Choose Day Below

Israeline — Tuesday, October 15, 2002 —


** Four Injured in Egged Bus Explosion; Confusion Over Source of Blast
** Lod Mayor Maxim Levy Dies at 52
** EU Taxes on Green Line Goods Immediately Pending
** Sharon Heads to DC; Peres, Rivlin to Meet with Palestinian Officials
** The IDF to Increase Number of Coed Infantry Units
** Economic Briefs


Four Injured in Egged Bus Explosion; Confusion Over Source of Blast
Four people were injured on an Egged bus travelling in the Beit She’an Valley near Kibbutz Nir David at around 11:30am today, HA’ARETZ reported. Several of the bus windows were smashed and the wounded, who sustained cuts from flying glass, were taken to Ha’Emek Hospital in Afula. Police are currently unsure whether the injuries were caused by debris thrown out of a nearby woodchipper, or a terrorist attack. According to YEDIOT AHARONOT ON-LINE, police strongly believe the incident was not terror-related, but the matter is still under investigation. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), however, took responsibility for the attack.

Police initially said that a gunman was believed to be roaming in the region, but also raised the possibility that the injuries may have been caused by a gun which discharged inside the bus. "We have people wounded by the glass and some who are in shock," regional fire chief Avraham Rahamim said. Police closed the surrounding roads to traffic and launched a search of the area for suspected gunmen. The bus, which was traveling en route from Afula to Beit She’an was carrying approximately 20 passengers.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, the IDF said it prevented an attack on a community today when soldiers found and defused two 80-kg (175-pound) bombs wired to each other outside the community’s fence.

Lod Mayor Maxim Levy Dies at 52
Lod Mayor and former Knesset Member Maxim Levy, 52, died Friday night at Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tel Aviv after suffering a massive heart attack, HA’ARETZ reported.

Levy, the brother of former Minister of Foreign Affairs David Levy, was in critical condition when a Magen David Adom ambulance brought him to the hospital. After several attempts to resuscitate him at the hospital, which lasted about an hour, he was pronounced dead.

Levy served as a member of Knesset for the Gesher movement until a few months ago, when he resigned after being elected mayor of Lod, a position he had held previously. A law bars politicians from serving as both a mayor and an MK. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1992 as a member of the Likud Party, but he later left the Likud in 1993 to found Gesher. At the time, he was chairman of the Likud Central Committee.


EU Taxes on Green Line Goods Immediately Pending
The European Union plans to begin implementing a decision to impose customs duties on Israeli goods produced over the Green Line, HA’RETZ reported. According to an EU official in Brussles, the process of imposing the duties "is now on automatic pilot, and it will be very hard to stop it," the official said. The duties are slated to be imposed on all goods made or grown in the West Bank, Gaza, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The EU does not recognize these regions as being part of Israel, and it says, therefore, that goods made in these areas are not entitled to the customs breaks enjoyed by Israeli products under Israel’s Association Agreement with the EU. Israel argues that all of these territories (except the Golan Heights) are subject to Israel’s Customs Authority by virtue of Israel’s economic agreement with the Palestinian Authority (the Paris Agreement).

When the EU originally decided to impose the duties last year, it gave Israel a ten-month grace period to clarify the status of various goods that the Europeans suspected of being produced in the aforementioned areas. When this period expires in the coming days, European countries are expected to begin imposing the duties. However, the EU has granted each member state discretion with regard to the new customs policy, so some states could theoretically choose not to impose the duties. The next meeting on the subject is due to take place on Monday in Brussels where Israel’s delegation will be headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres.

Sharon Heads to DC; Peres, Rivlin to Meet with Palestinian Officials
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon arrived in the United States today and will meet with President George W. Bush in Washinton D.C., HA’ARETZ reported. While there, Sharon is expected to discuss with Bush the issue of Palestinian Authority funds that have been withheld. Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres told the Labor Party on Monday that Israel and the U.S. have reached an understanding regarding the supervision of these PA finances, thereby paving the way for Israel to transfer some NIS 2 billion in frozen tax revenues to the Palestinians. The plan provides for supervising the PA’s income and expenditures to ensure that no money goes to fund terrorist activities. Peres also explained also that American and European officials will be stationed at the Palestinian Finance Ministry to oversee its activities. He noted, however, that the agreement still requires Cabinet approval.

Meanwhile, it was announced after a Cabinet meeting on Monday that contacts with Palestinian negotiators are to resume this week. Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres and Minister of Communications Reuven Rivlin are to meet with a Palestinian delegation headed by top Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat.

The IDF to Increase Number of Coed Infantry Units
The Israel Defense Forces is planning to expand the number of mixed-sex infantry units in which female soldiers fight alongside their male counterparts, HA’ARETZ reported. The General Command is set to discuss a Southern Command recommendation to replace the two mixed companies that now exist with one operational battalion.

The mixed companies – two-thirds of which are currently female – were first established two years ago. The soldiers are given identical infantry training, after which they serve in operations units on the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. These units have won general agreement on the high operational level for these mixed infantry units. The units are currently stationed in the Arava desert, on the border with Jordan. Senior officers say that the professional standards shown by female soldiers is as high as the males’, but that the women are often more highly motivated.

Approximately two weeks ago, the head of the Northern Command, Major General Doron Almog, and the Chief of Staff’s Adviser on Women’s Affairs Brigadier General Suzie Yogev, toured the base where the companies are serving. The female soldiers there asked that their company be allowed to serve in the Gaza Strip, proposing a month-long trial stationing at Nahal Oz, on the border with Gaza. So far, Almog has not acquiesced to the request, but said that he had recommended expanding the unit. He said that in light of the security threats facing the country, the army would gradually have to increase the number of women serving as frontline fighters, in order to maximize the potential of human resources.


Economic Briefs

* Vishay Israel, a local subsidiary of the multinational Vishay Intertechnology, has informed the Ministry of Industry and Trade that it will begin to make a $100 million investment in Israel before the end of the year, HA’ARETZ reported. The company had earlier planned to invest $300 million in Israel, but the plan was frozen due to the global economic slowdown.

* VersaMed took the top position in Deloitte & Touche Brightman Almagor’s Technology Fast 50, highlighting an upswing in the medical device sector’s relative weight in the local high-tech environment, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The company, a Kadima-based manufacturer of intelligent ventilation systems, had 3,240 percent growth for the three-year period. The start-up finished 2001 with $3 million in sales and said it expects to reach $7 million this year.

Israeline — Wednesday, October 16, 2002 —

** Iraqi Election Results
** Sharon and Bush To Meet
** Palestinian Interior Minister Linked to Arms Smuggling for Terrorist Cells
** Lebanon Inaugurates Controversial Water Pump
** Israeli Living in Bali Leads Volunteer Rescue Team
** Well-Known Israeli Cartoonist Dies
** Economic Briefs


Iraqi Election Results
The Associated Press has the results of yesterday’s Iraqi "referendum" on whether to give Saddam Hussein another seven years in power:
Yes – 11,445,638 (100%)
No – 0 (0%)

Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council and Saddam’s right-hand man, told reporters that all of the country’s 11,445,638 eligible voters cast ballots. Other Iraqi officials commented that popular outrage at American threats toward Saddam’s regime made the percentage even higher than the last vote, in 1995, when Saddam received a 99.96 "yes" vote.


Sharon and Bush To Meet
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will hold his seventh meeting today with President George W. Bush since Bush took office in January 2001, HA’ARETZ reported. Sharon met with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday evening, and is slated to meet with Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. On Thursday Sharon will meet with Secretary of State Colin Powell before returning to Israel.

The discussions with the U.S. administration will reportedly focus on U.S. wishes for Israel to show "maximum restraint" in case of an Iraqi attack on Israel, in the event of a U.S. Iraqi war. President Bush will also ask Sharon to continue to ease conditions on the Palestinian civilian population.

Meanwhile, the U.S., European Union, the United Nations and Russia will meet this week to work on their planned "roadmap" to renew the peace process, with the goal of reaching a permanent political settlement by 2005.


Palestinian Interior Minister Linked to Arms Smuggling for Terrorist Cells
Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Abdel Razak al-Yahya has been implicated in 30-40 weapons smuggling operations, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. According to Israeli intelligence, the operations, which were carried out by Yahya’s drivers between 2000 and 2001, involved transporting weapons in Yahya’s car from Jordan to the PA-ruled areas via the Allenby Bridge crossing point. During that period, as a PA official, Yahya enjoyed VIP status that allowed him, his personal staff, and his property to pass through the Allenby Bridge International Terminal without security inspections.

Intelligence reports show that the weapons were delivered to several terrorist cells including one affiliated with the Iraq-sponsored Palestine Liberation Front, whose members received terrorist training in Iraq. The cell carried out the kidnapping and murder of Jerusalem teenager Yuri Gushchin in Ramallah on July 23, 2001, and a bombing at Haifa’s Checkpost junction in July 2001 in which five people were wounded. An Israeli Defense Force spokesperson said that the IDF continues to regularly uncover tunnelsin Palestinian Authority controlled areas used to smuggle weapons and people.

Lebanon Inaugurates Controversial Water Pump
Lebanon began pumping water from its new water source on the Wazzani River in southern Lebanon today, HAARETZ reported. Lebanese President Emile Lahoud made an unexpected appearance at the inauguration ceremony for the pump and appeared alongside House Speaker Nabih Berri, ministers, deputies and foreign as well as Arab diplomats. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned the project, as a cause for conflict and according to Lebanese security officials, the U.S. charge d’affaires cancelled her attendance at the last minute without giving any specific explanation.

The Lebanese decision in August to begin pumping from a tributary of the river brought about a dispute between Lebanon and Israel. Israeli officials maintain that the water diversion is a violation of international treaties and a severe threat to Israel’s water resources. American pressure recently led to a Lebanese decision to reduce the amount of water pumped to supply drinking water for villages in the area, rather than for irrigation purposes as well.

According to IDF RADIO, Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres said today that Israel preferred to resolve the water dispute through diplomatic means. Lebanon plans at this stage to pump between 9-11 million cubic meters of water to about 25 villages in the south. Lebanon claims it is entitled to pump 55 million cubic meters according to international law. A pre-1967 deal with Israel spoke of up to 10 million cubic meters per year. America is heading efforts to reach a compromise on the quantity of water that would be drawn from the Wazzani/Hatzbani, but so far all proposals including those made by the European Union and UN officials, have been rejected by the Lebanese government.

Israeli Living in Bali Leads Volunteer Rescue Team
Israeli born Liat Solomon, 37, is leading the group of volunteers assisting in the wake of the terrorist bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, YEDIOT AHARONOT reported. Solomon, who lives in Bali with her young son, was first refused permission to volunteer at Bali’s largest hospital where many of the injured were taken. "I used my Israeli Chutzpah and went up to the booth and told them that the hospital sent me," Solomon said, "They gave me a name tag and didn’t ask any questions." Solomon is now in charge of tens of volunteers and is responsible for fielding calls from concerned families and updating the database of the dead, injured and missing. Initial reports claim that the blast, which left 185 people dead and more than 300 wounded on Oct. 12, was the work of radical Islamic fundamentalist groups operating in the area and may be linked to the Al-Qaeda network.

Well-Known Israeli Cartoonist Dies

Ya’acov "Ze’ev" Farkash, an Israel Prize laureate and one of the country’s most veteran and respected political cartoonists, passed away Tuesday night at the age of 79, HA’ARETZ reported. Born in Hungary in 1923, Farkash survived the Holocaust in Europe, arriving in Israel in 1947. He began his career in 1952 at Omer, a newspaper for immigrants. By the end of that year he was at Ma’ariv, where he continued writing cartoons until very recently. In the 1950s, he was a graphics editor and political cartoonist for D’var Hashavua and in 1962 began drawing political cartoons and illustrations for Ha’aretz.

Known for his clean simple lines and his trademark signature Ze’ev, he won the Israel prize for journalism in 1993. The judges wrote that in his work, Ze’ev "founded political cartooning in Israel." He died at Beilinson Hospital.


Economic Briefs

* Lumenis Ltd. announced that its Novus Varia multi-color photocoagulation laser system received marketing clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The system will be used to treat retinal diseases, and is the first to operate on standard electric outlets. Retinal diseases are a leading cause of impaired vision and blindness, the company noted. Lumenis develops laser and intense pulsed light devices for medical uses. The Yokne’am-based firm was formed in February 2001 by the merger of ESC Medical Systems and Coherent.

* A delegation of 15 Israeli medical technology companies left this week for the Southeast-Israel Medical Technology Business Exchange in Atlanta, Georgia, GLOBES reported. Atid-EDI, which offers business consulting and trade representation services to Israeli and foreign business people and organizations, organized the meeting. Atid-EDI said that U.S. CEOs are not visiting Israel, due to the security situation, which was why Israeli companies were brought to Atlanta.


Israeline — Thursday, October 17, 2002 —


** Bush: "If Iraq Attacks Israel Tomorrow, I Would Assume the Prime Minister Would Respond"
** Israel Marks Seven Years Since the Assassination of Yitzchak Rabin
** Smallpox Emergency Plan Unveiled
** Israel’s "Man of the Century – Albert Einstein" Exhibit On Tour in Taiwan
** Economic Briefs


Bush: "If Iraq Attacks Israel Tomorrow, I Would Assume the Prime Minister Would Respond"
U.S. President George W. Bush told Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during their meeting on Wednesday that the United States will inform Israel of the date on which it plans to launch an attack on Iraq up to two weeks beforehand, HA’ARETZ reported. On the issue of how Bush expected Israel to respond if hit by Iraq, Bush said: "If Iraq attacks Israel tomorrow, I would assume the Prime Minister would respond. He’s got a desire to defend himself."

Bush, who also termed Sharon a "close friend," said the Prime Minister had promised to work with the U.S. administration to facilitate the transfer of the NIS 2 billion(approximately $500,000,000) in Palestinian tax revenues that Israel has withheld since the beginning of the violence two years ago. The President also offered a vote of confidence in the Israeli economy. "I understand what terror has done to [Israel’s] economy," Bush said. "Terror has affected our economy; terror has affected the Israeli economy. But we’ve got great confidence in the Israeli economy. We’ve got great confidence in the Israeli people. The greatest asset Israel has is the brainpower and ingenuity of her people. And I’m convinced that the economy will be strong."

Sharon, who praised the President’s determined stance against international terrorism, said that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than Bush. "As far as I remember, as we look back towards many years now, I think that we never had such relations with any president of the United States as we have with you, and we never had such cooperation in everything as we have with the current administration," Sharon said.
Sharon will meet with Secretary of State Colin Powell today, before he returns to Israel.


Israel Marks Seven Years Since the Assassination of Yitzchak Rabin
The national memorial ceremony to mark seven years on the Jewish calendar since the assasination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin on the Jewish calendar began at 3 p.m. in Israel, at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, HA’ARETZ reported. A special Knesset session in Rabin’s honor will be held at 5 p.m.

In remarks about the late Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres said that had Yitzhak Rabin not been assassinated seven years ago, the Oslo Accords would have led to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. "If not for the murder, we would have achieved peace," Peres said. He added that despite the current conflict, the decision to pursue a peace agreement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat was not a mistake, because peace is the only option for the two peoples.

At a ceremony on Wednesday night at the President’s Residence, President Moshe Katsav read a speech that reiterated how the entire State has yet to find any rest since the Prime Minister’s murder. The president also warned against the attempt to translate differences in a democratic society into illegal acts. "There must be an unequivocal recognition in the legitimacy of democratic processes, a recognition in the legitimacy of different opinions and positions," he said. "The freedom of _expression is not the freedom to incite and act against democracy and foil legal political moves." Katsav also mentioned the fateful decisions still pending, which may determine the State’s future. "We must teach and learn the limits of public debate, what is permitted and what is forbidden. We must prevent situations in which words turn into bullets."

Rabin’s family was represented by his son-in-law, Avi Pelossof, his son, Yuval, and his sister, Rachel Ya’akov. In addition, many children attended the ceremony. Some of them, new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, read out words in memory of Rabin, and then lit memorial candles.

Smallpox Emergency Plan Unveiled
An emergency plan in the case of a smallpox outbreak in Israel was presented at a meeting between the Ministry of Health and officials from the Education and Interior Ministries this week, HA’RETZ reported.

In the event of a biological warfare scenario, schools will be evacuated and converted into distribution centers providing inoculation for the general population and antibiotics for people who cannot receive inoculations due to particular medical conditions. According to the Ministry’s plan, the emergency campaign can be completed in four days with the centers operating around the clock.

The Ministry of Health noted that the contingency plans for smallpox are not only aimed at dealing with the Iraqi threat of biological warfare, but also as a response to potential biological terror attacks. "It’s an extreme scenario, which is unlikely to occur," Shmuel Raznikovich, head of emergency planning at the Ministry of Health, said. He added, however, that despite the unlikelihood of a smallpox epidemic, "a high state of readiness" is still required.

Israel’s "Man of the Century – Albert Einstein" Exhibit On Tour in Taiwan
An Israeli exhibit on the life and work of Albert Einstein, which portrays his scientific achievements along with his Jewish involvement and Zionist connections, opened this week in Taiwan, THE JERUSALEM POST reported.
Initially, the exhibit was slated to tour in China, but was withdrawn by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs after Beijing authorities attempted to censor references to Einstein’s Judaism and Zionism.

"You can’t deny the fact of Einstein’s being a Jew. We are sorry about China’s unusual response to the exhibit," Menashe Zipori, representative of Israel’s Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, said.

Entitled "Man of the Century – Albert Einstein," the exhibit will be on display at Taipei’s Information Science and Technology Exhibit Center through October 27, after which it will tour four other Taiwanese cities. In March of next year, it will travel to South Korea.

Economic Briefs

* Check Point Software Technologies and Sun Microsystems plan to jointly launch new hardware for securing communications networks, HA’ARETZ reported. The new product will be based on Sun’s LX50 server, which the American company unveiled last month. During the past two years, Check Point has signed 14 cooperation agreements with hardware makers – including Hewlett Packard and Nortel – that provide for embedding its software in dedicated security products. The company’s main partnership today is with the Finnish firm Nokia.

* A recent Central Bureau of Statistics trade survey shows that Israel’s exports to Europe have been falling in recent months, while its imports from that area have been rising. In contrast, Israel’s trade gap with the U.S. has been shrinking, GLOBES reported. Trend data for the past four months indicate that the decline in imports of goods from the U.S. has amounted to an annualized 13.1 percent in the past four months, while exports have risen by an annualized 2.8 percent. Israel’s total imports from January-September amounted to $19.3 billion, divided as follows: EU – 40 percent, U.S. – 22 percent, Asia – 14 percent, others – 25 percent. Israel exported a total of $13.8 billion, divided as follows: EU – 30 percent, U.S. 31 percent, Asia – 14 percent, others – 24 percent.