Iraq 7: Weddings with Gas masks

March 24, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "U.S. strike killed terror group member: Palestinian Liberation Front says officer 'fell as a martyr' in air raid" (WorldNetDaily, March 21, 2003)
2. "'Our beloved Saddam, hit Tel Aviv,' Palestinian protesters shout" (AP, March 21, 2003)
3. "Palestinians rally against war" (Toronto Star, March 22, 2003)
4. "Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades calls on Muslims to attack American and British targets" (Jerusalem Post, March 23, 2003)
5. "Palestinians censor Al-Jazeera" (March 20, 2003)
6. "Israel's children lead the way in staying calm" (Miami Herald, March 21, 2003)
7. "Lufthansa, Air France to resume all flights to and from Israel on Tuesday" (Ha'aretz, March 24, 2003)
8. "Iraq accuses Israel of taking part in war" (Reuters, March 23, 2003)
9. "U.S. won't demand post-Saddam Iraq recognize Israel" (Ha'aretz, March 24, 2003)
10. "Mitzna not ruling out joining national emergency government" (Ha'aretz, March 20, 2003)



[Note by Tom Gross]

I will send out general articles and analysis regarding the conduct of the Iraq War later this week. This dispatch includes only reports that concern the Palestinians and Israelis since the Iraq war began. I attach ten pieces, with summaries first for those who don't have time to read them in full.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Since my piece on the New York Times's Israel coverage appeared in the National Review, the New York Times has revised downward the figure they provide for Palestinian deaths, i.e. they have now contradicted their own "Middle East death toll chart," and are using a figure more closely in line with that I suggested they use although still not distinguishing between civilians and bombers/gunmen (NYT March 20, news report, page 12, stating that less than 2000 Palestinians "have been killed since the Palestinian uprising began"). For those of you new to this list who want to read my article, it is at www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gross031403.asp

 

In the run-up to the Iraq war, there were many press reports in Western Europe and elsewhere, stating that Israel would use the Iraq war as a cover to increase measures against Palestinian militants and terror groups, and even attempt to expel Palestinian civilians. Nothing of the sort has so far transpired. Israel has reduced its measures against Palestinian terror groups since the war began.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

“OUR BELOVED SADDAM, HIT TEL AVIV”

1. "U.S. strike killed terror group member: Palestinian Liberation Front says officer 'fell as a martyr' in air raid" (WorldNetDaily, March 21, 2003). One of the very first people killed in the Iraq war, was Ahmed al-Baz, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Front. Al-Baz, from Jenin in the West Bank. The PLF the organization known among other things for seizing of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and murdering an elderly wheelchair-bound Jewish American passenger, who they threw overboard acknowledged al-Baz's death "as a martyr" in a statement made in Lebanon to Agence France-Presse. Secretary of State Colin Powell had named the PLF's links with Saddam in his speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5. The PLF is a primary channel for Saddam Hussein's payouts to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, which they do with Yasser Arafat's co-operation and encouragement.

2. "'Our beloved Saddam, hit Tel Aviv,' Palestinian protesters shout" (By Ibrahim Barzak, Associated Press, March 21, 2003). Thousands of Palestinians holding pictures of Saddam Hussein poured out of mosques after Friday prayers to protest the U.S.-led attacks on Iraq and cheered for the Iraqi leader to bombard Israeli cities with Scud missiles. In Jerusalem, worshippers on the Old City's hilltop mosque compound shouted, "Our beloved Saddam, hit Tel Aviv," a chant popular in 1991, when Iraq launched 39 Scud missiles at Israel. The spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, told reporters at a rally inGaza that Iraqi fighters should learn from the example of Palestinian "militants", who have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings and other attacks.

3. "Palestinians rally against war" (By Olivia Ward, Toronto Star, March 22, 2003). Throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, thousands of Palestinians waved Iraqi flags, brandishing posters of Saddam and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Some called for the burning of Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city. Many Tel Aviv parents kept their children home from school. Most of the fear centered on the threat of chemical or biological attacks. Meanwhile, despite fears of an Iraqi missile strike, Israelis are pressing on with marriages. Friends of Leonardo and Andrea Strakman, an Argentine immigrant couple who were married Thursday near Tel Aviv, arrived toting gas masks picked up at Ben Gurion airport. The shoebox-sized kits were piled into a corner of a wedding hall for the ceremony. "I bought a gas mask especially for my son's wedding," the groom's mother, Housa Strakman, told Ma'ariv newspaper. In Tel Aviv, Riva Smira outfitted her bridal boutique with a chemical weapons-proof bomb shelter stocked with first aid gear, food and water, Associated Press reported. Seamstresses fitting brides for dresses have set up shop there. "If, God forbid, something were to happen, the sewing would go on," Smira said.

4. "Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades calls on Muslims to attack American and British targets" (Jerusalem Post, March 23, 2003). The Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, on Saturday called on Muslims to attack American, British, and Israeli targets all over the world in response to the war in Iraq. A statement issued by the group in Nablus said: "This fierce onslaught against the [Arab] nation, which began in Iraq, is aimed at dividing the region in order to establish new Zionist cantons led by neo-Nazis." The statement also urged Palestinians to carry out suicide attacks in Israel as part of the war against the US and its allies.

5. "Palestinians censor Al-Jazeera" (March 20, 2003). Broadcasts of the Gulf news station Al-Jazeera, which was being relayed by the Palestinian TV station Bethlehem Television, came to an abrupt halt after it mentioned that Iraqi soldiers had surrendered to the Americans. "The Palestinian Authority likes to portray Iraqis to be fighting heroes and martyrs, not those who surrender," according to this report.

6. "Israel's children lead the way in staying calm" (Miami Herald, March 21, 2003). Toting their gas masks like lunchboxes, a new generation of Israelis, lead the way in staying calm, although school attendance was only about 50 percent in the country's populous core near Tel Aviv. At least 12 edgy or playful citizens, including a 4-year-old, accidentally jabbed themselves with special antidote needles that came with their government-issued survival kits, which they were instructed to open Wednesday evening. None died, but some required medical treatment.

7. "Lufthansa, Air France to resume all flights to and from Israel on Tuesday" (Ha'aretz, March 24, 2003). Several foreign airliners, including Lufthansa and Air France, will resume flights to and from Israel on Tuesday, having suspended them last Thursday. Over the weekend, Austrian Airlines and Continental Airlines resumed the normal flight schedule to and from Israel. A number of airlines, including British Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have not yet resumed any flights to Israel.

8. "Iraq accuses Israel of taking part in war" (Reuters, March 23, 2003). Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Sunday that an Israeli missile had been found in Baghdad and accused Israel of taking part in the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. "You know that Israel is taking part in this aggression against Iraq. It's sending missiles. We found a missile, an Israeli missile, in Baghdad," he told reporters in Cairo where was to attend a meeting of Arab foreign ministers scheduled for Monday. Sabri offered no proof to back up the allegation.

9. "U.S. won't demand post-Saddam Iraq recognize Israel" (March 24, 2003). A news analysis from today's Ha'aretz.

10. "Mitzna not ruling out joining national emergency government" (Ha'aretz, March 20, 2003). Israeli Labor party leader Amram Mitzna said he was not ruling out joining a national emergency government, though he clarified that the initiative for such a move would have to come from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.


FULL ARTICLES

U.S. STRIKE KILLED TERROR GROUP MEMBER

U.S. strike killed terror group member
Palestinian Liberation Front says officer 'fell as a martyr' in air raid
WorldNetDaily
March 21, 2003

A Palestinian terrorist group announced that one of its officers was killed in the initial U.S. missile attacks on Iraq.

The Palestinian Liberation Front, headquartered in Baghdad, said in a statement from Lebanon that 1st Lt. Ahmed Walid Raguib al-Baz "fell as a martyr facing the American air raids on Iraq."

"His martyrdom illustrates the links between" Palestinians and Iraqis, the group said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Known for its seizing of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and murder of a Jewish American passenger, the PLF is one of several terrorist organizations that maintain offices in Baghdad, according to the U.S. State Department.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said in his speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5 that "Baghdad trains Palestine Liberation Front members in small arms and explosives."

The group's leader, known as Abu Abbas, has been on the run from authorities since the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking. He returned to the Gaza Strip after the Oslo agreement and is believed to have fled to Iraq due to Israeli crackdowns on militants in the disputed territories.

The PLF is a primary channel for Saddam Hussein's payouts to Palestinian families that lose a member in the Intifada, or uprising, against Israel.

Saddam gives $25,000 to the family of a suicide bomber and $10,000 to other families, the PLF says. The group claims Saddam has contributed an estimated $35 million since September 2000.

The slain PLF officer al-Baz was employed as a taxi driver with a Jordan-based company. He had stopped at a roadside rest area about 190 miles west of Baghdad when he was struck by a missile from a helicopter while using a satellite phone, Agence France-Presse said.

The attack reportedly occurred just after midnight this morning, said a colleague, Akram Abu Samaha.

Al-Baz, 34, had a house in Baghdad but moved with his family to Amman, Jordan, in recent weeks ahead of the anticipated war. Born in Jenin, in the West Bank, al-Baz was married with an infant son.

 

“OUR BELOVED SADDAM, HIT TEL AVIV”

'Our beloved Saddam, hit Tel Aviv,' Palestinian protesters shout
By Ibrahim Barzak
The Associated Press
March 21, 2003

Thousands of Palestinians holding pictures of Saddam Hussein poured out of mosques after Friday prayers to protest the US-led attacks on Iraq and cheered for the Iraqi leader to bombard Israeli cities with Scud missiles.

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians turned out in the rain to shout slogans of support to Iraqi fighters and revived some chants from the 1991 Gulf War.

"Oh, beloved Saddam, we are ready to sacrifice our blood for you," a crowd chanted in Gaza City. In Jerusalem, worshippers on the Old City's hilltop mosque compound shouted, "Our beloved Saddam, hit Tel Aviv," a chant popular in 1991, when Iraq launched 39 Scud missiles at Israel.

Meanwhile, a pro-Iraqi faction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip said it has been asked by the Iraqi government to speed up delivery of checks of US$10,000 each to the families of Palestinian civilians, gunmen and suicide bombers killed in fighting with Israel.

A spokesman for the group, Mohanna Shabat, said Saddam gave the order to show that while he's under threat from American and British forces he's still supporting the Palestinians and influential in the Arab world.

Throughout 30 months of fighting, the pro-Iraqi Arab Liberation Front had been making payments once every two weeks. But in the last week, Saddam's money has been distributed in five ceremonies in Gaza alone.

Three families received the money Friday in Gaza.

"The ceremony, God willing, will not be the last because President Saddam Hussein will continue his support to the Palestinian people, who are part of his Arab nation," Shabat said.

The Iraqi leader is popular in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in part because of more than US$35 million he has paid to Palestinian families.

In the 1991 war, he portrayed himself as the liberator of the Palestinians from Israeli occupation, and many Palestinians cheered when Iraq's Scuds fell on Israel.

On the first Muslim holy day since US and British forces began attacking Iraq, the prayer leader at Gaza City's Omari Mosque, Mohammed Najam, told 15,000 worshippers:

"We urge the Arab armies and people to resist the invaders and to reject any attempt to extend facilities to the American aggressors." About 7,000 men and women filled Gaza City's streets.

American and British flags and pictures of U.S President George Bush were burned and withered in flames.

The spiritual leader of the Islamic Hamas movement, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, told reporters at the rally that Iraqi fighters should learn from the example of Palestinian militants, who have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings and other attacks.

"The (Iraqi) men and women should become martyrs and fight using their bodies against the aggression," Yassin said. Palestinians suicide bombers are revered as martyrs.

Yasser Arafat embraced Saddam in 1991, but his Palestinian Authority has been careful to remain on the sidelines this time. Palestinian leaders have said they oppose the US offensive, but have not expressed support for the Iraqi leader.

Reuters adds: Hundreds of schoolchildren in the Gaza Strip Thursday hailed Saddam Hussein and protested against the American assault on Iraq, as strong condemnation of the U.S. action was heard as across the Muslim Middle East.

In the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun early Thursday, about 700 Palestinians, most of them schoolchildren, waved Iraqi flags and posters of Saddam Hussein and burned two U.S. flags after the attack in Iraq. Among the slogans they shouted were "Death to America, death to Bush," and "We will sacrifice our soul and our blood for Saddam."

 

PALESTINIANS RALLY AGAINST WAR

Palestinians rally against war
By Olivia Ward
The Toronto Star
March 22, 2003

While Israelis braced for a last-ditch attack from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the effects of the American-led war in Iraq spilled over into Jerusalem for the first time, and anger grew among Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

On the Muslim holy day, riots broke out as crowds of worshipers left mosques and held a pro-Iraq demonstration in heavily Arab east Jerusalem. Witnesses said some of the demonstrators had been lightly injured.

On the Temple Mount, the volatile site holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, other worshippers massed at the Damascus Gate and clashed with police, blocking a main street and barring traffic.

The violence raised tensions, and further divided Jewish and Arab Israelis who live side by side in Israel with increasing unease.

Meanwhile, throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip yesterday, thousands of Palestinians waved Iraqi flags, brandishing posters of Saddam and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Some called for the burning of Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city, and Iraq's main Israeli target in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

"This is what we're most afraid of," said Tomer Benjamin, a Tel Aviv bakery shop manager. "Saddam is hundreds of kilometres away, and he probably can't reach us. But if violence gets worse here, life won't be worth living."

But the main focus for Israelis continued to be the war in Iraq.

Many Tel Aviv parents kept their children home from school yesterday, as fears persisted that Saddam would unleash a last vengeful attack on Israel before the massive U.S.-led bombing campaign overtook Iraqi defences. But school attendance in Haifa and Jerusalem was much higher.

Most of the fear centred on the threat of chemical or biological attacks. However, reports that parts of Western Iraq, the staging ground for firing Scuds at Israel in 1991, was under U.S. control, made it less likely an attack was imminent here.

While Israelis welcomed the onset of war as a way of ridding the region of Saddam - a relentless foe of Israel many Palestinians declared solidarity with the Iraqi dictator, who has supported families of suicide bombers and of people who died in clashes with Israeli forces.

In Gaza yesterday, the Arab Liberation Front, linked with Saddam's Baath Party, said the Iraqi government has asked the group to speed up delivery of $15,000 (Cdn.) cheques issues to Palestinians whose family members had died. Under pressure from the international community, Arafat had frozen the Iraqi funds, but released them two weeks before the war. Since then, several distribution ceremonies have taken place.

As the danger of Iraqi military attacks against Israel receded, the threat of terrorism was on the increase.

Israeli embassies and Jewish institutions around the world were placed on high alert after security warnings that they were at increased risk, although there were no specific warnings of imminent attacks.

Also in Gaza, a leader of the Hamas group that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombing attacks, urged Iraqis to use their tactics against U.S. and British forces in Iraq.

"Iraqis should prepare explosive belts and would-be 'martyrs' to combat the U.S. occupiers," Abdel Aziz Rantissi told Reuters. "The American aggressors ... are now on Iraqi soil, therefore, Iraqis must confront them with all possible means including `martyrdom' operations."

In a recent crackdown on Hamas and other militants, Israeli forces have closed the Occupied Territories, keeping Palestinians from entering Israel.

Yesterday, they arrested Raed Hutri, head of Hamas forces in the West Bank town of Qalqilya, along with his deputy. Hutri is accused of planning a June, 2001, suicide bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub, the Dolphinarium, that killed 21 young people.

Twelve other suspected militants were also arrested in the West Bank, and in the village of Doha, near Bethlehem.

Palestinians fear as the war continues, the military will make life increasingly difficult for Palestinians, or even attempt to expel them. The Israeli government denies this.

Meanwhile, despite fears of an Iraqi missile strike, Israelis are pressing on with marriages.

Friends of Leonardo and Andrea Strakman, an Argentine immigrant couple who were married Thursday near Tel Aviv, arrived toting gas masks picked up at Ben Gurion airport. The shoebox-sized kits were piled into a corner of a wedding hall for the ceremony.

"I bought a gas mask especially for my son's wedding," the groom's mother, Housa Strakman, told Maariv newspaper.

In Tel Aviv, Riva Smira outfitted her bridal boutique with a chemical weapons-proof bomb shelter stocked with first aid gear, food and water, Associated Press reported. Seamstresses fitting brides for dresses have set up shop there.

"If, God forbid, something were to happen, the sewing would go on," Smira said.

 

Al-AQSA MARTYRS’ BRIGADES CALLS ON MUSLIMS TO ATTACK AMERICAN AND BRITISH TARGETS

Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades calls on Muslims to attack American and British targets
By Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
March 23, 2003

The Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, on Saturday called on Muslims to attack American, British, and Israeli targets all over the world in response to the war in Iraq.

A statement issued by the group in Nablus said: "This fierce onslaught against the [Arab] nation, which began in Iraq, is aimed at dividing the region in order to establish new Zionist cantons led by neo-Nazis."

The group accused the US, Israel, and Britain of seeking to take control over the resources of the Arabs and Muslims through "terror and massacres." It called on "all the honorable in the Arab world to rise against the new international terror by striking at the interests of the three countries."

The statement also urged Palestinians to carry out suicide attacks in Israel as part of the war against the US and its allies.

 

PALESTINIANS CENSOR AL-JAZEERA

Palestinians censor Al-Jazeera
March 20, 2003

(Independent Palestinian news dispatch)

Broadcasts of the Gulf news station Al-Jazeera, which was being relayed by the Palestinian TV station Bethlehem Television, came to an abrupt halt tonight. The subject of the broadcast was the American attack against Iraq. As soon as the discussion turned to the subject of Iraqi soldiers who surrendered to the Americans today, the TV station pulled the relay off the air and started broadcasting Palestinian propaganda films. The Palestinian National Authority likes its Iraqis to be fighting heroes, not frightened soldiers who surrender.

 

ISRAEL’S CHILDREN LEAD THE WAY IN STAYING CALM

Israel's children lead the way in staying calm
By Carol Rosenberg
The Miami Herald
March 21, 2003

Tal Sahar, 8, offered a shrug and a classic second-grader's reply nothing when asked what he learned in school Thursday.

"Oh, if they shoot missiles, I have to put it on," he said, gesturing to the new 13-by-9-inch cardboard carton he carried to and from class in a suburb of Tel Aviv.

Omer Liber, 8, said half his classmates were absent at the Mayan Elementary School. But the lessons were fairly ordinary "a little math, a little reading."

Omer added, "If there's a siren, we have to put it on," shyly showing the space-age-looking hood that his mother Dvora added to his daily backpack.

Toting their gas masks like lunchboxes, a new generation of Israelis woke up to their first Middle Eastern war and about half went to school Thursday reflecting a blend of Israeli unease and bravado as America's campaign to topple Saddam Hussein moved forward.

Israel Radio reported school attendance was about 50 percent in the Gush Dan region along the Mediterranean the day after some citizens fled the country's populous core near Tel Aviv for high ground in Jerusalem, the Negev Desert and Eilat on the Red Sea.

It was also reported that 12 edgy or playful citizens, including a 4-year-old, accidentally jabbed themselves with special antidote needles that came with their government-issued survival kits, which they were instructed to open Wednesday evening. None died, but some required medical treatment.

About half the citizens, parents and children heeded Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's appeal to carry on life as normal.

"We estimate, believe and hope that we will not be involved with the war," Sharon said in a national address Thursday. "However, if heaven forbid we are dragged into it, the state of Israel is prepared to deal with any possible threat, both from a defensive and an offensive perspective."

Israeli military intelligence officials have predicted for weeks that Iraq cannot or will not fire Scud missiles at Israel, as it did in the 1991 Gulf War.

"Friends of ours are scared to leave their children. But we thought they would be better off as a collective in the classroom," said Gil Arusi, 37, collecting son Jonathan, 6, from school after he and his U.S.-born wife made a last-minute decision to send him.

Up the road, the Palmachim Air Base has been on Israel's highest state of alert since Tuesday, said Brig. Gen. Yair Dori, chief of air defense operations.

"If we need to cope, if we need to launch a missile... I hope it will intercept," he said of the U.S.-funded, Israeli-invented $2 billion Arrow anti-missile project meant to destroy any Scud that Hussein might send this way with or without biological or chemical warheads.

And in Yavne, a comfortable bedroom community of 33,000 popular with pilots and policemen, army officers and businessmen, engineer Itzhik Kamari, 44, said he believed ''100 percent'' in the Arrow system "because we made it."

Insecurity in 1991 "was much worse," he said, recalling the crash and boom of 39 Scud missiles that killed two and rattled the nation when a U.S. Patriot missile system failed to destroy them.

Kamari's son, Nadav, 8 , offered a different explanation for his serenity: "The Americans have the strongest army in the world, and Yavne isn't a big city." Israel had more populous areas, he said, that would be more likely Iraqi targets.

 

LUFTHANSA, AIR FRANCE TO RESUME ALL FLIGHTS TO AND FROM ISRAEL

Lufthansa, Air France to resume all flights to and from Israel on Tuesday
By Zohar Blumenkrantz
Ha'aretz
March 24, 2003

German airliner Lufthansa and Air France will resume all flights to and from Israel on Tuesday. Lufthansa had partially resumed flights between Frankfurt and Tel Aviv on Saturday. Lufthansa will revert back to the fixed schedule held before flights were halted in light of the threat of an Iraqi missile attack. Air France decided Monday to renew its flights from Paris to Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Following assessments that the threat of a missile strike on Israel has gone down, other airlines have resumed flights to and from Israel. Over the weekend, Austrian Airlines and Continental Airlines resumed the normal flight schedule to and from Israel.

A number of airlines are still not flying to and from Israel, and will decide will assess the situation on a day-by-day basis. Hungary's Maleb Airlines cancelled its flights on both Sunday and Monday. Turkish Airlines also cancelled its Monday flight, as well as four other flights that had been scheduled until the end of March. Air Antalya cancelled its Sunday flight, as well as a flight scheduled for March 30. Air Slovakia cancelled its flight to Israel scheduled for March 27.

British Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have not yet resumed any of their flights to Israel.

A number of airlines have announced the cancellation of a portion of their flights to and from Israel during the month of April, due to decreased demand, in light of the war in Iraq. Iberia Airlines cancelled five Tuesday flights during the month of April; Ethiopian Airlines cancelled two series of eight flights during April, and Belavia Airlines cancelled four Tuesday flights scheduled to arrive from Belorussia.

From March 25 until the end of the month, Olympic Airways will shorten the length of time its planes are grounded at Ben-Gurion International Airport. In the final days of March, planes will depart for Athens only 55 minutes after arriving in Tel Aviv.

 

IRAQ ACCUSES ISRAEL OF TAKING PART IN WAR

Iraq accuses Israel of taking part in war
Reuters
March 23, 2003

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Sunday an Israeli missile had been found in Baghdad and accused Israel of taking part in the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

"You know that Israel is taking part in this aggression against Iraq. It's sending missiles. We found a missile, an Israeli missile, in Baghdad," he told reporters in Cairo where was to attend a meeting of Arab foreign ministers scheduled for Monday.

Sabri offered no proof to back up the allegation.

Israeli political sources said Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet Sunday that the missile in question bore the word Taas, an Israeli company that has made electronic components sold for use in missiles in the U.S. armoury.

Israel has said it is playing no part in the war.

The United States, which aims to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and destroy his alleged mass-destruction arsenal, wants Israel to stay out of the conflict to avoid widening it.

Israeli military analyst Stuart Cohen said Israeli arms manufacturers produce electronic software used in U.S. missiles. "Two thirds of Israeli manufacturing in this sector is exported," he told Reuters.

Sabri also said Arab governments should condemn the war and call for the withdrawal of U.S. and British forces. Arab states have said they oppose the war.

The Iraqi minister called on Arab governments to condemn Kuwait, from where U.S. and British forces launched their attack Thursday

 

U.S. WON’T DEMAND POST-SADDAM IRAQ RECOGNIZE ISRAEL

U.S. won't demand post-Saddam Iraq recognize Israel
By Nathan Guttman
Ha'aretz
March 24, 2003

As the American war in Iraq approaches the showdown in the capital city of Baghdad, the U.S. Administration is increasingly involved with the question of "the day after."

Retired general Jay Garner is already present, preparing the ground for the beginning of the first stage of the day after, the humanitarian stage; after that they will begin to rebuild the physical infrastructure, and finally will come the most difficult stage of all the rebuilding of the new system of government and administration of democratic Iraq, according to the American vision.

The work on these plans has been going on for two months already at the Pentagon, the National Security Council, the State Department and in work groups which include Iraqi experts and exiles. But those familiar with the details of the plans say one item is missing from all of them the attitude of "the new Iraq" towards the State of Israel.

The U.S. Administration plans to insist that the new government, when it is established, be representative, refrain from belligerence and obey international conventions, but there will be no demand that the new rulers of Iraq join the circle of rapprochement with Israel.

Last week, a few hours before the missiles began to fall on Baghdad, Marc Grossman, under secretary of state for political affairs, whose name has already been mentioned as one of the candidates to take charge of the rebuilding of Iraq, was asked about this. "Will recognizing Israel be the first thing the Iraqis do? I have no idea, but I certainly hope this will be among the first things they do."

Grossman's hope has no basis at the moment. The Americans are not planning to ask Iraq at the end of the American military government to recognize Israel or to establish diplomatic relations with it. There will not even be a demand to declare a situation of nonbelligerency.

"The most important thing at the moment is to remove Iraq from the circle of threat to Israel, and after the era of Saddam, it will no longer be a threat. The United States will demand disarmament, and will ensure that it takes place," says Edward (Ned) Walker, who was the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, as well as an ambassador to Israel and to Egypt.

But according to him, it wouldn't be realistic on Israel's part to expect more than that. "The United States will not be able to guarantee a substantial change in the attitude of the Iraqi people towards Israel. It will be difficult for the United States to make demands of the Iraqis in this area. If we are talking about democracy, it won't be possible to dictate policy to them," says Walker.

Israeli officials in the United States point out that Israel is not trying to push, and is not asking the Americans to try to introduce love of Israel into the hearts of the leaders of the new Iraq. The war in Afghanistan has already made it clear to Israel that the new countries being built by the United States are not changing their attitude towards Israel.

After the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Israel submitted a request to the U.S. Administration to participate in an international conference for rebuilding the country, which took place in Tokyo. The Arab participants in the conference were not pleased about this, nor were the Afghans themselves happy about receiving assistance from Israel. Finally the U.S. Administration decided Israel would stay out of the conference.

Needless to say, in Iraq anti-Israel feelings are stronger than in Afghanistan, and the Americans believe that only a long process of change in public attitudes will lead to a thawing of "the new Iraq" toward Israel. At present, Iraq has the most centralized media in the Arab world, and the level of anti-Israel propaganda absorbed by the public is enormous. Change cannot come about quickly.

"The best thing Israel can do to contribute to change," says Ned Walker, "is to take a positive approach in the peace process after the war, and after the terror calms down." In his opinion, many new textbooks for Iraqi students and significant progress in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will be needed in order to build a new generation in Iraq, one that will agree to talk with Israel.

 

MITZNA NOT RULING OUT JOINING NATIONAL EMERGENCY GOVERNMENT

Mitzna not ruling out joining national emergency gov't
By Gideon Alon and Yossi Verter
Ha'aretz
March 20, 2003

Labor party Chairman Amram Mitzna said Thursday he was not ruling out joining a national emergency government, though he clarified that the initiative for such a move would have to come from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Labor, Shas, and United Torah Judaism decided Wednesday to comply with the request made by coalition chairman Gideon Sa'ar (Likud), and withdraw the no-confidence vote they had submitted for debate in the plenum Monday.

Sa'ar wrote to the heads of the three parties, urging them to postpone the no-confidence vote, saying the prime minister should be able to focus on the war in Iraq. Faction heads Dalia Itzik (Labor), Yair Peretz (Shas), and Ya'akov Litzman (UTJ) complied with the request.

"At this time, we must be united on everything pertaining to security," Itzik said. She added, however, that the Labor Party would continue to serve as an opposition to the government on social and economic issues.

MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) called on Sharon to make a statement to the Knesset about the war in Iraq on Monday. Cohen said that at times such as these, the prime minister must present the Knesset with authoritative information so as to prevent the spread of rumors and mis misinformation.

While Mitzna declared during his election campaign that he would not join a government under Sharon, he did meet with the prime minister during the coalition negotiations, but he and Sharon failed to find a common basis for Labor to join a unity government.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.