Israel Resource Review 5th October, 2001


Al Aqsa mosque official Sheikh Khalil Al Alami:
There is a New Generation That is Willing to Fight America

This week Palestine Report Online interviews Sheikh Khalil Al Alami, Palestine Authority Islamic official at Al Aqsa Mosque, on Islam and the recent attacks on the United States.

PR: What is the Islamic position on the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York?

Alami: There is an important point that should be made in answering this question. Anyone who ever read about Islam would know of the forgiveness preached in Islam and the greatness of the religion. It is a religion that preaches tolerance and humanity.

When talking about what happened in the United States, one question that poses itself is: what pushed these people to do what they did? What were their motives? Why did they feel they had to do this? No matter who did it - even if the fingers are pointed at Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden - there is one thing that is important here. Islam has a comprehensive view of things. Its outlook is not limited to an organization, a party or group. Islam is greater than that and is not seen from one narrow perspective. Muslims always try to look farther than that because our religion is much larger than any group or person.

What is important to say here is that, as Muslims, we are not against the American people as a people or nation. But we oppose their policies of arrogance, of dominance and of double standards. Why is our Orient always being pulled into these things? America has a targeted enemy so it can oppress the peoples of this "enemy" and sap their resources. It is as if it is part of some strategy to always have an enemy that must be fought, and through this, achieve goals.

The dangerous thing now is that our Islamic Orient is the goal of these campaigns. As proof, let me say this. When the president of the most powerful country in the world says that this is a "crusade," this is no mistake. He did not just say it by mistake and then retreat from it. They want to establish a clash of civilizations. This is their obvious way of continuing to practice oppression, injustice and subjugation.

Now, as Muslims, we are to act according to what Islam dictates to us - that is, you may assault whoever assaults you. But for them to come to the Orient of Islam, oppress and subjugate us, while we are to sit doing nothing? We cannot just stand there and watch. These [American actions] are not only a response to what happened on September 11; there were plans to this effect before and after.

As for the people who carried out the attacks - they were not madmen. We read about their lives in the press. Most were from the Gulf and were well-off. They didn't have any social or personal complexes that one might say they were reacting to. On the contrary, now we can say that there is a new generation that is willing to fight America and this is something that America cannot stop.

PR: Following the September 11 attacks, strong anti-Muslim and anti- Arab sentiments have developed in the West. How can Muslims counter this?

Alami: What is required from our Muslim and Arab world - and I do not differentiate between the two - is to clarify what Islam's true approaches are, what are its teachings. What we need to get across to the world is that as Muslims, we have a unique way of thinking, we have innovation and individualism. Islam has left its mark.

But the Islamic world directs its media efforts at its own people, as if it needs to convince them. The media mechanism in the Arab and Muslim world has been useless in getting the message to the West that this religion is one of enlightenment, innovation, uniqueness and all other qualities that make it great. This has not been received by the Western world in any way.

The second step is that the scholars of the umma [Islam's followers] must meet. They must elevate the status of Islam through a consensus between them. This needs to be done. I hope to God this will happen. Because - let me say this as a Muslim - nowadays, we need to defend ourselves against being called terrorists and only then can one speak of Islam. These scholars must convey to the Western mind the entire and overall principles of Islam.

But the world will never return to what it was before September 11. A new world order is in formation. Now Europe and the so-called coalition against terrorism is working towards getting America focused on one enemy - not necessarily the Afghans - and becoming a hostile force against Islam.

How can the umma work together as one and speak in one voice in this regard? America always speaks as if from a pedestal so the Muslims' voice must be strong and united to get the message across that we are a religion of tolerance. The best example of this is the Palestinians. Here in Jerusalem exist the largest group of churches in the world. And they have existed here for hundreds of years in peace.

PR: In light of the current threats to strike the Muslims of Afghanistan, is it permissible for other Muslim countries to take part in this coalition?

Alami: No, not in any case. America claims that it was attacked by a group of Muslims, so America can decide how to respond to this. However according to Islamic law, Al Shariya, no Muslim can be part of or support this because in Islam, Muslim brothers must bond together. If America wants to respond, it can respond on its own.

PR: If the United States' claims that Osama bin Laden and the Qaida network are responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington proves true, would you say that bin Laden diverted from true Islam to serve his purposes?

Alami: I always say that I do not view Islam through Osama bin Laden or anyone else. I do not want to portray him as some kind of hero. Islam is bigger than Osama bin Laden and any organization. I do not believe in deifying anyone. So I will not portray bin Laden as a hero, nor will I interpret Islam through him. -Published 3/10/01 (c)Palestine Report

Published at on October 3, 2001

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Russia Expects Mild U.S. ReactionTo Iran Deal
Steve Rodan
Bureau Chief, Middle East News Line

MOSCOW [MENL] -- Russia expects a mild U.S. response to what could be a $1.5 billion arms deal between Moscow and Iran.

Russian officials and analysts said the Bush administration does not want to divert attention away from Washington's efforts to form a coalition against terrorism. Moscow has supplied intelligence and other aid for the U.S.-led campaign against Saudi billionaire Osama Bin Laden.

Iran, the analysts said, has quietly turned into a normal state for the United States despite Teheran's support of such Islamic insurgency groups as Hizbullah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. They said Washington recognizes the importance of Iran in any U.S. offensive against neighboring Afghanistan.

"It seems to me that now, in the new context, the political and military-political context, we have to break the perception of Iran as a devil," said Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy director of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic and Technological Analysis. "Because this perception was largely molded by the United States based on internal political considerations and I think that now we have to get away from this perception. Iran is a sufficiently normal state for the region."

The United States failed to respond immediately to Tuesday's announcement of a military cooperation agreement between Moscow and Teheran. The agreement is said to pave the way for Russian arms sales to Iran of $300 million annually over the next five years.

Officials and analysts said Iran will also be a partner of Russia in the U.S.-led attempt to overthrow the Taliban regime. They said Russia will sell weapons that will eventually end up in the hands of the northern-based Afghan opposition. The Iranian-Russian partnership, they said, will also seek to contain Turkey, a rival of both Moscow and Teheran.

"There are serious military-political partnerships, notably in the field of containing the Taliban movement, and military-political containment of Turkey," Ivan Safranchuk, the Moscow representative of the Washington-based Center for Defense Information, said.

The analysts said the major source of aid to Bin Laden comes from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Pakistan. The leading sponsors of Bin Laden and Taliban, they said, are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

This service contains only a small portion of the information produced daily by Middle East Newsline. For a subscription to the full service, please contact Middle East Newsline at for further details.

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U.S. Proposes Removing Syria From Terror List
Steve Rodan
Bureau Chief, Middle East News Line

U.S. Proposes Removing Syria from Terror List

WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The Bush administration has proposed removing Damascus from the State Department's list of terrorist sponsors if Syria joins a U.S.-led coalition against Saudi billionaire fugitive Osama Bin Laden. U.S. officials said the State Department has relayed such a message to Damascus. Officials said the message asserted that Syrian participation in an international coalition would be seen as evidence that Damascus has renounced support for terrorism. The message also urged Syria to restrain Hizbullah and Palestinian groups from attacking Israel's northern border.

The removal of Syria from the State Department terrorist list would make Damascus eligible for both military and civilian aid. Officials said Syria remains on the terrorist list largely because of its refusal to expel Kurdish, the Lebanese Hizbullah and Palestinian insurgency groups.

"We view Syria as small potatoes in terms of terrorism," a State Department official said. "Syrian participation in the coalition could tip the balance and finally remove Damascus from the terrorism list."

President George Bush has requested from Congress legislation that would grant him the authority to waive restrictions on U.S. military and civilian aid to any foreign country. Officials said the request is meant to grant the president the ability to quickly reward so-called rogue states such as Iran, Syria and Sudan for any support of the U.S.-led battle against Bin Laden and his cohorts.

"We have an ongoing dialogue with Syria on the subject of the activities in the Bekaa Valley, and other activities that Hizbollah has carried out," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "And we have asked them, as well as all others, to use their influence to rein in these kind of activities."

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UNRWA Director Peter Hansen Opposes Solving Palestinian Refugee Problem
Jerusalem Times, September 28, 2001

[IMRA: The policy of the UN everywhere in the world - with the exception of the Palestinian refugees - is to help promote the resettlement of refugees so that they can move on with their lives. In this article UNRWA director Peter Hansen makes clear that UNRWA supports keeping the Palestinian refugees hostage to Arab-Israeli conflict.]

Full Text: UNRWA feels the pinch of the siege

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency has for the past 51 years afforded support for the Palestinian people, moving its headquarters from Geneva to Gaza five years ago.

On a visit to Egypt cut short by deteriorating conditions in the Palestinian territories, UNRWA director Peter Hansen assured that conditions in the Palestinian territories are very serious, according to him worse than they have ever been in the year-old intifada.

Hansen said that the agency is doing all it can to alleviate the suffering and fear of Palestinian citizens, who face Israeli heavy machines at night and are deprived the simplest constituents of normal living. He indicated that Israeli authorities have spared no effort in positing obstacles in the way of UNRWA employees, who are often stopped at checkpoints and denied travel permits. Additionally, occupation authorities force UNRWA employees at times to abandon their vehicles and walk, subjecting them to grave danger by gunfire often aimed just above their heads to scare them. "Despite it all," said Hansen, "we are able to help residents and afford them food, thanks to the courage of our cadres."

As for the situation in Gaza, Hansen said that 80% of Gaza residents are registered at UNRWA as refugees. "We do not ask people seeking assistance to show refugee cards at present because of the prevalent conditions. We help whoever is in need, which at present includes 50% of the people."

About reaction to the difficulties and impediments imposed by Israeli authorities, Hansen explained, "we continue to submit complaints about Israeli practices and obstacles impeding our operation." He indicated that he would forward his annual report to the UN in September to indicate the Israeli harassment.

On another front, the UNRWA general director emphasized the need to coordinate efforts to escape the current crisis, indicating that the freeze of normal life affects the Israelis more than it does the Palestinians, who have endured long years of torment.

Hansen called for efforts to convey clearly the situation on the ground, without diminishment or exaggeration, indicating that the time has come to remedy the miserable conditions of refugees, totaling four million, who have for four generations yearned for a better life. Hansen assured that the plight of refugees cannot continue as is and that the Palestinians cannot wait forever.

Concerning Israeli claims that it can withstand the current fight until the year 2006 said Hansen, "this would bode ill for the Palestinians. However, the situation would be much worse for Israel as an occupying country using force to impose its policies."

Commenting on the use of US-made jet fighters against Palestinian civilians Hansen offered, "I do not think the US afforded those fighters to Israel to be used against civilians and refugees. I am convinced that Washington makes clear to every party it supplies with weapons and military ability the boundaries they must honor in using those weapons." As for his outlook regarding an end to the crisis and the Israeli escalation of military action by infiltrating Palestinian territories, Hansen indicated that there is no easy way out, stressing the need to increase efforts and support from the international community.

Hansen also replied to questions about the notion of settling Palestinian refugees in host countries and the suffering of refugees in refugee camps and the role of the agency in relieving the suffering. He said, "there could not be any discussion of settling refugees. Such consideration would only be made within the framework of a peace agreement. It is necessary for Palestinian refugees to enjoy their rights like all other refugees across the world, but I do not think that we are the point of discussing that right now and I do not believe that settlement should be considered as a solution at present. The problem requires a just solution, and until that is achieved, UNRWA will continue its work."

Hansen indicated that the difficulty facing the agency is the lack of funding, mainly because donor countries failed to fulfill pledges they had made. He explained that the funds requested are considered vital and are considerably low, not exceeding 20 cents per refugee per day to cover healthcare, education and social services.

The UNRWA annual budget is limited to $371m covering four million refugees, which translates into $75 per refugee per year. "It is important to afford better assistance to Palestinian refugees, who make up the biggest refugee problem in the world," said Hansen, assuring that the Palestinian refugees need and deserve support.

Hansen indicated that Egypt has increased contributions to UNRWA more than ten times, reaching $140,000, saying that if other parties followed in the footsteps of Egypt it would be easier to cope with the problem. He stressed that the international community must assume responsibility toward the plight of Palestinian refugees, considering it an international predicament. The UNRWA director, who on his short visit to Egypt met with the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Mousa, praised the efforts of the Arab League for supporting UNRWA.

Hansen indicated that of the $78m emergency budget defined by the agency to contend with the exceptional circumstances, only 50% has been secured, saying that important contributions have recently been made by Saudi Arabia, Libya and the UAE. Kuwait, despite its smallness, is considered one of the five top donors to UNRWA, with the other four being Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Netherlands.

Worthy of note, US contributions to UNRWA total $90m annually, while the cost of one F-16 jet fighter is $300m, equal to the entire annual budget of UNRWA.

About the dependability of UNRWA to afford refugees food and basic supplies in light of the Israeli obstacles said Hansen, "UNRWA hopes to be the channel through which Arab states afford assistance, considering the agency the most developed and versed party in distributing aid and handling emergencies. We hope that Arab countries provide support as do other states around the world."

Hansen added that Arab nations are exhibiting great solidarity and generosity in helping the Palestinians in their unprecedented ordeal. UNRWA employees and schoolchildren in Syria donated $500,000 in support of the UNRWA emergency program, of which Hansen said, "such feelings abound in the Arab World; and it is only a matter of time until similar acts of kindness would be carried out in tangible contributions to the emergency program."

With the nearing of the scholastic year and UNRWA assistance to students offered the agency director, "we are convinced that the situation will neither be easy nor normal, but we will do our utmost to overcome difficulty. We cannot bear the thought of seeing an entire generation deprived education."

Hansen explained that the agency is inventing ways to cope with the situation. For example, teachers unable to leave their villages and cities were recruited at the nearest school to substitute for teachers from other areas.

Regarding the International Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa and the discussion about equating Zionism with racism, Hansen explained that UNRWA did not participate in the conference but is a part of the UN and is based on human rights agreements. Hansen warned that using terms that cause disagreement would undoubtedly raise the magnitude of the conflict. He added, "I hope that participants in the conference reach a proper language accepted internationally without taking away from the authority or the weight of the UN and its ability to undertake its role."

Hansen concluded, "I hope the US administration realizes the message being voiced by the world asking it to assume a leadership role concurrent with its status as the most powerful state in the world." Al Quds

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Voice of Palestine Radio:
No Arrests of Wanted Killers, Wounded Motorists Described As Illegal Settlers, Allegation that IDF has Assigned SLA Troops to Checkpoints

On October 1, 2001, Tafik Tirawi, Palestinian head of Intelligence in the West Bank district of the Palestinian National Authority, was asked on The VOICE OF PALESTINE Radio at 8 a.m. about Israel's demand to that he arrest terrorists, according to a list that Israel Foreign Minister Shimon Peres handed to Yassir Arafat on their September 26th meeting in Gaza.

Tirawi responded by saying that "there are no terrorists. We will arrest no one. Those who open fire on Israelis are not terrorists. It is the Israelis who are terrorists. We say to the Israelis that your state is the terrorist state that opens fire on our people. You are first requires to arrest your settlers and soldiers. We gave you a list of real terrorists whom you have yet to arrest . . . Arik Sharon used terror in killing at Deir Yassin, killing Egyptian prisoners, killing Palestinians in Sabra/Shatilla.

On Thursday morning, October 4th, the VOICE OF PALESTINE radio newsreel of the Palestinian Authority reported the shooting attack on the Givat Zev-French Hill road inside Jerusalem in which a young couple were badly injured as an attack against two illegal settlers on the illegal settler road inside Jerusalem.

In its newscasts throughout the day on Thursday, October 4, the VOICE OF PALESTINE radio newsreel of the Palestinian Authority reported that Israel has positioned Christian troops from the Southern Lebanese Army at all checkpoints and at all key positions. While the VOICE OF PALESTINE radio newscaster did indeed broadcast Israeli denials of such, the VOICE OF PALESTINE repeated the news item on each broadcast, with the claim that Israel Prime Minister Arik Sharon has positioned the SLA troops in preparation for another Sabra and Shatilla massacre, reminding the Palestinian Arab public of what occurred in Lebanon in September, 1982,(when Sharon was the Israel Minister of Defence and Israel's Christian allies in Southern Lebanon killed civilians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in retaliation for the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Bashir Gemayel). VOICE OF PALESTINE specifically alleges that SLA troops were abusing Palestinian Arab women at IDF checkpoints.

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