Choose Day Below
— Monday, September 22 ,
Israeline — Monday, September 22
, 2003 —
** ISRAELI DELEGATION IN THE U.S. TO DISCUSS SECURITY FENCE ROUTE
** STUDY REVEALS ISRAEL’S STRATEGIC EDGE IS AT HIGH POINT AFTER IRAQ WAR
** PERES AT 80: PEACE IS STILL POSSIBLE
** 19 YEAR-OLD ISRAELI WOMAN WINS GOLD AT WINDSURFING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
DELEGATION IN THE U.S. TO DISCUSS SECURITY FENCE ROUTE
The chief of the Prime Minister’s bureau, Dov Weisglass, left for Washington on Saturday night at the head of a high-level delegation dispatched to present the United States with a revised route proposal for the separation fence, which now includes a "break" opposite Ariel, one of the largest West Bank Jewish cities, HA’ARETZ reported. Weisglass, who is accompanied by Defense Ministry Director General Amos Yaron, is meeting today with U.S. national security advisor Condoleezza Rice to discuss the new route. Israel will tell U.S. officials that the section of the fence between the towns of Elkana and Alei Zahav will not be built, leaving a "break" opposite Ariel. 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. "The fence is not going to stand in the way of the sustained, long-standing relations between Israel and the US," a diplomatic official said. "A solution will be found without compromising the security of the citizens of Israel." Weisglass and Rice will also discuss the new Palestinian leadership. In advance of the meeting, Israel announced that it had granted entry permits to some 11,000 Palestinian laborers and merchants who wished to do business in Israel.
In addition, Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom, who arrived in New York on Sunday for the opening of the 58th session of the UN General Assembly, will hold talks on the issue of the security fence with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
REVEALS ISRAEL’S STRATEGIC EDGE IS AT HIGH POINT AFTER IRAQ WAR
Israel’s strategic advantage over Arab countries has reached a high point as a result of the U.S. defeat of Iraq, according to a report published Sunday by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, HA’ARETZ reported. Dr. Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the Tel Aviv University think tank, said that a window of opportunity had opened for Israel allowing it to revaluate security concepts in terms of military buildup, the size and components of its budget, and its weapons production priorities. Iraq’s defeat, Kam said, meant the disappearance of the most radical state in the Middle East and consequently, the weakening of other radical Arab countries. He added that with the removal of the conventional military threat against Israel represented by Iraq, Israel would be able to focus its responses to the non-conventional warfare of terrorism. Kam concluded that Israel’s ability to take advantage of its new strategic status, depended on the capacity of the United States to create an alternative government in Iraq.
Brigadier General (Res.) Shlomo Brom, a center researcher said that the most significant aspect of the eradication of Iraq’s army was in the change in the understanding of Arab leaders regarding the new situation. Moreover, Brom said that the way in which the United States won the war – with four armored divisions against Iraq’s 24 – had implications for the power of the Israel Defense Forces against the Syrian army. Jaffee Center scholars concluded that the Palestinians were also very weakened by the fall of Iraq, which was the head of the radical Arab camp.
With regard to terrorism, the report says that the Palestinians are avoiding carrying out a mega-terror strike for fear that they will be the ones to suffer from such a strike. International terrorism expert Yoram Shweitzer said that although attempts have been made by Al-Qaida to establish cells in the West Bank, chances that they will be successful in doing so are low, because Hamas and Islamic Jihad have their own agendas of obtaining international recognition and dialogue, whereas Al-Qaida seeks all-out war against the international community.
AT 80: PEACE IS STILL POSSIBLE
As he celebrated his 80th birthday on Sunday with around 3,000 guests, including Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, former prime minister and Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres said he still believed peace with the Palestinians was possible, HA’ARETZ reported. "We can renew the hope for peace," Peres said in his speech during the evening of music and dance, parts of which were broadcast live on Israeli television. "It could be much closer than you think and even closer than I believe. We can do it." Peres said in his address to his guests that despite the current violence, he remained dedicated to his belief that Israelis and Palestinians could one day live in two separate states side-by-side, in peace.
"I thank you for your vision of the new Middle East. That we seem so far from that dream today does not lessen its power," Clinton said in his speech.
During the ceremony Peres, who currently serves as leader of the opposition Labor Party, sat next to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a long-time friend as well as political foe. At the end of his address, Peres directed his words to Sharon, "Don’t despair," he called to the prime minister.
Sharon recalled his 50-year friendship with Peres, to whom he was introduced by David Ben-Gurion when Peres was director-general of the Defense Ministry. Sharon lauded Peres for his never-ending initiative and conveyed the impression that, although they walk on different political paths, their goal is the same – to strengthen the State of Israel so its people can live in peace and security.
YEAR-OLD ISRAELI WOMAN WINS GOLD AT WINDSURFING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Lee Korsitz, 19, won the gold medal in the women’s Mistral event at the World Sailing Championship in Cadiz, Spain on Sunday, making her the first woman athlete to win a world championship for Israel in any sport, MAARIV reported. "My dream was to hear my national anthem," Korsitz said. "Before I left, my mother packed a flag in my bag, and I had forgotten about it until today. I didn’t know I was going to be World Champion. I was really nervous as the race was postponed." Korsitz is now guaranteed a spot on the Olympic team that will represent Israel at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece.
At just under 19 and a half years of age, she is the youngest woman to ever win a Mistral windsurfing championship. Korsitz’s mentor, Gal Friedman, who had won the Mistral World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, in December, took the bronze medal in the men’s event. "I knew she could do it," he said of Korsitz’s surprise victory.
"I have been training with the defending world champion in the men’s event, Gal Friedman. He has taught me everything," Korsitz said at a press conference following one of the races. Korsitz, from Moshav Michmoret, has only been sailing at the senior level for just over one year, and came into the event ranked No. 29 in the world.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
Senior Hamas terrorist Basel Kawasmeh – who was involved in attacks in Jerusalem and Hebron – was killed this morning in Hebron, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Meanwhile, a curfew is still imposed on Jenin as troops backed up by tanks continue their operations against the terrorist infrastructures in the town. On Sunday, paratroopers came under fire before dawn in Nablus as they surrounded Joseph’s Tomb in order to evacuate a group of religious Jews who had sneaked into the shrine to worship. None of the soldiers were wounded in the operation.
Hamas announced on Sunday it would not join the new Palestinian government being formed by Prime Minister designate Ahmed Qurei, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The Islamic Jihad also said it would not be a part of the government. Qurei met in Gaza on Sunday with the heads of the various Palestinian factions in attempt to form a government.
The cabinet approved on
Sunday the creation of a new education taskforce for the advancement of education
in Israel, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Minister of Education, Culture, and
Sports Limor Livnat, together with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, introduced the
taskforce which is charged with reviewing the country’s education system and
recommending ways to improve its efficiency. "The idea is to review the
whole education system," Livnat said. "We need to take a deep look
at its structure." Livnat noted that the last "serious reform"
in the education system took place more than 40 years ago.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Israeli company Proneuron Biotechnologies has announced that it will begin Phase II clinical trials for its treatment for Huntington’s disease, GLOBES reported. Huntington’s disease is a hereditary brain disorder. The company asserts that 250,000 people in the United States either have the disease, or are at risk of inheriting it. The trial involves Copolymer-1 (Cop-1), developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and on which Teva’s Copaxone drug is also based. Cop-1 is capable of controlling immune activity in the central nervous system. Research by Proneuron founder Prof. Michal Schwartz showed that when the drug is administered periodically it has a neuro-protective effect.
In its most recent issue,
The Economist ranks the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and the Israeli capital market
among the 10 most promising of 25 emerging markets around the world, GLOBES
reported. The Economist noted that the stock exchanges in the 10 most promising
markets, including Israel, had posted sharp rises in returns and trading turnovers
since June, indicating positive potential. The Economist noted that since that
time, the Tel Aviv 25 index was up 19 percent and the Tel Aviv 100, 25 percent.
The magazine also predicted that the Israeli economy was on the verge of recovery,
and that growth would rise from 0.8 percent this year to 2.5 percent in 2004.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Dina Wosner and Ravit Bar-Av at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Tuesday, September 23 ,
Israeline — Tuesday, September 23
, 2003 —
** ISRAELI-HIZBULLAH PRISONER EXCHANGE DEAL SAID TO BE IMMINENT
** SHALOM: TERROR IS NOW A WORLD PROBLEM
** IDF TO ALLOW 25,000 PALESTINIANS INTO ISRAEL AS PART OF GOODWILL MEASURES
** IRAN UNVEILS MISSILES CAPABLE OF STRIKING ISRAEL
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
PRISONER EXCHANGE DEAL SAID TO BE IMMINENT
Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz said today that the negotiations regarding the exchange of prisoners with the Hizbullah terrorist group were at an advanced stage, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Israel has reportedly agreed to release 400 Arab prisoners – half of them Palestinians and the rest Lebanese, Jordanians, and Syrians – while Hizbullah will return businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three missing soldiers.
ISRAELI-HIZBULLAH PRISONER EXCHANGE DEAL SAID TO BE IMMINENT
Meanwhile, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah pledged that his organization would "exert its utmost efforts" to obtain information about the fate of missing IAF navigator Lt.-Col. Ron Arad, whose plane went down over Lebanon 17 years ago. Nasrallah, in an interview with the Lebanese daily As-Safir, reiterated that Hizbullah had no information about Arad but would now actively seek news of him in order to obtain details about eight missing Iranian diplomats and the release of more Palestinian prisoners not included in the proposed exchange. President Moshe Katsav said today Israel was willing "to pay any price" to secure the release of Arad. "Regardless of the current negotiations with Hizbullah, Israel will continue to work for the release of Ron Arad, and he will remain an issue for all Israelis until he comes home," Katsav said.
Mofaz denied reports today that Israel intended to release jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti under a prisoner swap with Hizbullah. Barghouti is on trial on charges relating to terrorist atrocities in which 26 people were killed. He has been detained since being snatched by security forces from his West Bank hideout about a year ago.
TERROR IS NOW A WORLD PROBLEM
Speaking at an international anti-terrorism conference in New York, Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said that whereas terrorism might have in the past been considered a localized problem, it was now affecting the entire world, HA’ARETZ reported. Shalom called on the Palestinian leadership to join the world fight against terrorism, saying that such a move would benefit the Palestinians and not only Israel. Shalom explained that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat should have resolved the strife between Israel and the Palestinians 10 years ago, before 1,126 Israelis were killed in over 19,000 terror attacks, including 102 suicide bombings.
U.S. President George W. Bush said Monday that plans for a Palestinian state hinged on finding new leaders committed to fighting terrorism. "The Palestinians have suffered under [Arafat’s] leadership, and hopefully new leaders will emerge that will be committed to peace, willing to fight terror, and out of that will come a Palestinian state," Bush said in an interview on Fox News. "I believe it’s in everybody’s interest that there be a Palestinian state. But it will not happen so long as the interlocutor, the so-called representative of the people, won’t fight terror. And that’s the problem with Mr. Arafat," he said.
TO ALLOW 25,000 PALESTINIANS INTO ISRAEL AS PART OF GOODWILL MEASURES
Major General Amos Gilad, the Government’s coordinator of military operations in the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israeli Defense Forces have decided to take a series of measures aimed at reducing the hardships suffered by the Palestinian population in these areas, HA’ARETZ reported. The steps, which will be implemented in stages during the course of the week, will include allowing 11,000 laborers and traders from Gaza to enter Israel. Around 9,500 Palestinians from the West Bank towns of Bethlehem, Tul Karm and Qalqilyah will also be allowed into Israel.
In addition, 5,000 laborers will be allowed to work in the Jewish communities in the West Bank, and 2,000 Christian Arabs from Bethlehem will be allowed into Jerusalem for the Feast of the Birth of Mary. All of these have been approved despite constant attacks being carried out by Palestinian terrorists. Bombs were set off today against IDF soldiers near Kibbutz Nir Oz on the border of the Gaza Strip, and at Sufa crossing in southern Gaza, causing no injuries.
Two other bombs were discovered near the town of Morag, also in Gaza, but were safely detonated by IDF soldiers. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, IDF forces arrested six Palestinians in the Balata refugee camp overnight near Nablus; a seventh fugitive was arrested in Arabeh village, northeast of Jenin. The arrests followed a raid late Monday, in which a Border Police unit operating undercover in Palestinian disguise arrested 12 wanted men from the Fatah Tanzim militia in the Refadia neighborhood in Nablus.
UNVEILS MISSILES CAPABLE OF STRIKING ISRAEL
Iran unveiled on Monday Shihab-3 missiles that are capable of reaching Israel, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Banners draping the missiles displayed in the Iranian annual military parade touted that the weapons "are capable of reaching the heart of the enemy." The missiles can carry nuclear warheads and have a 1280-kilometer range. Israeli security sources believe that the Shihab-3 is capable of hitting anywhere in Israel and could also reach most parts of Turkey and even the eastern edges of Europe. It is rumored that the country is also developing a Shihab-4 missile with a range that could strike Eastern Europe. Israeli officers have for years said that Iran was striving to become a nuclear power.
On September 12, the International Atomic Energy Agency handed Iran an ultimatum demanding that the world’s only Shiite state "immediately and unconditionally" sign an annex to the Non Proliferation Treaty enforcing more stringent rules on nuclear states. Failure to meet the IAEA’s strict conditions by October 31 could force the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran, isolating it both economically and politically. As a result, the nation is undergoing domestic turmoil between conservatives who prefer to see Iran as a nuclear power at the risk of North Korean-like isolation from the international community and reformers who feel it is necessary to bow to the IAEA’s demands of nuclear transparency.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
Former Israeli ambassador to the United States and Rome, and Jewish Agency chairman Simcha Dinitz died in his Jerusalem home of a heart attack this morning at the age of 74, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Dinitz was ambassador to Washington in the 1970’s, and played a crucial role in helping organize a U.S. airlift of weapons to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He also participated in the U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and Egypt in the late 1970s. In the 1980s, Dinitz served as chairman of the Jewish Agency and as vice president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Israeli officials in Washington said Israel and the United States narrowed their differences over the route of the security fence, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice discussed the issue in Washington on Monday with the directors of the Prime Minister’s Office and Defense Ministry, Dov Weisglass and Amos Yaron. The United States expressed opposition to a fence being built around the town of Ariel, but said it did not plan to deduct money from U.S. loan guarantees to Israel.
The Colombian army officer
heading the search for eight foreign tourists – including four Israelis – kidnapped
some 10 days ago, said today that the army had been involved in exchanges of
fire with the group responsible for the abduction, HA’ARETZ reported. General
Lopez Estrada told a radio station in Bogota that, "we have captured some
guerilla fighters in the search zone, and we are convinced that we will find
the exact location of the hostages." The four Israelis are among a group
of eight tourists kidnapped on September 13, apparently by anti-government guerrillas,
while hiking to Colombia’s "Lost City", an ancient ruin on a jungle-covered
Sierra Nevada mountain in northeast Colombia.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Haifa-based MediGuide, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems announced today an agreement with Royal Philips Electronics for the development of new medical positioning technology, GLOBES reported. The companies said the new technology would enable cardiologists to locate and view arterial lesions in 3-D. The combined technologies will provide physicians with 3-D information on the vascular structure of the heart, to more accurately assess and locate lesions, helping them to determine what type of interventional cardiology procedure to perform. Founded in 2000, MediGuide develops navigation-based applications and technology for medical intervention.
Total passenger traffic at Ben-Gurion
Airport, Israel’s main gateway, rose 4 percent in August to 1,025,834, THE JERUSALEM
POST reported. While El Al Israel Airlines saw a 9 percent increase in traffic,
Israeli carriers on the whole, including Arkia Israeli Airlines, and Sun D’or
saw a 2 percent growth in passenger traffic. Foreign airlines also continued
to see growth in passenger traffic to and from Tel Aviv.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, David Dorfman and Tallie Lieberman at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Wednesday, September 24 ,
Israeline — Wednesday, September 24
, 2003 —
** BUSH AT THE UN: ARAFAT BETRAYED PALESTINIAN CAUSE
** SHALOM TO MEET RICE AND POWELL TODAY ON SECURITY FENCE
** HAMAS SPIRITUAL LEADER VOWS TO REMAIN ON THE PATH OF TERROR
** ISRAELI TECHNIQUE COULD REPLACE CANCER BIOPSIES
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
AT THE UN: ARAFAT BETRAYED PALESTINIAN CAUSE
In his address to the United Nations on Tuesday, U.S. President George W. Bush made reference to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, saying that the Palestinian cause was being "betrayed by leaders who cling to power by feeding old hatreds and destroying the good work of others," HA’ARETZ reported. "The Palestinian people deserve their own state and they will gain that state by embracing new leaders committed to reform, to fighting terror and to building peace," Bush added, echoing remarks he has made in the past. He used his speech, which focused mainly on Iraq, to call on both Israel and the Palestinians to make good on their road map commitments.
TO MEET RICE AND POWELL TODAY ON SECURITY FENCE
Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom will meet U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell today to discuss the American position on the route of the security fence, HA’ARETZ reported. One of the major issues to be discussed is a proposal to include the city of Ariel within the fence – a plan that would entail a large "bulge" east of the 1967 ‘Green Line’. "There’s no question that the Americans do not back the route that we would like," Shalom said. "That doesn’t mean that the decision is final. The prime minister will need to bring this to the cabinet, where the alternate [routes] will be presented, and a decision will be made."
Shalom added that, "we should still do everything to defend as many Israeli citizens who live in the settlement [areas of] Judea and Samaria as possible." Meanwhile, according to Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, Israel’s cabinet will convene next Wednesday to discuss the security fence. During the meeting, the prime minister is expected to bring a number of alternate route proposals to the cabinet for approval, including one for a "broken" fence that can be opened and closed depending on security conditions.
SPIRITUAL LEADER VOWS TO REMAIN ON THE PATH OF TERROR
Hamas’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, said today that his group would not disarm, agree to a truce or join the new Palestinian government, HA’ARETZ reported. Speaking at a mosque, Yassin rebuffed incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, who has complained of the "chaos of weapons" in the West Bank and Gaza, proposed a comprehensive truce with Israel and invited Hamas into his government.
Qurei has not said what steps, if any, he would take to get illegal weapons off the street, as required by the "road map" peace plan. Qurei and other officials have ruled out using force in order to dismantle the terror groups. Meanwhile, Israeli forces carrying out counter-terrorism operations in the southern Gaza Strip clashed with armed Palestinians today. A 15-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and 14 Palestinians were wounded during heavy exchanges of fire.
IDF troops destroyed this morning the house of the suicide bomber who killed seven people at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem on September 9. Ramez Abu Salim’s house was located in Kafr Rantis, northwest of the West Bank city of Ramallah. In other security-related news, a wanted Tanzim militant surrendered to undercover officers before dawn today after a nearly 12-hour hunt north of Ramallah, and seven wanted Palestinians were arrested throughout in the West Bank overnight.
TECHNIQUE COULD REPLACE CANCER BIOPSIES
A cost-effective diagnostic imaging technique developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science, which will allow patients to avoid the pain and risk of biopsies when diagnosing solid malignant tumors, was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for detecting breast and prostate cancer, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Slated for distribution as early as next year, the 3TP (Three Time Point) technique uses existing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment and a safe contrast medium injected into the patient. The MRI images are analyzed by special software that generates a colored likeness of the suspected tumor site, allowing doctors to distinguish between malignant tumors and benign lumps through scanning instead of cutting. The procedure was developed by Professor Hadassa Degani and her research group at the Rehovot institute’s biological regulation department.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
The Central Bureau of Statistics’ annual report indicated that on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Israel’s population was above 6.6 million people – a 1.9 percent increase compared to 2001, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The country’s Arab population grew by 3.4 percent while the Jewish population rose by 1.4 percent. The report also revealed that Israel was now as crowded as India with about 300 people per square kilometer. The most crowded city is Bnei Brak and the largest percentage of new immigrants lives in Ashdod.
Bank of Israel Governor David Klein addressed on Tuesday the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meeting in Dubai, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Several Arab delegations boycotted his speech while the delegates from the host country moved back a couple of rows. Klein’s speech focused on the fight against poverty in the world. Klein also thanked the government and people of the United Arab Emirates for their hospitality.
Thailand’s prime minister confirmed today a Channel 2 TV report that Thai police thwarted an al-Qaida plot to attack Israeli passengers inside Bangkok International Airport, and shoot down an El Al passenger plane at the same airport, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Bangkok police arrested a suspicious man three months ago as he was filming with a video camera near the El Al counter at Bangkok International Airport in order to collect intelligence on security and passenger routines. The attack was reportedly meant to take place in the very near future.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
NICE Systems announced that ECE, a U.S. technical support company, bought a NICE quality monitoring recording system for an 800-agent contact center in Tampa, Florida, GLOBES reported. The contact center is dedicated to providing customer support for one of the world’s top Internet service providers, NICE said "We pride ourselves on providing an exceptional customer experience to our clients’ customers," Toni Portmann, president and CEO of ECE, said. "With the NICE quality monitoring solution we’re able to ensure consistent delivery of world-class service with every interaction."
U.S. defense contractor General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products was awarded a $23.5 million order from the U.S. Army for the production of 80 reactive armor vehicle sets for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, GLOBES reported. General Dynamics’ strategic partner, RAFAEL of Haifa, will share 50 percent of the production workload, General Dynamics said. Work will be completed by January 2005.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, David Dorfman and Arielle Bersnstein at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.]
— Thursday, September 25 ,
Israeline — Thursday, September 25
, 2003 —
** SOLDIER KILLED, 7 TROOPS INJURED IN GAZA RAID
** SHALOM TO UN: ISRAEL WON’T DEPORT ARAFAT IMMEDIATLEY
** AIR FORCE GROUNDS PILOTS WHO SIGNED REFUSAL LETTER
** BELGIUM DISMISSES CASE AGAINST SHARON
** OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
** ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
SOLDIER KILLED, 7 TROOPS INJURED IN GAZA RAID
First sergeant Avihu Keinan, 22, from Shilo was killed today in a pre-dawn counter-terrorism operation against the El Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. Seven other soldiers were wounded during the raid – one seriously, two moderately and four lightly.
Keinan was killed when troops came under fire as they surrounded the house of a local Islamic Jihad leader, Jawad Shahin. IDF sources said the soldiers went in to arrest Shahin. Gunmen in the house opened fire, and the soldiers fired back. One of the four soldiers who were lightly wounded was the commander of the Givati unit that raided the camp. He was shot while evacuating wounded soldiers.
Two Palestinian terrorists were killed during the course of Israel Defense Forces actions. One of the dead was identified as Hamas’s Mohammed Akel and the other as Islamic Jihad’s Vanur Armana. Three-year-old girl Dina Issa, was also killed and eight Palestinians were wounded.
Meanwhile, HA’ARETZ reported that in the West Bank city of Hebron, elite troops surrounded a building in which three terrorists were holed up. Two of the terrorists – identified as Diab Shwiki, a senior Islamic Jihad leader and Abed El-Rahim Kik Talhami, an Islamic Jihad member in charge of the Hebron outskirts area, were killed. The third terrorist, who was seriously injured, is Islamic Jihad’s member, Omar Shwiki.
TO UN: ISRAEL WON’T DEPORT ARAFAT IMMEDIATLEY
Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom told reporters at the United Nations on Wednesday that Israel was not planning to deport Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in the immediate future, HA’ARETZ reported. Shalom, who was attending the UN General Assembly session, said that the government had decided “in principle” to deport Arafat so that he could no longer lead the armed struggle against Israel. “The decision that we took is not for immediate action,” he said.
Last week, the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling on Israel to stop threating to expell Arafat. The same resolution failed in the UN Security Council due to a veto by the United States. The Bush administration – together with Israel – blames Arafat for blocking the implementation of the Road Map Peace Plan, which was supposed to establish a Palestinian state by 2005. Arafat recently appointed a new Palestinian premier to replace Mahmoud Abbas. Shalom told reporters on Wednesday that the Israeli government was waiting for new Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei to announce his cabinet members and agenda before judging whether or not to support him.
FORCE GROUNDS PILOTS WHO SIGNED REFUSAL LETTER
Air Force officials suspended at least nine active pilots who signed a letter refusing to carry out interceptions in the West Bank and Gaza, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon said the pilots were wrong to draft their letter, noting that refusing to serve was a serious matter and that the army recently jailed a soldier who refused to remove an illegal settlement outpost.
The Air Force is planning to organize meetings between the nine pilots and the heads of their bases. After reviewing the letter that will examine the legal aspects of their refusal, a formal decision will be made on how to deal with the dissenting airmen.
Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Dan Halutz noted that the pilots represented only a few out of thousands, and asked people to put the events into perspective: “We are in a vicious war against terrorism. We don’t choose our wars. This war is prescribed for us.”
Meanwhile, an official close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that the interceptions against terror leaders will continue. “The traditional character of wars has changed forever,” he said “There is no battlefield where one army encounters another. Today, the targets seeking to destroy us are positioned within civilian territory.”
DISMISSES CASE AGAINST SHARON
Belgium’s highest court dismissed on Wednesday war crimes complaints against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, former Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron, former U.S. president George Bush, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, ruling the country no longer had a legal basis to charge them, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The decision was expected to improve Belgium’s diplomatic relations with the United States and Israel, which hit their lowest points in decades over the complaints. Daniel Shek, head of the Foreign Ministry’s European Division who spearheaded Israeli efforts against the case, expressed satisfaction at the court decision, saying this time the case really was really over. "Several times in the past I thought it was over, but it was then always revised," he said. "This time is different. Those in Belgium who were in favor of universal jurisdiction pushed the law so far and tried to manipulate it so strongly, that they ended up pushing the whole notion backward. The misuse of the law cost them the existence of the law."
Shek added there were a
number of lessons to be drawn from the whole episode, including that the legal
arena was a possible front for those looking to harm Israel. "It was important
we put as much energy in this case as we did," he said. "It sends
message to others in Belgium and elsewhere that it will not be easy to battle
us on this front. This message came across."
Shek indicated the Sharon case completely overshadowed relations between Belgium and Israel, "creating more harm than good." Now, he said, the relations should be able to return to normal.
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF
The Kuwaiti government has decided to freeze bank accounts belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, following intense American pressure on Arab nations to fight Islamic terror, HA’ARETZ reported. The Jordanian and Lebanese governments had also announced they would freeze Hamas bank accounts, but reneged on their decisions under heavy internal pressure.
David Pearce, the head of the U.S. State Department’s office dealing with Iran and Iraq and a former journalist who worked in Lebanon in the 1980s, has been appointed the new US consul-general in Jerusalem, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. He is to take up his new position on Tuesday. The position has not been permanently filled since July 2002, when Ron Schlicher was called back to Washington.
ECONOMIC AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu is to present the cabinet with an alternative package of cuts totaling 1.1 billion shekels, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL reported. The cabinet meeting on the budget scheduled for next Monday was postponed to Wednesday. Following a meeting with Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz on Wednesday in Jerusalem, the finance minister rejected the option of reducing the planned budget cut in the defense sector. Netanyahu has reached an agreement with the Shinui party, according to which across the board reduction in child allowances would occur.
The month of August saw a 74 percent increase in the number of nights spent by foreign tourists at hotels in Israel, compared to the same month last year, GLOBES reported. Tourists spent a total of 560,000 nights in Israeli hotels last month. Though this figure is particularly impressive, compared with August 2000, the number is actually down 35 percent.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, Matthew Miller and Tallie Lieberman at The Consulate General of Israel in New York].
— Friday, September 26 ,
Israeline — Friday, September 26
, 2003 —
** ISRAEL INCREASES SECURITY MEASURES PRIOR TO ROSH HASHANAH
** SHALOM CALLS ON UN TO CHANGE ITS ATTITUDE TOWARDS ISRAEL
** GERMANY WILLING TO FREE PRISONERS TO ENABLE ISRAELI PRISONER SWAP WITH HIZBOLAH
** POWELL: ARAFAT SHOULD GET OUT OF THE WAY
** ECONOMICS AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
ISRAEL INCREASES SECURITY MEASURES PRIOR TO ROSH HASHANAH
A full closure was imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip late Thursday, ahead of Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – which begins tonight and lasts until Sunday evening, HA’ARETZ reported. The closure has been put in place due to fears that Palestinian terror groups might plan to carry out attacks during the holiday. However, Palestinians will be allowed to enter Israel for humanitarian reasons.
Police chief Shlomo Aharonishki said this morning that large numbers of police reinforcements had been deployed throughout the country ahead of the holiday. Police numbers have also been bolstered in cities along the Green Line, and Border Police units are on high alert along the divide between Israel and the West Bank.
In other news, Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the West Bank city of Ramallah arrested 25 Hamas activists overnight Thursday, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. Hours earlier, Palestinian gunmen fired shots near homes in the Jewish community of Psagot close to Ramallah, causing no injuries.
In the Gaza Strip late Thursday, Palestinians fired at IDF troops near Atzmona in the Gush Katif area. Palestinian gunmen also fired two anti-tank missiles at IDF troops near the Jewish community of Gadid in southern Gaza.
CALLS ON UN TO CHANGE ITS ATTITUDE TOWARDS ISRAEL
Addressing the 58th annual debate of UN General Assembly on Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said that there could be no neutrality in the war against terror, and that terrorism-sponsoring states such as Syria and Iran had to be held accountable for their crimes, Israel Radio, KOL YISRAEL, reported. Shalom said that for the Middle East peace process to be put back on track, the Palestinians had to first dismantle their terrorist infrastructure.
According to THE JERUSALEM POST, Shalom called on the United Nations to stop its constant policy of adopting anti-Israel resolutions and urged the international body to "rise above the tired politics of yesterday and adopt a new, courageous agenda for tomorrow."
The Minister of Foreign Affairs explained that, "no country has suffered such unjustified attack and consistent discrimination within the UN system” and that, “the time has come to end this campaign of diplomatic incitement". He called for an end to the yearly passage of dozens of anti-Israel resolutions, most of them adopted annually by a majority of the UN’s 191 members since the 1970s. Shalom’s 20-minute address was followed by loud applause from the audience, and he was greeted by a receiving line of foreign dignitaries upon his exit from the assembly chamber.
WILLING TO FREE PRISONERS TO ENABLE ISRAELI PRISONER SWAP WITH HIZBOLAH
Germany is willing to release two Lebanese and an Iranian as part of a prisoner swap it is brokering between Israel and the Lebanese terrorist group Hizbullah, THE JERUSLAEM POST reported. The three would be freed in exchange for information on the fate of Israeli air force navigator Ron Arad, who was shot down over Lebanon in 1986 and is believed held by Iran.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon referred Thursday to prisoners held in Europe as being part of the emerging deal. "We have good bargaining chips, in which the Iranians are interested, and in which Hizbullah is very, very, very interested,"
Sharon told Israel TV’s Channel Two in an interview. "They are in a European country, and this is part of the deal. They carried out terror attacks." According to reports, the three are held in Germany for the murder of Iranian Kurdish dissident Sadik Sharafkindi and three of his associates in a Berlin restaurant in September 1992.
As part of the emerging prisoner deal, Israel would free several hundred Arab prisoners, many of them Palestinians, in exchange for Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah in 2000.
Meanwhile, according to IDF Radio, the family of Air Force navigator Ron Arad, will receive a copy of a report by the government commission of inquiry into his disappearance, albeit a censored version. The High Court instructed the government to do so after the missing aviator’s family appealed to the court demanding that the state reveal to them the findings of the Winograd report, which claims Ron Arad is still alive. The appeal stated that, in light of the pending prisoner exchange deal, the finding of the report had to be made public.
ARAFAT SHOULD GET OUT OFTHE WAY
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was to meet today with fellow members of the Quartet to ask them to tell Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat that the time had come for him to step aside, HA’ARETZ reported. Speaking ahead of his meeting with officials from the United Nations, European Union and Russia, Powell said that the road map was still alive, but that Washington was waiting on the emergence of the new Palestinian cabinet. "We believe firmly in the concept of the road map," he said, adding, "we are waiting for the Palestinian side to determine the makeup of its new government so that we have a partner we can work with."
The secretary planned to ask UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to make clear to Arafat that he should "get out of the way" and cede authority to security officials who intend to dismantle terror groups.
French President Jacques Chirac offered a different approach this week, saying, he was in favor of holding such an international conference on the Middle East as soon as possible.
ECONOMICS AND HI-TECH BRIEFS
The recession and the threat
of terrorism have resulted in a decrease in holiday shopping, THE MARKER reported.
Sales usually rise during the holiday season, but managers of the marketing
chains and shopping centers reported a 10 percent drop in pre-Rosh Hashanah
sales this year compared to 2002. Not only are people shopping less, but they
are also putting off their shopping to the last moment. Last year, the holiday
spree began a week before the holiday; this year, shoppers began streaming to
the stores only on Thursday morning. The staff of Israel Line wishes Shanah
Tovah to all our readers.
[Today’s Israel Line was prepared by Victor Chemtob, and Jonathan Schienberg at The Consulate General of Israel in New York.]