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9/11 tragedy considered Israel's "Hannukah miracle"

An extraordinary take - with Iraq in iys tail. best, f.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001 Tevet 3, 5762 Israel Time: 01:36 (GMT+2)

For Israel, September 11 was a Hanukkah miracle

By Aluf Benn

The Israeli political-security establishment is coming to the
conclusion that the terror attacks on September 11 were a kind
of "Hanukkah miracle" for Israel, coming just as Israel was under
increasing international pressure because of the ongoing conflict
with the Palestinians.

Osama bin Laden's September 11 attacks placed Israel firmly on the
right side of the strategic map with the U.S., and put the Arab world
at a disadvantage as it now faces its own difficult decisions about
its future. That's the impression left by the speeches given by
Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy and National Security Council chairman
Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan, at this week's Herzliya conference on national

Dayan said yesterday that the global reality resulting from September
11 gives Israel and the U.S. "the chance for victory over a common
enemy." Halevy spoke about "a world war different from all its
predecessors" and about global agreement that "combined all the
elements of Islamic terror into one clear and identifiable format,"
creating "a genuine dilemma for every ruler and every state in our
region. Each one must reach a moment of truth and decide how he will
position himself in the campaign."

Last weekend, a top-level Israeli delegation, led by Minister without
Portfolio Dan Meridor, was in Washington for a "strategic dialogue"
meeting with the U.S. government. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wanted
Meridor and his colleagues to find out what the U.S. government has
in mind for "Phase Two" of the war on international terror and to
report to the Americans on Israeli ideas and concerns.

Meridor's entourage included Dayan; Amos Yaron, the Defense Ministry
director general; Danny Ayalon, the prime minister's political
adviser; Yoav Biran, the Foreign Ministry deputy director general;
and David Ivry, Israel's ambassador to Washington.

The American team, headed by Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary
of state, told the Israelis that Washington hasn't yet decided on its
course of action for the next phase. The speedy victory in
Afghanistan surprised the administration, which expected a much
longer campaign.

But the first stage is not yet over. After Afghanistan, the Americans
plan to hunt down Qaida cells worldwide (the network is estimated to
be dispersed over 60 countries), and only then to start looking

According to the Israelis who were in Washington, President Bush is
daily more determined that the campaign against terror proceed to the
next stages. The American officials explained that the administration
is of two minds about which way to go. One direction is "dealing with
the difficult cases, first," with the intention being Iraq. The other
approach proposes going from the periphery to the center, eliminating
terror cells in countries like Somalia and Sudan, before moving on to
more difficult targets.

The Israelis spoke about the dangerous connection between terrorism
and the development of unconventional weapons and missile
systems. "Those who use terror, will also use weapons of mass
destruction if they can. This is a matter of the means, not the
will," said Dayan, in his Herzliya lecture yesterday.

Dayan identified what he called the appropriate targets for the next
stage of the global campaign: "The Iran, Iraq and Syria triangle, all
veteran supporters of terror which are developing weapons of mass
destruction." He said that "they must be confronted as soon as
possible, and that is also understood in the U.S. Hezbollah and Syria
have good reason to worry about the developments in this campaign,
and that's also true for the organizations and other states."

During the Washington discussions, one of the Israelis proposed a new
direction for the Americans to consider: "Syria first." The intention
is not for the U.S. to bomb President Bashar Assad's palace or the
Syrian Scud missile bases, but rather for Washington to apply
political pressure. The Syrians are sensitive to U.S. opinion much
more than the Iranians or Iraqis, and they can be pressured to give
up their relationship with the Hezbollah and the Palestinian terror
organizations based in Damascus.

The Israelis wanted to know if the U.S. is making approaches to Iran,
as has been signaled since the September 11 attacks. The Americans
said they are interested in a dialogue with Tehran, but have not
succeeded yet, and meanwhile haven't uncovered any real change in the
behavior of the Iranian government.

Israel is sticking to its official position that there is no
difference between the moderates and the conservatives in Tehran and
no real significance to the positive attitudes expressed by Iranian
President Mohammed Khatami, since he has no real power in formulating
his country's foreign policy. On this issue, Mossad chief Halevy
appeared to be the lone dissenter in the Israeli establishment,
noting in his speech that there are signs of potential change in
Tehran, with some key figures indicating that if Israel and the
Palestinians reach an agreement, Tehran would not oppose it.

In his lecture yesterday, Dayan presented a sweeping view of a model
for a global campaign against terrorism:

* Five coordinated and integrated efforts - diplomatic, military,
economic, legal and educational - in a campaign that will not be
decided by the occupation of land or the destruction of opposing
forces, as in classic warfare.

* Three circles - one being immediate reactions and defense, the
second a widening campaign against states and organizations with
enforcement of the rule that terror is illegitimate, and a third to
deal with the the roots of conflicts and preventing the creation of
the conditions that foster terrorism, what Dayan referred to
as "drying the swamps," a clear hint about political processes and
local peace agreements in places that tend to violence.

* Three levels - independent action by lone states, bilateral actions
(like U.S.-Israeli efforts) and multinational efforts, in which many
states with similar approaches to terror engage in joint efforts.

"This is a fight for values, and victory is necessary," Dayan
declared, offering the following definition for terrorism: "Any
organization that systematically harms civilians, irrespective of its

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