A Palestinian family reacts after Israeli bulldozers demolished their home in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Feb. 5, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Newly elected Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid (l), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the hard-line national religious party the Jewish Home, during a Feb. 5 reception in Jerusalem marking the opening of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES)
Richard Curtiss at work in his Washington Report office. (STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY)
Then-Vice President Dick Cheney (l) and Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu, out of office at the time and serving as the official Israeli opposition leader, at a March 23, 2008 breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (r) shares candies with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim during a Feb. 11 visit to the rebels’ stronghold in Sultan Kudarat on the island of Mindanao. (KARLOS MANLUPIG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Emad Burnat views his five broken cameras in his documentary of the same name. (PHOTO COURTESY KINO LORBER)
July/August 1995, pgs. 22-24
Issues in the News
Compiled by Shawn L. Twing
FROM THE ISRAELI AND U.S. JEWISH PRESS:
Perry Supports Israeli Military "Edge":
Speaking before a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said he is "personally committed to ensuring that Israel continues to maintain a qualitative edge" militarily compared to its neighbors in the Middle East. Discussing U.S. military policy in the region, according to the Queens [NY] Jewish Week, Perry said that the Gulf Cooperation Council "is not and never will be a NATO," because of "mistrust and suspicion of the nations there toward each other and their unwillingness to work together." He did, however, say the U.S. decision to pre-position military equipment in GCC countries had allowed the United States to respond to Iraq's military maneuvers near Kuwait in the fall of 1994 in three days instead of the six months it took to get troops on the ground and ready to fight in 1990.
Israeli Soldier Opens Fire In Church:
On May 22, Israeli soldier Koren Haniel opened fire in a Christian church courtyard in Jaffa before barricading himself inside the church until security forces arrived and took him into custody. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Haniel entered the church courtyard and "began firing wildly from his M-16 assault rifle and throwing concussion grenades," forcing a nun and other women in the church to flee.
IAF Magazine Distributes Osiraq Simulator:
Israeli Air Force Magazine recently released a computer disk containing information, graphics, and video clips of the June 1981 Israeli attack on Iraq's Osiraq nuclear reactor. According to the Queens Jewish Week, the disk allows computer users to re-enact the Israeli attack and gain insight into the planning while the pilot narrates. Plans for future computer simulations include the 1985 Israeli raid against a PLO headquarters in Tunis, and Apache helicopter attacks in Lebanon. Until recently, information surrounding these operations, especially the Osiraq bombing, was censored by the Israeli government.
Israeli Minister Attacked By "Salute to Israel" Parade Sponsor:
Israeli Minister of Culture Shulamit Aloni charged that she was punched in the stomach by pro-Israel activist Jacques Avital at a pre-"Salute to Israel" parade breakfast on May 21 in the New York Hilton Hotel. After hecklers in the audience refused to give Aloni, a member of Israel's dovish Meretz party, a chance to speak as scheduled, Avital suddenly jumped on stage and allegedly punched the culture minister while apparently seeking to seize the microphone. Although Avital denied that he had struck Aloni, she filed assault charges after the incident. The Queens Jewish Week said what it called the first physical attack on an Israeli official by an American Jew "represents an escalation of a battle [about the peace process] that until now had been primarily a war of words."
Germany May Give Israel Aid to Palestinians:
The German government is considering shifting its present aid to Israel, approximately $100 million per year, to the Palestinian National Authority, a German official told the Jerusalem Post. Senior German officials have recommended to Chancellor Helmut Kohl that the aid should be transferred to the Palestinians because it is set aside for developmental assistance and Israel no longer is a developing country.
U.S. Won't Give Jordan Any "Big Ticket" Items for Its Defense:
In an interview with an unnamed senior Pentagon official, the Jerusalem Post announced on May 20 that the United States will not give Jordan any heavy weapons to help modernize its armed forces, but will supply small amounts of surplus items and training ammunition. The official is quoted as saying that "Jordan will not be receiving any big-ticket items," apparently in compliance with a request by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Greenpeace Stops Israeli Dumping:
Greenpeace activists in Zodiac rubber boats surrounded the Israeli ship Aribel and prevented it from dumping 350 tons of toxic waste from a Haifa chemical plant into a Mediterranean dumping area 36 kilometers from the port of Haifa on May 16. Danny Rabinowitz, a Greenpeace volunteer and anthropologist at Hebrew University, told the Jerusalem Post that more than 50,000 tons of toxic waste are dumped into the Mediterranean every year by Haifa Chemicals. The Israeli government's response was given by Environment Minister Yossi Sarid, who claimed that "the situation in Haifa Bay is like paradise compared with other places in the region."
Jews in Syria Want to Stay:
A senior source in the Israeli prime minister's office told the Knesset's Aliya and Absorption Committee that the 250 Jews who remain in Syria do not want to leave because "they believe peace is imminent and hope to be able to exploit the situation for business purposes," according to the Jerusalem Post. The joint U.S.-Israeli operation to "rescue" the Jewish community in Syria resulted in the emigration of 4,500 Jews from Syria. Of these, 1,900 now live in Israel while 2,500 live in the United States, primarily in New York and New Jersey.
FROM THE MIDDLE EASTERN PRESS
Israel Trains PLO Police in Riot Control Techniques:
A group of 25 Gaza police officers underwent riot control training at Israel's national police training center in Shafaram, Israel on May 18, according to the Khaleej Times. The newspaper said the training program was to be kept secret to prevent opposition in Gaza, but was leaked to the press by Israeli sources just before it occurred. Palestinian deputy police chief Gen. Mohamad Asfur denied the program involved riot training and said, "It's a study day to improve communications and to get to know each other better."
Iraqi Kurds Postpone Elections:
Iraqi Kurds meeting May 27 in Daraban, Iraq postponed elections in Kurdish northern Iraq until June 4, 1996, one year after their planned date. In a unanimous vote, representatives of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) extended the deadline for elections in order to explore ways to resolve their differences before the Kurdish democratic experiment collapses. Since May 1994, fighting between the KDP and PUK has cost 2,000 lives.
Hariri Promises "United and Cohesive" Government:
Two days after resigning from the post, Rafiq Hariri accepted reappointment as Lebanon's prime minister and promised to continue his $18 billion reconstruction plan for Lebanon. Hariri resigned on May 19. Two days later, he was reappointed by Lebanese President Elias Hrawi, who requested him to form a new cabinet. Mr. Hariri, a 50-year old businessman, has, according to the Khaleej Times, an estimated $5 billion fortune, most of it earned as a contractor in Saudi Arabia.
Israeli Comptroller Documents "Unwarranted" Arrests:
In a comprehensive study of 64,000 arrests made by Israeli police in 1992-3, Israeli Comptroller Miriam Ben-Porat found that 40 percent were "illegal, unjustified or downright pointless." Ben-Porat also criticized the Religious Affairs Ministry for failing "in its role. . .as a trustee for public funds," and the Lands Administration for selling only 8 percent of the land it had earmarked for immediate construction during 1992-3. Economics Minister Shimon Shetreet responded to Ben-Porat's criticisms by saying "there are many fewer grave items in this report than in previous reports."
Vatican Criticizes Israeli Society:
In an interview with Corriere Della Sera, Vatican representative Andrea de Montezemolo said that "Israelis cannot continue to ask the Church to condemn anti-Semitism and then do nothing against the local anti-Christian sentiment." An Israeli government official was quoted in the Arab News of Jeddah as saying that Israel was "extremely surprised" by Montezemolo's comments, made in reference to Christian-Jewish tensions that included the May 22 shooting by an Israeli soldier in a Jaffa church compound.
Jordanian Police Disperse Anti-Israel Demonstration:
Jordanian authorities dispersed a group of marchers protesting the third time the government has prevented the convening of an Islamist-sponsored conference against normalizing relations with Israel. Jordanian authorities cancelled the conference five hours before it was scheduled to begin. Some 500 activists arrived for the event, many of whom marched in the subsequent protest. The conference organizers had planned to propose measures to ban political, cultural, and economic links with Israel.
USAID Closes Pakistan Office:
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) officially closed its office in Islamabad, Pakistan, and handed it over to the Pakistani Economic Affairs Division on May 28. The U.S. has spent a total of $8 billion since 1952 on the aid program in Pakistan, which employed 1,615 people, of whom 215 were Americans, Pakistan AID director John Blackton told the Khaleej Times.
Nuclear Program 'Intact':
Despite U.S. pressure on Pakistan's government to abandon the nuclear weapons program it began after India detonated a nuclear weapon in 1976, Pakistan's nuclear program "is going on as it was," senior scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan told Agence France Press. Khan said "all Pakistani leaders have been staunchly committed to the program."
The Arabian Peninsula
Qatar Looking for Investors:
Qatar's Energy and Industry Minister Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah conducted a May 30 seminar in London to help raise foreign capital to develop the largest gas deposit in the world in its North field. Tiny Qatar's total gas reserves are exceeded only by those of Russia and Iran.
Saudi Arabia Repays Loan:
Saudi Arabia made the final $900 million repayment on the $4.5 billion loan it took to help pay for the 1991 Gulf war, on May 22. Repayment of its Gulf war loan and a rise of $1 to $2 per barrel in world oil prices lifted a heavy burden from the Saudi government and likely will make up a deficit of $4 billion in last year's $40 billion budget. A Western banker interviewed by the Saudi Gazette claimed that if this trend continues, Saudi Arabia could conceivably run a budget surplus this year.
Aramco to Develop New Oil Field:
Saudi Aramco has announced that it will invest $2.5 billion to develop an enormous oil field in the Empty Quarter, the company's biggest oil field project in four years. The Shaybah oil field is projected to produce 500,000 barrels per day when it is in full production, according to the Middle East Economic Survey, and is part of Aramco's program to diversify its crude oil output.
Arab League Reaffirms Emirates' Claim to Gulf Islands:
The Arab League reaffirmed on May 22 its support for the restoration of UAE sovereignty over the Iranian-occupied islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs. Arab League Secretary-General Dr. Esmat Abdel-Meguid praised UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan for his handling of the crisis and criticized Iran for not returning the islands to the Emirates. On display at League headquarters in Cairo is documentation of the UAE's case, which it has taken to the International Court of Justice.
Yemen Yields Suspected Terrorist:
The Yemeni government turned over Johannes Weinrich, a German national, to German authorities on June 4 for his alleged involvement in international terrorism and support of the notorious international terrorist "Carlos the Jackal." Weinrich was wanted in connection with the 1983 bombing of a Berlin cultural center where 22 people were wounded.
Yemen and Oman Finalize Border:
Yemen and Oman completed demarcating their common 3,000-kilometer border on June 2. Under the agreement, the border will extend along a straight line, eliminating the zigzags that existed before the settlement.
Islamists Clash in Algeria:
Heavy fighting between Islamist rebels, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS) around a mosque at Ben-Yadjis, 30 kilometers southeast of Jijel, on May 10 claimed dozens of lives. The attacks began just as AIS leader Madani Mezrag was preparing to begin the Eid Al-Adha feast with prayers at Ben-Yadjis. Other skirmishes were reported in Taher, Chehna, and Larbaa.
President's Assassin Sentenced to Death:
The Algiers criminal court sentenced Lembarek Boumaarafi, the convicted assassin of Algerian President Mohamed Boudiaf, to death on June 3. The 29-year-old army lieutenant was found guilty of Boudiaf's murder and for plotting to overthrow the Algerian government as a result of his 1992 attack. The motives for Boumaarafi's attack remain a mystery.
Egyptian Government Curbs Press:
A bill passed by the Egyptian parliament to punish journalists who spread libel and misinformation broadens the scope of Egypt's existing libel law in effect since 1937. A parliament official told Reuters that the bill prescribes sentences of at least five years in jail and maximum fines of 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,900) for "the publication of rumors, false or opposing information and aggravating publications that affect the status quo or cause undue panic or harm any public office or the country's economy." Opponents described the bill as an attempt to circumscribe free speech. Al-Wafd newspaper called it "The Assassination of Freedom of the Press."
Iran Distances Itself From Rushdie Death Sentence:
Although it will not rescind the death sentence issued by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 against author Salman Rushdie for his controversial book The Satanic Verses, the Iranian government is seeking to normalize relations with Britain and the European Union by encouraging Muslims to abide by the rules of the individual countries in which they reside. In an interview with the London Sunday Telegraph, a senior Iranian official said that "nobody can touch the theoretical aspect of the fatwa [Islamic legal decree] unless he wants to commit suicide," but "the Iranian government is not going to send anyone to assassinate Salman Rushdie." Since Khomeini issued the fatwa, Rushdie has been in hiding and living under 24-hour police protection.
"Novel Prospects" for Iran-Iraq:
After members of an 11-man delegation from Iran met with counterparts in Iraq, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati's top adviser praised the "novel prospects" for future relations between the two countries. After the May visit, comments coming from Tehran have been very optimistic about the future of Iran-Iraq relations, but several issues remain unresolved. Despite the residual tensions, an editorial in the English-language daily Iran News stated that the U.S. government's policy of "dual containment of Iran and Iraq...has left the two countries with little choice but to opt for bettering relations."