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October 19, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 19, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIOA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 19, 2012 PAGE 13A I .e. By Adam Nicky The Media Line AMMAN, JORDAN-- Abdullah Ashee, a 45-year old investor, is wanted in the West Bank for alleged fraud. But two years ago, while his case was being considered in a court in the West Bank city of Ramallah, he fled to neighboring Jordan. He says he entered Jordan legally and that he fled his home because he does not trust the Palestinian Authority's legal system. "The people who filed the charges against me are related to influential people from the Palestinian Authority - I was a victim,". Ashee told The Media Line, "I was facing prison and losing more money, so I decided to flee." It is hard to know how many Palestinians have fled to Jordan in recent years, but according to figures published on the website of the Palestinian Authority, its police have apprehended nearly 2,000 people who were trying to escape pros- ecution in the Palestinian territories by fleeing to Jordan. Legal scholars in Jordan say despite efforts by the PA, dozens have suc- ceeded. Jordanian officials ac- knowledge that many Pales- tinians leave the West.Bank while their cases are being heard in Palestinian courts. The situation is com- plicated by the close ties between the West Bank and Jordan. Jordan ruled the area from 1948 to 1967, when it came under Israeli control. An estimated 800,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank, out of a total population of 2.6 mil- lion, hold Jordanian citizen- ship, the impact of which is strengthened where there are close family ties. Jordanian law prohibits the extradition of Jordanian citizens except in exception- al cases, so the kingdom's government is unlikely to extradite Palestinians to the West Bank once they have entered Jordan. The Palestinian justice system is still in its infancy and according to legal ex- perts, Palestinian lawyers have made some mistakes. For example, says Mahmoud Naghawee, a member of the Jordanian Bas Association who has been involved in several cases of extradition requests for Palestinians from Jordan, Palestinian officials do not always send the correct documents to Jordan. "Jordan's legal system is very strict. For example, deportation would not take place without the original deportation request, but the Palestinians send a certified copy," he told The Media Line. "By the time proper documents are sent, the wanted individual wilt have already left Jordan to a third country, which further complicates efforts to bring him to justice," Naghawee explained. Meanwhile, Palestinian diplomats said their at- tempts to pursue wanted individuals once they have left Jordan for a third country become even more complicated due to the fact that that the Palestinian ter- ritories is not a full-fledged state. Many countries in Europe and Asia do not coope'rate with the Palestinian Au- thority due to the absence of a legal framework that allows the extradition of wanted people, despite the existence of the Interpol, which operates between states. Officials from Jordan's Ministry of Justice said Jordan does deport Pales- tinians to the West Bank, depending on the gravity of the case. They declined, however, to give figures on the number of individuals who have been deported. Sources in the ministry said that no more than five people have been deported in the past four years. Palestinian Ambassador to Jordan Attallah Khairi said the problem of extra- fliion exists, but he played down its significance. "Jordan did not shirk its responsibility to the Pal- estinian Authority on this issue, but cooperation on issues of financial corrup- tion could be improved," he told The Media Line. Khiri said the Palestin- ian Authority and Jordan cooperate under the Riyadh Agreement between mem- bers of the Arab League, which allows the extradition of individuals sentenced to prison for more than one year. Diplomats from the Pal- estinian embassy in Amman said the fact that many Palestinians hold dual na- tionality, Jordanian and "Palestinian, makes deporta- tion very difficult. Palestinian diplomats, who spoke to The Media Line on the condition of anonym- ity, said the Palestinian Authority asked Jordan to freeze the financial assets of former senior Palestinian official Mohammed Dahlan, who is wanted on charges of alleged corruption. "Jordan did not cooper- ate in the Dahlan issue. It continues to drag its feet on the matter, demanding more papers every time we meet their demands," said the diplomat. Dahlan, who carries dual Jordanian and Palestinian citizenship, is believed to have fled to Jordan after a fallout with Palestinian Authority President Mah- moud Abbas. He is currently wanted in the PA-controlled West Bank on charges of financial fraud. Meanwhile, a Jordanian official from the justice ministry said Jordan has extradited a few individu- als from its territories in cases related to money laundering. Speaking to The Media Line on condition of ano- nymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, he said the case of Dahlah is purely political, and therefore Jordan cannot extradite him. "The issue of Dahlan is an internal Pal- estinian issue that Jordan does not want to be dragged into," he said-. By Linda Gradstein The Media Line This summer, it seemed that the world believed that an Israeli attack on Iran was imminent - a belief shared in the Jewish state as well. Pan- icked Israelis rushed to gas mask distribution centers, newspapers published ban- ner headlines speculating on Israeli war plans, and Is- rael saw a seemingly endless parade of senior American officials trying to convince their counterparts to rethink plans for an attack. But now, the urgency has dissipated and most experts believe a military operation is not likely before next spring, if at all. A series of factors have converged to make it unlikely at best that Israel will act within the next few months. "If it was going to happen at all, it has been pushed off," a senior Israeli official told The Media Line speaking on condition of anonymity. "The question is why -where does it come from?" One reason is the Ameri- can presidential election on Nov. 6. The Obama adminis- tration has made it clear that it opposes an attack and any Israeli action against Ameri- can wishes could strain U.S.- Israeli ties. No single issue is more important to Israelis than the safeguarding of that sacrosanct relationship. Se- nior Israeli military officials say it is unlikely that Israel would act without coordinat- ing with Washington. A second reason is the presence of American troops in Israel for a joint mis- sile defense exercise called Austere Challenge 12. The first U.S. military personnel have already arrived and by the end of October there will be some 1,000 American troops in Israel to train in identifying and intercepting missiles--including those fired from Iran. Yet another reason is a report by the Internation- al Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has diverted part of its enriched uranium for medical research pur- poses. The IAEA report was published in late August but is receiving press coverage only now. It says that Tehran has converted more than a third of its most highly en- riched uranium into a pow- der for a medical research reactor. Once converted, it is extremely difficult to reprocess that uranium for weapons production, the net result reducing the quantity of nuclear fuel available for weaponry and with it, the presumed ability of the Ira- nians to assemble a bomb. A separate report last week from the Institute for Science and International Security, an American think tank, found that Iran could produce enough weapons grade uranium for a nuclear bomb within two to four months, but concluded that at the same time, Tehran would still face "engineer- ing challenges" and delays before it could make the other components needed for a functioning warhead. In his speech to the United Nations last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively gave the international commu- nity until next spring to act to stop Iran. He said there are three stages of enrich- ing uranium for a bomb: low enriched uranium, medium enriched uranium, and high enriched uranium. "Where's Iran?" Netan- yahu asked in his speech. "Iran's completed the first stage Now they are well into the second stage. By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrich- ment rates, they will have finished the medium enrich- ment and move onto the final stage. From there, it's only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb." Some Israeli experts sug- gest that the IAEA report does not fundamentally change Israel's perception of the danger of Israel's program. "You can't say there's less urgency if we are talking about enough fissile mate- rial for five bombs," Shmuel Bar, the director of Studies at the Institute of Policy and Strategy and a former senior intelligence official told The Media Line. "They are producing enough 20 percent uranium that, once enriched to 90 percent, could make five bombs. They are constantly adding centri- fuges, so any shifting of the 20 percent uranium to the research reactor is offset by increasing the capacity of the centrifuges." Bar also said that there is a growing sense that Israel will have to confront the Iranian nuclear program alone. "The U.S. will not act--not before the election and not after the election,' he said. "Like North Korea, the U.S. believes they can contain a nuclearIran. They will say 'we didn't want them to get there but now we have to live with it.'" Israel is also closely follow- ing events in Iran. A Foreign Ministry assessment leaked to Israeli newspapers found that the sanctions are having .a deep impact on the Iranian economy. The Iranian rial fell by 40 percent last week, and Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman even spoke of possible regime change in Iran. Yet, the as= sessment in Jerusalem is that it is too early for such talk. "There was much wider- ranging unrest--riots and protests--after the elections in 2009 and remember how everything was then sup- pressed," the senior Israeli official pointed out. "And despite the deep impact on the economy, the sanctions do not seem to have affected the nuclear program." He also said that all of the protests so far have been directed against Iranian President Mahmoud Ah- madinejad and not against Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Sayyed Khamenei or the other mullahs--or are even related to the issue of Iran's nuclear program. The official believes Ahmadinejad's days in power are numbered and the Iranian regime is using th~ protests. :'He's fallen so far from gnce he's not even in the dog hcuse--he's outside the dog house," the official said. "Di- recting popular rage against hi~ serves the regime's pur- pc~es. If he becomes the bad gty, then he canbe kicked out ard people will be satisfied." 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