Jerusalem — In the wake of this week’s agreement between the United Nations and Iraq, attention here turned to the threat posed by other countries in the Middle East with nonconventional weapons.
In addition to Iraq, “Iran, Syria, Egypt and Libya are all developing chemical and biological weapons at a rapid rate,” said Dr. Dany Shoham, a military expert at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs.
A longstanding power struggle between Iran’s top leaders crystallized this week over the legal system that will decide the fate of 13 Iranian Jews charged with spying for Israel and America.
Offering the first specifics on the case against them, Iran’s foreign minister said Monday that the 13 were arrested “on charges of illegally gathering secret information, including military information, and handing it over to foreigners.”
Israelís peace movement, largely dormant since Ariel Sharon was first elected prime minister three years ago, resurfaced last weekend amid calls for a political framework for peace and withdrawal from a contentious settlement in Gaza.
An estimated 4,000 Israelis took to the street Saturday night to protest Sharon's policies in a demonstration outside his Jerusalem residence.
Naomi Chazan, a former Knesset member from the left-wing Meretz Party and one of the participants, said this was the first major demonstration against Sharon.
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came under fire at home this week for allegedly disregarding Palestinian civilians in its zeal to combat terrorists, and from the United Nations, which called upon Israel to remove its security barrier that Arabs call a land grab.
The controversy within Israel arose after the Israeli military launched one of the largest series of air strikes against terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Monday. Five air strikes were conducted against suspected Palestinian terrorists and a weapons factory in Gaza City.
Israel, which has made it a point not to walk out of the United Nations despite all of the abuse hurled at it from member nations over the years, will be pointedly absent when the General Assembly convenes on Monday, Yom Kippur.
So will President Bill Clinton. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold, said this is the first time an American president has not spoken at the start of the General Assembly's general debate. He will speak Tuesday instead.