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Libya And Syria Also Looking To Mass-Destroy


The United States has determined that Libya and Syria have accelerated their weapons of mass destruction programs. Middle East Newsline, quoting U.S. officials, reports that Libya and Syria are developing biological weapons, amassing chemical weapons, and are seeking to procure missiles to deliver WMD warheads. U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton told a conference on global terrorism in Washington that Libya and Syria are second-tier countries of concern, and that topping the list of countries being monitored by the U.S. are Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

Bush to Mubarak: Peace Plan is Not Ready

By VOA News

President Bush has told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that a U.S. Middle East peace plan is not yet ready to be finalized, but that he is committed to moving it forward "at the soonest possible moment." White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday that the two leaders discussed the "roadmap" by telephone.

Fleischer said the United States has many ideas that it wants to share at Friday's Washington meeting of senior officials from Russia, the European Union, United Nations and the United States. The session is to focus on ways to keep the Middle East peace process moving forward.

European and Arab leaders have been urging Washington to release a final draft of the plan, which calls for a permanent Palestinian state by 2005 and a complete halt to construction in the Jewish settlements, at Friday's meeting. But, U.S. officials say the plan will not be released until after Israel's January elections. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat charged that the decision shows Washington is trying to help Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the elections.

Meanwhile, in continuing violence in the occupied territories, Palestinian security sources say an 11-year-old Palestinian girl was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers Thursday. Palestinians say the girl was looking out a window of her home in the town of Rafah, when the soldiers at the nearby border post opened fire.

Netanyahu Urges Change in Palestinian Leadership

By Sabina Castelfranco (VOA-Rome)

Israeli Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said talks on Palestinian reform were pointless while Yasir Arafat continues to be the leader of the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu was speaking in Rome, the first stop of a four-capital European tour that will also take him to London, Paris and Moscow.

The foreign minister is on a mission to convince European leaders that the Palestinians need a change in leadership. Speaking in Rome, he lashed out against Arafat saying he is no less a terrorist than bin Laden. Following a meeting with his Italian counterpart, Netanyahu said there is "no difference between Arafat and bin Laden and other terrorist leaders except one: that Arafat is a bin Laden with good public relations, especially in Europe."

Netanyahu, who is on his first tour of Europe as foreign minister, said that Washington's view is that anyone involved in terror is not a legitimate partner for peace. He said this awareness is starting to take hold in certain parts of Europe, including Italy. Arafat has visited Rome on a number of occasions to meet Italian politicians and Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. In the past he has come to drum up economic support for the Palestinian people.

Netanyahu will be in London on Friday where he is to meet Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Britain has invited Palestinian leaders to London in January for a conference with Middle East mediators to discuss progress on reform. Netanyahu said he is interested in learning whether Britain plans to discuss changes to the Palestinian economy and education system. "This would be a welcome thing," he added, but not under Arafat's leadership.

The Israeli foreign minister compared the Palestinian areas to Iraq, saying both needed a regime change, economic reconstruction and the creation of a freely elected leadership. Israel blames Arafat for Palestinian militant attacks and refuses to negotiate with him.

Ex-Air Force Chief: If Attacked By Iraq, We Must Strike Back


Former Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. (res.) Eitan Ben-Eliyahu, speaking with Arutz-7, was asked when he thought the American war with Iraq would start. "In a way," he responded, " it began two months ago. Flights over Iraq, attacks 2-3 times a week, the amassing of forces - this all means that a war of attrition has already begun... The real war will begin with an extended air campaign against [strategic targets], the Presidential Guard, etc. But since the main American objectives are to clean out all weapons of mass destruction and to topple Saddam, there will also have to be an entry of ground forces into Baghdad... This is of course far more complex, and could last longer... "

Asked if a U.S. victory is guaranteed, Ben-Eliyahu said, "Militarily, there is no doubt that yes. But the objective is not merely to 'win,' but to get rid of the weapons, and clear out supporters of the current regime. These are not purely military goals. The Americans will accomplish these as well, but it's hard to know how long it will take or what complications will arise, etc." He said that the U.S. had greatly improved its military capabilities in the past decade, "and Israel has as well, both in home-front protection and in other areas, in the event that we will have to enter the fighting."

Asked whether he feels Israel should attack Iraq, he said, "In general, it would be better to let the U.S. do the work; they can do it better, and they have much more far-reaching goals than we can even dream of. But each case must be judged on its own. If we are not attacked, or if Iraq tries to attack but is foiled, there is no need for us to intervene... If Iraq sends over one symbolic missile, and let's say it misses us altogether, I think that would present a dilemma - but my opinion is that we should respond, even more than symbolically.

"Of course, if we are attacked in a significant way, then there is no doubt that we must offer a military response... It could be that we will have to make these calculations two or three times a day... What is certain is that we have to make all the preparations, both on the home front and in the army, for the possibility that we will take part in this war. This is our national and military responsibility, and I would say that each and every citizen has the responsibility to plan as if we will get to that situation."

Israel's First Astronaut Wants to Represent the Jewish People


Israel Air Force Colonel Ilan Ramon, on assignment to the NASA Space Agency, will soon become Israel's first man in space. Ramon is scheduled to blast off in January.

Although not an observant Jew, Ramon requested that NASA provide him with kosher food for his space mission, explaining that he feels he is an emissary of the Jewish people and as such, has decided to go kosher for the mission. Ramon has also made inquires as to observing the Sabbath in space while orbiting the earth every 90 minutes.

He has asked local Florida rabbis when he should commemorate the weekly day of rest, in light of the fact that he will see the sun "rise and set" The London Sunday Telegraph quoted him as saying, "I feel I am representing all Jews and all Israelis."

One of the Torah scholars consulted on the issue, Rabbi Levy Yitzchak Halperin, has ruled that Ramon is exempt from the Sabbath prohibitions, as he will not be experiencing Earth time.

Ramon, of Tel Aviv, is married and has four children. From 1994 until his selection for the NASA mission, he was head of the Department of Operational Requirement for Weapon Development and Acquisition of the Israeli Air Force.

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