P.A. Plans to Bring Terrorist Group Into Security Service
The Palestinian Authority (P.A.) appears to be on the verge of a long-awaited security reform in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But last week's announcement of a plan to incorporate the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade into the Palestinian Authority security services falls far short of the comprehensive crackdown on terrorism required by the U.S.-led "road map" peace plan. With violence escalating between Israel and the Palestinians, hopes of Israel's Gaza pullout spurring peacemaking could prove short-lived.
"We have agreed today to establish five new camps for training and hosting the 'stragglers,'" P.A. Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei told reporters, referring to the fragmented forces of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Qurei said the effort would begin in Ramallah and Nablus, among the most volatile West Bank cities. P.A. officials said the brigade, the terrorist wing of the P.A.'s dominant Fatah faction, would be reined in within weeks.
However, it was unclear whether Abbas will be able to carry out the plan, which makes no provision for disarming and dismantling far more powerful terrorist groups such as Hamas. Israel took a wait-and-see attitude.
"We have heard this sort of declaration before," one Israeli official said. "The time has come for action."
Bush Adviser Nominated as Federal Reserve Chairman
President Bush nominated Ben Bernanke to be the next Federal Reserve Board chairman. Bernanke, whose full name is Ben Shalom Bernanke, would succeed Alan Greenspan. The nomination of Bernanke, announced Monday, now goes to the Senate.
Bernanke, who has served on Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, was previously on the Federal Reserve's board of governors. He is a Harvard graduate and has a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
AIPAC Case Prosecutor Named to Higher Post
President Bush nominated the prosecutor in the AIPAC classified documents case to be deputy attorney general. Paul McNulty, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, obtained indictments this year against a former Pentagon analyst and two former senior staffers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The Pentagon analyst, Lawrence Franklin, pleaded guilty earlier this month and the two AIPAC staffers, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, will go to trial on Jan. 2. McNulty is well known for handling a number of terrorism-related cases in his district. Bush nominated McNulty for the post last Friday, after another nominee, Timothy Flanigan, withdrew because of questions over Flanigan's ties with scandal-tinged lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
McNulty, 47, will begin serving immediately as acting deputy attorney general, pending his approval by the Senate, and will also continue for the time being as U.S. attorney in eastern Virginia.
Briefs courtesy of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Jewish Agency Aids Arab Victims in Shooting by Jew
The Jewish Agency for Israel has compensated the Israeli Arab victims of an August terror attack by a Jew. Zeev Bielski, the Jewish Agency's chairman, met Sunday with four families who lost relatives in a gun attack by an extremist ex-soldier in the Arab town of Shfaram. He gave each family a check for $5,000.
It was the first time the Jewish Agency's Fund for the Victims of Terror has provided compensation to Arabs.
Iranian Selling Anti-Semtic Books at Frankfurt Fair
Anti-Semitic tracts are on sale at the Frankfurt Book Fair again this year. English copies of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and Henry Ford's "The International Jew" were displayed on the shelves of one of the Iranian booksellers at the fair, according to German political scientist Matthias Kuentzel, who purchased the books there last week.
Fair organizers said they could take no action unless an official complaint was lodged. Last year, the book fair, one of the world's largest gatherings of publishers, was criticized for allowing Arabic book publishers to display Arabic versions of Holocaust denial and other anti-Semitic texts. Kuentzel, an author and educator specializing in anti-Semitism and Islam, said that this year, the books were available in English.
Bills Would Aid Parochial Schools in Katrina Crisis
Legislators in Congress introduced bipartisan bills that would compensate parochial schools for taking in students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Orthodox Union welcomed the bills, presented in both houses of Congress, but suggested a preference for the House version.
The Senate version allocates $6,000 per student and includes provisions to ensure that the money is not spent directly on religious studies. The House version allocates $6,700 per student, with no such restriction.
The O.U. called the House version "most efficient."