MI chief: Iraq won´t attack before U.S. offensive (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Gideon Alon 12/25/02)
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The head of Military Intelligence, Major General Aharon Ze´evi
(Farkash), told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
yesterday that it is highly unlikely for Iraq to launch a non-
conventional weapon attack against Israel prior to an American
offensive as this would expose capabilities that Iraq has vehemently
denied. It would also rebound on Iraq´s diplomatic front.
The intelligence chief noted that in 1991, prior to the Gulf War,
Iraq directly threatened to attack Israel, while today it is issuing
more general statements about mounting a counterattack against any
source of aggression.
Ze´evi said that he expects the U.S. offensive against Iraq to take
place after January 27, 2003, the date that United Nations inspectors
in Iraq are due to report their findings to the Security Council.
With regard to the Hezbollah, Ze´evi told the Knesset committee that
he expects the militant Lebanese organization to keep a low profile
during a U.S.-led war in Iraq, fearing that Israel might exploit the
opportunity to attack Hezbollah rocket and missile positions in
On the Palestinian front, Ze´evi said that terror organizations are
continuing their efforts to carry out attacks and that Israeli
security forces are successfully thwarting terror attacks on a daily
basis. He added that Al-Qaeda is trying to establish cells in the
Palestinian Authority and Arab countries.
In response to a query from MK Haim Ramon (Labor) about the regional
implications of an Iraqi war, Ze´evi said that army´s assessment is
that a successful U.S.-led campaign in Iraq would make it easier to
resume negotiations with the Palestinians, because it would
strengthen pragmatic elements in the Arab world against
´Road map´ gets tougher on PA
Ze´evi revealed that the Bush administration agreed to some of
Israel´s requests for revisions in the "road map" for a Palestinian-
Israeli accord, including making the resumption of negotiations
conditional on a complete cessation of violence and changes in the
[The Associated Press reported yesterday that the latest draft adds
the word "unconditional" to the requirement that Palestinians
must "immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence."]
In addition, Ze´evi said, the revised road map stipulates that these
obligations must be met by the Palestinians before Israel is obliged
to freeze settlement activity. The call for Israel to stop carrying
out targeted assassinations in the territories was also left out of
the latest draft of the road map, he added.
Several opposition MKs criticized the government for fostering an
atmosphere of panic about the anticipated war in Iraq. MK Ramon
charged that political motives are stoking this war fever. He said
that it is clear that the chance of an Iraqi attack against Israel is
very low, almost non-existent.
Ramon also spoke out against the reports that the government is
preparing to administer smallpox vaccines to the entire
population. "I want to point out that this vaccination is not a sugar
candy. Two out of every million will die from the vaccination while
five to eight will remain disabled for life."
MK Avraham Shochat (Labor) added that "Sharon is playacting and
making the entire country panic in order to divert attention from the
corruption scandals in the Likud."
(© Copyright 2002 Ha´aretz 12/25/02)
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