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>Israel Faxx
>JN Oct. 13, 1997. Vol. 5, No 186

Israel Committee Investigates Bungled Assassination Attempt

By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel-Aviv)

The Israeli committee investigating Israel's bungled assassination attempt in Jordan began its work Sunday. A Jordanian official says his country has stopped intelligence cooperation with Israel over the affair. The committee appointed by Israel's Cabinet began its work in secret at a military installation. An Israeli government spokesperson said the committee would start taking testimony from witnesses.

The committee sets its own guidelines. It will decide whether it will look into only the failure of the operation or also into the role of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in approving the attack.

The target of the attack two-weeks ago was the political secretary of Hamas, the extremist group behind two recent suicide bombing attacks in Jerusalem. Netanyahu appealed for public support Sunday.

Speaking in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, "We must remember that unity is the basic asset of our existence. We must remain united in the struggle against terrorism."

The bungled mission to kill a Hamas leader led instead to Jordan's demanding and receiving the release from an Israeli prison of the founder of the Hamas extremists, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. He returned triumphantly to Gaza last Monday. Twenty-two other Palestinian prisoners were also released but there's been no huge outcry in Israel. Polls show most people here support Israel's going after leaders of terrorist groups, even in friendly countries. But many here are concerned about the damage the affair has caused to Israel's relations with Jordan, one of only two Arab countries at peace with Israel.

Jordan has cut off security cooperation with Israel, according to a senior Jordanian official. He said Jordan will not trade information with Israel until the Israelis involved in the bungled assassination mission are dismissed.

Asked if this includes the head of the Mossad secret service and Netanyahu, the Jordanian official said, "No comment."

Reports in Israel say Jordan expelled all the agents in the Mossad mission in Jordan. Israel and Jordan have traded intelligence for decades about their common enemy -- extremist Palestinian groups. They threaten the moderate regime of Jordan's King Hussein as much as they threaten Israel.
Despite the tough Jordanian position, cooperation continues on the ground. Israel chased down and killed an infiltrator from Jordan Friday. He was armed with a knife. The Israelis say information from Jordan led them to the infiltrator. But the more important intelligence cooperation between Israel and Jordan on higher levels -- about plans and operations of extremist groups -- appears to be one of the main casualties of the bungled Israeli mission in Jordan.

Russia Says It Foiled Iranian Attempt to Buy Missile Technology

By IINS News Service

Moscow -- Russia's security services said that Iran tried to obtain missile technology from Russian companies, while insisting that all such attempts have been thwarted, the Associated Press reported.

Israel's TV Channel Two said it had obtained evidence that the Russian government was helping Iran develop long-range missiles that could reach Israel, although Russia repeatedly denied the report. Russia acknowledged for the first time that Iran had tried to get missile technology, mentioning an attempt earlier this year to have the Russian company NPO Trud build components for missile engines, disguised as equipment for gas compressor stations, AP said, citing a statement by a Federal Security Service spokesman.

Israel and the US have accused Iran of sponsoring international terrorism and of attempting to construct long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

50 Years of Aliyah to Israel

In light of the collapse of the central planning committee for Israel's jubilee celebrations, at least two government ministries are planning their own festivities. The Ministry of Absorption is planning dozens of different events featuring the subject of immigration to Israel.

The Ministry is planning a central event in a city with an immigrant population of at least 25%, an international seminar on the topic of aliyah, a song festival for children of olim, exhibitions, and more. The Education Ministry is also planning alternative events of its own to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the State.

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