Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 8, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians Received Nearly $1 Billion in Last Six Months (AFP)
    The international community has paid out $920 million in direct aid to the Palestinians in six months, officials of the International Donors' Conference for the Palestinian State said in Paris on Monday.

Achille Lauro Hijacker Released (BBC News)
    Ibrahim Fatayer Abdelatif, 43, one of the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, has been set free after spending more than two decades in jail in Italy.
    In the attack, one of the hijackers shot and killed U.S. tourist Leon Klinghoffer - a 69-year-old who was in a wheelchair - before throwing him overboard.

Cairo Conference Looks at Iranian Influence - Dina Ezzat (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
    At a seminar held Sunday by the Cairo-based International Center for Futuristic and Strategic Studies, Hassan Abu Taleb, editor of the Arab Strategic Report produced annually by the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, argued that the influence of Iran on Hamas has to be acknowledged and dealt with.
    While joining several other participants in implicitly criticizing Iranian influence, Abu Taleb stopped short of calling for further isolation of Iran.
    The tougher it gets for Iran, he suggested, the tougher it would be for regional players defined by Tehran as political adversaries.
    According to Abu Taleb, Hamas and Hizbullah will always reflect Tehran's political line, simply because of their financial and political dependence on Iran.

Egypt Protests Iranian Documentary on Sadat's Assassination (AFP)
    Egypt called in Iran's envoy in Cairo on Monday to lodge a formal protest over the airing of a documentary about the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
    In the Iranian-produced documentary entitled "Assassination of a Pharaoh," which has already been shown on Iranian television, the filmmakers portray what they call "the revolutionary assassination of the treacherous Egyptian president at the hands of the martyr Khaled Islambouli," the Cairo daily Al-Masry al-Youm said.
    Islamic militant Islambouli was one of the soldiers who shot Sadat dead at a military parade in Cairo on October 6, 1981. He was hanged in 1982 and subsequently had a Tehran street named after him.
    The film says Sadat was killed for signing the 1978 Camp David accords that led to a 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

Smugglers Kill Egyptian Policeman at Border with Israel (AP/Washington Post)
    Egypt's state-owned news agency MENA reported that smugglers killed an Egyptian police officer during a shootout on the border with Israel on Monday when his patrol tried to stop the smugglers from crossing into Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Has Resumed A-Bomb Project, Says West - Con Coughlin
    Iran has resumed work on constructing highly sophisticated equipment that nuclear experts say is primarily used for building atomic weapons, according to the latest intelligence reports received by Western diplomats. Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which has overall responsibility for the country's nuclear program, has set up several civilian companies to work on the program whose activities are being deliberately concealed from the UN nuclear inspection teams. The companies are constructing components for the advanced P2 gas centrifuge, which can enrich uranium to weapons grade two to three times faster than conventional P1 centrifuges. "If Iran's nuclear intentions were peaceful there would be no need for it to undertake this work in secret," said an official familiar with the intelligence reports.
        A previous clandestine attempt by Iran to develop P2 centrifuges was halted in 2004 after the existence of a civilian company set up by the Revolutionary Guard was exposed. UN nuclear inspectors found traces of weapons-grade uranium at the company when they inspected the premises. According to recent intelligence reports, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally ordered the Revolutionary Guard to set up companies for the secret manufacture of components for P2 centrifuges this year. (Telegraph-UK)
  • NYC Lawsuit Claims Lebanese Banks Helped Enable Hizbullah to Kill Civilians
    Some 57 Israeli victims of terrorist attacks in Israel filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Thursday seeking at least $100 million in damages from Lebanese banks for aiding Hizbullah and abetting its ability to kill civilians. Fransabank Sal, Banque Libanese Pour Le Commerce, Bank of Beirut Sal, Banque Libano-Francaise Sal and the Middle East Africa Bank were accused of providing Hizbullah with "regular, systemic and unfettered access to U.S. currency," enabling it to buy missiles and other weapons to terrorize civilians. The lawsuit said a Hizbullah fundraising form asks donors whether they wish to fund specific items such as missiles or small arms. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
        See also Canadian Victims of Hizbullah Missile Attacks File Suit Against Lebanese Canadian Bank
    Canadian victims of Hizbullah terror attacks have filed an unprecedented civil action in the Quebec Superior Court against the Lebanese-Canadian Bank (LCB) in Montreal. The plaintiffs, all of whom were injured in northern Israel in Katyusha rocket attacks, allege that LCB unlawfully provided financial services to the Hizbullah terrorist organization by allowing charity groups affiliated with Hizbullah to transfer funds prior to and during the attacks on Israeli cities in 2006. (Canada NewsWire)
  • Palestinian Prime Minister Calls for Arab Forces to Deploy in Gaza - Wafa Amr
    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Monday proposed the temporary deployment of Arab security forces in Gaza to help reunite Hamas-run Gaza with the West Bank. Fayyad said restoring Palestinian Authority control over Gaza "is a key objective." (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Mortar Fire Continues, Violating Truce - Fadi Eyadat
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two mortars on Monday that landed between the Karni crossing and Nahal Oz, violating a cease-fire that went into effect in Gaza on June 19. (Ha'aretz)
  • Abbas Meets Islamic Jihad Head in Syria - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA leader Mahmoud Abbas met in Damascus Monday with the head of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, and discussed efforts to achieve "national unity" in the Palestinian territories. Islamic Jihad has refused to sign on to the cease-fire agreement reached between Hamas and Israel more than two weeks ago. Sources close to Islamic Jihad said the group's leaders had urged Abbas to suspend the peace talks with Israel. The sources said Abbas had agreed to release Islamic Jihad prisoners held in PA jails in the West Bank and to stop pursuing members of the group. Earlier, Abbas briefed leaders of other radical Palestinian factions, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
        Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar on Monday denied reports his movement was prepared to cede control over security installations in Gaza in return for the formation of a Hamas-Fatah unity government. Zahar said Hamas would not hand back the security headquarters to Abbas' forces unless they reformed themselves and stopped cooperating with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Accuses Israel of Poisoning Palestinian Prisoners - Roee Nahmias
    In a series of recent reports published in the Palestinian Authority's official newspaper, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, Israel is accused of poisoning Palestinian prisoners in its custody and conducting "medical experiments" on them. According to excerpts translated by Palestinian Media Watch, "The occupation forces continue to conduct medical experiments on Palestinian and Arab prisoners in their facilities." (Ynet News)
  • Two Hamas Members Killed in Gaza Training Accident
    At least two Palestinians were killed on Tuesday in an explosion at a Hamas training camp located in a former Israeli settlement near Khan Yunis in Gaza. "Paramedics evacuated two dead bodies and two wounded persons and we expect more casualties because the blast destroyed the whole facility," said Muawia Hassanien of the PA Health Ministry ambulance department. (Xinhua-China)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran Diplomacy an Exercise in Self-Delusion - Benny Avni
    The West's current diplomatic strategy - offering endless incentives to Iran, hoping it will change its behavior - is little more than an exercise in self-delusion. Western diplomats reportedly are "disappointed" at Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's response to the most recent incentive package that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana offered to Iran. Reading Solana's package of benefits, Israel's former deputy defense minister, Ephraim Sneh, told me, "I thought it was being offered to Sweden or Norway," not a terrorist regime that has thumbed its nose at UN Security Council resolutions. "Iran will fool the West to buy time, and the West will allow itself to be fooled."  (New York Sun)
  • Fear of Calling a Terrorist a Terrorist - Bradley Burston
    Last week, a Palestinian drove a bulldozer over and into a succession of cars in an incident which shocked and perplexed a public which, until that moment, believed they had seen it all. Sometimes, when a Palestinian terrorist strikes, it is the natural reaction of some observers to find new and creative ways to explain why Israel - and only Israel - was truly to blame.
        There are those who argue that the bulldozer driver was not a terrorist because he did not belong to an organization which ordered him to kill, or because he used drugs, or was otherwise emotionally unstable. I would suggest that terrorism is terrorism whether committed on orders or on one's own volition. Terrorism is many things, but justifiable is not among them. The person who justifies terror in any form, is declaring that it is legitimate in certain cases to kill innocent people. If justifying the murder of innocents because they belong to a certain hated group is not abject racism, I'd like to know what is. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Strengthening the Partnership: How to Deepen U.S.-Israel Cooperation on the Iranian Nuclear Challenge (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • The prospect that the Islamic Republic of Iran may successfully develop a nuclear weapons capability could confront the United States and Israel with the most serious challenge in the history of their relationship.
    • There is a growing perception that the United States may be reconciling itself to the idea of "living with an Iranian nuclear bomb." Americans should recognize that deterrence is, in Israeli eyes, an unattractive alternative to prevention, because, if deterrence fails, Israel would suffer terribly. This only reinforces the idea among many Israelis that, in the end, they may be left alone to bear the brunt of the Iranian nuclear threat.
    • Many Israelis are not convinced that traditional deterrence will work against a regime that has within it a significant messianic, even apocalyptic, element. They fear that the sort of costs whose prospect deterred the Soviet Union during the Cold War may not be sufficient in the case of Iran's current leadership.
    • We urge that the President begin a national conversation with the American people on the challenges, risks, and dilemmas posed to U.S. interests by the potential Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability, and on ways to prevent it. It is important for the president to raise popular awareness of the fact that Iran's nuclear ambitions are likely to trigger a surge of nuclear proliferation and raise the potential of terrorists gaining nuclear weapons.
    • The central argument is that preventing Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability is not special pleading for America's ally Israel - it is vital to America's own security.
    • Signatories: Robert Blackwill, former deputy national security advisor for strategic planning, Bush administration; Richard Clarke, former national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection, and counterterrorism, Clinton and Bush administrations; Thomas Donilon, former chief of staff and assistant secretary of state for public affairs, Clinton administration; John Hillen, former assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, Bush administration; Max Kampelman, former ambassador and arms control negotiator; Bob Kerrey, former U.S. senator (D-Neb.); Anthony Lake, former assistant to the president for national security affairs, Clinton administration; Samuel Lewis, former ambassador to Israel, Carter and Reagan administrations; Mark Parris, former senior director of the National Security Council; Susan Rice, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Clinton administration; James Roche, former secretary of the Air Force, Bush administration; Dennis Ross, former Middle East peace envoy; Robert Satloff, executive director, Washington Institute; Wendy Sherman, former counselor to the State Department, Clinton administration; Walter Slocombe, former undersecretary of defense for policy, Clinton administration; Vin Weber, chairman, National Endowment for Democracy; R. James Woolsey, former director of central intelligence, Clinton administration.

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