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BICOM Daily Briefing November 4 2003

Last updated: 2003-11-04

The EU poll, officially published yesterday, in which Israel is described as a threat to world peace, is reported in today’s Telegraph and Financial Times. Meanwhile, Israeli newspaper Haaretz has an interview with the EU Middle East Special Envoy, Marc Otte. The Israeli news channels carry reports of an IDF operation which resulted in a suicide bomber killing himself to avoid arrest yesterday, and the surrender of a Palestinian terrorist who killed a 7-year old girl in a shooting incident this summer. Prime Minister Sharon’s comments during his visit to Russia are also widely reported, with hopes for progress in negotiations with the new Abu Ala government, which appears to be nearer completion with the appointment of a new Speaker for the Palestinian Parliament.

Reuters reports that Australia is introducing legislation to ban terrorist group Hamas, whilst Israel Radio reported this morning that Russian President Putin told PM Sharon that Moscow is also considering adding Hamas to list of terror groups. The Associated Press highlights Israel’s first ever resolution to be put forward at the United Nations. The Jerusalem Post reports that a German parliamentarian who made anti-Semitic comments is to face criminal investigation.

Quotes of the Day:

Reactions to the EU poll:

Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission (3/11): “The [results] point to the continued existence of a bias that must be condemned out of hand. To the extent that this may indicate a deeper, more general prejudice against the Jewish world, our repugnance is even more radical.”

Franco Frattini Italian Foreign Minister (3/11): “The result of the survey, based on an ambiguous question, does not reflect the position of the European Union which has been voiced on numerous occasions."

Hopes that Abu Ala’s new government will be a partner for peace:

Ariel Sharon (3/11): “Very soon a Palestinian leadership that objects to the path of terror, violence and incitement of Yasser Arafat will arise, and will be prepared to act with us to honestly implement the road map. When that happens, they will find us to be a serious partner, and together we will bring peace and quiet to both our people.”

Silvan Shalom, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs (3/11): “If a government headed by [Abu Ala] indeed arises and emerges as a broad Cabinet tomorrow... we can begin some dialogue. We are making a supreme effort ... to make life easier for the Palestinian population.”

Behind the News:

Better security cooperation may encourage political dialogue:

The meeting Monday between Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad raised hopes that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Ala will meet in the near future. Security coordination also appears to be improving, with a well-publicised meeting Sunday night between Shin Bet director Avi Dichter and Palestinian National Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub.

According to Haaretz, there has been growing cooperation during the last few months between Palestinian security services and the Israeli Shin Bet security services in preventing terrorism inside Israel. The cooperation also has apparently led to the elimination of key Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorists. The cooperation is confirmed by Israeli security officials, foreign diplomats operating on the ground, and sources in the Palestinian security services, who say that in recent weeks and months, far from the limelight, the cooperation between the Shin Bet and PA's security forces has resumed.

Israel circulates first resolution at United Nations:

According to the Associated Press, Israel has circulated its first ever resolution to the United Nations General Assembly as part of a new effort to engage the United Nations and to test whether the organisation is capable of taking a balanced approach to the Middle East. The Israeli resolution calls for the protection of Israeli children victimized by Palestinian terrorism. It closely mirrors a similar draft submitted by Egypt last week highlighting the plight of Palestinian children in the region. Israeli diplomats said they would be happy if the General Assembly decided to drop both drafts or adopt them both.

Deputy Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Arye Meckel, will send a letter later this week to 155 ambassadors at the UN asking for their support for Israel's resolution. Both the Israeli and the Egyptian resolutions are expected to come up for a vote in the UN's human rights committee within the next two weeks, he said. If either one passes, it will go to the full General Assembly for a final vote in December.

Australia and Russia move to ban terrorist group Hamas:

Australia is set to add terrorist group Hamas to the list of outlawed terrorist groups. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has said that he will introduce legislation in parliament on Wednesday to ban the group. Once legislation is passed, anyone found to be a member, to be training, funding or recruiting members could face 25 years in jail. According to Israel Radio, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli PM Ariel Sharon on Monday that Russia is also considering adding Hamas to its list of outlawed terrorist groups.

Comment and Opinion:

Amnon Rubinstein (Haaretz, 4/11): [The United Nations Development Program's (UNDP) second report on the Arab world that was published last week paints] a gloomy picture of a society that is not developing free media and curiosity. Here and there in the Arab newspapers published in London, one can see the beginnings of thought concerning the true distresses, but these are isolated lights in enormous darkness.

What, then, maintains these dark Arab regimes that encourage backwardness and are responsible for the destruction of an ancient culture? Apparently, it is mainly their hatred toward Israel - and more recently, toward Jews. Even many Arab intellectuals (although not this report) state that until the "Zionist occupation" is destroyed, there can be no talk of reforms.

Thus, a vicious cycle has been created: Israel serves as a convenient target for fierce and intensifying hatred, due to which the reforms demanded by the report are being delayed; but that self same hatred also delays the establishment of real peace that can make these reforms possible.


Israeli Briefing supplied by BICOM