaakov Katz
    For the first time since 1998, all of the officials that coordinate civilian and defense issues between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have met in a one-day symposium at IDF civil administration headquarters in Beit El, hosted by Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai as well as Hassin a-Sheikh, the PA official responsible for coordination with Israel. The sides discussed ways to increase foreign investments in the Palestinian territories and improve coordination on health-related issues. They also discussed plans to establish two new industrial zones in the West Bank that are slated to create 20,000 new jobs for Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rabbi Stabbed in Jerusalem's Old City - Meital Yasur-Beit Or
    A rabbi at the Ateret Kohanim yeshiva was stabbed by an Arab in the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday. Paramedic Ilan Klein said: "We found a 50-year-old man bleeding from the neck after being stabbed, but fully conscious. He said he was stabbed from behind." (Ynet News)
  • Murderers of Israeli Hikers Escape from PA Prison
    The Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli hikers Ahikam Amihai and David Rubin near Hebron in December have escaped from their PA prison cells, Israel Army Radio reported Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Urges Palestinians Abroad to "Return" to Israel on May 14 - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority is planning to mark Israel's 60th anniversary by calling on all Palestinians living abroad to converge on Israel by land, sea and air. The plan, drawn by Ziad Abu Ein, a senior Fatah operative and Deputy Minister for Prisoners' Affairs, calls on Palestinians to return to Israel on May 14, 2008, with their suitcases and tents so that they could settle in their former villages and towns. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are requested to facilitate the return of the Palestinians by opening their borders and allowing them to march toward Israel. The plan stresses that the Palestinians can no longer expect to achieve the "right of return" at the negotiating table with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • In War as in War - Yoel Marcus
    Despite the fact that we have signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, thanks to courageous leaders on both sides, Israel remains a target for elimination. The Palestinian people, whose right to establish a state of their own was granted by the UN at the same time as it was granted to Israel, chose to turn down the offer. Instead of living alongside a pint-size sliver of a state called Israel, the Palestinians preferred to fight for all or nothing. Yasser Arafat proudly drove into Gaza in a black limousine, waving to the cheering, hope-filled crowds. But instead of words of peace, the chairman's maiden speech was a war cry against Israel.
        Seven years of rocket fire into urban centers is not something that any country can tolerate. Any cease-fire deal that prevents Israel from fighting terror but allows missiles to be lobbed into our cities is out of the question. (Ha'aretz)
  • The PA's Reform Plan: Difficulties and Political Implications - Mohammad Yaghi
    The Palestinian Authority is still far from representing a compelling alternative to Hamas. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad continues to face significant political, economic, and security challenges to his reform plan. To make matters worse, the PA has received just $260 million out of the $7.7 billion pledged during the December international donors conference in Paris.
        Fayad reduced the number of civil service employees from 189,000 in mid-2007 to 150,000 by the end of the year. He is also requiring PA employees to bring proof that they have paid their utility bills in order to receive their monthly salaries. Non-collection of utility bills cost the PA more than $500 million in 2007. However, the civil servant syndicate - headed by Fatah - is protesting the utility payment requirement through a series of strikes. Fatah feels threatened by Fayad's attempts to exert control over public finances and the security services. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Canada Shifting towards Israel? - Oakland Ross
    Thirty-three member countries of the 47-seat UN Human Rights Council endorsed a resolution which accused Israel of war crimes in its ongoing battles against Palestinian militants in Gaza, including China, India and Russia. Thirteen countries abstained, among them seven European governments. Only one nation stood alone against the denunciation of Israel - Canada. "Canada has adopted several times in recent months very brave positions," said Carmela Shamir, deputy director of the North America division at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "There is a widespread impression that Canada's position is more pro-Israel than it has been in the past," said Peter Jones, an assistant professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa. (Toronto Star)
  • Observations:

    A Security Zone in Northern Gaza Could Push Rockets Out of Range - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • Israel's interest is to minimize attacks on its soil and citizens while limiting the cost of the response needed to achieve that goal. This can best be done by combining a more active version of current policy and the creation of a security zone in northern Gaza to push Hamas and its allies out of range.
    • This would be an interim policy until anti-rocket defenses could be implemented, in perhaps three years.
    • Of course, Israeli forces would be attacked, yet they would be in a strong, fortified position and know they were protecting the civilians behind them.
    • Some rockets would still fall on Israel, but the numbers would be far reduced and the area affected limited.
    • Would the world, which already claims Israel is occupying Gaza, do much if Israel temporarily took back 10%?

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