Sharon and Bush Discussed Pollard, Iraq, Syria, Arafat
Sharon Says Bush Meeting 'Extremely Successful,' Seeks Pollard's Release
MidEastWeb E-News Service - FBIS Report - February 10, 2002
Israeli media on the morning of 10 February carries more reports on the
7 February meeting between US President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister
Sharon, focusing mainly on the Palestinian issue but also both leaders'
remarks and positions on Iran and Iraq.
State-funded but independent Jerusalem Voice of Israel Network A in
English reports at 0500 GMT: "Prime Minister Ari'el Sharon is on his way
back to Israel after a three-day visit to the United States. His plane
left New York a short time ago.
"During his talks earlier in Washington, the prime minister is said to
have asked US President George W. Bush for $800 million in aid. These are
funds that were promised to the Baraq government after Israel withdrew its
forces from Lebanon.
"Sharon canceled his New York engagements scheduled for today because of
what has been described by doctors as a cold. He did, however, participate
in a Jewish Agency benefit evening for Argentinian Jewry at which $15
million were raised.
"Sources in the prime minister's entourage say Sharon asked President
Bush to free Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in the United
States for spying for Israel. Sharon also handed the President a letter
signed by 110 Knesset members, urging him to release Pollard from jail."
Jerusalem Voice of Israel Network B in Hebrew carries political
correspondent Yoni Ben-Menahem's report on its 0505 GMT newsreel, summing up
Sharon's US talks: "A few hours ago, the prime minister told us that as
far as he is concerned, the meeting with President Bush was extremely
successful. The United States agrees with Israel that local, regional, and
international pressure on Yasir Arafat should be kept up to force him to
stop the terrorism."
Tel Aviv Ha'aretz in English, a left-of-center, independent daily of
record, carries a front-page report by diplomatic correspondent Aluf Ben,
reporting from New York, which adds: "The United States understands that
Israel 'will not sit quietly' if Iraq attacks it in response to any American
assault on Saddam Hussein, senior American officials told Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon this weekend.
"The officials also promised Israel will be told in advance of any
American plan to attack Iraq, so that it can prepare its defenses.
"These were two of the key assurances Sharon had sought in his
Washington meetings with President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney
and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on Thursday.
"His hosts did not give Sharon any details of the next stages of the US
war on terror, saying they have not yet made any final decision. But both
Sharon and Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who was also in Washington
last week, said they received the impression that the US is determined to
act against Iraq, and that Iraq is currently the focus of its Middle East
"Israeli sources said that Iraq will also be the focus of Cheney's visit
to the region next month, which will include a two-day stopover in Israel.
"Ben-Eliezer told his American counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, that Israel
is preparing for the possibility of an Iraqi strike against it in response
to an American attack, including the possibility that it could use chemical
or biological weapons. Iraq did not use such weapons during the Gulf War,
but Israel believes it may do so this time, Ben-Eliezer said.
"A senior Pentagon delegation, led by Undersecretary of Defense Doug
Feith, will visit Israel next month for a meeting of the joint Defense
Policy Advisory Group (DPAG), which has not met since October 2000. The
talks will apparently center on preparations for an American attack on Iraq.
"Sharon also discussed the Iranian threat with his hosts -- Tehran's
efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, its support for anti-Israel terrorism in
Lebanon and the territories, and its efforts to foment discontent among
"In addition, he warned of the danger that the northern border could
heat up, citing incidents such as Hezbollah's recent firing of anti-aircraft
missiles at Israeli air force planes on Israel's side of the border. The US
believes that Iran is behind Hezbollah's activity, but Sharon said the
organization would not act without encouragement, or at least tacit consent,
from Syria, the de facto ruling power in Lebanon.
"The Americans therefore promised to warn Syria against permitting any
escalation on Israel's northern border. Sharon said the question of
restarting Israeli-Syrian negotiations did not arise."
A related report by senior correspondents Shim'on Schiffer and Nahum
Barne'a, who are traveling with the prime minister's entourage, on page 2 of
independent, centrist, largest-circulation Tel Aviv Yedi'ot Aharonot in
Hebrew, adds: "During the visit, Sharon planned to prepare the grounds for
an estrangement between the US Administration and Arafat, but the
administration informed Sharon even before he boarded his plane that there
was no chance of that happening. For the administration, Arafat is still a
"It was explained to Sharon during the visit that the administration
expects Israel to stop threatening Iran. The administration is giving
Israel a green light to use its judgment in its actions toward the
Palestinians, including targeted prevention operations and a siege on
Arafat, but it does not agree to Israel's 'rocking the boat' on a regional
level. The United States is afraid Israel will interfere with its effort
to enlist international support for a war against Iraq."
The report goes on to say: "A report drafted by CIA Director George
Tenet for the President prior to the prime minister's departure for
Washington suggested that if the United States remains identified with
Israel's anti-Palestinian actions, Palestinian terrorism will start directly
seeking out US targets and figures."
"Bush and Sharon agreed to meet again when Sharon attends the AIPAC
[American Israel Public Affairs Committee] conference in Washington in late
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Editors: Diane Balay, Adel Darwish, Ami Isseroff, Leonard Grossman, Josh Pollack, Samir Suwellam, Yasmine Taeb and Kevin Weiss