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Palestinians Fighting Against U.S. in Iraq


Among the hundreds of non-Iraqis fighting against U.S. forces in Iraq are Palestinian Arabs - and some of them have even given their lives in the campaign against the Americans. Hassan Jamal Suleiman, 18, killed on Dec. 11 in a suicide attack west of Baghdad, was the second Palestinian terrorist from Lebanon's refugee camps to die fighting the Americans in Iraq. The first was Ibrahim Khalil, killed in battle against the Americans shortly after the latter invaded Iraq in March. The AP reported that Suleiman belonged to the Palestinian terrorist group Ansar Allah. For video news from Israel, please go to

Lifting of U.S. Ban Places Israel in Saudi Arabian Danger


Libya may have agreed to neutralize its threat to Israel and world peace, but now Israel is facing trouble from Saudi Arabia. The desert kingdom has launched a project to develop and expand the King Faisal Air Base in Tabuk, near the Israeli border - and the Bush Administration has lifted restrictions on the plan.

The U.S. had long pledged Israel to prevent modern Saudi jets, flown by U.S.-trained pilots, to use the Tabuk air base. Now, however, the aircraft will be permitted to deploy there, Middle East Newsline reports, thus placing Israel in direct danger.

One scenario feared by Israeli officials is a 9/11-type attack into an Israeli skyscraper. Three months ago, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon warned of plans by Al-Qaeda to hijack a Saudi Arabian F-15E fighter jet and crash it into a major office tower in Israel, only about 120 miles from Tabuk. Israel's southern port of Eilat is only 90 miles from Tabuk. The Saudis flew some 50 jets to Tabuk this past March, and refused to return them to their bases in eastern and central Saudi Arabia.

Yaalon said in September that Israel has raised the issue with the United States, which sold Saudi Arabia the F-15s in 1982 and 1995. In 1978, then-Defense Secretary Harold Brown pledged to Congress that Saudi Arabia would not base the F-15 aircraft at Tabuk.

The American restrictions were apparently lifted in early 2003, allowing the Saudi air force to deploy its fleet of F-15 fighter jets anywhere in the kingdom. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld explained that the decision was based on the Saudi need to defend its air space amid the deterioration of its aging F-5 and Tornado fleets.

Israeli Official Suggests Possible Mass Evacuation of Jewish Settlers

By VOA News

Israel's deputy prime minister said tens of thousands of Jewish settlers might have to leave the West Bank and Gaza Strip if Israel takes unilateral steps to separate from the Palestinians.

Ehud Olmert made his comments in Jerusalem Sunday, three days after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon outlined a so-called "disengagement plan" to be implemented if Israel and the Palestinians cannot strike a peace deal. The proposal calls for Israel to abandon some settlements but hold on to others closer to Israel proper, while speeding up work on a fence separating Israel from the West Bank.

Jewish settlers who consider the West Bank to be Israeli land have expressed outrage, while both the Palestinians and United States have urged Israel to stick by the internationally backed "road map" peace plan. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials said they are still working on setting up a meeting between Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia in a bid to re-start the stalled peace process. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the summit could take place as early as this week.

Israel Arrests Senior Hamas Member, Demolishes Gaza Buildings

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli soldiers have arrested a senior political figure of the militant Islamic terrorist group Hamas, and in another incident a five-year-old Palestinian boy was killed in crossfire during raids in the West Bank. Israeli troops arrested senior Hamas official Adnan Asfour in the West Bank city of Nablus, as part of continuing raids against wanted Palestinian militants.

In recent months, Asfour has become a prominent spokesman for the group, which has carried out numerous suicide bombings, and other terror attacks. His detention was confirmed by his brother Sa'ad who said troops had surrounded Asfour's apartment block, calling for all residents to evacuate the five-story building before arresting him. His arrest was one of several detentions of wanted Palestinians carried out by Israeli forces in the area, including the Balata refugee camp, where Palestinian witnesses say a young boy was fatally wounded when he was caught in the cross fire.

Israel Welcomes Libya's Renouncement of WMDs

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem) & Ha'aretz

Israel has welcomed Libya's decision to renounce its weapons of mass destruction. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Libya's announcement is a positive move for the Middle East that could help end Libya's isolation. He said if Libya goes through with its surprise announcement late Friday that it is renouncing all weapons of mass destruction, it would mean, in his words, that "Libya will find its way back to the bosom of the international community."

Israeli officials hope that the move will put pressure on Iran and other countries to abandon any plans they might have to develop atomic weapons. At the same time, Israeli officials rejected suggestions that they, too, would come clean on Israel's weapons programs.

Israel is widely believed to have missiles with atomic warheads. It has not allowed international inspections of its facilities. Israel has never admitted to having such arms and will only say that it will not be first country to introduce such weapons into the Middle East. Most observers believe Israel would never disclose details of its own weapons programs, unless all countries in the region follow the example of Libya.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday called on Israel to follow Libya's example and scrap its nuclear weapons program, Israel Radio reported. During a visit to Sadat City in south Cairo, Mubarak said that in the mid-1990s he discussed with Shimon Peres the matter of Israel dismantling its nuclear arsenal. Peres said that the issue would be resolved following a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, according to the Egyptian president.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the Libyan move "emphasizes the need for Israel to comply with all the regulations that prohibit the proliferation of weapons." "There should be no exceptions that would allow Israel" to have such weapons.

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