Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Lebanese guerrilla chief Hassan Nasrallah could become targets for assassination, Israel's prime minister said in interviews published yesterday, in his most explicit threats yet against his arch foes. \nPrime Minister Ariel Sharon was also quoted as saying he would withdraw from all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank settlements of Ganim, Kadim, Homesh and Sanur, for the first time revealing the scope of his unilateral "disengagement" plan. He also hinted at a timetable, saying he hoped by this time next year Israel would be withdrawing. \nSharon also commented on the bribe-taking suspicions against him, saying: "My hands are clean." Israel's chief prosecutor has recommended he be indicted, but the final decision is up to the attorney general who is expected to rule by the end of May. \nThe prime minister has said he would let his divided Likud Party make a final decision on the withdrawal plan. Sharon is to hold a binding referendum among 200,000 party members after his return from an April 14 meeting with US President George W. Bush. Recent polls suggested that while Sharon has an advantage, the gap is too small to assure approval of the Gaza plan. \nSharon's interviews with the Maariv, Yediot Ahronot and Haaretz dailies, given ahead of next week's Passover holiday, were seen as the opening of his campaign for the withdrawal plan. \nMaariv quoted him as saying Israel would withdraw from all of Gaza, only retaining control over a patrol road between southern Gaza and the Egyptian border, to prevent weapons smuggling. \nSharon initially considered retaining three settlements in northern Gaza. There had also been debate over how many West Bank settlements to evacuate, and it appears Sharon settled for the smallest proposed number of four. \n"We need to get out of Gaza, not to be responsible any more for what happens there," Sharon told Maariv. "I hope that by next Passover we will be in the midst of disengagement, because disengagement is good for Israel." \nThe prime minister told Yediot that after the withdrawal Israel would consider cutting off water and electricity to Gaza if attacks against Israelis continue. \nAsked by Haaretz whether Arafat and Nasrallah are targets for assassination, Sharon said: "I wouldn't suggest that either of them feel immune ... Anyone who kills a Jew or harms an Israeli citizen, or sends people to kill Jews, is a marked man. Period." \nSharon told Maariv that Arafat "has no insurance policy." Sharon added that "today, everyone knows Arafat is the obstacle [blocking] any progress." \nPalestinian officials said they are taking Sharon's threats seriously. "With these threats, Sharon is threatening the future of the peace process in the region," said Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh. \nSharon's warnings were reinforced by his vice premier and confidant, Ehud Olmert. \n"Those involved in killing Jews will have to defend themselves, run away, hide and invest all their energy in defending themselves, that is what the prime minister said," Olmert told Israel Radio. \nIsrael's army chief, Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon, made veiled threats against Arafat and Nasrallah last week, after Israel assassinated Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin. However, security officials said at the time there were no plans to target the two.
Michael Bloomberg last week apologized at a business forum hosted by the news agency he founded for remarks by former British prime minister Boris Johnson criticizing China as autocratic. The controversy highlights China’s influence in Asia and sensitivities about overt criticism of Beijing. Bloomberg, a former New York mayor who ran for president in 2020, apologized on Thursday at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, a business gathering whose speakers included Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan (王岐山) and whose delegates included Chinese businesspeople. “Some may have been insulted or offended last night by parts of the speaker’s remarks referencing certain countries and
POLAND-GERMANY RIFT: Warsaw’s response to Berlin over a NATO system that would increase the alliance’s involvement in the war came as Kyiv accused Russia of war crimes Anti-missile systems that Germany offered to send to Poland should instead go to Ukraine, the Polish government said on Thursday, a proposal that is likely a nonstarter for Berlin because it would significantly ratchet up NATO involvement in Ukraine. Poland’s surprising response to Berlin’s offer was welcomed by Ukraine, which is desperate to protect its airspace as barrages of Russian missiles have knocked out power across the country. German Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht said that use of NATO defense systems outside its territory needs to be agreed by all member states. “It is important to us that Poland can rely on allies
STRONG LANGUAGE: The Turkish defense ministry posted a photograph online of an F-16 jet with the words: ‘Payback time. The scoundrels are being held to account’ Turkey launched airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense said yesterday, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for last week’s bomb attack in Istanbul. Warplanes attacked bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG), the ministry said in a statement, which was accompanied by images of F-16 jets taking off and footage of a strike from an aerial drone. There was no immediate comment from either group. The ministry cited Turkey’s right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter in launching an operation it called Claw-Sword
MONEY-MAKING SCHEME: Some students said they were misled about study or work opportunities, or were not told that they were coming to a self-proclaimed republic Foreign students are big business in northern Cyprus, a tiny, breakaway statelet only recognized by Turkey, but some warn that university recruiters are selling “dreams” in the internationally and economically isolated territory. One Nigerian student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he expected to arrive in the country whose soccer teams compete in European tournaments. Instead, when he saw the currency was the embattled Turkish lira, he realized this was “not the Cyprus I thought it was.” The Mediterranean island is divided between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and a northern statelet established after Turkey launched a 1974 invasion in