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November 22, 2002 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Ask about
our early lease
termination —
program!

'Terrorism has really hurt our econo-
my; on top of that we have the global
high-tech downturn, which has hurt
us badly."
There is a "possibility Israel will ask
for new help; the Americans have
made it clear they understand that
need," he said. "But so far, the Israeli
government has not put a request on
the table, largely because of uncertain-
ty about the mounting U.S. budget
crisis.
"There is an understanding of U.S.
budget limitations. That's one reason
the idea of loan guarantees has come
up again." Israeli officials are also
exploring the possibility of asking for
an easing of rules that require a high
proportion of U.S. military aid be
spent in this country — a kind of
indirect aid that would boost the
Israeli economy without directly
affecting U.S. government coffers, but
incense U.S. defense contractors.
The Sharon government is also
probing to see if Washington is likely
to offer a regional aid package for
countries adversely affected by the
confrontation with Iraq.
One additional shot of aid that was
approved by both Congress and the
Bush administration has apparently
fallen victim to a lame-duck session of
Congress that ducked most important
issues. Instead of dealing with 11
unpassed approbations bills for the fis-
cal year that began Oct. 1, Congress
simply passed a giant continuing reso-
lution to keep government agencies
running until next year at current lev-
els.
That means that extra appropria-
tions like the $200 million grant for
Israel, which Congress passed earlier as
part of an emergency supplemental
appropriation, but President Bush
removed from the appropriations
package because of concerns about
overspending, will be in limbo until
the new Congress convenes in January.

Syrian Slant

Apparently, the Bush administration is
heeding the advice of Israel's new for-
eign minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.
Or at least some of it.
In the wake of the Nov. 15 attack in
Hebron that killed 12 Israeli security
personnel, Netanyahu called on the
international community to pressure
Syria to close the Damascus offices of
Islamic Jihad — the group that
claimed responsibility for the deadly
Hebron ambush.
Over the weekend, Secretary of State
Colin Powell formally asked the govern-

ment of Syrian President Bashar Assad
to do just that. Syria wasted no time in
rejecting the request; on Tuesday, the
Syrian foreign ministry insisted that the
group s activities in Damascus had an
17informational character" and were not
related to terrorism.
At the same time, the Syrian state-
ment accused the United States of
responsibility for the "current blood-
letting" in the region because of its
support for Israel.
Despite the flurry of diplomacy,
most analysts say there's little likeli-
hood of a real U.S. squeeze on Syria.
"I would be very surprised if the
administration gets serious about
Syria right now, even though I would
like to see it happen," said Daniel
Pipes, president of the Middle East
Forum. "There's a lot on its plate
right now."
Syria's surprising vote in favor of the
U.N. ultimatum to Iraq, he said, will
add to the administration's reluctance
to really press Syria. "It was a smart
move by Assad," Pipes said. The
diplomatic exchange comes as the
107th Congress leaves town without
taking action on the
Syria Accountability
Act, which would
impose sanctions if
the Assad govern-
ment does not stop
its support for terror-
ist groups.
The administration
has vigorously
Sen. Graham
opposed the legisla-
tion, and Washington
sources say that will not change when
the new Congress convenes in
January.
Nor is the administration likely to
take up the suggestion of Sen. Bob
Graham, D-Fla., that Washington
should target Hamas and Hezbollah,
as well as Iraq. "We need to be
launching attacks on their headquar-
ters and their training camps so that
they will not be in a position to pro-
vide support for their terrorists that
are embedded in the United States or
be developing the next generation of
terrorists," Graham told Cable
Network News.
Pipes said that U.S. attacks against
these groups are not necessary. "What
makes more sense is a division of
labor," he said. "We're working against
one manifestation of the terror prob-
lem; the Israelis are working against
another.
"We should be thanking the Israelis
for taking care of part of the prob-
lem." LI

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27

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