- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 29, 2002

Israel's top two security chiefs met with U.S. lawmakers and Defense Department officials this week at a series of secret briefings to gather support for a joint U.S.-Israeli anti-terror office.
Brig. Gen. David Tzur and Minister of Interior Security Uzi Landau met with U.S. officials Thursday in the hope of creating a new office to fight terrorism.
The office, to be in Washington, would monitor an almost instantaneous communications link between the proposed U.S. Department of Homeland Defense and the Israeli government on matters of homeland security. Visa policies, terrorist profiles and virtually all other internal security data except classified intelligence would be swapped by computer, fax and telephone.
"Israel is a laboratory for fighting terror," Mr. Landau said in an interview with The Washington Times, adding that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat; House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican; and Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, are "especially receptive" to the idea.
Mr. Weldon said yesterday that the office is the centerpiece of broader legislation he is drafting with the support of Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, and Rep. Jane Harman, California Democrat.
"We have laid out a strategy for increased cooperation with Israel," Mr. Weldon said. "The U.S.-Israeli office would be run by a point person in the new Homeland Defense Department."
A spokesman for the Department of Defense yesterday did not comment on whether the administration will back the effort but confirmed that Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith met with Mr. Landau and Gen. Tzur on Thursday.
"We don't discuss closed-door meetings, but the topic [of that brief[JUMP]ing] was homeland security," said Lt. Col. Michael Humm, who added that the new office wasn't discussed in detail.
A prominent Arab advocacy group, informed of the briefings, expressed concern at the prospect of Israel linking its security network to the proposed Department of Homeland Security.
"It's bizarre beyond belief," said Ibrahim Hooper of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It would suggest to us an 'Israelization' of American politics.
"What message is sent when our legislators begin tying our national security to a foreign country engaged in a brutal occupation? Is it Israel and America against the rest of the world?" Mr. Hooper asked.
But proponents of the proposal say they are not affording Israel any special treatment.
"We are not anti-Arab or anti-Muslim," Mr. Weldon said. "This is not about Israel's dispute with the Muslim world, but about sharing technology and approaches to fighting terror.
"The fact is that Israel has been the world's biggest target of terrorism. If a Muslim country also wishes to share its strategies for fighting terror, we will be just as receptive," he added.
Mr. Landau, whose government initiated the briefings, said he is optimistic that the Bush administration will support the proposal for a joint anti-terror office.
"I felt like a member of the same family," Mr. Landau said of Thursday's meetings. "We're all facing the same problem of terror."
Gen. Tzur, commander of Israel's internal-security forces, said the briefings focused on disseminating Israeli strategies on "homeland security issues," such as protecting national borders against terrorists.
He stressed that the new office would not be an international intelligence agency but a communications hub.
"For the sake of both sides, our cooperation on homeland defense in the future should be as extensive as possible," Gen. Tzur said.

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