Arafat: No More Arms Smuggling
The U.S. State Department praised a letter from Yasser Arafat promising that the Palestinians would not try to smuggle weapons again. "We find it to be a positive letter, and we now look for action along the lines that he indicated in his letter," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Feb. 11. A senior U.S. official told reporters that in the letter sent last week to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, Arafat offered an assurance that there would not be another arms-smuggling attempt similar to the Karine A incident. But Hassan Abdel Rahman, the top Palestinian official in the United States, said Arafat had not taken responsibility for that arms shipment, which Israel intercepted on Jan. 3.
Woman Was Suicide Bomber
The woman who carried out a bombing last month in Jerusalem was indeed a suicide bomber, according to Israeli officials.
The officials reached the conclusion after an investigation into whether Wafa Idris had killed herself intentionally, had planned to just plant the bomb or had intended to give it to someone else.
One Israeli man was killed and more than 100 were wounded in the Jan. 27 attack.
Possible Arafat Successors
Yasser Arafat mentioned two officials who could eventually succeed him. In an interview published Feb. 7 in an Egyptian magazine, Arafat named Ahmed Karia, the speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, and Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat's current deputy. Both are considered advocates of a peace agreement with Israel.
ADL Blasts French Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism in France has reached a "crisis situation," the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) charges.
In a letter to French President Jacques Chirac, the ADL called on the French leader to publicly denounce anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish actions in France, saying "for too long, French authorities have turned a blind eye" to the situation.
"To be silent while an anti-Semitic campaign is being waged against Jewish institutions and members of France's Jewish community is to shirk the responsibility of government to protect its citizens," the letter said.
Jewish Leaders Visit Argentina
U.S. Jewish leaders are visiting Argentina to assess the crisis there. The leadership of the United Jewish Communities' (UJC) newly formed Argentinean Response Task Force arrived there Feb. 13. They then will travel to Israel for the Jewish Agency for Israel's Board of Governors' meeting, where the Argentine crisis is expected to be a focal point.
The task force, which has more than 50 members, is just starting to determine how to raise and allocate funds for Argentine aliyah and for rebuilding the country's 200,000-strong Jewish community through the UJC's overseas partners, the Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
JDC already has requested $8.7 million for its relief and welfare operations in Argentina, $4 million of which it hopes to raise there.
The Jewish Agency, which oversees aliyah, has not yet publicized its budget needs for Argentine immigrants. Those needs are estimated to range from $50 million to $200 million.
Hillary Clinton to Visit Israel
Sen. Hillary Clinton is expected to visit Israel later this month. The Democrat from New York initiated the visit as a show of support for Israel, the Israeli daily Ma'ariv reported.
During the one-day visit, Clinton is scheduled to receive a security briefing, meet with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and visit a hospital where terror victims are recovering.
Bush Praises Power of Prayer
President Bush lauded the power of prayer, saying it helped the United States through the difficult period following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"We have all been witnesses, these past 21 weeks, to the power of faith to see us through the hurt and loss that has come on to the country," Bush said Feb. 7 at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.