1. ARAFAT, QUREI’ KISS AND MAKE UP, BUT NO REAL TRANSFER OF POWER SEEN… “I am satisfied that President Arafat is serious this time, that it is not just words but that this time there will be action.” With that, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei’ withdrew his ten-day old resignation. What casts the deal as suspect, however, is the fact that while Arafat is supposedly turning over some control of security forces to Qurei’, he will remain in firm control of the majority of armed forces and of all political and security issues. The current crisis began amid calls for reform and against corruption in the Palestinian Authority and the first open violent challenges to Arafat’s iron clad rule. Arafat made similar promises to Qurei’s predecessor, Mahmoud ‘Abbas. They lasted about four months, until ‘Abbas stepped down. Speaking for the United States, Secretary of State Colin Powell was not impressed. He said during a visit to Budapest that, “We need action, not propositions, not proposals, not commitments…real action that transfers power to a prime minister of the Palestinian people and Palestinian Authority, and consolidation of security services with those consolidated services being under the direction of the prime minister.”
2. HOLY LAND FOUNDATION IN U.S. INDICTED FOR SUPPORTING HAMAS… A federal grand jury in Dallas has handed down a 42-count indictment against the Holy Land Foundation, alleging that the Muslim charity funneled $12.4 million to individuals and organizations associated with the Hamas terrorist organization between 1995 and 2001. Along with the organization itself, seven of its executives are named in the indictment. The charges include conspiracy, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, tax evasion and money laundering. Two of the seven are already under arrest. Two others who are not currently in the United States have been named as fugitives. Among the Holy Land Foundation’s activities, according to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, was payment of cash gifts to families of terrorists killed or jailed by Israel. The Foundation claims its funds went to refugees, orphans and disaster victims.
3. EGYPT REAPS BENEFITS OF ISRAELI PORT STRIKE… Egypt has been the big winner so far in a labor action between Israeli port workers and the government. Since the strike began, 70 ships that refused to return to their port of embarkation have opted to unload instead at the neighboring Egyptian ports of Alexandria, Damietta, and Port Sa’id. Cargo with an estimated value of $333 million has been unloaded from 15,000 containers, leaving the Egyptians with a windfall profit estimated at $4.4. million.
4. FIRST GAZA EVACUEES COULD RECEIVE COMPENSATION BY SEPTEMBER… The first Israelis to voluntarily leave their homes in the Gaza Strip could receive compensation payments as early as September according to Israel Radio. The report said a Justice Ministry official worked out details with an attorney representing 80 residents of Gaza and Samaria who are ready to accept the government’s offer. Terms are said to include advance payments against the full compensation packages that will be paid upon completion of the withdrawal. Neither the amounts nor the timetable for the payments was disclosed.
5. U.S. REVISES SUDAN RESOLUTION AT THE U.N.… The United States is continuing its efforts at the United Nations to pressure the Sudanese government to end what has been termed “genocide” in the Darfur region of the country. Thousands of black Sudanese have been killed and more than one million are homeless due to the acts of Arab militias. The American delegation is circulating a second draft resolution for the Security Council, but is facing opposition to its calls for sanctions unless Sudan disarms the Muslim groups.