March 4, 2004
Israel Asks U.S. Egypt Help in Gaza
The United States and Egypt want to know more about Israel's proposal for Egypt to help secure Gaza after an Israeli withdrawal.
Dov Weisglass, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's chief of staff, and Giora Eiland, Sharon's national security adviser, discussed the idea Monday in meetings with Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The Israelis are ready for a total withdrawal, but say they need Egyptian help to keep arms smugglers from crossing the Gaza-Egypt border.
U.S. State Department official said the proposal was not fully worked out and that the Americans are waiting for further details. If the Egyptians are willing, the official said, the United States could help them with incentives.
Nadil Fahmy, Egypt's ambassador to Washington, said his country was interested in the proposal but needed to know more. Egypt would participate if the withdrawal were part of negotiations with the Palestinians, Fahmy told JTA.
"It has to be in the context of resolving the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution and ending the occupation," he said. Israel has suggested that its withdrawal could be unilateral unless the Palestinians crack down on terrorism.
E.U. Presses Libya
The European Union called on Libya to join a free trade zone it has boycotted because of Israeli membership in the group. The European Commission said Monday that Tripoli immediately should send officials to Brussels to prepare its application to the group, whose purpose ultimately is to create a free-trade zone bringing together all the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. Libyan President Muammar Gadhafi recently expressed a desire to join the process, but he cannot take part unless he agrees to recognize Israel.
Bush Sends $20 Million to UNRWA
President Bush is sending $20 million to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza. The new allocation, authorized Thursday, is from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund, and will be distributed through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The request is a response to an appeal for $193 million for humanitarian needs for the Palestinian people, the State Department said.
Group Collects Money for Haitians
A Jewish group is collecting money for humanitarian aid in Haiti. Donations can be sent to the American Jewish World Service at: AJWS, Haiti Relief, 45 W. 36th St., 10th Floor, New York, NY, 10018, or online at www.ajws.org .
Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned Sunday after weeks of political unrest in the Caribbean nation and criticism of Aristide by the White House.
Tolerance Center Opens in N.Y.
A center for teaching tolerance sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center opened in New York City. The center's New York Tolerance Center is a professional development and training facility modeled after the Tools for Tolerance Program at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Wants Pope to Exonerate Jews
Israel's chief Ashkenazic rabbi is asking the pope to reaffirm that Jews are not responsible for the death of Jesus. Rabbi Yona Metzger is sending a letter to Pope John Paul II, asking to reaffirm the Vatican II Council that absolved Jews of Jesus' crucifixion. The move is prompted by the release of the new Mel Gibson movie, "The Passion of The Christ," which some Jews fear will spurn anti-Semitism.
She's a Spiritual Girl
Madonna is coming to Israel. Israel Radio reported Tuesday that Madonna will perform in Israel during a tour this summer.
Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.