U.S.: Syria willing to stop terror
Syria reportedly said it will look into ways to shut down terrorist organizations operating out of Damascus. American officials informed Israel of the new Syrian position after Jerusalem raised the problem of terror in Syria and Lebanon during strategic talks with the United States two weeks ago, Ha'aretz reported. Some U.S. officials reportedly are becoming more receptive to Israel's request that the United States put Lebanon on its list of state sponsors of terrorism. These sources believe the threat of being added to the list could persuade Lebanon to take a tougher line with Hezbollah.
Rare attack on Israel-Jordan border
An Israeli minister said it's unlikely the border with Jordan will become a trouble spot, despite a terrorist attack there Tuesday. An Israeli soldier was killed in the ambush, which began when two gunmen armed with hunting rifles fired on an Israeli patrol near the border fence, wounding two soldiers. When other troops came to investigate, the gunmen fired on and threw grenades at them, killing reserve Sgt. Michael Sitbon and wounding two others. The attackers, believed to be Palestinians, were killed when Israeli helicopter gunships gave pursuit. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack. Israel praised the close security cooperation with Jordanian forces on their side of the border during the incident, which occurred just inside Israeli territory.
Terror Cells Uncovered
Israel uncovered three Palestinian cells responsible for shooting attacks in the West Bank. The Shin Bet revealed Wednesday that arrests of at least 17 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had been made in villages between Nablus and Kalkilya. The suspects admitted to three shooting attacks on Israeli cars and attempting to plant a roadside bomb. There were no injuries in any of the incidents.
Bush Issues Terrorism Update
President Bush issued an update on the first 100 days of the war on terrorism. In the report, released Dec. 20 by the White House, Bush discusses freezing the finances of terrorist groups accused of attacking Israel and of American charities accused of funneling money to those organizations. The report does not stipulate new actions that will be taken to combat terrorism in the Middle East.
Poll: Palestinians Support Peace
A majority of Palestinians support a cease-fire and return to
negotiations with Israel. Sixty percent of those surveyed in a new Palestinian public opinion poll support Yasser Arafat's call for a cease-fire in the conflict with Israel. While 71 percent support a return to negotiations with Israel, only 21 percent believe the armed attacks against Israel would stop and negotiations resume soon. And 61 percent believe the current intifada helped achieve Palestinian political aims. The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted the survey Dec. 19-24.
Funeral Firm Accused
The largest funeral company in the United States was accused of desecrating remains in several Jewish cemeteries in Florida.
Several families have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Houston-based Service Corporation International, alleging that its staff broke open burial vaults and dumped the contents in the woods, crushed vaults to make room for others and dug up and reburied remains in locations other than the plots purchased.
Florida's attorney general is investigating the company and issued a subpoena for all its burial records. SCI owns numerous Jewish funeral homes and cemeteries throughout the United States.
'The Greatest' Takes a Hit
Muhammad Ali is coming under attack for making ethnic jokes last week. The Anti-Defamation League said the former boxing great had disappointed them with the jokes. One joke insulted Jews, while the other insulted Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and African Americans. The jokes came before Ali, who is Muslim, was asked to make a public service announcement explaining American policy to Muslims in the Middle East.
S.F. Attack Under Investigation
An Orthodox Jew in a liberal San Francisco suburb says he was punched on his way to Shabbat services. Jason "Yakov" Ashworth says a man dressed like a black Muslim attacked him on a recent Friday afternoon in Berkeley. Police are investigating the incident. Ashworth is a kosher overseer in for the Va'ad Hakashrus of Northern California.
Ex-Iranian Leader: Nuke Israel
The former president of Iran is calling on the Muslim world to develop nuclear weapons to annihilate Israel.
At a Dec. 14 lecture at Tehran University, Ali Hashem Rafsanjani said that if "the world of Islam" obtains nuclear weapons, it should use them against Israel, whose second-strike capability is not enough to destroy the entire Muslim world.
"Nothing will remain after one atom bomb is dropped on Israel, while a similar attack would only hurt Islam," Rafsanjani said.
Still one of the most powerful leaders in Iran, Rafsanjani described the founding of Israel as "the worst event in all of history."
Afghans to Welcome Israeli Aid
Afghanistan's deputy president said her country would welcome Israeli humanitarian aid. But Sima Samar said she would prefer that the aid come from nongovernmental agencies. Samar, the only woman in Afghanistan's new government, said her country likely would consider diplomatic relations with Israel if Israel and the Palestinians come to a peace agreement.
Jerusalem Post Gets New Editor
The Jerusalem Post newspaper named a new editor. Bret Stephens, an editorial page writer for the Wall Street Journal Europe, will become the new editor of Israel's largest English-language daily. The current editor of the Post, Jeff Barak, will become deputy editor of the Jewish Chronicle in London.
Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency