Newsletter : 7fax0115.txt
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Sharon Warned Bush about Iraq
By The Forward
Yossi Alpher, former senior adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, writes an exclusive
opinion piece for the Forward revealing that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
told President Bush before the American invasion of Iraq that he opposed the idea. While
Sharon acknowledged that Saddam Hussein was an "acute threat" to the Mideast, Alpher
writes, the Israeli leader advised against occupying Iraq, and against attempting to
"implant democracy" in the Mideast. Sharon also warned against going into Iraq without an
exit strategy, and noted that plans to counter a sectarian insurgency would need to be in
Rice Promises PA Rifles Won't Be Aimed at Israel
By David Gollust (VOA-Jerusalem)
Officials traveling with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the Middle East said a
proposed $86-million U.S. aid package for security forces controlled by Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas includes no lethal military hardware or ammunition.
Earlier after Mahmoud Abbas told Arabs to "raise your rifles" against Israel, Rice said
the U.S. would prevent a repeat of previous attacks on Israel with arms supplied to PA
The United States has been supplying the Palestinian Authority chairman's personal
militia with weapons to give him a military edge over the rival Hamas militia. Terrorists
have vowed that the weapons would be used against Israel, as they were in the 1990s when
the Israeli government, headed by then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, gave the PA security
forces thousands of rifles.
Rice, on a whirlwind visit to the region, held talks with Abbas and Jordan's King
Abdullah Sunday, and will meet the leaders of Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia Monday.
Rice herself has expressed concern about the prospect that Palestinian moderates might
some day be out-gunned by the forces of the militant Islamic Hamas movement. But the
Secretary and top aides insisted the security aid package confirmed late last week would
not exacerbate the intra-Palestinian conflict and includes no weapons or ammunition.
Hamas has bitterly complained about the plan and some members of Congress are
apprehensive about what would be a major shift in U.S. aid policy toward the
But appearing alongside Abbas at a news conference in Ramallah, Rice said the aid would
have human rights and other restrictions, and be phased in over time as part of a broader
international effort to professionalize the Palestinian security services:
"Let me be very clear," said Rice. "It's not as if tomorrow there will be a U.S.
contribution should the Congress approve it. Rather, this is train-and-equip program that
will unfold over a period of time. I'm sure that President Abbas and his people will want
to be attentive to the requirements of the plan, including attentive to concerns about
human rights which are there in all of our train and equip programs around the world."
She has said she is carrying no new U.S. plan or proposal to restore peace momentum.
But at their news conference, Abbas made clear he opposes an idea raised by some Israeli
officials for setting up an interim Palestinian state in areas his administration now
"We have also noted to Minister Rice our refusal to any temporary or transitional
solutions, including a state with temporary borders because we do not believe it to be a
realistic choice that can be built upon," said Mahmoud Abbas. "We have also emphasized the
importance of active and continuous mobilization by the various regional and international
parties to put an end to the conflict."
Rice held a late-Sunday dinner meeting near Amman with Jordan's King Abdullah, who
dispatched a Jordanian military helicopter to pick up the Secretary from a landing pad on
the grounds of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.
Abbas: "Raise Rifles Against the Israeli Occupation"
"Raise [your] rifles against the Israeli occupation," Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas declared last week in Ramallah. In a speech commemorating the 42nd
anniversary of the founding of his Fatah party, the PA chief called on Arab factions to
put an end to weeks of infighting and instead fight Israel.
"Shooting at your brother is forbidden. Raising rifles against the occupation is our
legitimate right, but raising guns against each other is forbidden. We should put our
internal fighting aside and raise our rifles only against the Israeli occupation," said
Abbas in a speech in the Muqata compound in Ramallah attended by World Net Daily.
Abbas' call to arms was not reported by most major media outlets featuring articles on
the PA leader's speech. His statements about using rifles against Israel come after the
United States, aided by Ehud Olmert, over the last few weeks provided 7,000 assault rifles
and more than 1 million rounds of ammunition to militias associated with Abbas' Fatah
party, according to senior Fatah militants.
In Thursday's speech, Abbas went on to praise late Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin,
who was assassinated by Israel in March 2004. He also used Quranic verses to claim Jews
are corrupting the world.
"The sons of Israel are mentioned as those who are corrupting humanity on earth," Abbas
said during a portion of his speech in which he criticized recent Israeli anti-terror
raids in northern Samaria.
Abbas' anti-Semitic remarks and his call to arms against the Jewish state were not
quoted in hundreds of English-language articles reporting on Thursday's speech or by most
major Israeli dailies, which featured pieces on their websites about the Fatah
A widely-circulated Associated Press article, titled "Abbas calls for respect at Fatah
rally," states Abbas called for rival factions to respect each other.
The AP quoted Abbas stating, "Shooting at your brother is forbidden," but the article
stops short of quoting the rest of his sentence in which he recommends PA Arabs use their
weapons against Israel.
The AP article was featured on such top websites as the WashingtonPost.com and
CBSNews.com. Articles by other news agencies and local Israeli papers also failed to quote
Abbas' anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks.
WND reported that the recent U.S. shipments of rifles and ammunition were provided to
bolster Fatah against rival Hamas factions, the Fatah militants said. Fatah and Hamas have
engaged in weeks of deadly firefights since Abbas last month called for new elections in a
move widely seen as an attempt to dismantle the Hamas-led PA.
Abu Yousuf, a Fatah militant from Abbas' Force 17 security forces, told WND while some
of the weapons may be used in confrontations against Hamas, the bulk of the American arms
would be utilized to "hit the Zionists." He said if there is a major conflict with Israel,
U.S. weapons provided to Fatah may be shared with other "Palestinian resistance
According to documents revealed Friday, the Bush administration will provide $86.4
million to strengthen security forces loyal to Abbas, including Force 17, which also
serves as de facto police units in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria. Some members of
Force 17 also are openly members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror organization,
Fatah's declared "military wing."
U.S. officials confirmed the financial aid is set to be transferred to Fatah.
The multi-million-dollar grant will be used to "assist the Palestinian Authority
presidency in fulfilling PA commitments under the Road Map (peace plan) to dismantle the
infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza," a U.S.
government document said.
Force 17 members told WND the ammunition and 7,000 assault rifles they say were
delivered the past few weeks reached Fatah security forces in the Gaza Strip and in
Ramallah, north of Jerusalem. It was unclear if the arms were part of the $86 million in
Like other recent confirmed arms transfers from Egypt and the U.S., the latest American
weapons shipments were driven through Israeli checkpoints by convoys protected by the
Israeli Defense Forces, according to sources familiar with the transfers. In Gaza, the
weapons were accepted by Fatah strongman Mahmoud Dahlan, the sources said.
A spokeswoman for the IDF refused to deny the latest purported U.S. weapons shipments.
"This is a matter for the state (of Israel) and the prime minister's office," the IDF
Miri Eisin, a spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, could not immediately
provide confirmation or denial of the American weapons shipment, saying Olmert's visit to
China is "keeping the staff fully busy."
In an interview with WND, Fatah Force 17 security officer Abu Yousuf said some of the
U.S. weapons his group received would be used against Hamas.
"The first place of these U.S. weapons will be to defend the Palestinian national
project, which is reflected by the foundation of the Palestinian Authority. If Hamas or
any other group under the influence of Iran and Syria wants to make a coup de tat against
our institution, these weapons are there to defend the PA," said Abu Yousuf.
"We don't want to go to civil war with Hamas, because this is what both the U.S. and
Israel want. This is our last option. We hope our brothers in Hamas won't oblige us to
find ourselves in confrontation," Abu Yousuf said.
But the Fatah militant said the new American weapons may also be used to target
Israelis. "If Israel will deliver what it promised to Abu Mazen (Abbas), [meaning a]
withdrawal from Palestinian lands, including east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, remove
all the checkpoints in the West Bank, release our prisoners, and find a clear solution for
our refugees, we'll control our forces and the distribution of weapons.
"But if Israel doesn't deliver, and we find ourselves manipulated by Israel, we cannot
guarantee members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Force 17 will not use these weapons
against Israel. Our goal is to change the occupation," said Abu Yousuf. "It's unnatural to
think these American weapons won't be used against the Israelis." Like some other Force 17
members, Abu Yousuf is openly also a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
The Brigades, together with Islamic Jihad, has taken responsibility for every suicide
bombing in Israel over the past two years, including an attack in Tel Aviv in April that
killed American teenager Daniel Wultz and nine Israelis. The Brigades also has carried out
scores of deadly shooting and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians in recent
All Brigades leaders are also members of Fatah. Abbas last June appointed senior Al
Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader Mahmoud Damra as commander of Force 17. Damra, who was
arrested by Israel in November, was on the Jewish state's most-wanted list of
Abu Yousuf said the American weapons shipments may be shared with other terror groups.
He said that during large confrontations with Israel, such as the Jewish state's 2002
anti-terror raid in Jenin, Fatah distributed weapons to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "We don't
look where this piece or that piece of weapon came from when fighting the Israelis."
He also pointed to what he said was Hamas' infiltration of some of Fatah's security
forces as a possible mechanism Hamas can use to obtain Fatah's American-supplied
"Our organizations are infiltrated (by Hamas). In the last elections campaign, our
Fatah party was astonished at how many of our security members voted for Hamas we
thought our own forces would vote 95 percent vote for us, but it was 70 percent for Fatah
and 30 percent for Hamas," Abu Yousuf said.
A senior Fatah security official, speaking Friday to WND on condition his name be
withheld, said Fatah has a "significant problem" of its militia members in Gaza joining
Hamas. Sources close to Hamas said the Fatah militants, including members of Force 17,
worked with Hamas after receiving larger paychecks from the terror group. "When they join
Hamas, they bring along their new weapons," said a Hamas source.
During a WND interview earlier in the week, Hamas spokesman Abu Oubaida told WND his
terror group would obtain any American weapons transferred to Fatah militias or purchased
by Fatah using the incoming $86.4 million in U.S. aid.
"I am sure that like in the past, this $86 million from America will find its way to
the Hamas resistance via the honorable persons in the Fatah security organizations,
including in Force 17. I can confirm 100 percent that this money and purchased weapons
will find its way to Hamas," said Abu Oubaida.
The last confirmed American arms shipment to Fatah took place in May. At first, it was
denied by the U.S. and Israel, but Olmert in June admitted the transfer took place,
telling reporters, "I needed to approve the shipment to help bolster Abbas." The U.S.
weapons were delivered to Gaza and Ramallah by the IDF, according to reports.
Meanwhile, Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of
Hamas' so-called military wing, told WND the U.S. aid and weapons shipments have prompted
an arms race amongst the various Arab terror groups.
The Hamas leader said weapons procured as a result of the U.S. shipment would be used
against Israel. "The more the Americans give Abu Mazen (Abbas) weapons, the more we will
have in the future weapons to use against the Israelis, because it incites the different
organizations to intensify their own supply of weapons," said Abu Abdullah of Hamas'
Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared "resistance" department.
According to PA security sources, the increased drive by Hamas to obtain new weapons
has raised the price of arms in Egypt and Jordan. "An M-16 that sold for 6,000 Jordanian
dinar now is worth 10,000 dinar, because Hamas is trying to get more weapons," the source
Like Hamas spokesman Abu Oubaida, Hamas' Abu Abdullah said U.S. weapons to Fatah would
eventually fall into the hands of Hamas: "These American weapons will be one day the
property of all the Palestinian people and its resistance, including Hamas," Abu Abdullah
said. "The U.S. gives weapons to Fatah during internal Palestinian clashes, but one day
when we go back to carrying out operations together; these [weapons] will be shared."
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