1. JORDAN: ISRAEL FENCE ‘GRAVE NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT’… Jordan’s foreign minister has called Israel’s controversial security buffer a “grave national security threat.” Marwan Al-Mu’ashar said in an interview with the Hebrew daily Haaretz that the barrier will prevent the formation of a Palestinian state, thus stimulating Palestinian emigration to Jordan. Accepting Israel’s need for the fence and its right to build one, Al-Mu’ashar insisted that Jordan’s objection is only that it is being built, in part, in post-1967 territory. He told the paper that, “Israel must understand that we are not against a fence per se. Israel’s need to defend itself is clear and understandable, but it can put the fence on the 1967 border. A fence inside Palestinian territories, as currently planned, will divide the West Bank into three parts, and every Palestinian will need an Israeli permit to go from one part to another. In the long run, they’ll have the following options: to seek Israeli citizenship, which won’t happen; to continue living under occupation forever; or to emigrate to Jordan. It’s clear which option they’ll choose.”
2. ARROW MISSILE SUCCESSFUL AGAINST SCUD… An Arrow missile successfully intercepted and destroyed a Scud missile in a test off of America’s west coast on Thursday. The Scud was launched from a U.S. Naval vessel and the Arrow from an island several kilometers away. Defense sources said the test reaffirmed the Arrow’s position as the most sophisticated missile of its kind and the only weapon effective against ballistic missiles. The Arrow system was jointly developed by the United States and Israel. It was first deployed in Israel prior to the Iraqi war.
3. ISRAEL MOVES CLOSER TO FORMING A JOINT GOVERNMENT… By all appearances, Israeli will shortly form a joint government. The latest indications came with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s admonition to leaders of his Likud party in Tel Aviv on Thursday. He told party activists and branch chairmen that he “must form a new, stable government that will make it possible to work and get things done.” Sharon has reneged on his commitment to party colleagues to be bound by a referendum which rejected his plans for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Also on Thursday, negotiating teams representing Likud and Labor, the leading opposition party, jumped to talk of conclusions saying that the new government would begin its existence within two weeks from the signing of any agreement. Security and economic issues have reportedly not yet been agreed upon. Notwithstanding the negotiations, Labor has forced a debate in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on Wednesday with the prime minister present.
4. SEVEN QASSAM ROCKETS LAND IN ISRAEL IN 24 HOURS… Two Qassam rockets that landed near the Israeli town of Sderot on Friday morning brought to seven the number of missiles fired at Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip since Thursday. The latest rockets caused no injuries or damage. On Thursday, nine residents of Sderot were treated for shock after three missiles fell on their community. Israeli army forces moved into the outskirts of the village of Beit Lahiya on Friday, in an attempt to end the firing of Qassams. Although the army has controlled the entrance to neighboring Beit Hanoun for a month, the missiles continue to be launched.