HEADLINES FROM THE HEBREW PRESS

13 Jan 2004 HA’ARETZ 1. ASSAD TO AMERICAN SENATOR: WE ARE PREPARED TO RESUME NEGOTIATIONS FROM SCRATCH. Syrian President to Senator Nelson: No preconditions. Sharon: We will have territorial claims in any case. Katsav invites Assad to Jerusalem to begin talks. Syrian response: Media spins won’t result in peace. Arab sources: Syria agrees to Turkish mediation. 2. UNILATERAL STEPS IN TERRITORIES TO BE BROUGHT BEFORE KNESSET. 3. Sharon inquiry. SPECTOR CLAIMS THAT PM LIED TO COMPTROLLER: WAS INVOLVED IN EVERY DETAIL IN RAISING FUNDS.


4. ORANIT TAXI DRIVER DROVE SUICIDE TERRORIST TO GEHA. Ofer Schwartzbaum, accused of assisting murder, claims: I didn’t know they were terrorists. 5. US ADMINISTRATION ’67 DOCUMENTS: US INTELLIGENCE HAD SENIOR ISRAELI SOURCE. HATZOFEH 1. Large scale demonstration proves effective: Sharon makes moderate speech to Knesset. SHARON: UNILATERAL STEPS ONLY AFTER DIALOGUE AND COORDINATION. PM did not mention “disengagement plan.” Emphasized: “Steps have not yet been formulated and are not on agenda.” Satisfon right: Sharon’s speech didn’t include evacuation of communities. Said that “Road map is only way to achieve settlement and – in the future – peace with the Palestinians. (…). 2. ADVISER SPECTOR REVEALS CASSETTE, WHICH PROVES THAT SHARON KNEW ABOUT FINANCIAL TRANSFERS. 3. EMBARRASSMENT IN JERUSALEM: KATSAV INVITES ASSAD TO ISRAEL; SYRIA: THIS IS UNFAIR RESPONSE TO DAMASCUS’ INITIATIVE. 4. MK ARIEL RECEIVES THREAT ON SHARON’S LIFE. MA’ARIV 1. Adviser Spector: If material is released – Sharon will not remain PM. “SHARON LIED UNDER OATH. “THIS IS LIBELLOUS.” Spector, who was Sharon’s strategic adviser, broke his silence yesterday. In Channel 2 interview, he presented new tape and claimed: “Sharon was involved in all financial actions.” Sharon confidants: Matter not worthy of response. 2. SCHWARTZBAUM DROVE THE TERRORIST FOR MONEY. NIS 100. That is the sum that Oranit taxi driver Ofer Schwartzbaum received to drive suicide terrorist who perpetrated Geha interchange attack. He claimed in his defense: “I didn’t know he was a terrorist.” YEDIOT AHRONOT 1. Spector tape: Investigator who taped Sharon speaks: “SHARON KNEW EVERYTHING”; PM’S PEOPLE: LIE. On Nissim Mishal’s program: Ariel Sharon heard on tape talking with private investigator Spector about transfers of funds. Sharon confidants: State Comptroller has already checked issue and didn’t take steps. 2. “FENCE TRIAL” IN HAGUE: 10 PALESTINIAN WITNESSES AGAINST ISRAEL. Increasing tension ahead of Court session. Palestinians planning propaganda trial, Israel expediting construction of wall around Jerusalem. 3. JEWISH MAN DROVE TERRORIST TO GEHA INTERCHANGE. State Prosecutor’s Office: Ofer Schwartzbaum was “accessory to killing.” His family: He didn’t know passenger was terrorist. ______________________________ SUMMARY OF EDITORIALS FROM THE HEBREW PRESS Yediot Ahronot refers to yesterday’s announcement that a Jewish taxi driver, Ofer Schwartzbaum, has admitted to driving the Palestinian terrorist who committed the 25.12.2003 suicide bombing at Geha interchange, in which four Israeli citizens were murdered, from Kafr Kassem to the interchange. The editors note that while Schwartzbaum didn’t know that his passenger was a terrorist, he knew that he lacked a permit to be in Israel. The paper asserts that, “People like Schwartzbaum cannot be located in advance. This is a problem for all of us because we have all gotten used to shutting our eyes at ‘petty crime.’” Yediot Ahronot, in its second editorial, bemoans the way in which ministers, the IDF, the ISA, President Moshe Katsav and various other officials all rushed to make public statements regarding Syrian President Bashar Assad’s stance on peace talks with Israel, instead of deferring to Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and his ministry. The editors remark: “It is more a way to run a market stall than an orderly country.” Hatzofeh lauds, “The 150,000 demonstrators [who] came from all over the country, including Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, on Sunday evening in order to vigorously protest Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal policy.” The editors believe that, “The Prime Minister has no majority in either the government or the Knesset, in favor of his withdrawal policy.” The paper commends the organizers of last Sunday’s demonstration, “for their praiseworthy initiative, and their important contribution, to the great struggle in which the Jewish People currently finds itself in, over the integrity and security of the Jewish state.”
BPI