«Jewish Observer»
November 2002
5763 Kislev

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Ariel Sharon's visit to the USA has become the most important event in Israeli political life in October.

That's what high-ranking representatives of premier's suite tell about the Washington talks. The main theme was Iraq.

Members of Israel's delegation have informed about the following details. In particular, Bush assured Sharon that Israel would be notified in advance about the beginning of operation in Iraq. On the eve of the Afghan campaign the White House warned Israel 72 hours prior to its beginning. This time it will be done much earlier. Due to this Israel's anti-aircraft defense system and armed forces will be duly put on the alert.

Besides, at the talks with Condolese Rais Sharon already discussed all main details of coordination between USA and Israel in the course of the coming operation. With this purpose a representative of US military command, previously attached to NATO headquarters, will soon arrive in Tel-Aviv. He will be in charge of sustaining constant communication between TSAKHAL and Pentagon. As well as with the US command in the Gulf zone.

Leaders of both countries developed a mechanism of cooperation between USA and Israel in case the latter decides on a response to Iraqi missile attack. Premier's adviser on relations with foreign mass media Raanan Gisin declared "there are no substantial disagreements" between two leaders on this issue. After him, "White House in no way denies the right of Jewish state to protection of its citizens. We, in our turn, are perfectly aware of US interests. That's why Israel's self-defense can be manifested differently, not necessarily as a retaliatory missile or bomb attack on Iraq". Despite all this, as we already noted last week, Washington will try to undertake all efforts to prevent Israel's participation in war actions against Iraq in any form. For this Pentagon plans to fully neutralize Iraqi strategic forces to exclude any opportunity of a strike at Israel. In this regard Raanan Gisin said, "Washington has learnt from the experience of previous war in Persian Gulf". In his opinion, "the present campaign against Saddam Hussein will be absolutely different. As a result, a probability of an actual threat to Israel is seen today rather insignificant".

Beside Iraqi problems the parties dwelt on a number of issues connected with the situation in the "territories", Israeli-Lebanese border and bilateral relations. According to the mentioned sources, the American side "came out with a request" to Ariel Sharon to undertake more effective humanitarian measures with regards to the Palestinian population. In particular, this concerns lifting a blockade from some settlements in Western bank of the Jordan river allowing a bigger number of Palestinians to work in Israel and directing additional funds (2 billion shekels) to the PA administration. According to the members of Israeli delegation, through this Washington aspires to show to the Arab world that "it is concerned about not only Iraq's problem but about the fate of misfortunate Palestinians as well".

Besides, the White House representatives pronounced their discontent with the growing number of victims among civil population caused by the TSAKHAL operations. The American leadership considers this tendency may create grounds for a new escalation of tension in "the territories", which is utterly undesirable on the eve of the operation in Iraq. It is also known two leaders considered a question of Israel's reaction to possible provocations of Palestinians during the American operation against Saddam Hussein. Sharon promised his interlocutor "to refrain from active pre-emptive actions" in this period. Alongside he informed he couldn't fail to react to big acts of terror on the part of Palestinians or "Hezbollah".

In this connection Raanan Gisin declared, "Washington is interested to preserve, at least, relative tranquility on "the territories" and Israeli-Lebanese border during the Gulf war.

Alongside, according to our secret services, "Hezbollah", other terrorist organizations as well as certain forces in Palestinian administration intend to make use of the war on Iraq to stir up anti-Israeli activity".

In view of a growing "concern" of White House about Palestinians the representatives of Ariel Sharon express serious apprehensions with regard to "post-war" plans of American administration. Judging by the war of 1991, the USA having done away with Saddam in Iraq will come out with a "versatile peaceful initiative to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict". Jerusalem fears it may become an attempt of White House to normalize its relations with the Arab world, which have significantly worsened due to the anti-terrorist campaign and intention to attack Iraq. Such Washington's step will contradict the interests and plans of Israeli leadership to preserve "particular" relations with the USA.

Raanan Gisin assured Bush and Sharon reached almost full understanding on another peaceful initiative by the White House. "Some moments of Bush' plans on the Middle-East settlement are unacceptable for us but this predominantly concerns nuances", - said Premier's adviser. In his words, "... we expect (and get ready for it) that, like in 1991, the American administration, having solved the Iraqi issue, will take to sorting out the Israeli-Arab conflict".

By the way, the information is available that the Prime Minister conditioned Israel's commitment of "passive behaviour" during the war in Iraq with a US post-war peaceful initiative. According to American sources, already this month two high-ranking representatives of US Department of State William Burns and David Satterfield will arrive in the Middle East to get everything ready for a new Washington's peaceful initiative to begin.

After one of closest aides of Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister informed Bush about secret negotiations of the CNC head Efrain Khalevi with the representatives of Palestinian leadership. In his turn, a willing to remain unnamed member of FATH leadership and Palestinian legislative council informed, "Abu-Mazen and his supporters have agreed with Sharon on a phased normalizing the situation on "the territories" and resuming peace talks".

In this connection Mr. Gisin declared that leaders of USA and Israel have the same conviction a breakthrough in solving the Middle East conflict is only possible "with the alternative Palestinian leadership, which our head of government has repeatedly spoken about".

Other representatives of Premier's suite have informed that Washington, in particular CIA, is rather active in this direction. Thus, in their opinion, after Arafat's departure from regional politics US influence on the Palestinians will significantly increase.

"Week news", Israel

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