Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 26, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Charity Said to Have Paid Terrorists Is Under Investigation by the Saudis - Timothy L. O'Brien (New York Times)
    David Aufhauser, the Treasury Department's general counsel, disclosed during testimony Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee that Ageel al-Ageel, the founder of Al Haramain Charitable Foundation - a Saudi charity that has been accused by Western officials of sponsoring terrorism - is the subject of a criminal investigation by Saudi Arabia.
    Another person with direct knowledge of the investigation said the Saudis were also investigating several other directors of Al Haramain.
    American intelligence and law enforcement officials recently gave Saudi officials a detailed document outlining terrorism links to another major Saudi charity, the International Islamic Relief Organization.
    American officials have asked that the Saudi government close all of that group's overseas offices and that members of the Saudi royal family step down from its board.
    Aufhauser also criticized the British government for failing to take strong action against a British charity, the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, even after American officials provided the British with definitive proof that it was financing the violent Palestinian group Hamas.
    See also Saudi Arabia's Dubious Denials of Involvement in International Terrorism - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Guantanamo Espionage Probe Grows - Bill Gertz (Washington Times)
    Defense and intelligence officials expect to make more arrests in the expanding espionage probe at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and are investigating a third serviceman who they suspect provided Syria information about terror suspects being detained there.
    The officials said Wednesday the third serviceman is a sailor, who has not been arrested. The probe has already led to espionage charges against an Air Force translator and an Islamic Army chaplain at the base.

Islamic Jihad Spiritual Leader in Gaza Quits Ranks - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Sheikh Abadallah Al-Shami, 50, Islamic Jihad's spiritual leader in the Gaza Strip who was also the organization's spokesman, resigned from the group in August, according to Palestinian security sources.
    Islamic Jihad sources said the movement's leadership outside the territories gradually removed Al-Shami's budgets and resources.

First Woman IDF Combat Helicopter Pilot - Uri Binder (Maariv-Hebrew)
    In three months the Air Force will graduate the first woman combat helicopter pilot.
    The two other women completing the latest pilot's course will serve as transport helicopter pilot and combat navigator.

Bad Day for CAIR - Evan McCormick (FrontPage Magazine)
    Last Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security held the second in a series of hearings aimed at examining Saudi Arabia's role in exporting Islamic extremism abroad, focusing on the prevalence of the radical Wahhabi Islamic sect among Muslim political groups in the U.S.
    Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) executive director Nihad Awad and chairman Omar Ahmed were invited to testify, but both declined.
    In their absence the committee heard compelling evidence that Saudi Arabia financially and ideologically supports a network of American organizations that act as the defenders, financiers, and front groups of international terrorists.
    CAIR has been a major player in this network since its creation in 1994, with a particularly soft spot for the suicide-bombing death squads of Hamas.
    Chairman Jon Kyl said, "a small group of organizations based in the U.S. with Saudi backing and support, is well advanced in its four-decade effort to control Islam in America - from mosques, universities, and community centers to our prisons and even within our military. Moderate Muslims who love America and want to be part of our great country are being forced out of those institutions."
    Senator Chuck Schumer stated that prominent members of CAIR - referring specifically to Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmed - have "intimate links with Hamas." Later, he remarked that "we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism."
    In recent months, three CAIR officials were indicted on terrorism-related charges. News services reported that former CAIR community affairs director Bassem K. Khafagi had pleaded guilty to charges of visa and bank fraud in federal court in Detroit, for his role with the Islamic Assembly of North America, a group that has advocated violence against the U.S. and is believed to have funneled money to organizations with terrorist connections.

U.S. Links Toronto Islamic Youth Group to Bin Laden - Steward Bell (National Post-Canada)
    A Muslim youth organization that American counter-terrorism officials say was founded by Osama bin Laden's nephew has been operating in the Toronto area.
    The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), established in the U.S. by Abdullah bin Laden, publishes literature promoting Islamic jihad and hatred of Jews, according to a senior investigator.
    The Canadian branch, in Mississauga, operates under the supervision of the U.S. wing. The group's headquarters is in Saudi Arabia.

The Economist: Israeli Economy on the Verge of Recovery - Zeev Klein (Globes)
    The British economic magazine The Economist predicted that the Israeli economy was on the verge of recovery, and that growth would rise from 0.8% this year to 2.5% in 2004.

August Tourist Entries Up 52% - David Hayoun (Globes)
    Over 130,000 tourists entered Israel in August 2003, 52% more than in August last year.
    Tourist entries totaled 485,500 in April-August 2003, 42% more than in the corresponding period last year.
    The improvement in tourism has been gathering momentum since the war in Iraq ended.

New Israeli Device Saves Crops from Fruit Flies (Channel News Asia-Singapore)
    Scientists in Israel have developed a high-tech device that they hope will eliminate the fruit fly, believed responsible for billions of dollars in damaged crops and plants worldwide.
    The device lures female fruit flies to a death trap by mimicking the chant of amorous male fruit flies.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • More Weapons-Grade Uranium Found in Iran
    Inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency have found additional traces of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium in Iran, diplomats said Thursday. Minute quantities of the substance were found at the Kalaye Electric Co. Earlier this year, UN inspectors found enriched uranium particles at Iran's uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz. (AP/ABC News)
        See also Bush Steps Up Pressure on Iran Over Nuclear Plans
    President Bush turned the screws on Iran Thursday, saying the Islamic republic faces "universal condemnation if they continue with a nuclear weapons program." (Washington Post)
  • Israel Urges Change in UN Attitude, Denounces Arafat, Calls for Peace
    Israel called on the UN to end what it described as a "campaign of diplomatic incitement" against the Jewish state, denounced Yasser Arafat as "one of the world's icons of terror," and urged its Arab neighbors to make peace. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Thursday the UN General Assembly has in the last three decades passed "a litany of resolutions designed to discredit Israel....No other country has suffered such unjustified attack and consistent discrimination within the UN system." "The time has come to end this campaign of diplomatic incitement," he said, urging the UN body to "abandon the automatic adoption of anti-Israeli resolutions." "For the sake of our collective future, Israel and the Arab nations must learn to live together side by side....We believe in a common future of peace and prosperity with them," Shalom said. (AP/China Post-Taiwan)
        See also Text of Foreign Minister Shalom's UN Address (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Support for Syria Bill Grows in Congress
    Congressional support is mounting for tougher action against Syria and Iran, as the White House insists that both countries are attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction. Congressional supporters of the Syria Accountability Act say the administration's decision not to openly oppose the bill should make it easier to pass the proposed legislation, which requires the president to impose sanctions on Syria if it does not stop supporting terrorism, occupying Lebanon, and developing weapons of mass destruction. Majorities in the House and Senate have already signed on as co-sponsors of the measure, but legislators have been waiting for a go-ahead from the White House before bringing the legislation up for a vote. (Forward)
  • U.S.-Based Palestinian Advocate Edward Said Dies (VOA)
        See also The False Prophet of Palestine: In the Wake of the Edward Said Revelations - Justus R. Weiner
    The "best-known Palestinian intellectual in the world" made wholesale political use of the supposed circumstances of his childhood, weaving an elaborate myth of paradise and expulsion from paradise out of one or two circumstances and a raft of inventions. Edward Said was never a refugee from Palestine, but he was certainly a refugee from the truth. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Halfway Through the Six-Year War - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    IDF military intelligence figures this week, reviewing three years of fighting, say the Palestinians have not attained political-diplomatic objectives. Arafat has been stigmatized as the "bad guy" in the dispute, and political leaderships and public opinion in the U.S. and Europe support Israel's demand for the dismantling of the Palestinian terror infrastructure. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Road Map Envoy Leaves "On Vacation" - Aluf Benn
    U.S. road map monitor John Wolf has left the country for an unspecified length of time, on what is officially described as a vacation. Wolf found himself in an uncomfortable position in recent weeks, as his formal function came to an end with the collapse of Abbas's government and the de facto freeze in the implementation of the road map.
        U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in New York that "the road map is not dead. It is still alive and ways must be found to implement it." Powell told Shalom the new Palestinian prime minister-designate, Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), has more political power than his predecessors, and expressed hope that progress would be possible with him. Powell asked Shalom, "how do you know that if Arafat were gone, he will be replaced by moderate leaders? Maybe they would be more extreme?" Shalom responded, "the moderate camp is the majority in the Palestinian Authority, and whoever comes into power will certainly be less extreme than Arafat." (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz: "Ariel will be Part of the State of Israel"
    Israel Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking at the College of Judea & Samaria in Ariel on Wednesday, declared, "Ariel will be part of the State of Israel, and it's very important for the city and the college to grow as quickly as possible." He added, "The people of Ariel will be defended the same as everyone else in the country." At the annual graduation ceremony of Israel's largest public college, 586 students received their degrees. (IMRA)
  • Settlements Cost $560M a Year in Non-Military Outlays - Moti Bassok
    Israel spends NIS 2.5 billion annually in non-military outlays on the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, according to a special Ha'aretz study. The main budget items include transfers to local authorities, the Housing Ministry, and roads. Income tax benefits provided to settlers were canceled this summer. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Response: Settlers Cost State Less than Galilee, Negev, or Northern Border Residents - Moti Bassok
    Moshe Yogev, treasurer of Amana, the settlement movement, responded: Ha'aretz's point of origin is a comparison between ourselves and residents of Tel Aviv; but we believe the right comparison is between ourselves and residents of communities on the northern border. A resident of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza costs the state less than half that of a resident of the northern border. According to Interior Ministry statistics, local councils in the territories receive less money than counterpart councils in the Galilee and the Negev.
        Out of NIS 11 billion surveyed in the report, NIS 9 billion are loans that are also provided to residents of the Galilee and Negev. These loans are paid back. The Ha'aretz report included all the roads that have been paved in the territories, even though the paving of some of them derives from the Oslo accords, agreements which prevent us from traveling on roads we used before they were signed. In addition, a large number of the roads would have been paved in any case for use by the IDF. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Population in Jewish Settlements Up 5.7%
    Jewish settlement population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip grew by 5.7% in 2002, government figures showed on Tuesday. Births accounted for 3.1% of the growth, a Central Bureau of Statistics official said, with 2.6% coming from newcomers. The Bureau said 14,600 Israelis moved in and 10,600 moved out of settlements last year. (Reuters/MSNBC)
  • The Palestinian Economy Did Not Collapse - Avraham Tal
    During the three years of violence, the gross domestic product of the Palestinian economy shrank 30-50%. The Israeli GDP shrank by 1-2% over the same period. Three million Palestinians have a GDP of $5 billion versus a GDP of $110 billion for six million Israelis.
        The PA continues to provide services to the education system (a million students) and the health system (22 hospitals) and to pay the salaries of some 130,000 public employees (including security bodies) from a budget that is based mainly on transfers from the Israeli government - customs and VAT collected for the PA - and support from Arab governments, which donated about $500 million in each of 2001 and 2002. The functioning of the PA depends on the continuation of these transfers. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Failed State of the Palestinians - Shlomo Avineri
    Without a tough strategic decision to enforce what Max Weber called the hallmark of sovereignty - the monopoly on the legitimate use of force - it is highly unlikely that Palestinians will be able to achieve statehood. Most Israelis are now reconciled to living side-by-side in peace with a Palestinian state. But no country can accept the emergence on its doorstep of a failed state - akin to Lebanon during the 1980s or present-day Liberia - in which militias, armed gangs, and various terrorist organizations act freely in defiance of legitimate state authority. (Forward)
  • Waiting for Regime Change - Graham Usher
    Israel's decision to "remove" Yasser Arafat has brought into clear outline the ground-rules for any future American involvement in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This is no longer predicated on land for peace or even "engagement" for a PA enlistment in America's "global war against terrorism." It is regime change, a condition implicit in the roadmap, but now spelled out with brutal clarity. For now, America is not interested in the Palestinian regime change being engineered through preemptive strikes or "preventive wars," including any action by Israel to dispatch Arafat into exile or worse. The preferred method is still isolation from without combined with "reform" from within.
        On Monday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said there were three conditions the new PA premier, Ahmed Qurei, had to fulfill to win American attention: "If [his government] does not have political authority independent from the machinations of Yasser Arafat, and if all the security forces are not consolidated under the new prime minister, and if that prime minister is not committed to ending terrorism...then we are not going to move forward on the roadmap." (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • The Price of Arafat - Editorial
    Arafat has completely forfeited the trust of the Israelis and Americans as an interlocutor. He is subjecting Palestinians to enormous economic and emotional strain. At bay in his headquarters in Ramallah, Arafat is determined to keep the revolutionary cause alive. But in so doing he betrays his people. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Saudi Arabia: Friend or Foe? - Joshua Teitelbaum
    The Saudis view a Shiite-dominated Iraq with trepidation, for it would serve as a forward base for elements wishing to undermine the Saudi regime via its large Shiite minority concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern Province. It seems that for this reason, elements in Saudi Arabia, government-supported or otherwise, have teamed up with al-Qaeda-influenced Iraqi Sunnis, overseas Islamist volunteers, and underground Sunnis supportive of Saddam Hussein to attack U.S. troops in Iraq.
        Just as "charitable" Saudi organizations funneled money to al-Qaeda in the U.S. and abroad, similar organizations are at work in Iraq. While these organizations are engaged in Islamic propagation of the state-supported Wahhabi variety and the supply of food and medicine, it may be serving as cover for more nefarious anti-U.S. activities. The funding of Wahhabi activity abroad serves as a safety valve for Islamic opposition at home, deflecting attention from the Saudi government's own problems with its economy, overpopulation, corruption, lack of political participation, and an Islamic opposition. The writer is a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Muslims in the Military - Editorial
    According to Robert Spencer, author of Onward Muslim Soldiers, the Air Force "in July 2002 asked for help recruiting Muslim chaplains from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). ISNA is subsidized by high-placed Saudi Wahhabis. Many Muslim military chaplains have been trained by the American Muslim Foundation's American Muslim Armed Forces and Veteran Affairs Council; the AMF has been investigated for suspicions of funding terrorism." Because of this system, many Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military have strong Wahhabi beliefs. The risk of conflicting loyalties is not limited to the chaplain corps. Considering that there are only approximately 4,500 Muslims in uniform, their record of religious-based crimes is significant. There is no sense of national security if our soldiers cannot even be sure that their brothers with them in the foxhole are on the same side. (Washington Times)
  • Seeing the Facts in Iraq Converts a Critic - Donald E. Walter
    Despite my initial opposition to the war, I am now convinced that we absolutely should have overthrown the Ba'athists - indeed, we should have done it sooner. What changed my mind? When we left in mid-June, 57 mass graves had been found, one with the bodies of 1,200 children. There have been credible reports of murder, brutality, and torture of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Iraqi citizens. There is poverty on a monumental scale and fear on a larger one. That fear is still palpable. I have seen the machines and places of torture. Terrible things happened with the knowledge, indeed with the participation, of Saddam, his family, and the Ba'athist regime. Thousands suffered while we were messing about with France and Russia and Germany and the UN. Every one of them knew what was going on there, but France and the UN were making millions administering the Food-for-Oil program. (New York Post)
  • Kurds Unlikely Winners of the War against Saddam
    Five months ago, Kurdistan was silent, nervous, and waiting. Now it is thriving: the traffic noisy and snarled up, the shops full, the pavements crowded. The Kurds are the greatest winners after this war. They have four ministries of the new Iraqi government, including foreign affairs and the new constitution. The Kurds' success has been based on a policy of unswerving support for whatever the U.S. did in Iraq. During the war the Kurdish forces, with the support of a few hundred American special forces soldiers, defeated 11 Iraqi divisions. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Iraq's Restive "Sunni Triangle" - Ann Scott Tyson
    "He's just a sick old man!" the Iraqi women wailed as U.S. soldiers blindfolded a balding, gray-haired suspect during a predawn raid in downtown Tikrit. The man claimed to be a firefighter. U.S. military officers said he was Brig. Gen. Daher Ziana, the former security chief for Saddam Hussein's sprawling palaces. This time, the Americans were right. Since June, troops have seized thousands of Iraqis in aggressive sweeps in the "Sunni Triangle," the 100-mile swath from Baghdad north to Tikrit where 80% of guerrilla attacks occur. The bulk of people apprehended are quickly freed. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Worried Optimism on Iraq - Thomas L. Friedman
    In Iraq you can really feel that there is a 100% correlation of interests between America's aspirations and the aspirations of Iraq's silent majority. We both want the same thing for Iraq - that it not become Iran, that it not become Saddam, but that it become a decent, modern-looking Iraqi alternative. This overlap of aspirations is hugely important. This is not Vietnam. (New York Times)
  • Is it Time for the U.S. to Pursue Regime Change in Syria?
    A symposium with Alex Alexiev, a former senior analyst at the RAND Corporation; Nir Boms, Vice President, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; Bassam Haddad, editor of Arab Studies Journal; and author David Kaiser. (FrontPageMagazine)

    Weekend Features:

  • Correspondents in Baghdad - John Burns
    The essential truth about Iraq was untold by the vast majority of correspondents here. Why? Because they judged that the only way they could keep themselves in play was to pretend that it was okay. There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to take out the director of the ministry of information for long candlelit dinners, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents, who then behaved as if they were in Belgium, never mentioning the minders, never mentioning terror. In one case, a correspondent with a major American newspaper printed out copies of his and other people's stories - specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was. From Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq, an Oral History, by Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson. (Editor and Publisher)
        See also The Rat of Baghdad - Jack Schafer (Slate)
  • Americans Living in Israel - Yossi Klein Halevi
    In a contest between one society where murderers are celebrated as martyrs, and another where real martyrs are mourned without hatred or rage, I have no doubt which side will prevail. Still, this wasn't supposed to happen to our post-Holocaust generation of American Jews. We were meant to be exempt from the curse of Jewish history. Our parents' generation was the most traumatized; we were the most privileged. Like the myth of the end of history invoked after the collapse of communism, we were implicitly raised on the notion that Jewish history was moving on a one-way trajectory, from destruction to rebirth. But for those of us who opted to leave America for Israel, the past three years have confronted us with the enormity of our decision to enter the heart of the Jewish story.
        The encounter with a frenetic Hebrew culture that sanctifies the mundane and mocks the sacred has admitted me into the greatest Jewish adventure since biblical times. The dilemmas of Jewish statehood in the Middle East have forced me to abandon idealistic formulations and test my moral mettle against unbearable reality. And the encounter with Jewish sovereignty and power has helped free me from a post-Holocaust identity of victim and allowed me to become a "normal" human being, just as Zionism intended. To experience the ordinary courage of Israelis in this time is to glimpse something of the qualities that have made the Jews an eternal people. We've gotten what we came for. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lewis of Arabia - Tunku Varadarajan
    Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus of Near Eastern studies at Princeton, is an old-fashioned, assiduous scholar, now retired from formal academic tenure. He's 87, and could so easily have slumped into comfortable retirement in his spacious Princeton home. But he's busier, in the sense of meeting public demands on his time - "oh, conferences, dinners, interviews, op-eds," plus calls from the White House and calls from Baghdad - than he's ever been in his career. Of all the scholars of Islam, Mr. Lewis is the one whom Muslims would do best to heed. "If they can abandon grievance and victimhood," he wrote in What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, "they can once again make the Middle East, in modern times as it was in antiquity and in the Middle Ages, a major center of civilization." (Wall Street Journal)
  • Look Who Goes to Israel Every Year - Aparna Chandra
    Thousands of farmers from Maharashtra in India have been making the trip to Israel to learn about its "superior agricultural practices." Such is the demand that a Pune-based travel and tour company, Travel Designers, has sent over 2,500 farmers to Israel and Europe on agro-tours since 1995. The most popular destination is Agritech, an extensive exhibition of the latest in agriculture techniques held every three years at Tel Aviv. The company's contingent of 150 plus for this year's 15th Agritech, held September 15-18, included 45 agricultural professionals from Maharashtra. "When our farmers go to Israel," says agricultural expert Budhajirao Mulik, "they see lesser land, fewer water resources, unfavorable climatic conditions, and yet the constraints being overcome." (Indian Express-India)
  • Soccer World Cup: An American Jew in Morocco's Locker Room - Jack Bell
    Alan Rothenberg is planning to spend Yom Kippur in Morocco, a Muslim nation. Rothenberg, one of the founders of Major League Soccer, is a consultant for Morocco's bid to play host to the 2010 World Cup and will be in the country for a FIFA (soccer's world governing body) inspection scheduled for the day after Yom Kippur. Rothenberg plans to attend services with Andre Azoulay, a senior adviser to Morocco's King Mohammed VI. (New York Times)
  • Antarctic Setting for Mid-East Peace Bid
    A group of Israelis and Palestinians aim to prove that the two communities can work together - by staging a joint expedition to Antarctica. The project - called "Breaking The Ice" - will take the eight-member team from Patagonia in southern Chile to the top of an unnamed peak. The expedition is the first organized by Extreme Peace Missions, a charity that aims to bring people together through adventure and sporting endeavors. (BBC)
  • Israel's Population - 6.7M - Zeev Klein
    Israel's population at New Year's 5764 is 6.716 million. 5.143 million are Jews; 1.291 million are Arabs. Israel's population grew by 124,100 in 5763 (September 2002-September 2003). 27,000 new immigrants arrived in 5763, 7,000 fewer than a year earlier. The new immigrants came from the CIS states - over 50%; Argentina - 11%; Ethiopia - 10%; France - 7%; and the U.S. - 6%. 137,000 babies were born in Israel in 5763, 3,200 more than a year earlier. (Globes)
  • Observations:

    The Airport Needs a Fence - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • The last session of talks in Washington with Condoleezza Rice on the subject of the fence was surprising and much worse than expected on a matter of utmost importance to Israel: the security fence in the area of Ben-Gurion International Airport. What Rice had to say contradicted the spirit of previous communications between Israel and U.S. representatives, including Middle East envoy John Wolf, on the subject.
    • An assault on Ben-Gurion International Airport constitutes a unique threat to the strategic infrastructure of the country that could paralyze movement in and out of the country. There will be complete support for the government on the security of the airport, even at the cost of losing some of the loan guarantees.
    • A passenger aircraft approaches the airport for a landing at low altitude, slowly. That is precisely the stage at which it is very easy to strike a plane with a shoulder-fired missile and bring it crashing down with its passengers. The security of the airport demands a band of territory of at least nine kilometers.
    • After a series of requests, Rice agreed to send an inspector to Israel to examine the situation. He can also take the measurements from home, using, for example, the Ronald Reagan airport in Washington.

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