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ARRIVES IN WASHINGTON, DC
* ARAFAT FILE: PA USED EU AND U.S. MONEY FOR TERROR
* 29TH VICTIM OF PASSOVER MASSACRE LAID TO REST
* ARAFAT WITHHOLDING APPROVAL ON CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY COMPROMISE
* PALESTINIAN OPINION POLLS CITE GROWING ANGER, CORRUPTION
* ECONOMIC BRIEFS
ARRIVES IN WASHINGTON, DC
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived in Washington DC on Sunday night for a four-day visit, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. He will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday to present Bush with his plan for an interim solution to the current situation. A senior Israeli official said that Sharon is planning to tell the U.S. administration that a proposed regional conference, to be mediated by the United States, does not need to achieve agreements, and that it should not replace direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Sharon is also slated to meet today with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. According to HA’ARETZ, Sharon will present photographs and documents linking Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to terror, to U.S. officials.
Minister of Education Limor Livnat, who is also accompanying Sharon, defined the two primary goals of the visit as lobbying for long-term interim agreements, and demonstrating Arafat’s direct complicity in terrorist attacks. Livnat said that although she understands Israel cannot single-handedly change the structure of the PA, it is impossible for Israel to make peace with a corrupt terrorist-controlled regime. "Our demand must be for a process of greater democratization. If the regime stays as it is now, with Arafat as its head, we will have many years of war in front of us," she said.
FILE: PA USED EU AND U.S. MONEY FOR TERROR
Minister without portfolio Danny Naveh released on Sunday a 91-pagereport, titled the "Arafat File," demonstrating Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, and top PA officials were directly involved in financing terrorist attacks, HA’ARETZ reported. The file was compiled by Israeli intelligence services and consists of documents confiscated by Israel Defense Forces during operation "Defensive Shield." It also contains photos of weapons and arms laboratories. Copies of the report were taken by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s aides to Washington, and will be presented to the Bush administration.
According to YEDIOT AHARONOT, the report claims that money provided to the PA by donor states, such as the European Union and the United States, has been allocated to finance terror and incitement. According to Naveh, "tens of millions of dollars" from donor states were used to pay terrorists.
The report concluded that Arafat encouraged terror attacks, approved monetary aid for these attacks and acted as the supreme commander of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which is associated with his Fatah movement. The report identifies three other top PA officials as being responsible for terror activities: Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti, West Bank General Intelligence chief Tureik Tirawi, and PA financial boss Fuad Shubeiki.
The report claims that Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia supported Palestinian terror groups and provided economic aid to families of suicide bombers, along with direct funds for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
VICTIM OF PASSOVER MASSACRE LAID TO REST
Eliezer Korman, 74, from Ramat Ha’Sharon, died on Sunday from wound shesustained on March 27, when a homicide bomber blew himself up at the Park Hotel in Netanya during a Passover Seder, MA’ARIV reported. Eliezer is the Twenty-ninth victim of the Passover Massacre. His wife Yehudit also died in the attack. The Kormans had just celebrated their Fiftieth wedding anniversary.
Eliezer was born in Poland, and fled to Siberia with his parents at the start of World War II. After the war, he immigrated to Israel and took partin the Independence War’s Battle of Latrun. Eliezer worked in construction. His relatives describe him as enthusiastic and a hard working individual. His son Rami said that his father "was in excellent shape. He could go up four floors of stairs more easily than I could. He was a tireless worker, and was never ashamed of that."
Eliezer was buried in Ramat Ha’Sharon and is survived by his two children and five grandchildren.
WITHHOLDING APPROVAL ON CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY COMPROMISE
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat was apparently withholding approval of an agreement today to end the armed standoff between Israeli Defense Forces Soldiers and wanted Palestinian terrorists hiding inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, MA’ARIV reported.
Sources familiar with the talks said that Arafat was adamantly opposed to exiling more than six "senior terrorists" to a European country. Earlier today, Minister of Defense Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told Labor faction members at the Knesset that a resolution of the month-long standoff at the Church is at hand. The main issue that still needs to be agreed on is the number of Palestinians currently holed up in the compound to be deported. The Palestinians want no more than eight of those in the church sent into exile in Italy, while Israel is insisting that at least a dozen should be deported. Another 30 Palestinian gunmen in the Church would be sent to the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinians. A U.S. official confirmed media reports that a senior CIA official was involved in the talks, and would also take part in negotiations slated for this evening.
OPINION POLLS CITE GROWING ANGER, CORRUPTION
Recent opinion polls show that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians feel that institutions are not dealing with the people’s needs, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. There has been a strong public outcry against corruption and some Palestinians have complained that the security services and police have done little to prevent gunmen from taking the law into their own hands. At the same time, many Palestinians were outraged at what they call the Palestinian Authority security services failure to protect them.
According to a senior PA official, Western states are only ready to pay for rebuilding the security services and police infrastructure if there is a cease-fire. "There is a lot of anarchy and chaos… the PA must take control to establish law and order and reform its institutions to root out corruption and make the institutions more efficient," the official said. He added that now is the right time for PA Chairman Yasser Arafat to agree to these reforms, since he has emerged stronger from the crisis and has the power to make these changes.
Meanwhile, PA Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Nabil Amr resigned over the weekend after Arafat rejected his demand for major changes in the cabinet and the Palestinian security apparatus. Amr demanded that a new cabinet be appointed to manage civil affairs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Thousands of New Yorkers marched on Sunday in the 38th annual Salute to Israel Parade, waving Israeli flags and carrying signs backing Israel in its struggle against the Palestinian terrorism, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. This year’s parade, called "Israel and America, Now and Forever, United We Stand," brought together 60,000 marchers, hundreds of brightly-decorated floats, and approximately half-a-million spectators waving flags, singing Hebrew songs, and cheering for Israel. Ambassador Alon Pinkas, Consul General of Israel in New York, joined New York Governor George Pataki, NewYork Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other city council members, all participated in the parade.
* Bank Hapoalim’s New York branch will begin marketing sophisticated bonds investment products to its private banking customers, GLOBES reported. Bank Hapoalim senior executive vice president and head of global private banking Jacob Rosen said the products would be offered to private banking customers as part of their investment portfolios. The aim is to increase the overall return on the portfolios, by exploiting the bank’s accumulated know-how and experience. The bonds purchased will not be convertible.
* Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, aided by Ford Motor Company, are nearing the completion of the development of an advanced analysis system capable of diagnosing the mechanical condition of piston engines using vibrations that measure cylinder imbalance, GLOBES reported. The university said a professional, independent market study carried out recently showed that the car engine diagnostic system has great economic potential and has aroused the interest of the Israel Defense Forces and vehicle manufacturers around the world.
CONTINUES IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA STRIP
* SHARON TO ADL: "THERE WAS NO MASSACRE IN JENIN"
* RETIRED US MILITARY OFFICIALS SUPPORT ISRAEL
* BRITISH JEWRY RALLY FOR ISRAEL
* THE JERUSALEM POST TO RECEIVE WALLENBERG MEDAL
* ECONOMIC BRIEFS
CONTINUES IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA STRIP
An Israel Defense Forces soldier was seriously injured and another sustained light injuries, during an exchange of fire with terrorists in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday, HA’ARETZ reported. The two terrorists were killed along with two Palestinians who tried to infiltrate Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. Late Sunday night, a group of soldiers from the Givati division sapper unit, which was on an operation north of the Kissufim junction, spotted two armed Palestinians trying to cross the security fence and enter Israel. The soldiers opened fire in the direction of the terrorists, who responded with machine-gun fire and grenades. During the exchange, two soldiers were injured, one seriously and the other lightly. Both were treated at the scene and later evacuated to the Soroka hospital in Be’er Sheva. Both terrorists were killed and according to Palestinian sources, they were Hamas members.
In a separate incident early yesterday morning in the northern Gaza Strip, an IDF patrol identified to Palestinians attempting to cross into Israel north of the Karni crossing. The patrol opened fire, killing the two. In post-dawn inspections, IDF troops found two Kalashnikov rifles, and one of the bodies was wearing an explosive belt, which sappers defused. According to Palestinian sources, the two were members of Islamic Jihad.
In addition, several IDF outposts came under attack in the Gaza Strip yesterday. Grenades were thrown at a patrol driving along the Egyptian border, and outposts near Gush Katif were shot at. Late Monday night, an Israeli vehicle came under fire on the Jericho by-pass road in the West Bank. No injuries were reported, although the vehicle was damaged.
TO ADL: "THERE WAS NO MASSACRE IN JENIN"
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defended Israel’s operations in Jenin on Monday evening while speaking to the Anti Defamation League in Washington, D.C., THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Sharon also accused the Palestinians of propagating a "blood libel" against Israel, and thanked the Bush administration for backing his decision not to allow a United Nations fact-finding mission to investigate the operation.
"I don’t know of any other army in the world that would have been ready to suffer casualties in order to avoid casualties of other people," Sharon told the young leadership conference of the ADL. "We were blamed and blood libeled. But I can assure you that there was no massacre, anywhere."
Sharon, who will meet with U.S. President Bush this afternoon at the White House, also drew a comparison between Israel’s war against terrorism and America’s. "There is moral equivalency and a direct connection between America’s operation against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and (Israel’s) Operation Defensive Shield, and other IDF operations to defeat terror," Sharon said." Both are acts of self defense against the face of evil and darkness bent on destroying civil society."
US MILITARY OFFICIALS SUPPORT ISRAEL
A delegation of retired senior officials the United States military visited Israel last week under the auspices of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The officers, including a former commander of the US Air Force Special Operations and a former Commander in Chief Naval Atlantic, were hosted by the Ministry of Defense. The purpose of the visit, according to JINSA executive director Marsha Haltman, was "to enhance the strategic relationship between Israel and the United States."
According to mission participant Maj.-Gen. Robert Patterson USAF (ret.), there can be no doubt of Israel’s strategic importance to the United States." Having an ally like Israel is just essential to America," he said. The officers toured the Golan Heights, met with Israeli soldiers, and got a first-hand look at IDF patrols in the Gaza Strip. Lt.-Gen. Randall L. Rigby, US Army (ret.) said territory is important to securing the Jewish state’s future. "If you are talking about Montana or Idaho then it probably doesn’t matter, but if you are talking about Israel, then the Golan and the West Bank do matter. As a military professional, the ground that you have does matter strategically for the existence of the country." Rigby said a number of the soldiers with whom he met thanked the delegation for coming to Israel, because "they do not want to feel that they are in this struggle alone." As a result, said Rigby, "One of the things we attempted to do was to reassure them that America is right behind them, because you are a strategic symbol for the United States and for the Free World."
JEWRY RALLY FOR ISRAEL
Tens of thousands of Israel supporters held a solidarity rally in London’s Trafalgar Square Monday afternoon, HA’ARETZ reported. Police said that approximately 50,000 people attended the rally, where demonstrators waved Israeli and British flags and carried banners saying "Yes to Peace, Noto Terror," and "Suicide bombers kill people and peace." British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who noted that the gathering was the largest in the history of British Jewry, said "Israel will not stand alone." The rally was also addressed by former Labor Party minister Peter Mandelson, and Conservative Party deputy leader and shadow foreign minister Michael Ancram. "The peace process in Northern Ireland," Ancram told the crowd, "taught us that peace cannot be imposed."
Hundreds of thousands of pounds were collected, mainly from the budgets of the United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA), the Jewish Agency, and Jewish National Fund, as well as from private contributions, to pay for the logistic and administrative needs of the operation.
JERUSALEM POST TO RECEIVE WALLENBERG MEDAL
The Jerusalem Post has been nominated by the Danish Raoul Wallenberg Center to receive the Raoul Wallenberg Medal, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The Post is the first of the Israeli media to be singled out for the award. Leon Nikolin, founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Center in Denmark, said in a telephone interview Monday that the Post had earned the award because it continued to keep the Wallenberg story in the public eye, both in Israel and around the world. Moreover, he said, the paper’s coverage of Wallenberg had been "factual, objective, and professional." Wallenberg Center chairman Jeoffrey Cain added that the Post "speaks the truth and tells us things we don’t already know."
The medal, engraved with Wallenberg’s portrait on one side and a replica of the Warsaw Ghetto monument on the other, is inscribed "For the fight against evil." The presentation ceremony will take place next week when the medal is brought to Israel by a delegation from the Pentecostal Movement headed by Moses Hansen, a writer and Pentecostal community leader.
The Israel Export Institute said Monday that it plans to send 90 business leaders on promotional visits to Europe during May and June, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Being billed as "an economic call up," business leaders will head to Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and the UK in six separate missions, in an effort to bolster Israel’s economic reputation.
* Pharmaceutical giant Merck will hold its first meeting next week with Israeli companies, academic institutions, and public health concerns operating in biotechnology and drug development, GLOBES reported. The meeting will take place in Herzliya with video-conference participation by Merck representatives from the company’s New Jersey headquarters. Merck Research Laboratories’ external scientific relations division is organizing the conference. Merck classifies Israel as a country with great potential for scientific development, along with Australia, China, India, South Korea, Russia, and Taiwan. Merck spent $2.9 billion on R&D last year.
* NICE Systems announced
that a major U.S. airport has selected its Nice Vision Pro digital video recording
system as part of a newly-upgraded security system, GLOBES reported. The initial
contract is valued at more than $2 million. NICE president and CEO Haim Shani
said, "This is a very important installation for NICE Systems. It clearly
demonstrates our expertise in airport security at a major international gateway.
It also further confirms the essential role of the Nice Vision digital video
recording platform in creating a comprehensive, pro-active airport security
BOMBER KILLS 15, WOUNDS OVER 50 IN RISHON LETZION
* BOMBER FAILS ATTEMPTED ATTACK AT MEGIDDO
* SHARON RETURNS TO ISRAEL AFTER MEETING WITH BUSH
* CANADIAN VOLUNTEERS CLEAN UP JERUSALEM
* ECONOMIC BRIEFS
BOMBER KILLS 15, WOUNDS OVER 50 IN RISHON LETZION
At least 15 people were killed and 57 wounded when a homicide bomber exploded himself at a Rishon Letzion pool hall late Tuesday night, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Eyewitness reports said the building was badly damaged and the ceiling collapsed. Magen David Adom paramedics treated the wounded at the scene and evacuated them to nearby hospitals. MDA spokesman Yeruham Mandola said crews treated more than 40 wounded and evacuated them to Ichilov, Sheba and Wolfson hospitals. He stressed, however, that there were reportedly many people still trapped under the rubble. The Israel Defense Forces Home front Command brought in cranes to help free those trapped. Two hours after the blast, rescue workers, with the assistance of canine teams, continued to search the rubble for wounded.
Hanit Azulai who was driving past the pool hall told reporters there was a huge explosion and it appeared that the entire building went up inflames." I was shouting and screaming and just trying to get out of there," she said. Aviad Cohen, 20, of Bat Yam said, "I’m in total shock from what I see here…people are sitting here crying in shock. I heard the blast and saw the window glass flying in all directions. You see total destruction here."
This attack was the largest terror incident since the end of Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield, aimed at routing out terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank. It was also the first major attack in Rishon Letzion in the past 19 months. Security sources said they had presumed Palestinians would resume terror activities, but did not expect a major attack so soon.
According to HA’ARETZ, the French news agency AFP said Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, but Hamas spokesman Mahmoud Zahar said from his home in Gaza City that he could not confirm the claim.
FAILS ATTEMPTED ATTACK AT MEGIDDO
A homicide bomber blew himself up today at the Megiddo junction, a few miles from Jenin, HA’ARETZ reported. Police initially said the bomber was killed in the explosion, which may have gone off prematurely. Later police said that the attacker was alive and seriously wounded, and had fought against a sapper robot that dragged him from the roadside into the center of the highway. According to IDF Radio, a group of soldiers were standing at a nearby bus stop at the time of the explosion, and might have been the intended target. According to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, two soldiers were lightly wounded.
The bomber was brought to an Afula hospital and is currently undergoing surgery. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack which occurred just 12 hours after the attack in Rishon Letzion
RETURNS TO ISRAEL AFTER MEETING WITH BUSH
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon departed form Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night returning to Israel following the homicide bombing in Rishon Letzion that killed 15 people and wounded over 50, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Sharon cut his trip short by one day, and will convene his inner Cabinet immediately upon arrival in Israel today.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Bush administration announced that CIA Director George Tenet would return to the region to attempt to aid in remolding the Palestinian security services into one unified, effective terror-fighting entity. The leaders also discussed an international conference, the goal of which Sharon said is to create "a positive atmosphere." He also said Israel and the Palestinians would have to hold bilateral talks with the "deep involvement" of the United States and that he has no objection to Europe and Russia taking part in the conference.
After receiving word of the attack on Tuesday, Sharon accepted Bush’s condolences, canceled his scheduled meetings with congressional leaders, as well as a trip to New York, and held a pre-departure, televised press conference. "It is completely clear that we will have to act," Sharon told reporters. "This situation cannot continue. I came here to advance the peace and you have seen what we received in return." Sharon said that as here turns to Israel, his heart is "heavy with rage." He also said Israel would act preemptively to thwart terrorist attacks when it could.
Sharon added that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has not taken steps to stop terrorism, despite calls on him to do so. He said Israel holds Arafat responsible for the Rishon Letzion attack, regardless of which terror organization perpetrated the bombing.
VOLUNTEERS CLEAN UP JERUSALEM
A group of 70 Canadian Jews in their 20s and 30s came to Israel this week on a six-day volunteer mission, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. They will paint the exteriors of buildings in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, do cleanup work and painting in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, distribute food to the city’s needy and volunteer at a paratrooper base where they will package medical supplies and do "whatever is needed."
"We wanted to get our hands dirty and do something to help thepeople," Jay Papernick, a 30-year-old financial adviser who came up with the idea for the trip, said. "We didn’t just want to go to a rally or write another letter to the editor." Together with several former participants of the Birthright Israel program, Papernick planned the solidarity mission. With the help of the United Israel Appeal and the UJA of Canada who provided the funds, they gathered 70 people who were willing to make the trip.
"It’s a very hard time for the people living in Israel, and we want to get our message out, to get them to just keep going," Evan Cooperman, another volunteer on the trip, said. He hopes that if just one person who is considering leaving Israel because of the situation changes his mind because of their work, he will feel his mission has been a success. "It’s only a week, but we intend to give all the moral support we can," he said.
Fifty English and Irish drivers traveling in 24 classic cars, departed from London on April 21 on the first leg of a 5,000 kilometer-plus journey to the finish line outside Jerusalem on Friday, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The rally, organized to raise money for the Nitzana Reservoir, is being sponsored by Sherling Steel, the largest privately owned steel company in Ireland. The Jewish National Fund of the UK and Ireland began the London-to-Jerusalem Rally in 1996 as a means of bridging the distance between JNF supporters in the UK and Ireland and the projects they are funding in Israel. Cars taking part in the rally range from vintage to modern.
* Internet security company Aladdin Knowledge Systems announced that revenue for the first quarter was a record $12.54 million, compared with revenueof$12.32 million for the first quarter of 2001, GLOBES reported. CEO Yanki Margalit noted: "We are experiencing a continued increase in the demand for Aladdin’s award-winning eSafe and eToken Internet security solutions, resulting in growth in relatively new products. We continue to pursue several excellent opportunities and hope to be able to announce these in the near future."
* Given Imaging launched
the M2A Plus, its new "camera-in-pill" device, which is designed
to allow physicians to locate small intestine disease with increased precision,
GLOBES reported. Given Imaging president and CEO Dr. Gavriel Meron said, "Given
Imaging is committed to our customers and to building upon the M2A platform
technology as it is integrated into mainstream medicine. The M2A Plus capsule
was developed in direct response to gastroenterologists who expressed their
need for a localization capability. The localization feature is in the first
of several developments that will enhance physicians’ diagnostic capabilities."