Thursday, May 29, 1997

PM Netanyahu decides not to fire Amb. to the U.S. Ben-Elissar. Instead he appoints his long-time personal friend Leonard Davis, fmr. head of AIPAC's Jerusalem office, to be the embassy's no. 2 man. Davis, a dual citizen who has never held a diplomatic position or worked with the FMin., will give up his U.S. citizenship. (WT 5/30) (see 5/19)

Jordanian PM `Abd al-Salam al-Majali announces plans to open a Human Rights Unit under his office. (RJ 5/29 in WNC 5/31) (see 11/30/96)

Al-Azhar head, Shaykh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi sanctions the death penalty against those who sell Palestinian land to Jews. (VIRI 5/29 in WNC 5/31)

U.S. intelligence says that Egypt hopes to buy advanced SAM missiles fr. Russia, which would give Egypt the best tactical anti-ballistic-missile capability in the world, very good antiaircraft and anti-cruise-missile defenses. Congress is concerned Egypt will use its U.S. military aid to purchase the SAMs, which would be illegal. 90% of U.S. aid is tied to purchases of U.S. goods. (WT 5/30)

Brother of the Hamas suicide bomber who carried out the 3/21 attack, Omar Ghanimat, who has been detained without charge since the bombing, appeals to the Israeli High Court to stop his interrogation, charging that Shin Bet agents have tortured him. The High Court rejects the appeal, orders the Justice Min. to investigate. (WP 5/30; LAW 6/1)

UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) complains that 7 Hizballah gunmen halted and damaged a UN vehicle in s. Lebanon, performed mock executions on the 2 UNIFIL soldiers. In a separate incident nr. Tyre, 5 Hizballah gunmen stop, interrogate 2 UNIFIL soldiers driving in a marked UN truck. It is the 1st time in 10 yrs. that Hizballah has harassed UNIFIL soldiers. (AFP, RL 5/30 in WNC 6/2)