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      Iraq And Straw; Israel And Road Map

      Israel's Foreign Ministry is still fuming at British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's comparison of Israel and Iraq.
      First Publish: 3/27/2003, 7:17 PM

      Israel's Foreign Ministry is still fuming at British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's comparison of Israel and Iraq. He said on Tuesday that at least some of the hostility encountered by coalition troops in Iraq was inspired by a perception of a "double standard" regarding the two countries. Straw said "the West has been guilty of double standards, on the one hand saying the UN Security Council resolutions on Iraq must be implemented, [while] on the other hand sometimes appearing rather quixotic over the implementation of resolutions about Israel and Palestine."

      Jerusalem's response: "It is regrettable that no distinction is made in Europe between a bloodthirsty dictator who threatens the entire world, and a democratic country that is dealing with the worst wave of terrorism in the world."

      Some Iraqis also resent Straw's words. Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the opposition Iraqi National Congress and regarded as a possible future Iraqi leader, called them "science fiction," and said that the Israeli-PA issue is "not the reason why they have not demonstrated. It is fear of Saddam and that the coalition has told them to do nothing."

      British Prime Minister Tony Blair said today that Britain would work together with the UN to rebuild Iraq. Chalabi, in remarks published in this morning's London Daily Telegraph, said that instead of the UN trying to deal with post-war Iraq, the allied troops should remain in the country until democracy and independence is attained. "We are the only people who can get the population to rise up against Saddam," Chalabi said, "but the coalition broadcasts are telling the Iraqi people to stay at home. This is not the correct way to go. If this is to be a liberation, then the people must participate." He said that there was little communication between the anti-Saddam rebels in Basra and the coalition forces, and that the uprising on Tuesday was quickly and brutally suppressed.

      Britain is said to be pressuring the U.S. to advance the Road Map plan. Ha'aretz reported today that Israel is to be "allowed" to propose a small number of changes to the plan. Israel is said to be insisting on a change of the Palestinian leadership; complete dissolution of the terrorist infrastructure; freedom for the IDF to operate against terrorism in PA-controlled territory; a freeze on Yesha construction only after quiet has been achieved; no dismantling of Yesha communities during the interim period; and more. Israel will agree to the establishment of a PA state with temporary borders, which will be granted permanent status and borders only per an agreement with Israel. Ariel Sharon, who is known to support a PA state, has said in the past that it must be demilitarized, and that its borders and airspace be controlled by Israel.