Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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April 16, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Abbas Honors Palestinians Who Helped Kill Israeli Civilians (Jerusalem Post)
    The Al Kuds Mark of Honor, the PLO's highest medal, will be given to two female terrorists who helped kill Israelis, Israel Radio reported Wednesday. Mahmoud Abbas has the final say when choosing the Palestinians to be honored with the medal.
    They include Ahlam Tamimi, who drove the suicide bomber that exploded in the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, killing 15 people, and Amra Muna, who seduced Ophir Rahum over the Internet and then lured him to Ramallah where he was murdered.
    See also Sbarro Terrorist Driver "Not Sorry" - Raanan Ben-Zur (Ynet News)

Top Lebanese Shiite Cleric Calls Israeli Foreign Minister's Qatar Visit an "Insult" to Muslims (AP/Ha'aretz)
    On Tuesday, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanon's top Shiite Muslim cleric, sharply criticized Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's visit to Qatar.
    Such visits "are not only meant to normalize [Israel's ties with Arab countries]... but are also designed to pave the way for an Arab-Israeli alliance against other Arabs and Muslims," he said in a statement.
    Fadlallah, 72, is a strong supporter of Hizbullah, Hamas, and other radical Palestinian factions that fight Israel.

In Simulated Test, Israeli Anti-Missile Intercepts Iranian Missile with Multiple Warhead - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's Arrow anti-ballistic missile system successfully simulated an interception of the Iranian Shihab missile on Tuesday.
    During the test, the Iranian missile split into multiple warheads, making it harder to intercept. However, the Arrow's radar tracked the missile, simulating an intercept.

First Israel-UK Strategic Dialogue Held in London (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    An Israeli team headed by Foreign Ministry Director-General Aaron Abramovitch met in London on Monday with a UK inter-departmental team for the first annual "Strategic Dialogue" to discuss regional and international issues of concern to both countries.

Jerusalem-Based Journalist Wins Italian Parliament Seat - Ruthie Blum (Jerusalem Post)
    Jewish journalist and global terrorism expert Fiamma Nirenstein was elected Monday to the Italian Parliament.
    Nirenstein, the long-time Israel correspondent for La Stampa, and more recently for Il Giornale, is famous in Italy for her unapologetic support of Israel and the U.S., and for her vocal opposition to Islamic fundamentalism.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Says Syria Arming Hizbullah Despite UN Resolution
    Syria is supplying Lebanon's Hizbullah militia with rockets in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak charged on Tuesday. The resolution called for the disarming of all militias - an allusion to Hizbullah as well as to Palestinian militant groups - and the prevention of illegal arms sales and smuggling operations in Lebanon. (AFP)
        See also UN Security Council Calls for Disarming Hizbullah
    The UN Security Council called for disarming Hizbullah and all other militias in Lebanon and a long-term solution to the conflict between Lebanon and Israel. A statement adopted by consensus Tuesday reiterates its commitment "to the full implementation of all provisions of Resolution 1701" which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
  • U.S. National Security Advisor in Israel for Talks on Iran
    U.S. national security advisor Stephen Hadley was in Israel on Tuesday to discuss Iran's nuclear program with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Israel Radio said Hadley would also meet with senior Israeli security officials to prepare for a session of the bilateral strategic cooperation forum in Washington in two weeks. (AFP)
  • An Inter-Fatah War in Lebanon? - Andrew Lee Butters
    Mahmoud Abbas keeps getting weaker and his Fatah movement has been losing ground in the Palestinian territories ever since the Islamic party Hamas won the Gaza elections in 2005. Still, at least Fatah remained the most powerful party among Palestinians living abroad, especially among the 400,000 Palestinians in Lebanon. Last week, Fatah rivals staged an assassination attempt against Abbas' man in Lebanon, Abbas Zaki. The would-be assassin was nabbed as he was about to plant a car bomb in front of the Palestinian embassy in Beirut.
        Under questioning, the suspect fingered the number two Palestinian leader in Lebanon, Sultan Abul Ainain, a warlord of the old school, accused by Lebanese authorities of heading a jihadist sleeper cell and various mafioso-style criminal activities. Abbas sent Zaki to Lebanon three years ago to clean up Sultan's mess. Abbas wants Sultan to face trial in a Palestinian court in Jordan. But the warlord is unlikely to go quietly. In the event of an inter-Fatah war in Lebanon (which Sultan would probably win), it is hard to imagine how Abbas could command enough respect among Palestinians to pull off a peace deal with Israel. (TIME)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Three IDF Troops Killed Near Gaza Border - Amos Harel
    Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed on Wednesday in an exchange of heavy gunfire with Palestinian militants next to the Gaza security fence near Kibbutz Be'eri. Two other soldiers were wounded. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Five Palestinian Gunmen Killed in Gaza, IDF Soldier Wounded - Ali Waked
    Four Hamas gunmen were killed during heavy exchanges of fire with IDF forces in central Gaza early Wednesday during an operation to target militants launching rockets. Earlier, Palestinian sources said that a senior member of Islamic Jihad, Abdullah al-Rasin, was killed and two others were wounded after an IDF airstrike. Meanwhile, an IDF soldier was wounded after being shot by a Palestinian sniper in Gaza. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Barrage Strikes Israel Wednesday
    Palestinians in Gaza launched ten Kassam rockets into Israel Wednesday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Mortar Strikes Kibbutz Home
    A mortar shell fired by Palestinians hit a house in Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha near the Gaza border on Tuesday night. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fatah Gunmen, PA Police Clash in Nablus - Ali Waked
    Exchanges of fire broke out Tuesday in the West Bank city of Nablus between Palestinian security forces and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades gunmen, wounding at least three bystanders. After the clash, the gunmen held a parade in Nablus in which they carried weapons, promised not to give in to the PA, and vowed to continue to fight Israel. The armed parade violated the PA security plan, which prohibits people who are not part of the Palestinian security forces from carrying weapons. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran Is Playing with Fire - Editorial
    Iran under the Islamic revolutionary government represents a serious security problem for Israel. It trains, funds and carries out terror via Hizbullah in Lebanon, and via Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and Gaza. It, or its emissaries, hid navigator Ron Arad. Under its aegis, Syria continues to choose hostility over seeking peace with Israel. Worst of all, its leaders explicitly declare their desire to destroy "the Zionist entity," and act to do so by developing ground-to-ground missiles and attempting to obtain nuclear weapons.
        The Iranians are evidently counting on the weakness of the West, and with good reason. The West includes states that want commercial relations with Iran. They laugh at the damage that Washington caused itself in the recent security assessment. Other states saw the softer assessment as a license to suspend the pressure on Iran. The threat of an American military operation - the fear of which led to the presumed suspension of the warhead program - has nearly disappeared. (Ha'aretz )
  • Israel Can Stand Up for Itself - Zev Chafets
    In response to the news from Iran, some supporters of Israel such as Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer have suggested that the failed efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons be replaced by assured American deterrence: any Iranian nuclear attack on Israel would be treated as an attack on the U.S. From Israel's perspective, the thought is tempting - but it's not realistic.
        In 1981, when Israeli planes destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, even the Reagan administration, usually a close ally, denounced the operation. Prime Minister Menachem Begin explained that he felt obligated to do anything in his power to stop Israel's enemies from getting their hands on means of mass killing. His primary focus was strategic. Israel would bear the ultimate responsibility for its own security. Don't misunderstand. It would be a noble thing for the U.S. to support Israel's efforts to stop an Iranian bomb or, if it comes to that, to back Israel's response to an attack. But no country can rely on the kindness of others. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Legitimizing Hamas - Matthew Levitt (Weekly Standard)

    • Imagine the Alice in Wonderland scene when U.S. Secret Service agents entrusted with protecting former president Jimmy Carter stand guard over his meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, the head of a designated terrorist group responsible for near daily attacks targeting civilians, including numerous attacks in which American citizens have been injured and killed.
    • Hamas must be brought into the political process, not isolated, the theory goes, but Hamas is dead set against a two-state solution, as its refusal to disavow the use of violence makes clear.
    • Whenever negotiators have come close to some type of Israeli-Palestinian agreement, Hamas has carried out attacks specifically aimed at derailing progress toward peace. According to declassified U.S. intelligence, cells under Meshaal's supervision "have been implicated in efforts by Hamas to plan large attacks that would undermine the road map peace plan."
    • Engaging Hamas will not help the peace process; it will legitimize the group most violently opposed to such progress.

      The writer directs the Stein program on counterterrorism and intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

        See also Carter's Hamas Meeting Comes at Bad Time - Lt. Col. Rick Francona (MSNBC)

    • We have a former president traveling to a country on the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism to meet with the leader of a terrorist organization that conducts daily attacks on one of America's closest allies. This sends the wrong message to Hamas at the wrong time.
    • The message: if you are Hamas - or any terrorist organization - conduct terrorist attacks, kill innocent noncombatants, remove rival political party officials, breach an international border and import advanced weaponry. Then you will be rewarded with international recognition by one of the world's foremost peace negotiators that you are a legitimate interlocutor in the peace process.
    • Mr. Carter, please reconsider what you are doing. You are attempting to negotiate between two opposing parties, one of which has specifically asked you not to do so. The U.S. State Department has asked you not to do so. Just whom do you represent at the table?

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