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The Media Line Daily News Focus

1. SHARON LAWMAKER SON FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES… ‘Omri Sharon, a member of the Israeli parliament and son of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, faces a possible sentence of five years in jail if convicted on all counts in an indictment that will be handed down on Wednesday. The charges, which include campaign law violations, perjury, forging corporate documents and breach of trust, stem from his handling of his father’s political campaigns. On Tuesday, the younger Sharon defended himself by attacking the campaign law, calling it “absurd” and “impossible” to uphold while running a political campaign. Some observers said his statement came close to being a confession. Sharon claimed that he is the only one ever charged with violating it. He did not respond to the perjury and forgery charges.

2. U.S.-ISRAEL MILITARY SALES CRISIS WORSENS… Recent suggestions by Israeli officials that the crisis in Israel’s relationship with the American government over military sales policies would be quickly put to bed have proven to be premature. The Hebrew daily Haaretz reports that Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz abruptly canceled a trip to Washington that the Israelis believed would end the friction when the U.S. demanded that a memorandum of understanding be signed, Israel enact legislation to tighten control of military exports, and Mofaz sign an apology from himself and the Israeli government. Israel remains under sanctions imposed last month which slapped a five-year ban on American purchase of defense items from any nation that sells arms to China. Fearing the damage the fracas with the U.S. is causing Israel’s military and its defense industries, Mofaz led a delegation to Washington several weeks ago prepared to capitulate to all of the American demands in order to end the crisis. But the Americans toughened their stand instead.

3. SHARON ON A THREE-DAY VISIT TO PARIS… Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has begun a three-day trip to France. One year ago when he expressed interest in making the visit, he was told by French officials to stay home. Since that time, relations with Paris have improved, and French President Jacques Chirac has praised Sharon’s decision to vacate the Gaza Strip. In an apparent settling of old scores, Sharon, whose most significant tiff with Chirac came when he said French anti-Semitism is spurring emigration of French Jews to Israel, is praising the Chirac government for its efforts in fighting anti-Semitism.

4. ‘WAR ON TERROR’ SLOGAN REPLACED IN U.S.… It is uniformed troops that offer a nation’s solution to a ‘war.’ So according to the logic behind a Pentagon decision to stop referring to a “war on terror,” references instead to “a global struggle against violent extremism” will change the perception that a victory over terror lies solely in a military campaign. General Richard Meyers, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the National Press Club on Monday that terror is the “method” used by “violent extremists.” He said the actual struggle is more economic, more political and more diplomatic than it is military.

5. CONGRESSMAN REVEALS AGREEMENT WITH PALESTINIANS ON STRINGS ATTACHED TO U.S. FUNDS… Arizona Republican Jim Kolbe revealed to a Congressional appropriations hearing on Tuesday a set of conditions that accompany grant money given to the Palestinian Authority. The “strings” are attached to all money transferred, including the $50 million President Bush announced he was giving to the P.A. when its chairman, Mahmoud ‘Abbas, visited the White House in May. But at that time, the President announced only the grant, not the conditions. According to an agreement between Congress, the State Department and the Palestinian Authority, the money has to go into a separate bank account and from there only used for U.S.-approved projects. The P.A. must report on the money quarterly and the U.S. Agency for International Development every two weeks. The Palestinians have also agreed to repay the U.S. in the event discrepancies are found.