Newsletter : 4fax0402.txt
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Is This an April Fool's Story?
EU: PA did not use Funds for Terror
A European Union report based on an investigation into donor nation funds concluded the
PA did not use the monies to fund terrorism. The investigation tracked funds donated to
the PA by the EU communities from the end of 2000 through 2002. EU officials report
investigators spoke with PA officials as well as reviewing IDF intelligence documents.
PA General Pocketed Pay of 7,000 Fictitious Soldiers
An examination of the payrolls of the Palestinian Authority's National Security force,
considered the largest of the Palestinian security forces, commanded by Gen. Haj Ismail
Jabber, has revealed that salaries for 7,000 fictitious troopers were being paid into his
pocket every month.
The salaries for police at the lower ranks range from $300-400 a month, which means
that some $2 million a month from PA funds was being paid to the general. For the past
eight months donor countries have been demanding the PA stop the practice of handing over
the cash payrolls of the security services to the commanders of each of the separate
forces, for them to hand out as pay to their subordinates.
The donor countries, including the European Union and other countries have been
demanding PA Finance Minister Salam Fayyad cease the practice, and indeed, during the
government of Mahmoud Abbas, troops from parts of the Preventive Security force, the
police and civil defense units were paid through direct payments into their bank accounts.
According to Abbas, some 22 percent of the Palestinian police were paid that way during
But over the same period Jabber, backed by Yasir Arafat, refused to provide a list of
his troops, which led to clashes with Fayyad, including attacks on the PA's treasury
offices in Gaza. Stepped-up pressure on Fayyad by donor countries to come up with the full
payroll lists, combined with a PA budget deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars
that makes the PA desperate for the donations, led a few days ago to the transfer to the
PA treasury of a diskette with the full list of names of people receiving salaries from
Jabber. And there, it turned out that while Jabber was claiming salaries for 37,000
people, there were only 30,000 on the list.
Sharon Warns Israel Could Move Against Arafat
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned that Israel could move against Yasir Arafat, shortly
after the Palestinians said the Jewish state's planned pullout from Gaza could compromise
any peace deal. Sharon was quoted as making the threat in a series of media interviews, to
be broadcast at a later date, ahead of the upcoming Jewish Passover holiday.
"It's not certain that Arafat can maintain his place forever," he was quoted as saying
by public television in a series of media interviews. Sharon issued the warning while
trying to promote his plan to unilaterally "disengage" from the Palestinians, which
notably includes evacuating most of the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and a
controversial separation barrier with the West Bank.
Apart from his battle to win Washington's backing for the project, Sharon faces
opposition from right-wing members of his coalition cabinet, including members of his own
right-wing Likud party. In a bid to steamroll the project through, Sharon decided earlier
this week to allow the entire Likud party membership to vote on the project, hoping a
victory in a referendum would blunt opposition from his senior colleagues.
Arafat has been confined by the Israeli military to his battered headquarters in the
West Bank town of Ramallah since December 2001. The aging Palestinian leader is authorized
to leave the occupied territories, but Israel says there is no guarantee he will be
allowed to return. The Israeli security cabinet approved in principle in September to
"remove" Arafat from Ramallah, with one minister even suggesting that assassination was an
Sharon's statement came hours after Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei met with
three senior U.S. diplomats -- Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, Deputy National
Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and National Security Council Middle East affairs head
Elliot Abrams -- in the West Bank town of Jericho ahead of their meeting with Sharon.
Qorei told reporters he sought guarantees from the Americans that Sharon's plan to
evacuate most of Gaza Strip would not stymie attempts for a comprehensive agreement to end
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also warned the Americans that unilateral moves would
be counterproductive. "Unilateralism is not the solution. Unilateralism brings no
commitment from the Palestinian side. We are not against the withdrawal from Gaza but as a
step towards implementation of the roadmap," he added, in reference to the U.S.-backed
peace project which has made little progress since it was mutually endorsed last June.
Sharon has said he has no option but to implement unilateral measures in the absence of
progress in the bilateral peace process with the Palestinians. There was no comment from
the U.S. envoys as they left Jericho, and headed for their meeting with Sharon in
Jerusalem. Sharon's office later said they discussed the talks he is due to hold with
President George W. Bush in the White House on April 14. The premier has said he will only
embark on the disengagement plan if he has the support of the United States.
In return for withdrawing from Gaza and a handful of other West Bank settlements,
Sharon is understood to want U.S. guarantees, including an assurance that Israel will not
have to retreat to the Green Line that separates the Jewish state from the West Bank.
Seven-Meter Layer of Natural Gas Found in Dead Sea
A seven-meter layer of natural gas has been found in the Dead Sea, Ginko Oil
Exploration Ltd. announced on Thursday. The gas was found while the company was drilling
for oil and gas in an area adjacent to Kibbutz Ein Gedi.
Ginko Oil Exploration Ltd. said that since the discovery of the natural gas,
negotiations have been held with local and foreign companies on developing the gas field.
The natural gas discovered is composed of methane, ethane, propane, and butane. These
types of gases also usually comprise cooking gas. Ginko Oil Exploration Ltd. is a private
company controlled by businessman Rami Karmin.
Palestinians Passionate About Jesus Film
Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of the Christ" is all the rage among
Palestinians, curious about complaints by Jews that it is anti-Semitic. Meanwhile, local
distributors in Israel are shunning the film, which Jewish groups say demonizes Jews by
depicting them as pressuring the Romans into crucifying Jesus. The film has banked more
than $315 million since its release in February.
Only one percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are Christians while
the other 99% are Muslims, who revere Jesus as a prophet but do not believe he was
crucified. The portrayal of a prophet in a film is forbidden under Islam.
"People are calling me from everywhere in the West Bank -from Bethlehem, Hebron, Ram
Allah and Nablus- to ask for copies of the movie," said the owner of a Gaza city video
shop, which sells pirated copies of new release movies.
In Israel, the local agent for the film's international distributor Icon Entertainment
said it passed on its option to show "The Passion of the Christ," but declined to specify
its reasons other than to say the movie was "sensitive."
Industry insiders in Israel say local distributors are not interested in the film because
of allegations it is anti-Semitic and for expected lukewarm audience response.
Jewish groups and some Roman Catholic clerics have expressed concern the film could
foment anti-Jewish attacks. Palestinian chieftain Yasir Arafat watched a preview of the
film at his West Bank headquarters earlier this month. Aides said he found the film
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