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Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

The law firm at which former Secretary of State James Baker is a senior partner used an Israeli middleman to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iraq and push through a multimillion-dollar collection effort involving the regime of Saddam Hussein, according to a businessman here who said he mediated the deal.

Nir Gouaz, president of Caesar Global Securities in Israel, told WorldNetDaily that Baker’s firm, Houston-based Baker Botts, made about $30 million collecting funds owed to a South Korean company by the Iraqi government at the peak of American sanctions imposed against Baghdad. He claimed Baker was directly involved in the deal.

He said he was used in 1999 to set up the sale, through the Bank of Jordan, of Iraqi government bonds Hussein used to pay the Korean company. In 2000, the Jordanian bank bought the Iraqi bonds using the services of Baker’s firm at the price of $272 million, Gouaz said.

He said it was “clear” from his communications with all parties involved that Baker’s firm established the bonds exchange through Jordan using an Israeli middleman in order to bypass sanctions on Iraq.

Baker’s firm said it had “no knowledge” of the transactions described by Gouaz, who provided WND with documentation and passed a polygraph lie detector test.

Gouaz told WND he decided to come forward with details of the alleged transactions after the release earlier this month of a report by the Iraq Study Group, a commission headed by Baker that recommended an eventual U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and dialogue with Iran and Syria.

The report also urged Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem, and to sign a deal with Syria in which the Jewish state would vacate the Golan Heights, strategic mountainous territory twice used by Damascus to launch ground invasions into Israel.

“People need to understand [Baker] is acting out of economic considerations,” Gouaz said.

Hamas Suicide Bombings May Resume

Hamas is debating whether to resume suicide bombings inside the Jewish state and may allow its so-called military wing to openly engage in anti-Israeli attacks if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is aided in his calls for new Palestinian elections, Hamas members told WND.

“If the Israelis or the Americans and international community interferes in Palestinian affairs and encourages Abu Mazen [Abbas] to go on with elections, this will lead to internal Palestinian clashes, but the fighting will not just remain internal,” said Abu Abdullah, who is considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’s Izzedine al-Kassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas’s declared “resistance” department.

Abu Abdullah warned that if the Hamas government falters, the terror group “will use all tools it has, including coming back to suicide attacks inside Israel.”

The last Hamas suicide bombing inside Israel took place in 2004. Hamas has largely refrained from claiming responsibility for more recent attacks against Israel. Still, Hamas’s “military wing” has reportedly been active. 

“I the last fifteen months we did not stop making important advancements and professional training on the military level,” Abu Abdullah said.

U.S. Weapons Adding Fuel to Fire?

The United States has for the past few days been providing arms to militant groups from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party to bolster it in clashes against rival Hamas factions.

According to Israeli and Palestinian security officials, the U.S. weapons shipments have prompted an arms race with Hamas, which has been smuggling into the Gaza Strip larger than usual quantities of weaponry from neighboring Egypt.

The Israeli security officials expressed concern that some of the weapons obtained by Fatah and Hamas could be used in attacks against Israeli troops operating in Gaza or in raids on Israeli military stations and communities near the Gaza Strip.

In a WND interview earlier this month, Abu Yousuf, a senior Fatah militant said that any U.S. aid and weapons given to his security organization will be used to attack Jews and “fight Israeli occupation.”

U.S. Jewish Groups May Aid Gaza Exiles

Mainstream American Jewish groups who largely refused to aid the thousands of Jews evacuated last summer from the Gaza Strip are showing signs they are readdressing the issue, and may provide financial assistance to what has been labeled by many in Israel a humanitarian crisis.

The majority of former Jewish Gaza residents, 15 months after Israel’s withdrawal from the territory, are unemployed, and none have received permanent housing as promised by the Israeli government.

The former Gaza residents have appealed for help a number of times to major Jewish organizations in the U.S., but until now, they say, they were mostly rejected.

Dror Vanunu, international coordinator for Friends of Gush Katif, a major nonprofit organization representing the Gaza Jewish refugees, said that during the past few weeks major Jewish groups offered to reexamine the issue of Gush Katif refugees.

He credited a widely-circulated WND investigative article last month, also published in this column, documenting how the major U.S. organizations refused to aid to Gush Katif groups, although they raised over $300 million for northern Israeli communities battered by Hizbullah rocket fire in July and August – including large sums of money for Arab villages. American Jewish organizations also recently initiated a major task force to raise money for underprivileged Israeli Arabs.

“Many of the biggest Jewish leaders I talked to read the WND article and were affected by it,” said Vanunu. “It helped in a very direct way to put the subject on the table. People are now talking, and I hope they will respond.”
 
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on America’s top radio programs.

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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