Choose Day Below

Israeline — Monday, September 15, 2003 —


Before the cabinet convened today to discuss the 2004 state budget, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu agreed that an additional NIS 320 million (approximately $71 million) would be slashed from the defense budget, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Sharon and Netanyahu had already agreed on Sunday to cut NIS 750 million (approximately $166 million) from the defense’s budget, setting its amount for next year at NIS 32.85 billion (approximately $7.3 billion). The treasury’s original proposal recommended for a NIS 3 billion (approximately $600 million) drop in defense allocations for 2004.

At least eight ministers – including Shaul Mofaz, Ehud Olmert,Limor Livnat, Tzachi Hanegbi, Benny Elon, Zevulun Orlev and Effi Eitam – were threatening today to vote against the proposed budget, but the Finance Ministry was optimistic the cabinet would approve its plan.

Sharon told the cabinet at the start of today’s meeting that the government expected the Bank of Israel to join in helping the economy grow next year. "The government expects that the Bank of Israel will help the Government achieve growth next year by setting the appropriate monetary policy." Sharon said. The Prime Minister added that the Government had to severely cut its expenses to make the deficit as low as possible, thereby preserving economic stability. Treasury director Ohad Marani said today that cutting the budget was the Government’s only option. "The problem is that we have a government budget that’s too large, a defense budget that’s too large," Marani said. Rejecting a suggestion that the treasury should raise taxes, he said taxes were already too high and the deficit could not keep increasing indefinitely. Marani indicated that leaving the deficit unchecked would endanger the American loan guarantees and lead to the deterioration of the economy.


Dan Gillerman, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, is accusing the UN security council of hypocrisy for considering a Palestinian resolution that demands that Israel refrain from taking action against Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Gillerman said the Security Council had repeatedly met to condemn Israeli actions, but ignored Palestinian suicide bombings and shooting attacks on Israelis. "The fact that the Security Council remembers to meet because of a decision to expel a person, who in everyone’s opinion is a murderer and responsible for the wave of terrorism, and possibly for the worst terrorism in the 21st century, is a black mark," Gillerman said. The Security Council was set to vote today on a resolution forbidding Israel from deporting Arafat from the West Bank.

Israeli officials explained over the weekend that the cabinet’s decision to remove Arafat had been made in principle but that no date or method of expulsion had been decided upon. Senior sources indicated "the Americans have no problem with deporting Arafat morally or ideologically, but see it as a political and practical risk." The United States issued a warning to Israel over the weekend not to exile Arafat for fear this would complicate the peace efforts and inflame the region.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said today that killing Arafat was not the official policy of the Israeli government.


The Government formally accepted the Or Commission’s recommendations on Sunday and appointed a committee to examine the report and advise on how to implement its findings, HA’ARETZ reported. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that "Israel’s Arab citizens deserve equality as a right, and not a privilege" but that there was still a long way to go to reach that situation. Sharon said that the "Government has put this issue high on its list of priorities" and that he personally chaired a ministerial committee on this matter. "There are many more things which must be done in order to reach genuine equality of rights and obligations between Jews and Arabs," Sharon indicated. The Prime Minister also said that the vast majority of the Arab public was law-abiding and had the right to demonstrate and protest within the framework of the law. But he warned against "a vocal, extremist, inciting minority, several of whose members are in detention today on suspicion of cooperating with the worst of the nation’s enemies". "Jews and Arabs will live together and can live together – and for this to happen, two things must occur – the law must be fully upheld by all and justice must be carried out," Sharon said.

Regarding the commission’s criticism of Israel Police, Sharon said, "the report raises severe shortcomings that must be examined and repaired; all lessons must be drawn. But, we must not, even for a moment, forget the police personnel who stand in the streets of Jerusalem today, patrol the seam line and prevent terrorist attacks, sometimes with their bodies."

U.S Treasury Secretary John Snow arrived in Israel today to promote a vision of economic opportunity as an alternative to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, HA’ARETZ reported. U.S. officials said Snow would be unable to meet Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qurei, but that he was expected to meet Palestinian business leaders later today and on Tuesday. Snow was also slated to hold talks with senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu.

U.S. President George W. Bush had promised to send the U.S. secretaries of the Treasury and Commerce to the region to spur investment in the Palestinian economy, but reports indicated that Snow had difficulty finding American business people to join the trip because of the present security climate and the escalation in hostilities. Snow is on a 10-day visit that will also take him to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan before he heads to Dubai for meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. U.S. officials said Snow would emphasize possibilities for economic development in the troubled economies of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as part of Washington’s peace efforts.



Four Israelis – Benny Daniel, Orpaz Ohayaz, Yosef Guy and Erez Eltoin, all in their twenties – are among a group of tourists that were taken hostage in Columbia over the weekend by anti-government rebels, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The Foreign Ministry has set up a special team to handle the case and Columbian soldiers backed by Black Hawk helicopters are searching the jungle-covered Sierra Nevada mountainside. "The State of Israel, through its embassy [in Bogota], is doing everything possible to ensure that the hostages will return home safely as soon as possible," Yair Recanati, Israel’s Ambassador to Columbia, said.

The Israel Security Agency, the Israel Defense Forces and the Border Police have thwarted seven terrorist attacks since the attacks on Jerusalem and Tzrifin last week, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Most of the thwarted attacks were to have been carried out by suicide bombers. A Hamas terrorist arrested Sunday morning in the Kalandia refugee camp near Ramallah was planning to carry out a suicide attack in Israel in the near future. The arrest comes a day after Border patrol forces found three explosives belts stashed in a washing machine in an East Jerusalem butcher’s shop. The explosives belts were ready for use and contained 20 kilograms of explosives, as well as nails and metal ball bearings to increase the bomb’s deadliness. In other news, a Palestinian child was shot dead by IDF troops near the Atarot airport close to Jerusalem Sunday night, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. A group of people broke through the outer perimeter fence at Atarot airfield Sunday night and were heading for an inner fence.


Nokia Venture Partners, the world’s largest fund for the communications and wireless communications sectors, has announced plans to bolster its activities in Israel and significantly increase its investment in Israeli start-ups and technologies, GLOBES reported. Nokia Venture Partners stated that the selection of Israel as a target for expansion for the fund’s activities was based on its evaluation of Israeli technology and the increase in Israeli companies in the communications and wireless communications sectors.

NICE Systems announced that New Jersey Transit has selected the NiceVision digital video and audio recording solution for the new $450 million Secaucus station in New Jersey, GLOBES reported. According to NICE, future plans call for the deployment of NiceVision’s video content analysis capabilities to enhance both business performance and resource allocation for rail and bus services. NiceVision currently operates in New Jersey Transit’s Penn Station in Newark; Penn station; Maplewood, New Jersey; and Orange, New Jersey. New Jersey Transit is the third largest transit system in the U.S. with 161 rail stations, 28 light rail stations and more than 17, 000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

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

Israeline — Tuesday, September 16, 2003 —


The cabinet approved the 2004 budget by a 14 to 9 majority at the end of a marathon 20-hour session, GLOBES reported. The budget includes a NIS 10 billion (approximately $2.2 billion) cut, and a reduced cut in the defense budget. The Shinui ministers opposed the budget because the cuts in the religious councils were withdrawn. Minister of Education Limor Livnat, Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor Ehud Olmert, and Minister of Health Dan Naveh also voted against the budget. The Shinui faction announced that it had concluded an agreement with Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu and his ministry on matters of importance to the Shinui-controlled ministries. Among other things, Shinui announced that Netanyahu had promised not to cut the grants to demobilized soldiers, not to raise university tuition, cut the Ministry of Religion and religious councils’ budgets, and later consider dismantling the Ministry of Religion. The local authorities will provide religious services, subject to the decision of special ministerial committee, to be headed by Olmert, with the consent of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to which the religious councils will be subordinated.

The government decided to cut NIS 1 billion from each ministry, in order to compensate for the smaller cut in the defense budget. The uniform cut in the ministerial budgets will be 15-19 percent, 4 percent more than initially proposed. An additional NIS 320 million will be cut from the defense budget, in addition to the NIS 3.85 billion cut. The budget will now be forwarded to the Ministry of Finance Budget Division for preparation of the budget bill, which will be submitted for Knesset approval at the end of next month.

Israeli officials dismissed today Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s offer of a ‘truce’, saying it was nothing more than a "deception," and instead demanded that the PA crack down on all terror organizations and their infrastructures, HA’ARETZ reported. The PA Security Advisor Jabil Rajoub issued a statement earlier today calling for a permanent cease-fire that would also be signed by Israel. Rajoub did not outline how the PA would reach a new ceasefire deal with Hamas and Islamic Jihad – the two terror groups responsible for most attacks on Israelis in the past three years. He also did not say whether the PA would crack down on these groups – a key U.S. and Israeli demand.

Israeli officials turned down the proposal emphasizing that ceasefires had failed to end the fighting in the past, and that the Government stood by a decision not to agree to a further truce. A cabinet statement issued last Thursday read that, "the Government of Israel rejects any idea of a cease-fire as a way of dealing with terrorism. Terrorism will stop only with the dismantlement and eradication of the terrorist organizations. This is the duty and the responsibility of the PA and it will be judged only according to deeds and results and not according to declarations and talk."

Palestinian terror groups declared a unilateral truce on June 29 but subsequently carried out several more suicide bombings.

The Foreign Ministry announced this morning that the Israeli trekkers taken hostage last week-end by anti-government rebels in Colombia were still alive, HA’ARETZ reported. Six Israelis, along with four other foreign tourists, were captured while on a six-day hike to the "Lost City" – an ancient ruin on a jungle-covered mountain in the Sierra Nevada range. Two Israelis, Ron Atzmon and Dana Kidon, were separated from the group and managed to escape their captors on Monday. The four Israelis still missing are believed to be held in a remote area and have been identified as Benny Daniel, 26, and Orpaz Ohayon, 22, both from Ma’aleh Adumim; Ido Yosef Guy, 26, from Haifa; and Erez Altawil, 24, from Herzliya.

One of the freed Israelis, Ran Atzmon, told Israeli Channel 2 on Monday night that the captors had split the group into two and that his group had been taken to a house where their hands and legs were bound; they were then warned the door was booby-trapped and that any attempt to leave would trigger an explosion. Half an hour later, however, one of the tour guides opened the door, and he and his girlfriend managed to flee.

Colombia ranks first in the world for kidnapping, with nearly 3,000 people abducted each year. The assailants are believed to be members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has been fighting to overthrow the government for nearly four decades. The FARC is the nation’s largest and most brutal rebel group, currently holding dozens of political prisoners, including a former presidential candidate, and three U.S. military contractors whom the group intends to trade for jailed rebels.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe who was elected on the promise to crackdown on terrorists said on Monday that 1,500 soldiers and eight helicopters were deployed in the hunt for the kidnapped tourists.


Israel’s premier national theater, Habimah, will be taking the stage this week in New York City, presenting its expressionistic multi-media interpretation of a play based on the poem of American icon, Allen Ginsberg, ISRAEL21c reported. The theater was invited by Symphony Space for a one-year residency in which it will present Kaddish L’Naomi (Kaddish for Naomi) the drama based on the American poet Allen Ginsberg’s classic poem, Kaddish. The play, which will be performed from September 18-21, depicts Ginsberg’s boyhood and the gradual decline into madness of his mother. "It was Symphony Space that chose this particular production to bring over. And it seems natural – after all, Allen Ginsburg is an American cultural hero, and one of the most important writers of the Beat generation. This Israeli interpretation of the story of an American Jewish family is a unique bridge between the two cultures," Habimah spokesman Koby HaCohen told ISRAEL21c.

The play stars Israel’s leading actress, Gila Almagor, who is well-known in New York due to her extensive film work: a retrospective of her movies was presented last year at the Museum of Modern Art. The production is a revival of the same play, directed by the same director, Hanan Snir, back in 1976. Almagor’s performance has drawn raves during the run of the play in Israel. The play, one reviewer wrote, gave Almagor "one more chance to demonstrate her unflagging vivacity and irrepressible tenacity on Habimah’s illustrious stage." Her theater portrayal of Ginsberg’s demented mother is uninhibitedly crazed and chaotic." In addition to Kaddish, Almagor will be treating New York theatergoers to her one-woman show The Summer of Aviya.



IDF troops killed a senior Hebron-area Islamic Jihad leader – identified as Majid Abu Dosh – today in the West Bank village of Dura, after he failed to surrender to soldiers, HA’ARETZ reported. Hours earlier, IDF soldiers arrested nine wanted terrorists of the Hamas and the Fatah Tanzim in the West Bank. One of those arrested in the overnight raids was a 17-year-old who was apparently slated to carry out a suicide bombing in the near future.


The Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (ISMEA) is hosting the World Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (WASME) conference in Tel Aviv this week, GLOBES reported. One hundred and eighty participants from over 84 countries are attending the conference. Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Ehud Olmert told the participants that he had stressed the importance and contribution of small – and medium-sized businesses to economic growth at the recent cabinet budget discussion. Most of Israel’s economy isn’t based on large plants and companies, but on small – and medium-sized businesses. Like in the U.S., small and medium businesses are the foundation for a strong and stable economy, " said Olmert.

IVGI Israel will display its innovative new biological fertilizer this week at the 15 th International Agritech Exhibition in Tel Aviv, GLOBES reported. The fertilizer is being sold as a concentrate, to be mixed with water in irrigation for crops. It is considered a smart fertilizer because it both feeds the plant and fertilizes the soil. Another advantage is that only a small amount of concentrate is required to fertilize the soil.

[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Tallie Lieberman and David Dorfman at The Consulate General of Israel in New York.]

Israeline — Wednesday, September 17, 2003 —


An article published in the New York Times today indicated that U.S. and Israeli officials shared an assessment that at least 50 percent of Hamas’s current operating budget of about $10 million comes from Saudi Arabian contributors, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Israeli Prime Minister spokesperson Dore Gold stated that, "in fact, Israel found a handwritten letter by Mahmoud Abbas dated September 2000 that was sent by fax to Prince Salman, full brother of King Fahd and governor of Riyadh in which Abbas complained about Saudi funding to Al-Jamia Al-Islamia, a charity which Abbas explicitly stated ‘belongs to Hamas’." Analysts estimate the Saudi donations as amounting to $5 million a year in cash, which makes it very difficult for Saudi and American authorities to track. American officials commented that after the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Saudi portion of Hamas financing grew as donations from the United States, Europe and other Arab countries came to a stop.

According to a recent report in the New York Times, senior Hamas chief Khalid Mishal, who was recently added to the U.S. Treasury Department list of terrorist financiers, attended a fund-raising event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where he talked at length with Saudi ruler Crown Prince Abdullah. The report quoted a summary of the meeting compiled by a Hamas official, according to which Mishal and other Hamas representatives thanked their Saudi hosts for continuing "to send aid to the people through the civilian and popular channels, despite all the American pressures exerted on them." Saudi officials denied the report, saying that their government’s support for Palestinian causes went directly to the Palestinian Authority.


Prime Minister Ariel Sharon postponed until next week a meeting of the security cabinet scheduled for today and during which the next stage of West Bank security fence should have been approved, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Sources close to Sharon denied that the cancellation was a result of pressure from Washington, which has hinted that it might cut loan guarantees according to the amount Israel spends on the fence. Israel has argued the fence is a security expense and that it therefore should not be deducted. Some U.S. officials are arguing that the fence, which juts into the West Bank, is related to settlements. Under U.S. law, loan guarantees can only support activities in areas that Israel held before the 1967 war.

President George W. Bush authorized Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday to make decisions regarding the loan guarantees. In April, Congress approved the loan guarantees as part of the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, passed to cover costs related to the war with Iraq. Under the act, and separate understandings drafted between the United States and Israel, any money spent on settlements will be deducted from the guarantees. Treasury Secretary John Snow, on a visit to Israel, said Tuesday that no decision had been made whether investment in the fence would be deducted from the guarantees. Finance Ministry Director-General Ohad Marani said no deduction had yet been made. "No one said anything about the fence," he said. Marani acknowledged, "there will be reductions related to the settlements either this year or next year. We don’t know."


An Arab-backed UN resolution, which demanded that Israel halt threats to expel Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat from the West Bank, was vetoed on Wednesday night by the United States because it did not contain condemnation of terrorist groups such as Hamas, HA’ARETZ reported. Of the 15 nations on the UN Security Council, 11 voted in favor of the resolution and three – Britain, Germany and Bulgaria – abstained. Syria, the only Arab nation on the Security Council, had been pushing for a vote since Israel’s security cabinet opted last week to "remove" Arafat. When U.S. deputy envoy James Cunningham informed the council on Wednesday morning that the United States would veto the latest draft of the resolution, the vote was put off for several hours, and some council members expressed hope that a compromise could be reached – but none was offered. Cunningham said he told council members that the latest text was unacceptable because it would not promote the road map peace plan. Britain, which holds the council presidency this month, proposed amendments on Monday which dealt with the implementation of the road map, but Syria rejected them.

Immediately after the vote, U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte reiterated that if his country did not support the elimination or exile of Arafat, he was forced to veto a resolution that failed to denounce groups such as Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. "The Palestinian Authority must take action to remove the threat of terrorist groups," Negroponte said.


The Central Bureau of Statistics revealed that between January and August 2003, 31 percent of all Israeli exports went to European Union countries, 29 percent to the United States, 14 percent to Asia and the remaining 26 percent to the rest of the world, THE MARKER reported. Exports to the United States rose by 8.7 percent in annualized terms during the last two months. Forty percent of Israel’s imports came from European Union countries, while 19 percent originated from the United States. Imports from Asia represented 15 percent of all imports and the remaining 26 percent came from the rest of the world. Trend data showed that imports from EU countries increased by 1.2 percent in the last two months, after rising 2.6 percent from January to June this year. Imports from the United States sank by 8.9 percent in the last four months, after decreasing by 20.7 percent from January to April 2003. Israel’s trade deficit, excluding diamonds, amounted to $4.2 billion in the first eight months of 2003. The deficit with the EU countries reached $2.8 billion, and that with Asia was $0.9 billion. However, Israel had a trade surplus of $0.6 billion with the United States.



Three residents of the West Bank town of Bat Ayin were convicted today for their roles in the attempted bombing of a Palestinian girls’ school in Jerusalem some 17 months ago, HA’ARETZ reported. The Jerusalem District Court found Shlomo Dvir, Yarden Morag and Ofer Gamliel guilty of attempted murder and illegal possession of arms.

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was lightly hurt in a counter-terrorist operation carried out in the casbah section of Nablus today, HA’ARETZ reported. Fadi Abu Zant, 19, of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, linked to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement was killed during the IDF actions. Another soldier was lightly wounded by Palestinian gunmen overnight in Rafah in the southern tip of the Gaza Strip as Israeli forces worked to destroy an arms-smuggling tunnel.

Jordan has frozen the bank accounts of six Hamas leaders and five charity organizations linked to the terror group, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The sanction follows a decision by the European Union to list Hamas as a terrorist group.


The National Employment Bureau reported that the number of job seekers grew in August by 3 percent to 216,140 people, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The number of people asking for unemployment benefits grew by 5.4 percent to 100,000 people. Employment bureau officials anticipate a further increase of some 30,000 people seeking unemployment benefits during September and October, mostly single mother families. There are now 37 towns and cities regarded as the main centers of unemployment.

Israeli start-up Nomad Access has announced that it has won a project for U.S. telecommunications provider Sprint PCS, GLOBES reported. Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint PCS will install Nomad Access’s products on its 1x-CDMA 2000 network. Founded in 2000 by two both former Rafael (Israel Armament Development Company) employees, the company develops software that supports decision-making, and simulates wireless networks for planning of resource allocation for data transmissions.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries announced that it received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market Nefazodone tablets, the generic equivalent of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Serzone tablets for the treatment of depression, HA’ARETZ reported. Teva will begin immediate shipment of the product, in doses of 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg and 250 mg. Sales of the brand product totaled about $220 million during the past 12 months. Teva was one of nine companies to win approval to market a generic version in these doses. Nessuah-Zannex analyst Haim Israel estimates that Nefazodone is likely to add some $30 to 40 million to Teva’s sales.

[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, David Dorfman and Arielle Bernstein at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]

Israeline — Thursday, September 18, 2003 —

** IDF Soldier Seriously Wounded in Gaza Counter-Terror Raid; Senior Hamas Member Killed
** Palestinians Might Be Included in Hizbullah Prisoner Exchange
** American Forces In Iraq to Use IDF Training Software
** Israel to Send Telescope on Indian Rocket
** Other News in Brief
** Economic and Hi-Tech Briefs

IDF Soldier Seriously Wounded in Gaza Counter-Terror Raid; Senior Hamas Member Killed

One Israel Defense Forces soldier was seriously wounded overnight during a counter-terrorism operation in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza Strip, HA’ARETZ reported. Two other IDF soldiers were lightly injured during the raid in which a senior Hamas terrorist, Jihad Abu Swerah, 34, was killed. The injured soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to a hospital. The IDF operation included an assault helicopter and ground troops, including soldiers and tanks, which entered the camp from the neighboring town of Netzarim near Gaza City.

Later in the day, the IDF’s elite Golani unit took control of Jenin and imposed a curfew on the West Bank city, GALEI TSAHAL reported. Military sources indicated the operation aimed at seizing weapons stored by Palestinian groups and had no time limit.

In a separate incident, IDF forces arrested two Islamic Jihad terrorists in the West Bank village of Tubas, northwest of Nablus. One of the people arrested was a woman who was planning to carry out a suicide attack.

Palestinians Might Be Included in Hizbullah Prisoner Exchange
Israel confirmed today it might include Palestinian detainees in a possible Hizbullah prisoner swap, HA’ARETZ reported. The prisoner exchange is said to lead to the release of abducted Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the return of the bodies of three IDF soldiers who were captured in 2000.

Both Hizbullah and Israel said that the prisoner swap negotiations had picked up pace since Israel handed over the remains of two Hizbullah members to the group last month.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said that the talks were at such an advanced stage that there was hope that a deal could be reached over the High Holy Days, which begin at the end of next week. Nasrallah called the talks the "most favorable negotiations that have taken place in the recent past."

Meanwhile, CHANNEL TWO indicated that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon recently met with
the relatives of missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad and told them Israel might have to decide to release Sheikh Abd al Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani in order to free Tannenbaum. Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz said that Israel should not give up efforts to find Arad, who has been missing since 1986.

American Forces In Iraq to Use IDF Training Software
The U.S. military will be using an Israel Defense Forces code of conduct training software to help the armed forces with the challenges they are facing in Iraq, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The software, made in conjunction with the Ground Forces Command education and technology department, uses movie clips, animation, and situations, demonstrating to soldiers the ways to engage in sensitive areas of limited combat. "If you view our experiences and theirs, you can obviously see they are similar,” Lt.-Col. Amos Giora, commandant of the IDF School of Military Law said. Giora added, “this is an interactive software program aimed at teaching junior commanders the 11 codes of conduct vis-?-vis the civilian population. It is geared toward what is going on in the territories, but can also be applied to war and combat situations.”

The code of conduct is based upon international and Israeli laws, and various principles of war, which include: military action can only be taken against military targets; the use of force must be proportional; soldiers must give appropriate medical care, when conditions allow, to oneself and one’s enemy; and soldiers must protect international aid workers, including their property and vehicles.

Israel to Send Telescope on Indian Rocket
Israel will send a telescope into space on an Indian rocket in 2005, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The project, part of the growing cooperation between the two countries, is designed to help scientists map new galaxies. The Israel Space Agency has already spent $15 million on the telescope, which will be mounted on the Indian GSAT-4 satellite. The scientific data gathered from the telescope will be shared between both countries. Israel, which has extensive experience in building remote sensing capabilities, is also looking into the possibility of working with India to jointly develop communication and micro-satellites.

During Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to India last week, Israel and India signed agreements broadening their cooperation in the fields of education, medicine, culture, and technology. The two countries also agreed on an environmental protection pact and pledged to work together in fighting drug trafficking and terrorism.


Other News in Brief

Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat and leaders of his Fatah movement met in Ramallah today to choose ministers in the new Palestinian government, KOL YISRAEL reported. Palestinian sources said the Fatah leaders would present Prime Minister-elect Ahmed Qurei with candidates for 15 of 23 seats in the cabinet. The remaining eight ministers would represent other Palestinian groups or independents.

Jordan’s Central Bank has retracted a day-old decision to freeze the bank accounts of six leaders of the Hamas terror group and five related charity organizations, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Jordanian Information Minister Nabil Al-Sharif said that he did not know why the Central Bank changed its mind. Hamas had condemned "the fact that Jordan has become the first Arab and Muslim country to take such a step that has no justification other than implementing American dictates.”

A personal prayer written by U.S. President George Bush and his wife Laura will be inserted into Jerusalem’s Western Wall by a personal friend of the President currently visiting Israel, MA’ARIV reported. Bush’s friend, Ruth Maizel, arrived in Israel a few days ago on a Christian Evangelist mission working on the production of a film about Jerusalem. Maizel was also reportedly carrying a note from the Senate’s Priest. Minister of Tourism Benny Elon said that his office had invested a great deal of efforts to bring Evangelist tourists to Israel.


Economic and Hi-Tech Briefs

Minister of Finance Binyamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that he planned to cancel additional cuts in social security benefits, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. The treasury is now looking for other sources to make up for the 1.1 billion shekels that were restored to the National Insurance Institute. The treasury made clear that increasing taxes was not being considered as an alternative source for the missing 1.1 billion shekels.

The industrial products unit of Israel Chemicals announced that it had signed a long-term global supply agreement to sell elemental bromine and bromine compounds to the U.S. firm Great Lakes Chemicals, HA’ARTEZ reported. "This agreement is yet another step in our strategy to enhance ICL Industrial Products with long-term agreements," Asher Grinbaum, CEO and president of ICL Industrial Products, said. "It will give us added value that will help us achieve our growth objectives."

World Economic Outlook, an International Monetary Fund report for 2003, predicts that growth in Israel’s economy will amount to 0.7 percent in 2003 and 2.1 percent in 2004, compared with the 1 percent shrinkage of last year, and a 0.9 percent shrinkage growth in 2001. The report recommends that the Bank of Israel continue lowering the interest rate in 2004, in view of low inflation forecasts for next year. The report classifies Israel among the 29 wealthiest countries in the world.

[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, David Nekrutman, Matthew Miller and Tallie Lieberman at The Consulate General of Israel in New York.]

Israeline — Friday, September 19, 2003 —

** Major Attack Averted in Jenin as IDF Continues Counter-Terror Operations
** Sharon Backs Decision on Delaying Construction of Fence Around Ariel
** Shalom: Israel Ready to Negotiate with Syria if Palestinian Terror Groups Shut Down
** Bush: Arafat Has Failed as a Leader and Is an Obstacle to Peace
** Other News in Brief
** Economic and Hi-Tech Briefs

Major Attack Averted in Jenin as IDF Continues Counter-Terror Operations

A major terror attack was thwarted today when Israel Defense Forces troops operating in Jenin discovered a jeep filled with explosives and ready to be used for a bombing attack, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Since Thursday, the IDF has carried out a counter-terror operation in Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp and imposed a curfew on the West Bank town. Three Islamic Jihad terrorists have so far been arrested during the course of the operation.

In other news, an Israeli car was fired at today south of the Alon highway junction near Kochav Hashahar. No casualties were reported, but the vehicle was damaged. Three weeks ago precisely, Fatah al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades terrorists shot dead Shalom Har-Melech, 25, and seriously wounded his seven months’ pregnant wife at that exact same location.

Earlier today, soldiers in the village of Burkin near Nablus demolished the house of Shadi al-Tubasi, who blew himself up at Matza restaurant in Haifa in March 2002, killing 15 Israelis.

Also today, IDF soldiers in the village of Rantis north of Ramallah demolished the house of Iyhad Abed al-Kader abu-Salim, the Hamas suicide bomber responsible for the attack in Tzrifin last week, in which eight soldiers were killed.
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Palestinian police clashed on Thursday with Hamas supporters after Palestinian security arrested seven Hamas members in connection with the kidnapping of a police officer a day earlier. Fifteen protesters were wounded, one seriously, and two Palestinian police were hurt by rocks.

Israel and the United States have been demanding that the Palestinians crack down on Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for most of the 102 suicide bombings over the past three years, killing hundreds of Israelis. However, Thursday’s clash in Gaza appeared to be an internal conflict, not the beginning of such a campaign.


Sharon Backs Decision on Delaying Construction of Fence Around Ariel
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has backed a plan put forward by Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, which would suspend the construction of a controversial section of the West Bank security fence, HA’ARETZ reported. At a meeting with Likud ministers today, Sharon said that a high-level delegation, including the head of his own bureau, Dov Weisglass, and Ministry of Defense Director General Amos Yaron, would tell the United States that the section of the fence between Elkana and Alei Zahav would not be built, leaving a ‘break’ opposite Ariel, one of the largest West Bank Jewish towns. Instead, the area left open will be guarded by a bolstered IDF presence, as well as roadblocks and other barriers aimed at protecting the adjacent Jewish towns.

Yaron and Weisglass, who leave for the United States over the weekend, will also try and convince the U.S. Administration that the fence is a military necessity, sidestepping American threats to cut loan guarantees that are part of U.S. aid to Israel. The Americans have indicated that should the fence be built around Ariel, a sum equivalent to money allocated for its construction would be deducted from loan guarantees to Israel. This policy would force the government to choose between “Ariel and the guarantees.” Sharon has reiterated in recent consultations that the fence is being built as a security measure and does not delineate a political border.


Shalom: Israel Ready to Negotiate with Syria if Palestinian Terror Groups Shut Down
Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said his government was prepared to resume peace negotiations with
Syria on the condition that Damascus close down the offices of Palestinian terrorist movements, HA’ARETZ reported. Israel is prepared to start discussions “immediately” with Syria provided its authorities “close the offices of Palestinian groups, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Shalom told Kuwait’s Al-Rai Al-Aam newspaper in an interview. But he said Damascus “continues to shelter these movements and I don’t know how it can engage in serious negotiations with us as long as it continues to shelter them.”

Concerning Lebanon, the minister questioned "why Hizbullah has increased the number of rockets in its possession after the withdrawal" by Israel from southern Lebanon in 2000. Meanwhile, according to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, Shalom spoke on Thursday to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, ahead of the Foreign Minister’s visit to Washington next week. The two agreed to discuss the planned route of the fence during their meeting. Shalom thanked the United States for vetoing a UN resolution condemning Israel for threatening to expel Yasser Arafat. The United States said that the resolution was unbalanced, since it failed to condemn Palestinian terror against Israeli civilians.


Bush: Arafat Has Failed as a Leader and Is an Obstacle to Peace
Speaking at a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Thursday at Camp David, U.S. President George W. Bush said Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat had undermined former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas’ efforts to consolidate security forces under his leadership and crack down on terrorist groups, HA’ARETZ reported. "Arafat has failed as a leader," Bush said, adding that road map to peace in the Middle East was now stalled. "Prime Minister Abbas was undermined at all turns by the old order,” Bush said. “That meant Mr. Arafat. That’s why we’re now stalled.”

Bush indicated he remained "solidly committed" to a Palestinian state and the road map and expressed hope for a Palestinian leadership fully committed to fighting terror.

According to THE JERUSALEM POST, the United States has warned the Palestinian Authority that it will not deal with a new cabinet controlled by Arafat. The warning was delivered by U.S. special envoy John Wolf to PA Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qurei who is expected to announce his cabinet sometime next week. Washington also reportedly made it clear that its policy on Arafat remained unchanged and that he was not a partner to any peace talks.


Other News in Brief

Some 400 public figures are scheduled to arrive in Israel to celebrate Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres’s 80th birthday next week, HA’ARETZ reported. The list includes CEOs of major international corporations, well-known figures in the fields of economics and technology, heads of state, and other major public political figures such as the mayors of Rome and Paris. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the former Soviet Union are also slated to attend the event.


Economic and Hi-Tech Briefs

Israel’s Ministry of Finance saved about $35 million by managing this week’s $1.6 billion bond offering in the U.S. through a competitive tender, GLOBES reported. Under such a tender, investors specify the yield they are willing to accept, and the bonds are awarded to the most attractive offers. Managing the offering this way cut 0.2 percentage points from the cost of the offering, worth about $35 million at present value. The bonds were rated AAA, the highest rating available, because they were backed by U.S. loan guarantees. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings usually rate Israel’s debt A- with a negative outlook, while Moody’s Investors Service rates the country A2 with a stable outlook. The bonds issued this week were purchased by some of the world’s largest institutions, including investors outside the U.S., most probably from Europe and Japan.

Deputy Accountant General Eldad Fresher said that the bond issue was a great success and had earned acclaim from international market players as well as senior figures in the U.S. Administration. There are signs in the electronics industry that 2004 may see some recovery after two years of crisis, HA’ARETZ reported. Amiram Shore, head of the Electronics and Software Division of the Manufacturers Association, said high-tech exports in 2003 would increase 1 percent over last year to $8.25 billion. Exports of components will rise 10 percent to $1.61 billion, and export of communications, medical, and other equipment will rise 3 percent to $5 billion. Domestic high-tech sales fell 10 percent this year and the number of high-tech employees decreased by 1,000, 2 percent of the sector’s work force. In 2004, Shore expects high-tech sales to increase 2 percent to $9.74 billion.

South Korean Ambassador to Israel Yu Myung Hwan told Minister of National Infrastructures Joseph Paritzky on Thursday that Hyundai and Korea Gas Corporation were very interested in investing in Israeli infrastructure installations, particularly power stations and natural gas, GLOBES reported. Hwan said other Korean companies were also interested in investing in Israel. He said Hyundai was interested in building power stations and other infrastructure projects, while Kogas was in contact with Israeli business concerns to bid in the $400 million natural gas pipeline tender.

[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob and Jonathan Schienberg at The Consulate General of Israel in New York.]