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BICOM Daily Briefing October 15 2003

Last updated: 2003-10-15

Israel welcomes the US’s veto at the UN Security Council debate over the building of the security fence. Israel has the right and the duty to defend the lives of its citizens and the security fence is a measure wholly aimed at preventing terrorists from entering Israel and murdering innocent civilians. Israel reiterates the need for the UN to show balance by condemning such acts of terror and for the Palestinians to take action to prevent further atrocities, which necessitate the need for Israeli defensive measures.

Media Summary

Israeli political reaction to the alternative peace proposals of the Geneva Accord is covered by The Guardian and The Independent, which carries an interview with Geneva Accord participant and writer Amos Oz. In other news, The Times and Financial Times report on the deportation of 15 Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, while The Independent covers continuing IDF operations against weapons smuggling tunnels in the Gaza Strip.

Quotes of the Day

Security fence debated at UN Security Council:

Dan Gillerman, Israel Ambassador to the UN (14/10): “No lie is so bold and audacious as the one which pretends that Israel's actions occur in a vacuum and are not in response to years and years of terrorism.”

Dan Gillerman (14/10): “Israel remains committed to resolving all aspects of the conflict, including the final status of the West Bank and Gaza, through political negotiations. It does not annex territories to the state of Israel, nor does it change the status of the land, its ownership, or the legal status of the residents of these areas. Many Palestinians who oppose the fence simply want to continue killing Israelis. The Israelis building the fence simply want to live.”

John Negroponte, US Ambassador to the UN (14/10): “Any resolution concerning the Middle East must take into account the larger picture, that of the current security situation, including the devastating suicide attacks that Israelis have had to endure over the past three years.”

Behind the News

US vetoes UN resolution against security fence:

The United States has vetoed a Palestinian-drafted resolution at the United Nations Security Council, seeking to bar Israel from extending its security fence into the West Bank. The vote came after a six-hour public meeting at which ambassadors from dozens of states lined up to denounce the security fence. The resolution, brought forward by Syria, won the support of ten of the Council’s 15 members, while four others abstained - Britain, Germany, Bulgaria and Cameroon. However, the ‘no’ vote from Washington, one of the Council’s five permanent members with veto power, was enough to prevent the resolution from passing. US Ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, explained the veto by saying that the resolution was not balanced and did not denounce terrorist attacks, a condition the Palestinians rejected as unacceptable.  The Palestinians are now expected to take the measure to the UN General Assembly where the US has no veto but resolutions are non-binding.

Palestinian woman attempts to smuggle weapons in baby pram:

A 20-year-old Palestinian woman was arrested Tuesday morning at a police checkpoint north of Jerusalem, after a handgun, two ammunition clips, and a 15-centimetre knife were discovered in the baby pram she was pushing, police said. Border Police said that apart from the weapons, the pram was empty. The suspect, who has no security record, told police she had picked up a package containing the weapons accidentally from an Arab taxi she had just taken. She was handed over to the Shin Bet.

15 Palestinians to be deported to Gaza Strip:

An IDF order has been signed to deport 15 Palestinian detainees from the West Bank to Gaza. The army said that the men, mostly members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, had been linked to terrorist activities and the step being taken is aimed at reducing the number of anti-Israeli attacks. It said that they are being deported because they cannot be put on trial without sensitive intelligence being revealed. All 15 have been given 48 hours to appeal the deportation order. The order is for a two-year deportation in order to prevent the men returning to their terrorist cells in the West Bank.

Comment and Opinion

Barry Rubin (The Jerusalem Post, 15/10): “Yet, much of the world has accepted the anti-fence argument. It is portrayed in cartoons as a tool of apartheid, even genocide, or an attempt to grab large portions of the West Bank.

Such is the luxury of people who can pretend that the only problem in the Middle East is Israel's attempt to defend itself, ignoring that there have been scores of attacks across what is actually an open border.

Suicide bombers easily walk or are driven around scattered checkpoints. Explosives are smuggled with relatively little difficulty. Any country faced with such a situation would build a barrier and no one would challenge that right.”

“This method that has worked on the perimeter of the Gaza Strip and on the Lebanon border. The technology is so good that countries like India are eager to buy it for their own border defences.

Will this mean the number of successful terrorist attacks within Israel and the immediately adjacent area will fall to zero? Probably not. It will "merely" mean that the overwhelming majority of attacks will be stopped. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries will be averted.

And despite the complaints of the Palestinian leadership, it will be good for their people also. The fewer successful terrorist attacks in Israel, the less the need for Israeli retaliatory and defensive operations. Lower Israeli casualties will translate into lower Palestinian casualties.

Equally important, by showing that Arafat's terrorism strategy has failed, it would encourage Palestinians to end the war and engage in serious peace negotiations.”