Israel conveyed to the US up-to-date and extremely detailed intelligence which demonstrates Yasser Arafat’s personal involvement in the recent terror attacks in the heart of Israel, including last week’s terror attacks. Shortly thereafter, President Bush called Prime Minister Sharon and expressed understanding of Israel’s right to defend itself.

Early Thursday morning, Washington time, a special Israeli envoy arrived at the offices of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and hand-delivered the Israeli material to her. The material included decisive and clear-cut evidence illustrating the connection between Arafat and the terror attacks. Israeli security establishment officials also presented the same documents to the CIA representatives in Israel.

A senior American source said that the prime minister gave instructions to transmit the intelligence immediately after a telephone conversation he had with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday evening, in which he reiterated the personal link between Arafat and terror attacks in the heart of Israel. The source said that the material was immediately passed on to President Bush himself. The source also divulged that the detailed information that Israel conveyed to the administration in Washington played a major role in the green light from the American capital to Jerusalem to embark on a comprehensive military operation in PA territory. White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer also said that Israel has a right to defend itself.

Furthermore, the American source said that the Israeli material gave the Washington administration officials a further reason to postpone President Bush’s speech, at least for the time being. “The material shown to the Americans made them have second and third thoughts about the speech,” said the senior source.

The source also said that the material reinforced the American understanding that the Israeli demand to select an executive prime minister for the Palestinian Authority instead of Arafat, is a basic demand from which Israel cannot shift.

For the present, it seems that the Americans will continue supporting Israel with regard to a military operation in the Palestinian cities, and will hold off on the diplomatic speech at least until President Bush returns from the meeting of the G-8 leaders in Canada this weekend.

This piece ran in Maariv on June 23, 2002