Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 14, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Israelis Oppose Jerusalem Concessions - Abe Selig (Jerusalem Post)
    71% of Israelis oppose a peace deal that would entail handing over Jerusalem's Old City and Temple Mount to the Palestinians, according to a new poll released by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on Sunday.
    56% believed that any part of Jerusalem handed over to the Palestinians was "likely" or "very likely" to serve as a base for terrorist acts against Israel.
    "The public feels that the Palestinians are after more than the Old City in Jerusalem, and fears that they will continue to attack Israel even if a deal over the city is reached," said BESA Center Director Prof. Efraim Inbar.

Report: Two Syrian Officers Executed Over Involvement in Hizbullah Commander's Assassination - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    Lebanon's Al-Shiraa magazine reported Saturday that two weeks ago Syrian intelligence broke into the houses of two Syrian officers in Damascus and executed them with shots to the head, apparently due to their involvement in the assassination of top Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh.

Israel, U.S. Sign Nuclear Cooperation Agreement - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    Israel and the U.S. signed an agreement last week to step up cooperation in the field of nuclear safety.
    The agreement will enable the Israel Atomic Energy Commission to access most of the latest nuclear safety data, procedures and technology available in the U.S.

PA Governor of Nablus Attacked in City's Hamas Stronghold (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    Palestinians in Balata, a Hamas stronghold in the West Bank city of Nablus, opened fire Sunday at the car of the PA governor of the Nablus region, Jamal Muhaisen, wounding four people.
    Muhaisen ran into a house to take cover while local residents set his car on fire.

Three Palestinians Die in Gaza "Work Accident" Explosion (AP/Washington Post)
    Three Palestinians died and seven were wounded in an explosion in a house in Gaza belonging to a member of Hamas.
    Local residents say the blast Sunday likely resulted from the accidental detonation of explosives.

Hebron University Shut Down after Fatah-Hamas Clashes - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The administration of the Islamic University in Hebron decided Saturday to suspend studies until further notice following fierce clashes on campus between students affiliated with Fatah and Hamas.
    Several students were wounded during the riots. Other campuses have witnessed similar confrontations.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Top Threat to Iraq, U.S. Says - Karen DeYoung
    Last week's violence in Basra and Baghdad has convinced the Bush administration that actions by Iran, and not al-Qaeda, are the primary threat inside Iraq, according to senior U.S. officials. Evidence of an increase in Iranian weapons, training and direction for the Shiite militias has fixed new U.S. attention on what Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates Friday called Tehran's "malign" influence. With "al-Qaeda in retreat and disarray" in Iraq, said one official, "the Iranian-armed militias are now the biggest threat to internal order." (Washington Post)
  • Rice, Congressmen Criticize Carter Over Hamas Plans
    Secretary of State Rice criticized former President Carter on Friday for his plans to meet the exiled leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas during a visit to Syria. "I find it hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is, in fact, the impediment to peace," Rice said. "Hamas is a terrorist organization." Several Democratic members of the House including Reps. Artur Davis (Ala.), Shelley Berkley (Nev.), Adam Schiff (Cal.), and Adam Smith (Wash.) asked Carter to drop the planned meeting, saying Carter's meeting could "confer legitimacy" on a group that embraces violence. (AP)
        See also Israeli President Peres Tells Carter He's Hurting Peace Process
    Israeli president Shimon Peres accused former U.S. president Jimmy Carter of causing significant damage to Israel and the peace process in recent years, during a meeting between the two men Sunday in Jerusalem. Peres criticized Carter for comparing Israeli policies to apartheid in his recent book, and said it would be a mistake for Carter to meet with Khaled Meshal in Damascus, saying Meshal is responsible for Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas MP: Islam to Conquer Europe and America
    Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, said on Al-Aqsa TV on April 11, 2008: "Allah has chosen you [the Palestinians] for Himself and for His religion, so that you will serve as the engine pulling this nation to...military conquests of the capitals of the entire world. Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our Prophet Muhammad. Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam - this capital of theirs will be an advance post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe." (MEMRI)
        See also PA Representative in Lebanon: We Act According to the Phased Plan. Once We Get Jerusalem, We Will Drive Israelis Out of All of Palestine
    Abbas Zaki, PA representative in Lebanon, told Lebanon's NBN TV on April 9, 2008: The PLO "has not changed its platform even one iota....When the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine." (MEMRI)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Fabricating Fuel Crisis - Yaakov Lappin and Mark Weiss
    Israel plans to transfer fuel supplies to Gaza via the Nahal Oz depot within the "next couple of days," a government official said Saturday night. Israel dismissed as "Hamas spin" Palestinian claims that fuel was running low and that electricity supplies in Gaza would have to be cut. The IDF said 2,200,000 liters of diesel fuel and fuel oil is transferred to the Gaza power plant every week.
        Col. Nir Press, head of the IDF's Coordination and Liaison Administration at the Erez crossing with Gaza, said: "In the past two weeks, we have seen Palestinian activity aimed at instigating a crisis in the fuel sector through planned strikes and protests. The closed fuel stations in Gaza and the long lines of vehicles and people waiting long hours to fill their cars are the product of Hamas activity and a planned media campaign, which comes at the expense of local residents."
        "For the past two weeks, fuel on the Palestinian side of Nahal Oz could have been distributed to gas stations, but this has not happened....As of today, 188,000 liters of gasoline and over 800,000 liters of diesel fuel are sitting on the Palestinian side....Hamas is deliberately harming civilians in Gaza by refusing to allow the fuel to be distributed to gas stations for humanitarian needs." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Foreign Minister Meets Arab Leaders in Qatar - Barak Ravid
    Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni arrived in Qatar on Sunday to attend the Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade, at which she has been invited to speak. Senior Lebanese and Iranian officials responded by canceling their participation. "The Arab states cannot continue sitting on the fence when it comes to support and backing for the peace process," Livni said Sunday. Livni wants to enlist Qatar and other Persian Gulf states at the conference in the peace process. "The greater the support from the Arab states, the easier it will be for the Palestinians to reach decisions," she said. She wishes to convey to the Arab officials she meets that "Israel is no longer the enemy," and that "a situation has been created in which the threat is posed by Iran and extremist elements such as Hamas and Hizbullah." (Ha'aretz)
  • Two Palestinian Rockets Land Near Sderot - Ze'ev Trachtman
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets that landed near the Israeli town of Sderot on Saturday. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • More Meddling from Carter - Editorial
    Is there no America-hating, anti-Israel thug that Jimmy Carter wouldn't do business with? On his Mideast travels this month, Carter is planning to meet in Syria with Khaled Meshal, the exiled head henchman of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that refuses to recognize the existence of Israel, is waging war against it, and pledges to destroy the Jewish state. Being an ex-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, when Carter meets with a top terrorist thug, it enhances the legitimacy and stature of that thug in the eyes of the rest of the world. It might encourage European and other nations to loosen sanctions against Hamas when the U.S. government seeks to tighten them. Carter's doing more than embarrassing his nation. He's betraying it. (Augusta [GA] Chronicle)
        See also Tea with Terrorists - Editorial (New York Post)
        See also Carter's Foolish Journey - Editorial (Chicago Tribune)
  • Gaza: A Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of Iran - Caroline Glick
    By directly supporting Hamas and by supporting Hamas indirectly through Syria and Hizbullah, Teheran has transformed Gaza into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran. While Hamas may have independent interests, the fact is that any independent will Hamas may have had at one time has become entirely subservient to Teheran. This is so because Teheran has rendered itself Hamas' indispensable ally and protector. Without Iran, Hamas would have no staying power.
        Led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the Sunni Arab states are well aware of Iran's proxy strategy for attaining regional dominance, and they are not pleased. The partial boycott of the Arab League summit in Damascus last month was the Sunni Arab states' way of showing their displeasure with Iran's domination of Syria and Lebanon.
        The only battleground where Iranian proxies are directly confronted today is in Iraq. After the 2006 Iranian proxy war against Israel, Hizbullah has been permitted to rebuild its forces and its arsenal and to reassert control over much of south Lebanon and to extend its control north of the Litani River. Rather than confront Hamas, at the U.S.'s insistence, Israel has done nothing to prevent Hamas' military buildup in Gaza or even to prevent it from continuing its rocket campaign against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Countering Iran - Editorial (Washington Post)

    • Iranian-backed militias and "special groups" in Iraq have evolved from a shadow force into the largest remaining threat to U.S. forces and the Iraqi government. It was Iranian-supplied rockets that slammed into the Green Zone in recent days and Iranian-trained militants who stiffened the resistance to Iraqi government forces trying to gain control over the southern city of Basra.
    • The proxy war in Iraq is just one front in a much larger Iranian offensive. Israel has been fighting an on-and-off battle in the Gaza Strip with Hamas cadres that also have been trained and equipped by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. In Lebanon the Iranian-backed Hizbullah movement has paralyzed the government while rebuilding its own massive arsenal, which now includes tens of thousands of missiles. And last week, Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced another major acceleration in the country's nuclear program which would give Iran the capacity to produce the core of a bomb in a matter of months.
    • The urgency and momentum of the Bush administration's multilateral diplomatic campaign against Iran drained away following the release in December of a National Intelligence Estimate that misleadingly emphasized Iran's reported decision to put one part of its nuclear program on hold.
    • The reports to Congress by Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker point at a growing menace that the Bush administration, and its successor, cannot afford to ignore.

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