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Israeline — Monday, June 23, 2003 —

** PM Sharon: Killing of Hamas Military Leader ‘Vital’ for Israel’s Security
** Israelis Wounded in Qasssam Attack and Sniper Shooting
** Jordan, Israel to Expand Economic Cooperation
** Israeli Start-Up Develops Medication Prolonging Pregnancy to Full Term
** Other News in Brief
** Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

PM Sharon: Killing of Hamas Military Leader ‘Vital’ for Israel’s Security
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon described the operation in which Hamas military leader Abdullah Kawasmeh was killed on Saturday night in Hebron as "vital" for Israel’s national security, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Kawasmeh, who was at the top of the "most wanted" list in the West Bank, was accused of having masterminded four attacks in which 52 people were killed. Security officials said he was killed while resisting arrest.

Addressing the cabinet on Sunday, the Sharon said that if the Palestinian Authority "continues to refuse" to take on security responsibility in specific areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or if it did not "seriously work" against the terrorists after assuming this responsibility, "we will continue with our action to provide security for Israeli citizens."

Sharon also briefed the cabinet about his talks Friday with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell during which Israel conveyed the message it was willing to pass on security responsibility to the PA in any areas the Palestinians wish to police so long as they are serious about fighting terrorism. Israel would take action where the PA failed to act, Sharon said, adding that Israel would not accept any tactical cease-fire between the PA and the terror organizations if it did not lead to the disarmament and dismantling of the terrorist groups. "A cease-fire can only be short stage in a longer process, not serve as an alternative for a true war against terror," he said. Sharon said that during his meeting with Powell, he had stressed the issue of incitement emphasizing the need to stop it "immediately and everywhere." Sharon related that the United States saw "eye-to-eye" with Israel on these issues, and wanted to see the PA genuinely and seriously fight terror. On the issue of the dismantling of unauthorized outposts, Sharon told the cabinet that the current policy would continue regardless of whether the PA fulfilled its part of the road map or not.

In other news, a meeting began this afternoon at the Erez checkpoint on the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, between the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Major-General Amos Gilad, and Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan, HA’ARETZ reported. One of the matters being discussed by the senior representatives was the possible joint Israeli-Palestinian control of a main road running between Gaza City and Rafah in the event of an Israeli withdrawal from the area. The road is considered important by both sides, and had become a sticking point in their negotiations to implement a transfer of security responsibility in the area to the PA.


Israelis Wounded in Qasssam Attack and Sniper Shooting
A Qassam rocket landed on the southern town of Sderot today, wounding one person, while an Israeli motorist was injured this afternoon after snipers fired at his car near the West Bank city of Jenin HA’ARETZ reported. An Israel Defense Forces unit entered the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis overnight Sunday and demolished two Palestinian houses used by terrorists as cover for firing at soldiers stationed in the region. A soldier was lightly wounded during the operation.

Meanwhile, despite speculations regarding a cease-fire announcement by Hamas in the coming days, Israel said it had received intelligence information regarding 60 attacks – half of them masterminded by Hamas – being planned against Israeli targets.

In other news, four Palestinian terrorists from Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were killed on Sunday night in the northern Gaza Strip as the bomb they were planting exploded prematurely. Earlier Sunday, a Palestinian man was killed by IDF soldiers near the Morag community in the southern Gaza Strip. Army sources said the man was shot when he approached the soldiers who reported that he was acting suspiciously and carrying a bag on his back.

Also Sunday, three Qassam rockets were fired from the northern Gaza Strip into in an open area west of Sderot.


Jordan, Israel to Expand Economic Cooperation
Jordan and Israel agreed today to create more of the joint industrial zones whose businesses work together to produce goods that will be exported to the United States, HA’ARETZ reported. Minister of Trade and Industry Ehud Olmert and his Jordanian counterpart Salah-Eddine al-Bashir signed the agreement on the final day of the World Economic Forum. According to the agreement, two additional Qualified Industrial Zones will be added to the half dozen that have already been created in the wake of the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel signed in 1994. The accord also provides that one the existing zones will be expanded. The zones were created to foster joint ventures and the United States agreed to allow the zones’ products to enter its market free of tariffs and quotas.

The U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement signed in 2000 gives Jordanian companies free access to U.S. markets without having to first strike deals with Israelis. But al-Bashir said Qualified Industrial Zones could still benefit Jordanian businesses by allowing them to work with and learn from Israelis who have more experience of the U.S. market. Olmert said the benefit went beyond business. "The most important part of it is building regional cooperation between us and Jordan – the building of trust and the creation of an environment of business cooperation," he said. "In the context of the Middle East, the value added of these trusts and these relationships is, in my mind, great."


Israeli Start-Up Develops Medication Prolonging Pregnancy to Full Term
Israeli start-up Bioterm is developing a product called Preventerm that will help prolong pregnancy to full-term, ensuring that babies stay in the womb for those essential extra weeks, and thus reducing neonatal mortality and morbidity rates, ISRAEL21C reported. Premature birth is the leading cause of infant death in developed countries. It also accounts for half of all neurological handicaps in newborns, such as cerebral palsy, blindness, and developmental defects. Babies born at 22 weeks have a 10-15 percent survival rate. Those born just five weeks later have a 90 percent survival rate. While more than one tenth of all births in the U.S. are delivered prematurely, until now there has been no failsafe measure to prevent it from happening.

Preventerm acts to prevent premature labor whatever the cause, be it infection, inflammation, bleeding, an overextended uterus, or too much amniotic fluid. Dr. Israel Shamir Leibovitz, founder and interim CEO of Bioterm, believes that Preventerm is far more effective than the existing treatments, with a 90 percent level of potency. He also says it has only minor side effects. Aside from the obvious advantages for the baby, Leibovitz points out that the product can also drastically reduce medical expenses. In the Western world, the cost of caring for premature babies is about $45 billion a year.

So far Bioterm has carried out a series of tests on mice, which showed that the product was successful at delaying pre-term labor. Bioterm is now about to carry out phase II trials. The first will be carried out at Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv and Ha’emek Hospital in Afula. One hundred pregnant women will take part, 50 of whom will be given a placebo. This trial should begin in one or two months. If all goes well and Bioterm receives approval from the Ministry of Health, the second part of the Phase II trial will be carried out at Case Western Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, probably toward the end of the year. Leibowitz estimates that Preventerm is expected to get FDA approval by 2006 and each treatment is expected to cost about $300. He further expects that the market potential for the Bioterm natural inhibitor is between $2.8 and $3.5b. a year.


Other News in Brief

40,000 people joined Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu and French Minister of Interior Nicolas Sarkozy in a major demonstration of support of Israel, THE JERUSALEM POT reported. "If the Palestinian leadership really wants peace it has to pass two tests," Netanyahu said. "The first is to eliminate terror totally, and the second to put away with the claim of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees." Sarkozy said that every attack against a French Jew represented "a stain on the French flag."

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accepted the resignation Sunday of Ephraim Halevy, head of the National Security Council, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that Sharon thanked Halevy, a former Mossad head, for his many years of service and contribution to Israel’s security. The statement said the resignation would take effect on September 1.


Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

The Bank of Israel announced today that its key interest rate for July would be 7.5 percent, a 0.5 percent drop from the current rate of 8 percent, GLOBES reported. Including today’s cut, the Bank of Israel has lowered interest rates by 1.4 percent over the last four months, on the back of low inflationary expectations in the market. Last Monday, the Bank of Israel reported that inflationary expectations for the coming 12 months fell to 1.3 percent in May, at the low end of the government’s target range of 1-3 percent.

Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu called a $16,000 per capita income for a country like Israel "ridiculous," in a recent interview with Business Week, HA’ARETZ reported. Based on the Israeli talent for producing conceptual, value-added products, per capita income should be around $40,000, Netanyahu said. The smart money realizes what the government is doing, the minister continued, claiming that 90 percent of the recent surge by Tel Aviv stocks is attributable to the Finance Ministry’s economic program, and only 10 percent related to security and peace. Steps to cut back the public sector and improve the private sector’s competitiveness are a key attraction for foreign investors, Netanyahu told the magazine, adding that stocks had started to climb before the peace talks were kicked into high gear.

The Israel Hotel Association reported today that tourist overnights rose by 29 percent and overnights by Israelis declined 2 percent in May 2003, compared with May 2002, GLOBES reported. Total hotel overnights rose by 3 percent to almost 1.2 million, although this is still 33 percent fewer than in May 2000. Tourist overnights totaled 234,000 in May, 79 percent fewer than in May 2000. There were 955,700 overnights by Israelis in May. Hotel occupancy rose by 6 percent in May 2003, compared with May 2002, but still amounted to only 40 percent.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Shelly Revah, Dina Wosner and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Tuesday, June 24, 2003 —

** Israel Set to Redeploy from Northern Gaza Strip; Rice to Visit Region
** Islamic Movement Heads Charged With Terror Ties to Iran
** IDF Counters Hamas Terrorist Preparations
** 24-Hour Israeli Music TV Station to Be Launched In July
** Other News in Brief
** Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

Israel Set to Redeploy from Northern Gaza Strip; Rice to Visit Region
Israel agreed on Monday to redeploy its forces from the northern Gaza Strip as the Palestinian Authority was set to take over the security responsibilities of the area, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The IDF could begin moving out as soon as today. According to security sources, after the IDF withdrawal, the PA security forces would have a grace period of about a month, implying that there would be no military strikes during that time. Meanwhile, in her first solo mission to the region as U.S. President George Bush’s personal envoy, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will arrive in Israel on Saturday for two days of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials. Rice is expected to press the PA leadership to begin dealing with the Hamas threat. In talks with senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, she will encourage the continued dismantling of unauthorized outposts and the measures taken to improve the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


Islamic Movement Heads Charged With Terror Ties to Iran
Five leading figures in the Islamic Movement’s northern branch were indicted today in Haifa’s District Court on charges that they belong to a terrorist organization, HA’ARETZ reported. Four of the five defendants were charged with membership in a terrorist organization, including: movement leader Sheikh Ra’ad Salah; Nasser Agbariyeh, aide to the mayor of Umm al-Fahm; Mahmoud Mahajana, director of "The Institute for Humanitarian Aid"; and his assistant, Tawfik Mahajana. The men were also charged with raising funds abroad for the Hamas charity association that operates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Suleiman Abariyeh, Mayor of Umm al-Fahm, was not charged with membership in a terror group, but was indicted for contact with foreign agents, providing information to the enemy, money-laundering, performing a service for an illegal organization, membership in an illegal organization and falsifying official documents.

Salah and Mahajana were additionally charged with providing information to the enemy and contact with a foreign agent. An Israel Security Agency investigation found that the two men had contact with an Iranian intelligence agent responsible for recruiting Arab Israelis for intelligence mission in Israel. Attorneys for the two denied the charges.

Following the indictment, the prosecution also asked that the defendants be remanded until the conclusion of their trials. Hundreds of activists from the Islamic Movement and other organizations demonstrated outside the courthouse this morning in a show of support for the defendants.

Police said on Monday that despite the charges, there is no evidence showing the defendants had any connection to terror activities. However, officials said the men were backed by organizations that support terror and that they promoted the ideological and financial infrastructure of terrorist groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to officials, the men raised tens of millions of dollars overseas through various Islamic charities. Salah and his associated sent all the funds that flowed into the institute to agencies identified with Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to security prisoners, and to families of suicide bombers, officials said. The state will have to prove Salah and his colleagues had criminal intentions, trying to provide financial support for organizations outlawed in February 2002.


IDF Counters Hamas Terrorist Preparations
In response to Hamas terrorist activity preparations in the West Bank, Israel Defense Forces soldiers entered Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus and Tulkarem today, arresting more than 160 suspects, HA’ARETZ reported. Meanwhile, IDF soldiers caught four Palestinian gunmen who opened fire on them near the village of Pundokomia near Nablus today. An additional terrorist who assisted them managed to escape. Also, Palestinians fired four mortar shells that landed in the neighborhood of Shlav in Gush Katif this morning and anti-aircraft fire by Hizbullah gunners set a yard ablaze in the Kiryat Shmona while another shell landed on a roof. No injuries reported in either case.


24-Hour Israeli Music TV Station to Be Launched In July
Music 24 will become next month the first Israeli all-music TV station, finally giving local musicians a chance to be seen while being heard, HA’ARETZ reported. Guy Behar, the CEO of Music Channel 24, and Amir Golan, the station’s marketing director, described the new television station as "a quiet revolution." The Music 24 Group, which operates the channel, moved into its new offices at Meimad Studios in Tel Aviv’s Ramat Hahayal neighborhood two weeks ago. On July 20, the station will begin broadcasting on Channel 24, Israeli music 24 hours a day, which translates into hundreds of clips each week. The imminent launching of the station resulted in the incessant ringing of the editor-in-chief, Yoav Kutner’s cell phone as dozens of music editors, producers and ordinary music lovers look to work at what appears to be the Israeli version of an MTV dream studio.

In the last decade, many video clips were shot, but since there was no place to screen them, they remained on the recording companies’ shelves. "Our biggest surprise was that there are loads of clips," Behar said. "Contrary to popular belief, many clips were filmed, and they’re awaiting redemption. We built an archive with 1,500 clips – not including Channel One’s archive – for which we hope to sign a contract soon. In the past few months, we spent hours transferring some of the clips to digital tones and improving the picture, but there is plenty of material to broadcast."

"Only in Israel have artists become accustomed to having a career and selling albums without television," Behar continued. "In the rest of the world, there’s nothing like that. To me, it’s very clear that my job is also to promote those who have no support from recording companies. If I hear a song that sounds interesting, I call the artist and suggest that he produce a clip. We have the capability to do that. We’ll make a station that will give voice to all kinds of music, from Middle Eastern to trance, and from rock to alternative. I’m getting help from people who will balance out my tastes, and I have advisers in every field."


Other News in Brief

Thirty four percent of youngsters of conscription age do not serve in the Israel Defense Forces or are released after joining the army according to Major General Gil Regev, IDF manpower division commander, HA’ARETZ reported. Regev said that 11.5 percent were not drafted because of mental health, 9.5 percent were yeshiva student exempt from military service, 5 percent were Israelis who left the country prior to their recruitment and lived abroad, 2.6 percent failed to meet IQ standards, and 1.4 percent had serious criminal records.

The Israeli delegation to the Special Olympics has filed a complaint with the organizers in Ireland after Arab teams boycotted competitions in which Israelis participated, HA’ARETZ reported. In one instance, the Saudi soccer team failed to show up and take part in a game against the Israeli team while in a second instance, an Algerian table tennis player refused to play against an Israeli.


Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

SHL Telemedicine which develops remote monitoring solutions for medical applications, launched a new blood testing device for the early diagnosis of a heart attack, GLOBES reported. The device, called TeleMarker, is designed for home use. The solution performs enzyme tests usually performed in a laboratory, and transmits results via a telephone line to a monitoring center, a physician’s office or hospital. TeleMarker can help end users get more focused emergency treatment in times when they most need it, where other point of care tools fail to supply clear indications as to their situation. The solution also lowers the number of unavoidable false hospitalizations, creating a higher quality of life for patients. "It is well known that the preliminary diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) is based on the presence of two out of three parameters: the suggestive description of symptoms, typical ECG changes and elevations of cardiac markers. The TeleMarker enables the monitor center to receive those three parameters already from subscriber’s home," reported an SHL spokesman.

BigBand Networks, an Israeli start -up company providing broadband multimedia platform solutions for broadcast television, received a $15 million venture capital infusion, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Meritech Capital Partners, a first time investor, led the fourth round for the company, which has raised a total of $75 million to date. Prior investors also participated in the round, including AOL Time Warner Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Evergreen Investments, Pilot House Venture, and Redpoint Ventures. BigBand Networks is incorporated in Redwood City, California.

Amdocs announced today the successful full-scale deployment of its customer care and billing platform at U.S. wireless companies Nextel and Nextel Partners, GLOBES reported. Amdocs’s platform has replaced 11 databases and 14 billing systems, eliminating redundant infrastructure systems, enhancing operational efficiencies and significantly improving customer response time, loyalty and retention. These implementations are part of Nextel and Nextel Partner’s nine-year outsourcing agreements with Amdocs, currently in its third year.
Today’s Israel Line was prepared by David Nekrutman, David Dorfman, Naomi Peled, Biranit Zarmon and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York

Israeline — Wednesday, June 25, 2003 —

** Terrorists Armed With 22-Pound Bomb Arrested
** Israel, PA Continue Discussions on Security Arrangements
** ‘Exodus’ Author Leon Uris Dies At 78
** Ex-SLA Members to Assume Security Positions on Israel’s Buses
** Other News in Brief
** Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

Terrorists Armed With 22-Pound Bomb Arrested
Two terrorists carrying explosives and packages of shrapnel that were to be used in a homicide bombing – possibly in Petah Tikvah – were arrested by security forces near Kfar Sava and Rosh Ha’ayin, HA’ARETZ reported. After receiving warnings that two infiltrators had slipped into the Sharon region from the West Bank, the police began an intense search for the two suspects. Upon their capture, the police discovered 22 pounds of explosives and Central District Police Commander Yehuda Bakhar said that "there is no doubt that a major attack was prevented."

In separate terror incidents, a Qassam rocket was fired at Sderot from the Gaza Strip, causing no injuries but damaging a parked car while two Hamas gunmen were killed in a shootout with the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip city of Beit Hanoun.

Meanwhile, Kamil Hanish of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), 28, was indicted in a military court for his involvement in three terror attacks in which eight Israeli civilians were killed. Hamish was a commander in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades in the West Bank and dispatched two homicide bombers; one struck a gas station and wounded 10 bystanders in March, 2002; the other killed three people and wounded 30 others in Netanya last May. Last June, Hanish ordered a shooting attack that left a mother, her three children and a security guard dead. In addition to the murders, Hanish was PFLP’s "media spokesperson," announcing to media organizations that the group was responsible for the various terror attacks it had orchestrated.

The IDF revealed today that after some 1,000 days of terror and violence, 810 Israelis and people from other countries had been killed in Palestinian terror attacks. Some 5,600 have been injured. Of that total number of fatalities, 567 were civilians, while 243 were soldiers. An estimated 2,330 Palestinians have been killed, and 14,000 injured.


Israel, PA Continue Discussions on Security Arrangements
Israeli and Palestinian Authority security officials, most notably Major General Amos Gilad, coordinator of government activities in the territories, and Mohammed Dahlan, Palestinian Authority minister responsible for security matters, are to meet again in the next few days to continue efforts to reach an arrangement for the Palestinians to take security responsibility for the northern Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Bethlehem, HA’ARETZ reported.

Israel Military Intelligence said it expected an agreement for a three-month hudna (cease-fire) between the PA and the terror group Hamas to be signed within a few days. But while cease-fire talks are moving to at least a partial conclusion, Israeli officials have expressed concern over the PA’s demand to relinquish security control of Tancher Road, the north-south route that connects Gaza, Khan Yunis and Rafah. The IDF has strong reservations about the idea of allowing the Palestinians free use of the road, especially in those areas close to Jewish communities in Gaza. The military is also skeptical about the readiness and ability of the PA to meet its commitments to calm the Palestinian street, and subdue terror organizations.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that even if there was a cease-fire announced by the Palestinians, Israel would continue striking at "ticking bombs." "We are fighting terror and there will be no negotiations as long as terror rampages," he said. "If the Palestinians take security responsibility for an area, they will be responsible for maintaining the cease-fire and will have to act to eliminate terror." He said Israel would not be satisfied with a cease-fire that was temporary and tactical but would demand commitments to disarm the terrorist organizations, collect their weapons and destroy the arms. There must also be a halt to the incitement against Israel, he said.

Meanwhile, John Wolf, head of the U.S. delegation overseeing the implementation of the road map peace plan, and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas met today in Gaza City to further Palestinian action in regards to the road map.


‘Exodus’ Author Leon Uris Dies At 78
Leon Marcus Uris, author of acclaimed novel "Exodus", died Saturday of natural causes at his home on Shelter Island, New York at the age of 78, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Uris, in his widely known novel Exodus, recounted the story of the European Jewish community from the turn of the century to the formation of the State of Israel. "Exodus" has been translated into dozen of languages and was even made into a major Hollywood film. Uris also authored "The Haj", which depicts Arab hostility towards Israel. Uris was born to parents of Russian Polish origin, on August 3, 1924 in Baltimore, Maryland. He dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Marine Corp during World War II and was a radio operator in the campaigns of Guadalcanal and Tarawa. These experiences inspired his first novel "Battle Cry" released in 1953. Uris also authored the following books: "Trinity," a novel about Ireland; "QBVII", a novel based on legal disputes over his novel "Exodus"; and "Mila 18", a novel recounting the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Uris produced several screenplays for Hollywood while many of his novels became major Hollywood films and TV movies. He is survived by his ex-wife Jill Uris, his sister Esther Kofski, and his five children, Karen Lynn, Mark Jay, Michael Cady, Rachael Jackson and Conor Uris.


Ex-SLA Members to Assume Security Positions on Israel’s Buses
Some members of the disbanded Lebanese militia that fought alongside Israel in southern Lebanon will become guards on Israeli buses and try to stop Palestinian terror attacks, HA’ARETZ reported. Avner Ovadia, spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, said that former members of the South Lebanese Army had special abilities that could help in the identification and apprehension of potential homicide bombers. Ovadia said his ministry would start enlisting the first group of 24 former fighters in the coming days. The candidates will take a two-week course that will teach them how to administrate first aid and deal with suspected bombers. All participants will also undergo psychological testing. The program is a joint effort of the Minister of Transport and a special department of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption that deals with former Lebanese fighters and their families. The Lebanese guards are to serve in the northern part of the Israel. There are currently, 600 public transportation guards working throughout the country – a number that the government hopes to increase to 1,000.

The militiamen battled guerrillas in southern Lebanon alongside the Israeli soldiers from 1978-2000. SLA members and their families – about 7,000 people altogether – fled into Israel when the IDF pulled out. The Israeli government said about 750 families were still in the country. Former members of the Israeli-backed militia are considered traitors in Lebanon. Some have been sentenced to death in absentia, and others have returned to face fines and prison terms. The ex-militiamen have also faced problems in Israel as well, because many Israeli Arabs refused to accept them in their villages. Many have had problems finding employment.


Other News in Brief

The seventeenth fatality from this month’s Jerusalem bus bombing was identified today as a 56 year-old foreign worker from Eritrea, Haile Abraha Hawki, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. His body has been sent to his family in Eritrea for burial. Seventeen people were killed and over a hundred others injured in the June 11 evening rush-hour bus bombing in downtown Jerusalem.

Senior officials from Yahadut Hatorah and Meretz confirmed that the Meretz faction in the Jerusalem City Council was expected to join the Haredi Coalition headed by Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, THE JERUSALEM POST reported.


Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

At an Israel Hotel Association conference in Jerusalem Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu announced he supported the establishment of a casino in Israel, GLOBES reported. Netanyahu said: "This is an extremely important initiative. Fearful Israelis used to go to the Oasis casino in Jericho, while other Israelis went to the Ramallah casino. We favor competition, so we decided on a legal casino to give the Jericho casino and illegal casinos in Israel a real contest. A casino can be a real anchor for tourism in Israel, and generate considerable growth."

M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers, a developer of flash-based data storage products, announced that its DiskOnKey technology would serve as a storage option for new HP Compaq business desktop PCs, GLOBES reported. "DriveKey is a robust solution for floppy disk replacement," said Blaine Phelps, worldwide marketing manager for M-Systems’ DiskOnKey Business Unit. "M-Systems has created the DiskOnKey platform to meet the various demands of partners, such as HP, who can adopt this compelling technology as their own unique solution."

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by David Dorfman, Matthew Miller, David Prince and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Thursday, June 26, 2003 —


** Israeli Killed in Shooting in Northern Israel
** Bush: Cease-Fire Not Sufficient, Hamas Must Be Completely Dismantled
** Ayalon-Nusseibeh Launch Joint Peace Campaign
** Jews from Arab Countries Make Case to Obtain Compensations
** Other News in Brief
** Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

Israeli Killed in Shooting in Northern Israel
Amit (Amos) Martin, 31, a technician for the Bezeq telecommunications company, was murdered today by a 15-year-old Palestinian in the Israeli village of Baka al-Garbiyeh, HA’ARETZ reported. Martin was traveling with a Bezeq crew in the center of Baka al-Garbiyeh, when the terrorist approached their vehicle, opened fire with an automatic weapon and fled. Martin was critically injured and later died of his wounds. The terrorist, who was shot and wounded by a Bezeq security guard who chased him, was detained by security forces who arrived at the scene shortly after the attack.The Al Aqsa Martyrs` Brigades, linked to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack. In other events, two Qassam rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into the southern town of Sderot. One of the rockets hit a field belonging to Kibbutz Nir Am, but did not detonate. Overnight Wednesday, five mortar shells were fired at Israeli communities in the Gush Katif bloc in the Gaza Strip causing no injuries.


Bush: Cease-Fire Not Sufficient, Hamas Must Be Completely Dismantled
Responding to reports of an imminent cease-fire announcement by Palestinian terror organizations, U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that a full dismantling of the terrorist groups was required to move the peace process forward and that a temporary halt to attacks would not be acceptable, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. "The true test for Hamas and terrorist organizations is the complete dismantlement of their terrorist networks, their capacity to blow up the peace process," Bush said. "It’s one thing to make a verbal agreement. But in order for there to be peace in the Middle East, we must see organizations such as Hamas dismantled and then we’ll have peace. Then we’ll have a chance for peace."

Following a U.S.-European Union summit at the White House, Bush asked the EU to ban all funding to Hamas and other Palestinian organizations designated by the United States as terrorist groups. The EU has only outlawed funding for the military wing of Hamas but authorizes donations for the organization’s political wing. "I urge the leaders in Europe and around the world to take swift, decisive action against terrorist groups such as Hamas, to cut off their funding and support as the United States has done," Bush said, adding that, "Europe and America will stand together for a Middle East that will have a just and comprehensive peace."

Meanwhile, according to HA’ARETZ, the U.S House of Representatives passed a resolution with a 399-5 majority condemning the terror attacks carried out against Israel since the peace summit in Aqaba, Jordan three weeks ago. The resolution "expresses solidarity with the Israeli people as they respond to ongoing terrorist attacks" and "acknowledges Israel’s fight against terrorism as part of the global war against terrorism." It expresses sympathy to the families of innocent Israelis and Palestinians killed in the latest violence, and urges worldwide support for the Palestinian Authority in its attempt to confront the attacks. "Israel has as much right to fight against suicide bombers and ruthless terrorists as any other free and democratic nation," said Rep. Tom Lantos, a Democrat and sponsor of the resolution, House Majority Leader Tom Delay, International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

The House also adopted on Wednesday, in 412-0 vote, a resolution expressing concern about the rise of anti-Semitism around the world. It urges the 55 nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including the United States, to aggressively prosecute anti-Semitic actions and increase education to eradicate anti-Semitic attitudes.


Ayalon-Nusseibeh Launch Joint Peace Campaign
Former Israel Security Agency Head Ami Ayalon and Professor Sari Nusseibeh, a former Palestinian Authority leader, initiated a campaign called "The People’s Voice" in an attempt to get Israelis and Palestinians to sign a mass declaration of principles in favor of peace, HA’ARETZ reported. Ayalon and Nusseibeh hope to present the list of names to leaders on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a way to encourage them to work out their differences and reach a peace agreement. Their declaration lists the following premises: two states for two peoples; permanent borders on the basis of the June 4, 1967 lines; Palestinian control over Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem; Arab refugees allowed to return to a Palestinian state only; Jewish refugees allowed to return to Israel only; establishment of an international fund to help Palestinian refugees; a demilitarized future Palestinian state and a renouncement to all further claims once the peace accord is signed. Nusseibeh said he would like to see at least 100,000 signatories to the declaration on the Palestinian side while Ayalon said he hoped for hundreds of thousands.


Jews from Arab Countries Make Case to Obtain Compensations
A group representing Jewish refugees from Arab nations released a report Wednesday demanding compensation for their lost property, HA’ARETZ reported. The group, "Justice for Jews from Arab Countries," released a 39-page report detailing background details on the 850,000 Jews who were expelled from or fled Arab countries after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

According to the study, which was presented to the United Nations on Monday, 900,000 Jews lived in Arab countries before 1948, compared to only 8,000 today. Jews had made their homes in Arab countries for 2,500 years, or 1,000 years before the advent of Islam. The report states that Jews fleeing Arab nations did not remain refugees for long, with over 600,000 absorbed by the new state of Israel and others scattering around the world. The report also acknowledges the need to treat Palestinian refugees fairly and recalls that the 700,000 Palestinians who left Israel still languish in refugee camps, as Arab nations have not absorbed them.

The report estimates the Jewish property left behind in Arab countries to $100 billion. "The legal case of displaced Jews to redress is as strong as, if not stronger than, the case of Palestinian refugees," the report says. Stanley Urman, head of the group, charged that the world has given "disproportionate and differential treatment toward Palestinian refugees" while failing to deal with Jewish refugees. Palestinians demand that all Palestinian refugees and their descendants, about 4 million people, be allowed to return to their original homes in Israel. This demand has been instrumental in torpedoing several rounds of peace negotiations.


Other News in Brief

Minister Without Portfolio Gideon Ezra told the Knesset plenum on Wednesday that the Israel Security Agency had warned against an increased threat against the life of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon emanating from right-wing Israeli extremists, HA’ARETZ reported. Ezra said that the ISA regarded with grave concern every call of support for an assault on the prime minister. Ezra added that the ISA would work with law enforcement agencies in Israel to bring to trial those who broke the law.


Eco & Hi-Tech Briefs

"The money is starting to return to Israel," Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu said today, at the conference run by the Israeli Management Center’s forum of CFOs in Tel Aviv, THE MARKER reported. "Our situation has changed compared with the global markets," Netanyahu continued. "The foreign investors expect better things for the economy over the coming 12 months. "The foreigners understand that the local economy has the potential to grow, and that what matters at the end of the day is not the level of science and technology, but the market’s degree of openness to the global markets, and the level of entrepreneurship. "The markets estimate that we are opening up the economy," Netanyahu said.

Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Matthew Miller, David Dorfman, Naomi Peled and Victor Chemtob at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Israeline — Friday, June 27, 2003 —

** IDF Soldier Killed in Counter-Terrorism Operation in Gaza
** Foreign Ministry: Temporary Cease-Fire Is Irrelevant; Terror Must Be Stopped Altogether
** Condoleezza Rice to Arrive in Israel Tomorrow to Advance Road Map
** Other News in Brief
** Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs


IDF Soldier Killed in Counter-Terrorism Operation in Gaza
Israel Defense Forces Staff Sergeant Erez Ashkenazi, from Kibbutz Reshafim in the Beit She’an Valley, was killed early today in a Gaza Strip operation against the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, HA’ARETZ reported. One soldier was also wounded during the course of the operation that began early this morning in Gaza City after the IDF received a warning that a major terror attack was on the verge of being carried out at the Karni-Netzarim crossing in the Gaza Strip. Four Palestinians – three of them armed terrorists – were killed, and three terror suspects were arrested as a result of IDF actions.

In a separate operation, IDF troops arrested overnight the head of Hamas in the West Bank city of Jenin, Wael Ajoui. The IDF also arrested two Palestinians in the Nablus area and six in the Hebron area overnight.


Foreign Ministry: Temporary Cease-Fire Is Irrelevant; Terror Must Be Stopped Altogether
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem downplayed on Thursday the significance of a tactical cease-fire (hudna) arranged by the Palestinian Authority, describing it as "irrelevant," THE JERUSALEM POST reported. "This ‘cease-fire’ is poison covered in honey," said Gideon Meir, the Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director-General for Public Affairs. According to Meir, the cease-fire may hold for a short while; but, once it disintegrates, Israel will be forced to react to stave off terror attacks and will most likely be blamed for "breaking the cease-fire." "This whole business is an internal Palestinian matter," Meir said. "If after the cease-fire [the PA] takes overall security responsibility in certain areas, that is good. If not, Israel will need to continue to do what the Palestinians aren’t willing to do."

A senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office said the cease-fire development was "none of Israel’s business" and that the government was only concerned about whether PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas would fulfill the commitments he took upon himself at the Aqaba summit earlier this month. Referring to Israel’s release of some security prisoners and the dismantling of some unauthorized outposts, the official said, "we have done our part, and made good on our commitments, now it is their turn. If there is any move forward, if there is a cessation of violence it won’t happen by itself, but only if real steps are taken to stop the terror."

According to diplomatic sources in Jerusalem, Abbas hopes that the three-month cease-fire will buy him enough time to organize the PA’s security apparatus and that an expected palpable easing of conditions of the population will help him gain popularity on the Palestinian street. Sources assessed that Abbas believed he would be able to deter Hamas from staging attacks without actually having to dismantle the organization.

In their final analysis, officials said that Hamas would agree to the cease-fire in an attempt to preserve its strength in light of the unrelenting Israeli military attacks that have taken their toll on the terror group’s leadership.

Meanwhile, according to Israel Radio, KOL ISRAEL, coordinator of government activities in the territories Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad and Palestinian Minister of State Security Muhammad Dahlan are expected to meet later today to discuss the final details the transfer of security control in Gaza and Bethlehem to the Palestinians. The two talked until 3am last night at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Herzliya Pituach and agreed to open the main north-south road in Gaza to unfettered traffic 24 hours a day.


Condoleezza Rice to Arrive in Israel Tomorrow to Advance Road Map
U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is to arrive in Israel Saturday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials in an effort to push forward the implementation of the road map, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Rice will be joined in Jerusalem by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns, who diplomatic sources said would arrive from a tour of the Persian Gulf, where he reportedly asked Arab leaders to bring additional financial support to the PA.

Speaking in London on Thursday, Rice said there could be true peace between Israel and the Palestinians only if terrorism was defeated. "True peace between Israel and a future Palestine must be rooted in prosperity through economic freedom, and democracy founded upon the rule of law and respect for human rights, and the defeat of terror," Rice told The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

She said the United States and Europe had to collaborate to pursue Middle East peace "with the same vision, determination, and patience that we exhibited in building a united transatlantic community after 1945."

During her visit in Israel, Rice will reportedly encourage Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to prop up PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Finance Minister Salaam Fayad by transferring millions of dollars in arrears owed to the PA and by dismantling more unauthorized outposts.

Rice is expected to press Abbas to order PA forces to take control of the northern Gaza Strip and Bethlehem to enable an Israeli pullback from those areas.

Rice’s trip is designed not merely to negotiate details, but to keep momentum for the road map alive.


Other News in Brief

* The crypto-Jews of northern Portugal, whose ancestors were converted by force to Catholicism during the Inquisition over five centuries ago, celebrated a milestone earlier this week in the investiture of a new rabbi sent from Israel to serve the community and its spiritual needs, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Rabbi Elisha Salas, who is originally from Chile but spent the past several years studying at yeshivot in Israel, was dispatched to Portugal by the Jerusalem-based Amishav organization, which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to Judaism. According to Amishav Director and Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund, Rabbi Salas will be based in the village of Belmonte, where some 150 people, all of whom were crypto-Jews, underwent a formal return to Judaism in the early 1990’s.

Economic & Hi-Tech Briefs

* Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Knesset Finance Committee for approval of a further cut of nearly NIS 1 billion in the state budget for 2003, after the cabinet approved the request during a meeting some two weeks ago, HA’ARETZ reported. Netanyahu said that the NIS 995.38 million cut comprised a 2-percent across-the-board reduction in the budgets of all ministries, aside from the Defense Ministry’s budget, which would be reduced by NIS 300 million.

* Elco, Shemen Industries and the SGS construction company will invest $70 million in a desalination plant north of Acre, which is designed to treat 30 million cubic meters of water a year, HA’ARETZ reported. The government signed the contract with Yuvalim Desalination (a joint venture in which the three companies have equal shares) this week. The plant is due to be in operation by 2005, supplying 300,000 people with drinking water. This is the third contract that the government has signed with a private concern to build a water desalination plant. Two others – in Ashkelon and near Palmahim beach – have already completed the tender stage, and will supply 160 million cubic meters of water a year. An additional facility in Ashdod has been contracted to Mekorot, the national water company, to treat 45 million cu.m. a year.

* NICE-Systems announced that Cabela’s Inc., a U.S.-based outfitter of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, has selected NICE recording and quality monitoring solutions, GLOBES reported. NICE said its solution would help improve Cabela’s agent performance and customer satisfaction, and ensure the success of marketing campaigns. The value of the order was not disclosed. Cabela’s said that immediately after installing the NICE system across its five Nebraska-based call centers, its quality assurance department was able to utilize the voice and screen recordings to accurately identify call center agents’ strengths, as well as the skills that needed improvement.

* Start-up Dotomi, a developer of interactive messaging over advertising space, announced that it had raised $5 million from the U.S. Venture Partners fund, one of the leading funds in the United States, GLOBES reported. According to Tamir Koch, Dotomi’s CEO, the money raised will be used to establish a branch in the United States and will also help accelerate the launch of the pilot as well as sales and marketing activities. Founded in 2000, Dotomi has developed a direct communication channel for relationship marketing between corporations and their customers, via the Internet and interactive TV. The technology enables brands and corporations to send personal messages to clients who have selected the service, creating a highly focused, permission-based marketing channel.