|Israel Resource Review
||30th March, 1999
the Israel Resource
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"Air Raid Sirens Sound Throughout Tel-Aviv as NATO Warplanes Zoom
A Headline Too Surreal, Even For a Nightmare?
by David Bedein
Media Research Analyst
Well, just consider the Middle East decisions that emanated from the
meeting of European Union heads of state who met in Berlin on the very day
that NATO planes began bombing raids over Yugoslavia, after the Serbian
state denied the right of independence to the predominantly Moslem province
This same European Union, whose body of commissioners just resigned because
of widespread charges of corruption, decreed not merely that there should
be a "Palestinian state," but that there must be one, and that the EU will
bring it into being. Meanwhile, there are reliable reports from the
Vatican that Arafat's state will be officially declared when the Pope
visits Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the year 2000.
The EU ministers made it clear that the views of Israel on this subject are
of no account. As the views of Yugoslavia are of no account, Israel's
perspective is also not considered by the EU.
The EU is not offerring unsolicited advice. It has, however, issued an
ultimatum to Jerusalem, while ordering NATO air attacks on Yugoslavia, to
force Belgrade to accept a NATO-dictated "peace plan" for Kosovo, where a
population predominated by an Albanian Moslem ethnicity seeks to secede
The European Union nations plus the United States, who overlap the
membership of NATO, have appointed themselves the champion of the
secessionist Kosovars, and they enforce their views with incendiary bombs.
And since the EU has also proclaimed itself the champion of Palestine
state, why should it not also enforce its view in Israel with equal force?
In the meantime, both the US and the EU are providing military training for
the Palestine Liberation Army, as reported in the recently issued paper,
"Palestininan Security Services: Between Police and Army", issued by he
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a prestigious institution
founded by professionals who now run middle east policy at the State
Department: Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross.
Yet any prospective Palestinian state, so dear to the hearts of
the EU, the Pope and the Clinton Administration, would make
minimal demands that no Israeli government could ever accede to:
withdrawal from lands that Israel won in the 1967 war,
relinquishment of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and
recognition of the right of Palestinian Arab refugees to return
to the homes and villages that they left in 1948. All of these
demands are unanimously agreed to by all of the permanent and
rotating members of the UN Security Council.
And if the nascent Palestinian entity were to attack Israel and incur
televised civilian casulties, Israel would most certainly be judged by
world opinion to be in the wrong.
With an Israel not in compliance of the demands made upon it by the US, the
European Union, the Vatican and the United Nations, NATO's bombs over
Yugoslavia have set the precedent of enforcing the independence of ethnic
They may apply that precedent to Israel as well.
The nightmare of NATO war planes over Tel Aviv may not be so far fetched.
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25th-31st March, 1999
Arabs Adopt Reconciliatory Agenda
by Khaled Dawoud
For weeks before the opening of the Arab League's foreign ministers' meeting
last Wednesday, Arab diplomats had been fearing a repetition of an earlier
gathering in January when the Iraqi delegation, headed by Foreign Minister
Mohamed Said Al-Sahhaf, walked out.
And it was a fear that was well-founded, given the almost daily US and
British strikes against the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq, and
bitter accusations and threats from Baghdad against Saudi Arabia and Kuwait
for allowing US bombers to use their bases to launch the attacks.
Furthermore, the Iraqi delegation's agenda for the foreign ministers'
regular biannual session added to fears of a further split in Arab ranks.
Al-Sahhaf proposed adding two items to the meeting's agenda: condemnation of
the attacks and agreement that the no-fly zones had been unilaterally
imposed by the US and were not part of UN Security Council resolutions
passed against Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait; and the
discussion of the fate of those "missing in action" since the 1991 Gulf War.
Using the word "missing" was an attempt by Baghdad to confirm its claim that
it does not hold any Kuwaiti prisoners of war (POWs). Kuwait, which rejects
Baghdad's claim, has been organising international campaigns calling for the
release of up to 600 Kuwaitis allegedly held in Iraqi prisons. Iraq claims
that in the chaos that followed the end of the Gulf War, many people,
including 1,150 Iraqi civilians and top-ranking officers, went missing.
Baghdad claims that the alleged Kuwaiti POWs are most likely among those who
For key US allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, it was out of the
question for them to "condemn" the world's superpower and the country which
they see as the main guarantor of their security. Also unacceptable to them
was the Iraqi position on the issue of the POWs. Thus, for the first time in
the League's 54-year history, the Arab foreign ministers failed to approve
the agenda of the meeting in their closed session. An Arab diplomat who
attended the meeting told Al-Ahram Weekly that heated exchanges took
place . . . .
The experienced Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid adjourned
the meeting to allow for mediation behind closed doors. The foreign
ministers of Egypt, Syria, Qatar and Oman and the Moroccan minister of
state, who headed his country's delegation, were involved in overnight
negotiations between Iraq and the Saudi and Kuwaiti delegations to reach a
formula that would satisfy all parties.
The compromise . . . was that Iraq agreed to drop its two proposed items for
the agenda in return for adding two paragraphs to the report issued by the
Arab League secretary-general on the session. The report is considered part
of the official documents issued by the meeting. The ministers agreed to
refer to the issue of the prisoners or "missing" as a "humanitarian problem
between Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia." The paragraph approved by the
ministers asked Abdel-Meguid to set up a mechanism in coordination with the
International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) which would help solve this
problem. The ICRC has been investigating the issue of Kuwaiti POWs for some
Regarding the US-British strikes and the no-fly zones, the ministers called
for "stopping all acts carried out against Iraq outside the framework of
Security Council resolutions." This vague sentence left the door open for
all parties to be satisfied. The word "condemnation" was not used, and the
US and Britain were not referred to by name. From now on, it is up to each
country to decide what acts constitute a violation of the Security Council
resolutions passed against Iraq.
Informed Arab sources said that the Iraqi delegation accepted the so-called
"conciliatory formulas" in return for pledges from key Arab countries that
they will follow up on their effort to calm the tension between Iraq and its
neighbours in order to put more pressure on the US to stop its attacks
Bound and Helpless
by Salah Issa
[a veteran journalist and political analyst]
Only the secretary-general of the Arab League seems interested in
celebrating the League's 54th anniversary. Since its establishment in 1945,
the general feeling has been that the League has done nothing, has no role
in the present, and is quite futile for the future. During its existence,
all the Arab states gained their independence, their populations doubled,
their GNP soared and the number of member states multiplied. Yet the League
suffers from financial crises perpetrated by states that refuse to pay their
subscriptions under the pretext that they represent an unjustified expense.
The League cannot claim credit for solving any political dispute involving
an Arab country. Border problems are now referred immediately to the
Security Council or the International Court of Justice. Ethnic and religious
minorities are oppressed until foreign powers are brought in for protection
The helplessness of the Arab League is not rooted in its Charter, which
permits member states to refrain from implementing resolutions they opposed:
many states have refrained from honouring resolutions they endorsed. This
helplessness cannot be remedied by an amendment of the Charter, or by the
decision to adopt resolutions by a majority rather than a consensus; nor can
it be resolved by the creation of new institutions.
The problem is one of priorities, and the inability to see eye to eye on
matters of national security. Each Arab ruler places his personal security
before that of his country, and his country's before that of the Arab
Protecting Egypt's Back
by Dina Ezzat
"If,and when, relations with Sudan and Ehiopia are stabilized, Egypt
will not have to worry too much about threats coming from
the Horn of Africa. Dina Ezzat reports from Addis Ababa"
Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, in Addis Ababa for a ministerial meeting of the
Organisation of African Unity (OAU), held separate meetings with his
Ethiopian and Sudanese opposite numbers, Seyoum Mesifin and Moustafa Osman
But it appears dialogue may not be enough. The governments of Sudan and
Ethiopia must prove that they are serious about taking the types of
decisions that could give a push to their relations with Egypt.
The main problems in Egypt's relations with both Sudan and Ethiopia are of a
strategic nature. One such problem is Ethiopia's discontent with a treaty
that governs Egypt's quota of the Nile waters. Ethiopia argues that this
treaty was signed during colonial rule and, therefore, should be annulled.
Ethiopia, which is an upstream country trying to have Egypt's quota slashed,
has not reacted positively to statements by Egyptian officials suggesting
that the two countries could cooperate on making the best use of the water,
provided that Ethiopia desisted from attempts to reduce the Egyptian quota.
Contrary to ideas entertained by certain circles within the Addis Ababa
regime, the official added, Egypt does not want to see Ethiopia short of
water, but believes it has the potential to set up projects to ensure the
maximum use of its quota.
Because certain sections of the Ethiopian government think Egypt is siding
with Eritrea in its war with Ethiopia, Addis Ababa appears to be opting for
low-profile relations with Egypt.
Sudan is of equal strategic interest to Egypt, but relations have been cool
for more than two years, as a result of information and allegations
suggesting Khartoum's involvement in a failed assassination attempt against
President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.
However, Sudan recently began talking to Egypt about ending its support, in
various forms, for Egyptian Islamist militants bent on overthrowing the
Egyptian government. Egyptian officials concede that Sudan has delivered on
a significant part of these promises, but they also say there is a lot of
room for improvement.
Furthermore, the lack of political will on the part of the Sudanese
government is hindering progress.
Security cooperation is not the only hurdle that has to be overcome if
relations between the two countries are to improve. About a year ago, Sudan
promised to restore to Egypt all its Sudan-based irrigation and education
property, which was confiscated by Khartoum in the early 1990s.
Egyptian sources say that they hope Khartoum will make real progress on this
issue. But they stress that they are not giving this matter priority over
working with both the Sudanese government and opposition to bring all of the
country's warring factions to a reconciliation conference.
Israel has a wide-scale presence in the countries of East Africa,
particularly those in the Horn of Africa. According to the source, Egypt
does not want the current chaotic political and economic atmosphere to
continue in the area because Israel could use it to threaten Egypt's
strategic interests there, such as the Nile sources or access to the Red
According to a senior security source, "We are not suggesting that Israel
entered this part of the world just to annoy us, but we know for a fact that
if it has a chance to do so, it will not miss it, if only to give us a
headache. We are determined to do all we can to avoid this scenario."
Dr. Joseph Lerner,
Co-Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645
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