Thursday, July 31, 2008

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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
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July 31, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Official: Iraqis Told Me WMDs Sent to Syria - Ryan Mauro (WorldNetDaily)
Don Bordenkircher, who served two years as national director of prison and jail operations in Iraq, said that about 40 prisoners he spoke with "boasted of being involved in the transport of WMD warheads to Syria" in the three months prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He said he was told the WMDs were shipped by truck into Syria, and some ended up in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
Prisoners who said they worked at the al-Muthana Chemical Industries site said the cargo included nitrogen mustard gas warheads for Tariq I and II missiles.


Syria Tries Dissidents Over Call for Democracy (AFP)
Twelve Syrian dissidents went on trial in Damascus on Wednesday for signing a declaration calling for democracy in the biggest collective trial of dissidents since 2001.
They were charged with "spreading false information which weakens the morale of the nation and national sentiment, joining a secret organization with the aim of modifying the nation's political and economic status, inciting racial and sectarian dissent and harming the state."


Al-Qaeda's Sinister Creep into North Africa - Amir Taheri (Times-UK)
Since the tide of the war turned last winter, thousands of al-Qaeda jihadists have fled Iraq.
Some returned home and resumed normal life. Others ended up in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Thailand to help reignite the fires of jihad.
However, North Africa appears to have attracted the largest number of returnees.
A new arc of terror is taking shape in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania - the five countries of the so-called Arab Maghreb in North Africa.


Roadside Bomb Wounds Fatah Commander in Lebanon - Hussein Dakroub (AP/Washington Post)
A roadside bomb in Lebanon Tuesday critically wounded Talal Sleim, a Fatah military commander, setting off gunbattles at Ein el-Hilweh, where Fatah guerrillas exchanged machine-gun fire with Palestinian gunmen of the Jund al-Sham group, which follows the extremist ideology of al-Qaeda.


Anti-Semitic Incidents in UK Rise 9% (BBC News)
There were 266 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in the first half of 2008, compared with 244 in the same period last year, a 9% rise, according to the Community Security Trust (CST).
Incidents involving Jewish students or academics and at colleges rose 88%, from 26 to 49.
"Every anti-Semitic attack is a blight on society," said MP John Mann, chair of the parliamentary group against anti-Semitism.

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Israeli Prime Minister Olmert Declares Intent to Resign in September - Isabel Kershner
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Wednesday that he would resign after his Kadima party chose a new leader in September elections. The leadership race has been set for Sept. 17, with a runoff, if necessary, on Sept. 24. The main contenders are Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister. (New York Times)
See also Olmert to Continue Serving as Prime Minister Until New Government Formed - Shmuel Tal
The person who is elected to head Kadima will be asked to form a government and until he succeeds in doing it, Olmert will continue to serve as prime minister. If the new chairman of Kadima fails to form a government, Olmert will serve as prime minister until after the coming general elections. (Israel Radio/IMRA)
See also Text of Prime

Olmert and new elections

By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 18 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - A day after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced he would depart political life, top rival Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel should get rid of its current governing coalition and go straight to early elections.


Polls show the Likud Party's Netanyahu — a former prime minister who takes a hard line on territorial concessions to the Arabs — would most likely win such a race if it were held today. Olmert threw Israel's political system into turmoil on Wednesday by abruptly announcing he would step down after his Kadima Party's leadership race in September, called because of a series of corruption allegations against him.

"This is a government that has come to the end of its road," Netanyahu told Israel Radio on Thursday. "It doesn't make any difference who heads Kadima, they are all part to a string of failures by this government."

Olmert announced his decision to leave office in September amid a series of corruption probes. The most serious involves suspicions that he illicitly took hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from a Jewish American fundraiser.

Israel's political system allows Olmert's replacement as Kadima head to carry out his term, which was to have ended in November 2010.

It is possible that the next Kadima leader would not be able to form a coalition government, given the fractious and freewheeling nature of Israeli politics. In that event, new elections would be called, and held early next year. It's possible that Olmert could remain as a caretaker prime minister during this time.

"The right thing to do when the prime minister goes is ... to let the people choose who will lead them and whoever is chosen, he is the one who will need to put together a government," Netanyahu said.

The internal turmoil could make it difficult for Olmert to close deals with either the Palestinians or Syria — agreements that long have eluded Israeli leaders.

"The Arabs are asking themselves how useful an agreement with Olmert would be, because he is a self-proclaimed lame duck and he will have a hard time to get his deals approved," said Yossi Alpher, an Israeli political analyst.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Olmert's decision would change little.

"It's true that Olmert was enthusiastic about the peace process, and he spoke about this process with great attention, but this process has not achieved any progress or breakthrough," Malki said. He said the Palestinians would deal with any Israeli government.

The top two contenders to succeed Olmert in Kadima are Livni, a centrist who enjoys widespread public support and is leading Israeli negotiations with the Palestinians, and Shaul Mofaz, a hawkish former defense minister and military chief who headed Israel's security operations when it put down a Palestinian uprising eight years ago.

Public opinion surveys show Livni polling strong, but Mofaz gaining strength within Kadima and Netanyahu generally trumping them both.

Livni is in Washington this week and hasn't yet commented publicly on Israeli media since Olmert announced he would quit.

Mofaz told Israeli Radio on Thursday that he doesn't favor early elections.

"It is in the country's interest to form the broadest possible government in order to stabilize the situation and to face the challenges Israel can expect," he said.

Those challenges include peacemaking with the Palestinians and Syria, and the Iranian nuclear threat.

Since Olmert became premier, police have launched six corruption investigations against him, all involving events that took place before he took office. The last — suspicions that he double- and triple-billed charities and government ministries for identical trips — delivered the final blow to his political career.

Olmert, who has been dogged by corruption allegations throughout his career but never convicted, has denied any wrongdoing.

He also came under severe criticism for his handling of Israel's monthlong war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas in 2006. The war ended without achieving its two declared aims: crushing Hezbollah or returning two soldiers whose captured sparked the conflict.

Their bodies were returned to Israel earlier this month as part of a prisoner swap.

"The Olmert era: The End" — proclaimed the Maariv daily on its front page Thursday. "The right step" — declared the Yediot Ahronot daily. Both showed Olmert from the back, his head bowed, on the patio of his official residence, where he announced his plans to quit.

"Ehud Olmert has mercifully spared Israel the shameful potential ignominy of having a prime minister indicted while in office," the Jerusalem Post newspaper wrote in an editorial.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Iran and war

Israeli website DEBKAfile, claiming that an Israeli official had said that should the current nuclear talks with Iran fail, that US President George W. Bush is prepared to give his okay for a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and other targets after the November 2008 US elections (November 2008-January 2009 timeframe).

It is also asserted that the recent meeting Saturday by the #3 official at the US State Department, William Burns, with Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili was not so much a strategic shift in US policy as basically an ultimatum or last ditch effort at diplomacy. Thus, if the Iranians fail in 2 weeks to accept the incentive package offered by the US and its allies and if Tehran fails to halt its nuclear enrichment, the US is likely to immediately push for even tougher sanctions on Iran and then if all else fails, approve an attack on Iran at the end of this year. It's not clear if Bush giving the OK for an attack on Iran means giving Israel the "green light" or that the US will attack Iran with or without Israeli assistance. Many analysts (myself included) believe that if Israel attacks Iran, Tehran will strike back at US interests and if the US attacks Iran on its own, Tehran will order attacks on Israeli interests, thus, should an attack on Iran occur, it may very well be a joint US-Israeli strike to increase the odds of "success."

Should President George W. Bush authorize a US attack on Iran during his last 90 days in office, it will not be without precedent, as his father, President George H.W. Bush, also ordered US troops to Somalia after losing the November 1992 election, leaving President Clinton to deal with the mess (i.e., "Black Hawk Down," etc.). Thus, President Bush #41 and #43 will have taken the US to war with Iraq, precided over a recession (or at least an economic slowdown) at the end of their terms, and sent American military forces into combat in the last 90 days of office, leaving the incoming US president to deal with the consequences. This scenario may not happen, but it is a real possibility.

Richard Baehr on Obama

David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post interviews Barack Obama. Read carefully his comments on settlements in the West Bank. Is Obama unaware of the Clinton/ Barak offer to the Palestinians in the summer and fall of 2000, which was rejected by Yassar Arafat, who then launched the very deadly second intifada? There is, to put it mildly, a strong dose of a pox on both your houses in Obama's remarks- that both sides are equally responsible for the impasse that remains. I think not- the impasse that exists is because one side, Israel, is and has been, willing to compromise on certain things in order to end the conflict, and the other side has had no interest in ending the conflict, short of achieving its ultimate goal- the end of Israel. Until that changes, there can be no end to the conflict.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

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Chicago, Midwest, and US news

JUF expresses condolences to soldiers' families

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict

16 hurt in second bulldozer attack in Jerusalem
Peres gives Abbas red carpet welcome for peace talks
Palestinian report: U.S. plans peace talks with Israelis and Palestinians
Obama meets with Israeli and Palestinian leaders
Six Arabs arrested in Israel for allegedly plotting attack on Bush
New Arab city nears creation
Hamas using truce to plant mines in Gaza

Israel and World News

Hezbollah moves into 'every town' in S. Lebanon
Israeli military intelligence chief warns of attacks on northern, southern fronts
Al-Qaida in Israel fertile ground for terrorism
Syrian visitors' meeting scrapped
UK's Brown promotes academic links with Israel
Seizing the day in Tel Aviv

Iran Watch

US gives Iran two weeks to think again on enrichment
IDF chief: All options open against Iran

Events and Programs

TOV's first annual Green Mitzvah Mania continues next month!
Teens: Learn about terrific programs just for you

Editorial, Opinion & Analysis

From the world press


Chicago, Midwest, and US news

On behalf of Chicago's Jewish community, JUF/JF President Steven B. Nasatir wrote letters to the Regev family and to Karnit Goldwasser--who Nasatir had met in Israel during the first week of the Lebanon War--offering his deepest condolences on their losses.

Meanwhile, a Chicago Tribune reporter who interviewed Karnit writes again about her struggles on behalf of her husband, and quotes JUF's JCRC Executive Director on the quandries Israel confronts in such prisoner exchanges.

Since the summer of 2006, JUF has shown support for and solidarity with the Goldwasser and Regev families. On August 6, 2006 Karnit Goldwasser, Udi's wife, and Shlomo Goldwasser, his father, spoke at an event for JUF's Israel Emergency Campaign and also met with JUF leaders during an Israel Emergency Campaign Mission to Israel. The community has also reached out to the Regev family.

In the fall of 2000, JUF initiated a Blue Ribbon public awareness campaign to draw attention to the plight of Adi Avitan, Benny Avraham and Omar Souad, IDF soldiers also abducted by Hezbollah terrorists from the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon. As with Goldwasser and Regev, their welfare and whereabouts also remained hidden for more than a year.

"Wearing these blue ribbons is our way of bringing this tragedy to the attention of our community and standing in solidarity with their parents, who wait anxiously for some word, any word, about their beloved sons," said Nasatir at a December 5 , 2000 rally in Ramat Gan, which launched the Blue Ribbon campaign.

As the community mourns the fate of Goldwasser and Regev, it continues to stand with the families of Ron Arad, who has been missing in Lebanon since 1982, and Gilad Shalit, kidnapped by Hamas in 2005 and believed to be held in Gaza.

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict

For the second time in three weeks, an Arab bulldozer driver from east Jerusalem rammed his construction vehicle into a city bus and several cars on a central thoroughfare in the capital on Tuesday, wounding 15 people before being shot dead by a Druse border police officer and a civilian passerby.

Also read 'All the terrorist wanted to do was to kill Jews' (Jerusalem Post).

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Israeli President Shimon Peres gave Mahmud Abbas a red carpet welcome on Tuesday when he welcomed the Palestinian leader to his official Jerusalem residence for talks on the peace process. The largely ceremonial Israeli president greeted Abbas for the first time with a red carpet and Palestinian flags flying. In the past, Abbas has been received either at the Israeli cabinet office or Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's official resident .
"We have a chance of peace. We must not let it escape, we must not lose it," Abbas said, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

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U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to host peace talks in Washington with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on July 30, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Thursday. Rice met a Palestinian delegation in Washington on Wednesday and offered to host the three-way meeting between herself, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurie and his Israeli partner, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Erekat said.

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Senator Barack Obama met with leaders on both sides of the Middle East conflict on Wednesday, pledging to protect Israel and prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Obama, who said he hoped his appearance here would open the door to a stronger bond with Jewish voters at home, pledged that if elected president he would not pressure Israel to accept concessions with Palestinians that would compromise security for Israelis. He also sought to allay concerns over his proposal to negotiate with Iran.

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Israel Police and the Shin Bet Security Service have arrested six Arabs--two of them Israeli citizens and the other four Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem--with alleged links to the Al-Qaida terror network. A gag order lifted on Friday revealed that the suspects allegedly planned to attack U.S. President George W. Bush's helicopter during one of his recent visits to the region.

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The Israeli Cabinet voted on Sunday to form a ministerial committee to focus on the establishment of a new Arab city in the Galilee. If the city is established, it will be the first new Arab city since the birth of the State of Israel in 1948 - save permanent housing projects developed for Bedouins in the Negev. There is widespread Arab public support for creating the new city, although some say the government should invest in the development of existing Arab cities rather than building a new one.

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Hamas has been taking advantage of the truce in order to plant mines in wide areas in the Gaza Strip, Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin warned the Knesset's Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

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Israel and World News

Hezbollah is bolstering its presence in south Lebanon villages with non-Shi'ite majorities by buying land and using it to build military positions and store missiles and launchers, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The decision to build infrastructure in non-Shi'ite villages - where Hezbollah has less support - is part of the group's post-war strategy under which it has mostly abandoned the "nature reserves," forested areas in southern Lebanon where it kept most of its Katyusha rocket launchers before the Second Lebanon War.

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Israel's Director of Military Intelligence Major-General Amos Yadlin told the cabinet Sunday that Israel's enemies have no interest in provoking any military conflict while US President George W. Bush is still in office. The military, he warned, does believe a limited military campaign, which will probably not escalate into a full-fledged war, is possible.

"We have intelligence indicating terror activities are possible both on the northern and southern fronts. Hezbollah may choose to use one of their still disputed subjects, such as the Shaaba Farms or Imad Mugniyah's assassination," he told the cabinet.

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The uncovering of a second Arab-Israeli cell with ties to Al-Qaida in the space of a few weeks does not quite suggest that an attack by international Islamic terrorism is imminent. But we are still able to learn two things: that among Arab Israelis, like the Palestinians in the territories, there is growing support for the messages of Al-Qaida, and that the Israeli security services are also countering terrorist plans also through the Internet.

Also read Intelligence bodies warn threat from global Jihad 'substantial' (Ynet)

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In an abrupt about-face, the U.S. State Department on Wednesday scrubbed plans to meet with a visiting delegation from Syria, a meeting that could have signaled an easing of tense U.S. relations with Damascus.

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British academics will be encouraged to conduct research with their Israeli peers in an attempt to heal fractured relations between UK and Israeli universities. Gordon Brown signed up to a 740,000 pounds academic exchange scheme during his trip to Israel this week.
The government has been keen to promote links between the two countries to play down attempts by British academics to boycott Israeli academics over the treatment of Palestinians.

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Read a New York Times travel article about the city of Tel Aviv.

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Iran Watch

Iranian and American officials were deadlocked yesterday after their most highly publicized meeting for nearly 30 years failed to produce a breakthrough on Iran's nuclear enrichment program. After six unproductive hours the Iranians were given two weeks to respond.
"Iran has a choice to make: negotiation or further isolation," said US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

But President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted on Wednesday that Tehran would not "retreat one iota" from its atomic work, which includes the enrichment of uranium.

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IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Wednesday night that Israel prefers to solve the Iranian nuclear problem through diplomatic means, but hinted that the Jewish state must also prepare for the scenario of a military strike.

Ashkenazi, who is on an official visit to Washington, met Wednesday with US Vice President Richard Cheney and with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte.

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Events and Programs

In an effort to explore new areas of volunteerism and to uphold the Jewish values of environmentalism and tikkun olam, the JUF TOV Volunteer Network is proud to introduce the first annual Green Mitzvah Mania!! Look for the next project opportunity coming up August 17. Register online.

Green Mitzvah Mania is a great opportunity for people to give back in a meaningful way, learn more about the Jewish community's response to climate change, and volunteer outside with friends and family!

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Applications are now open for the hands-on youth philanthropy programs Voices and Kolot; Camp TOV 2008, a week long, fun and interactive service oriented day program on wheels; TOV MTV - Monthly Teen Volunteering; and Write On for Israel, a selective, two-year advocacy training fellowship.

Get more information about all these opportunities.

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Editorial, Opinion & Analysis

Lebanon's 'soldiers of virtue,' by Fouad Ajami
A presidential primer on the Middle East conflict, by Richard Boudreaux
What to do about Iran, by Sheldon Schorer
We only get one strike, by Moshe Sharon
Abbas didn't have to honor terrorist, by Steve Huntley
Will deal with Iran be worked out? An interview with Gary Sick, by Bernard Gwertzman
Talks signal Mideast shift, by Michael Slackman

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Olmert says Mideast peace deal closer than ever

Olmert says Mideast peace deal closer than ever

PARIS - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that Israel and the Palestinians have never been closer to a peace deal than now.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, standing with Olmert at the French presidential palace, said both sides are "serious and want to achieve peace."

Meanwhile, Olmert also said Sunday that Israel hopes to have direct contacts with Syria soon. The rival neighbors have been holding indirect talks mediated by Turkey.

Olmert and Abbas held talks Sunday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of a sweeping summit launching the Union for the Mediterranean, bringing together leaders of some 40 nations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"We have never been as close to a possible (peace) agreement as today," Olmert told reporters.

Repeated rounds of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks since a peace conference in Annapolis, Md., last year have produced little movement.

But the atmosphere was friendly when Olmert and Abbas posed on the steps of the Elysee Palace with Sarkozy in the center, arms linked.

Olmert's domestic troubles, meanwhile, have clouded peace efforts. Law enforcement officials announced the widening of the corruption investigation against olmert. The ongoing investigations threaten his political survival and will make it more difficult at least in the short term to make major steps toward peace.

Palestinian negotiator Saeed Erekat said Sunday that those troubles were not affecting current discussions. He said Israeli and Palestinian officials would review the status of negotiations on the sidelines of the Paris summit, discussig Israel settlement activity, the Gaza border and Palestinian prisoner releases.

Syria's President Bashar Assad said Sunday that talks with Israel could move toward direct contact but suggested that would not happen until there is a new U.S. president in place.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Current News

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

To contact the Presidents Conference:
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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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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)

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.


How Israel limits African Aids with circumcision

Israeli expertise in ritual helps Africa combat AIDS
Docs trained in adult male circumcisions
By Joel Greenberg | Chicago Tribune correspondent
July 8, 2008
JERUSALEM — Inon Schenker, an AIDS prevention specialist, pulled out a medical logbook from a shelf and opened it to a page filled with handwritten entries.

The notations, from 1993, recorded ritual circumcisions performed on Jewish men from the former Soviet Union at the height of the wave of Immigration to Israel from Russia and neighboring republics.

The entries showed 32 circumcisions by a single doctor in a day's work, an assembly-line rate that Schenker believes shows the potential in Israel for helping combat AIDS in Africa, where recent studies have shown male circumcision to be a significant protective measure against the disease.

In the heyday of Russian Immigration to Israel in the 1990s, about 1,000 adult male circumcisions a month were performed on newcomers in hospitals and clinics, in accordance with Jewish law.

"Israel is the only country with such experience in mass adult-male circumcision, and it can respond to a very important humanitarian challenge," said Schenker, director of Operation Abraham, a project launched last year that dispatched Israeli surgeons to teach circumcision in Africa.

Israel's experience vital
Because it is obligatory under Jewish law, male circumcision is nearly universal in Israel and was stepped up as immigrants from the former Soviet republics sought the procedure to affirm their Judaism and ease their integration in the Jewish state.

The ancient practice is mentioned in the Bible in a passage that describes how the patriarch Abraham circumcised his son at God's command.

Jewish circumcision ordinarily is performed on newborns, but many of the immigrants hadn't been circumcised in their countries of origin for various reasons, such as estrangement from Judaism, restrictions on religious rites in the Soviet era and pressure to assimilate in gentile society.

As the Russian immigrants flooded into Israel—about 1 million since 1989—the demand for adult circumcisions surged, and the country became a world leader in the field, with more than 80,000 procedures performed, according to various estimates.

Schenker, who is with the Jerusalem AIDS Project, a non-governmental group that promotes HIV prevention, is working to marry the experience accumulated in Israel with the urgent need in Africa for effective programs to fight the AIDS epidemic.

50% reduction in risk
A link between circumcision and AIDS prevention was shown in three studies conducted between 2004 and 2006 in South Africa, Uganda and Kenya, which found that the risk of contracting AIDS in heterosexual sex is 50 percent to 60 percent less among men who are circumcised.

The findings led the World Health Organization last year to recommend circumcision as an additional method for prevention of AIDS. WHO's recommendations were endorsed at a gathering of African health ministers.

With the support of the Hadassah Medical Organization, which runs Israel's main university hospital in Jerusalem and has provided most of the budget and equipment, the Jerusalem AIDS Project sent three delegations of surgeons to teach adult circumcision in Swaziland. The southern African nation has the highest prevalence of AIDS in the world — 26 percent in a population of about 1 million.

"This is part of Hadassah's mission: outreach to other places," said Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director general of the organization.

The Israeli surgeons visited Swaziland twice last year and again in February, training 10 local doctors in adult male circumcision and two others in the procedure on newborns. The Israeli teams included an Israeli Arab doctor with experience in Muslim ritual circumcision.

Prudence Mkhatshwa, chief nurse in male circumcision at the Family Life Association of Swaziland, a non-governmental group that partnered with the Israelis, said the training had helped to significantly raise the weekly rate of adult circumcisions and that the public response is growing. The procedure, conducted under local anesthesia, was first offered in Swaziland in 2006.

"Before, people were scared, but now they see the benefits and they are more willing to do it," Mkhatshwa said from Mbabane, the Swazi capital. She said street billboards are promoting circumcision, in addition to condom use and abstention from casual sex, as methods of preventing AIDS.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Palestinian construction worker goes on rampage in Jerusalem, killing 3 and wounding dozens

Palestinian construction worker goes on rampage in Jerusalem, killing 3 and wounding dozens
By STEVEN GUTKIN , Associated Press

Last update: July 2, 2008 - 9:15 PM

Photo gallery: Driver rams front end loader into Jerusalem bus, killing 3

JERUSALEM - A Palestinian laborer driving a construction vehicle rammed into packed buses, tossed cars into the air and rolled over pedestrians in a deadly rampage Wednesday that killed three people and wounded dozens in Jerusalem.

The attacker's unusual weapon — a yellow Caterpillar front loader transformed into a deadly assault vehicle — threatened both Israelis' sense of security and Palestinians' fragile status in the city.

Hundreds of panicked people were sent running for cover before the attacker was shot dead by security forces. Three Palestinian militant groups claimed responsibility for the onslaught, the first major attack in Jerusalem in four months.

However, Israeli police said the assailant, a 30-year-old Palestinian from Arab east Jerusalem, apparently acted alone. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the man was working on a railway project in Jerusalem.

The attack was a departure from militants' previous methods, which have consisted mostly of suicide bombings and shooting sprees.

"To our regret the attackers do not cease coming up with new ways to strike at the heart of the Jewish people here in Jerusalem," said Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, whose daughter was on a bus rammed by the attacker. She was not injured.

Israel called the attack a "senseless act" and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is trying to negotiate a peace accord with Israel, condemned it. In Washington, the White House said President Bush called the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to express his sorrow over the incident.

The rampage turned a bustling commercial district into a scene of panic and confusion. Maria Stashevsky, a 19-year-old passenger on one of the rammed buses, said she didn't know what was going on until the collision.

"I saw people running our way and then the vehicle appeared and it hit us, turning us over," she said from her hospital bed where she was being treated for injuries to her head, legs and back. "People started landing on me and we had to break through the windows to escape. There was blood everywhere. It's a miracle I got out of there."

Three people were killed and 45 were injured, including two babies.

The mother of one of the babies hurled the child out of the car window to save her as the attacker bore down on their vehicle, and the mother was also injured. The mother of the other baby, Batsheva Unterman, 33, was killed in the assault. Social workers appeared on TV frantically trying to locate the child's father.

A second dead woman was identified as Elizabeth Goren-Friedman, 54, a dual Austrian-Israeli citizen who had lived in Israel for several years, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said. The third victim was a man.

The attacker began his rampage on a street near Jerusalem's central bus station, and then turned onto Jaffa Road — the city's main downtown thoroughfare — crushing everything in his path. At one point, he rammed into the back of a crowded bus, flipping it on its side.

"I was shocked. I saw a guy going crazy. I saw him pick it up like a toy," said Yosef Spielman, who witnessed the attack. "All the people were running. They had no chance."

The attacker was stopped only after a police officer climbed into the Caterpillar's cabin and wrestled with the driver. An off-duty soldier in a blue T-shirt and a special forces officer then jumped on the vehicle and shot the driver dead.

"I ran up the stairs (of the vehicle) and when he was still driving like crazy and trying to harm civilians, I fired at him twice more and, that's it, he was neutralized," said Eli Mizrahi, the anti-terror unit officer.

Injured people sat dazed on the ground amid piles of broken glass, blood stains and motionless bodies covered in plastic. A rescue worker stroked the hair of an elderly pedestrian, and a loved one raised the bleeding leg of a woman outside the overturned bus. Paramedics evacuated screaming babies into ambulances.

The attack took place in front of a building housing the offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets. BBC footage captured the rampage and the shootout as onlookers screamed in horror.

Cassia Pereira, office manager for AP's Jerusalem bureau, watched the attack outside her window.

"I saw him but it was too late and there was nothing to do," she said, tears in her eyes. "I was in panic. I couldn't say a word."

Friends identified the attacker as Hussam Dwayat, a devout Muslim and father of two who they said had no known ties to militant groups. "Everybody is in shock," said Salayan Weyed, a friend of the man's wife.

Dwayat's aunt stood on the family balcony ululating and screaming "he is a martyr." Other relatives sat quietly nearby, and several dozen people gathered in front of the home.

Dwayat had been fined $50,000 for building his house without a permit, and a demolition order was on file, said Hassib Nashashibi, head of a group that defends Palestinians against such orders. That might explain Dwayat's motivation in the attack, and the circumstances might also influence Israel's decision about whether to destroy the house as punishment.

Later Wednesday, five military vehicles gathered outside the family's two-story home in east Jerusalem, where police interviewed relatives, took pictures and gathered evidence before leaving an hour later. Police said Dwayat had a criminal background, but gave no details.

In the wake of the attack, Israeli media were filled with demands from hard-line Israelis to take steps against Jerusalem's Palestinians — expelling the families of attackers, destroying their houses and refusing to employ them.

About two-thirds of Jerusalem's 700,000 residents are Jews, and the rest are Palestinians who came under Israeli control when Israel captured their part of the city in 1967.

Though Jews and Arabs have little social interaction, Palestinians perform much of the city's blue-collar work and the sides frequently come into contact. In contrast to West Bank Palestinians, Arab residents of Jerusalem have full freedom to work and travel throughout Israel. Many Jerusalem Arabs work in the construction industry.

City Hall spokesman Gidi Schmerling said all east Jerusalem residents who work in construction for the city must pass a police screening. He said Dwayat worked for a private construction firm. The contractor who employed him could not be reached for comment.

The militant groups claiming responsibility included the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, which is loosely affiliated with Abbas' Fatah movement, as well as the Galilee Freedom Battalion, suspected of being affiliated with Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a fringe militant group.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip and is currently maintaining a fragile cease-fire with Israel, said it did not carry out the attack but nevertheless praised it. "We consider it as a natural reaction to the daily aggression and crimes committed against our people," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said, "We condemn any attacks that target civilians, whether Israelis or Palestinians."


Associated Press writers Steven Gutkin, Laurie Copans and Dalia Nammari contributed to this report.

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Israel's Diplomatic Offensive NYT

Israel’s Diplomatic Offensive
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Published: June 30, 2008
Few countries can afford the luxury of limiting their diplomacy to friendly countries and peace-loving parties. National security often requires negotiating with dangerous enemies. Fortunately, Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, is now displaying a clearer grasp of such realities than President Bush has mustered.

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"We should 'pray for the peace of Jerusalem' as the Bible says, even if that is not what radical Zionists ... desire."
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Israel is increasingly willing to explore conversations with states and groups Washington would prefer to ignore and isolate. In recent weeks it has agreed to a limited, Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with the Hamas authorities in Gaza and is engaged in indirect peace talks with Syria, sponsored by Turkey. It is attempting to start similar discussions with the Lebanese government, despite — or more likely because of — Hezbollah’s growing political influence.

There are clear risks. Hamas may not respect or enforce the cease-fire; there have been almost daily violations. Syria may be as unbudging as it has been in past negotiations. Hezbollah may block talks with Lebanon or use them to buy time to build up its armaments and political leverage. Mr. Olmert, politically weak and legally besieged, may not have the staying power to see any of these initiatives through.

Israel is still right to try. With its security and even survival at stake, it would have been irresponsible to continue to let Washington’s ideological blinders constrain Israeli diplomacy.

To its credit, the administration has given belated support to Israel’s diplomatic initiatives.

This new burst of diplomatic activity has revived a long-running Mideast policy debate. Does real progress toward peace require constant American nudging and nurturing? Or do the parties only move ahead when their own sense of self-interest propels them?

It is a question with no one simple answer. True, it was Anwar el-Sadat’s surprise 1977 visit to Jerusalem that led to the breakthrough peace treaty between Egypt and Israel two years later. And it was secret talks in Oslo that truly began the historic, if failed, Israeli-Palestinian peace process of the 1990s. In neither case was America trying to discourage negotiations. And in both, subsequent progress depended heavily on very active United States involvement.

Even when there is a strong mutual desire for peace, the history of distrust and the weakness of political leaders can be overcome only with the kind of outside help the United States can uniquely offer. Syria might be much more willing to make peace with Israel — and cut its ties to Iran — if it were offered the same kind of step-by-step diplomatic and economic rehabilitation that Washington has recently used to induce more constructive behavior from Libya and North Korea.

Israel’s latest diplomatic initiatives come despite, not because of, seven years of malign Mideast neglect by the Bush administration. If any long-term good is to come of them, the next American administration will need to be truly committed to diplomacy — and a lot more adept at it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict

At least four dead, dozens hurt in Jerusalem terror attack
Israel reopens Gaza border crossings then closes once again
Thousands flock to Rafah, hoping to leave Gaza as Egypt opens border for a select few
Hamas won't recognize Abbas presidency past January 2009

Israel and World News

Israel agrees to exchange

attack in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM - A Palestinian man plowed an enormous construction vehicle into cars, buses and pedestrians on a busy street Wednesday, killing at least three people and wounding at least 45 before he was shot dead by an off-duty soldier.


Traffic was halted and hundreds of people fled in panic through the streets in the heart of downtown Jerusalem as medics treated the wounded.

Three Palestinian militant groups took responsibility for the attack, but Israeli police referred to the attacker as a "terrorist" acting on his own.

The attack took place in front of a building housing the offices of The Associated Press and other media outlets. A TV camera captured the huge front loader crushing a vehicle and an off-duty soldier killing the perpetrator by shooting him in the head several times at point-blank range as onlookers screamed.

A half-dozen cars were flattened and others were overturned by the Caterpillar vehicle. A bus was overturned and another bus was heavily damaged. Israel's national rescue service confirmed three deaths, and the bodies lay motionless on the ground covered in plastic.

A woman sprinkled water over a baby's bloodied face, a rescue worker stroked the hair of a dazed elderly pedestrian and a loved one raised the bleeding leg of a woman sitting outside the overturned bus.

"I saw the bulldozer smash the car with its shovel. He smashed the guy sitting in the driver's seat," said Yaakov Ashkenazi, an 18-year-old seminary student.

Esther Valencia, a 52-year-old pedestrian said she barely escaped the carnage.

"He almost hit me. Someone pushed me out of the way at the last moment. It was a miracle that I got out of there."

Eyal Lang Ben-Hur, 16, was in a bus when the driver yelled out, "Get out of the vehicle! Everyone out!" People fled in a panic, he said, and the bus was hit an instant later.

The attack occurred in an area where Jerusalem is building a new train system. The project has turned many parts of the city into a big construction zone.

Wednesday's attack represented a departure from militants' previous methods, which were mostly suicide bombings and shootings.

During the second Palestinian uprising, which erupted in late 2000, Jerusalem experienced dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks. The city has been largely quiet in the past three years, though sporadic attacks have persisted. In March, a Palestinian gunman entered a Jerusalem seminary and killed eight young students.

The three organizations that took responsibility for the attack included the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, which is affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The other two are the Galilee Freedom Battalion, which is suspected of being affiliated with Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a fringe left-wing militant group.

The Hamas militant group, which runs the Gaza Strip and is currently maintaining a fragile cease-fire with Israel, said it did not carry out the attack but nevertheless praised it.

"We consider it as a natural reaction to the daily aggression and crimes committed against our people in the West Bank and all over the occupied lands," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

Despite the Palestinian claims of responsibility, Israeli police chief Dudi Cohen said the attacker appeared to be acting alone.

"It looks as if it was a spontaneous act," he said.

Abbas aide Saeb Erekat condemned the violence.

"We condemn any attacks that target civilians, whether Israelis or Palestinians, and President Abbas has been consistent in his position to condemn any attacks, including the one in west Jerusalem, that target civilians," he said.

Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said the man was an Arab from east Jerusalem and had a criminal background. Channel 1 TV, citing police, reported that the attacker, a man in his 30s, worked for a construction contractor. Police chief Cohen said the attacker was the father of two children.

In contrast to West Bank Palestinians, Arab residents of Jerusalem have full freedom to work and travel throughout Israel. Many Jerusalem Arabs work in the construction industry, possibly helping the attacker to easily gain control of a construction vehicle.

About two-thirds of Jerusalem's 700,000 residents are Jews, and the rest are Palestinians who came under Israeli control when Israel captured their part of the city in 1967. Jerusalem's Arabs are not Israeli citizens but hold Israeli ID cards that allow them freedom of movement in the city and throughout Israel.

Israel's national rescue service said at least 45 people were wounded in Wednesday's attack. At one point, a paramedic lowered a screaming baby into an ambulance.

Wounded people sat dazed on the ground amid piles of broken glass and blood stains on the street. A baby had blood all over its face, and the driver of the construction vehicle was slumped motionless over the steering wheel.

"Where's the baby? Where's the baby?" said one distraught man as he ran from the overturned bus.

Yosef Spielman, who witnessed the attack, said the construction vehicle picked up a car "like a toy."

"I was shocked. I saw a guy going crazy," he said. "All the people were running. They had no chance."

At one point, witnesses said a female traffic cop shot at the perpetrator, after which he slumped over with his eyes closed. Then he suddenly lifted himself back up and continued his rampage, the witnesses said.

Hen Shimon, a 19-year-old solider, said the whole scene was a "nightmare."

"I just got off the bus and I saw the tractor driving and knocking everything down in his path," she said. "Everything he saw he rammed. He had a gun and started shooting at a police officer."

Cassia Pereira, office manager for AP's Jerusalem bureau, watched the attack unfold outside her window.

"I saw him but it was too late and there was nothing to do," she said, with tears in her eyes. "I was in panic I couldn't say a word ... I realized something was not normal, something was wrong."

The mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, said his daughter was on one of the buses rammed by the attacker, but was not injured.

"To our regret the attackers do not cease coming up with new ways to strike at the heart of the Jewish people here in Jerusalem," Lupolianski said.