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March 13, 2002 at 12:45 PM
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Insider notes from United Press International for March 13 ...

The once unthinkable idea of Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is becoming mainstream. The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, in its annual national security poll, finds 46 percent of Israel's Jewish voters supporting the transfer of Palestinians out of the West Bank, while 31 percent also want Israeli Arabs to join the transfer. When the same question was posed more subtly, 60 percent said they supported the idea of "encouraging" the Israeli Arabs to leave. Until last year, when some Israeli Arabs began backing the intifada, they were traditionally loyal and a source of valued recruits to the Israeli Defense Forces. And 72 percent of respondents said they opposed Israeli Arab political parties helping form Israeli governments -- which could stop any future Labor government having a Knesset majority.

Israel Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer threatened to resign Wednesday after a Cabinet row when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon complained that the army had been pulling its punches on Operation Root Treatment, the big refugee camp raids in Gaza and Ramallah. Sharon had been hoping for air strikes by F-16s, and the seizure of Yasser Arafat's Ramallah headquarters. But they agreed to keep up the pace of the attacks even after Thursday's arrival in Israel of President Bush's envoy, ex-Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni. And Secretary of State Colin Powell promised Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in a phone call Tuesday night to try and prevent Hezbollah from "igniting" Israel's northern border. With most Israel combat troops already committed to Operation Root Treatment, reinforcing the Lebanon front would be tricky.

A nasty row has broken out in the German army where former East Germans, who get only 90 percent of the pay of West German colleagues, complain that they are getting all the dirty overseas duty because it's cheaper for the government. Armed Forces Commissioner Wilfried Penner, urging the government to spend the extra $434 million required for equal pay, also confirms reports of very low morale among German troops in Kabul, who say they are in danger because their uniforms makes them look like Russians.

The usual Washington festivities around St. Patrick's Day could be a bit testy this week after Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble described the Irish Republic as a "pathetic, sectarian, mono-cultural and mono-ethnic state." Irish-Americans greeting Trimble on his Washington tour this week, starting with a Wednesday morning session at the White House, are expected to inquire further into his curious views on his neighbors and partners in peace-making.

Furious at President Bush's decision to impose 30 percent steel tariffs, the 15-nation European Union is refusing to come to Washington for the talks required as the first step in the WTO dispute process and insisting on neutral ground -- Geneva, starting next Tuesday. The talks will determine whether the European Union will go for immediate retaliatory counter sanctions on more than $2 billion worth of U.S. exports. In the meantime, the European Union is holding confidential talks with other affected countries such as Japan, Korea, China, Australia, Brazil and others, seeking a coordinated strategy against the United States. But all these others have already agreed to hold their talks in Washington.

The vibrant night life of Shanghai and Beijing is about to dry up. The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference is complaining that the party's finest are partying too hard. "If leading cadres fail to discipline themselves, not only will they be looked down on by the masses, but also their behavior will directly affect the images of the party and government," warns conference spokesman Yang Xingkai, in a speech reported only in the Chinese language version of the official Xinhua news service. Yang wants "a sound supervision and restraining mechanism," including overt and covert inspection" in restaurants, hotels, and other places providing entertainment. "These are strict demands imposed on leading cadres as well as a way to show our love for them," Yang added.

Warning of damage to Australia's international relations, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has tried and failed to stop the declassifying of secret government files from 1947 that show the country's revered scientist and 1960 Nobel Prize winner for medicine Macfarlane Burnet proposing biological warfare. Burnet, who died in 1985, recommended that Australia should develop biological and chemical weapons to target neighboring countries' food stocks and spread infectious diseases as "the most effective counter-offensive to threatened invasion by overpopulated Asiatic countries." Burnet, seen as the father of modern biotechnology, stressed the economic advantage of biological warfare: "Its use has the tremendous advantage of not destroying the enemy's industrial potential which can then be taken over intact."

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