Newsletter : 4fax0426.txt
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Israel's Memorial Day Leads to Independence Day
Monday is Israel's Memorial Day. The main state ceremony will take place at the Western
Wall in Jerusalem. At 11 a.m., a two-minute siren will sound, marking the start of
memorial services in military cemeteries around the country. The central ceremony will be
held in Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl. At 1 p.m. a state ceremony will be held for victims of
terror attacks - a relatively new feature of official Memorial Day commemorations. And at
8 p.m. torches will be lit at Mt. Herzl, marking the conclusion of Memorial Day and the
beginning of Israel's 56th Independence Day.
Israel's Deputy PM: 'No Imminent Plans to Kill Arafat'
By Ross Dunn & Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel's deputy premier, Ehud Olmert, says there are no imminent plans to assassinate
Yasir Arafat, despite Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's latest threats against the Palestinian
chieftain. Sharon's comments have drawn a sharp reaction from the U.S. administration,
which says Israel must not harm the Palestinian leader.
Olmert insists Sharon is not about to give the order to have Arafat killed. The deputy
premier said Sharon was simply setting out a principle, that Arafat, who Israel blames for
orchestrating violent attacks, has no guarantees of immunity.
Olmert says that the intention is to put fear into the Palestinian leader, to
discourage him from supporting more terrorism. He was reacting to the storm of controversy
following Sharon's comments on Friday that he had told President Bush, during their summit
earlier this month, that Israel is no longer bound to a commitment not to harm Arafat.
In response, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington strictly opposes any
threat to Arafat and that Bush had made this clear in his talks with Sharon at the White
Arafat told supporters at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on
Saturday that he was not afraid of Sharon's threats and was ready, as he put it, to
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he firmly believes Arafat should be removed
from the political scene. But Israel's justice minister, Tommy Lapid, countered that, in
fact, no decision has been made by Israel to kill Arafat.
Lapid said it had been agreed months ago by government ministers that such a decision
would have to go before the inner security cabinet and that no meeting to discuss the
matter had ever been convened.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has called on the international community to
protect Arafat. In a statement carried Saturday by the Palestinian news agency Wafa,
Qureia asked the United Nations Security Council and the international community to come
together to, "Stop Ariel Sharon from harming President Arafat." The statement warned, "Any
such act of folly can only take the region into the abyss and bring about the definitive
collapse of peace efforts."
Israel accuses Arafat of supporting Palestinian militants, who have killed more than
900 Israelis during three and a half years of fighting. In September, Israel's cabinet
decided Arafat should be "removed" but did not specify whether that meant he should be
expelled or assassinated. Last month, Israel's army chief, Moshe Yaalon suggested Arafat
could be targeted.
Israel Seeks US Nod for El Al Anti-Missile System
Israel will seek U.S. approval to let national carrier El Al Israel Airlines land
planes at U.S. airports equipped with a new anti-missile defense system, the
Transportation Ministry said on Sunday.
Transportation Minister Avigdor Lieberman is currently in the United States, where he
is slated to discuss the issue with U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta on Monday,
a spokesman for Lieberman said. Lieberman "will speak with (Mineta) about Flight Guard,"
the spokesman said. "That's why he is there." The spokesman declined to elaborate.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority refuses to allow civilian planes to be equipped
with the flare-based system due to the safety risks. Last Thursday, the ministry said
Israel was fitting El Al aircraft with an anti-missile system called Flight Guard amid
growing airline fears of global terrorism. El Al's first missile-protected plane should
take off in June and it has plans to install Flight Guard on all passenger planes.
Ha'aretz on Sunday said the U.S. would not normally permit planes with foreign defense
systems to land at its airports.
Israel stepped up efforts to adapt military anti-missile systems for its civilian aircraft
after an Israeli charter came under attack from shoulder-held missiles in Kenya in 2002.
The missiles, fired by al-Qaeda-linked attackers, missed.
The Flight Guard system automatically releases diversionary flares if an on-board
sensor detects a heat-seeking missile. The ministry said an El Al passenger jet was being
fitted with Flight Guard, which automatically releases diversionary flares if a
heat-seeking missile is detected by an on-board sensor.
El Al is already regarded as the world's most security-conscious airline due to its
stringent anti-hijacking precautions -- such as armed guards on all flights and very close
pre-flight checks on passenger lists.
Aviation industry analysts said fitting military equipment to civilian planes would
pose cost problems for many airlines, since such systems must be constantly serviced and
make planes less aerodynamic -- which harms fuel consumption. "There are a lot of
expectations that cannot be met," said Goldman Sachs aerospace analyst Sash Tusa,
referring to the feasibility of airlines embracing such technology.
Analysts said the likelihood of a shoulder-fired missile actually downing a civilian
aircraft was remote, noting such aircraft are built to withstand the loss of an
Israel to Extend Press Cards of PA Journalists
In accordance to a Supreme Court decision, the Government Press Office will extend the
validity of press cards issued to PA residents who are members of the working press
providing they pass a security check.
The Reuters news agency filed a petition to the High Court along with the al-Jazeera
satellite news agency after the GPO refused to renew cards to members of their staff.
The High Court ruled a blanket policy of refusal to renew press credentials was
discriminatory and therefore unacceptable. The court stated that each individual must pass
the required security clearance and then issued a card.
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