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BICOM Daily Briefing October 31 2003

Last updated: 2003-10-31

Ariel Sharon has revealed that contacts are ongoing with the Palestinians and has expressed hope that prospects for peace may be renewed. Israel calls upon the leadership of Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Ala to facilitate moves towards peace by bringing an end to the terrorism and violence that threaten the future of Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Media Summary:

A debate between the higher echelons of the IDF and the Israeli government over policy towards the Palestinians in the territories is covered by The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, while the questioning of Ariel Sharon in a fraud investigation is reported in The Guardian, Times and Financial Times. Meanwhile, the end of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir’s rule amidst another anti-Jewish attack is covered by The Independent, Daily Telegraph, Times and Guardian, which devotes an editorial to the topic. Writing in The Sun, Richard Littlejohn comments on the decision by Oxford University to suspend an academic over his rejection of a graduate student on the grounds that he was Israeli.

Quotes of the Day:

Sharon reveals renewed contacts with Palestinians:

Ariel Sharon (30/10): “I believe that we are on the verge of making a breakthrough and entering a path of peace and quiet.”

Ariel Sharon (30/10): “We are in contact with Palestinians, however not on the level of prime ministers. The reason we don't have prime ministerial level contacts stems from the fact that Palestinians have requested time to allow the designated Palestinian prime minister to establish himself. We are ready to enter negotiations at any time.”

Senator Clinton blasts PA for indoctrination of Palestinian children:

Hilary Clinton, New York Senator (30/10): “How can you think about building a better future, no matter what your political views, if you indoctrinate your children to a culture of death? We should all agree that children should not be indoctrinated into hatred and violence and then indoctrinated into killing themselves.”

Hilary Clinton (30/10): “It is clear that the Palestinian Authority, as we see on PATV, is complicit [in terrorist attacks]. This is not Hamas [running the television station]. This is the Palestinian Authority.”

Behind the News:

Contacts renewed with Palestinian Authority:

Ariel Sharon has said that Israel is nearing a renewed opportunity for peace and quiet and that there continues to be contact with the Palestinians. Speaking Thursday night in Tel Aviv, the Prime Minister said that the contacts are not at the highest level and that this is at the request of the Palestinians, who are first interested in seeing Abu Ala solidify his position as prime minister. Sharon said that Israel is willing to negotiate with the Palestinians as soon as they are willing to do so. Meanwhile the two sides are due to resume security contacts. Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz will meet next week with senior Palestinian officials. Mofaz has also given his approval for a meeting of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Ramallah and for representatives from the Gaza Strip to be able to travel to Ramallah for the meeting. The approval comes as Mofaz agreed to implement some of the IDF’s recommendations to ease restrictions on the Palestinian people. As part of the easing of restrictions, Israeli security services have given permission to 5,000 Palestinians, 4,000 from the West Bank and 1,000 from Gaza, to travel to the Temple Mount compound for prayers on the first Friday of Ramadan.

Palestinians have chemical capability:

The Israel Police has revealed its concerns regarding the ability of Palestinian terrorist organisations to carry out a chemical attack in Israel. Traces of pesticides, rat poisoning, and other toxic chemicals have been found at the sites of at least five Palestinian bombings since the late 1990s. Such an attack could kill hundreds or thousands of people. Police said it appeared that the toxins used in certain attacks had been deliberately added to enhance the bombs' lethality. A security official said that chemical materials are readily available at scores of factories across the country.

Palestinian poll: majority believe intifada has not accomplished Palestinian people’s objectives:

A poll carried out by the State Information Service of the Palestinian National Authority shows that 63.2% believe that the intifada has not accomplished the Palestinian people's objectives, while 27.5% believed the opposite. As for the future of the Intifada, 59.3% of the polled expected that the intifada would continue, while 17.3% anticipated the intifada would stop, as 23.4% believed that no change would take place. The poll was taken of 938 persons, 428 from the Gaza Strip and 510 from the West Bank.

Comment and Opinion:

The Guardian (31/10): “It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that today's retirement of Mahathir Mohamad after 22 years as Malaysia's prime minister should be accompanied by controversy. In a recent speech, Dr Mahathir asserted that Jews "rule the world by proxy". After his remarks were widely condemned in the west as anti-semitic, he complained of double standards. It was acceptable, he said, to criticise Muslims but not Jews, which proved his point that the west was "under the thumb of the Jews". Dr Mahathir's claims may appeal, sadly, to many Muslims who are daily enraged by Israel's treatment of Palestinians or by a perceived anti-Islamic bias in Washington. But his thesis is as absurd as it is offensive (and depressingly familiar). It is not the proper business of statesmen to pander to such prejudices but, rather, to work to banish them. The fact that most of Dr Mahathir's speech was a critique of the Muslim world's own failings does not excuse encouragement of racial hatred.”

Richard Littlejohn (The Sun, 31/10): “AN Oxford don who rejected an application from a student from Tel Aviv because he refused to work with an Israeli has been allowed to keep his job. Andrew Wilkie, a pro-Palestinian pathology professor, escaped with a paltry two-month suspension. Imagine if he had discriminated against a black or Asian student or had refused to teach a homosexual. He would have been kicked out and probably prosecuted for “hate crime”. Oxford University should be ashamed of itself.”

The Jewish Chronicle (31/10): “THE LONG-AWAITED decision of an Oxford University disciplinary panel on the case of Professor Andrew Wilkie — who rejected the application of a graduate student because he was Israeli — has been broadly, and rightly, welcomed.

The two-month suspension is the toughest sanction available to the panel short of dismissal. This clearly would have been excessive, especially in the light of the professor’s own recognition of his error. More importantly, by also requiring that he undertake equal-opportunities training, the university has sent a broader message on the seriousness of the issue involved — a message reinforced by Professor Wilkie’s resignation as a fellow from Pembroke College. It must be hoped that Oxford’s commendable response to a form of unthinking bigotry that has become distressingly fashionable in some British and European academic circles will set an example for other institutions of learning. Education, it is worth remembering, is meant to be about widening horizons, broadening minds, encouraging inquiry, and the free exchange of ideas.”


Israel Briefing is supplied by BICOM