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BICOM Daily Briefing October 23 2003

Last updated: 2003-10-23

A poll showing Palestinian support for terrorism even in the event of the fulfilment of Palestinian aspirations makes grim reading for supporters of peace. Israel calls upon the Palestinian leadership and the people to reject terrorism and end the incitement that creates such an atmosphere of hate. Israel consistently seeks peace and awaits a credible partner with whom progress towards a better future for both Israelis and Palestinians can be made.

Media Summary:

The UN General Assembly vote for a resolution against the Israeli security fence and Israel’s reaction is covered by The Guardian, Independent, Financial Times and briefly by The Daily Telegraph. The Guardian examines the effects of the security fence on Jerusalem as well as a feature on the state of the Israeli political left-wing. The Times features a telephone hotline enabling Israelis and Palestinians to talk to each other in the name of promoting dialogue. The Financial Times’ editorial criticises the anti-Jewish remarks of the Malaysian prime minister as well as the reactions of the leaders of those states present at the meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

Quotes of the Day:

Silvan Shalom, Israel Foreign Minister (22/10): “We are very sceptical about the intentions of Iran. We know they are trying to develop nuclear weapons. We know their true intentions. If they are going to use at any time nuclear weapons, it is against Israel. The Iranian nuclear program is a danger to the Middle East and indeed, the entire world and it must be stopped.”

Silvan Shalom (22/10): “Regarding the situation in the Middle East, I confirmed… Israel's firm commitment to ending the conflict with our Palestinian neighbours through negotiations on the basis on the Roadmap.”

Behind the News:

Israeli Foreign Minister visits Germany; warns on Iranian nuclear threat:

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has highlighted the danger of Iran developing nuclear weapons. Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Shalom called on the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct intrusive inspections throughout the Islamic Republic. While in Germany, Shalom met with Foreign Minister Joshka Fischer. He also met with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder to discuss the issue of missing Israelis being held captive by Hezbollah. The Germans have been acting as mediatiors in a possible prisoner exchange. Shalom said that the deal is not yet complete and he called for new information on the fate of missing airforce navigator Ron Arad. 

Poll shows Palestinian support for terror:

The Jerusalem Post reports that according to a new survey, 59% of Palestinians believe that Hamas and Islamic Jihad should continue their armed struggle against Israel even if Israel leaves all of the West Bank and Gaza, including East Jerusalem, and a Palestinian state is created. Similarly, 80% of Palestinians say under those circumstances, the Palestinians should not give up the "right of return." The poll of 600 Palestinians, 600 Israeli Jews, and 400 Israeli Arabs was released in Washington on Wednesday by Itamar Marcus, founder of Palestinian Media Watch, and written by pollster Frank Luntz. It was conducted in late September by two polling firms, the Public Opinion Research of Israel and The Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion. The poll also examined Israeli and Palestinian attitudes towards the US and towards terrorism. Ninety-six percent of Israelis say the people who hijacked the planes on September 11 were terrorists, while 37% of Palestinians share that view. Slightly more than one in four Palestinians believe Israelis planned the 9/11 attacks. 42% of Palestinians stated that they support the people who are attacking Americans in Iraq. Zero percent of Israeli Jews said they did.

Fatah men accuse Arafat during Washington trip:

Three senior Fatah officials on a visit to Washington have accused Yasser Arafat of undermining reforms in the Palestinian Authority. The three, Ahmed Ghnaim, Kadoura Fares, and Hatem Abdel Kader said that there was no way to win a military confrontation and urged a comprehensive ceasefire as the only way to return to negotiations. The three, who met with US administration officials, said that they could ensure that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad would abide by a ceasefire if Israel halts its military operations.

Comment and Opinion:

The Financial Times (23/10): “A week before his retirement, Dr Mahathir's bigotry has made headlines. "The Jews rule this world by proxy," he told an Islamic summit in Kuala Lumpur. "They get others to fight and die for them." He added that Jews invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy to avoid persecution and gain control of the most powerful countries.

Condemnations, clarifications and more inflammatory comments followed, culminating in a White House rejection of the "hate-filled remarks". That only drew another round from the Malaysian premier, who yesterday said state terrorism was worse than that committed by individual groups and accused countries advocating democracy of terrorising the world.”

“Yet perhaps the most depressing aspect of the affair is the reception his speech received at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit. Leaders present, who included US allies such as President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, gave Dr Mahathir a standing ovation. Most defended the speech as a frank assessment of the challenges facing the Muslim world.

September 11 2001, the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Islamic terrorism in south-east Asia have all fuelled a dangerous increase in religious and racial tension. The ludicrous conspiracy theories about Jews and Americans that have long been current among Arabs are now increasingly believed in Muslim Asia as well.

Americans and Europeans will be shocked by the way Dr Mahathir talks about Jews and the reception he was given. Yet the Muslim leaders who heard him could not understand what the fuss was about - and that is the biggest scandal of all.”


The Israel Daily Briefing is supplied by BICOM