Newsletter : 2fax0207.txt
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>JN Feb. 7, 2002, Vol. 10, No. 26
Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian Gunman in Jewish Settlement
By VOA News
Israeli troops have shot and killed a Palestinian gunman who
infiltrated a Jewish settlement in the West Bank late Wednesday,
killing at least one settler and wounding four others.
The gunman shot at a security guard before storming into the Hamra
settlement in the Jordan Valley, east of Nablus. Some reports he
burst into a house and briefly took hostages. It is unclear if the
Palestinian acted alone and if accomplices remained in the area.
Also near Nablus Wednesday, the Israeli army seized eight missiles
and a launcher hidden in a Palestinian truckload of vegetables.
Soldiers stopped the vehicle at a checkpoint. It was heading from
Nablus to the Palestinian-ruled town of Jenin. Israeli Brig.- Gen.
Gershon Yitzhak said the missiles were capable of hitting Israeli
Earlier Wednesday, Israeli border police said they foiled a likely
suicide bombing when they arrested a Palestinian man wearing a belt
of explosives on a bus heading to a West Bank settlement.
The driver became suspicious and alerted police at a checkpoint
outside Jerusalem. Elsewhere, Israeli troops shot and killed a
Palestinian teenager in Rafah in the Gaza Strip.
The incidents came as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon traveled
to Washington to meet with President Bush Thursday. Israeli
officials said Sharon will ask Bush to cut all ties with
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. Israel has declared him irrelevant
and not a partner in peace. U.S. officials have said they will
continue to deal with Arafat.
This is Sharon's fourth visit to the White House since becoming
prime minister 12 months ago. While polls say his popularity has
slipped among some Israelis, the support for his government in
Washington appears to be at an all time high.
In recent weeks the Bush administration has intensified its calls
for Arafat to end the Palestinian uprising against the Jewish
state, while openly backing Israeli measures against him and
the Palestinian Authority.
The prime minister's foreign policy advisor, Danny Ayalon, said
Sharon will compliment Bush on the U.S. led war on international
terrorism, and ask him to put more pressure on Arafat.
"From all analysis, all the evidence we have there is one main
obstacle to any progress, to peace, and this is Arafat himself.
That has not changed and probably will not change. We will look
into ways to keep the pressure so some results can be evident on
the ground in the fight against terror," Ayalon said.
Since early December Israeli troops have confined Arafat to his
headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah. While declaring
Arafat "irrelevant," Sharon recently held unprecedented meetings
with other top Palestinian officials.
Sharon was elected a year ago on a platform of being tough on the
Palestinians and bringing an end to the current conflict. While
security fears have increased after a wave of Palestinian suicide
bombings and Israel's economic outlook is bleak, Sharon has
succeeded in holding his coalition government together.
Although recent surveys show support for the prime minister's
polices has dropped among Israelis, the perception that the Bush
administration strongly backs his government has helped him at
In addition to discussing the conflict with the Palestinians,
Sharon is also expected to discuss Israel's increasing concerns
Israel has accused Iran of trying to smuggle a ship full of weapons
to the Palestinians last month, and of arming Hizbullah guerrillas
in Lebanon with thousands of missiles aimed at the Jewish state.
Defense Minister: Arafat Increasingly Irrelevant
By Jenny Badner (VOA-Washington)
Israel's Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer is in the United
States for the first time since he joined Israel's coalition
government last year. He said he is on a mission to pressure
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.
Ben-Eliezer said that he is trying to convince American and
international leaders to press Arafat to end more than a year of
At the same time, Israel's defense minister described Arafat's
role as increasingly irrelevant and quotes unnamed Palestinians who
he said oppose the president of the Palestinian Authority.
"Therefore for the sake of finding a solution, let's concentrate on
talking to the proper people. Ignoring Arafat, I'm not going
to touch him, no one is going to touch him, but open a dialogue
with them, maybe through them by the pressure coming all over from
every point against Arafat, something will happen. What I'm trying
to do is try to gather everyone to concentrate on the
While in New York, Ben-Eliezer spoke to Jewish community leaders
and accused the Lebanese-based radical group Hizbullah of being
infiltrated by members of the al-Qaida terrorist group. The Israeli
official also repeated Israel's position that Iran poses a nuclear
threat to Israel and the entire region.
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