Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Article excerpt

Israel May Strike Iranian Nuclear Plants

According to a May 8 article in the Jerusalem Post, Israel may be preparing to attack Iranian nuclear facilities this year. The report cited U.S. administration assessments reported on Army Radio that morning. "Officials say that the attempt to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons has been discussed at various levels, as well as the effects such an attack would have on U.S. military and political efforts in Iraq and in the Persian Gulf," the article continued. United Press International reported that President George Bush and Prime Minster Ariel Sharon discussed the subject at their April 14 White House meeting.

Congress to Grant $50 million to U.S.-Israel Fund

According to the May 10 issue of the Israeli business publication Globes , Congress is expected to approve a $50 million grant for a U.S.-lsrael anti-terrorism fund to begin operating next year. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Ayalon said the fund "would be similar to the Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD-F)," Globes reported. The BIRD Foundation's mission is to "stimulate, promote and support industrial research and development of mutual benefit to the U.S. and Israel," according to its Web site. A committee of experts from both countries will review project proposals, Ayalon said, and, Globes reported, each party will have a $5 million budget per year for five years, with funding coming from the Department of Homeland security. On May 9, Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for Border and Transportation security, said Washington considers Israel an experienced partner in the war on terrorism and that the U.S. "would expand its cooperation with Israel in this field."

Israeli Link to Iraq Prisoner Abuse

A May 7 article on Al-Jazeera's English-language Web site () reported "striking similarities between Israeli treatment of Palestinian prisoners and American treatment of Iraqi detainees." Hisham Abd alRazzaq, the Palestinian Authority minister who oversees more than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, told the news service, "I am inclined to think that the Americans copied Israeli techniques." In particular, he said, the hooding technique, in which the detainee's head is covered with a rotten sack for weeks at a time, is a common Israeli intimidation tactic. Other common torture methods employed by Israel include stripping of prisoners, sleep deprivation, cold baths during winter, and sexual abuse, the report stated. While an Israeli Prison Authority spokesman denied allegations of obvious similarities between Israeli and American torture methods, Israeli-Arab Knesset member Talab al-Sanai pointed out that American officers joined Israeli army units in Jenin "several months ago" to learn Israeli methods and techniques of repressing civilians.

Turks Question Israel Alliance

Turkey, Israel's key regional ally, increasingly is questioning its "strategic" partnership with the Jewish state, Middle East Online () reported May 21. In light of Israel's recent carnage in Gaza's Rafah refugee camp, Turkish leaders and observers have indicated a desire to reexamine the country's longtime bilateral relations with Israel. On May 20, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel's killing of civilians in Rafah as "state terror." The next day, the daily Milliyel wrote, "The killing of civilians in Rafah and the harsh statement with which Erdogan reacted paved the way for the highest tension in bilateral relations in recent years. …

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