Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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DAILY ALERT

December 23, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Report: Iraq Sought to Use Biological Weapons against Israel - Haim Shadmi and Amnon Barzilai (Ha'aretz)

    Saddam Hussein had a secret plan to use biological weapons against Israel in the first stage of the 1991 Gulf War, but was unable to carry out the plan, according to a secret 1992 CIA document released for publication.
    The document says that Iraq sent three MiG-21 planes to bomb Israeli targets with regular bombs to check whether they were able to penetrate the Israeli air defense system.
    At the second stage, three more MiGs armed with conventional weaponry were to be sent to Israel as a diversion, together with a Sukhoi airplane armed with biological weapons.
    The operation failed during the first stage, when the three MiGs were downed over the Persian Gulf a short time after takeoff.


Different Attitudes, Different Codes - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

    When the Israel police were searching for 6-year-old Nur Abu-Tir from the Arab village of Umm Tuba earlier this month, a police officer said he literally had to beg the editors of the east Jerusalem-based daily al-Quds to run a story on the missing girl.
    The next morning there was a brief news item in the paper, but no picture. Nor did they send a reporter to the family's home, as most Israeli newspapers and TV stations did.
    "The Israeli media gave extensive coverage to the case of Nur while the Palestinian newspapers were busy telling us what Arafat did," said Zuhair Hamdan, one of the mukhtars (headmen) of the nearby village of Sur Bahir, who narrowly survived a Bethlehem Tanzim assassination attempt in November 2001.
    Hamdan is expected to play a major role in organizing a sulha between Nur's family and the family of the murderer after the case is solved.
    An Israeli police officer explained, "So much crime is taking place and no one ever thinks about involving the authorities. Everything is settled within the family and behind closed doors.... These people don't believe in the police or judicial system. They behave according to their own codes."
    "Almost every week there is a sulha in the village following a quarrel or melee," said Ahmed Abu-Tir, a distant relative.
    Sulha predates Islam. Thousands of cases, ranging from theft to murder, have been solved through the sulha system in east Jerusalem over the past decade.
    When a serious crime has been committed, a group of elders is quickly dispatched to the victim's family to see what its demands are in order to prevent revenge.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush Doubling Troops in Persian Gulf
    President Bush has given the go-ahead to double the 50,000 U.S. troop deployment in the Persian Gulf region in early January, a senior administration official said Friday, part of what another official called "a ramping up on various fronts." This crucial stage comes to a head Jan. 27 when the UN weapons inspectors report their findings and Bush decides whether to go to war. (Arizona Republic/AP)
        See also:
    U.S. Plans to Use Turkey as Iraq Staging Post (Sydney Morning Herald)
    U.S. Hawks Say We'll Get to Baghdad Within Two Days (London Times)
    U.S., UK Said to Plan Amphibious Invasion for Iraq (Reuters)
  • U.S. Vetoes Anti-Israel UN Resolution
    The United States vetoed an Arab-backed UN Security Council resolution Friday that would have condemned Israel for the recent killings of three UN workers, saying it was "inappropriate" to single out the Israelis. Twelve council members, including Britain, voted in favor of the resolution. "The proponents of this resolution appear more intent on condemning Israeli occupation than on ensuring the safety of UN personnel," U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said before the vote. "Mixing these two issues is inappropriate and weakens the Council's voice on the need for both parties to take steps to avoid actions that endanger innocent civilians and UN staff," he added. (San Francisco Chronicle/AP)
  • Palestinians Call Off January Election
    The Palestinian cabinet decided on Sunday to postpone indefinitely a general election scheduled for January, saying it was difficult to hold a vote while Israeli forces continued to occupy West Bank cities. Israel has said there can be no such withdrawal until the attacks against Israelis end. It sent troops into West Bank cities this year after Palestinian suicide bombings against Israelis. A senior Israeli official said Israel had harbored no illusions that an election - which Arafat had been expected to win - would have led to real reform in a Palestinian leadership it accuses of complicity in violence. "An election with Arafat and terrorism would have been a mockery of the democratic process," the official said. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • No Talks Under Fire, PM Tells Sen. Lieberman - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon used the occasion of a meeting with U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman in Jerusalem Sunday to say that "even if Saddam Hussein is toppled, other threats will remain in the Middle East, and it's important to stick to the principle of not negotiating under fire and terror." Lieberman equated terror attacks against Israel with world terrorism, and said that in his 14 years in the Senate he has never seen so much bipartisan support for Israel, attributing it to the war on terrorism. He said there was a small movement, mostly in campuses, demanding an end to the settlements and improvement of humanitarian conditions for Palestinians. After a war in Iraq, that movement will grow, he said.
        Sharon said that settlements are part of Israel's security concept, "as I showed President Bush," he said, referring to a helicopter ride with Bush during a 1988 visit here, while he was still the governor of Texas. The settlements were established on state land, Sharon said, in the birthplace of the Jewish people - "but nonetheless, we are ready for painful compromises for peace. I will not compromise over Israel's security and its citizens, but I am ready to go far enough on other issues." (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Shoots at EU Diplomat in Jenin
    Christian Walter Hess, a German diplomat working with the European Union, was shot at by a terrorist armed with a Kalashnikov rifle while travelling in the city of Jenin Saturday. His armored Mercedes vehicle was damaged. A month ago, a vehicle belonging to the Danish Embassy was struck by fire from Palestinian terrorists near Beit El. On March 26, 2002, an Islamic Jihad terrorist opened fire on a vehicle of the international presence in Hebron, killing Jinjis Twintuk of Turkey and Catherine Broyikes of Switzerland. (IDF)
  • Shin Bet Arrests Gaza Resident Recruited as Hizballah Agent
    It has just been released for publication that the Shin Bet security service arrested a Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip in November who was an agent of the militant Hizballah organization. Ahmad Awiti, 40, confessed to investigators that he was recruited to join Hizballah in February 2001 while making a pilgrimage to Mecca. He provided information to Hizballah on IDF activities in the Gaza Strip and was supposed to participate in training in Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • War is the Only Option - Elie Wiesel
    I find war repugnant. All wars. I know war's monstrous aspects. But with a heavy heart I ask: what is to be done? Do we have the right not to intervene, when we know what passivity and appeasement will make possible? If the U.S., supported by the UN Security Council, is forced to intervene, it will save victims who are already targeted, already menaced. And it will win. The U.S. owes it to us, and owes it to future generations. As the great French writer Andre Malraux said, victory belongs to those who make war without loving it. (Observer-UK)
  • Mapping Out Peace in the Mideast - Dennis Ross
    The "road map" that Quartet members are presenting is flawed, making performance unlikely and the president's goals unachievable. First, it commits to the Palestinian strategic goals: end the occupation and accept an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state. But there is nothing comparable in the road map that responds to Israel's strategic goals. The road map, like Oslo before it, makes no effort to de-legitimize terror and violence. Second, the road map spells out no real responsibilities of Arab countries. Arab leaders would make it easier for Palestinian reformers to declare the illegitimacy of terror if they would join them in proclaiming that those who are not prepared to resolve all differences through peaceful means are enemies of the Palestinian cause. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Talking Points:

    The "Road Map" - Draft Three - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

    Draft three of the peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians made its way to Jerusalem this weekend through unofficial channels:

    • A provision included in the latest draft stipulates that a Palestinian state can only be established "when the Palestinian people will have a leadership willing and able to establish practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty. With such reformed civil institutions and security structure, the Palestinian leadership will have the active support of the Quartet and the broad international community to establish an independent viable state."
    • Under the new version, in the transition phase the Palestinian state will not have full sovereignty but only "certain attributes of sovereignty."
    • A change to which Israel objects refers to the Saudi peace initiative as one of the sources from which the road map draws its authority. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has adamantly opposed this reference because the Saudi initiative calls for an Israeli withdrawal to the borders of June 4, 1967. The previous version said only that the parties should make special consideration of the Saudi initiative.
    • The new version omits a requirement that Israel should discontinue military operations in populated areas.
    • The Palestinians are called on not only to "dismantle" terrorist infrastructure but also to "confront" anyone involved in terrorist activity. The Palestinians are required to collect unauthorized weapons in the very first stage of implementation of the plan. In the first draft, the Palestinians were only required to make a statement condemning terrorism and to reform their security agencies.
    • The new version calls on the Arab countries to fully normalize their relations with Israel at the end of the process.
        See also Mideast Plan Not Ready, Bush Says (Washington Post)


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