Sharon Opposes Inclusion of Syria, PA in Int’l Coalition against Terrorism
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon voiced to US President George Bush Israel's objections to the inclusion of Syria and the Palestinian Authority in an international coalition against terror, reported Haaretz on Sunday.
According to the paper, Israel said that it would “not be appropriate” for the PA and Syria to take part in such a coalition when they themselves “sponsor terrorist organizations.”
Israel's position is that any coalition for an international war against terrorism must have a broad aim, namely a battle against all terrorism worldwide, including “Palestinian terror against Israel,” the paper said.
The New York Times reported Friday that William J. Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, met envoys of 15 Arab states, including Palestine and Syria, and gave the envoys a stark choice: either declare their nations members of an international coalition against terrorism, or risk being isolated in a growing global conflict.
Unusually, the meeting included the ambassador of Syria, a country long on the State Department's list of those that “foster terrorism.”
The meeting, said the paper, followed a 98-to-0 vote in the Senate to give President Bush the power to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to respond to the terror attacks on the United States this week.
Burns met with the Arab envoys and delivered what a senior administration official called a simple message: "The time has come to choose sides."
The State Department described the nascent anti-terror coalition as embracing "all civilizations," not just the West.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said at a news conference Friday, "This has become a new benchmark, a new way of measuring the relationship and what we can do together."
According to the paper, Burns read to the Arab envoys — who included a representative of the Palestinians — a list of actions their nations were expected to take against terrorism, including the arrest and prosecution of terrorists on a country's soil.
In addition, the State Department sent a cable to all its embassies and posts around the world today listing the conditions that nations were expected to meet in order to qualify for membership in the anti-terror coalition.
Quoting from the cable, a State Department official said it included a demand that each country must "wrap up and prosecute terrorists on your own soil."
The Arab representatives were not given a deadline for deciding whether to sign on to the anti-terror cause, said the paper.
Nor was there any discussion of possible military contributions by the Arab nations represented at the meeting, it added.
“Whether the Arab governments, which must often contend with significant segments of their populations who sympathize with the goals of militants like Osama bin Laden, will agree to the administration's request is an open question,” said the New York Times.
It added that hints that Bush may have trouble holding together the coalition he envisions were not long in coming.
Meanwhile, Haaretz said that despite Israeli and US differences regarding the composition of an anti-terror coalition, the paper said that Israel and the US have already begun sharing intelligence about terrorist organizations around the world. Contacts between the two sides include exchange of information and preparation of a military plan to strike those responsible for the terrorist attacks in the United States, it added – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)