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Bush-Sharon Joint Understanding Against the Iranian Bomb - Shimon Shiffer (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew; 16 Apr 04)
The U.S. and Israel are planning to tighten their intelligence cooperation in the context of the struggle against the Iranian nuclear program.
President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon held a private conversation on the subject, agreeing that if Iran succeeds in arming itself with weaponry of this sort, this will constitute a threat not only to the states in the region but also to America.
President Bush stated during lunch with Sharon that "an attack on Israel is like an attack on the United States. This is what Israelis must know, and this is what the world must understand."
Hamas Picks New Leader - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Hamas officials in Gaza announced Sunday that they have elected a successor to Abdel Aziz Rantisi, but declined to reveal his identity for "security considerations."
However, various sources in Gaza identified the new leader as Mahmoud Zahar, a veteran Hamas official.
Jihad Death Count - Charles Johnson (Little Green Footballs)
The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reports that in the period between September 11, 2001, and April 15, 2004, Islamic terrorists have killed at least 7,085 people and wounded 10,132 in 393 attacks around the world.
Morocco Struggles with Wahhabi Legacy - Ilhem Rachidi (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
The Madrid terror attacks have attracted world attention to the district of Beni Makada, a fertile Islamist area south of Tangiers in the northern tip of Morocco, just a few miles of sea from Spain.
In the neighborhood's mosque, Jamel Zougam, one of the main suspects in the March Madrid attacks, used to regularly attend the sermons of Mohamed Fizazi, considered by Moroccan authorities as the ideologist of the extremist organization, Salafiya Jihadia.
The jihadist imam also once preached at the al-Qods mosque in Hamburg, where September 11 terrorist Mohamed Atta attended prayers.
The Wahhabi doctrine preached by Fizazi, at odds with Morocco's more open Malekite rite, has been tolerated, even encouraged by the state for about two decades, analysts say.
The imported Saudi doctrine was key in preventing the spread of two other forms of Islamism: rising political Islam, on one side, and the Iranian Shi'ite revolution, on the other.
France Deports Radical Imam - Henry Samuel (Telegraph-UK)
France has expelled an Algerian fundamentalist imam who invited his congregation to "rejoice in the Madrid bombings."
Yahia Cherif, who preached in Brest, on the coast of Brittany, was deported to Algiers after being found guilty of "proselytism in favor of radical Islam" and "active relations with a national or international Islamic movement linked to organizations promoting terrorist acts."
Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day
The Disengagement Plan (Prime Minister's Office/Jerusalem Post)
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Today is Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day
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Rice: Israel Plan Puts Ball in Other Court
Discussing Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement plan Sunday,
national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said, "This is a tremendous opportunity, and it's time for people to focus on that and what the Palestinians can do with that new opportunity rather than, frankly, remaining stuck in the past." Rice also said, "They [the Israelis] are not doing anything inconsistent with the 'road map.' This will strengthen the 'road map.'"
On the Rantisi killing, Rice denied that Bush gave Sharon a go-ahead for such action during their White House meeting.
"The president doesn't discuss with the prime minister Israeli operations," she said. Still, she said, the U.S. holds that Israel has a right to defend itself, but has been told repeatedly "that it's extremely important that Israel take into consideration the consequences of anything that it does." (AP/Baltimore Sun)
Sen. Kerry Backs the Elimination of Rantisi, and Bush Letter Clauses on Borders and Palestinian Refugees (NBC News)
Five U.S. Marines Killed in Iraq Near Syrian Border
Five U.S. marines and 25 to 30 guerrillas were killed in fierce fighting in Iraq on Saturday near the Syrian border. Marines battled a force of 120 to 150 guerrillas near the border town of Qusayba.
See also Gen. Myers: Syria Needs to Secure Iraq Border
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN, "We know that the pathway into Iraq for many foreign fighters is through Syria. It's a fact. We know it. The Syrians know it....The Syrians need to take this situation very seriously. They need to help us stop that infiltration of foreign fighters." (AP/Washington Post)
Saudi Leader of Arab Fighters in Chechnya Killed
A Saudi who led Arab fighters in Chechnya was killed there a few days ago, his brother said Sunday.
Russian officials said the Saudi, known as Abu Walid, was among those who organized a bombing in the Moscow subway that killed about 40 people in February.
The Kremlin also believes Abu Walid was among those behind the 1999 apartment bombings across Russia.
In March, al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape it said featured Abu Walid vowing to stage a new wave of attacks in Russia.
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Sharon Gains Cabinet Majority for Plan - Herb Keinon and Gil Hoffman
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won a cabinet majority for his disengagement plan Sunday, when Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Limor Livnat, and Minister-without-Portfolio Meir Sheetrit decided to back it.
Their decision came following a cabinet meeting at which Sharon assured them that the evacuation of settlements will not start until the security fence is completed.
Sharon said the fence will be built along the route approved by the cabinet last year, encompassing the Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim, and Gush Etzion settlement blocs.
See also Sharon Statement in Cabinet Reflecting Compromise with Netanyahu
In relation to the fence, the Prime Minister clarified that it will be built
according to the full route decided by the government and that the
government will act to ensure it is completed before any communities are
evacuated. (Prime Minister's Office)
See also Israel to Boost West Bank Investment
Israel will invest tens of millions of dollars in West Bank settlements even as it pulls out of Gaza, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday.
"I myself am going to approve hundreds of millions of shekels to invest in the settlements beyond the main fence," he said.
Israeli Letter Spells Out Pledges to U.S. - David Rudge
Prime Minister Sharon told the cabinet Sunday an Israeli team will meet soon with U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer to define where construction will be allowed in the settlements, one of a number of points contained in a letter Prime Minister Sharon's bureau chief Dov Weisglass presented U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice last week in Washington reaffirming a number of previous Israeli commitments.
Israeli diplomatic officials said the team will be guided by the principle that construction will be allowed within the built-up areas of settlements.
The Israeli team, in conjunction with Ambassador Kurtzer, will review aerial photos of settlements and will jointly define the construction line of each of the settlements. In addition, within 30 days the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense will present to Ambassador Kurtzer a list of unauthorized outposts with indicative dates of their removal. (Jerusalem Post)
IAF Strike Kills Hamas Chief Rantisi - Amos Harel, Arnon Regular, and Yoav Stern
Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi was killed Saturday in an Israeli helicopter strike in the Gaza Strip.
Rantisi was known as one of Hamas' most extreme leaders. Israeli officials described Rantisi as a "terrorist mastermind." (Ha'aretz)
See also Hamas Responsible for 425 Terror Attacks
Since the beginning of the current conflict, the Hamas terrorist organization has been responsible for 425 terrorist attacks which killed 377 Israeli citizens and soldiers and wounded 2,076. (IDF)
See also Background: Abdel Aziz Rantisi
On January 26, 2004, Rantisi said,
"Any solution which includes recognizing what is called the 'State of Israel' or concession of one inch of historic Palestine is unacceptable and void....[Violent] resistance is the only option." (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
See also A Funeral in Gaza - Conal Urquhart
In Gaza City, tires burned at every crossroads, emitting black clouds and a toxic stink as the town closed down to bury Rantisi.
Away from the emotions of the funeral, Salah Abdul Shaffi, a Gaza-based political analyst, said Israel's campaign is having "a moral effect on Hamas supporters....There is a sense of defeat, although this could change if they manage to carry out a major suicide bombing in Israel." (Guardian-UK)
Israeli Arabs Open Fire on Border Police in Galilee - David Rudge
On Sunday, Border Police sent out a patrol on the Haifa to Tiberias highway in the Lower Galilee
as "bait" following numerous incidents of firebombs being thrown at Israeli vehicles in the area in the past few weeks.
Two Israeli-Arabs in their 20s walked in front of the Border Police vehicle, as if they were crossing the road. In the middle of the road, they suddenly turned and opened fire.
The Border Policemen returned fire and charged at the attackers, killing one and wounding the other.
See also Hizballah Activated Israeli-Arab Terrorist Cell
Gaza Suicide Attack Kills Border Policeman, Wounds 3 - Amos Harel, Arnon Regular, and Nir Hasson
A Border Policeman was killed and three other Israelis were wounded Saturday when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the Erez border crossing in Gaza. This was the fourth suicide attack at the crossing this year, used by thousands of Palestinian laborers who work inside Israel. (Ha'aretz)
Kassam Rocket Wounds Israeli in Gaza
A 22-year-old man was wounded by shrapnel when a Kassam rocket landed in Nissanit in the Gaza Strip on Monday.
Five Kassam rockets were fired in Gaza overnight. One hit a car parked in Gush Katif.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Holocaust's Significant Difference - Amnon Rubinstein
The Jews of Europe were not murdered in an outburst of intercommunal violence or in the rage of battle, but rather in a planned and systematic way, by the government of one of the most cultured nations in the world.
At the Evian conference, which convened on the eve of the Holocaust to try to find a solution for Jewish refugees who were fleeing for their lives,
a conscious decision was made by the democratic states not to provide refuge to people who could have contributed much to these countries, some of which were urgently in need of immigrants. The refusal to receive the refugees was based only on the fact that they were Jews.
The fact that this ancient hatred refuses to die out, even after nearly all of the Jews of Europe were murdered, also underlines its uniqueness. Jews have no refuge from this hatred - neither by changing their religion nor establishing a Jewish state.
The magnitude of this uniqueness is what explains why Holocaust Day refuses to disappear from the Jewish-Israeli consciousness.
Spare Us the Righteous Tears at the Death of Another Monster
- Barbara Amiel
None of us likes "extra-judicial" measures, but it is hypocrisy laid on with a trowel to suggest that psychotic beings such as Yassin and Rantisi are anything other than murderers in cold blood. Hamas and similar groups, such as Hizballah, Islamic Jihad or Arafat's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, have no interest in an honorable two-state solution. Apologists for these groups routinely condemn suicide bombers and then describe them as part of "the cycle of violence in the Middle East" which would stop if only Israel would address their grievances. No doubt. Their grievance is the existence of Israel.
Arab terrorism against the State of Israel began in 1948 and never stopped.
If you are against Israel's security fence, in favor of the Arab so-called "right of return" (a demographic weapon of mass destruction which no Israeli government could accept), and opposed to Israel's withdrawal plans, the only possible end you have in mind is the total elimination of the Jewish state. (Telegraph-UK)
The Victory of the Hamas Way - Danny Rubinstein
After the publication of the disengagement plan, there arose an immediate need to plan the division of the assets (the lands and buildings) of the settlements in Gaza. To head off accusations with regard to possible corruption, Mohammed Dahlan announced, following his talk last week with Abdel Aziz Rantisi, that the homes of the settlers would not be divided as gifts among the PA officials.
Hamas activists feel they have very strong public backing and are now demanding a partnership in the Gaza administration. They don't want to be exclusive rulers in the Strip (and perhaps they don't have the strength to be such either) because governmental responsibility requires links with the enemy.
Hence, Gaza appears to be heading toward a new regime, which won't exactly be a continuation of the PA, but rather "an action committee under the auspices of the PA," as Mohammed Dahlan has suggested.
In any event, the Hamas way has emerged victorious: There is no political process; the armed struggle has returned. (Ha'aretz)
Mapping Survival -
George F. Will (Washington Post)
The United States government is not a speed reader, but after 37 years of reading UN Resolution 242, the government finally read it accurately on Wednesday. Passed after the 1967 Six-Day War, 242 required the withdrawal of Israel "from territories occupied in the recent conflict." Not from "the territories." Israel insisted on deletion of the "the" because it implied, as Arab and other powers acknowledged by vehement opposition to the deletion - withdrawal from all territories.
- This new U.S. policy also, and primarily, comes to terms at long last with an old reality. It is that 242 also recognized the right of every state in the region to "secure and recognized boundaries," which Israel's 1967 borders were not.
- The territories occupied by Israel since 1967 have been lawfully held because a nation that occupies territories in the process of repelling aggression launched from them can hold them until the disposition of the lands is settled by negotiations between the relevant parties.
- Actually, in law the territories are unallocated portions of the 1922 Palestine Mandate, the final disposition of which is still to be settled by negotiations.
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