May 16, 2002
Arafat Calls for Elections
Israeli politicians and pundits alike were skeptical after Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat called this week for new Palestinian elections.
Arafat called on Palestinian legislators to make "speedy preparations" for new elections, but mentioned no date. In an address Wednesday before the Palestinian legislative council, Arafat also said it is "time for change and reform" in the Palestinian Authority. Arafat offered a rare acknowledgment that he has made mistakes, but he placed most of the blame for the current crisis on Israel. At the start of the speech, Arafat vowed that the Palestinians would never give up their dream for freedom, independence and sovereignty. Arafat's speech came on the day of Al-Nakba Arabic for the "catastrophe" which marks the founding of the state of Israel.
Report Links P.A. to Terrorism
A U.S. State Department report says "there is no conclusive evidence" that Palestinian leaders had advanced knowledge of terrorist attacks against Israel. But the semiannual report, which assesses the Palestinian Authority's action from July through December 2001, says Palestinian leaders knew about the involvement of the Al-Aksa Brigades, Tanzim and members of the Force 17 presidential guard in terrorist attacks "and did little to rein them in."
U.S. to Act Against Boycotts
The U.S. Department of Commerce plans to enforce regulations prohibiting Americans from supporting anti-Israel boycotts. "The U.S. government stands firm in its policy of opposing restrictive trade practices or boycotts against Israel," Kenneth Juster, under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said Tuesday. U.S. law prohibits Americans from supporting unsanctioned boycotts by foreign governments.
Jewish Teens Attacked Near Paris
French police are searching for those responsible for a weekend attack on five Jewish teenagers in a Paris suburb. A gang of around 10 people, described by police as being of North African origin, beat the youths Sunday in the suburb of Saint Maur Des Fosses. "According to witnesses, the attackers shouted racist insults like 'Go back where you came from. You don't belong here,' beat them up, then broke into their car and stole some of their CDs," a local police official said Tuesday.
All briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.