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Saturday, February 3, 2007

No Iranians arrested in Gaza, Tehran official says

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/no-iranians-arrested-in-gaza-tehran.html

No Iranians arrested in Gaza, Tehran official says

Iranian official Larijani, Islamic Jihad leader deny reports of 5 Iranian citizens being arrested in Gaza in Tehran press conference, discuss Palestinian matter
 
Dudi Cohen Published:  02.03.07, 23:49
 
"A blatant lie," was Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani's response to reports that five Iranians were arrested by Palestinian security officers in Gaza on Friday.
 
According to a Palestinian security official, at least five Iranian citizens were arrested during a raid at the Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold in Gaza City. Gaza Violence
 
One of the Iranians was a general, and the group was believed to have been sent by Iran to train Hamas members.
 
Larijani addressed the report at a press conference in Tehran after meeting with Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan Abdullah Shallah and was quoted by Iranian news agency Mehr.

 
Shallah himself called the report "a joke."

Regarding the Hamas-Fatah infighting over the past few days, Larijani said, "Right now there are conflicts in Palestine that need to be worked out, and we are trying to reach an agreement between them."

"The current conflict is not in the Palestinians' best interest, and we support Palestinian national unity," he stressed.
 

On his meeting with Shallah, Larijani said "the main topic I discussed with Ramadan Abdullah was how an atmosphere of internal Palestinian unity could be created."

Shallah explained that "Iran is a central and senior country that aids Muslims all over the world, especially on the Palestinian matter, and supports Palestinian factions fighting the Zionist regime."

Shallah explained that Iran is a country that supports the Palestinian's struggle, and he therefore visited the country in order to update the Iranian officials on "the recent developments and existing problems in the occupied territories, and to ask for their help."
 
When asked about last week's suicide bombing in Eilat , which his organization claimed responsibility for, Shallah said "the answer is clear. As long as the Zionist occupation continues, so must the suicide missions. The suicide missions are our way to defend ourselves from the Zionist regime's attacks."
 
 
 
"In light of the fact that Israel is killing the organizations' commanders, such suicide missions are natural. It's natural that we will defend ourselves any way possible," he added.
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Shake-up time (Barak for Defense)

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/shake-up-time-barak-for-defense.html

Shake-up time
 
By Yoel Marcus

It is no secret that Ehud Olmert was looking forward to the acquittal of his friend and ally, Haim Ramon. Caught between public opinion, disappointed by the failures of the war, and the Winograd Committee, which could lay the blame at his door, Olmert was planning to do what any prime minister would do in his shoes: reshuffle the government deck.
 
But then, a day before his critical testimony was to be heard by the Winograd Committee, the harsh Ramon verdict descends on him. Olmert was not the only one who expressed his "profound sorrow" over the severity of the conviction. The "man in the street" also thought the court had overdone it.
 
But as luck would have it, the kiss affair took place on the day when seven soldiers were killed and two were kidnapped by Hezbollah, and just a short time before the government voted to go to war. So amid expressions of sorrow over the judges coming down so hard on the public's darling, there was also some grumbling. On the eve of a war is that what Ramon had on his brain? French kisses?
 
In another twist of fate in the course of this jam-packed week - a day before the Ramon verdict and two days before Olmert's appearance before the Winograd panel - a letter signed by 54 retired generals, many with long years of derring-do behind them, landed on his desk, demanding that Ehud Barak be appointed defense minister.
 
This letter, the brainchild of Major General (Res.) Menachem Meron, took pains to point out that it was not, by any means, an attempt to meddle in the Labor primaries. It was written after coming to the conclusion that Israel had reached the breaking point.
 
Several of the signatories I spoke to, regarding the reason for the letter and the choice of timing, said they were worried about the security situation and Amir Peretz's inability to prepare the defense system to deal with future threats. Appealing to the prime minister was not politically motivated, one of the signers told me. The letter was against the wrong man being i n the wrong place at the wrong time.
 
The era of the lumbering dinosaurs is over, ex-Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit told a television interviewer: There are no more De Gaulles or Churchills. Today we need leaders with professional expertise, leaders who can restore Israel's power of deterrence and ability to win.
 
The signers of this letter insist that they have nothing personal against Peretz - apart from their belief that he is incapable of restoring Israel's military effectiveness, and that as he falls more and more in love with the job, it's time to start worrying.
 
Peretz is not to blame for the string of failures in Lebanon. He simply has no clue about the stuff. His whole political career has been light years away from defense. It is doubtful that the Winograd Committee will find him responsible for the bungles. At most, the panel will say he didn't understand or he didn't know - for example, what questions he should have asked the chief of staff before going to war. He is not guilty of negligence but of insufficient knowledge in a field that he was put in charge of for political reasons.
 
Unfortunately, we don't have a spare year or two for him to learn the ropes. This letter of the generals is a verbalization of public distress, of the fear in Israeli society of the dangers that lie ahead.
 
As things stand, Barak is the best we have for the defense portfolio. From the moment he settles into his seat, he will know what to do. He doesn't need a single day in the classroom. Some say that Israel's most decorated soldier was not necessarily Israel's best chief of staff. From a long-range perspective, however, there is no one who can top him at assessing future dangers. As chief of staff, he initiated a highly important project whose valuable strategic fruits we will be reaping for years to come.
 
Since the war, Olmert has been looking for a way to replace Peretz with Barak, and he sees this appointment as a critical one in the portfolio reshuffling he is planning. So how do you do it without Labor walking out of the government?
 
Either you give Peretz a plum job in social welfare, or Barak declares that Israel is in such mortal danger that he is throwing politics to the wind and withdrawing his Labor chairman candidacy for the sake of the defense portfolio. As defense minister, he can build a springboard for the next elections, and without any favors from Peretz.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Egypt charges 3 Israelis, Egyptian with spying for Israel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/egypt-charges-3-israelis-egyptian-with.html

Last update - 21:23 03/02/2007   

Egypt charges 3 Israelis, Egyptian with spying for Israel
 
By News Agencies and Haaretz Service

Egypt has charged three Israelis and an Egyptian with spying for Israel, a state prosecutor said on Saturday.
 
High State Security Prosecutor Hisham Badawi named the Egyptian as Mohamed Essam Ghoneim el-Attar, 26, a dual national who also holds Canadian citizenship.
 
The three Israelis were identified by the state news agency, MENA, as Daniel Levi, Kemal Kosba and Tuncay Bubay. Kosba and Bubay also hold dual Turkish citizenship, MENA said.
 
Two of the Israelis are in Canada and the third is in Turkey, Badawi said.
 
An unnamed official said Attar, a former student at Al-Azhar University,
was arrested January 1 after returning to Cairo from abroad.
 
Badawi said the Israelis had recruited Attar while he was living in Turkey in August 2001, and had assisted him in obtaining a residency permit in Canada under a fake name and found him work in a bank.
 
Attar was paid to spy on Egyptians and Arabs during his time in Turkey and Canada, and used his position in the bank to obtain information on specific accounts, Badawi added.
 
He was also expected to scout and approach potential recruits, according to Badawi, and was paid $65,000 between August 2001 and January 1, 2007, when he was arrested at Cairo airport entering Egypt for a family visit.
 
Badawi said Attar had been under investigation since January 2002.
 
Attar would stand trial before a High State Security Emergency court, Badawi added.
 
A message left with the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was not immediately returned and the Foreign Ministry said it had no knowledge of the matter.
 
"We only know what we have heard in the media. I am not aware of anything other than what has been reported," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Mubarak: Mideast peace rests on Shalit's release, PA unity

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/mubarak-mideast-peace-rests-on-shalits.html

Last update - 22:15 03/02/2007   
Mubarak: Mideast peace rests on Shalit's release, PA unity
 
By The Associated Press
 
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/821332.html
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday said the stalled Mideast peace process depended on the release of abducted solider Gilad Shalit and resolving the violent conflict between rival Palestinian factions.
 
Mubarak said Egypt was working to "seal the crack" between Hamas and Fatah who have been fighting for control of the Palestinian government since the Islamic militant Hamas ousted its rival from power last year.
 
But the Egyptian leader stressed that a deal also must be brokered to secure the release of Shalit, captured by Palestinian militants in June. Egypt has been trying to negotiate his release in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
 

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"It all depends on the soldier that was detained by the Palestinians, and at the same time the Palestinians are demanding the release of their detainees. We are working on this line, and we hope that we reach a solution soon," Mubarak said during a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
 
Merkel was in Egypt on the first leg of her four-day Middle East tour in hope of boosting international efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
 
Her visit comes one day after the Quartet of Mideast negotiators - the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia - convened in Washington to discuss how to move peace talks in the region forward.
 
The Quartet's particular focus is on pushing forward the internationally backed "Road Map" for peace, which outlined stages for setting up a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The plan stalled almost immediately as both the Israelis and the Palestinians failed to meet their obligations.
 
"For me it is very important that the EU and the Mideast Quartet are helpful to the region and are not each working in our own corners, but develop a coherent strategy so that all players are working for the same goal," said Merkel, who has made the revival of Mideast peace efforts a goal of Germany's turn at the six-month rotating European Union presidency.
 
But the Middle East tour comes amid renewed fighting between Hamas militants and security forces loyal to the former ruling Fatah Party that has raised new alarm about a possible Palestinian civil war.
 
More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in internal violence since Hamas, which rejects Israel's right to exist, won parliamentary elections a year ago and wrested power from Fatah, which advocates peacemaking with Israel.
 
"What is happening now is a problem between the Palestinians themselves, and it is impossible for the Palestinian side to sit with the Israelis as they are still not agreeing with each other," Mubarak said.
 
Mubarak described his meeting with Merkel as "useful and constructive" and said the two also discussed the ongoing war in Iraq, the political crisis in Lebanon, Iran's dispute nuclear program and the conflict in Somalia and Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region.
 
Merkel's tour also will take her to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Nasrallah admits 'intelligence failure', Syrian and Iranian help

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/nasrallah-admits-intelligence-failure.html

Smoking gun:
""Iran assists the organization with money, weapons, and training, motivated
by a religious fraternity and ethnic solidarity," Nasrallah said. "And the
help is funneled through Syria, and everybody knows it.""
 
(If you had any doubts)
 
Nasrallah admits 'intelligence failure'
JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 3, 2007
www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1170359771711&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

In an admission which underscores previous statements made by Hizbullah,
leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said that his organization suffered from an
"intelligence failure" regarding the size and timing of an Israeli response
in last summer's war.

"Frankly, we were surprised by the size and strength of the response,"
Nasrallah told Professor Sa'ad A-Din Avrahim, the director of an Egyptian
think tank, in an interview which was published Saturday in the Kuwaiti
newspaper Al-Rai Al-aam. "I don't hide the fact that we expected Israel at
some point to attack.but the information we had did not suggest they would
choose to attack when they did."

On the topic of kidnapped IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev,
Nasrallah told Avrahim that the organization chose to conduct the action as
part of an ongoing struggle against the continued incarceration of Lebanese
prisoners inside Israeli jails, and the continued Israeli occupation of
Shaba Farms.

Moving to the issue of Iran and Syria, Nasrallah emphasized the integral
role which both states have played in strengthening and assisting the
guerilla organization.

"Iran assists the organization with money, weapons, and training, motivated
by a religious fraternity and ethnic solidarity," Nasrallah said. "And the
help is funneled through Syria, and everybody knows it."

The Hizbullah leader added that his organization is ready to accept
assistance from any Arab or Islamic party, like Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

Responding to accusations that his organization acts as "a state within a
state," Nasrallah said that the current Lebanese government has yet to
fulfill its obligation of securing the release of Lebanese prisoners in
Israeli jails, and getting Israeli-occupied land back. Accordingly,
Nasrallah said that the people, or part of the people, are free to try and
realize those goals by themselves.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Al Aqsa Brigades give Hamas leaders ultimatum

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/al-aqsa-brigades-give-hamas-leaders.html

Al Aqsa Brigades give Hamas leaders ultimatum
Date: 03 / 02 / 2007  Time:  11:24
www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19167

Ramallah - Ma'an - The Al Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah
movement, have announced that they are giving Hamas leaders a period of 24
hours to condemn the incidents in the Gaza Strip.

In a press conference in Ramallah held late on Friday evening, the brigades
declared that Hamas leaders should condemn the bloody attacks in Gaza within
24 hours, or "we will look at their silence as complicity in these crimes,
and consequently we will have the right to take the decisions and stances
which we find suitable against them."

The brigades called on the minister of interior to resign, and to dissolve
the Executive Force. They called for the condemnation of "using of the
mosques and universities for military actions, turning these institutions
into military arsenals against the Fatah movement and the security bodies".

The brigades said that they are disagree with the formation of the Executive
Force in the West Bank, and called on Palestinians "to be careful in dealing
with this issue", before condemning the statements of the Al-Qassam Brigades
(the military wing of Hamas) in regard to the recent aid delivery, alleged
to contain weaponry for forces loyal to Fatah's President Abbas.

The brigades concluded by calling "for the commitment of all military and
security bodies in the PA to defend themselves very strongly".


Continued (Permanent Link)

Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades Military Communique: No weapons in Islamic University

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/ezzedeen-al-qassam-brigades-military.html

Military Communique
Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades [military wing of Hamas]
Information Office
February 2nd ,2007
www.alqassam.ps/english/?action=showsta&sid=384

The "weapons' stores" lie is a desperate attempt to justify the crime and an
invitation to the Zionist enemy to target the Islamic University

After the scandal of smuggling the military equipment and weapons to the
mutiny trends, and in a an attempt to cover up this crime, the series of
lies and cheap allegations continued. They tried to distort the facts and
justify their aggression on the Palestinian people.

On Thursday, the Presidential guard demolished and burnt the Islamic
University buildings; in addition to devastating its furniture and
scientific equipments.

To justify the attack, the mutiny trends claimed that there were stores of
weapons with fighters in addition to having Iranian experts in the
University. So they fabricated some  pictures of  weapons and  published
them on the media, which is unconceivable and absorb; a simple unit  can
photo such weapons. If that was true , why didn't they pictured these
weapons inside the university.   Who did attack the Islamic University and
wrote on its walls " The Presidential guard walked from here" ?? Why did not
they give the names of the Iranian Experts or the one who committed suicide
as they claimed??

The fact is that the Presidential guards attacked the University and there
were only eight civilian guards because it is a civil institution, including
different educational faculties. No one imagined such an attack but they
proved their barbaric actions. Even if there are weapons and fighters, they
won't attack the University by this easy way. The Presidential guards
attacked the university without any bullet from the university.

The most dangerous aim to this attack is the justification to the Zionist
forces to attack the university. The Zionist planes attacked the Islamic
university two times without making the damage which was done by the
presidential guard. Even the Zionist forces did not claim any weapons'
stores in the university. Thus, it's an open invitation to target the
Islamic University from the Zionist forces. The same role between the
Presidential guards and the Zionist forces appeared in the typical actions
for both.

We affirm here that the group who burnt a simple part in "Al-Quds open
University"   is the same group which attacked the Islamic university to
cover their crime of the attack and to justify burning an institution in
front of another institution.
Hereby , we confirm the following:

1.          There have never any weapon or Iranian officers in the Islamic
University; and we consider this allegation as a big treachery which justify
targeting the university.

2.          We condemn such a media to publish this kind of information to
justify the crimes of the revolutionary groups.

3.          We will never to any one to target the Islamic university after
this attack and those who shared will have their punishment.

4.          We invite the press media to examine such news from such groups
because they depend on lies in their information.

5.          The Islamic University will continue the leading educational
place for development in Palestine.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Gaza clashes: Hamas destroys Fatah security headquarters

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/gaza-clashes-hamas-destroys-fatah.html

Gaza clashes: Hamas destroys Fatah security headquarters
After Fatah forces raid and vandalize Hamas government office building,
Hamas gunmen set fire to headquarters of Fatah's Preventative Security
Forces, burning it to the ground. Gun battles continue throughout Gaza,
after brief Hamas-Fatah truce collapses
Ali Waked YNET Latest Update: 02.03.07, 14:51
www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3360281,00.html

Hamas operatives in Gaza completely destroyed Fatah's security headquarters
in the Gaza Strip, at the height of another day of inter-factional violence
in the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas gunmen set fire to the Palestinian Preventative Security Forces
building in northern Gaza, burning it to the ground. Immediately afterwards
they continued on the Force 17 headquarters - Fatah's general and military
intelligence staff, and destroyed it as well.

The attacks came in apparent response to Fatah's raid on the Hamas'
Agriculture Ministry earlier Saturday, in search of weapons and gunmen in
hiding.

Ceasefire collapses once again

Less than a day after another ceasefire agreement was attained between Fatah
and Hamas, on Saturday morning violence between the factions erupted anew,
and at least eight Palestinian were wounded.

Severe gun battles erupted on the streets of Gaza City, near President
Mahmoud Abbas' office and the Palestinian security headquarters in the city
center. Witnesses reported that gunmen from both camps were positioned in
the area and there was heavy gunfire.

Early Saturday afternoon Hamas gunmen set fire to the Palestinian Authority's
Preventative Security Forces headquarters, burning it to the ground.

Hamas operatives also destroyed the command center of Force 17, Fatah's
general and military intelligence branch.

In attempt to establish control, Palestinian security forces set up
roadblocks in Gaza City and at various strategic points throughout the
Strip.

Eight people were wounded Saturday, one of them severely, in the clashes
between the factions.

During the morning hours members of the Fatah-linked Palestinian
presidential guard raided and vandalized the Agriculture Ministry in Gaza
City, which is under Hamas authority, in search of documents, weapons and
suspects.

Palestinian Agriculture Minister Muhammad al-Ara said the presidential guard
completely destroyed the office and its equipment. He denied claims that the
office was used as a hiding place for Hamas gunmen, and charged President
Mahmoud Abbas with responsibility for the raid.

West Bank tense

Palestinian Authority residents were concerned that the violence would
spread to the West Bank. Saturday morning members of Fatah's armed wing, the
al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, warned that if Hamas leaders in the West Bank did
not explicitly condemn the group's conduct Gaza, then Fatah would target
Hamas leaders outside the Strip.

Already Saturday morning signs of tensions rising could be seen in the West
Bank, when gunmen opened fire towards a Hamas operative in Dir Istiya near
Ramallah.

Meanwhile, sources in Nablus reported that Fatah operatives hurled a Molotov
cocktail towards the Hamas parliamentary building in the city.

Bloody battles plagued Gaza since Thursday night. In attempt to rein in the
bloodshed, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas' politburo Khaled
Mashaal discussed the spiraling violence in a phone conversation Friday
night and agreed to shore up a ceasefire. Abbas and Mashaal were slated to
meet Tuesday in Saudi Arabia.

The conversation took place just a few hours after leaders of the rival
factions said they agreed to revive an earlier truce deal, which collapsed
into a day of fierce fighting. The second ceasefire, however, was
short-lived as well.

Since Thursday 25 Palestinians have been killed as a result of the
inter-factional violence, including four children. Additionally over 250
people were wounded. Palestinian hospitals called on citizens to donate
blood as there was a shortage due to the large number of casualties being
treated.

First Published: 02.03.07, 10:47



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Continued (Permanent Link)

Ma'an interviews Abu Qusay, spokesman of Al Aqsa Brigades - no truce with Israel

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/maan-interviews-abu-qusay-spokesman-of.html

Ma'an interviews Abu Qusay, spokesman of Al Aqsa Brigades
Date: 03 / 02 / 2007  Time:  16:35
www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19186
[independent Palestinian News source]
Khan Younis - Ma'an - The recent bombing operation in Eilat was
strategically planned, and confused the Israeli intelligence services,
according to the spokesman of the Al Aqsa Brigades, Abu Qusay.

In a telephone interview, the spokesman told Ma'an that "the dissolution of
ice" operation in Eilat "is considered a dangerous operation, as it was."

Launched from the Gaza Strip, which is besieged on all borders, "the
operation proved that the Israeli allegations with regard to the [security
aspects of the] separation wall are false and baseless. it also thwarted the
Israeli allegations about the security of their people, and confirmed that
all the measures taken by the Israeli government have still failed to secure
their people."

Abu Qusay stated that the resistance was "able to jump over all the Israeli
measures imposed on the Gaza Strip, meaning that Israel should now review
these measures and security theories." He also declared that the operation
embarrassed the Israeli security community, "especially after all the
criticism they have faced from the Israeli mass media."

The spokesman said that the joint execution of the operation between the
Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Brigades and the Islamic Jihad movement came as
part of a series of joint operations, "and is a sign that coordination
between the military wings in the different factions can be fruitful". He
also added that the operation came at a critical time, in which Palestinians
have lost hope and security. He declared that the resistance is "ready to
react to any violation by the Israelis, especially after the threats made by
Israeli minister of defense, Amir Peretz".

He stated that Israeli threats do not frighten the resistance movement. "We
do not feel afraid of death, and we do not care about the threats, as we can
defend ourselves." Abu Qusay also said that, when the two brigades decided
to carry out the operation this was "a sign that the Palestinain street is
behind the path of [military] resistance, until the Palestinian goals are
achieved."

With regard to the truce, Abu Qusay stated "the truce died after the
Israelis allowed themselves to kill Palestinian people, and after the
assassination operations and incursions into Palestinian towns and cities,
and assaulting the Al Aqsa mosque."

He stressed that there is no truce remaining with the Israelis. "We have
been patient for a long time, and it is now our turn to retaliate for the
Israeli aggressions." He reaffirmed his position that "resistance is the
only choice", and said that the problem still lies "with the Israelis
occupying our lands, not the resistance."

Abu Qusay conluded that the Palestinian brigades have decided to "carry out
many operations for the sake of the Al Aqsa mosque. the Eilat operation is
small, if compared with what is going to be in the future."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Statement by middle east quartet

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/statement-by-middle-east-quartet.html

United Nations
 
2 February 2007
 
Secretary-General
SG/2122
---
 
Department of Public Information o News and Media Division o New York
 
Statement by middle east quartet
Following is the text of a statement issued by the Quartet ( United Nations, Russian Federation, United States and European Union):
 
The Quartet Principals -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner -- met today in Washington to discuss the situation in the Middle East.
 
The Quartet welcomed United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the representative of the European Union Presidency, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
 
Recognizing the critical need to end the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, which would contribute to security and stability in the region, the Quartet pledged to support efforts to put in place a process with the goal of ending the occupation that began in 1967 and creating an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with Israel, and reaffirmed its commitment to a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).
 
The Quartet expressed the hope that the result-oriented dialogue initiated between Israeli and Palestinian leaders will continue in the framework of a renewed political process with the aim of launching meaningful negotiations.
 
The Quartet undertook to give active follow-up to these meetings and to remain closely engaged at this moment of increased activity and dialogue. The Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to meet regularly at both the principals and envoys level according to an agreed calendar, including with the parties and other regional partners, to monitor developments and actions taken by the parties and to discuss the way ahead.
 
The Quartet noted its support for renewed dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and welcomed the 23 December meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Abbas, and the subsequent implementation of some steps discussed at that meeting. The Quartet urged the parties to implement fully steps discussed at the 23 December meeting, to refrain from taking any measures that could predetermine the number of issues that will be resolved in negotiations, to meet their respective obligations under phase one of the Road Map and under the Agreement on Movement and Access, and to seek to fulfil their obligations under the Sharm el-Sheikh Understandings of 2005.
 
The Quartet discussed United States efforts to facilitate discussions between the parties. The Quartet welcomed the upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Olmert, President Abbas, and Secretary of State Rice, that could begin to define more clearly the political horizon for the Palestinian people, and help engender a sense of partnership. The Quartet affirmed the primacy of the Road Map, and welcomed United States efforts to accelerate progress on the Road Map.
 
The Quartet noted the continuing importance of the Arab Peace Initiative, particularly its reflection of a shared commitment to a two-State solution.
 
The Quartet reiterated its call for an immediate and unconditional end to all acts of violence and terror. It condemned the suicide bombing in Eilat on 29 January and called once again for an immediate end to all rocket attacks against Israel.
 
The Quartet expressed its deep concern at the violence among Palestinians and called for respect for law and order.
 
The Quartet called for continued international assistance to the Palestinian people, and encouraged donors to focus on preserving and building the capacity of institutions of Palestinian governance, as well as the development of the Palestinian economy. The Quartet welcomed international efforts to reform the Palestinian security sector and thus to help improve law and order for the Palestinian people. It called for the Temporary International Mechanism to be further developed to support the political process, to identify suitable projects for international support in the areas of governance, institution-building and economic development, and urged other members of the international community to consider practical support to the parties.
 
The Quartet called for Palestinian unity in support of a Government committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map. The Quartet reaffirmed that these principles endure. The Quartet reiterated its call for the Palestinian Authority Government to commit to these principles.
 

* *** *
 
---
 
For information media o not an official record


Continued (Permanent Link)

Baker Group Advisers 'Surprised,' 'Upset' at Report's Israel-Iraq Link

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/baker-group-advisers-surprised-upset-at.html

Baker Group Advisers 'Surprised,' 'Upset' at Report's Israel-Iraq Link
 
Nathan Guttman | Tue. Jan 30, 2007
 
Washington - Several advisers to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group were surprised and upset by the decision of panel leaders to argue that American success in Iraq depends in part on progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Forward has learned.

Issued eight weeks ago, the Iraq Study Group's final report asserted that "the United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict." The two co-chairmen of the panel — James Baker, who served as secretary of state under the first President Bush, and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana and vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission — have since advanced the argument in media interviews. Supporters of an increased American role in kick-starting the peace process have hailed the final report, while some pro-Israel activists and Jewish groups have worried that it could lead to pressure on Jerusalem.
 
Baker and Hamilton appeared Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of the ongoing discussion in the committee on ways to solve the Iraq situation. The committee's Democratic chair, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, has already stated that he rejects the linkage the study group made between Israel and Iraq. "Even if a peace treaty were signed tomorrow, it would not end the civil war in Iraq," Biden said during a January 17 hearing.
 
In interviews with the Forward, several of the experts who advised the panel said they were shocked that the Israeli-Palestinian issue was included in the final report, since they had been told not to address the matter in their recommendations. "They kept on telling us it is a sensitive issue and that it has too many political implications," one of the experts said.
 
The objections went beyond process, with some advisers arguing to the Forward that progress in Israeli-Palestinian talks is desirable but would have little impact on the situation in Iraq. "Desirable as it may be, we cannot obtain progress in the Israeli-Palestinian front right now, and even if we could, it would take years and the impact on Iraq would be less significant than some think," said Wayne White, a former State Department official and one of the expert advisers.
 
The study group's expert advisers were divided among four different working groups based on their areas of expertise and offered up recommendations to the panel. The panel's professional staffers then took these suggestions and used them to produce the final report that was eventually approved by Baker, Hamilton and the other eight members of the Iraq Study Group.
 
According to several advisers, the staffers who wrote the chapter in question were Edward Djerejian, a former ambassador to Syria and Israel with close ties to Baker, and Christopher Kojm, a former aide to Hamilton who held senior positions in the State Department and the 9/11 Commission.
 
One staff member argued that insisting on making a clear linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Iraq was "stupid" and "exposed the report to criticism." That staff member pointed to Djerejian as the person who inserted the language regarding Israel.
 
Through a spokesman, Djerejian declined to comment on this issue.
 
At the Senate committee hearing this past Tuesday, Baker defended the decision to link progress in the Israeli-Arab conflict and progress in Iraq.
 
The former secretary of state said: "Some have asked us: What does the Arab-Israeli conflict have to do with the war in Iraq? Why make one problem harder by taking on two? The answer is simple. It is difficult to establish regional stability in the Middle East without addressing the Arab-Israeli issue. We want other countries, especially the Sunni Arab countries, to help us. When we go to talk to them about Iraq, they will want to talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict."
 
Baker commended Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her efforts to renew peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, but said that he and Hamilton "feel particularly strong" that the United States is missing an opportunity by refusing to talk with Syria.
 
Later in the hearing, Baker said that an American dialogue with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could lead Damascus to stop supporting Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and to pressure Hamas to recognize Israel, thus leading the way to a possible peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
One adviser, James Dobbins of the Rand Corporation, disputed the notion that the views on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the final report reflects only Djerejian's beliefs. "It is consistent with what most of the members thought," Dobbins said. "No Middle East expert thinks that solving the conflict will bring an end to all of the region's problems, but it surely can help."
 
Members of the so-called strategic environment working group — the one that would in theory have offered recommendations on Palestinian talks — told the Forward that their discussions on the issue were not reflected in the final report.
 
The professional staff of the United States Institute of Peace — the federally funded think tank under whose auspices the Iraq Study Group operated — was also surprised to see the final language of the report when it was presented by Baker and Hamilton. "We saw it for the first time when it was published, and we were as surprised as anyone else," said one staff member, speaking on condition of anonymity.
 
According to the staff member, the working group on strategic environment was never asked by the 10 members of the bipartisan panel to deal with the role that the United States should play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and received no guidance on this issue. Two members of the working group confirmed this account of events.
 
By June, most of the work in the expert groups was completed, but the 10 panel members decided not to finish the report before November's mid-term elections, in order to remain above the political fray. So, at the start of the summer, the structure of the four separate working groups became more flexible and the experts from each group were also asked to participate in discussions relating to other groups.
 
As an intellectual exercise, members of the group dealing with Iraq's strategic environment were asked to compose a "wish list" that would detail all the changes they would like to see in the region, regardless of their feasibility or political implications. It was as part of this exercise that the need to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict based on United Nations resolutions 242 and 338 was mentioned.
 
Many staff members found the language of the final report disturbing, especially in the direct linkage it made between resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and reaching stability in Iraq.
 
"Some of us were frustrated from the way it was all inserted in the last minute and from the language they chose," said one of the professional staff members. "The report came out dealing with the Arab-Israeli issue in an unsophisticated way."
 
Another staff member said that most of the advisers believed that it was senseless to assert a direct linkage between the Israeli-Arab conflict and Iraq. The staffer told of a joke that one of the advisers made when the issue came up: "Does anyone think that if we solve the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict the insurgent in Fallujah will say, 'Great, now I can put back my AK-47 and go home.'"
 
Israeli officials were low key in their response to the Iraq Study Group report, though Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did make clear that he does not believe the Bush administration sees a linkage between the situations in Israel and Iraq.
 
Members of the Iraq Study Group staff also criticized the fact that Israeli officials were not consulted, while almost all Arab ambassadors in the United States were interviewed by the panel. Once Israeli officials learned of the work being done by the study group regarding Israel, they contacted the United States Institute of Peace and were told that one Israeli had been interviewed — the Labor Party's Ephraim Sneh, who at the time was a member of Knesset (he is now deputy minister of defense).
 
In sharp contrast to the dissension on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the committee's professional staff and expert advisers all agreed on the need for the United States to engage with Syria and Iran. They are very frustrated by the administration's rejection of their recommendations on this issue.
 
"The issue of Iran was much more important for the future of Iraq than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the reaction of the president to our recommendations regarding Iran is much more significant," White said. "It became clear from the beginning that the president is not interested in any aspect of the diplomatic chapter in the report."
 
Dobbins offered two theories to explain Bush's refusal to engage with Tehran — according to one, the president is using Iran to divert public attention from Iraq and to have a scapegoat for the ongoing American failures there; the other is that Bush will eventually talk to Iran, but he is toughening his stand now in order to come to the talks from a better bargaining position.
 
Paul Stares, who served as the secretariat of the strategic environment group in the Baker-Hamilton panel, said he believes that Congress and public opinion can still make the report relevant. "There are many in Congress who believe that the group did a good job and will continue pointing to the report as a road map for the U.S. policy toward Iraq," Stares said. But, he added, the report will not remain relevant forever. "At some point, the conditions on the ground will change and the report will be OBE [overcome by events], but we're not close to that yet."
Tue. Jan 30, 2007


Continued (Permanent Link)

French MPs Urge Chirac to Label Hizbullah 'Terrorist' Group

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/french-mps-urge-chirac-to-label.html

French MPs Urge Chirac to Label Hizbullah 'Terrorist' Group
 
 

Legislators from France's governing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party have urged President Jacques Chirac to persuade his European counterparts to declare Hizbullah a terrorist group.
In a letter to Chirac, sent in December and released on Friday, some 45 MPs said France should propose the enlisting of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization during the upcoming European Union council meeting.
 
The council's meeting, which brings together heads of state or government of the EU and the president of the commission, will be held in March.
 
The letter said that the Iranian and Syrian-backed Shiite group threatens the prospects of peace in the Middle East.
 
"The situation in the Middle East is explosive," it said. "Hizbullah plays an important role in the Lebanese crisis."
 
The letter said that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., several states created lists of terrorist organizations that included Hizbullah but the EU has refused to do so, mainly because of France's rejection.
 
It acknowledged that "Hizbullah is at the origin of many attacks, hostage-taking and arms traffic."
 
The U.S. labels Hizbullah and Hamas as terrorist organizations. But the EU has only blacklisted the Palestinian group. 
 
 
Beirut, 03 Feb 07, 13:06


Continued (Permanent Link)

How many Jews are there? Ira Sheskin on Jewish Demography

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/how-many-jews-are-there-ira-sheskin-on.html

There are not a lot of American Jews any way you look at the figures, and the numbers are declining.
 
 Rosner's Guest 
 Shmuel Rosner, Chief U.S. Correspondent   
 
 
Ira Sheskin
 
Professor Sheskin is the Director of the Jewish Demography Project of the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Jewish Studies at the University of Miami. He is one of two authors of the recently published - and hotly debated - study on the number of Jews in the US, concluding there were more than 6 million of them. According to the survey, about 2.2 percent of Americans are Jewish.
 
Sheskin has completed or is currently working on more than 35 major demographic studies for Jewish Federations throughout the country and has been a consultant to numerous synagogues, day schools, Jewish agencies, and Jewish Community Centers throughout the country (more bio here).
 
We will discuss some of his findings and its meaning this week, and readers, as usual, can send their questions to rosnersdomain@haaretz.co.il.
 
Dear Prof. Sheskin
 
What will be the main factors eventually determining the size and strength of the Jewish community in North America? Is it bound to decrease or can it actually grow - and how will this happen?
 
Best
 
Rosner
 

Before I start making predictions of the future size of the US Jewish population, let me say that the only people wrong more often then economists are demographers! And making predictions of the Jewish population is even more difficult than predicting the general population.
 
Has the Jewish population of the US been declining? In my opinion, it has not, but only because of the large migration we received from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The 1990 National Jewish Population Survey found 5.5 million American Jews and the 2000 National Jewish Population Survey found 5.2 million. But, given the margin of error around each number, this is actually a statistical tie.
 
Yet, we know that there are more Jewish deaths each year than Jewish births by 10,000. But we also know that we are gaining about 5,000 Jews per year due to the excess of immigrants over emigrants. However, we are probably losing more people each year to assimilation than we are gaining due to conversions to Judaism. Thus, chances are that had we not received 300,000 immigrants during the 1990s (mostly in the beginning of the decade), we probably would have seen a significant decrease in the Jewish population.
 
Some reporters who have clearly not read the article that started this controversy have interpreted what we have said as saying the US Jewish population has increased. We never said that, nor is it true. We are saying that we believe that previous estimates have simply been too low.
 
So, what of the future? Jews have a very low birth rate and a high death rate. Assimilation is significant. Our numbers are going to decrease. The Jewish population of the US will be lower in the future.
 
Nationally, this probably makes relatively little difference. As I have said, our impact on America will probably continue to be significant if there are 5 million of us, 6 million of us, or 4 million of us.
 
Where the lowering of the numbers will have an impact is on small Jewish communities. A Jewish community of 10,000 which now supports, say, 3 synagogues, a JCC, a kosher butcher, and several Jewish agencies and organizations, may very well lose some of this infrastructure if, say 20 years from now, the population is down to 5,000. So the impact of the lowering of the Jewish population will be at the local level more than at the national level.
 
Many resources in the Jewish community are being applied now by Jewish Federations and Foundations throughout the country to assure the Jewish future. Sheldon Adelson just started a foundation which will provide $200-$250 million per year in grants to Jewish communities. The challenge is to devise programs and services that will provide a quality of life within Jewish communities that will keep people wanting to be Jewish.
 

Dear Ira
 
I will ask this question in an attempt to represent the many readers who seem - from the emails they send me - somewhat confused by the figures. So let's just try making is simple.
 
In your opinion:
 
1. How many Jews are there in America, Israel and the rest of the world?
 
2. Can you tell us if this figure is increasing or decreasing?
 
3. What is the essence of the professional debate surrounding the new figures?
 
Thank you.
 
Rosner
 
 
 
With this question, we get to the heart of the matter that Arnie Dashefsky and I addressed in our research. I would urge all who are interested to buy the American Jewish Year Book (AJYB) from www.ajc.org . The article explains in greater detail what I will briefly address below. It also contains estimates of the Jewish population for 535 geographic areas in the U.S. and all countries of the world.
 
The problem with trying to count Jews is that we do not seem to be able to agree on the definition, nor will we ever. If you asked me to count the number of cans of peas on the shelf in a supermarket, we would have no problem, because everyone would agree which is, and which is not, a can of peas. We have no set definition among Jews as to who is a Jew. Even some Jews cannot decide whether they are Jewish!
 
So social scientists usually use a simple definition: if a person calls themselves a Jew, than they are. We do this because we do not wish to take a stand and decide that one person is Jewish and the other is not. From a scientific point of view, this is really the only way to go. As a Jew, I may have a different opinion. As a social scientist, this must be the definition.
 
We will always have a good idea of how many Jews there are in Israel (although even in Israel the definition of a Jew is not simple!). Sergio DellaPergola's excellent article in the AJYB puts the number at 5,313,800. This number is probably very close to the truth because it is based on Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics data, which is based on a census.
 
The number of Jews in the world is in the 13 million to 14 million range, depending on the count we believe for the US.
 
As to the number of Jews in the U.S., the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) estimates 5.2 million, of whom about 4.3 million would say their religion is Jewish; the remainder are persons who are Jewish, but would indicate they are atheists, agnostics, "nones," etc., when it comes to religion. Yet, the NJPS report admits that the 5.2 million is probably an undercount, and I agree. We did a test which showed unequivocally that Jews were more likely to refuse to participate than non-Jews, depressing the estimate of the percentage of American Jewish households in the population.
 
What Arnie Dashefsky and I did for the AJYB is to collect the latest estimates of Jewish population in more than 535 geographic areas of the US. When we added these together, it totaled 6.4 million. More than 80 percent of this total has support in scientific studies. The other 20 percent, mostly estimates for places like Ames, IA and Lehigh Valley, PA are based on information from informants.
 
We know that the 6.4 million estimate is too high because of double counting. A certain number of snowbirds, students, "beach people," and households who have moved from one community to another in between scientific studies are being double counted. My best guess would be that about 6 million Jews live in the U.S..
 
The number of Jews in Israel is increasing and the evidence for this is clear, again because of the Israeli census.
 
The number of Jews in most Diaspora countries is generally deceasing due to low birth rates and high rates of intermarriage and assimilation.
 
The number of Jews in the U.S. is probably remaining relatively constant. According to Sergio DellaPergola's article, 50,000 Jewish babies are born each year in the U.S. and 60,000 Jews die each year in the U.S., leading to a natural decrease of about 10,000 per year. Yet more Jews migrate into the U.S. than out, leading to a net migration of +5,000. Thus, the U.S. Jewish population, at the moment, seems to be decreasing by about 5,000 per year. Of course, there are also gains and losses due to converting in/opting in and converting out/opting out. My suspicion is that the "opting out" is larger than the other factors and the loss in the number of Jews is probably greater than 5,000 per year. But offsetting this loss between 1990 and 2000 was the large number of Jews who entered the U.S. from the FSU during the beginning of the 1970s. Thus, it is probably true that, since 1990, the number of U.S. Jews has remained relatively constant.
 
The professional debate surrounding the new numbers is related to the fact that the number of Jews in Israel (5,313,800) is higher than the 5,275,000 Jews that the Israeli demographer (DellaPergola) claims live in the U.S., based upon NJPS and other sources. I would argue that these numbers are close enough that even if you accept the NJPS number as correct (which I do not) means that we have a statistical "tie."
 
By the way, I have much respect for Sergio, he is a competent social scientist and a true gentleman. We just disagree on this.
 
Ira Sheskin
 
 
 
Shmuel Rosner,
 
I often come across articles addressing the "problem" of Jewish intermarriage. On one hand I understand why there is concern over intermarriage rates. On the other hand I find it repugnant. I know "Jewish" is both an ethnicity and a religion. I think most people (maybe I'm naïve) would agree that worrying about intermarriage between ethnic groups and/or races is distasteful. For some reason it isn't seen as nauseous to worry about intermarriage between religious groups. Why do religious concerns get a free pass here? Isn't it just plain old out-group hostility and xenophobia?
 
Best,
Rich
 
The purpose of my "interview" is not to examine American Jewish attitudes toward intermarriage. What we do in our demographic studies is to measure the extent to which intermarriage has occurred and the extent to which it affects the Jewish community.
 
Certainly, American Jewish attitudes toward intermarriage have changed, as it is the rare family that has not had an intermarriage and it is rare that someone does not have close friends who have intermarried.
 
I am unabashedly in favor of having a strong American Jewish community. I feel this way for two reasons. First, as a Jew, I believe that for those people who are Jewish, their identity serves them in many positive ways, providing (for those who need it) a source of spiritual guidance, a feeling of being part of a group, and, perhaps most importantly a set of shared ethical values. Second, as an American, I want a strong American Jewish community because, through a combination of factors, American Jews have contributed so much to America. I want America to be strong and to be a leader in the world and having a strong Jewish community, I believe, adds to the greatness of America.
 
Every individual Jew is going to meet and marry (if that is what they want!) someone. That person, in an open society, may be Jewish or non-Jewish. I would hope that the Jewish identity of people would be strong enough that finding a mate who can share in that identity is important. In fact, in looking at data on the types of singles programs attended by Jews age 18-64, we find that the vast majority who attend singles programs are attending Jewish singles programs. So, to many, they want to find a Jewish mate with whom the can share the Jewish part of their lives. The same way that a baseball fan might want to find a mate that shares that interest.
 
The problem for the Jewish community is that whether there are 5.2 million of us, or 6.4 million of us, we are few in number. Maintaining the Jewish community in many smaller communities in particular, relies on our ability to maintain our institutions. This requires things like membership, attendance, and donations. Unfortunately all of our studies show that intermarried couples are significantly less likely to join, attend, and give. While some intermarried couples do participate in the community, and I believe that the community should be welcoming to those who do, the plain fact of the matter is that most do not and most do not raise their children as Jews.
 
I do not think that concern about intermarriage is racist or nauseous, or any other word of that nature. We should applaud whenever two people fall in love to the extent that they want to spend their lives together. But the overall effect on the community of a high intermarriage rate is not good for the Jews. And it is not, in the long run, good for America.
 
Dear Prof. Sheskin,
 
We will be discussing numbers this week, but I'd like to
start with this troubling question: assuming that your estimation is
right and that there are more than 6 million Jews in America - how
many of them have a significant Jewish identity? Shouldn't this be the
more important question?
 
Best
 
Rosner
 
The question of the number of Jews in the USA is not the most important question facing the American Jewish community. I think that all demographers on both sides of the issue would agree that our importance in American society and in the world Jewish community is determined much more by the quality of the community than by whether there are 5 million or 6 million Jews in the country. Nor is the political power of the American Jewish community determined by whether we are 1.6% of Americans or 2.0% of Americans.
 
The political power of the American Jewish community and the ability to influence American policy is related to our organizational ability, the fact that Jews register and vote in much larger numbers than the general population, the fact that we are active politically and donate to political campaigns, and the fact that the Jewish population continues to be concentrated in states with many electoral votes (New York, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey) all contribute to our influence in American society.
 
The fact that the community is well educated and has some excellent spokes people to help us influence policy also plays a role. We have quality people in politics: Jews are over represented in both the House and the Senate, with Jews being elected from states with little Jewish population.
 
If the quality of the community is what matters, the question that we should be asking concerns the percentage of American Jews who actively "do Jewish," to borrow a phrase from the National Hillel Foundation. While in most Jewish communities, only 30% to 60% of Jewish households currently belong to a synagogue, in most Jewish communities, 75% to 85% of Jewish households belong to a synagogue at some point during their adult lives.
 
But if one defines "doing Jewish" in a broader sense (any home religious practice, membership in anything Jewish, going to synagogue services at least on the High Holidays, donating to any Jewish charity), then 86%-96% of American Jews are involved Jewishly. And what is fascinating is that in a few communities analysis has been completed of the 4%-14% who do nothing Jewish. In these communities, a surprisingly high percentage still say that being Jewish is very important or somewhat important to them.
 
So, while I think the number is interesting, and if it did not matter we would not be talking about it, I agree that there are more important questions about the quality of the community as well as about whether the number of Jews is increasing or decreasing.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Battles rage in Gaza as Fatah, Hamas ignore truce

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/battles-rage-in-gaza-as-fatah-hamas.html

Last update - 12:08 03/02/2007   

Battles rage in Gaza as Fatah, Hamas ignore truce
 
By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies

Clashes between Fatah and Hamas gunmen resumed across the Gaza Strip on Saturday in defiance of a truce deal, sending Gazans who had tentatively ventured from their homes scattering to seek refuge from the violence.
 
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas' Damascus-based political leader Khaled Mashal agreed to an immediate cease-fire late Friday, after two days of factional violence left 25 Palestinians dead, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.
 
But firefights soon erupted in Gaza City. Fatah gunmen stormed the Agriculture Ministry, ransacking offices and stealing computers, servers and official documents, said Agriculture Minister Mohammed al-Agha. Gunmen also took position on the ministry's rooftop and began firing, al-Agha said.
 

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Gunbattles also erupted around Fatah-dominated National Security headquarters and near the Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold that had been the site of fierce gunbattles on the previous two days. Hospital officials reported four civilians and one National Security officer wounded in the first few minutes of the battle.
 
The streets of Gaza City are still almost empty on Saturday and the UN said it would not reopen its schools in Gaza on Saturday after a mid-year recess, as scheduled, because of the fighting - a decision that kept nearly 200,000 students at home.
 
Shortly after the ceasefire was announced on Friday, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the Hamas-led Interior Ministry and mortar bombs landed inside the main security complex of forces loyal to Abbas.
 
Hamas and Fatah officials said Friday afternoon that they had agreed in principle to a new cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, but needed more meetings to work out the details of a pullback of forces.
 
In spite of the cease-fire, anonymous gunmen shot at the car of General Burhan Hamad- the head of the Egyptian security delegation in the Gaza Strip.
 
Palestinian sources reported that eight Fatah representatives were wounded by shots fired at them upon their arrival to cease-fire talks late Friday night.
 
Seventeen Palestinians, including four children, were killed Friday in clashes between Hamas and Fatah. Some 245 have been wounded in the fierce fighting.
 
"We, the leaders of the two groups, agreed with God's help on a cease-fire," said Nizar Rayan, a regional Hamas leader, after the meeting. The measures that will be taken on the ground will be discussed in the next few hours.
 
The deal was announced after a meeting at the Egyptian embassy. Fatah spokesman, Abdel Hakim Awad, confirmed the agreement was reached in principle.
 
Meanwhile, Abbas announced he would meet with the head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Meshal, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in another effort to negotiate a national unity government agreement, an aide to Abbas said Friday.
 
The meeting will take place Tuesday, the official said. The two leaders met in Syria last month, but failed to reach agreement on forming a government.
 
Abu Rudeineh also confirmed the meeting.
 
Friday's fatalities included Abu Awed Salim, the commander of the Fatah-affiliated General Intelligence Services in the northern Gaza Strip.
 
Israel Radio reported the death of a woman who was killed when a bullet pierced her home.
 
Meanwhile, fire engulfed the Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold in Gaza City, on Friday. Hamas officials accused Fatah forces of trying to burn down the university and demolish it with bulldozers. Heavy smoke from the fires blanketed parts of Gaza City.
 
Hamas militants blew up a pro-Fatah radio station in Gaza on Friday, ambulances were caught in the crossfire and gunmen exchanged heavy fire in deserted streets.
 
Fifty officers from Abbas' presidential guard surrounded the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry on Friday morning and exchanged fire with Hamas gunmen guarding the building. Outside of Gaza City, Hamas militants launched mortar shells at a Fatah training base.
 
The roads of Gaza were nearly empty, sealed off by makeshift roadblocks of rubble and garbage. Only masked security officers, some with hand grenades clipped to their ammunition vests, were visible in the streets.
 
The resurgent violence forced thousands of Gazans to huddle in their homes to escape the crossfire. In a symbol that the two sides had returned to open warfare, their respective radio stations stopped playing songs of national unity and broadcast songs about armed struggle and fighting the enemy.
 
Overnight, rival gunmen fought in the streets with mortar shells, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy caliber machine guns.
 
Fatah: Iranian weapons experts were helping Hamas
During the fighting Thursday, Fatah forces stormed the Islamic University and arrested seven people it said were Iranian weapons experts working in the service of Hamas. An eighth Iranian weapons expert apparently committed suicide during the raid.
 
Israel Radio reported that, according to Fatah, at least some of the Iranians were chemical experts.
 
The Fatah forces apprehended some 1,400 firearms and missiles found at the site.
 
However, neither the names nor photographs of the Iranians have been released, and Israel Radio reported Friday that the Arab-language media has been cautious in reporting the Fatah charge out of concern that it could be part of a Fatah-Hamas propaganda war.
 
In addition, Fatah spokesmen refused to confirm the report on Friday, and as of yet there has been no confirmation from any Palestinian Authority official.
 
Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Friday that he couldn't confirm whether Iranians had indeed been caught in a Fatah raid, but said such a move would be consistent with Iranian activity.
 
"I can't confirm for you this specific detail about the capture of the Iranians in Gaza," Sneh told Israel Radio. He said he could confirm that in addition to funding weapons for Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Iran "is also very intensively involved in training and upgrading the professional capability of the terrorist groups in Gaza."
 
Hamas official Islam Shahawan denied the Fatah charge and warned Fatah to stop attacking the university, or face "serious consequences."
 
The Fatah forces also confiscated some 1,400 firearms and missiles found at the site.
 
Egyptians blame Hamas for collapse of truce
In an unusual move, the head of the Egyptian security delegation in the Gaza Strip - General Burhan Hamad, who has led the mediating efforts between the two factions - blamed Hamas on Thursday for the collapse of the cease-fire.
 
The truce, which was meant to put a stop to the internecine fighting that has taken over the Gaza Strip in recent weeks, collapsed a mere two days after it was signed. At least six Palestinians were killed in the fighting between the two factions Thursday, and more than 60 others were wounded.
 
Meanwhile, Palestinians fired three Qassam rockets at the western Negev on Thursday night, causing no injuries or damage.
 
The incident that is presumed to have sparked a renewed cycle of violence in the Gaza Strip occured when Hamas Executive Force gunmen attacked two trucks, which they believe held weapons being delivered from Egypt for use by the Presidential Guard, loyal to Abbas.
 
Egypt's Hamas said that "the side that attacked the trucks [Hamas] is the one responsible for the bloodshed."
 
The attack against the trucks that crossed into the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is under Israeli control, occurred at a time when Hamas and Fatah delegations were holding talks at the Egyptian delegation's offices in Gaza.
 
Executive Force members attacked the trucks with machine gun fire, and rockets, as they passed near the Al-Bureij refugee camp. Two of the Force 17 (Abbas' Presidential Guard) were killed in the attack.
 
A long battle ensued, in which four more Palestinians were killed. Five of the dead were members of Fatah-affiliated security organizations: Three were members of the Presidential Guard - Arafat Halibi al-Muslah, 24, Murad al-Tala, 23, and Muhammad Hatib; one came from the ranks of the National Security service - Akrami Ghnein, 23; and another from Military Intelligence - Osama al-Sinani, 25.
 
The identity of the sixth fatality was not immediately ascertained, but it is believed to be a child.
 
Following the attack against the trucks, the situation rapidly deteriorated in most parts of the Gaza strip.
 
In the northern strip, Hamas gunmen attacked a Military Intelligence headquarters and set it on fire.
 
In central Gaza strip, heavy fighting took place close to the headquarters of the Preventive Security service, in Tel al-Hawwe, and mortar shells landed close to Abbas' office in the Gaza Strip.
 
The hospitals in the Gaza Strip received more than 70 people seeking medical attention as a result of the fighting.
 
Senior Fatah officials said that Hamas was not interested in a cease-fire, and while representatives of the two factions were holding talks on the formation of a national unity government, members of the military wing of the organization were carrying out attacks.
 
Hamas countered by arguing that the "revolutionary wing" (hinting at Mohammed Dahlan, their Fatah arch-enemy in the Gaza Strip) in Fatah is continuing in its attempts at a coup against the Hamas government.
 
A senior Hamas source claimed that the weapons were bought with U.S. funds given to Abbas' office, and was delivered to Egypt on a ship of one of the Gulf states, where the cargo was unloaded at the port of Nuweiba. From there, the arms were delivered by truck to the Gaza Strip.
 
The Hamas source said that the deliveries began on Tuesday and there were many more trucks waiting to cross over.
 
Both Israeli and Fatah sources have rejected these claims.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

Abbas aide: We expected the Quartet to end boycott of Hamas

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/abbas-aide-we-expected-quartet-to-end.html

  
Last update - 12:30 03/02/2007   
 

Abbas aide: We expected the Quartet to end boycott of Hamas
By Reuters
 

In a statement released on Saturday, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that the Palestinians expected the Quartet to end the boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian government during its meeting on Friday.
 
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that Middle East peace talks should resume despite an outbreak of violence among Palestinian factions.
 
Rice was speaking after a meeting of the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators, in which the U.S., Russia, United Nations and European Union voiced "deep concern" about violence between rival Palestinian factions that has killed 24 Palestinians in the last 24 hours.
 

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"The Quartet expressed its deep concern at the violence among Palestinians and called for respect for law and order," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, reading a statement on behalf of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.
 
"It doesn't help to talk about a timetable, but it does help to talk about a commitment," Rice said after meeting with world powers for a strategy session on the Middle East.
 
"Despite that violence, there's simply no reason to avoid the subject of how we get to a Palestinian state," Rice said after a meeting at the State Department with foreign ministers from Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Syria could play a constructive role in helping to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
 
Rice expressed little enthusiasm for such a prospect. "I hope that it [Syria] will in fact try and play a positive role rather than a negative one," she told reporters.
 
The Bush administration has resisted expanding diplomatic ties with Syria, which it blames for supporting radical Islamic groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.
 
The international leaders did not back away from the conditions they set for the Hamas-led Palestinian government to receive vital overseas financial aid and international political recognition.
 
Those conditions include recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and embracing prior agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
The U.S. State Department said it expected the talks among the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union to reaffirm efforts to isolate the Hamas-led Palestinian government through a year-old international aid embargo.
 
The Hamas-led Palestinian government condemned the Quartet on Friday,
accusing the group of doing Washington's bidding and of punishing the Palestinian people.
 
"This position does not contribute to bringing security, stability and calm in the region, but it contributes to increasing the suffering of the Palestinian people," the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
 
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to outline U.S. plans to other Quartet members for a proposed meeting later this month among herself, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Speaking before the Quartet talks, Rice told reporters they would cover "how to make progress toward the establishment of a Palestinian state."
 
Referring to the ongoing factional violence between Hamas and Fatah, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said it was up to the Palestinians to settle their differences and that it was still worth trying to promote peace with Israel despite the internecine violence.
 
The militant group Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel or renounce violence, swept to power in Palestinian elections in January 2006. Efforts by the U.S.-backed Abbas to form a unity government with Hamas that might be more interested in negotiating peace with Israel have so far failed.
 
"If you wait for all of those political-to-political divisions to be completely bridged or healed you don't know how long that is going to take," McCormack told reporters. "In the meantime, everybody can agree on the fact that there should be a Palestinian state and you can work on ... aspects of that."
 
Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas urged the Quartet in a letter to engage in talks with the Palestinian government to try to end internal fighting.
 
"We call upon you to engage in a constructive and important dialogue with us to help end the state of tension in the region and to push all parties to reach the status of stability that will lead to the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people," al-Zahar's aide quoted the letter as saying.
 
The Quartet supports the U.S.-backed "road map," which was drawn up in 2003 and provided step-by-step benchmarks toward the goal of a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by 2005, a date that has long since passed.
 
McCormack said the U.S. goal was to work within the context of the road map but he said harder issues that were further down the line could be tackled along with more immediate concerns such as Israeli checkpoints.
 
The United States is working to embolden Abbas in the face of opposition from Hamas and wants the Quartet's help on this, particularly in building up the PA chairman's security forces which Washington is helping train and equip.
 
While Quartet members are united in pushing for a revived peace process, there is disagreement over whether a Western aid blockade to the Hamas-led government should continue. Russia called this week for the aid freeze to be lifted and the United Nations and European Union are also questioning it.
 
However, McCormack said expected the Quartet to "reaffirm the principles" of its January 30, 2006 decision to make aid to the Hamas-led government contingent on its renouncing violence, recognizing Israel and respecting past peace agreements.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Israel Prime Minister's Office closing Diaspora Affairs department

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/israel-prime-ministers-office-closing.html

Last update - 20:56 02/02/2007   

Prime Minister's Office closing Diaspora Affairs department
 
By Amiram Barkat , Haaretz Correspondent

The Prime Minister's Office is closing down its department for Diaspora affairs, but said that a new Diaspora minister would be appointed during the upcoming ministerial portfolio shuffle.
 
The last two workers in the current Diaspora department of the Prime Minster's Office have received dismissal notices. In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office explained that since the MK that personally appointed the two during a previous administration, Michael Melchior (Labor), is no longer in the cabinet, it would be a violation of government employment guidelines to keep them on.
 
Once the department closes, no official government body will deal with Diaspora affairs except for the Foreign Ministry's department for Jewish communities, whose activity was also curtailed about a year ago.
 

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The Prime Minister's Office said however that the liaison that handled some of the Diaspora affairs in previous administrations would now take on the full responsibility.
 
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that despite the consolidation of the Diaspora and the Religions departments some two years ago, the ministry has since expanded its involvement in Diaspora affairs. The ministry founded a new department for Holocaust remembrance and the battle against anti-Semitism. In addition, the ministry said, even in times when there had been an active Diaspora minister, the foreign ministry had assisted him greatly with his responsibilities.
 
The Diaspora department's closure followed a year during which no minister would take the Diaspora Affairs portfolio, which consists, among other things, of fighting anti-Semitism, working to restore Jewish property plundered in the Holocaust and involvement in the Taglit-birthright israel and Masa programs, which bring Jewish youngsters on visits to Israel.
 
In a similar vein, the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism, founded by MK Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) and consisting of all Jewish organizations that fight anti-Semitism, is to hold a conference in Israel next week. The conference was made possible after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni decided that the Foreign Ministry would take over this issue.
 
A few days ago, the ministry discovered that it had no budget for the conference and its guests will have to pay their own expenses. However, on Friday the foreign ministry issued a statement that it had obtained a special budget and that the conference is expected to be the largest of its kind since the establishment of the Forum.
 
The Diaspora Affairs portfolio was formed seven years ago, when Melchior held it in Ehud Barak's government. In 2003, Natan Sharansky received the portfolio in Ariel Sharon's government, but was replaced by Melchio


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The Carter controversy: A guide to the perplexed

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/carter-controversy-guide-to-perplexed.html

Rosner's Blog

The Carter controversy: A guide to the perplexed

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/rosnerBlog.jhtml?itemNo=818754&contrassID=25&subContrassID=0&sbSubContrassID=1&listSrc=Y&art=1

Short of major developments, this will be my last piece on Jimmy Carter's book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." I've just had enough, and so, I suspect, did many others. In his Friday column, M.J. Rosenberg conveys this impression as he describes a dinner he had with some non-Jewish friends: "No one thought that it made any sense for the Jewish community to make such a brouhaha over a book simply because it is critical of Israel and has a provocative title. Not one thought Carter was out of line. They thought the community was out of line for getting 'bent out of shape' by a book. 'He's a former president. He is entitled to say what he believes about any issue, let alone an issue relating to United States policy,' one said as everyone agreed."

So this is it. I'm done with brouhaha. And this last piece is no more than a compilation of some quotes and articles related to this book. Almost all of them critical - and, yes, written by Jewish Americans - a disturbing point I referred to recently writing "that is the only card left in his [Carter] hand, but it is a strong one, which embodies a trap from which there is no escape."

Facts

The first problem with the book is fact-related. Dennis Ross, former envoy to the Middle East in the Clinton administration, wrote about it in the New York Times:

"It is certainly legitimate to debate whether President Clinton's proposal could have settled the conflict. It is not legitimate, however, to rewrite history and misrepresent what the Clinton ideas were," Ross writes.

"To my mind, Mr. Carter's presentation badly misrepresents the Middle East proposals advanced by President Bill Clinton in 2000, and in so doing undermines, in a small but important way, efforts to bring peace to the region."

The example Ross focuses on is the maps Carter misuses in the book. But many other critical readers of the book used other examples. David Makovsky of the Washington Institute, writing for the U.S. News and World Report, brought this one up: Carter cites (p62) Yasser Arafat as telling him, "The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel." In fact, the charter of Arafat's PLO states (Article 22) that "the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence." The Washington Post cited Arafat as saying on March 29, 1970: "Peace for us is the destruction of Israel and nothing else."

Prof. Kenneth Stein was the first Carter Center member to resign over the controversy surrounding the book, and in The Middle East Quarterly he sites many errors Carter (deliberately) made. Here's an illuminating one:

"Evidence of his slide from would-be mediator to unabashed advocate for the Palestinians appears in his partisan rendition of four UN resolutions: UN Security Council Resolution 465 (1980); UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948); UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967); and UN Security Council Resolution 338 (1973). Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is the first Carter book to emphasize UNSCR 465, in which the UN:

Determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Carter's use of UNSCR 465 is an example of how he uses accurate information but omits part of the story to bolster his presentation. He wants to show Israel to be in violation of international law by being present in the territories. While he cites the unanimous passage of UNSCR 465 to suggest that there was universal condemnation of Israel's position with regard to east Jerusalem, he omits that two days after its passage, he himself disavowed the U.S. assent to the resolution. At the time, he said the resolution was a mistake which resulted from a "failure to communicate" between the State Department and Donald F. McHenry, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations."

A compilation of many more alleged factual errors - some significant, some minor, some open to debate - can be found here.

Title

A lot has been written about the title Carter chose for the book - and the use of the word "apartheid." Truth is, this is the point which I find to be less sticky. Jeffrey Goldberg of the New Yorker sums it all up in one paragraph he wrote for the Washington Post:

This is a cynical book, its cynicism embedded in its bait-and-switch title. Much of the book consists of an argument against the barrier that Israel is building to separate Israelis from the Palestinians on the West Bank. The "imprisonment wall" is an early symptom of Israel's descent into apartheid, according to Carter. But late in the book, he concedes that "the driving purpose for the forced separation of the two peoples is unlike that in South Africa - not racism, but the acquisition of land."

Bias

This is, of course, the trickier part. What was Carter's motive? Why did he write such a book? I addressed this question in Is Carter an anti-Semite? (in which, by the way, contrary to what many of my readers assumed, I never concluded that he is anti-Semitic).

"Carter's distrust of the U.S. Jewish community and other supporters of Israel runs deep," writes Stein. He "sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the root of both U.S. unpopularity in the region and the wider problem of Middle East instability. Once the historic injustice done to the Palestinians is resolved, he believes, other issues plaguing U.S. foreign policy will dissipate, if not disappear."

But that's the rather polite explanation. Some were harsher, much more blatant. "He will go down in history: as a Jew hater," wrote Marty Peretz of the New Republic. And this weekend, Neal Sher, a New York attorney, former Director of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, and former Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, published this story in the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California:

On Dec. 27 of last year I received an email from Professor Monroe Freedman, a distinguished member of the faculty of Hofstra Law School in New York. He had been the first executive director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which had been created during the Carter administration. Working closely with Elie Wiesel, Freedman put forward a list of potential council members to the White House. The recommendations came back unapproved, and Freedman remembers the reason well: "In the top corner, in Carter's handwriting and with his initials was the notation: 'Too many Jews.'"

Last word

The newspaper of the Brandeis University students - the place to which Carter has taken both his complaints and his one apology - chose to run an opinion piece by Harriet Feinberg, an educator who taught at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

I do not agree with her analysis, but it is worth knowing that such sentiments exist and are widespread, both in the Jewish and the non-Jewish community: "A bit of dark humor that I remember from years ago is this definition of chutzpah: A man who kills his parents and then says 'have pity, I'm an orphan.'

"Sadly, this scenario fits what has happened with Carter: We Jews have taken a gentle man who cared deeply and equally about Israel and about the Palestinians and who sought a reasonable and just political solution, and have gradually driven him away, and then complained he wasn't with us. Many Israeli and U.S. Jewish leaders who pride themselves on looking out for Israel's welfare have rebuffed Carter not only by supporting the opposite of


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Iranian general supervised Hamas arms, source says

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/iranian-general-supervised-hamas-arms.html

Iranian general supervised Hamas arms, source says
http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3360122,00.html
Following seizure of Iranian agents in Gaza, Palestinian source tells Ynet most senior agent, a general, was in charge of several labs in Islamic University, trained activists manufacturing explosives

Ali Waked

A Palestinian source has said that the Iranian general nabbed in Gaza by Palestinian security officers supervised the manufacturing weapons and explosives for Hamas.

 

The source told Ynet on Friday that the expert was in charge of several labs in the university, mainly chemistry labs in which he trained Hamas activists, most of them women, manufacturing the explosives.

 

At least five Iranian citizens were arrested during a raid at the Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold in Gaza City. One of the Iranians committed suicide during the raid. Six to nine Palestinians were killed in the raid, sources said.

 

The raid on the Hamas-linked university in Gaza was carried out by national security forces affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hundreds of weapons and a lathe for the production of Qassam rockets were seized in the raid.

 

A security official said that during the raid a Hamas commander believed to have orchestrated the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier near the Gaza Strip in June last year suffered serious-to-moderate wounds.

 

Ahmad Jaabri is believed to have planned the cross-border raid carried out by gunmen of Hamas and two other Palestinian groups on June 12 during which Corp. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped.


 

The Palestinian source added that at least 20 women, some of them students, were arrested in the labs supervised by the Iranian expert, who was mainly involved in developing shells and rockets, but also explosives.

 

The source said that it was so far not clear what would happen to the general, who was still being questioned by Fatah members.

 

Official diplomatic sources in the Palestinian Authority, including aides to Abbas and senior Fatah officials, refused to officially comment on the affair. Hamas officials also continued to strongly deny the report on the Iranians' arrest.

The security forces also took control of Hamas-controlled government offices.

 

Hundred of security officers stormed the university, eyewitnesses said, and set fire to one of its building.

 

Hamas gunmen fired a rocket at the Gaza City office of Abbas, who was in Ramallah at the time.

 

Earlier Thursday, Hamas gunmen ambushed a Presidential Guards convoy, seizing weapons and explosives transferred by the United States and Arab countries to Abbas. Fatah denied the claim, saying that two boxes seized by Hamas contained medicines.

 

The raid came at the end of a day of clashes that collapsed a three-day truce between the warring factions. Iran has supplied Hamas with funds, but there have been no previous claims of Iranians working with Hamas in Gaza.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Iran fears spur efforts on Arab-Israeli peace

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/iran-fears-spur-efforts-on-arab-israeli.html

Iran fears spur efforts on Arab-Israeli peace

By Mark Turner at the United Nations, Guy Dinmore in Washington,and Hugh Williamson in Berlin

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/234f2354-b263-11db-a79f-0000779e2340.html

Published: February 2 2007 02:00 | Last updated: February 2 2007 02:00

Mounting Arab concern over Iran's ambitions in the Middle East has created a new opportunity for peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict, one of the United Nation's most experienced regional negotiators said ahead of Friday's quartet meeting in Washington.

Terje Roed-Larsen, speaking as head of the influential International Peace Academy but with a long history as a UN and Norwegian mediator, told the Financial Times there had been a flurry of Arab diplomacy driven by a fear of Iran and the sense that "a new peace process would be incredibly helpful to stabilise the region".

While the crises in Lebanon and Iraq, and over Iran's nuclear ambitions, presented no clear answers, there was a "very broad consensus" over a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli issue. "In a way, it is easier to address this than the other issues," he said.

He also argued that many in the region now thought Israel was in a defensive posture, compared with Iran's more aggressive stance. The meeting of the quartet – the UN, European Union, Russia and the US – could be a "launching pad for a new process", he said.

Angela Merkel, German chancellor, also intended to "build on the new dynamic in the quartet" by discussing options for Middle East peace with leaders in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, on a four-day trip to the region starting tomorrow, her foreign affairs adviser said on Thursday.

But officials close to Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German foreign minister, said Israeli and Palestinian leaders had asked the quartet to hold back from making any concrete proposals until after the meeting between Ehud Olmert, Israeli prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, and Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, expected this month. Mr Steinmeier told the FT last week he expected "the US to play a greater role in the Middle East than in the past".

The Bush administration, which has rarely shown enthusiasm for expending much more than rhetoric in tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has played down the importance of a quartet meeting that came at Germany's urging.

Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said Ms Rice would outline how she saw the "process unfolding", starting with her discussions with Mr Olmert and Mr Abbas "about the political horizon".

Analysts in Washington said this diplomatic speak for final status talks reflected a positive shift in US policy and a recognition that the "road map" was stuck in the "glove compartment", as Madeleine Albright, Ms Rice's predecessor, described the stalemate this week.


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Friday, February 2, 2007

Rice to Seek Support for Mideast Effort

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/rice-to-seek-support-for-mideast-effort.html

Rice to Seek Support for Mideast Effort
Endorsement of Quartet to Be Urged During Meeting in Washington

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/01/AR2007020102133_pf.html

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 2, 2007; A11

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will launch a new effort to forge a Palestinian state by seeking an endorsement today from a rare Washington meeting of a high-level group that monitors Middle East peace.

The Quartet, made up of the United States, the European Union, Russia> and the United Nations, has played a largely backstage role in the long-stalled peace process. But Germany, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the E.U., has pressed to revive the role of the international group -- and U.S. officials decided that an endorsement would help bolster Rice's planned return to the region this month to host a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

European officials say that Rice's decision to hold the meeting in Washington signals the administration's determination to make progress with just two years left in President Bush's term. "This sends a clear message that the United States is reengaged," one European official said yesterday.

Rice maintains that the prospects for peace have suddenly turned brighter, even though Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has dwindling support among Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has struggled against the Hamas-led legislature. In a series of recent trips to the region, Rice has tried to unite what she calls "mainstream" Arabs against extremist forces that she says include Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. She suggests that the strategic interests of Israel and its neighbors have begun to overlap, making it easier to win Arab support for and interest in a peace deal.

Accepting an approach long urged by Europeans and Palestinians, Rice will push Olmert and Abbas to discuss the contours of a final peace deal, even though they have made little progress in implementing the initial steps of a peace plan promoted by the administration for the past four years.

Previously, the administration argued that such negotiations would be premature until the Palestinians met basic security requirements and Israel ended its settlement expansion. Now, Rice suggests that sketching a "political horizon" will boost the confidence of the two sides to take those initial steps -- and to ultimately give Abbas the leverage to defeat Hamas.

But turmoil in the Palestinian territories has increased in recent days. A tentative cease-fire collapsed yesterday as Hamas and forces loyal to Abbas's Fatah party engaged in an intense gunfight in the Gaza Strip that killed six people and wounded at least 50. The administration is pressing a $100 million plan to bolster and train Abbas's security forces.

Behind the scenes, there are tensions in the Quartet group over the administration's determination to maintain an economic embargo on the Palestinian government led by Hamas, which the State Department considers a terrorist organization. The Russians, in particular, have pressed for an end to the embargo. The Europeans last year won approval for a temporary -- now largely permanent -- aid program that directly benefits the Palestinian people, bypassing Hamas institutions. The aid ban, however, has allowed Iran to gain a greater role in Palestinian affairs as it provides huge amounts of smuggled cash to Hamas.

A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the group's communique was still being drafted, said that "we need to review the mechanisms in place" for aiding the Palestinians. He said the administration views the aid ban on Hamas to be "a relative success," but he acknowledged that others might argue that it has not succeeded because Hamas still refuses to recognize Israel.

He noted that overall aid to the Palestinians has increased in the past year, and that "apocalyptical visions" of Palestinian suffering because of the aid ban have not materialized.

Over the past six years, the administration has promoted several peace initiatives, only to back off in the face of setbacks. One senior European official who recently met with Rice said he is impressed by her apparent determination to achieve a breakthrough. Asked why he believes this time is different, he smiled and said: "One must always be an optimist."


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In Sderot, N.Y. Mayor expresses solidarity with town's residents

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/in-sderot-ny-mayor-expresses-solidarity.html

Last update - 20:20 02/02/2007   

In Sderot, N.Y. Mayor expresses solidarity with town's residents
 
By The Associated Press
 

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg toured the western Negev town of Sderot on Friday, expressing solidarity with residents, who have endured frequent Palestinian Qassam rocket fire.
 
Escorted by Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, Bloomberg visited a police station, a
youth center and an observation point less than two kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
 
More than 1,300 rockets launched from Gaza have hit southern Israel since troops and settlers were withdrawn from the coastal strip in September 2005, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Hundreds have landed in Sderot, a town of 20,000.
 
At the police station, Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of the Bloomberg L.P. financial information company, was shown a display of rockets that hit the city.
 
He also met with the father of Ayala Abukasis, a 17-year-old girl who was killed two years ago in a rocket attack on the city.
 
"I have two daughters, and I can't imagine," Bloomberg told Yonatan Abukasis as the mayor translated for him. "Thank you for coming," Abukasis replied.
 
The youth center the mayor visited was dedicated to the dead girl. There, he helped to plant a tree in her memory, helping to hoist the tree upright and shoveling dirt into the base.
 
"Sadly, there are people just on the other side of that valley who shoot missiles at [the people of Sderot] and these missiles kill," Bloomberg said. "And I think this town, as much as any place you'll ever visit, tells you why we can never negotiate with terrorists."
 
Asked if he was afraid to come to Sderot, Bloomberg replied, "I'm not afraid of terrorists."
 
Although the rockets are crude and rarely cause casualties, they have killed nine people since 2001.
 
David Fendel, a Sderot resident originally from Long Island, criticized U.S. President George W. Bush's request that Congress give $86 million to security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
 
"It's up to the State Department to decide," Bloomberg said.
 
After his trip to Sderot, Bloomberg headed for Ben-Gurion International Airport for a flight to Jordan, where he was to meet with King Abdullah II.
 
Before takeoff - and without mentioning Hamas by name - he supported Israel's refusal to negotiate with the Palestinians' Hamas-led government until the Islamic militant group recognizes Israel's right to exist, renounces violence and accepts existing peace agreements beetween the Palestinians and Israel.
 
Bloomberg was accompanied on his two-day trip to Israel by his sister, Marjorie Tiven, his daughter, Emma, and his 98-year-old mother, Charlotte.
 
On Thursday, he met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Acting President Dalia Itzik. He also dedicated a $6.5 million emergency rescue service facility in Jerusalem named for his late father, William H. Bloomberg, who died in 1963.


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Quartet of Middle East peace brokers begins meeting in U.S.

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/quartet-of-middle-east-peace-brokers.html

Last update - 19:02 02/02/2007   

Quartet of Middle East peace brokers begins meeting in U.S.
By Reuters
 

WASHINGTON - The Quartet of Middle East peace brokers began a meeting on Friday that the United States hopes will endorse its push to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks despite violence raging between Palestinian factions.
 
The U.S. State Department said it expected the talks among the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union to reaffirm efforts to isolate the Hamas-led Palestinian government through a year-old international aid embargo.
 
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to outline U.S. plans to other Quartet members for a proposed meeting later this month among herself, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Speaking before the Quartet talks, Rice told reporters they would cover "how to make progress toward the establishment of a Palestinian state."
 
Referring to the ongoing factional violence between Hamas and Fatah, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said it was up to the Palestinians to settle their differences and that it was still worth trying to promote peace with Israel despite the internecine violence.
 
The militant group Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel or renounce violence, swept to power in Palestinian elections in January 2006. Efforts by the U.S.-backed Abbas to form a unity government with Hamas that might be more interested in negotiating peace with Israel have so far failed.
 
"If you wait for all of those political-to-political divisions to be completely bridged or healed you don't know how long that is going to take," McCormack told reporters. "In the meantime, everybody can agree on the fact that there should be a Palestinian state and you can work on ... aspects of that."
 
Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas urged the Quartet in a letter to engage in talks with the Palestinian government to try to end internal fighting.
 
"We call upon you to engage in a constructive and important dialogue with us to help end the state of tension in the region and to push all parties to reach the status of stability that will lead to the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people," al-Zahar's aide quoted the letter as saying.
 
The Quartet supports the U.S.-backed "road map," which was drawn up in 2003 and provided step-by-step benchmarks toward the goal of a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by 2005, a date that has long since passed.
 
McCormack said the U.S. goal was to work within the context of the road map but he said harder issues that were further down the line could be tackled along with more immediate concerns such as Israeli checkpoints.
 
The United States is working to embolden Abbas in the face of opposition from Hamas and wants the Quartet's help on this, particularly in building up the PA chairman's security forces which Washington is helping train and equip.
 
While Quartet members are united in pushing for a revived peace process, there is disagreement over whether a Western aid blockade to the Hamas-led government should continue. Russia called this week for the aid freeze to be lifted and the United Nations and European Union are also questioning it.
 
However, McCormack said expected the Quartet to "reaffirm the principles" of its January 30, 2006 decision to make aid to the Hamas-led government contingent on its renouncing violence, recognizing Israel and respecting past peace agreements.


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Sen. Clinton: We must not permit Iran to acquire nuclear weapons

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/sen-clinton-we-must-not-permit-iran-to.html

Last update - 18:43 02/02/2007   
 

Sen. Clinton: We must not permit Iran to acquire nuclear weapons
 
By The Associated Press

Calling Iran a danger to the U.S. and one of Israel's greatest threats, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday no option can be taken off the table when dealing with that nation.
 
"U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal: We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons," the Democrat told a crowd of Israel supporters. "In dealing with this threat ... no option can be taken off the table."
 
Clinton spoke at a Manhattan dinner held by the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the U.S., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Some 1,700 supporters applauded as she cited her efforts on Israel's behalf and spoke scathingly of Iran's decision to hold a conference last month that questioned whether the Holocaust took place.
 
 
"To deny the Holocaust places Iran's leadership in company with the most despicable bigots and historical revisionists," Clinton said, criticizing what she called the Iranian administration's pro-terrorist, anti-American, anti-Israeli rhetoric.
 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called the Holocaust a myth and said Israel should be wiped off the map and its Jews returned to Europe.
 
Iran insists its nuclear program is designed to produce energy, not weapons.
 
Ahmadinejad said Thursday his government is determined to continue with its nuclear program, despite UN Security Council sanctions imposed over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel to generate electricity or for the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
 
Clinton, the front-runner for her party's presidential nomination, called for dialogue with foes of the United States, saying Iran uses its influence and its revenues in the region to support terrorist elements.
 
"We need to use every tool at our disposal, including diplomatic and economic in addition to the threat and use of military force," she said.
 
Iranian official: Underground cameras installed at Natanz plant
A top Iranian nuclear official said Friday that U.N. inspectors have
set up cameras in an underground facility where the country intends to install 3,000 new centrifuges to allow them to monitor the activity.
 
The official, speaking on condition anonymity because he was not authorized to give statements to media, said the cameras were put in place over the past few days, ending Thursday.
 
But a UN official in Vienna said Iran had met only some, not all, of the world body's requests for installing monitoring cameras at the underground site. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in exchange for discussing confidential information.
 
The underground facility is located in the central Natanz uranium enrichment plant that has been at the center of a tug-of-war between Iran and the international community.
 
The United Nations has demanded Iran suspend uranium enrichment and has imposed sanctions on the country in December for refusing to halt the process which could lead to Tehran producing a nuclear bomb.
 
The cameras have been installed on the basis of Iran's obligations, the official told The Associated Press, stressing that centrifuge installment has not yet started at Natanz.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Test of Syria's intentions

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/test-of-syrias-intentions.html

Test of Syria's intentions
By Shlomo Ben-Ami
 

Holding your breath in light of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's latest peace trip to the Middle East or the Quartet meeting tomorrow is not recommended. U.S. President George W. Bush needed six years to understand that without an Israeli-Arab agreement, an alliance of the moderates in the region has no future. But Rice's peace offensive comes too late for a president beleaguered at home and abroad. And if this latest effort isn't thwarted by the misguided outlook that motivates it, it will collapse in the face of the anarchy in the Palestinian Authority and the weakness of the Israeli government.
 
The road map in its current form cannot possibly offer a realistic political prospect. This is the case even if the political weakness of both sides is ignored and the first phase, which requires the Palestinians to dismantle the terror infrastructure and Israel to destroy the illegal outposts, is renounced.
 
The Quartet meeting will not be able to ignore the Palestinians' intransigent opposition to the second phase of the road map as well, which calls for a Palestinian state within "temporary borders." The Palestinian position is not completely illogical; the effort and political price required to chart the boundaries of a temporary state are such that it's better to invest them in a permanent one. Even if the Palestinians do agree to temporary borders, it's doubtful whether Israel will be able to meet the ensuing conditions: completely freezing all construction in the settlements under close international supervision and paving a road in the area between the temporary border and the 1967 line, including East Jerusalem.
 
The road map, then, is being disassembled: no first phase and no second phase, but a direct and immediate jump to the final-status agreement.
 
But will someone who did not manage to evacuate even a single outpost in the course of a year be able to make historic decisions on borders, refugees, Jerusalem and sacred sites? What chance does the government have of adopting an agreed-upon political strategy when four of its key ministers have each suggested different peace plans during their meetings with Rice? And will the Palestinian Authority leadership, which is on the verge of civil war before having dared to even consider dismantling the terror infrastructure, be able to take the risk of the compromises entailed in an agreement with Israel? There is no alliance of the moderates; we must strive for a deal to which the extremists will agree, lest Palestinian society deteriorate into an all-embracing war.
 
If there is a chance that the Six-Day War, which has continued for 40 years now, will not enter its jubilee, then this despairing process must begin from the end, by coming up with a clear and detailed outline for the final-status agreement and working backward to the implementation stages, under international supervision.
 
The Israeli reflex is to dismiss out of hand any attempt to internationalize a solution to the conflict. But there is no choice. If Yasser Arafat, with his unchallenged revolutionary authority, could not agree to a historic compromise on the issues at the heart of the conflict unless it was done with international intervention, then will a leader like Mahmoud Abbas - who is gasping for political oxygen and is subject to a violent blockade by the democratic majority controlled by Hamas - make the necessary compromises, especially on issues like the right of return, without the legitimacy and protection of an international and inter-Arab umbrella?
 
The 2002 inter-Arab peace initiative, which Israel's prime minister praised in his speech at Sde Boker, calls for a regional solution to the conflict now that attempts to resolve it through bilateral negotiations have failed. In this initiative, the Arab League seized the monopoly on the decision to end the conflict from the Palestinians and moved it into an international forum. Internationalizing the solution is also the only chance to strengthen moderates and completely isolate Hamas, if it does not accept the conditions of the agreement.
 
The Arab world is screaming for an Israeli-Arab agreement not because of a sudden affection for Israel, but because it sees such a move as a way to curb radical Islam and stop the spread of the Shi'ite regime under Iranian patronage.
 
If Rice and the Quartet members are unable to cut the Gordian knot of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instead of continuing the Sisyphean task of untying it, they're better off deciding on what steps to take so they can move over immediately to an Israeli-Syrian peace track. Such a move would have an unprecedented effect on creating the conditions for the maturation of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
 
But there is another failure in the U.S. strategy, which assumes that Syria must be isolated rather than turned into a negotiation partner, as the Baker-Hamilton report recommends. What lies in the balance - a more functional regional order, stability in Lebanon and a severing of the Damascus-Tehran axis - is too important for Israel and the United States to keep refusing to put Bashar Assad's intentions regarding peace to the test.
 
There is no need to reinvent the wheel to solve the problem on the Palestinian front or on the Syrian front. In both cases, the solution is already known. The problem is the lack of political will and the leadership failure on both sides.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Should America follow the linkage theory?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/should-america-follow-linkage-theory.html

Posted: February 02, 2007
 
Should America follow the linkage theory?
Periphery
 
For a long time it was believed that solving the Arab-Israeli conflict would help bring stability to the Middle East - but is it really so?
 
No, says Amir Taheri, formerly the executive editor of Kayhan, Iran's largest daily newspaper and a well known columnist, in his recent Commentary article: "Far from being the root cause of instability and war in the wider Middle East, one could argue that the Arab-Israeli conflict is rather peripheral, and that the region's deeper and much more intractable problems lie elsewhere. And one would be right. In the last years we have all become acquainted with televised images of the brutal carnage that Shiites and Sunni are capable of inflicting on each other in Iraq, the ghastly work of Baathist death squads, the steady rhythm of political assassinations, and the laying waste of civilian life. And that is just within one country. For our purposes here, however, it may be more instructive to look at the Middle East at the regional level, and to examine in particular the huge number of inter-state conflicts that have bedeviled this area in the modern era - conflicts that have nothing whatsoever to do with the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians."
 
Centrality
 
The question of linkage between Middle East stability and solving this conflict returned to the headlines following two events.
 
The first: remarks made by then-counselor to the Secretary of State Philip Zelikow a couple of months ago. "For the Arab moderates and for the Europeans, some sense of progress and momentum on the Arab-Israeli dispute is just a sine qua non for their ability to cooperate actively with the United States on a lot of other things that we care about. We can rail against that belief; we can find it completely justifiable, but it's fact. That means an active policy on the Arab-Israeli dispute is an essential ingredient to forging a coalition that deals with the most dangerous problems."
 
The second: The Baker-Hamilton report, asserting that "the United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict."
 
Cooperation
 
But like Taheri, many experts dispute this so-called linkage theory. In this Friday's Forward, Nathan Guttman is quoting several experts who advised the Baker-Hamilton group, saying they were "shocked that the Israeli-Palestinian issue was included in the final report." Many staff members, he writes, "found the language of the final report disturbing, especially in the direct linkage it made between resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and reaching stability in Iraq."
 
However, Baker defended his decision Tuesday in a hearing on the Hill, telling the Senators that "It is difficult to establish regional stability in the Middle East without addressing the Arab-Israeli issue. We want other countries, especially the Sunni Arab countries, to help us. When we go to talk to them about Iraq, they will want to talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict." This, in essence, is the same argument Zelikow made: you need to tackle this issue if you want cooperation from Arab countries on other issues.
 
Linkage
 
So is there a linkage or isn't there? I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is. Rob Satloff of the Washington Institute wrote recently (I quoted this article in the past) that "the evidence is piling up: The linkages simply don't exist." But he is talking about a "real" linkage - the notion that solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem will somehow improve the situation in Iraq, or that neglecting the peace process might bring about a war. Dennis Ross, former peace maker for both the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration made the same argument writing that "terror and those who carry it out are going to be a threat whether or not peace becomes possible again between Palestinians and Israelis."
 
yesterday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack answered a question about the Arab-Israeli conflict maneuvering between an official rejection of the linkage - but at the same time affirming that the Arab position may be different: "Trying to make progress on resolving the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians is something in its own right that we have an interest in, that other states in the region have an interest in."
 
Thus, one has more difficulties arguing with Baker when he says that that the Arab countries keep telling him - or the Bush administration - that they see this conflict as central to Middle East stability. In that sense, there is, indeed, a linkage. The man made linkage of Arab rulers.
 
Excuse
 
Thus, a question arises: should America buy the Arab (and maybe European) linkage?
 
It's not an easy question to answer as the U.S. has many interests in the region and should carefully consider them all. But here's another question with which the first one can be answered: Do you think these Arab leaders - linking the Israeli-Palestinian issue to the other issues - are serious? Do they mean business? Will they really help solving the other problems if this one condition is followed?
 
Teheri, for one, is not such a believer: "The notion that all of these problems can be waved away by "solving" the Arab-Israeli conflict is thus at best a delusion," he writes. Arab leaders are pushing America to deal with Israel first, because they want the attention away from the real problems. It's an excuse, not a reason. And excuses are what people make when they want to fool you - not when they want to help.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Halutz barred dissent by IDF top brass in front of cabinet during war

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/halutz-barred-dissent-by-idf-top-brass.html

Last update - 18:35 02/02/2007   

Halutz barred dissent by IDF top brass in front of cabinet during war
 
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
 

Outgoing Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz forbade top IDF officers from expressing opinions that diverged from his own to cabinet members during the second Lebanon war, in a policy that caused great controversy within the General Staff.
 
Some senior officers saw Halutz's measure as suppressing diverse opinions and preventing the country's political leaders from being exposed to critical information, while others viewed it as a necessary part of creating order out of the chaos reigning in the General Staff before Halutz became chief of staff.
 
In a meeting at his office on July 14, two days into the war, Halutz told his generals: "In my opinion, we are confusing the decision-makers. I'm no longer willing to hear any position other than the ones made [in the General Staff]. You want an intellectual discussion? You can do that anywhere you want with the prime minister. In formal deliberations the IDF position will be voiced, just as the Shin Bet and the Mossad each has a single position."
 
Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin reminded Halutz that he was obligated to present the country's leaders with his own, independent position if he had one, in his capacity as MI chief and in light of the conclusions of the Agranat Commission investigation into the Yom Kippur War.
 
Halutz agreed, but noted that even the head of MI cannot present the cabinet with operational recommendations that differ from those agreed on by the IDF General Staff.
 
Halutz added, "... neither can the deputy chief of staff or the head of operations. You present the [IDF] position, period. Clear-cut. If that is difficult for people, I'll go there alone."
 
Even as a deputy chief of staff Halutz had reservations about the practice of several senior officers attending cabinet meetings and expressing different, sometimes contradictory, positions, in contrast to the Shin Bet under Yuval Diskin, which always presented his position. Diskin criticized Halutz and his predecessor, Moshe Ya'alon, on this very issue several times.
 
'Doesn't encourage openness or free thought'
 
Officers who served with Halutz as a major-general and as chief of staff told Haaretz that Halutz's remarks on July 14 reflected his approach.
 
The officers commented that "he doesn't encourage openness or free thought. He acted that way from his first day as chief of staff. From the moment he made up his mind, the fact that there was a different opinion among the top brass didn't interest him any longer. It's a problem, especially when it's known that the work in the headquarters in the vicinity of the prime minister and the defense minister is deficient. That's why it's important that the decision-makers be aware of the various positions, even if in the end there is one decision the IDF is committed to - that of the chief of staff."
 
On Sunday the cabinet will vote on the appointment of Maj. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi as Israel's 19th chief of staff. The appointment was approved this week by the committee on senior civil service appointments, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Ya'akov Turkel.
 
The swearing-in ceremony will be held on February 14, in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem.
 
Ashkenazi met this week with deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky and asked him to stay on as his deputy. Sources in the General Staff say they doubt that Kaplinsky will do so.
 
They say he will probably make a final decision only after the release of the Winograd Committee's interim report, expected in about six weeks.


Continued (Permanent Link)

"Patriotism" Poll Results - Zionism less important than Ingathering of the Exiles and Love of the Land

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/patriotism-poll-results-zionism-less.html

Interesting poll results...
 
Jews: How important are these values for Israeli patriotism?
Percentage (of Jews) who said very much or considerable:
88% Ingathering of the exiles
...
95% Love of the Land
83% Zionism
What is Zionism, as opposed to "Love of the Land" and "Ingathering of the exiles?" Will "Ingathering of the exiles" be left to the Messiah? 
 

 
"Patriotism" Poll Results
Dr. Aaron Lerner               2 February 2007

The following are from the results of a survey of a random sample of some
800 adults Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) carried out during the course
of December by Midgam under the supervision of Prof. Ephraim Yaar, Head of
the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University, and
Efrat Peleg for presentation at the Institute for Policy and Strategy
Herzliya Conference held in January.

Jews: To what extent do you consider yourself an Israeli patriot?
Very much 36% Great 31% To an extent 26% Not at all 7%
Percentage who said very much or great by age:
18-29  51%  30-39 65% 40-49 64% 50-59 73% 60+ 84%

Jews: How important are these things for Israeli patriotism?
Percentage who said very much or considerable:
95% Live in country
89% Vote in elections
92% Honor tradition
89% Establish new community
81% Buy Israeli goods
96% Willing to fight
84% Protest against policy
86% Fly Israeli flag
90% Contribute to society

Jews: How important are these values for Israeli patriotism?
Percentage who said very much or considerable:
95% Jerusalem
95% Hebrew language
82% Bible
88% Ingathering of the exiles
85% Social justice
73% Tradition of the Prophets of Israel
95% Love of the Land
83% Zionism

Jews: Would you be willing to fight for the State?
Certainly 70% Almost certain 22%
Almost certainly no 4% No 4%

Jews: Do you agree that there is justification to refuse to fight in a war
that you believe is immoral?
Agree a lot 29% Agree considerably 22%
Don't agree so much 22% Don't agree at all 27%

Jews: Would you encourage your children to live in the country despite that
there are wealthier and safer places they can live?
Agree a lot 63% Agree considerably 24%
Don't agree so much 10% Don't agree at all 3%

Jews: Would you be willing to move and live in another country?
Certain no 58% Think no 19%
Think yes 17% Certain yes 6%
Percentage think yes & certain yes by age:
18-29 33% 30-39 27% 40-49 23% 50-59 17% 60+ 13%

Jews: What is the main reason you would be willing to move to another
country?
Economics 32% Security 26% Corruption 11% Personal development 10%
Absence of solidarity 7% Family 6%
Objection to policy 4% Other 4%

Percentage of Jews who said that:
94% Proud to be Jewish
83% Proud to be Israeli
66% Israel is a better state

Percentage of Jews who were very proud or proud of the following matters
relating to the State of Israel:
Cultural heritage 58% Solidarity 39% Security forces 64% Courts 50%
Knesset 7% Government 9% Jewish Character 53% Culture and literature 77%
Science and technology 91% Social welfare system 15%
Economic achievements 53% Democratic functioning 34%

Percentage of Jews respecting symbols by political affiliation:
Left: Anthem 83% Memorial day siren 96% IDF uniform 79%
Center: Anthem 90% Memorial day siren 89% IDF uniform 93%
Right: Anthem 83% Memorial day siren 87% IDF uniform 90%

How did the Lebanon War affect your feelings towards the State and trust in
its institutions?
(Jews)

Emotional feeling:
Strengthened considerably 21% A little 11% No effect 42%
Weakened a little 15% Weakened considerably 11%

Trust in Government:
Strengthened considerably 2% A little 5% No effect 13%
Weakened a little 23% Weakened considerably 57%

Trust in Knesset:
Strengthened considerably 2% A little 5% No effect 20%
Weakened a little 23% Weakened considerably 50%

Trust in security forces:
Strengthened considerably 14% A little 10% No effect 19%
Weakened a little 30% Weakened considerably 27%

Trust in media:
Strengthened considerably 9% A little 11% No effect 29%
Weakened a little 15% Weakened considerably 36%

Jews: How would you rate the ability of the civilian population to endure?

Respondents in North and Haifa:
Very good 55% Considerably good 38%
Considerably bad 3% Bad 4%

Respondents in rest of country:
Very good 48% Considerably good 41%
Considerably bad 7% Bad 5%

Arabs: Percentage who replied that they consider themselves patriots to a
great extent:
Arab patriotism 85% Palestinian patriotism 52% Israeli patriotism 32%

Arabs: How did Lebanon war impact your emotional ties to the State?
Strengthened considerably 9% A little 2% No effect 48%
Weakened a little 13% Weakened considerably 28%



--------------------------------------------
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website:
www.imra.org.il


Continued (Permanent Link)

Zionists out

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/zionists-out.html

Zionists out
 
By Bradley Burston

Talkback comment, in response to When Jihad says 'Kiss, make up, and kill the Jews,' of January 29:
 
Who are you, and what have you done with the real Bradley Burston? The REAL Mr. Burston surely would have blamed himself - and the rest of us - for today`s suicide bombing. Are you feeling ok, man?
 
Citizen Zero,
Toronto, Canada
 
_____________________
 

I decided this week that it was time I outed myself.
 
I couldn't take it anymore. The sneaking around. The posturing, the covering up.
 
So this is me, coming out.
 
I've been this way for as long as I can remember. I kept quiet about it, but it was always there. Even before I knew myself what it was.
 
It colored my thinking. It affected my relationships. I couldn't talk to just anyone about this thing I was carrying inside.
 
Were I to come out with it, I thought to myself, I'd be asking to be lumped in with people who are routinely shunned, reviled, quarantined by polite society, spat at by the over-righteous, openly blamed for global ills.
 
You think, there'll be people who will never look at you, shake your hand, or smile at you quite the same way again.
 
Then again, there's only so long you can lie to your own heart.
 
So here it is.
 
I'm a Zionist.
 
Go ahead. Take your best shot.
 
There will be those, and they will be many, who will tell me that it is wrong to love this place, that I have no right to love it, and certainly none to claim it as mine. That by God's law, it will never be mine, it can never be mine.
 
There will be those who will tell me that it is wrong - in fact, impossible - to love this place and, at the same time, believe that it should be shared with another people who loves this place no less than we. That by God's law, it will never be theirs, it can never be theirs.
 
Perhaps they'll never want to speak to me again. Perhaps we'll both be better off.
 
Here's one thing they will not change:
 
I love this place. Even if it doesn't much care for me. I love it unconditionally. I see its flaws. It is a collection of scars and blemishes, bad behaviors and raw moods and tantrums, guilt trips and passive aggression and active aggression and denial. I don't care. It loves me, it loves me not. I love it nonetheless.
 
I love the way it looks and smells. Overexposed and overpowering.
 
I have been this way now, for as long as I can remember. I don't expect this to change materially for as long as I live.
 
In some ways I was raised to be this way, and in some ways I was raised to be anything but. Ways that no one will fully understand. My being this way hurts my family, old friends, the people I left behind to be this way. And yet, from this remove, I see that this is how it works for everyone, more or less. You must leave your family of origin to start a relationship, a family - a new one, from scratch.
 
One of the tough parts of being this way is the necessity of making it all up as you go along.
 
If I came out with it, I'd thought to myself, I'd be lumped in with extremists, people whose outrageous behavior and evident, even brutal, contempt for people unlike them makes an irrationally bad rap that much worse.
 
So if I'm already out, here's what I have to offer:
 
I believe that a Jewish country need not be racist. I believe that a Jewish country must not be racist.
 
I believe that Jews have every right to a state of their own, no less than the Palestinians. I believe that the Palestinians have every right to a state of their own, no less than the Jews.
 
I believe that if one side denies the other the right to a state, it does direct and permanent harm to both peoples.
 
I believe that in a world in which there are dozens of Islamic countries, some of which cannot abide the corporeal presence of the Jew, there is room for one Jewish one.
 
I believe that in a world in which the flags of 13 nations bear a cross, the flag of one nation can bear a Star of David.
 
I believe that a people at war commits crimes. I believe that a people at war tends to see its own crimes as legitimate. I believe that war breeds racism on both sides, and that racism fuels war.
 
I believe that the process of dividing and sharing the Holy Land will be agonizing for both peoples. Both peoples have seen what civil war will be like, the Jews in Gaza in 2005, the Palestinians in Gaza in 2007.
 
I believe that the process of forgiveness will be painful, in some ways cruel. I believe that it will be next to impossible.
 
I also believe that it will happen.
 
I believe that a time will come when the sides will come to recognize what each has been saying to the other ? often in the worst possible ways ? for a lifetime now:
 
We're here. That's final. Get used to it.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Prosecution: Soldiers must detain settlers harassing Palestinians

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/prosecution-soldiers-must-detain.html

Prosecution: Soldiers must detain settlers harassing Palestinians

Following incident caught on video in which soldiers failed to interfere while female settler harassed Palestinian neighbor in Hebron, State Prosecutor's office rules: Soldiers must block violence towards people, property and alert police
 
Aviram Zino Published:  02.02.07, 01:34
 

When a soldier witnesses settler violence towards Palestinians or their property, he must detain the suspects and alert the police or Border Guard, Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan declared Thursday.
 

 
In a letter to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Nitzan addressed the recent incident in the West Bank exposed by Ynet in which Hebron settlers harassed their Palestinian neighbors and soldiers failed to interfere.
 

 
After two videos recording incidents of settler harassment were published on Ynet, the question arose as to what degree of involvement should be required of soldiers who witness such disturbances.
 
The letter told the civil rights groups that all the relevant officials had met at the Deputy State Prosecutor's office to discuss the problem.
 
Nitzan wrote that the officials concluded that soldiers must detain suspects until police arrived, rather than rely on identifying the suspects later.

The letter noted that in the course of 2005, Hebron District Police dealt with 152 complaints against settlers for violence towards Palestinians. Indictments were filed in 39 of the cases. During 2006, 155 complaints were recorded and 81 indictments were filed.
 
According to the Judea Division's commanding officer and police reports, there was a significant decrease in the number of disturbances in Hebron, Attorney Nitzan wrote. In the past six months there have been no serious incidents in the area, he said.
 
Nitzan attributed the decrease in violent incidents to improved deployment of law enforcement authorities in Hebron. An important tactic, according to Nitzan, was the deployment of special Border Guard patrol unit in the area to back up police forces.

Regarding minors, who are frequently involved in harassing Palestinian residents, Nitzan wrote: "There has been a significant decrease in incidents involving minors. In 2006, 16 complaints were filed against minors. In three of the incidents, the identity of the suspects is known, and their names and details of the incident were transferred to regional authorities."
 

 
Participants in the meeting stressed that it must be made clear to Israeli settlers that "there will no tolerance" towards such behavior and offenders would be held culpable, the letter noted.
 

 
Security forces were recently ordered to patrol the area more frequently, it said.
 
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

PA security forces arrest 7 Iranians in Gaza Strip raid

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/pa-security-forces-arrest-7-iranians-in.html

PA security forces arrest 7 Iranians in Gaza Strip raid
AP and Jpost.com staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 1, 2007
www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467868941&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Palestinian security forces arrested seven Iranian citizens during a raid Thursday night at the Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold in Gaza City, a security official said.

According to reports, another Iranian citizen committed suicide during the raid.

The raid came during a large-scale assault by Fatah-affiliated gunmen on the
university, which followed a day of gunfights between Hamas and Fatah gunmen
throughtout the Gaza Strip.

The new wave of street battles killed at least six people, one of them a
security officer, wounded dozens, and effectively destroyed a three-day-old
truce that brought a brief period of quiet to the volatile area.

The violence broke out in the central Gaza town of Bureij on Thursday afternoon after Hamas gunmen hijacked a convoy delivering supplies to the Fatah-allied security forces, security officials said.

Security reinforcements were seen flooding into the town.

Soon after, separate gun battles broke out in Gaza City and in northern Gaza outside a military intelligence post. Security officials said Hamas gunmen fired a rocket was fired at the post.

A Fatah member was kidnapped in northern Gaza during the clashes, security officials said.

Col. Burhan Hamad, the head of the Egyptian security team in Gaza that negotiated the truce, denounced the attack on the convoy as "unjustified" and angrily blamed Hamas. He appealed to the warring factions to stop the new clashes. The Islamic Jihad, in the role of peacemaker, called for convening an urgent meeting to discuss resumption of the truce.

Also in Gaza, unknown gunmen opened fire early Thursday at Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum as he drove with three bodyguards in his white sedan toward an impromptu checkpoint near Gaza City, Hamas said. There were no casualties. A Hamas announcement blamed "coup-seekers," meaning gunmen from the rival Fatah party.

Later Thursday, gunmen in a car shot at Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for a Hamas militia, Shahwan said, blaming the shooting on Fatah-affiliated security officers. One Hamas member was wounded, he said.

Other sporadic shooting attacks were reported Thursday, including one that wounded a Hamas member.

The early incidents didn't unravel the cease-fire, but on Thursday afternoon Hamas gunmen ambushed an official convoy guarded by the presidential guard and hijacked two trucks filled with tents, medical kits and toilets, security officials said. The attack sparked the new fighting.

"How can they attack the presidential guards like that when there is a cease-fire?" asked Wael Dahab, a presidential guard spokesman.

In the wake of the fighting, security officials reestablished roadblocks near Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's official residence in Gaza City. Masked security officers took up positions throughout the streets.

Masked Hamas gunmen also carjacked a police jeep near the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City, stealing the weapons of those in the vehicle, security officials said.

The truce was declared early Tuesday by leaders of Fatah and Hamas and was meant to bring an end to internal fighting that has left more than 60 Palestinians dead since early December, though it did not resolve the underlying animosity between the groups.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, February 1, 2007

'Liberal' now means anti-Zionist

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/liberal-now-means-anti-zionist.html

In the lexicon of the New York Times, 'Liberal' is now a codeword for anti-Zionist. That appears to be the case from the headline of an article that discusses anti-Zionist Jews. The essay criticizes 'liberals' like Neturei Karteh rabbi David Weiss, who attended the Holocaust conference in Iran along with David Duke and other 'liberals.'
 
One of these 'liberals' commented:
 
Over the telephone, the dinner table and the Internet, people who follow Jewish issues have been buzzing over Mr. Rosenfeld's article. Alan Wolfe, a political scientist and the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, said, "I'm almost in a state of shock" at the verbal assaults directed at liberal Jews.
 
 
 
The essay itself is worth reading, though the author probably goes a bit far in lumping together different people who have criticized Israel or Israeli policies for very different reasons.
 
It is only available in PDF, sorry:
 
By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: January 31, 2007
 
The American Jewish Committee, an ardent defender of Israel, is known for speaking out against anti-Semitism, but this conservative advocacy group has recently stirred up a bitter and emotional debate with a new target: liberal Jews.

An essay the committee features on its Web site, ajc.org, titled " 'Progressive' Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism," says a number of Jews, through their speaking and writing, are feeding a rise in virulent anti-Semitism by questioning whether Israel should even exist.
 
....
 
The essay comes at a time of high anxiety among many Jews, who are seeing not only a surge in attacks from familiar antagonists, but also gloves-off condemnations of Israel from onetime allies and respected figures, like former President Jimmy Carter, who titled his new book on the Mideast "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid." By spotlighting the touchy issue of whether Jews are contributing to anti-Semitism, both admirers and detractors of the essay agree that it aggravates an already heated dispute over where legitimate criticism of Israel and its defenders ends and anti-Semitic statements begin.
 
The essay, written by Alvin H. Rosenfeld, an English professor and the director of the Institute for Jewish Culture and the Arts at Indiana University in Bloomington, castigates a number of people by name, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, the historian Tony Judt, the poet Adrienne Rich and the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, in addition to a number of academics.
 
Mr. Judt, whose views on Israel and the American Jewish lobby have frequently drawn fire, is chastised for what Mr. Rosenfeld calls "a series of increasingly bitter articles" that have "called Israel everything from arrogant, aggressive, anachronistic, and infantile to dysfunctional, immoral, and a primary cause of present-day anti-Semitism."
 
A historian at New York University, Mr. Judt said in a telephone interview that he believed the real purpose of outspoken denunciations of him and others was to stifle harsh criticism of Israel. "The link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is newly created," he said, adding that he fears "the two will have become so conflated in the minds of the world" that references to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust will come to be seen as "just a political defense of Israeli policy."
 
The essay also takes to task "Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" (Grove Press), a 2003 collection of essays edited by Mr. Kushner and Alisa Solomon. Mr. Kushner said that he and Ms. Solomon took great care to include a wide range of voices in their collection, including those of Ms. Rich, the playwright Arthur Miller and various rabbis.
 
...
 
In his essay he says that "one of the most distressing features of the new anti-Semitism" is "the participation of Jews alongside it." Like others, Mr. Cohen of The Washington Post complained that the essay cherry-picked quotations. "He mischaracterized what I wrote," he said. "I've been critical of Israel at times, but I've always been a defender of Israel." He did add, however, that a wide range of writers were named, some of whom have written inflammatory words about Israel. "He has me in a very strange neighborhood," Mr. Cohen said.
 
The dispute goes beyond the familiar family squabbling among Jews that is characterized by the old joke about two Jews having three opinions on a single subject. Bitter debates over anti-Israel statements and anti-Semitism have entangled government officials, academics, opinion-makers and others over the past year, particularly since fervent supporters and tough critics of Israel can be found on the right and the left.
 
Mr. Wolfe, who has written about a recent rise in what he calls "Jewish illiberalism," traces the heated language to increasing opposition to the Iraq war and President Bush's policy in the Middle East, which he said had spurred liberal Jews to become more outspoken about Israel.
 
On this point Mr. Rosenfeld and Mr. Wolfe are in agreement. "It's going up a notch or four or five," Mr. Rosenfeld said in an interview. "One of the things that is clear," he said of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attacks, "is that what used to be on the margin and not very serious is becoming more and more mainstream."
 
Mr. Rosenfeld, who has written and edited more than half a dozen books as well as other publications for the committee, emphasized that policy disagreements were natural and expected. Opposing Israel's settlement of the West Bank or treatment of Palestinians "is, in itself, not anti-Semitic," he writes; it is questioning Israel's right to exist that crosses the line.
 
But Mr. Judt said, "I don't know anyone in a respectable range of opinion who thinks Israel shouldn't exist." (Mr. Judt advocates a binational state that is not exclusively Jewish, something that many Jews see as equivalent to dissolving Israel). He contends that harsh complaints about Israel's treatment of Palestinians are the real target.
 
Last year Mr. Judt came to the defense of two prominent political scientists, Stephen M. Walt at Harvard and John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, after they were besieged for publishing a paper that baldly stated (among other things) that anyone critical of Israel or the American Jewish lobby "stands a good chance of being labeled an anti-Semite."
 
...


Continued (Permanent Link)

6 killed, dozens wounded as Palestinian cease-fire unravels

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/6-killed-dozens-wounded-as-palestinian.html

6 killed, dozens wounded as Palestinian cease-fire unravels
AP and Jpost.com staff,
THE JERUSALEM POST
Feb. 1, 2007
www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467868941&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Gunfights between Hamas and Fatah gunmen erupted across the Gaza Strip on
Thursday, effectively destroying a three-day-old truce that brought a brief
period of quiet to the volatile area.

The new wave of street battles killed at least six people, one of them a
security officer, and left dozens more wounded, according to Channel 2.

The violence broke out in the central Gaza town of Bureij on Thursday
afternoon after Hamas militants hijacked a convoy delivering supplies to the
Fatah-allied security forces, security officials said.

Security reinforcements were seen flooding into the town.

Soon after, separate gun battles broke out in Gaza City and in northern Gaza
outside a military intelligence post. Security officials said Hamas
militants fired a rocket was fired at the post.

A Fatah member was kidnapped in northern Gaza during the clashes, security
officials said.

Also in Gaza, unknown gunmen opened fire early Thursday at Hamas spokesman
Fawzi Barhoum as he drove with three bodyguards in his white sedan toward an
impromptu checkpoint near Gaza City, Hamas said. There were no casualties. A
Hamas announcement blamed "coup-seekers," meaning militants from the rival
Fatah party.

Later Thursday, gunmen in a car shot at Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for a
Hamas militia, Shahwan said, blaming the shooting on Fatah-affiliated
security officers. One Hamas member was wounded, he said.

Other sporadic shooting attacks were reported Thursday, including one that
wounded a Hamas militant.

The early incidents didn't unravel the cease-fire, but on Thursday afternoon
Hamas gunmen ambushed an official convoy guarded by the presidential guard
and hijacked two trucks filled with tents, medical kits and toilets,
security officials said. The attack sparked the new fighting.

"How can they attack the presidential guards like that when there is a
cease-fire," said Wael Dahab, a presidential guard spokesman.

In the wake of the fighting, security officials re-established roadblocks
near President Mahmoud Abbas' official residence in Gaza City. Masked
security officers took up positions throughout the streets.

Masked Hamas gunmen also carjacked a police jeep near the United Nations
headquarters in Gaza City, stealing the weapons of those in the vehicle,
security officials said.

The truce was declared early Tuesday by leaders of Fatah and Hamas and was
meant to bring an end to internal fighting that has left more than 60
Palestinians dead since early December, though it did not resolve the
underlying animosity between the groups.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Truce continues: 2 Kassams land near Sderot; none wounded

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/truce-continues-2-kassams-land-near.html

The truce continues...
2 Kassams land near Sderot; none wounded
JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 1, 2007
www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467869636&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Two Kassam rockets landed in open fields near Sderot on Thursday evening.
No casualties or damage were reported.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Anti-Zionist, not non-Zionist

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/anti-zionist-not-non-zionist.html


In a post about a suicide bombing that killed three Israeli Jews in Eilat on Jan. 29, I referred to Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv as "anti-Zionist." The post appeared at ZioNation, and at Israel: Like This, As If.

A reader has taken me to task for referring to Rabbi Eliashiv as "anti-Zionist."
This reader writes:

"I am neither a supporter nor a follower of Rabbi Eliashiv, but I think your dig at him was somewhat unjustified.

"Firstly, he is not a Zionist, but neither is he an anti-Zionist, as you state. He is not Neturei Karta, but the spiritual leader of part of Agudat Yisrael, a party which has members in the Knesset and supports (sort of) the government."

No dig was intended. I would like to explain the use of the term "anti-Zionist."

Zionism, reduced to its essence, is the assertion that Jews have national rights.

A Jew who does not agree with this assertion is, by definition, an anti-Zionist.

This definition may seem harsh, or arbitrary. It is both.

It reflects the harshness and the arbitrariness of the world in which Jews have lived, either as a minority without the rights of others, or as a nation battling enemies who reject these rights.

"Non-Zionist" is not a label to apply to a Jew. Jews cannot credibly profess to be agnostic on the question of whether they should be entitled to rights.

It can be added that Zionism is what provokes the question and sets its terms.

If no one claimed that Jews have national rights, there might be no question to debate. The claim has been put, though, and only two answers are possible: Yes, or no.

-- Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv


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Forum of the Peace Iniative with Syria - declaration

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/forum-of-peace-iniative-with-syria.html

Forum of the Peace Iniative with Syria

A new forum for promoting a peace initiave with Syria has been established.
This forum came into being following earlier meetings between Israelis and
mediators from UK and USA.

Intellectuals ,academics and businessmen are members in the forum, amongst
whom:

Sami Michael, Amnon Lipkin Shahak, Yakov Peri, Dr. Alon Liel, Pr. Yoram
Peri, David Sasson, Dr.Moshe Amirav, Dr. Alla Shainskaya,  Drora Ben Dov,
Bruno Landsberg,Yossi Zadik, Niso Bezalel, Iris Elhanani, Linda Menuhin,
Rachel Yonah Michael, Fredy Zaq, Nadia Cohen, Sofie Ben Dor, Prof. Yigal
Shwarz, Prof. Menahem Klein,  Etty Livni, Dr. Dina Ziserman, Prof. Shimon
Ulman, David Kimhi and  Prof. Galia Golan.

The forum will convene on Sunday the 28th of January at 18:30
the Hebrew- Arabic Theater in Jaffa .
10 Mifratz Shlomo St .

Key speakers at the event:

Sami Michael,  Dr. Alon Liel, Yakov Peri ,   Sofie Ben Dor, Dr. Alla
Shainskaya and William Morris CEO - the Next Century Foundation -England

Members of the forum have worked out a declaration calling upon the public
to join in order to promote the peace talks with Syria.

Below is the wording of the declaration:

Forum of the peace iniative with Syria

We, the undersigned, represent a wide spectrum of opinions and political
attitudes. We believe that the time has come to respond seriously to the
signs that are coming from

Syria. Since the day the State of Israel was founded, we have regarded Syria
as the most stubborn and determined enemy endangering our existence. And
now, after bitter wars and conflicts between us, there are hints coming from
Syria that show a desire to open a new page, a page of reconciliation for
political settlement.

Prior to signing the peace treaty with Egypt, many firm opponents stood up
to claim the development as impossible . But peace with the largest Arab
state has lasted, despite the great tribulations that befell the region.

We believe that ignoring the conciliatory initiative with Syria would be an
irresponsible gamble with the future of the State of Israel. Out of concern
for our existence, and out of concern for the next generation and the
generations after that, we must re-examine our attitude of regarding the
border with Syria as one of eternal enmity and war. We gave up Sinai and in
return we gained peace with Egypt. We call upon the government of Israel,
upon those amongst us who are responsible for designing policy, to listen to
the voices that are making themselves heard from Damascus. Peace with Syria
means peace with the region in which we live. The price of peace is much
cheaper than the bitter and destructive price of war.

We call upon the public to join its voice to ours. We must all take the
patriotic step of trying to dismantle the obstacles of hatred, enmity and
war that have been sown between us and Syria.
[Remainder of this item was transmitted previously]
--------------------------------------------
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website:
www.imra.org.il


Continued (Permanent Link)

Qatar to host symposium on Palestine

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/qatar-to-host-symposium-on-palestine.html

Qatar to host symposium on Palestine
01 February, 2007
www.gulfinthemedia.com/index.php?id=281799&news_type=Top&lang=en

Qatar will host an international symposium on supporting the Palestinian
people on February 5-6.

The symposium will focus on mobilising the international support for assisting the Palestinian people. The symposium in Doha comes in line with the firm stances of the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in support of the Palestinian people.

Qatar's permanent delegate to UN H E Nassir Bin Abdul Aziz Al Nasser told Qatar News Agency (QNA) yesterday that he had received a letter last April from Senegalese permanent delegate to United Nations who is also chairman of
the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian
people Paul Badi, in which he proposed Qatar's hosting of an international
symposium for assisting the Palestinian people in Doha on February 5-6,
2007.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

IDF ordered not to change Gaza policy

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/idf-ordered-not-to-change-gaza-policy.html

IDF ordered not to change Gaza policy
herb keinon and yaakov katz,
THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 30, 2007
www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467848938&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Despite Monday's suicide attack in Eilat, the government will maintain its
policy of restraint in Gaza, in part so the warring Palestinian factions
will not have a reason to unite, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided on
Tuesday.

Olmert met with Defense Minister Amir Peretz and other top security
officials to discuss Israel's response to the bombing, and decided that a
widespread military action in Gaza would, according to one government
official, "unite the Palestinians against us."
At the same time, the official said, it was decided that military action
against Islamic Jihad, which took responsibility for the blast that killed
three people, would be permitted.

According to defense officials, the IDF is still "extremely limited" in its
ability to stop infiltrators and it is very possible that terrorists would
succeed in crossing the border from Egypt to Israel.

In addition to Olmert and Peretz, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter,
Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen.
Dan Halutz, Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin and Israel Police Deputy Commissioner
Benny Kaniak took part in Tuesday's security consultations.

Defense officials continued to point an accusatory finger at Egypt, which
they said could do more to prevent infiltrations into Sinai from Gaza and
then into Israel.

On Tuesday, Division 80, responsible for securing the Egyptian-Israeli
border, beefed up its forces near Eilat. In addition, IDF liaison officers
asked their Egyptian counterparts to increase efforts to stop the terror
flow from Sinai into Israel.

"The Egyptians can do more," said one defense official on Tuesday. "It is
just a matter of whether they want to."

A diplomatic official said Israel had been pressing the Egyptians for years
to take more effective action on their side of the border to prevent arms
smuggling and the infiltration of terrorists, but to little avail. The
official said some in Sinai were making a lot of money through smuggling,
which includes not only arms and terrorists, but also drugs and women.

The official said that when Israel pressed the Egyptians on this matter,
Cairo's reflexive response was that they needed more personnel and security
equipment in the area to successfully fight the phenomenon, something Israel
is unlikely to agree to because of a long-term fear that the introduction of
more forces and weaponry could eventually create a strategic threat to
Israel.

Jordan's King Abdullah phoned Olmert on Monday evening and urged Israel to
show restraint in its response to the Eilat attack.

According to a statement released by the official Jordanian Petra news
agency, Abdullah "stressed the need for accelerating the peace process to
avert any attempt to undermine efforts to restore negotiation between the
Palestinians and Israelis."
A Israeli diplomatic official said that this was Jordanian diplomatic-speak
for calling on Israel to continue its policy of restraint.
According to the Jordanian statement, Abdullah condemned the Eilat attack
and expressed hope that it would "not affect the reviving of the peace
process."

Peretz, who left for Belgium Tuesday in his first state visit abroad,
visited Eilat and promised that the IDF would step up patrols along the
border in an effort to prevent future infiltrations.

"We will step up operations and deal with this type of terrorist activity,"
Peretz said. "We will do everything to defend our civilians and prevent
damage to the tourism industry in the city."

Israeli officials, meanwhile, emphatically denied that an IAF aircraft
bombing of a terror tunnel near the Karni Crossing in the northern Gaza
Strip Tuesday morning was in response to the Eilat attack. No casualties
were reported in the air strike, which was the first IDF action within the
Gaza Strip since a cease-fire took effect two months ago.

The officials said intelligence information indicated Palestinians planned
to use the tunnel to blow up the Karni Crossing. The officials said the
attack on the tunnel was approved on Thursday evening - well before the
suicide bombing in Eilat - by the political echelon, after the Palestinians
failed to destroy the tunnel..


Continued (Permanent Link)

IDF kills 2 Palestinian gunmen in Nablus

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/idf-kills-2-palestinian-gunmen-in.html

IDF kills 2 Palestinian gunmen in Nablus

Palestinian sources report 2 al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades' gunmen killed in fire clashes with Israeli troops. IDF says soldiers opened fire after identifying terrorists. Lab for preparing explosives also found and destroyed by soldiers
 
Ali Waked Latest Update:  02.01.07, 06:19

Two Palestinian gunmen were killed in fire clashes with the Israel Defense Force Thursday during and IDF operation in Nablus.
 
Palestinian sources in the city reported that gunmen Omar Kalboni and Wael Awwad, belonging to al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing, were wanted by the IDF. 

The IDF reported that during the operation in Nablus, soldiers identified the two as armed terrorists and opened fire at them.
 
No soldiers were injured in the incident.
 
During the operation the forces uncovered a lab operated by Fatah, where explosive devices were prepared.
 
In the lab, a five kilogram explosive device was found, along with materials for preparing more devices. The lab was detonated.
 
 
Efrat Weiss contributed to this story.
 

First Published:  02.01.07, 05:44
 

 


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Chirac dismisses nuclear Iran threat

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/chirac-dismisses-nuclear-iran-threat.html

Chirac dismisses nuclear Iran threat

French president tells three newspapers 'nuclear Iran not big danger', tries to retract next day
 
Associated Press Published:  02.01.07, 10:22
 

French President Jacques Chirac said in an interview with three newspapers that Iran's possession of a nuclear bomb would not be "very dangerous" and that if it used the weapon on Israel, Tehran would be immediately "razed," according to a newspaper report.
 

Chirac - who made the comments during a Monday interview with The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly magazine - called reporters back the next day to try to have his quotes retracted.
 
In an article posted on its Web site Wednesday night, the New York Times said the Monday interview was tape recorded and on the record.
 

Chirac's initial remarks would mark a big departure from France's official policy of deterrence and work in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
 
"I should rather have paid attention to what I was saying and understood that perhaps I was on the record," Chirac said in the second interview on Tuesday, according to the New York Times.

On Monday, Chirac said of Iran and its nuclear program, "I would say that what is dangerous about this situation is not the fact of having a nuclear bomb. Having one or perhaps a second bomb a little later, well, that's not very dangerous."

Instead, Chirac said, the danger lies in the chances of proliferation or an arms race in the Middle East should Iran build a nuclear bomb. Possessing the weapon would be useless for Iran - whose leader has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" - as using it would mean an instant counterattack.
 
 "Where will it drop it, this bomb? On Israel?" Chirac asked. "It would not have gone 200 meters into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed."
 
In the second interview with the same newspapers, Chirac retracted his comment about Tehran being razed. "I retract it, of course, when I said, 'One is going to raze Tehran,"' he said.
 
 Chirac also said other countries would stop any bomb launched by Iran from reaching its target. "It is obvious that this bomb, at the moment it was launched, obviously would be destroyed immediately," he said. "We have the means - several countries have the means to destroy a bomb."
 

Regarding his comments that Israel could be a target of an Iranian weapon and that Israel would retaliate, Chirac said, "I don't think I spoke about Israel yesterday. Maybe I did so but I don't think so. I have no recollection of that."
 
 


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Plurality thinks conviction of Ramon not justified

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/plurality-thinks-conviction-of-ramon.html

Poll: Plurality thinks conviction of Ramon not justified
Dr. Aaron Lerner      Date: 1  February 2007

Telephone poll carried out by "Brain Base" ["Maagar Mochot"] of a
representative sample of 528 adult Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) under
the direction of Prof.Y.Katz for Channel 10 Television's morning program on
31 January 2007. statsitical error +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Was the conviction of Chaim Ramon by the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court
justified (for French kissing a young woman without her consent)
Total:  Yes 31% No 42% Other replies 27%
Men:   Yes 31% No 42% Other replies 27%
Women: Total:  Yes 31% No 43 Other replies 36%
Age up to 39: Yes 35% No 36% Other replies 29%
Age over 39: Yes 27% No 50% Other replies 23%

Will the conviction of Ramon encourage or discourage women to complain in
the future to the police about sexual harassment?
Total: Encourage 62% Discourage 7% other replies 31%
Men: Encourage 63% Discourage 7% other replies 30%
Women: Encourage 62% Discourage 8% other replies 30%
Age up to 39: Encourage 61% Discourage 9% other replies 30%
Age over 30: Encourage 64% Discourage 6% other replies 30%

Will the conviction of Ramon encourage or discourage men under similar
circumstances to engage in sexual harassment?
Total: Encourage 6% Discourage 60% other replies 34%
Men: Encourage 5% Discourage 60% other replies 35%
Women: Encourage 6% Discourage 60 other replies 34%
Age up to 39: Encourage 4% Discourage 58% other replies 38%
Age over 30: Encourage 7% Discourage 62% other replies 31%

--------------------------------------------
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website:
www.imra.org.il


Continued (Permanent Link)

IMRA Interview: David Sasson - The National Movement for Peace with Syria

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/imra-interview-david-sasson-national.html

[An interesting interview with the founder of the National Movement for Peace with Syria:
" You know, my friends who drank in coffee houses and ate at restaurants in Damascus found that eighty percent of the people they sat with are interested in peace."
 
 Of course, peace with Syria may lead to Syria armed by USA, as the interviewer notes. Egypt of course, is armed by USA, and so is Jordan. Views about the causes of radical Islam are those of Mr. Sasson of course. ]
 
David Sasson, an Iraqi-born businessman holding Israeli citizenship who lives in London, is a founder of The National Movement for Peace with Syria. IMRA interviewed him in Hebrew on 31 January.

IMRA: Why not strengthen Peace Now or The Council For Peace And Security instead of forming a new group?

Sasson: No. No. This doesn't have anything to do with Peace Now or The Council For Peace And Security. We established this forum because we believe that it is necessary to pressure the Government of Israel and in particular the prime minister to engage in negotiations with Syria.

IMRA: This is an international group?

Sasson: Right now it is Israeli. I am flying to London now and may establish a core group and perhaps later a forum there between Israel and Syria.

IMRA: You see having broad activity with advertising in the newspapers and direct mail etc.

Sasson: Yes yes. It must be done and I know from American and British sources close to me that are in touch with the Syrian foreign minister that they are interested in making peace. A stable peace. The Golan Heights can be developed for tourism.

IMRA: So you are talking about a campaign with a serious budget.

Sasson: Yes. It is a very serious matter. Before Sadat came that was also ridiculed and today the matter of Syria is being ridiculed. I once said "if we don't believe the Arabs there will never be peace".

IMRA: How large a budget is required for such a serious campaign?

Sasson: In truth we don't yet have a budget. We are doing it from our own money. And we already need help.

IMRA: You foresee a situation in which the same foreign elements that contributed to the activities of Peace Now and The Council for Peace and Security might also be a source for this serious campaign?

Sasson: I don't know. I haven't contacted any group to raise funds but I believe in what I am doing. . If there is peace between Israel ad Syria it would also be good for the Americans.

IMRA: Of course there is the question as to what one will ultimately have if one signs an agreement with someone from a regime that represents less than ten percent of the population of a country before it has another revolution. But I am not coming here to debate with you. You know better than I that the regime now controlling Syria is a minority regime and there is no way to know what tomorrow may bring.

Sasson: We didn't concern ourselves with that when we made peace with Egypt.

IMRA: Of course. I didn't come here to argue. For that matter no one knows what will be with Egypt.

Sasson: You know, my friends who drank in coffee houses and ate at restaurants in Damascus found that eighty percent of the people they sat with are interested in peace.

IMRA: Do you foresee the same model with regard to Syria that there was with Egypt?

Sasson: It will be better.

IMRA: In terms of the amassing of arms afterwards.

Sasson: What arming?

IMRA: Well, as a result of the peace between Israel and Egypt the Egyptians went from being armed with old weapons from the then Soviet Union to a situation in which they have the most advance American weapons. So I ask if the same thing will happen with the Syrians.

Sasson: The peace, if it happens, will strengthen all the moderate Arab states.

IMRA: That's not my question. I am asking you a concrete question: to the extent that there will be peace . . .

Sasson: Arming is not something we think about. Why? Because if there will be peace there will be less arming.

IMRA: Well, there is peace with Egypt and they decided to direct the overwhelming majority of the billions of dollars of American aid that they received towards buying top of the line weapons.

Sasson: That's a matter between America and Egypt.

IMRA: So you see the same situation developing between America and the Syrians?

Sasson: It could be also. The agreement would bring them closer the West - to the U.S.

IMRA: I am talking about arming. Right now the Egyptians have a much stronger navy than the Israeli navy thanks to the peace. Could the same thing happen with the Syrians?

Sasson: You can't tell them not to arm because others are arming. This is not the matter. The important thing for us is the matter of peace and if there is peace there won't be a need for massive arming. The biggest danger is the conflict between us and this leads to the arming on both sides.

IMRA: That's to say that you don't rule out the possibility that on the one hand we might have some international park on the Golan Heights while on the other hand the Syrians will have billions of dollars of American made weapons.

Sasson: That isn't the most important point. Today war isn't as it was thirty of forty years ago. There is a change. The conflict between us and the Arabs before was political. Now it is a religious dispute and this is the greatest danger.

IMRA: So you are saying that balance of power and military capabilities are no longer considerations in the initiation of war.

Sasson: Developments in recent years because we denigrated the Arabs led to the situation that they turned to religion. That's why Hamas strengthened.

IMRA: You raise an interesting question because there will always be radical Islamic groups that will take the position that even if we sign a peace agreement with our neighbors that they still won't accept us.

Sasson: The moment we sign a peace agreement all these groups will weaken.

IMRA: You don't think that poverty also causes them to strengthen.

Sasson: Poverty doesn't lead to such a situation.

IMRA: Is it possible that matters not connected to Israel and its relations with its neighbors may lead to a strengthening of radical Islam?

Sasson: No.

IMR: Things having nothing to do with Israel.

Sasson: No. No. This is an internal matter for them. The Arab states fear war. Why? Because if there is war then radical Islam will strengthen in their states.

IMRA: My question is a bit different Mr. Sasson. As someone who has a personal familiarity with the middle east over the years do you rule out the possibility that something that has nothing to do with Arab Israeli relations could cause a rise to power of radical Islamic elements in the states in our neighborhood?

Sasson: If the situation continues.

IMRA: No. I am asking beyond Arab Israeli relations is it possible that other matters not associated with Arab Israeli relation could bring to power radical Islamic elements.

Sasson: I am saying that radical Islam exploits the Arab Israeli conflict

IMRA: You are saying that there is nothing other than the Arab Israeli conflict that can bring radical Islam to power? Only that?

Sasson: Only that.

IMRA: Only that?

Sasson: Only that.

IMRA: That is the absolute only thing in our region that can bring radical Islam to power?

Sasson: Yes.

IMRA: So that's to say that every place in the middle east that radical Islam came to power it was because of Israel?

Sasson: It was one of the reasons.

IMRA: One of the reasons. So there were also other reasons.

Sasson: But the main reason was the Arab Israel conflict.

IMRA: Mubarak said that corruption is the primary reason that radical Islam can come to power. Corruption.

Sasson: Today there is corruption also in the West. Also in America.

IMRA: So people have gotten to be so accustomed to corruption that it won't bring radical Islam to power.

Sasson: The moment that there is peace the standard of living will start to recover and this will help the poor.

IMRA: You are a businessman. As one you are aware of factors that can affect a market that have nothing to do with you. For example, if the price of oil drops to $25 a barrel something like that couldn't lead to a situation of upheaval in the region that has nothing to do with Israel?

Sasson: Ten years ago oil dropped below $15 a barrel and today it went up and we see that that isn't the reason. The reason for trouble is the Arab Israeli conflict.

IMRA: That's to say that it isn't poverty, it isn't corruption. The only thing is what happens between the Arabs and Israel.

Sasson: There are of course other things such as poverty etc. But radical Islam, be it in Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Jordan - all point to the Arab Israeli conflict. Even Bin Laden.

IMRA: There is a line of thought that says that when leaders face domestic upheaval that they turn to external conflicts to divert the public's focus from internal problems. They seek external conflict to stay in power. That they go to war not because of the claim they have against their enemy but instead the need to turn the opposition of their public away from them towards an external enemy.

Sasson: There are many reasons for war. Economic ones.

IMRA: Not economics. You are in power and you don't want to be put out of power.

Sasson: But religious ones - they are the worse ones.

IMRA: And those who see all of Palestine as waqf, such that there is no place for a Jewish State.

Sasson: Look. All the Arab states back the Saudi initiative of land for peace. Peace brings security. No matter how strong we are and how strong America is it won't help. Security doesn't bring peace. Only peace brings security.



Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS:
imra@netvision.net.il
Website: http://www.imra.org.il


Continued (Permanent Link)

Insidious Zionist poison balloon plot in Lebanon revealed

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/insidious-zionist-poison-balloon-plot.html

[AP reveals yet another Zionist plot thanks to Hezbollah informants: ]
 
Israeli poison balloons reach Beirut, Hizbullah says
Balloons released by Ha-Ir newspaper as part of marketing campaign reach
southern Beirut. Hizbullah claim that balloons were sent by Israel to poison
Lebanese sparks wave of hysteria
Yaakov Lappin YNET Published: 01.31.07, 18:40
www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3359474,00.html

A marketing campaign launched by the Ha-Ir chain of local Israeli newspapers
has been used by Hizbullah to spread anti-Israel propaganda, according to
which "Israeli poisonous balloon attacks" have left eight Lebanese nationals
in the hospital.

Hizbullah's campaign appears to have paid off, after it created a wave of
hysteria in Lebanon. Reports of 'poisonous' balloons have subsequently been
picked up by the Associated Press  (AP) and the London based Al-Jazeera
magazine, which quickly followed suit in a report entitled: "Israel dumps
suspicious green balloons on Lebanon".

On Wednesday, Hizbullah's website claimed that "in Beirut's southern
suburbs, poisonous balloons with Hebrew markings, similar to the ones found
in the south, have been discovered. Security forces are currently
investigating the issue."

Alon Idan, Deputy Editor of Ha-Ir in Tel Aviv, told Ynet that the balloons
were released as part of a new marketing campaign for the chain of local
newspapers, and drifted across the Lebanese border after being picked up by
winds.

'Mysterious balloons unnerving people'

"These are celebratory balloons to market Ha-Ir," Idan said. "According to
Israel Goldstein, CEO of the Shoken Network of local newspapers, (which owns
Ha-Ir), one package of the balloons was picked up by the wind and flew off.
These are marketing balloons. They contain no poison," he said.

As well as the balloons, Ha-Ir's marketing campaign has also included ads
broadcast on Israeli television.

That did not stop Al-Jazeera from saying that " media reports and security
sources revealed on Sunday that Israeli planes dumped 10 suspicious green
balloons over the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre on Saturday."

The frenzied reports began last Sunday, when Hizbullah's English-language
website said that "eight people were hospitalized Saturday after inhaling
toxic gases from poisonous balloons dropped by Israeli warplanes over Upper
Nabatiyeh in southern Lebanon."

According to Hizbullah, they "were rushed to hospital suffering from nausea
and fatigue," and included "a Lebanese staff sergeant, a recruit and An
Nahar reporter Rana Jouni."

The Associated Press reported on Monday that "mysterious balloons drifting
in from Israel to Lebanon are unnerving people, with some south Lebanon
villagers reportedly feeling ill and authorities warning residents against
touching them."


Continued (Permanent Link)

Statement from the Turks on Eilat attack

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/02/statement-from-turks-on-eilat-attack.html

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION

No: 20

January 31, 2007

STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY

We strongly condemn the terrorist assault occurred in the city of Eilat of Israel on January 29, 2007, killing three civilians and injuring one, and wish to convey our condolences to the bereaved families.

On this occasion, we wish to emphasize once again that terrorism cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.

After the sad events that we witnessed last year, the region is passing through a period where the need for the reign of an atmosphere of dialogue and reconciliation in the region is greater than ever. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the provocations aimed at interrupting the ongoing efforts towards creating a national unity government in Palestine and dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority do not succeed.
--------------------------------------------
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website:
www.imra.org.il


Continued (Permanent Link)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Former justice minister Haim Ramon found guilty in indecent behavior trial

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/former-justice-minister-haim-ramon.html

Former justice minister Haim Ramon found guilty in indecent behavior trial
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/819881.html


By Mazal Mualem and Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies

Former justice minister Haim Ramon was found guilty of indecent behavior at Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Wednesday afternoon, for having kissed a young woman soldier against her will.

Ramon, who could face up to three years in prison, left the courthouse without commenting to reporters, but the former minister announced later Wednesday that he intends to appeal.

The three-judge panel delivered a unanimous verdict, writing: "The complainant's account is the absolute truth."



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"Ramon, however, did not stick to the truth, exaggerated the part played by the complainant and distorted the facts in a sophisticated and savvy way," wrote judges Hayuta Kochan, Daniela Cherizli and Daniel Beeri.

They said that, "The version that he presented did not stand up to the tests of reason and common sense, nor were they supported by evidence."

"There are some lines that cannot be crossed," said Kochan, who read out the verdict. "This was not a kiss of affection. This has all the elements of sexual crime."

Ramon came under heavy criticism from the judges, who wrote that his behavior was not "an honest mistake, rather indifference to the wishes of the complainant." The reliability of his accuser, however, "was never in question."

The judges said that Ramon "tried to distance himself from the event and from anything that could have embroiled him" in the affair. "He had no qualms about slandering the complainant... The defense produced witnesses whose sole target was to blacken the complainant's name."

The panel expressed the hope that the trial and the accusations hurled against the complainant would not discourage other victims of sexual crimes from coming forward.

The hearing on Ramon's sentencing will take place on February 21, Channel 2 television said.

Ramon was charged last August with indecent behavior for having kissed H., the complainant, on July 12, the day the second Lebanon war began.

Journalists were prevented from taking cell phones and beepers into the courtroom. Instead, a court spokesman emerged to announce the verdict to the waiting press.

Both sides agreed that H., who was finishing her army service, asked to be photographed hugging Ramon. According to the indictment, she then tried to leave, but "the defendant continued to embrace her body with one hand and drew her near. With the other hand, he grasped her cheeks, turned her face toward him and pressed his lips to her lips, while inserting his tongue into her mouth, all without her consent."

Ramon admitted to the kiss, but claimed that it was the natural outcome of a lengthy flirtation that H. conducted with him. He also claimed that the kiss was mutual, not something he forced upon the complainant.

The prosecution had argued that the two had no prior acquaintance and that nothing in H.'s behavior implied that she wanted Ramon to kiss her. It also claimed that a kiss between a young woman and a 56-year-old minister, minutes before a cabinet vote to go to war, is normatively problematic.

During the trial, there was a factual disagreement over when the kiss occurred: H. claimed that it happened immediately after the photograph, before they left the room, while Ramon said that it took place a few minutes later, after the two had left the room and then returned to it. The judges will have to decide on this issue.

The most important question facing the judges, however, was whether Ramon could or should have known that H. did not want to be kissed. The prosecution claimed that Ramon never even asked himself what she wanted.

Ramon argued that the conversation that preceded the photograph and the hug that H. gave him during the photograph led him to believe that she wanted him to kiss her, and therefore, the kiss was not a crime.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Supporting Israel and the Palestinians: The two faces of Progressive Zionism

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/supporting-israel-and-palestinians-two.html

The Union of Progressive Zionists, Ameinu and other progressive Zionists are justifiably upset by the crude attempt of Mort Klein and the ZOA to oust them from the ICC, or to change the ICC charter so as to stifle dissent. Good sense and tolerance triumphed over partisan grandstanding and hysteria, and the attempt was quashed. The controversy did no good for Zionism, though it generated publicity for ZOA, UPZ, Ameinu and the Breaking the Silence group sponsored by UPZ.

The controversy epitomized the dilemma of progressive Zionists: how to be logical in an illogical political arena. The heart of our argument is that one cannot support self-determination for one people, without supporting self-determination for the other. The argument is logical, and it cuts both ways. It does not suit political reality, which is dominated by partisans of each side.

Ameinu and UPZ set themselves up for Mort Klein and Zionist extremists by inviting the Breaking the Silence group, and Ameinu got themselves in more trouble when they published an article comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa. Everyone understands that Mort Klein and ZOA are "waiting for progressive Zionists at the corner," ready to pounce on any bit of evidence that you are not loyal to Israel. Equally, anti-Zionists are eager to exploit Breaking the Silence and the legitimate internal Israeli Zionist controversy about the occupation and about IDF human rights violations. The movement to delegitimize Israel has built itself in large part by exploiting legitimate internal criticism of Israel, taking it out of context, and using it for their own ends, to demonize Zionism and its supporters.

Breaking the Silence provides legitimate and necessary internal criticism in Israel. They show real acts of real IDF soldiers, though these acts are not necessarily representative. This inhumane behavior must be changed, and the occupation must be ended as soon as possible. This criticism can only get the attention and support of mainstream Israelis and Zionists, and really bring about a change, if Breaking the Silence, MachsomWatch and other critics make it clear that they are "on our side." Few Zionists in Israel or the Diaspora will listen to anyone who is lending legitimacy to terrorist acts or to those who announce the intention of destroying Israel.

If I whisper to you, "You have a spot on your tie," I am a friend who is trying to help. If I get up in front of an audience of thousands and say "Hey look at him, he has a spot on his tie," then my "help" will be viewed differently. As soon as Breaking the Silence left Israel and took their case to Europe and the USA, they lost their legitimacy. They are perceived as enemies by ordinary Israeli Zionists and can no longer be effective advocates of change in Israeli policy or the IDF. In the context of Israeli society, where the need to defend against terror attacks is understood, Breaking the Silence does not need to make that point. They have to point out senseless brutality and dehumanization, whether these are the result of the occupation, or of stupidity and incompetence of individual soldiers. But when they bring the same message to a campus in California, to people who perhaps never heard of the Hamas or of Islamic Jihad suicide squads, they have taken their message out of context. Instead of being a means of improving Israeli society, it becomes a means of destroying Israel. Progressive Zionists are Zionists. We must never cross the line between trying to fix what is wrong with Israel, and giving aid and comfort to those who want to destroy Israel.

Progressive Zionist groups have to find a way to support Israel and Palestine rather than alienating both supporters of Israel and supporters of Palestine. We have to find a way to criticize Israel's actions without imperiling the existence of Israel, adopting the rhetoric of anti-Zionists and questioning the legitimacy of Zionism. We have to find a way to support human rights of Palestinians, and to criticize Israeli human rights violations, without ignoring the human rights of Israelis and the human rights violations of groups like Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Fatah Al-Aqsa. Checkpoints and security fences are unpleasant and may give rise to human rights violations. Suicide bombings are most certainly crimes against humanity. Incitement to genocide is a crime against humanity. Self-determination, whether for Jews or Palestinians, is enshrined in international law. Delegitimizing a member state of the United Nations is not "humanitarian," and ignoring the genocidal program of the reactionary Hamas is not "progressive."

It is easy to fall in with the crowds of people of different persuasions who bandy about slogans in the propaganda war. It is not easy to support both sides, but it is not impossible.

It is possible to support Zionism without supporting the settlements. It is possible to criticize Israel without using catchwords like "apartheid" and "war criminals." It is possible to support Israel without ignoring settler extremism. It is possible to explain that the settlements are wrong, that the occupation, a slightly different issue, is the result of a conflict that has been going on for nearly 100 years, and that the repressive security is a cruel necessity dictated by the recent rampage of terror. In a better world, soldiers would all be officers and gentlemen (or women), but we know they are not. The Palestinians forced a war on us. In wars one uses soldiers, and that is how soldiers often behave. We should not be content with that behavior, but we can't stop fighting terror attacks because of criticism of that behavior, nor can we surrender to the Islamic Jihad and Fatah Al Aqsa brigades.

It is possible to support Palestinian rights without condoning or ignoring terror, corruption and incitement or miminizing the genocidal intent of extremist groups.

At Ameinu,
Christopher Macdonald-Dennis wrote

"It is time for us to take back the term “pro-Israel” from groups such as AIPAC and ZOA."
We need to do that urgently. Labor Zionism built the state of Israel. We can't let the ZOA pose as the only defenders of Israel. We have to demonstrate our support for the State and for Zionism, which are the basis for our opposition to the occupation. Otherwise we will not provide an effective alternative within the Zionist polity. We are not likely, however, to regain our rightful place by labeling Israel an apartheid state, or feeding Breaking the Silence atrocity films to the propaganda mills of PSM and Wheels of Justice. There is a reason why this group was sponsored by anti-Zionists in Europe and at some USA campuses.

The author continued:

"We need to name those groups for what they are: pro-Likkud or pro-rightist."

Zionists need more urgently to expose groups like PSM and Wheels of Justice for what they are, pro-terror and genocide, not pro "human rights." The Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not "progressive" groups or causes. They need to be exposed as well.

If you "name those groups," those Zionists who differ from you, as pro-rightists for "what they are," then expect that they will name you as well for "what you are" from their point of view. If you call them names, they will start calling names too. They will yell about "self-hating Jews" and "traitors," try to delegitimize you and continue the "Jewish wars." If you want to "name the names" and read off the list of the 57 (or however many) Likud agents in the ZOA, McCarthy style, then don't be shocked if they continue their own witch hunts. The real enemy is not other Zionists. We disagree with their point of view about the occupation and many other issues, but they are not the ones sending suicide bombers to Eilat. Either we will have unity on basic issues and survive, or we will destroy ourselves in dogma eat dogma fights.

If we want progressive people to support Jewish rights, we cannot be deaf to legitimate criticism, however much it hurts. However, if we want Zionists in Israel and abroad to hear our critique and concerns, and to support Palestinian rights, we can't be deaf to their criticism either.

Ami Isseroff

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Abbas condemns Eilat bombing

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/abbas-condemns-eilat-bombing.html

Abbas condemns Eilat bombing,
reiterates that Executive Force is illegal
Date: 30 / 01 / 2007  Time:  16:50
www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19126

Gaza - Ma'an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has on Tuesday renewed his rejection and condemnation of the bombing operation in Eilat which he portrayed as unnecessary and useless for the Palestinian people.

From Cairo, where he is meeting with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Abbas said such operations will not shake the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

President Abbas was also asked how the fragile Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire can be kept. Abbas responded, "Everybody is fed up with the frequent violations of the ceasefire."

Referring to the recent clashes between the rival factions, Fatah and Hamas, Abbas added, "We feel bad over what is happening in the Palestinian territories. This distorts the image of the people's struggle."

As for guaranteeing that the current truces will last, Abbas said, "Only the concerned Palestinian parties can guarantee appeasement through controlling its own members."

Abbas again portrayed the Executive Force, the security body under the command of the Hamas-led interior ministry, as illegal. He referred to the fact that he only agreed to the appointing of a number of armed men to the minister of interior on the condition that they be assimilated into the security services, rather than forming a new branch.

Abbas confirmed again that the Egyptians, who are a major partner to the Palestinians, played a great role in reaching a ceasefire between Hamas and Fatah last night.

As for whether Abbas has any specific plans intended to push the political process forward, such as a meeting with the Hamas political bureau head, Khalid Mash'al, Abbas said: "The formation of a unity government needs no meetings since there are parties who are working on that issue."

With regard to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the plans for its reform, he said there is an agreement to hold a preparatory meeting in the Syrian capital, Damascus to determine who will participate in reforming the PLO. Once that meeting is accomplished, there will be a formal meeting in Cairo, he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks with President Abbas to discuss the developments in the Palestinian arena and the means to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The meeting was attended by PLO member Yasser Abed Rabbo, the head of the PLO's negotiations department, Saeb Erekat, and the Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, Munther Dajani.

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Continued (Permanent Link)

Coming to terms with Gush Etzion

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/coming-to-terms-with-gush-etzion.html

Coming to terms with Gush Etzion
The varieties of compassion and national grief.

We are told by those who know, that we must have compassion for the suffering of others, and indeed we do. The whole world must know by now of the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Sheikh Yassin was head of the Hamas, a blameless "militant" spiritual leader, cut down mercilessly by the evil and greedy Zionists, while he was engaged in the worthwhile pursuit of planning to send more evil Jews to meet Allah. Everyone mourns the tragic death of the blameless Rachel Corrie, who came to Gaza to defend Palestinian weapons smuggling tunnels against the heartless IDF. Who can forget little Muhamed Al-Dura, who was certainly killed by someone in front of the artful cameras of French television?

Every Palestinian child, and every politically correct and compassionate advocate, knows the names of all the Zionist massacres that ever took place, and of several that did not, and the numbers of countless victims, real and imaginary. Who does not know of Deir Yassin? What Counterpunch reader will not be able to tell you that in Jenin, the Zionists murdered 500 innocent Palestinians? No matter that actually 56 Palestinian Arabs died in Jenin. No matter that most of them were armed guerillas (or terrorists or "militants" if you like). No matter that these guerillas and their friends were responsible for murdering over a hundred Israelis in the previous month. Mohammed abu Nimr, a Palestinian who professes peace, explained that the Israelis murdered 500 Palestinians in Jenin, while the Palestinians were only engaged in nonviolent actions. Nobody remembers the names of those murdered Israelis except their relatives and friends. Mohamed Abu Nimr is going to bury the fact of their death as well.

You know who Muhamed Al Dura was. Probably you heard of Rachel Corrie. Do you know Amil Almalich? Michael Ben-Sa'adon? Israel Samolia? They were killed by a suicide bomber in Eilat just now. In a month, who will remember their names? Who will remember that they died? It was another "nonviolent action" of the Palestinians. If Israel decides one day, that it must take up arms to stop suicide bombing, won't the usual people write about another 500 imaginary Palestinian victims, and entirely ignore the real Israeli victims?

In the pages of Los Angeles Times, the 500 imaginary victims of the imaginary Jenin massacre were compared by a warped Jewish writer to the very real Jewish victims of the Nazi SS in the Warsaw Ghetto. It is not permissible for Jews to discuss the Holocaust in the context of the death of Jews, as that is part of the "Holocaust Industry," but it is perfectly fashionable to expound upon the imaginary Holocaust of the Palestinian Arabs. Without a shred of proof, the hysterical proponents of misguided compassion insist that the evil Zionists are perpetrating genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. The facts don't matter to these disciples of Jose Saramago, of Ilan Pappe and other fiction writers. What matters is emotion.

The required emotion is hatred for Israel and Zionists. Compassion for imaginary victims is one byproduct, outrage at the imaginary crimes of the Zionists is another. Never mind that almost all the Palestinian Arabs are still very much alive, except for the ones who blow themselves up in our cities and become "martyrs." No less a person than Spanish Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, likewise compared the imaginary victims of Jenin to victims of the Holocaust. It is fitting, since Senor Saramago is a writer of fictional novels.

In past years, the Palestinian Authority, in order to educate its people to accept peace with their Israeli neighbors no doubt, staged a yearly Nakba ceremony, to commemorate the disaster that overcame the Palestinian Arabs in 1948, when their leaders induced them to try to exercise their sovereign right to annihilate the Jewish people. The effort failed, and the perpetrators suffered. While we Israelis mark our days of mourning with a minute of silence, Palestinian commemorations seem to require gunfire and rioting. True pluralists must appreciate the varieties of grief. The Palestinians made the commemoration of this event into an organized expression of constant grief and of hate for the Jews. None of us are not allowed to forget the Nakba in writing, in art exhibits and in demonstrations. A genuine Nakba industry sprang up, with people bused to demonstrations, carrying signs of their native towns, keys of their houses. The Nakba must be remembered. Only the causes of the Nakba, like the cause of the Israeli "massacre" in Jenin, must never be examined too closely.

When did Israelis, expelled from the old city of Jerusalem and from Hebron in 1936 and 1948, ever demonstrate with keys to their houses? When did the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands demonstrate with keys to their houses?

Palestinian grief is a public affair. It demands compassion. It is politically correct to have compassion for Palestinian Arabs and to describe their suffering in the minutest detail.

Israeli grief must be handled differently however. In the past, Jews were weak. It was not fitting to mourn for Jews, because that was after all, the fate of Jews. No sense getting upset over the deaths of a few more unfortunate Jews in Kishinev or Ukraine or wherever, is there? But now the Jews in Israel are no longer victims. Now it is not fitting to mourn for Jews because we are strong. We are therefore, "the oppressors." Jews don't get compassion.

All you folks who know about Rachel Corrie and Mohamed al-Dura, here are pictures of evil Zionist colonialist imperialist racist oppressors killed by "militants" of the Palestinian "resistance." Can you identify even one of them?


See http://www.zionism-israel.com/vic/123_israeli_kids_killed.htm to find the names of these Zionist victims and many others. They are our honored dead.

Very probably you heard of Deir Yassin. Every Palestinian knows this place, where berserk Jewish underground fighters apparently killed about 100 civilians. Have you heard of the Lamed Heh? Don't be ashamed. A poll showed that 50% of Israelis never heard of the Lamed Heh either. The Lamed Heh were thirty five young men of the Haganah, sent to bring supplies on foot to Gush Etzion in January of 1948. The story told of them, is that they were seen by an Arab shepherd on the way, and though they knew he might inform on them and call out an ambush, they would not kill him. True or not, this story was repeated to every Israeli child, not as a warning of the cruelty of the enemy, but as an example of the moral values of Israeli fighters.

The facts that are known for certain: they were ambushed at dawn and murdered. They were never given a chance to surrender of course. Their mutilated bodies were photographed by a British soldier, who left his film in a Jerusalem shop to be developed. He never came to pick it up. About 50 years later, the film was discovered by chance. It was decided that the pictures were too gruesome to be shown to the public. It is not politically correct, from the anti-Zionist point of view, to have compassion for Jews. >From the Zionist point of view, It is demoralizing to show casualties.

It is not politically correct either to mention that massacre outside Gush Etzion or the one that took place in May in Gush Etzion, where a large number of soldiers (Jewish of course) who had surrendered were mowed down. It is not politically correct either, to mention the (Jewish of course) civilians were murdered in Hebron or Jerusalem in 1929 or 1936.

This young man below is Danny Mas. He was the leader of the Lamed Heh. He probably died because he would not kill an Arab shepherd.

You never heard of him before, did you? The compassionate people of Counterpunch and the Nation never heard of him either. Naomi Klein, who writes fiction about Jewish Nazis in Jenin, never heard of him. He was a Palestinian martyr, more Palestinian than Izzedin al Qassam who was a Syrian. But Danny Mas was a Jewish Palestinian, so there are no Danny Mas terrorist squads named after him.

That is our fault. The fault of Israelis and Jews. Jews never liked to dwell on unpleasant things. In Jewish history, time was allowed to obliterate catastrophes. We always wanted to believe that the previous expulsion, the previous pogrom was the last one in history. Now we are safe. Those things always happened in the bad old country. Here in this new place, we are safe. This country after all, is not like Czarist Russia or medieval Poland or medieval Spain, is it? Nothing bad can happen to Jews here. This country is modern, moderate, democratic and progressive Weimar Germany.

In Israel, or Palestine, news of Arab atrocities was hushed up. We, the evil "Israel Lobby" don't want that news to get out. Palestine was, and Israel is, supposed to be a safe haven for the Jews. If we told people that Jews die here, they would say that Zionism is a failure. And indeed, when the fiction writers of Counterpunch and the Nation mention Israeli casualties, they invariably explain that these casualties are "proof" of the failure of Zionism.

So how can we come to terms with Gush Etzion, with the death of the Lamed Heh, with the deaths of over a hundred children in the recent Palestinian "nonviolent actions," with the deaths of three people in Eilat in the most recent suicide bombing? How are these Jewish deaths different from all those others, in the other countries, that we don't want to think about?

They are different. Imagine if there had been an IDF in 1942, and Israeli paratroopers could have rescued the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, killing their Nazi guards. No doubt the Jose Saramagos and Mohammed Abu Nimrs of the world would explain that the Jews committed a massacre in Warsaw, while the Germans had performed only nonviolent actions. No doubt a Naomi Klein would explain that Jews ought to have compassion, and that the Israelis had made her ashamed to be a Jew. But it would still be worth it, no?

Please don't have compassion for Danny Mas and the Lamed Heh, or for the sisters and wives of these victims or for the parents of those poor dead children. They don't want your compassion or your pity. These people deserve your respect and love. They made their sacrifice so that we Jews could be a free people in our own land. If you are Jewish, even if you are a writer of anti-Zionist fantasies in the Los Angeles Times, they died so that you could be free too.

That is how we must come to terms with Gush Etzion.

Ami Isseroff

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Continued (Permanent Link)

Summary of editorials from the Hebrew press 30-Jan-2007

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/summary-of-editorials-from-hebrew-press_30.html

Information Department, Israel Foreign Ministry - Jerusalem
Website:
http://www.mfa.gov.il
E-mail: feedback@mfa.gov.il
====================================================================

SUMMARY OF EDITORIALS FROM THE HEBREW PRESS
-------------------------------------------
(Government Press Office)
30 January 2007

Haaretz -
http://www.haaretz.com
Ma'ariv - http://www.nrg.co.il
Yediot Aharonot - http://www.ynetnews.com
Globes - http://www.globes.co.il
Hazofe - http://www.hazofe.co.il
Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost.com


Yediot Aharonot suggests that "The ISA and the IDF are victims of their own success: So many counter-terrorist actions have spoiled the Israeli public to the point where it does not understand - and does not want to understand - that every counter-terrorist action is a miracle from Heaven, in addition to the amazing work of the anonymous agents, coordinators and soldiers to whom we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude." The paper believes that "They [suicide terrorists] will continue to die and we will apparently continue to pay a heavy price."

Yediot Aharonot, in its second editorial, says that "Shimon Peres must be the first one to reject the proposal" to change the law and have MKs elect the President in an open vote even if the proposal is designed to pave the way for Peres to be elected President. The editors believe that he is well suited for the position but nevertheless declare that, "There is something amiss in personal laws that are designed for a particular person."

Yediot Ahronot, in its third editorial, speculates that the Winograd Committee report will lead to bitter recriminations.

Hatzofeh calls on President Moshe Katsav to resign forthwith. The editors assert that "The current situation is contemptuous for all sides, both the Knesset that approved the temporary incapacity and the President, who sits in his Residence, lacking authority and knowing that an indictment is hanging over his head."

Haaretz commends finance ministry plans to institute a four-step socio-economic reform meant to improve the distribution of wealth in the economy, lower the number of poor, create a compulsory pension plan for every worker and also to encourage employment.

The Jerusalem Post notes that all Palestinian factions agree that they should not be killing one other, but Israelis. The policy of Israel and other countries of encouraging "moderation" needs to be reexamined, and methods found promote real, not just relative, moderation among Palestinians.

[Eitan Haber and Nitzan Keidar wrote today's editorials in Yediot Ahronot and Hatzofeh, respectively.]


Continued (Permanent Link)

What is the Islamic way to beat your wife? Western Sycophants And Islamic Oppressors / BY YOUSSEF IBRAHIM

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/what-is-islamic-way-to-beat-your-wife.html

There is a right way and a wrong way to do anything, including beating your wife it appears. Ibrahim should have explained in the article below that wife beating is indeed sanctioned in the Quran, but only for disobedient  wives. The problem is not that this appears in the Quran, but that unlike similarly harsh Old Testament injunctions in Western countries, the Quranic wife beating commandment is still considered legitimate Islamic law.
Ami Isseroff
 
The New York SUN

January 29, 2007 Edition > Section: Foreign > Printer-Friendly Version

Western Sycophants And Islamic Oppressors

BY YOUSSEF IBRAHIM
January 29, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/47573

Ever wondered what might be the correct "Islamic" way to beat your wife, or what a Saudi princess's greatest wish might be if she were king?

The wires were buzzing Thursday with reports of "oohs" and "ahs" from the elitist World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, complete with applause for a Saudi royal princess, Lolwah al-Faisal, after she asserted that her first executive move would be to "let women drive."

Amazingly, according to the Associated Press news dispatch on this lame comment, the audience erupted in applause.

How can what passes as an elemental right in today's world — when uttered by a Saudi female belonging to the most oppressive, religiously fanatical ruling family in the world — be treated as a sign of progress in a kingdom of darkness?

The problem with Western sycophants toadying up to Islamic oppressors for money or favors is that those Westerners insult the oppressed majorities by treating their tormentors as precocious 12-year-olds to be coddled when stating the obvious or giving the "right" answer.

Princess Lolwah has since returned to her country where she -- and all other women -- has practically been erased from society by law. It is a place where women are reduced to walking black tents, where they are denied basic rights to education, work, travel, and equality, and where they are left with the options of being someone's first, second, third, or fourth spouse. Indeed, a place where imams are allowed to preach the proper way to beat a wife and whip non-Muslim infidels.

Western enablers at the World Economic Forum fail their most fundamental reformist obligations by overlooking these oppressive practices. Instead, the Davos forum should have focused on illuminating landmarks such as the U.N. Arab Human Development Report of 2005, which described in excruciating details the many ways women have been cancelled as human beings under Saudi Arabia's religious jihad.

So woeful are the violations detailed in the report that one apologist, Saudi Arabia's Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, the president of the Arab Gulf Program for the U.N. Development Organizations, attempted in a lame foreword to disassociate religion from such abuses, writing that Islam had "no connection with any of the mistaken practices carried out against women."

Just as with his relative, the disconnected princess in Davos, Prince Talal is wrong on factual grounds. Saudi Islam as practiced today and proselytized to the rest of the world with oil money is an oppressive and anti-life discipline.

Less than two years ago, there was a priceless piece of Islamic jurisprudence that illustrated how disconnected talk of reform is from practice in the Arabian Peninsula under Saudi hegemony. An eminent, and very pro-Saudi, Islamic cleric, Sheik Abdullah Aal Mahmud of Bahrain, enshrined himself with a television broadcast on June 20, 2005, on the Bahraini government-owned network as he asserted that Islam indeed sanctions the beating of wives and instructed his millions of viewers on the "correct" way to do it.

"If the husband wished to use beatings in the treatment of his wife, it is essential, absolutely essential, to never do it in front of the children. The beating must remain between him and her and with the conditions outlined, which are that he does not draw blood nor leave a perceptible bruise on her body and avoid her face as well as dangerous [sic] parts concerning the body. If the husband violates these directives, he then violates the limits set by the almighty. ... Because the woman is not to be seen as merchandise to which he can do whatever he pleases."

Amazingly, the sheik was sincerely trying to show how humane Islam is in its prescriptions on how to treat women.

For the princess's Western enablers at Davos, the same sick logic applies. To show a symbol of oppression as one of liberation treats twisted views as worthy of respect. It is irresponsible.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Arab Lobby at work: Ex-President for Sale - Is Carter's Book as bad as its title?

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/arab-lobby-at-work-ex-president-for.html

The Arab Lobby at work - documented for all to see. Jimmy Carter might be the best ex-President money can buy. There are more parts of this series promised, but what is there is sufficiently devastating.
However, we should not judge a book entirely by its title and factual errors. Here are surprising excerpts from the book, published here - http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976880711

The three most basic premises are quite clear:

1. Israel's right to exist within recognized borders-and to live in peace-must be accepted by Palestinians and all other neighbors;

2. The killing of noncombatants in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon by bombs, missile attacks, assassinations, or other acts of violence cannot be condoned; and

3. Palestinians must live in peace and dignity in their own land as specified by international law unless modified by good-faith negotiations with Israel.

....
The Arabs must recognize the reality that is Israel, just as the Israelis must accept a Palestinian state in the small remaining portion of territorial homeland allotted to the Palestinians by the United Nations and previous peace agreements.


Oops - the territory allotted to the Palestinians by the United Nations was outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 181. It is 45% of the land area West of the Jordan. No peace agreements allotted any territory to the Palestinians, nor did the Palestinians agree to a peace treaty with Israel.


Ami Isseroff




January 08, 2007 11:51 AM EST (Updated: January 09, 2007 10:22 AM EST) http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976879837
It now turns out that Jimmy Carter--who is accusing the Jews of buying the silence of the media and politicians regarding criticism of Israel--has been bought and paid for by Arab money. In his recent book tour to promote Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Carter has been peddling a particularly nasty bit of bigotry. The canard is that Jews own and control the media, and prevent newspapers and the broadcast media from presenting an objective assessment of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that Jews have bought and paid for every single member of Congress so as to prevent any of them from espousing a balanced position. > How else can anyone understand Carter's claims that it is impossible for the media and politicians to speak freely about Israel and the Middle East? The only explanation – and one that Carter tap dances around, but won't come out and say directly – is that Jews control the media and buy politicians. Carter then presents himself as the sole heroic figure in American public life who is free of financial constraints to discuss Palestinian suffering at the hands of the Israelis.

Listen carefully to what Carter says about the media: the plight of the Palestinians is "not something that has been acknowledged or even discussed in this country... You never hear anything about what is happening to the Palestinians by the Israelis." He claims to have personally "witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts." He implies that the Jews impose these "severe restraints." He then goes on to say that the only reason his book--which has been universally savaged by reviewers--is receiving such negative reviews is because they are all being written by "representatives of Jewish organizations" (demonstrably false!). So much for the media.

Now here is what he says about politicians:

"It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defense of justice or human rights for Palestinians. Very few would ever deign to visit the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Gaza City or even Bethlehem and talk to the beleaguered residents."

Each of these claims is demonstrably false, as I have shown in detail elsewhere. The plight of the Palestinians has been covered more extensively, per capita, than the plight of any other group in the world, certainly more than the Tibetans and the victims of genocides in Darfur and Rwanda. Moreover, Carter totally ignores the impact of Arab oil money and the influence of the Saudi lobby. In numerous instances where the Arab lobbies have been pitted against the Israeli lobby, the former has prevailed.

Even beyond these nasty canards, the big story that the media and political figures in America have missed is how grievously they, themselves have been insulted and disrespected by our self-righteous former president. Carter is lecturing The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, and the major networks about how they are incapable of reporting the news objectively because they are beholden to some Jewish cabal. He is telling Pulitzer Prize winning writers such as Tom Friedman and Samatha Power that they did not deserve their prizes. He is telling George Will that his reporting is controlled by his Jewish bosses (sound a little bit like Judith Regan?). And he is denying that Anderson Cooper is capable of filing an honest report from the West Bank.

As far as our legislators are concerned, he is accusing Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Patrick Leahy of being bought and paid for by the Israeli lobby. On Planet Carter, even congressmen with no Jewish constituents would be committing political suicide by taking a balanced position on the Middle East. What an outrageous insult to some of the best journalists and most independent political figures in the world.

At the bottom, Carter is saying that no objective journalist or politician could actually believe that America's support for Israel is based on moral and strategic considerations and not on their own financial self-interest. Such a charge is so insulting to every honest legislator and journalist in this country that I am amazed that Carter has been let off the hook so easily. Only the self-righteous Jimmy Carter is capable of telling the truth, because only he is free of financial pressures that might influence his positions.

It now turns out that the shoe is precisely on the other foot. Recent disclosures prove that it is Carter who has been bought and paid for by anti-Israel Arab and Islamic money.

Journalist Jacob Laksin has documented the tens of millions of dollars that the Carter Center has accepted from Saudi Arabian royalty and assorted other Middle Eastern sultans, who, in return, Carter dutifully praised as peaceful and tolerant (no matter how despotic the regime). And these are only the confirmed, public donations.

Carter has also accepted half a million dollars and an award from Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, saying in 2001: "This award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan." This is the same Zayed, the long-time ruler of the United Arab Emirates, whose $2.5 million gift to the Harvard Divinity School was returned in 2004 due to Zayed's rampant Jew-hatred. Zayed's personal foundation, the Zayed Center, claims that it was Zionists, rather than Nazis, who "were the people who killed the Jews in Europe" during the Holocaust. It has held lectures on the blood libel and conspiracy theories about Jews and America perpetrating Sept. 11.

Another journalist, Rachel Ehrenfeld, in a thorough and devastating article on "Carter's Arab Financiers," meticulously catalogues Carter's ties to Arab moneymen, from a Saudi bailout of his peanut farm in 1976, to funding for Carter's presidential library, to continued support for all manner of Carter's post-presidential activities. For instance, it was the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), founded in Pakistan and fronted by a Saudi billionaire, Gaith Pharaon, that helped Carter start up his beloved Carter Center. According to Ehrenfeld:

"BCCI's origins were primarily ideological. [Agha Hasan] Abedi wanted the bank to reflect the supra-national Muslim credo and 'the best bridge to help the world of Islam, and the best way to fight the evil influence of the Zionists.'

As Ehrenfeld concluded:

"[I]t seems that AIPAC's real fault was its failure to outdo the Saudi's purchases of the former president's loyalty. There has not been any nation in the world that has been more cooperative than Saudi Arabia," The New York Times quoted Mr. Carter June 1977, thus making the Saudis a major factor in U. S. foreign policy.

"Evidently, the millions in Arab petrodollars feeding Mr. Carter's global endeavors, often in conflict with U.S. government policies, also ensure his loyalty."



It is particularly disturbing that a former president who has accepted dirty blood-money from dictators, anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, and supporters of terrorism should try to deflect attention from his own conflicts of interest by raising the oldest canard in the sordid history of anti-Semitism: namely, that Jews have dual loyalty and use their money improperly to influence the country they live in, in favor of the country to which they owe their real allegiance. Abraham Foxman responded to Carter's canard as follows:

As disturbing as Carter's simplistic approach is, however, even more disturbing is his picking up on the Mearsheimer -Walt theme of Jewish control of American policy, though in much more abbreviated form and not being the focus of his work. Referring to U.S. policy and the "condoning" of Israel's actions, Carter says: "There are constant and vehement political and media debates in Israel concerning its policies in the West Bank but because of powerful political, economic, and religious forces in the U.S., Israeli government decisions are rarely questioned or condemned, voices from Jerusalem dominate our media, and most American citizens are unaware of circumstances in the occupied territories." In other words, the old canard and conspiracy theory of Jewish control of the media, Congress, and the U.S. government is rearing its ugly head in the person of a former President.

As noted above, the most perverse aspect of Carter's foray into bigotry is that as he pours this old wine into new bottles he is himself awash in Arab money. When a politician levels these kinds of cynical accusations against others, it would seem incumbent on him to show that his own hands are clean and his own pockets empty.

Accordingly I now call upon Carter to make full public disclosure of all of his and the Carter Center's ties to Arab money. If he fails to do so, I challenge the media to probe deeply into his, his family's, and his Center's Arab ties so that the public can see precisely the sources and amounts of money he has received and judge whether it has corrupted the process of objective reportage and politics by Carter and others who have received such funds. Finally, I ask the appropriate government agencies to conduct an investigation into whether Carter should be required to register as a lobbyist for foreign interests.

Let's stop invoking discredited ethnic stereotypes, look at the hard facts, and actually see who's being bought and sold.




http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976886308
January 15, 2007 10:51 PM EST (Updated: January 15, 2007 11:08 PM EST)

I have known Jimmy Carter for more than thirty years. I first met him in the spring of 1976 when, as a relatively unknown candidate for president, he sent me a handwritten letter asking for my help in his campaign on issues of crime and justice. I had just published an article in The New York Times Magazine on sentencing reform, and he expressed interest in my ideas and asked me to come up with additional ones for his campaign. Shortly thereafter, my former student Stuart Eisenstadt, brought Carter to Harvard to meet with some faculty members, me among them. I immediately liked Jimmy Carter and saw him as a man of integrity and principle. I signed on to his campaign and worked very hard for his election. When Newsweek magazine asked his campaign for the names of people on whom Carter relied for advice, my name was among those given out. I continued to work for Carter over the years, most recently I met him in Jerusalem a year ago, and we briefly discussed the Mid-East. Though I disagreed with some of his points, I continued to believe that he was making them out of a deep commitment to principle and to human rights.

Recent disclosures of Carter's extensive financial connections to Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia, had deeply shaken my belief in his integrity. When I was first told that he received a monetary reward in the name of Shiekh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, and kept the money, even after Harvard returned money from the same source because of its anti-Semitic history, I simply did not believe it. How could a man of such apparent integrity enrich himself with dirty money from so dirty a source? And let there be no mistake about how dirty the Zayed Foundation is. I know because I was involved, in a small way, in helping to persuade Harvard University to return more than $2 million that the financially strapped Divinity School received from this source. Initially I was reluctant to put pressure on Harvard to turn back money for the Divinity School, but then a student at the Divinity School—Rachael Lea Fish—showed me the facts. They were staggering. I was amazed that in the twenty-first century there were still foundations that espoused these views. The Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up—a think-tank funded by the Shiekh and run by his son—hosted speakers who called Jews "the enemies of all nations," attributed the assassination of John Kennedy to Israel and the Mossad and the 9/11 attacks to the United States' own military, and stated that the Holocaust was a "fable." (They also hosted a speech by Jimmy Carter.) To its credit, Harvard turned the money back. To his discredit, Carter did not.

Jimmy Carter was, of course, aware of Harvard's decision, since it was highly publicized. Yet he kept the money. Indeed, this is what he said in accepting the funds: "This award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan." Carter's personal friend, it turns out, was an unredeemable anti-Semite and all-around bigot.

In reading Carter's statements, I was reminded of the bad old Harvard of the nineteen thirties, which continued to honor Nazi academics after the anti-Semitic policies of Hitler's government became clear. Harvard of the nineteen thirties was complicit in evil. I sadly concluded that Jimmy Carter of the twenty-first century has become complicit in evil.

The extent of Carter's financial support from, and even dependence on, dirty money is still not fully known. What we do know is deeply troubling. Carter and his Center have accepted millions of dollars from suspect sources, beginning with the bail-out of the Carter family peanut business in the late 1970s by BCCI, a now-defunct and virulently anti-Israeli bank indirectly controlled by the Saudi Royal family, and among whose principal investors is Carter's friend, Sheikh Zayed. Agha Hasan Abedi, the founder of the bank, gave Carter "$500,000 to help the former president establish his center…[and] more than $10 million to Mr. Carter's different projects." Carter gladly accepted the money, though Abedi had called his bank—ostensibly the source of his funding—"the best way to fight the evil influence of the Zionists." BCCI isn't the only source: Saudi King Fahd contributed millions to the Carter Center—"in 1993 alone…$7.6 million"—as have other members of the Saudi Royal Family. Carter also received a million dollar pledge from the Saudi-based bin Laden family, as well as a personal $500,000 environmental award named for Sheikh Zayed, and paid for by the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

It's worth noting that, despite the influx of Saudi money funding the Carter Center, and despite the Saudi Arabian government's myriad human rights abuses, the Carter Center's Human Rights program has no activity whatever in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have apparently bought his silence for a steep price. The bought quality of the Center's activities becomes even more clear, however, when reviewing the Center's human rights activities in other countries: essentially no human rights activities in China or in North Korea, or in Iran, Iraq, the Sudan, or Syria, but activity regarding Israel and its alleged abuses, according to the Center's website. The Carter Center's mission statement claims that "The Center is nonpartisan and acts as a neutral party in dispute resolution activities." How can that be, given that its coffers are full of Arab money, and that its focus is away from significant Arab abuses and on Israel's far less serious ones?

No reasonable person can dispute therefore that Jimmy Carter has been and remains dependent on Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia. Does this mean that Carter has necessarily been influenced in his thinking about the Middle East by receipt of such enormous amounts of money? Ask Carter. The entire premise of his criticism of Jewish influence on American foreign policy is that money talks. It is Carter—not me—who has made the point that if politicians receive money from Jewish sources, then they are not free to decide issues regarding the Middle East for themselves. It is Carter, not me, who has argued that distinguished reporters cannot honestly report on the Middle East because they are being paid by Jewish money. So, by Carter's own standards, it would be almost economically "suicidal" for Carter "to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine."

By Carter's own standards, therefore, his views on the Middle East must be discounted. It is certainly possible that he now believes them. Money, particularly large amounts of money, has a way of persuading people to a particular position. It would not surprise me if Carter, having received so much Arab money, is now honestly committed to their cause. But his failure to disclose the extent of his financial dependence on Arab money, and the absence of any self reflection on whether the receipt of this money has unduly influenced his views, is a form of deception bordering on corruption.

I have met cigarette lobbyists, who are supported by the cigarette industry, and who have come to believe honestly that cigarettes are merely a safe form of adult recreation, that cigarettes are not addicting and that the cigarette industry is really trying to persuade children not to smoke. These people are fooling themselves (or fooling us into believing that they are fooling themselves) just as Jimmy Carter is fooling himself (or persuading us to believe that he is fooling himself).

If money determines political and public views—as Carter insists "Jewish money" does—then Carter's views on the Middle East must be deemed to have been influenced by the vast sums of Arab money he has received. If he who pays the piper calls the tune, then Carter's off-key tunes have been called by his Saudi Arabian paymasters. It pains me to say this, but I now believe that there is no person in American public life today who has a lower ratio of real to apparent integrity than Jimmy Carter. The public perception of his integrity is extraordinarily high. His real integrity, it now turns out, is extraordinarily low. He is no better than so many former American politicians who, after leaving public life, sell themselves to the highest bidder and become lobbyists for despicable causes. That is now Jimmy Carter's sad legacy.

Ex-President for Sale Part 3

http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976892330
January 22, 2007 10:49 PM EST (Updated: January 22, 2007 10:53 PM EST) Carter and Terrorism

Jimmy Carter, who claims he wrote his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, to improve the prospects for peace in the Middle East, has become a barrier to peace himself.

Recently, he urged the Palestinian leadership to reject an offer by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and a similar plan last week by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, to establish a Palestinian state with provisional borders to be finally negotiated in the near future.

Instead of encouraging the Palestinians to seize on these proposals as a starting point, leading to a solution whose basic elements are common cause among moderates on both sides, Carter has chosen to echo the rhetoric of the rejectionists:

"It is inconceivable that any Palestinian, Arab leader, or any objective member of the international community could accept this illegal action as a permanent solution to the continuing altercation in the Middle East," he wrote of Olmert's plan last year in USA Today. (1)

Carter has, in effect, told Palestinian radicals to continue to do what they are doing: mainly to terrorize Jewish civilians and then whine to the world about Israeli responses to terrorism.

In his book, Carter even justifies continuing Palestinian terrorism until "the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel."(2)

Putting aside the fact that Israel has long accepted the goals of the Roadmap, Carter's statement is being widely understood by advocates of Palestinian terrorism as a justification for its continuation.

That is why Carter's words—in his book and in subsequent interviews—are being featured on radical Islamic and neo-Nazi hate sites around the world, (3) and being praised by hard left supporters of terrorism like Alexander Cockburn and Norman Finkelstein.

Cockburn crowed: "Carter's book soars higher and higher on the best-seller lists, reaching No. 4 at one point on Amazon itself." (4)

Yet it was Cockburn himself who described Carter as "a white male American with the blood of thousands on his hands" when the former President won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.(5)

Even Finkelstein has been forced to admit that "the historical chapters of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid are rather thin, filled with errors small and large, as well as tendentious and untenable interpretations." (6)

Yet for these professional Israel-haters, Carter's apparent endorsement of Palestinian terror absolves him of all other sins.

In a recent interview on Al-Jazeera about his book, Carter specifically refused to include rocket attacks that target Israeli children, women and other civilians as "terrorism": "I don't really consider... I wasn't equating the Palestinian missiles with terrorism." (7)

Moreover, he refused even to condemn on moral grounds suicide bombings on public buses packed with women and children, limiting himself to criticizing these on tactical and public relations grounds.

He also suggested a moral equivalence between the deliberate targeting of Israeli children by terrorists and the accidental killing of children (some of whom are 17-year-old terrorists) by the Israeli Defense Force in their legitimate efforts to stop terrorism. (8)

What kind of message does this send? It sends a pernicious message of approval to Palestinian terrorists to persist, in the expectation that they will continue to receive the support of people like Carter and those who cite him with approval.

Rarely has a Nobel Peace Prize winner done so much to discourage peace and compromise and to encourage continuing terrorism and violence.

His decision to use the word "apartheid" is proof in itself that he wants to demonize Israel and to give comfort to the radicals who prefer isolation to negotiation.

Nowhere in Carter's book is there any consideration of what the word "apartheid" actually means. And never does Carter criticize the "apartheid" policies of Arab states like Lebanon, where Palestinians are denied many basic rights—to say nothing of his patron Saudi Arabia, where women and non-Muslims are the targets of severe discrimination.

Carter also forgets his own hesitation on apartheid in South Africa. Though he did more than any of his predecessors to stand up to South Africa's white minority government, the Carter administration protected South Africa at the United Nations by vetoing three UN Security Council resolutions condemning the apartheid regime and calling for broad economic sanctions. (9)

Inevitably, a leader who makes unfounded accusations invites close scrutiny of his own human rights record. And as President, Carter often failed to live up to the human rights standards by which he purports to judge Israel (and only Israel) today.

For example, President Carter recognized the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia after it had been deposed in 1979 and after Pol Pot had killed millions of his own countrymen. (10)

In 1977, President Carter authorized a massive increase in military aid to Indonesia, including aircraft, barely two years after Indonesia invaded East Timor. (11) Amnesty International reports that "200,000 people, one third of the population, were killed or died of starvation or disease" in East Timor in the years after the invasion. (12)

In 1979, reversing its previous policy, the Carter administration began expanding military aid and allowing greater arms sales to Morocco, allowing Morocco to tighten its hold on Western Sahara, which it had annexed in 1975 and which it still occupies to this day. (13)

And it was President Carter who used Saudi Arabia to help arm the mujahideen in Afghanistan, many of whom later formed the core of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda: "We channeled assistance for those freedom fighters through Saudi Arabia, through Egypt and other places," he recently admitted. (14)

Carter's decision to condone Palestinian terror shines a harsh light on his own human rights failures.

I was hoping to question Carter about his position today (Tues., Jan. 23) when he speaks at Brandeis University. I was going to ask him whether it is true that in addition to discouraging the Palestinian leadership from accepting Olmert's proposals, he also discouraged the late Yasser Arafat from accepting the Clinton-Barak offer of statehood in 2000-2001.

"There was no possibility that any Palestinian leader could accept such terms and survive," he claims in his book. (15) The world should know whether Carter actually gave Arafat that advice.

After all, he has justified Arafat's actions at Camp David and Taba—walking away without making a counter-offer—and has chosen to believe Arafat's mendacious account over the truthful and documented accounts of President Clinton, Dennis Ross and Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia—all of whom place the blame on Arafat.

The irony, of course, is that if Arafat had accepted the Clinton-Barak offer, or come back with a counter-offer, there would have been no intifada and no "apartheid"; better yet, there would have been peace and a Palestinian state. What was Carter's position at that time? Is it different from the one he has taken now?

I won't get to ask him those or any other question because Carter, who claims he wrote his book to stimulate a "debate," refuses to debate! But I have been invited by a student group to offer a rebuttal to Carter's Brandeis speech, and I will do so. I invite Carter to stay and listen to my rebuttal and to respond to it. I will have a chair on the stage for him.

Carter's book, and his subsequent statements, raise many questions. I hope he will have the decency to answer them, rather than evading them, as he has done up until now.

***************************
1 Carter, Jimmy. "Israel's New Plan: A Land Grab." USA Today (May 15 2006) [Online article]. URL: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2006-05-15-carter-israel-edit_x.htm

2 Carter, Jimmy. Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. 213.

3 Anti-Defamation League. "Anti-Semites, White Supremacists Exploit Jimmy Carter's Book for Propaganda Value." Press release (Jan. 4 2007) [Online document]. URL: http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ASInt_13/4955_13.htm

4 Cockburn, Alexander. "Get Carter; Iran, Too." Creators.com (20 Jan. 2007) [Online article]. URL: http://www.creators.com/opinion/alexander-cockburn.html

5 Cockburn, Alexander. "Vindication Through Violence: Jimmy Carter and the DC Sniper." Counterpunch (Oct. 12 2002) [Online article]. URL: http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn1012.html

6 Finkelstein, Norman. "Jimmy Carter's Roadmap." Counterpunch (Nov. 13 2006) [Online article]. URL: http://www.counterpunch.org/finkelstein11132006.html

7 Carter, Jimmy. Interview on Al-Jazeera (Jan. 14 2007). Trans. MEMRI TV [Online transcript]. URL: http://www.memritv.org. Note that the MEMRI translation omits the word "really," which can be dimly heard beneath the Arabic voice-over.

8 Ibid.

9 Patil, Anjali V. The UN Veto in World Affairs 1946-1990: A Complete Record and Case Histories of the Security Council's Veto. Sarasota: UNIFO, 1992. 148-52

10 PBS. "Chronicle of Survival." [Online article]. URL: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/cambodia/tl04.html

11 East Timor Action Network. "Timorese Protest at July 4 Part at U.S. Mission." Press release (Jul. 4 2000) [Online article]. URL: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0007/S00012.htm

12 Amnesty International. "Power and Impunity": Human rights under the new order. Extract. Amnesty International (Sep. 1994). [Online article]. URL: http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/indopub/indoint.htm

13 Wenger, Martha. "Reagan Stakes Morocco in Sahara Struggle." MERIP Reports No. 105 (May 1982). 24

14 Carter, James. "The United States and China: A President's Perspective." Inaugural Oksenberg Lecture, Stanford University (May 6 2002). [Online text]. URL: www.cartercenter.org/documents/1041.doc

15 Carter 2006, 152

Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. His most recent book is Preemption: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways (Norton, 2006)


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Continued (Permanent Link)

Details emerge regarding the Fatah-Hamas talks, to be held in Mecca next week

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/details-emerge-regarding-fatah-hamas.html

Details emerge regarding the Fatah-Hamas talks, to be held in Mecca next
week
Date: 30 / 01 / 2007  Time:  11:48
www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19104

Bethlehem - Ma'an - More details regarding Saudi Arabia's proposed peace talks between the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have been revealed in Arabic newspapers produced in London .

Former Palestinian prime minister Ahmad Qurei'a will head a Fatah delegation and Hamas politburo head, Khalid Mash'al, will head a Hamas delegation, according to the papers. President Abbas is also expected to attend.

The dialogue is expected to commence next week on Monday 5 January in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, under the patronage of the Saudi royal family.

Palestinian sources told the London-based daily, 'Al Quds Al Arabi', that the Hamas delegation to Mecca will be headed by the Hamas politburo head, Khalid Mash'al, and will include the prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, in
addition to Hamas' representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, the government spokesman, Ghazi Hamad, and the first deputy speaker, Ahmad Bahar.

The paper added that the source informed that 5 February is the expected date for the beginning of the dialogue between the two movements. It also reported that leaders of all factions will be participating in the dialogue,
in addition to the Saudi national security advisor, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, and the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, in addition to many Arab officials.

According to the paper, Riyadh is seeking to end the internal fighting between Palestinians and form a unity government which will be acceptable internally and in the international community. Riyadh also hopes to be able
to convince the Hamas leaders of the Saudi initiative.

The Saudi initiative, launched at the Arab summit in 2002, calls for the Arab states to normalise relations with Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem to the borders of 1967.

The paper added that Saudi Arabia intends to pay one billion US dollars to the Palestinians in an attempt to ease the Palestinians' economic crisis.

Another London-based, Arabic-language daily, ' Al Hayat', reported that the meeting, which was called by the Saudi king, will commence with a meeting between high-ranking Hamas and Fatah leaders in order to reach an agreement regarding the unity government.

The paper said that, according to a Saudi source, these meetings will conclude with a meeting between Abbas and leaders of Hamas and other factions. However, 'Al-Hayat' said that these meetings will not take place unless the fighting is stopped.


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Egyptians suggest forming a united Palestinian army, representing all factions

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/egyptians-suggest-forming-united.html

Egyptians suggest forming a united Palestinian army, representing all
factions
Date: 30 / 01 / 2007  Time:  10:24
www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19099


Gaza - Ma'an - Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahhar also revealed on
Tuesday morning that the Egyptians have suggested that a national army,
representing all Palestinians from all political backgrounds and spectrums,
be formed.

The various Palestinian factions have welcomed this suggestion and confirmed
that the security bodies should be activated on the basis that everybody
should participate in these bodies.

Kayed Al-Ghoul from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
confirmed that his faction supports every step which leads to a reform of
these bodies so it can carry its responsibilities properly. He told Ma'an
via telephone, "The PFLP was one of the first factions who called on the
others to lift any support or cover from people who are members of the
security bodies so that these bodies can work according to their own agenda
and not the factions' agendas".

Salih Zeidan from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
(DFLP) said that his faction also welcomes the suggestion. He stressed the
importance of ensuring that everyone has the equal opportunity to
participate in these bodies and that they are united under one, united
command.

Speaking to Ma'an via telephone, Zeidan expressed his support for the
efforts made in this regard.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Ma'an, "We support changing the security
establishment," adding that the security bodies should represent all
Palestinian factions.

Perhaps referring to the Executive Force, which is under the command of the
Hamas-led interior ministry, Barhoum added, "We used to call for the
establishment of a new, good security case."

The Fatah movement also welcomed the suggestion. Jamal Nazzal, one of
Fatah's spokesmen, said that there were many negatives to many of the
security bodies and Fatah welcomed the participation of every faction.

Nazzal told Ma'an, "We are calling on everybody to unite their efforts to
have the security bodies united under one leadership, no matter who the
leadership be. What is important is to have one security body".


Continued (Permanent Link)

Eilat operation intended to stop Palestinian internal fighting, says Islamic Jihad leader; warns of more to come

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/eilat-operation-intended-to-stop.html

Eilat operation intended to stop Palestinian internal fighting, says Islamic
Jihad leader; warns of more to come

Date: 30 / 01 / 2007  Time:  09:37
www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19097

Gaza - Ma'an - The deputy secretary-general in the Islamic Jihad movement,
Ziyad Al-Nakhaleh, has stated that the bombing in the Israeli city of Eilat
on Monday was intended to drop "the flaming ball" in the Israeli court and,
therefore, keep internal fighting and the prospect of civil war out of the
Palestinian street .

He also stressed that resistance is the only choice of the Palestinian
people. He also threatened that such bombing operations will return to "the
heart of Israel".

He also mentioned that the Eilat bomber followed a complicated route to
reach his destination, and he could be followed by others in the future.
Al-Nakhaleh said that the success of the bomber denies the Israeli
allegations that they are controlling the security situation through
building the separation wall.

Al-Nakhaleh clarified in a media statement on Monday that the operation also
confirmed the Palestinian constants and the right to resist the Israeli
occupation, especially in the shadow of the Israeli violations of the
'calm'.

He considered that this operation blocks the way of the settlers, Zionists
and deluded pacifists.

He demanded that the people who condemn such resistance actions stop the
Israeli aggressions first, including the assassinations. He added that the
barriers and checkpoints which hinder and humiliate the Palestinian people
across the occupied West Bank must also be lifted.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Breaking the Silence: Israeli soldier Speaks out about the IDF and War Crimes

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/breaking-silence-israeli-soldier-speaks.html

Breaking the Silence: Israeli soldier Speaks out about the IDF and War Crimes

IDF soldiers are known to be outspoken, even though serving soldiers are not supposed to give interviews or get involved in political issues.
 
Michael Totten interviewed an Israeli soldier who served in Lebanon. He explained in detail how the Hezbollah had embedded themselves in the civilian population, and in fact, how they had turned villages into fortified outposts, with no civilians in sight. These are the "civilian" targets destroyed in Lebanon by the IDF:
 
 If you ask me what should have been done in the villages in Lebanon during this war, I think Israel wasn?t harsh enough. Now, I?m not right-wing, I?m not?I just think that if we are in a war?it?s like, if you play with fire, people get burned. There?s nothing you can do about it. These whole villages, they were empty, just filled with Hezbollah terrorists. They should have been totally wiped off the map. Except Israel left them standing. Many of our soldiers were killed because of that, so Israel wouldn?t be blamed after the war for war crimes and destroying civilian houses.
...
Anyway, even if a target is next to it, these houses were empty. No civilians were walking around South Lebanon. I know. I was in their villages. In their houses. Anyone who was there was definitely working for the Hezbollah or working as a Hezbollah fighter.
...
 
...we went toward this house, we were fired upon from inside the house. We went into the house. We cleared the house. Anyone who was in the house was neutralized. We went down to the basement. And also in the basement everything was neutralized. And we saw a periscope in the basement that was looking up toward the main road.
 
....  It was a pipe that had mirrors that were reflecting up. And a small kind of detonator. Our team checked it out. There were 500 kilos of explosives under the road waiting for Israeli tanks. There were really ready. They built these houses for that purpose because they knew this was going to happen some day. They were just waiting for the tanks to roll in.
I wonder if this soldier and his friends will be invited to go on tour in Europe and the USA.
 
Ami Isseroff

 
January 26, 2007
'They Had Machine Guns Welded in Windows'
[by Michael J. Totten]
http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001373.html


I went to South Lebanon looking for Lebanese civilians who witnessed the July War between Israel and Hezbollah and who could, perhaps, clarify some controversial claims. Did Israel bomb indiscriminately? Did Hezbollah use human shields?
 
Some civilians did testify that Hezbollah used people in their village as human shields. And I found evidence that Israel at least sometimes struck with precision, if not at all times.
 
Lebanese civilians, though, weren?t the only witnesses to the war. Hezbollah was there, too ? although I?m officially blacklisted with the organization and am denied access to interviews.
 
The Israeli Defense Forces also were there. I found a soldier who spent the entire war in and out of South Lebanon. He was willing to talk to me by phone even though our interview was illegal ? he?s still in the army and is not supposed to talk to anyone in the media about what he did and what he saw. He did anyway, though, and he did not say what I thought he would say. The number of people killed in South Lebanon may be more heavily tilted toward Hezbollah fighters than most of us realized.
 
To preserve his anonymity I can only identify him as ?an Israeli soldier in a long-range patrol unit.? So I?ll just call him Eli, which isn?t his name. Our conversation by phone was recorded. Here is the transcript.
 
MJT: There is a controversy about whether or not Hezbollah was using the civilian population and infrastructure as shields, whether were hiding behind people and apartment buildings and the like.
 
Eli: Did they use populated areas to fire? It was clear that they did. Except Israel also dispersed flyers ordering all the civilian population of South Lebanon to leave. So it was in those villages after the, I don?t remember the date, except anyone who was in those villages was probably helping Hezbollah fighters.
 
MJT: Where in Lebanon was your unit?
 
Eli: We went all around the West. Opposite Metulla there?s all these villages called Hula, Abbasieh, Markaba, Jwayya. It was 15 kilometers in. So we would go in 15 kilometers, mark targets.
 
MJT: So you were marking targets yourself? What kind of targets were you marking? I was on the border at the end of the war, and I watched a lot of Israeli artillery being fired, but it was impossible to tell what you guys were shooting at.
 
Eli: I can?t explain exactly what we use, but we use very advanced scopes and thermal scopes and stuff like that so you can see exactly what?s going on in villages at night or during the day or whenever. We could see armed personnel walking around there, carrying big bags. So as long as they?re armed they are targets for us to mark, for Air Force and artillery.
 
MJT: The reason I ask what kind of targets you were marking is because the majority of people inside Lebanon think the Israelis were firing at civilians deliberately.
 
Eli: If you ask me what should have been done in the villages in Lebanon during this war, I think Israel wasn?t harsh enough. Now, I?m not right-wing, I?m not?I just think that if we are in a war?it?s like, if you play with fire, people get burned. There?s nothing you can do about it. These whole villages, they were empty, just filled with Hezbollah terrorists. They should have been totally wiped off the map. Except Israel left them standing. Many of our soldiers were killed because of that, so Israel wouldn?t be blamed after the war for war crimes and destroying civilian houses.
 
When they say that Israeli artillery was aimed at civilian targets, I can tell you a bit about how the artillery works. If I find a target in the middle of a village, like one house that I see that there are armed people going in, and I will aim artillery, heavy artillery, on it. Not Air Force, not like pin-pointed targets. Artillery will dispense rounds 100 meters from that target also. It?s not accurate. Anyway, even if a target is next to it, these houses were empty. No civilians were walking around South Lebanon. I know. I was in their villages. In their houses. Anyone who was there was definitely working for the Hezbollah or working as a Hezbollah fighter.
 
MJT: So you didn?t see any women? It was mostly men and no children?
 
 
MJT: An article was recently published in the Washington Times, and it wasn?t sourced very well, that said?Hezbollah is known for doing charity work in South Lebanon. One of the things that they had supposedly done, according to the article, was build houses for poor people with Katyusha rocket launchers embedded inside the center of the house, walled off on four sides in sealed rooms so the residents didn?t even know they were there. And supposedly when the war started Hezbollah peeled off the roofs and fired rockets from inside the houses. Did you see anything like this?
 
Eli: I didn?t see any Katyusha rockets being installed inside houses. But I?ve seen stuff?like we went toward this house, we were fired upon from inside the house. We went into the house. We cleared the house. Anyone who was in the house was neutralized. We went down to the basement. And also in the basement everything was neutralized. And we saw a periscope in the basement that was looking up toward the main road.
 
MJT: A periscope like something they use in a submarine?
 
Eli: Yeah, a periscope. You know, you can be underground and see above. It was a pipe that had mirrors that were reflecting up. And a small kind of detonator. Our team checked it out. There were 500 kilos of explosives under the road waiting for Israeli tanks. There were really ready. They built these houses for that purpose because they knew this was going to happen some day. They were just waiting for the tanks to roll in.
 
MJT: Do you have any idea when you found houses that were being used militarily if they were Hezbollah houses per se, or had they taken over other people?s civilian houses?
 
Eli: I don?t know.
 
MJT: You couldn?t tell.
 
Eli: No. But they could take any house they wanted because the whole place was empty. Everyone left. When we were fighting we were fighting from house to house. They would just skip houses, they would go a different house. We would detonate one house, they would fire a few from another house, and skip to yet another house. They would go wherever they want, it was their area in South Lebanon. It?s not like they thought about them as civilian houses.
 
MJT: What do you know about that went on in South Lebanon that has been under-reported in the media?
 
Eli: Not so much in South Lebanon, but in Israel. The way the Israeli army and the prime minister and the chief of staff, the chief of military staff, used the war and controlled the war, if you ask me, was wrong.
 
MJT: In what ways?
 
Eli: The chief of the military in Israel did not come from the army. He came from the Air Force. He used to be an Air Force Commander. He was not an army grunt. And the first three weeks of the war he tried to really win this war with air strikes, in the South and in the area in Beirut, what do you call it?
 
MJT: The dahiyeh.
 
Eli: Yeah, the dahiyeh. The dahiyeh area. He did not use the ground troops as well as he should have. He would send ground troops one kilometer in, they would stay for a few days, and walk out. Only during the last week of the war did the army take up the war. And every time we went in and went out, people got killed.
 
MJT: Do you think the air war was effective at all? Or should the war have? been fought on the ground?only?
 
Eli: Of course it should always be together, air and ground. You can?t win one without the other. You have to place your air strikes exactly where you need them. Just d?opping thousads of tons of bombs on that area in Beirut was useless if you ask me.
 
Because they couldn?t get Nasrallah. He?s planned this out for how many years? I mean, he knew where he was going to go and how to avoid Israeli intelligence in Lebanon. The bottom line is that they should have aimed more air strikes in the area of South Lebanon.
 
For the first few weeks they called it a mission. They didn?t call it a war. The enemy was firing rockets from inside Lebanon. And Israel went out to stop that enemy. Which is?kind of like a war. It is war. In any war civilian houses get damaged and there?s nothing you can to do stop it. When you play with fire, people get burned.
 
Israeli troops went into standing villages where they just were ambushed. Our unit was ambushed also once. And I know lots of other units who were ambushed. Standing villages were there. There could have been nothing, we could have rolled into rubble.
 
MJT: Hezbollah claims they tried to keep their fighters away from civilian areas, that they keep their fighters away from the towns and the villages and more out in the countryside. So, when you say that you were ambushed, were you inside one of the towns when this happened?
 
Eli: Yes. We were also ambushed in more open areas. They have these small bunkers, they built bunkers and caves and stuff in open areas. They were ready. They had machine guns welded in windows. They were welded in already. They were ready. They were ready for urban warfare. That?s where they killed the most Israeli soldiers, in urban warfare.
 
In open warfare? They didn?t have much of a chance. It?s in urban warfare where they can skip house to house and leave very large amounts of explosives under asphalt where you can?t even see it.
 
MJT: So you?re saying that a lot of the damage done in South Lebanon towns was done by Hezbollah themselves, not all of it was by the Israeli Defense Forces?
 
Eli: I can tell you about the places I?ve been. Some of the places you?ve heard about, like Bint Jbail, I haven?t been there. My unit didn?t go there.
 
We got to one village one time and the information was that there weren?t going to be very many armed Hezbollah. It was just going to be like a few helpers or spotters. So the whole village was going to be left standing and there was not going to be any problem.
 
As soon as we got around 500 meters from the village they started firing everything they had at us. From inside the village. So of course Israel retaliated with a few rounds of artillery, some war planes came down on the place. It wasn?t really?a round of artillery won?t bring a house down. It will make a big hole in it. And the airplane, unless it?s a big bomb, it won?t bring a house down. You know, maybe it will make it an unsafe house to live in. So you?ll see big holes in walls, and some tank shells blew holes in walls. Except the only reason why those holes are there is because they were shooting from these villages. They were shooting from within mosques. They were firing Katyushas from behind mosques and stuff.
 
MJT: Were they also firing from churches?
 
Eli: I didn?t see any churches. I wasn?t in any Christian villages. Most of the Christian villages, the Israelis detoured around them because they thought they were probably anti-Hezbollah, that Hezbollah would not be in there. Except the Hezbollah, they often dr?ssed up as Israeli soldiers?
 
MJT: Did you actually see this yourself? Hezbollah wearing Israeli uniforms?
 
Eli: Yes.
 
MJT: Really. How many Hezbollah soldiers did you see wearing Isr?eli uniform?
 
Eli: Once they hit us with a few anti-tank missiles. And I saw straight away like six of them.
 
MJT: Was it just the one time that you saw this?
 
Eli: I?m not the only one who has seen this happen in Lebanon. There are lots of other people from lots of other units who have seen this. It?s, it?s guerilla warfare.
 
MJT: Where do you suppose they get the uniforms? Do they make them themselves? Or are they stealing them?
 
Eli: Well, all of them are probably stolen. When Israel left Lebanon in 2000 they left a ton of army supply stuff.
 
MJT: They claim that they have their own uniforms.
 
Eli: Yeah, they have like a kind of a dark khaki colored, like dark American colors. They have camouflage and stuff like that. But they?re also wearing, they?re people walking around towns, with weapons, who aren?t wearing uniforms. They look like civilians. I mean, in every civilian house in Lebanon there is a shotgun. And that?s not because they?re against the IDF or because they?re against Israel, it?s that most people in the small villages, they?re hunters. They hunt for food. But we also saw people walking around with AK-47s and hand guns and stuff. There are definitely Hezbollah people in, in civilian clothes.
 
MJT: So, okay, what?s the most common appearance for a Hezbollah fighter in South Lebanon during a war? Do most wear civilian clothes? Hezbollah uniforms? Israeli uniforms?
 
Eli: It changes all the time.
 
MJT: Hezbollah claims they had some missiles from Iran, specifically the Zelzal missiles, and that they chose not to fire them. I wonder, do you know if they?re lying about that, if the Israelis perhaps took the Zelzal missiles out at the beginning of the war and that they were unable to fire them?
 
Eli: The greatest bulk of the long-range missiles that they had were destroyed. By the Air Force. This is what I heard, but I don?t really know, it?s not what I do in the army.
 
MJT: Have you fought in the West Bank or Gaza?
 
Eli: Yes.
 
MJT: How much more skilled are Hezbollah than Hamas and Islamic Jihad?
 
Eli: Much more skilled. Much more skilled. You can?t compare with fighting against Hezbollah and fighting against Palestinians. Hezbollah has had such a long time to get prepared for these attacks. And they were dug in. Everything was planned, and the weapons, the ammunition, everything was accurate, everything. And the mortar rounds they were all fixed, everything, all the mortars were already fixed on targets where they knew the Israelis were going to come through.
 
With the Palestinians, it?s very amateur with the Palestinian freedom fighters or whatever they call themselves.
 
MJT: Alright. From where I was during the war, which was the Israeli side, it looked like the Israelis won every engagement with Hezbollah.
 
Eli: In the end, Israel won every engagement, this is true. Except the problem is winning an engagement against people who are fighting guerilla warfare. You will win, but you will sustain losses, heavy losses. With guerilla warfare you have one or two guys on a mountain hidden in small holes holding an anti-tank missile. And really at the end of the day he?ll shoot the missile at a few soldiers. He?ll maybe kill one or two, I?don?t know. Except you won?t be able to find him afterwards. Unless you were looking in exactly the same direction when it was fired, you won?t. That?s the problem with guerilla warfare.
 
If there was a full-out war, you know, tanks?against tanks combat units against combat units, and everything done out in the open, Israel would definitely, totally defeat and win. Except the problem is guerilla warfare is extremely hard, it?s, I don?t know how to explain it except that it?s stressful because it?s not a real army, it?s not an army, it?s like cells. Fighting against cells that are operated by bigger cells, you don?t know where they could be, it?s not a big army.
 
MJT: Do you think it would be possible for Israel to defeat Hezbollah completely in a future war? If you killed every Hezbollah fighter they could always recruit more, but that aside, do you think you could eliminate all or most of them? Or would it just take too long because of the nature of the fighting?
 
Eli: The problem is, if you kill their combat units?which was possible, during the war the Israelis killed 700 to 800 Hezbollah fighters, which is a third of their whole combat fighters. Which is quite a lot of people.
 
MJT: It is, yeah.
 
Eli: Except killing them all?I?ve read MEMRI where there are Arab newspapers translated into English. It?s on the Internet. You can read it. Hezbollah said they were bringing in 3,000 to 4,000 Somali fighters.
 
MJT: I remember reading that. Did you see anybody who looked Somali, like they were from Africa?
 
Eli: No.
 
MJT: A lot of Lebanese people think this is just Hezbollah propaganda, that it?s not true. And I suspect they?re right. Like you said, Hezbollah is a professional guerilla army, whereas Somali fighters are pretty amateurish, like Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
 
Eli: Hmm. You can?t compare the Hezbollah fighter to the Israeli soldier. The Israeli soldier is much better trained. He?s much more fit. Better weapons. And they?re trained for much longer. Except fighting guerilla warfare is just much harder than fighting a regular war.
 
MJT: Right.
 
Eli: That?s just it, at the end. And you asked me about getting rid of Hezbollah. Surely getting rid of all the Hezbollah fighters is not the solution. You have to get it from the root. And the root of the Hezbollah is, in the end, it?s the road toward Syria, and from Syria toward Iran. They are the big funders and the people who give Hezbollah the ok. In the end.
 
MJT: It looks like it?s an unresolvable problem without dealing with Syria and Iran in some way, somehow.
 
Eli: It?s a matter of time. Because the way I see it, the way I look at the situation now in Lebanon, at the parliament there, that within a few months or a year, I don?t know, the Hezbollah are getting stronger again. And they might push out the Lebanese government. They?ll take over the government there. And they?ll ask the UN peacekeepers to leave. And they will have to leave. And then we?ll have it all over again.


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Reserves officers publicly call for Barak for defense minister

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/reserves-officers-publicly-call-for.html

Reserves officers publicly call for Barak for defense minister

Former senior office holders publish letter calling for Peretz dismissal; express support for Barak, saying 'only experienced leader can rehabilitate defense establishment'
 
Mietal Zur Published:  01.30.07, 10:53
 
 
A letter calling for former Prime Minister Ehud Barak to replace Defense Minister Amir Peretz was published by 54 reserves officers on Tuesday. A matching petition was submitted to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
 
The letter, which was published in Haaretz newspaper, stated "it's critical to place the most experienced and fitting person in charge of the defense establishment. We call on all those involved to appoint Ehud Barak as defense minister.

The impressive list of senior officers signing the letter includes former Labor Party chairman Maj. Gen. (res) Amram Mitzna, former Mossad Chief Shabtai Shavit, former Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron, former coordinator of activities in the territories Shmuel Goren and several others.
 
"Israeli society isn't learning from experience. We experienced a war in which the military and political leadership failed. We are facing numerous challenges now. Every day that passes without a change to the defense establishment is a wasted day," Mitzna told Ynet.

"Peretz's appointment was a fatal mistake. We cannot have an inexperienced civilian, devoid of all involvement with defense in the past, at the head of our defense establishment," he said.

Shavit echoed these sentiments, saying the second Lebanon war proved that the defense establishment is not functioning optimally.

"Israel needs the most experienced man to rehabilitate the defense establishment and return our power of deterrence…Barak is the best, most experienced man for a job that is needed to address future threats," he added.
 
 

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Leader of Shiite religious cult killed by U.S., Iraqi forces

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/leader-of-shiite-religious-cult-killed.html

By Louise Roug and Borzou Daragahi, Times Staff Writers
[Los Angeles Times] 2:44 PM PST, January 29, 2007

BAGHDAD -- American and Iraqi forces killed the leader of a Shiite religious cult, known as the Heaven's Army, along with several hundred armed members who had planned to launch an attack in the holy city of Najaf, including against the country's most known religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraqi officials said today.

The gunmen planned to attack during ceremonies marking one of the holiest Shiite holidays, in the Islamic month of Muharram.

At least 600 cult members, hiding on the city's outskirts in palm date orchids, had been digging trenches and were planning to disguise themselves as pilgrims, Maj. Gen. Othman Ghanemi, the Iraqi commander who heads the Najaf region, told the Associated Press.

He said the gunmen planned to kill as many senior clerics as they could, including Sistani, apparently because they believed the violence would cause the Imam Mahdi, the last in the line of Shiite saints who disappeared more than 1,000 years ago, to reappear.

Iraqi authorities identified the leader of the fringe group as Dyaa Abdul Zahra, also known as Thamir Abu Gumar, who was said to be armed with two pistols when he was killed. At least 60 cult members were wounded and 120 were captured. The death toll ranged from 150 to 400, officials said.

In addition, about 500 automatics rifles were recovered during the raid, along with mortars, heavy machine guns and rockets, Ghanemi told the A.P.

The militant group's members included Shiite and Sunni extremists and foreign fighters, Najaf government officials said. They pitched a daylong battle against Iraqi and American troops, in which a U.S. helicopter crashed, killing two U.S. troops. In a separate attack, five teenage girls also were killed in a mortar attack at a Baghdad school, authorities said.

The cause of the helicopter crash near Najaf was unclear, but U.S. and Iraqi officials said there was ground fire before the craft went down, and witnesses said they saw it shot out of the sky. It was the third U.S. helicopter to go down in Iraq in eight days.

Three additional U.S. troops were reported killed Sunday.

Sunday's fighting near Najaf and elsewhere was extraordinary, even by Iraq's bloody standards, highlighting the challenge faced by U.S. and Iraqi forces, which are fighting a complex patchwork of elusive enemies, including Shiite militias and Sunni-led insurgents. The deaths outside Najaf would constitute the highest daily casualty toll inflicted by U.S. and Iraqi forces since U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad shortly after the March 2003 invasion.

Iraqi security forces took authority over Najaf's security about a month ago. Witnesses and security officials said Sunday that Iraqi forces were being defeated by the enigmatic, well-organized fighters until U.S. air support and U.S.-Iraqi ground troops arrived.

Shaky footage recorded by mobile telephone, broadcast on Iraqi television, showed Iraqi soldiers hunkered behind a berm as intense gunfire erupted and smoke rose in the distance.

Ali Nomas, an Iraqi security official in Najaf, said the leader of the hitherto unknown Heaven's Army had told followers that he was a missing son of the Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. Ali's remains are entombed in Najaf.

"They believe that the Mahdi has called them to fight in Najaf," Nomas said, adding that fighters had converged on the Najaf area from other predominantly Shiite cities in Iraq.

He lamented that Iraq's death and destruction had convinced some Shiites that the end of days was coming.

"There's nothing bizarre left in Iraq anymore," Nomas said in a telephone interview. "We've seen the most incredible things."

Najaf Gov. Asad Abu Gulal said some of the fighters were members of Hussein's Baath Party.

Although they disagreed on the attackers' identity, Iraqi officials and witnesses offered similar accounts of events on the battlefield. Most of the fighting took place in farmland outside the city, which is home to Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Sistani. Security forces cordoned off the ancient, labyrinthine city to prevent attacks on pilgrims, clergy and holy sites, the governor said.

The gunmen apparently planned to launch their attack today, but Iraqi security forces were tipped off Sunday night about their presence on nearby farms, Gulal said.

Iraqi security forces struck at dawn but were overwhelmed by the militants, who had dug trenches on farms. At least two Iraqi soldiers were killed in the initial fighting, a security official in Baghdad said.

Iraqi forces then called in U.S. air support as well as the Scorpion Brigades, an Iraqi quick-reaction force based in a neighboring province.

Helicopters arrived, but after one was downed about 1:30 p.m., they were replaced by higher-flying jets, as American Humvees and armored vehicles rolled into the area.

Three more Iraqi soldiers were killed, as were at least 250 of the militants, according to several Iraqi officials. Those numbers could not be independently confirmed. By 4 p.m., the tide of the battle had shifted, but U.S. forces continued bombing into the night in an attempt to stamp out remnants of the militants, Iraqi officials and witnesses said.

Two U.S. soldiers and a Marine were killed in three separate attacks around Iraq on Saturday, the U.S. military said Sunday. The deaths brought the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion to 3,080, according to icasualties.org.

Violence began early Sunday and continued throughout the day, including in the northern city of Kirkuk, where bombings killed 14 people, and Babil province, south of the capital, where mortar rounds killed 10 and five bodies were found in the Tigris River. A suspected Baath Party loyalist was assassinated in the southern city of Kut, and in the western city of Fallouja, a car bomb killed two and injured four.

Assailants in Baghdad targeted both Sunnis and Shiites. In a Sunni neighborhood in west Baghdad, mortar rounds hit a girls' secondary school, killing five students and wounding 21 others. In another western neighborhood, explosives hidden in a wooden cart killed four and injured 18, and an Industry Ministry advisor and his daughter were shot to death in a nearby area.

In a Shiite neighborhood on the east side of the Tigris, a bomb exploded on a bus, killing one and injuring five. Two other bombings killed seven and injured 35 people in Shiite neighborhoods.

Gunmen elsewhere in the capital killed a bank clerk in a car lot near her house. At least 54 bodies were found in various Baghdad neighborhoods, including a woman kidnapped two days ago, her family said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad sacked 1,500 policemen, charging them with absenteeism and fleeing fighting. They also dismissed Baqubah Mayor Khalid Sanjary on suspicion of having ties to Sunni Arab rebels. The province is riddled with Al Qaeda in Iraq members as well as militiamen affiliated with Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr.

roug@latimes.com

daragahi@latimes.com

Times staff writers and special correspondents in Baghdad, Baqubah, Hillah, Najaf and Kirkuk contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Eilat: No longer the end of the world

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/eilat-no-longer-end-of-world.html

http://israel-like-this-as-if.blogspot.com/2007/01/eilat-no-longer-end-of-world.html

Until today, Israel's southernmost city of Eilat seemed like a world apart. To Israelis, it was mainly a holiday getaway, or the last Jewish outpost on a trip to the Sinai. It had a nightclub called "The end of the world" and a street bearing the same name. It was a place separate from the tensions and dangers that can interfere with ordinary life elsewhere in the country.

What changed today is that a suicide bomber killed three people in Eilat. It was the Red Sea resort's first suicide bombing.

More than 99 percent of Israelis don't live in Eilat. Their homes are in the center and north of Israel, beyond the rugged hills and desert that separate Eilat from the rest of the country. To them, the bombing is a message that this remote city is no longer a refuge where you can get away from it all.

The fact that the bombing took place in a neighborhood away from Eilat's hotel district is not much comfort for the local tourist industry. Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog is rushing from one media outlet to another to assure the world that Eilat is a safe place to visit.

Only last week some Israelis received an e-mail alert noting that Rabbi Josef Shalom Eliashiv, a leading anti-Zionist rabbinic authority, has ruled that under Jewish law Eilat is not part of the Land of Israel. This ruling has implications for the observance of holy days and festivals in Eilat. A blogger who noted this offers the opinion today's attack was a divinely directed event, aided by terrorists, to remind us that Eilat "is just as much Israel as Jerusalem, Sderot, Tel Aviv, Haifa and everywhere else."

"Sometimes we need our enemies to remind us of who we are," he wrote.

Whether or not anyone's god was a partner in the murders today, three anti-Israel groups are claiming joint responsibility. One of these three, the Islamic Jihad, is said to have been planning this attack for the past year.

-- Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv


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Jane's: Israel to launch interim satellite with new SLV - 26 January 2007

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/janes-israel-to-launch-interim.html

Israel to launch interim satellite with new SLV
Israel has completed the development of a new satellite launch vehicle (SLV) and will use it to launch a limited version of its Ofeq reconnaissance satellite during 2007.The SLV, the name of which has not been disclosed, is an improvement of the previous Shavit three-stage, solid-propellant launcher. While the Shavit is reportedly capable of placing a 300 kg payload in orbit, Jane's has learned that the new SLV could launch a 350 kg payload into retrograde orbit and 500 kg when launching eastward
[Jane's Defence Weekly - first posted to
http://jdw.janes.com  - 25 January 2007]


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Three killed in Eilat terror attack

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/three-killed-in-eilat-terror-attack.html

Three killed in Eilat terror attack

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3358185,00.html

Ynet reporters

Published: 01.29.07, 10:28

Three people were killed and two others were critically wounded Monday morning in an suicide bombing attack that rocked a shopping area located in Eilat's Izidor neighborhood.

Police confirmed that a suicide bomber blew himself up in a bakery in the neighborhood that was bustling with shoppers at the time, dispelling earlier reports that the blast was caused by a gas cylinder.

Shattered glass was visible on the sidewalk outside, alongside blood-stained bread trays scattered by the blast.

"There were four bodies at the scene, one of which belonged to the suicide bomber … The scene was terrifying," a Magen David Adom paramedic told Ynet.

Palestinian news reports identified the suicide bomber as Fasial al-Saqsaq, 23, from the Gaza Strip.

According to initial police findings, the bomber had planned to blow himself up at another location but entered the bakery when a pedestrian suspected his behavior.

Two Palestinian groups, the Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - the military wing of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction - claimed joint responsibility for the attack. However, Fatah spokesman Ahmad Abdul Rahman condemned the violence, saying, "We are against any operation that targets civilians, Israelis or Palestinians."


Although the Islamic Jihad said the bomber came from the West Bank, the Israeli army did not rule out the possibility that he came from the Gaza Strip and infiltrated Israel from Egypt, which he reached using tunnels dug under the Egypt-Gaza border.

Jihad issued conflicting statements about the bomber's place of residence, later claiming that the bomber had crossed into Israel from neighboring Jordan.

A statement issued by the group, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, said the bombing "underscores the Palestinian resistance's intention to pursue Jihad (holy war) until all Palestinian lands are liberated."

A spokesman for the governing Islamic group Hamas defended Monday's bombing as legitimate "resistance" against Israel.

Fawzi Barhoum called the attack a "natural response" to Israeli military policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as its ongoing boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian government. "So long as there is occupation, resistance is legitimate," he said.

The attack prompted the Israel Police to raise the level of alert nationwide, amid fears that more suicide bombers could be hiding in Eilat.

Eilat District police commander Bruno Stein said: "This is an extremely serious incident which requires us to think fast. We have boosted our forces' presence in the city and are working on finding out who stands behind the bombing. Our assumption is that it's not one bomber, and there might be more bombers in Eilat right now."

The bombing is the first to strike the southernmost resort city and the first to hit Israel since last April, when a suicide bomber blew himself up near Tel Aviv's old bus station, killing eight people.

Ahuva Mamos, Ali Waked, Moran Rada, Meital Yasur-Beit Or, Efrat Weiss and AP contributed to the report

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Gaza death toll rises to 30

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/gaza-death-toll-rises-to-30.html

Gaza death toll rises to 30
 
Four Palestinians killed in Gaza after midnight on Monday, bringing death toll to 30
 
Ali Waked Published:  01.29.07, 10:32
 
Three Palestinians believed to be Hamas operatives and a Fatah member of the Palestinian security forces were killed Monday after midnight in seperate clashes, bringing the death toll to 30 since violent confrontations erupted between the two rival factions in the Gaza Strip last Thursday.
 
The Fatah man, identified as Mohammad Afandi, was killed in Gaza City on Monday morning.
 

Sparse gun battles were reported across the tiny coastal strip overnight as the standoff between the governing Hamas faction and President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party took a turn for the worst.
 

On Sunday, four people were killed in the early morning hours in exchanges of fire between the two factions. Violent clashes erupted anew in the afternoon in Khan Younis where a Hamas operative and a civilian were killed.
 

Palestinian medical sources in Gaza say most of the 29 victims killed since Thursday are Hamas members.
 

Fatah has been trying to boost its military presence in the Gaza Strip, widely believed to be a Hamas stronghold, in an attempt to counterbalance a Hamas-faithful security force created by the Islamic group in January last year when it won the general elections.
 

Hamas refuses to pull out its armed forces from the street and resisted demands that its security force be dismantled and its members integrated in the Fatah-dominated security forces.
 

Egyptian and Saudi mediators continue to mediate between the rival factions who agreed to attend reconciliation talks in the Saudi city of Mecca following an invitation from King Abdullah Bin-Abdel-Aziz.


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Dichter: Eilat bomber came in via Egypt

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/dichter-eilat-bomber-came-in-via-egypt.html

Dichter: Eilat bomber came in via Egypt
Yaakov katz and jpost staff,
THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 29, 2007
 
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467837227&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said Monday afternoon that the bomber who killed three Eilat residents in a suicide attack Monday morning had infiltrated Israel from Egypt, echoing the conclusions of the other intelligence agencies.
 
Earlier, Egypt had said that there was "no way" that the bomber or his explosives could have been smuggled through their country.
 
Investigations into the Eilat bombing, the first to strike Israel's southernmost city, indicated that the 21-year-old bomber (Muhammed Faisal al-Saksak, a resident of the Gaza Strip and member of the Fatah-affiliated Aksa Martyrs Brigades) may not have intended to detonate his explosives pack in a bakery, but planned to execute the attack in a more crowded area.
 
According to reports by security sources, at least two local residents had spotted Saksak, whose heavy coat and large bag aroused their suspicions, and called the police. Channel 2 reported that one of the people who alerted local police was the taxi driver who took Saksak into town.
 
Saksak, who appeared to have stopped at the bakery for coffee before reaching his final destination, blew himself up after he saw the police cars approaching.
 
Three people were killed but only a few wounded in the blast, which occurred at approximately 9:45 a.m.
 
Director of MDA in Eilat Robert Tolesco said that when paramedics had arrived on the scene, they had found no one in need of medical attention.
 
Three people arrived at Josephthal Hospital in Eilat following the bombing. All three required treatment for shock, and one woman was also suffering from ringing in her ears as a result of the explosion.
 
Josephthal Hospital: (08)635-8011
 
Benny Mazgini, 45, said he was in an apartment across the street when the building shook from the force of the blast.
 
"It was awful - there was smoke, pieces of flesh all over the place," Mazgini said.
 
Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the Islamic Jihad (which, until recently, refused to sign any cease-fire agreements) and a new terror group calling itself "Army of Believers" claimed joint responsibility for the attack.
 
Eilat firefighter Shahar Zaid told Channel 2 that the bombing had not resulted in a blaze, and that because the bomber had blown up inside the bakery, the damage had been comparatively contained.
 
Eilat's police commander said his forces were working to secure the city.
 
"Our assumption is that it's not one bomber, and there might be more bombers in Eilat right now," Stein said.
 
Some two hours after the bombing, roadblocks had been erected at all entrances to and exits from Eilat. In addition, police raised the level of alert nationwide.
 
Only Saturday, Egyptian security forces arrested a 17-year-old Alexandria resident who told a taxi driver in Sinai that he planned to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel.
 
Egypt said in response to Monday's bombing that there was "no way" that either the bomber or the explosives used could have been smuggled through Sinai, Israel Radio reported.
 
No suicide attacks have been carried out in Israel since April 17, 2006, when nine people were killed after a bomber blew himself up at a shwarma restaurant in Tel Aviv's old central bus station. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for that attack.
 
AP contributed to this report.


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Peretz orders IDF to launch operations inside Gaza

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/peretz-orders-idf-to-launch-operations.html

Peretz orders IDF to launch operations inside Gaza
AP, JPost.com Staff and yaakov katz,
THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 29, 2007

Defense Minister Amir Peretz called on Monday for an end to Israel's policy of restraint against Palestinian terror organizations and ordered the IDF to prepare to launch operations inside the Gaza Strip and against the infrastructure that enabled the suicide bomber who killed three people in Eilat earlier in the day to cross from Gaza into Israel.
 
"We will not make any discounts for terror groups, and the cease-fire will not prevent us from targeting them," Peretz said following a security assessment with senior defense officials, including outgoing IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz.
 
Despite Peretz's harsh response, however, defense officials estimated that the IDF would not launch any major operations in response to the attack on Eilat.
 
Earlier, Israel's first Arab minister, Ghaleb Majadle (Labor), condemned on Monday the "loss of life" in the suicide bombing that took place earlier in Eilat, saying that "such attacks won't do anything for the peace process, and will only drag down talks."
 
"We need to do everything possible to ensure that these things won't happen, to ensure a better future for us all," Majadle said.
 
"We all want peace," he continued, adding that he believed that eventually the Palestinians would unite behind the need for negotiations.
 
In contrast to Majadle's comments, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum defended the suicide attack as legitimate "resistance" against Israel.
 
Barhoum called the attack a "natural response" to IDF policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as its ongoing boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government.
 
"So long as there is occupation, resistance is legitimate," he said.
 
He also said attacks on Israel were preferable to the recent bout of Palestinian infighting in Gaza. "The right thing is for Fatah weapons to be directed toward the occupation, not toward Hamas," he said.
 
Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the attack together with two other groups, posted a statement on its Web site Monday saying that it had engineered the bombing in an attempt to "focus Palestinians' attention away from killing each other," Sky News reported.
 
Elsewhere, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a Kadima faction meeting that for "a long time, Israel [had] enjoyed the illusion of quiet."
 
Olmert cautioned, however, that it was just that - an illusion - adding that in recent months, Israel had prevented numerous terror attacks.
 
Olmert extended his condolences to the families of the victims, and said that he had spoken with the mayor. "I believe Eilat will overcome this blow, and remain a happy city," Olmert said.
 
The prime minister said he would consult security officials, and only after all relevant intelligence had been collected would the IDF decide on a course of action.
 
Government spokeswoman Miri Eisen told Sky News that despite the fact that three terror groups had claimed the bombing, Israel had no final confirmation of responsibility, and therefore it was "premature" to discuss any possible Israeli reaction to the attack.
 
Eisen stressed that Israel was under "constant attacks and threats," and that if the number of terror attacks had recently declined, it was due to the diligence of the nation's security forces.
 
"Israel is always on guard," Eisen said. "We try to stop bombers before they reach their targets." Eisen added that individual bombers were supported by an entire terror network.
 
Meir Yitzhak Halevi, mayor of Eilat, called the fact that suicide bombers had managed to infiltrate the city "very disturbing," and said that he hoped that city officials would soon have all the information necessary to address the threat.
 
Vice Premier Shimon Peres spoke with Halevi on the phone after the attack.
 
"Eilat was, and will remain in the future, a city of peace and tourism. All means necessary will be utilized to assure that this situation continues," Peres said.
 
The US administration on Monday strongly denounced the attack, saying such violence undermines Palestinian hopes for an independent state.
 
"Our condolences go out to the victims, their families and the people of Israel. We also condemn those Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, that condone these barbaric actions," the White House said in a statement.
 
"The burden of responsibility for preventing terrorist attacks rests with the Palestinian Authority government," it added. "Failure to act against terror will inevitably effect relations between that government and the international community and undermine the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own."
 
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Monday afternoon that France condemned the terror attack in Eilat.
 
"There is absolutely no reason that can justify such violent action," Douste-Blazy said.


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'They Had Machine Guns Welded in Windows'

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/they-had-machine-guns-welded-in-windows.html

'They Had Machine Guns Welded in Windows'
January 26, 2007
[by Michael J. Totten]
http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001373.html

I went to South Lebanon looking for Lebanese civilians who witnessed the July War between Israel and Hezbollah and who could, perhaps, clarify some controversial claims. Did Israel bomb indiscriminately? Did Hezbollah use human shields?

Some civilians did testify that Hezbollah used people in their village as human shields. And I found evidence that Israel at least sometimes struck with precision, if not at all times.

Lebanese civilians, though, weren’t the only witnesses to the war. Hezbollah was there, too – although I’m officially blacklisted with the organization and am denied access to interviews.

The Israeli Defense Forces also were there. I found a soldier who spent the entire war in and out of South Lebanon. He was willing to talk to me by phone even though our interview was illegal – he’s still in the army and is not supposed to talk to anyone in the media about what he did and what he saw. He did anyway, though, and he did not say what I thought he would say. The number of people killed in South Lebanon may be more heavily tilted toward Hezbollah fighters than most of us realized.

To preserve his anonymity I can only identify him as “an Israeli soldier in a long-range patrol unit.” So I’ll just call him Eli, which isn’t his name. Our conversation by phone was recorded. Here is the transcript.

MJT: There is a controversy about whether or not Hezbollah was using the civilian population and infrastructure as shields, whether were hiding behind people and apartment buildings and the like.

Eli: Did they use populated areas to fire? It was clear that they did. Except Israel also dispersed flyers ordering all the civilian population of South Lebanon to leave. So it was in those villages after the, I don’t remember the date, except anyone who was in those villages was probably helping Hezbollah fighters.

MJT: Where in Lebanon was your unit?

Eli: We went all around the West. Opposite Metulla there’s all these villages called Hula, Abbasieh, Markaba, Jwayya. It was 15 kilometers in. So we would go in 15 kilometers, mark targets.

MJT: So you were marking targets yourself? What kind of targets were you marking? I was on the border at the end of the war, and I watched a lot of Israeli artillery being fired, but it was impossible to tell what you guys were shooting at.

Eli: I can’t explain exactly what we use, but we use very advanced scopes and thermal scopes and stuff like that so you can see exactly what’s going on in villages at night or during the day or whenever. We could see armed personnel walking around there, carrying big bags. So as long as they’re armed they are targets for us to mark, for Air Force and artillery.

MJT: The reason I ask what kind of targets you were marking is because the majority of people inside Lebanon think the Israelis were firing at civilians deliberately.

Eli: If you ask me what should have been done in the villages in Lebanon during this war, I think Israel wasn’t harsh enough. Now, I’m not right-wing, I’m not…I just think that if we are in a war…it’s like, if you play with fire, people get burned. There’s nothing you can do about it. These whole villages, they were empty, just filled with Hezbollah terrorists. They should have been totally wiped off the map. Except Israel left them standing. Many of our soldiers were killed because of that, so Israel wouldn’t be blamed after the war for war crimes and destroying civilian houses.

When they say that Israeli artillery was aimed at civilian targets, I can tell you a bit about how the artillery works. If I find a target in the middle of a village, like one house that I see that there are armed people going in, and I will aim artillery, heavy artillery, on it. Not Air Force, not like pin-pointed targets. Artillery will dispense rounds 100 meters from that target also. It’s not accurate. Anyway, even if a target is next to it, these houses were empty. No civilians were walking around South Lebanon. I know. I was in their villages. In their houses. Anyone who was there was definitely working for the Hezbollah or working as a Hezbollah fighter.

MJT: So you didn’t see any women? It was mostly men and no children?

Eli: I never saw one woman or any children in Lebanon. I was going in and out for the whole time since the day when the soldiers were kidnapped. We flew from my unit straight to the north in helicopters, and since then we were there until a week after the cease-fire.

MJT: An article was recently published in the Washington Times, and it wasn’t sourced very well, that said…Hezbollah is known for doing charity work in South Lebanon. One of the things that they had supposedly done, according to the article, was build houses for poor people with Katyusha rocket launchers embedded inside the center of the house, walled off on four sides in sealed rooms so the residents didn’t even know they were there. And supposedly when the war started Hezbollah peeled off the roofs and fired rockets from inside the houses. Did you see anything like this?

Eli: I didn’t see any Katyusha rockets being installed inside houses. But I’ve seen stuff…like we went toward this house, we were fired upon from inside the house. We went into the house. We cleared the house. Anyone who was in the house was neutralized. We went down to the basement. And also in the basement everything was neutralized. And we saw a periscope in the basement that was looking up toward the main road.

MJT: A periscope like something they use in a submarine?

Eli: Yeah, a periscope. You know, you can be underground and see above. It was a pipe that had mirrors that were reflecting up. And a small kind of detonator. Our team checked it out. There were 500 kilos of explosives under the road waiting for Israeli tanks. There were really ready. They built these houses for that purpose because they knew this was going to happen some day. They were just waiting for the tanks to roll in.

MJT: Do you have any idea when you found houses that were being used militarily if they were Hezbollah houses per se, or had they taken over other people’s civilian houses?

Eli: I don’t know.

MJT: You couldn’t tell.

Eli: No. But they could take any house they wanted because the whole place was empty. Everyone left. When we were fighting we were fighting from house to house. They would just skip houses, they would go a different house. We would detonate one house, they would fire a few from another house, and skip to yet another house. They would go wherever they want, it was their area in South Lebanon. It’s not like they thought about them as civilian houses.

MJT: What do you know about that went on in South Lebanon that has been under-reported in the media?

Eli: Not so much in South Lebanon, but in Israel. The way the Israeli army and the prime minister and the chief of staff, the chief of military staff, used the war and controlled the war, if you ask me, was wrong.

MJT: In what ways?

Eli: The chief of the military in Israel did not come from the army. He came from the Air Force. He used to be an Air Force Commander. He was not an army grunt. And the first three weeks of the war he tried to really win this war with air strikes, in the South and in the area in Beirut, what do you call it?

MJT: The dahiyeh.

Eli: Yeah, the dahiyeh. The dahiyeh area. He did not use the ground troops as well as he should have. He would send ground troops one kilometer in, they would stay for a few days, and walk out. Only during the last week of the war did the army take up the war. And every time we went in and went out, people got killed.

MJT: Do you think the air war was effective at all? Or should the war have been fought on the ground only?

Eli: Of course it should always be together, air and ground. You can’t win one without the other. You have to place your air strikes exactly where you need them. Just dropping thousands of tons of bombs on that area in Beirut was useless if you ask me.

Because they couldn’t get Nasrallah. He’s planned this out for how many years? I mean, he knew where he was going to go and how to avoid Israeli intelligence in Lebanon. The bottom line is that they should have aimed more air strikes in the area of South Lebanon.

For the first few weeks they called it a mission. They didn’t call it a war. The enemy was firing rockets from inside Lebanon. And Israel went out to stop that enemy. Which is…kind of like a war. It is war. In any war civilian houses get damaged and there’s nothing you can to do stop it. When you play with fire, people get burned.

Israeli troops went into standing villages where they just were ambushed. Our unit was ambushed also once. And I know lots of other units who were ambushed. Standing villages were there. There could have been nothing, we could have rolled into rubble.

MJT: Hezbollah claims they tried to keep their fighters away from civilian areas, that they keep their fighters away from the towns and the villages and more out in the countryside. So, when you say that you were ambushed, were you inside one of the towns when this happened?

Eli: Yes. We were also ambushed in more open areas. They have these small bunkers, they built bunkers and caves and stuff in open areas. They were ready. They had machine guns welded in windows. They were welded in already. They were ready. They were ready for urban warfare. That’s where they killed the most Israeli soldiers, in urban warfare.

In open warfare? They didn’t have much of a chance. It’s in urban warfare where they can skip house to house and leave very large amounts of explosives under asphalt where you can’t even see it.

MJT: So you’re saying that a lot of the damage done in South Lebanon towns was done by Hezbollah themselves, not all of it was by the Israeli Defense Forces?

Eli: I can tell you about the places I’ve been. Some of the places you’ve heard about, like Bint Jbail, I haven’t been there. My unit didn’t go there.

We got to one village one time and the information was that there weren’t going to be very many armed Hezbollah. It was just going to be like a few helpers or spotters. So the whole village was going to be left standing and there was not going to be any problem.

As soon as we got around 500 meters from the village they started firing everything they had at us. From inside the village. So of course Israel retaliated with a few rounds of artillery, some war planes came down on the place. It wasn’t really…a round of artillery won’t bring a house down. It will make a big hole in it. And the airplane, unless it’s a big bomb, it won’t bring a house down. You know, maybe it will make it an unsafe house to live in. So you’ll see big holes in walls, and some tank shells blew holes in walls. Except the only reason why those holes are there is because they were shooting from these villages. They were shooting from within mosques. They were firing Katyushas from behind mosques and stuff.

MJT: Were they also firing from churches?

Eli: I didn’t see any churches. I wasn’t in any Christian villages. Most of the Christian villages, the Israelis detoured around them because they thought they were probably anti-Hezbollah, that Hezbollah would not be in there. Except the Hezbollah, they often dressed up as Israeli soldiers.

MJT: Did you actually see this yourself? Hezbollah wearing Israeli uniforms?

Eli: Yes.

MJT: Really. How many Hezbollah soldiers did you see wearing Israeli uniforms?

Eli: Once they hit us with a few anti-tank missiles. And I saw straight away like six of them.

MJT: Was it just the one time that you saw this?

Eli: I’m not the only one who has seen this happen in Lebanon. There are lots of other people from lots of other units who have seen this. It’s, it’s guerilla warfare.

MJT: Where do you suppose they get the uniforms? Do they make them themselves? Or are they stealing them?

Eli: Well, all of them are probably stolen. When Israel left Lebanon in 2000 they left a ton of army supply stuff.

MJT: They claim that they have their own uniforms.

Eli: Yeah, they have like a kind of a dark khaki colored, like dark American colors. They have camouflage and stuff like that. But they’re also wearing, they’re people walking around towns, with weapons, who aren’t wearing uniforms. They look like civilians. I mean, in every civilian house in Lebanon there is a shotgun. And that’s not because they’re against the IDF or because they’re against Israel, it’s that most people in the small villages, they’re hunters. They hunt for food. But we also saw people walking around with AK-47s and hand guns and stuff. There are definitely Hezbollah people in, in civilian clothes.

MJT: So, okay, what’s the most common appearance for a Hezbollah fighter in South Lebanon during a war? Do most wear civilian clothes? Hezbollah uniforms? Israeli uniforms?

Eli: It changes all the time.

MJT: Hezbollah claims they had some missiles from Iran, specifically the Zelzal missiles, and that they chose not to fire them. I wonder, do you know if they’re lying about that, if the Israelis perhaps took the Zelzal missiles out at the beginning of the war and that they were unable to fire them?

Eli: The greatest bulk of the long-range missiles that they had were destroyed. By the Air Force. This is what I heard, but I don’t really know, it’s not what I do in the army.

MJT: Have you fought in the West Bank or Gaza?

Eli: Yes.

MJT: How much more skilled are Hezbollah than Hamas and Islamic Jihad?

Eli: Much more skilled. Much more skilled. You can’t compare with fighting against Hezbollah and fighting against Palestinians. Hezbollah has had such a long time to get prepared for these attacks. And they were dug in. Everything was planned, and the weapons, the ammunition, everything was accurate, everything. And the mortar rounds they were all fixed, everything, all the mortars were already fixed on targets where they knew the Israelis were going to come through.

With the Palestinians, it’s very amateur with the Palestinian freedom fighters or whatever they call themselves.

MJT: Alright. From where I was during the war, which was the Israeli side, it looked like the Israelis won every engagement with Hezbollah.

Eli: In the end, Israel won every engagement, this is true. Except the problem is winning an engagement against people who are fighting guerilla warfare. You will win, but you will sustain losses, heavy losses. With guerilla warfare you have one or two guys on a mountain hidden in small holes holding an anti-tank missile. And really at the end of the day he’ll shoot the missile at a few soldiers. He’ll maybe kill one or two, I don’t know. Except you won’t be able to find him afterwards. Unless you were looking in exactly the same direction when it was fired, you won’t. That’s the problem with guerilla warfare.

If there was a full-out war, you know, tanks against tanks, combat units against combat units, and everything done out in the open, Israel would definitely, totally defeat and win. Except the problem is guerilla warfare is extremely hard, it’s, I don’t know how to explain it except that it’s stressful because it’s not a real army, it’s not an army, it’s like cells. Fighting against cells that are operated by bigger cells, you don’t know where they could be, it’s not a big army.

MJT: Do you think it would be possible for Israel to defeat Hezbollah completely in a future war? If you killed every Hezbollah fighter they could always recruit more, but that aside, do you think you could eliminate all or most of them? Or would it just take too long because of the nature of the fighting?

Eli: The problem is, if you kill their combat units…which was possible, during the war the Israelis killed 700 to 800 Hezbollah fighters, which is a third of their whole combat fighters. Which is quite a lot of people.

MJT: It is, yeah.

Eli: Except killing them all…I’ve read MEMRI where there are Arab newspapers translated into English. It’s on the Internet. You can read it. Hezbollah said they were bringing in 3,000 to 4,000 Somali fighters.

MJT: I remember reading that. Did you see anybody who looked Somali, like they were from Africa?

Eli: No.

MJT: A lot of Lebanese people think this is just Hezbollah propaganda, that it’s not true. And I suspect they’re right. Like you said, Hezbollah is a professional guerilla army, whereas Somali fighters are pretty amateurish, like Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

Eli: Hmm. You can’t compare the Hezbollah fighter to the Israeli soldier. The Israeli soldier is much better trained. He’s much more fit. Better weapons. And they’re trained for much longer. Except fighting guerilla warfare is just much harder than fighting a regular war.

MJT: Right.

Eli: That’s just it, at the end. And you asked me about getting rid of Hezbollah. Surely getting rid of all the Hezbollah fighters is not the solution. You have to get it from the root. And the root of the Hezbollah is, in the end, it’s the road toward Syria, and from Syria toward Iran. They are the big funders and the people who give Hezbollah the ok. In the end.

MJT: It looks like it’s an unresolvable problem without dealing with Syria and Iran in some way, somehow.

Eli: It’s a matter of time. Because the way I see it, the way I look at the situation now in Lebanon, at the parliament there, that within a few months or a year, I don’t know, the Hezbollah are getting stronger again. And they might push out the Lebanese government. They’ll take over the government there. And they’ll ask the UN peacekeepers to leave. And they will have to leave. And then we’ll have it all over again.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Katsav shot himself in foot

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/katsav-shot-himself-in-foot.html

Katsav shot himself in foot

Instead of offering sweeping denial, president made every possible mistake
Mordechai Gilat Published:  01.28.07, 21:39
 
After every owner of a keyboard or a microphone exhausted their right to sling mud at the president, and after the media stoned the president as though he had already been convicted, some fundamental comments are permissible and even required.
 
 Perhaps there is some substance in the president's criticism of the public campaign against him prior to an actual verdict being handed down; however, there is much less substance in the line of defense he has opted for. He practically shot himself in the foot.
 
 
1
 
In a democratic state the media is permitted to level the harshest criticism at a public figure, even if he happens to be the president. It is allowed to publicize information before an authorized source examines or investigates the allegations. That is its role and duty, providing one condition is met: That it is able to prove that the suspect did indeed commit the alleged acts.
 
I am not sure that many of the journalists and politicians involved in the affair who uttered the words "suspect" and "allegations" actually understand the difference.
 
2
 
If there is due cause for Katsav to step down now, it would be due to his incendiary speech against the state's legal institutions. This is not the way a public figure should speak or lash out.
 
According to him, the police force and the media did him a terrible injustice. Yet even if he is convinced that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz is seeking to behead him by force, Katsav cannot behave as a run-of-the-mill criminal. He is not entitled to use his address to the nation, by courtesy of national radio and TV, to terrorize the complainants in question. Such conduct reeks of a blatant attempt to obstruct legal proceedings.
 
3
 
A president cannot rise up against his interrogators and "judges" from the media without pointing to a motive and without revealing something that led to the said attack against him.
 
After all, we've been in similar situations before, namely when public figures promised to reveal the secrets of a conspiracy against them, and then at the moment of truth, when given the opportunity in a court of law to drop the bomb, they disappeared. They didn't have a speck of evidence to prove the so-called collusion aimed at bringing about their downfall.
 
4
 
None of the public figures who stood trial in Israel were ever revealed as another "Dreyfus." Even those who were acquitted and given the benefit of the doubt after arguing that they signed false documents in good faith did not deem themselves victims of libel. The evidence against them as documented in the indictment proved to be true.
 
5
 
President Katsav shot one of his main arrows at the symbiosis that according to him exists between the media and the police.
 
Let's for a moment assume that there is a secret basement in Tel Aviv where the prosecution, police and investigative journalists gather in the dark of night to share the work between them. Let's for a moment assume that they help each other in the war against crime – what's wrong with that? What's wrong with the fact that the police use information publicized in the media in order to expose elite corruption? This should not be deemed as moral or ethical decline.
 
6
 
Moshe Katsav has made every possible mistake thus far. Similar to other accused high-ranked personas, he is widening the front rather than minimizing it. He is searching for materials with which to besmirch the complainants in question instead of sufficing with a sweeping denial of the allegations.
 
He is maintaining ties with dubious sources, and is not preventing his associates from stooping to the lowest ebb. Worst of all: He refuses to give up his stately throne in order to uphold what is left of the State of Israel's symbol. He refuses even this minute contribution to the country.
 
 7
 
After two presidents were involved in criminal allegations during their terms in office, we could have assumed that the incumbent Knesset would offer the post to an outsider, a non-corrupt candidate such as Meir Shamgar (former Supreme Court chief justice), Yossi Sarid (a news commentator and former politician) or Arie "Lova" Eliav (a former Knesset member) for example. This will not happen.
 
The guild, it seems, is not prepared, as of today, to make the change from a secret vote to an open ballot. The majority of its members are simply ashamed of their candidates.  


Continued (Permanent Link)

Interesting Times: What the Jews can do about Iran

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/interesting-times-what-jews-can-do.html

Interesting Times: What the Jews can do about Iran
Saul Singer,
THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 25, 2007
 

A week ago we published one of the most powerful and disturbing essays I have ever read. Called "This Holocaust will be different", by Benny Morris, it compares the Holocaust that was with the one coming by way of Iranian nuclear missiles aimed at Israel.
 
A well-known author and Ben-Gurion University professor, Morris systematically hacks away at the wall of denial that allows most of us, even those who are very concerned, to live with the Iranian threat. He argues that Iran's leaders are "obsessed" with Israel's destruction, believe that Allah will protect them from pointless retaliation, and are willing to risk grievous harm to their own people.
 
Any preemptive military attack Israel could mount, Morris asserts, would be insufficient and would, at best, set Iran's program back by a few years. He quotes a general who points out that our alleged nuclear arsenal "can only be used too early or too late," in that a preemptive nuclear strike is unthinkable, while a second strike will not restore Israel's existence.
 
"One bright morning, in five or 10 years, perhaps during a regional crisis, perhaps out of the blue, a day or a year or five years after Iran acquires the bomb, the mullahs ... will convene a secret session, under a portrait of the steely-eyed Ayatollah Khomeini, and give President Ahmadinejad, by then in his second or third term, the go-ahead," Morris writes.
 
"Some of the Shihabs will be nuclear tipped, perhaps even with multiple warheads. Others will be dupes, packed merely with biological or chemical agents, or old newspapers, to draw off Israel's anti-missile batteries... four or five hits will suffice: No more Israel."
 
Finally, Morris notes that the Nazis were generally in "eye and ear contact, sometimes in tactile contact, with their victims," while the second holocaust will be an "impersonal" one, in which no Iranian will see or touch an Israeli.
 
REACTIONS TO Morris's piece tend to bifurcate into despair at being forced to face an inescapable truth, or dismissal as baseless warmongering. Neither reaction is warranted and both lead to the wrong result: doing nothing.
 
First, it must be stated that Morris has faithfully described a plausible scenario if present trends continue. Israel is demoralized by a crisis of confidence in its political and military leadership not seen since the 1973 war. The US is stumbling into an Iraq-driven isolationism not seen since the Vietnam war.
 
Europe, absent American leadership, will not risk confronting Iran, and will attempt to adjust to living under a new nuclear threat. And once nothing is stopping Iran, and in the face of the global silence that has met Iran's open calls for Israel's destruction, we cannot expect that the mullahs will act "rationally" according to Western lights rather than their own.
 
After the Holocaust, and after 9/11, can we really assume that genocidal fantasies are just overheated rhetoric rather than preparations for action?
 
We cannot, so there is no room to simply dismiss Morris's doomsday scenario. On the contrary, we must cut through the natural human tendency to deny the worst, and let ourselves be empowered by our sense of alarm to tip history in a different direction.
 
Though it may seem like the Jewish world is sufficiently mobilized on this issue, we are not. We are still holding back, both in Israel and the Diaspora.
 
In governmental circles in Jerusalem, there is concern that if Israel leads the way it will transform the issue from a global threat to "Israel's problem." We do not openly berate Russia and China for brazenly protecting Iran in the UN Security Council and, in Russia's case, even providing Iran with defenses for its nuclear sites.
 
We do not condemn Europe for acquiescing to the gutting of the recent sanctions resolution. We do not openly demand that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be indicted for incitement to genocide under the Genocide Convention, even though that treaty explicitly requires all nations to prevent genocide and establishes incitement as a punishable crime.
 
THIS MUST change. We need to raise two flags simultaneously. The nations of the world have an obligation to defend themselves against the Iran threat, but not only that. We have a right to demand that other nations join in our self-defense, even if we were the only threatened nation in the world.
 
Similarly, American Jewry may be more powerful than ever, but it is also wary, distracted and even demoralized.
 
The Walt/Mearsheimer and Carter broadsides, the Baker-Hamilton "pressure Israel first" report, and the anti-war mood that prevails, if anything, more strongly among Jews than Americans generally, have led to paralysis on the Iranian issue.
 
This too must change. We all know that Israel now ranks somewhere below domestic issues in the priorities of many, perhaps most, American Jews. But have American Jews really internalized that they need to work to prevent a second holocaust?
 
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told the Herzliya Conference: "Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons." But he also said, "We need to support direct engagement with the Iranians... it is a mistake strategically to avoid engagement with Iran."
 
Will the Democrats hear from American Jews, who spurned one of the most pro-Israel presidents ever to support them, that they want to see real bipartisan urgency on Iran?
 
Democrats like Edwards talk tough on Iran to an Israeli or Jewish audience. Will they say the same thing in Iowa? Will they extend their hand to President George Bush and ask how they can together confront Iran, and together convince Europe to join in?
 
Bush's efforts on Iran would be greatly strengthened if they enjoyed full Democratic support. The Jewish community is the only constituency within the Democratic party that might press for the formation of a bipartisan front on Iran.
 
If the pledge "Never Again" is to have any meaning, it must be exercised now.
 


Continued (Permanent Link)

A real dialogue would have been better

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/real-dialogue-would-have-been-better.html

A real dialogue would have been better
 
Alan dershowitz,
THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 25, 2007

A real dialogue would have been better
 
President Carter's speech at Brandeis University on Tuesday should have been a real debate. Instead, it was a one-way dialogue with pre-screened questions and no rebuttals. Had Carter allowed the dialogue he says he wants to provoke, we all could have learned something.
 
President Carter and I agree on many issues. We both want a two-state solution to the conflict. We both want to see an end to the occupation. We both oppose new Israeli settlements. We both wish to see the emergence of a democratic, economically viable Palestinian state.
 
Fundamentally, we are both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. There need not be any contradiction between the two.
 
But President Carter and I have our differences, too. I favored a compromise peace based on the offer by President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000-2001. Carter, however, defends Yasser Arafat's refusal to accept these generous terms, or to make a counteroffer.
 
In fact, Carter never mentions in his book that the Palestinians could have had a state in 1938, 1948, 1967 and on several other occasions. Their leaders cared more about destroying Israel than they did about creating Palestine.
 
That is the core of the conflict. It is Palestinian terror, not Israeli policy, which prevents peace.
 
Carter chooses to believe Arafat's story over that of Clinton, Barak and Saudi Prince Bandar, who called Arafat's refusal a "crime." Why?
 
We know from Carter's biographer, Douglas Brinkley, that Carter and Arafat strategized together about how to improve the image of the PLO. It is highly likely, therefore, that Arafat sought Carter's advice on whether to accept or reject the Clinton/Barak offer.
 
Did Carter advise Arafat to walk away from a Palestinian state? Did he contribute to the new intifada, which claimed thousands of lives on both sides? That is an important question-one I would have asked Carter had I been given the chance.
 
President Carter also told the audience at Brandeis that he wanted to reduce America's role in the peace process in favor of Russia, the United Nations and the European Union. To me, that is not a serious proposal. As Carter himself showed during his presidency, American leadership is both positive and necessary.
 
I give President Carter credit for the concessions he made in his speech. He acknowledged that the use of the word "apartheid" in the title of his book might have caused offense. He apologized for the infamous passage on page 213, which condones Palestinian terrorism.
 
But the President Carter we saw at Brandeis was different from the President Carter the world has seen on Al-Jazeera. The Al-Jazeera Carter said that Palestinian missiles fired at Israeli civilians are not terrorism. The Al-Jazeera Carter refused to condemn suicide bombings on moral grounds.
 
Even at Brandeis, President Carter continued to make the kinds of inaccurate claims that run throughout his book. He said, for example, that Hamas began a sixteen-month a cease-fire in August 2004. He said nothing about Hamas rocket attacks in the weeks and months that followed, which killed innocent Israeli women and children.
 
He claimed that Israel's security barrier was designed to seize land, when in fact it was proposed by liberal and left wing Israelis, and aims only to protect civilians from bombings and sniper fire. Every inch of the barrier's route has to be justified by security needs, according to Israel's highest court.
 
President Carter also left out some important details. Not once, for example, did he mention the Palestinian refugee problem, which the Arab states still exploit against Israel. And not once did he mention Iran and the nuclear threat it poses-not just to Israel, but to the entire world.
 
It was not Israel that rejected UN Security Council Resolution 242, which called for Israel to withdraw from territories-allowing for adjustments-that it won in 1967. It was the Palestinians, together with the other Arab nations, that said "no" to recognition, negotiation and peace.
 
I would like to join with President Carter in working for peace in the Middle East. But peace will not come if we insist on blaming one side in the conflict. And real dialogue, at Brandeis or in the Middle East, means talking with people you might not agree with.
 
Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. His most recent book is Preemption: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways (Norton, 2006).


Continued (Permanent Link)

IAF to buy $100 million in US smart bombs

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/iaf-to-buy-100-million-in-us-smart.html

Exclusive: IAF to buy $100 million in US smart bombs
Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 29, 2007
www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467834533&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

In one of the largest weapons deals since the war in Lebanon, the Israel Air
Force intends to purchase thousands of Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)
missiles from the United States for an estimated $100 million, The Jerusalem
Post has learned.

During the war this past summer, the IAF used JDAM missiles extensively and
even received emergency shipments from the US. The aerial shipments caused
an international uproar after one of the planes destined for Israel was
routed through Glasgow's Prestwick Airport and reportedly did not fly
according to safety and security procedures established by the British Civil
Aviation Authority.

The Post has also learned of ongoing negotiations between the IAF and Israel
Aircraft Industries (IAI) concerning the purchase of LORA ground-to-ground
ballistic tactical missiles. Accurate to less than 10 meters, equal to that
of a JDAM, the LORA missile can eliminate targets without risking expensive
fighter jets. It can be equipped with a 400-kilogram high-explosive warhead
and can penetrate enemy territory more than 1,000 kilometers away.

The LORA missile was displayed by IAI at the Eurosatory defense exhibition
in Paris in 2006. It was developed under orders by former prime minister
Ariel Sharon and was the brainchild of former Knesset Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz (Likud), who realized the need for
a tactical missile that could carry out missions instead of fighter jets.
The JDAM is a low-cost guidance kit produced by Boeing Co. that converts
free-fall bombs into guided "smart" weapons. The JDAM kit consists of a tail
section that contains a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System
and body improvements for additional stability and lift.

Israel became the first foreign customer to purchase the system in 2000. The
kits were then added to Mk-84, 2,000-pound warheads, turning simple iron
bombs into precision, satellite-guided weapons.

According to defense sources, the funds for the deal will come from the
IAF's procurement fund. The deal will not require congressional approval
since Israel is exercising a previously approved option to purchase the
system.

Following the war, IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Elazar Shkedy urged the Defense
Ministry to begin negotiations with the Pentagon and Boeing regarding the
kits. JDAM missiles were used extensively during the fighting against
Hizbullah and reportedly were able to destroy targets.

The JDAM-equipped bombs receive data on the kit's target while still
attached to the warplane's computer. After the jet releases it, a satellite
takes over and guides it. This relieves the aircraft and crew from the need
to remain in enemy territory to "ride the bomb down" to its target.

The system's greatest benefit for the IAF will be its accuracy regardless of
weather conditions, day or night. This will be a great improvement over the
laser-guided bombs currently in the IAF's arsenal, which are less effective
in foggy conditions, or with heavy clouds and smoke.


Continued (Permanent Link)

The next Zionist revolution -- Steinberg, Jerusalem Post (as published)

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/next-zionist-revolution-steinberg.html

The next Zionist revolution
Gerald Steinberg, THE JERUSALEM POST  Jan. 29, 2007
 
 
The first Zionist revolution, led by Theodor Herzl and his colleagues, was hugely successful. The reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel was and continues to be necessary for the survival of the Jewish people and culture in the modern world.

But there is no denying the obvious failures: Ahad Ha'am's call for a spiritual and moral renaissance has not been heeded, and the State of Israel is far from being the model of moral behavior or the "light unto the nations" that was envisioned. The scandals involving the president and other public figures are absurd, traumatic and embarrassing.

There are many explanations for the numerous incidents of corruption and immorality among Israeli leaders and public officials. No one and no sector is immune - secular humanists or ultra-orthodox rabbis; Ashkenazi or Sephardi; veteran sabras or new immigrants; men or women.

One undeniable contributing factor is stress from the constant wars and terror that devour much of our society's energy. It is difficult to turn your attention to internal reform when you are struggling for physical survival. But bad and corrupt leadership can lead to disaster on that front as well, as the recent war with Hizbullah demonstrated.

In addition, an antiquated electoral system encourages corruption and mediocrity among public officials, driving away the best and the brightest. And it is important not to underestimate the challenge of instilling norms of ethical government in a population of refugees. For many the Western liberal concept of separating the private realm from the public one, though long part of the Jewish code of ethics, is foreign.

The Second Zionist Revolution will have to reverse this situation and  invest far more in promoting the moral and ethical principles of the Jewish prophetic tradition - in contrast to the kings and priests of the First and Second Temples, whose behavior was no better than that of the current group.

THIS PROCESS must take place from both the top down: from the religious and secular political leadership, and from the bottom up - in the family (which remains largely intact in Israel) and the school system.

It will not be easy or quick, requiring the creation of new institutions based on transparency, due process and mutual respect, including an end to sexual harassment and other forms of exploitation. On this basis an entirely new generation of leaders must be encouraged to enter public service.

The responsibility for leading the process falls on all dimensions of society. While many Israeli journalists, academics, writers, artists, film makers and other public figures have claimed the mantle of the Prophets and imitate the fiery biblical rhetoric, it is often wasted on false prophecies, including "solutions" to the Palestinian conflict or baseless attacks against religious or secular groups.

In parallel, much of the religious leadership has focused on divisive and political causes and false messiahs. In order to play a leading role in the Second Zionist Revolution these public figures will need to focus their attention on the crucial, internal, societal issues that cut across all sectors and groups.

IN THIS process, Diaspora Jewry, a partner in so many aspects of Israeli life, can play an important supporting role. Unfortunately, for many years, Jewish donors based in North America and Europe have also selected the wrong objectives, providing huge amounts of money to support their own agendas rather than core Israeli needs.

For example, many confuse the conflict between Israeli Arabs and Jews with the Civil Rights movement in the US during the 1950s and 60s, in which they participated. Many of the fringe groups they fund promote radical causes and the replacement of Israel by a "state of all of its people" - in other words, the dismantling of the accomplishments of the first Zionist movement. This money should instead be provided to workable programs that promote the real needs of Israeli civil society, including public ethics, transparency in government, a revamped police force based on due process and similar principles.

The funds provided by generous Diaspora Jews to religious institutions and education in Israel should also be used to support programs promoting ethical standards. In Israel, the mix of religion, politics and public funding is highly corrupting, while the moral authority of the religious leadership is essentially non-existent. Foreign donations made "off the books" to avoid taxes reinforces the norms of illegality. (The corruption and harassment that characterize government tax offices do not encourage altruistic behavior.)

By supporting programs that encourage moral leadership among rabbis and educators, world Jewry can help Israeli society to a much-needed new beginning.

But, as Israeli citizens, we are responsible for the heavy lifting in the Second Zionist Revolution. As in our army service, the war against corruption and immorality in public life will require personal involvement and sacrifice across the board in all sectors of society.

In contrast to Herzl and the leaders of the first Zionist revolution, we are already here and do not need to meet in foreign capitals, or plead for the assistance of potentates in the Ottoman or British empires.

Our fate and future are now entirely our own responsibility.

(The writer is director of the program on conflict management and negotiation at Bar-Ilan University.)


Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Egyptian peace initiative clarified; accepted by Fatah and Hamas

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/egyptian-peace-initiative-clarified.html

Egyptian peace initiative clarified; accepted by Fatah and Hamas
Date: 28 / 01 / 2007  Time:  21:02
www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19054

Gaza - Ma'an - While the Fatah movement has accepted on Sunday the Egyptian
initiative and said they are ready to implement it immediately, the
Palestinian government welcomed it with reservation. The spokesperson of the
government, Ghazi Hamad, said in a press conference in Gaza that the
Egyptian delegation delivered a significant message from Omar Sulaiman
aiming to contain the current crisis. The initiative comprises of 5 points:

- Withdrawal of gunmen from the streets
- Elimination of every form of tension
- Releasing all the abductees
- Removal of all street checkpoints
- Only the Palestinian police to be authorized to investigate the security
cases after the two major parties submit bills of names about those involved
in the last events.

Hamad explained that the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, was
informed of the initiative and had accepted it. He also updated the Egyptian
delegation on the current development in the Palestinian arena.

Hamad affirmed that the government endeavors to pave the way for halting
tension through adopting practical measures. He said that several parties
should push in that direction in order to uproot the crisis, instead of
dealing with superficial issues only.

The prime minister called for the withdrawal of gunmen from the streets
except for those who are needed; referring to the fact that the national and
the presidential security forces are an obstacle to security if they are not
withdrawn from the streets.

Haniyeh said that the ministry of interior is the only party which has the
authority to impose law and security in order to avoid militarization of the
Palestinian streets. He also called for the handing over all those who are
accused of involvement in the latest violent events to the general
prosecution.


Continued (Permanent Link)

Al-Quds Brigades continue the 'red rose operation'

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/al-quds-brigades-continue-red-rose.html

Al-Quds Brigades continue the 'red rose operation'
Date: 28 / 01 / 2007  Time:  18:49
www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19051

Gaza - Ma'an - The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing affiliated with the
Islamic Jihad movement, on Sunday claimed responsibility for launching a
homemade projectile at the Israeli town of Ashkelon.

In a statement which Ma'an received, the brigades affirmed that the
operation comes within natural right of retaliation to the Israeli
violations against Palestinians in the Palestinian occupied West Bank and
Gaza Strip. The 'red rose operation,' (hurling 100 projectiles) is still
ongoing, said the statement.

The Al-Quds Brigades, also claimed responsibility for targeting several
other Israeli areas with homemade projectiles.

In another statement, the Al Mujahideen Brigades, another military wing of
Fatah said they were able to hurl two projectiles at Erez crossing into
Israel in the northern Gaza Strip. They also said that in a separate
operation they launched projectiles at the Israeli town of Ashkelon and
another one at the nearby Israeli military station of Zakeim.

They said the operations came in retaliation for the assassination of the
brigades' leader Usayd Mustafa 'Umoor.


Continued (Permanent Link)

PCHR : Palestinains kill four as Internal Fighting Continues...

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/pchr-palestinains-kill-four-as-internal.html

PCHR
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights


Security Chaos
Clashes between Armed Groups and Security Forces

Field Update

28 January 2007

Internal Palestinian Fighting Continues...

Four people were killed, including a child, and six others injured in the continued fighting between Fatah and Hamas supporters in Gaza and Jabalia.

PCHR's preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 07:00 on Sunday, 28 November 2007, armed clashes resumed between members of the Preventive Security Apparatus and the Interior Ministry Executive Force. The clashes continued for nearly an hour and resulted in the injury of Abed Rabbo El-Khalidi (a 55-year old policeman from Sheikh Radwan Quarter in Gaza City). He was on his way to work when he was injured. It is noted that clashed erupted between both sides last evening; but no injuries were reported.

At approximately 3:30 on Sunday, 28 January 2007, unknown assailants detonated an explosive charge in front of the house of Salim Mousa El-Sheikh Khalil (48), who is the commander of the bodyguards of PLC member Mohammad Dahlan. The explosion caused extensive damages to the ground floor of the 5-story house. The explosion caused fissures in the walls, and destroyed the house windows, and those of nearby houses.

At the same time, unknown assailants detonated an explosive charge at the entrance of the house of Awad Mahmoud El-Abed Weshah (44), who is a Fatah activist and ex-prisoner living in El-Sabra Quarater in Gaza City. The explosion caused damages to the ground floor of the 4-story house, and destroyed the house windows, and those of nearby houses.

On Saturday, an 11-year old child was killed when the Executive Force stormed an apartment in the north of Gaza City. A member of the Executive Force was executed by Fatah gunmen after he was apprehended. PCHR's  preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 22:50 on Saturday,  27 January 2007, members of the Executive Force stormed an apartment in building 4 in the Nada Housing project. The apartment belongs to Mahmoud Abu El-Qaraia, a Fatah activist. As soon as the apartment door was opened, the Executive Force members fired inside, killing Bader Mahmoud Abu El-Qaraia (11). The attackers fled. It seems that their intended target was the child's father, who was in a friend's apartment in the same building. The father and gunmen chased the Executive Force, and fired at them. One of them was injured. The injured was Ramzi Ghazi Abu Eisha (27). After he was apprehended and questioned, the Fatah gunmen killed him by firing at his head.

At approximately 22:45 on Saturday, a large explosion was heard in a street leading to the General Intelligence Headquarters in Gaza City. Two people were killed: Ahmad Khader Bahar 925) and Mo'ath Omar Dweik (25). Both are members of the Executive Force. The circumstances of their death were not clear. Sources in Shifa Hospital stated that Bahar's body was torn by the explosion; and that Dweik died of wounds sustained in the explosion.

At approximately 21:30 on the same day, an armed confrontation erupted between members of Izzedeen El-Qassam Battalions and the Executive Force on the one hand and members of the National Security Forces on the other, in Zimmo Street east of Jabalia. During the confrontation, members of the Executive Force went on top of Kashif hill opposite the compound of the National Security Forces 3rd Battalion, and fired at the compound. Two members of the National Security Forces and two members of the Executive Force were injured. In addition, member of Izzedeen El-Qassam Brigades beat 4 members of the National Security Forces, and their weapons were confiscated.

At approximately 17:00 on the same day, Mohammad Hasan El-Kahlout (35) came under fire from Hamas gunmen near his house in Jabalia refugee camp. He was moderately injured by a bullet in the right thigh. He was taken to El-Awda Hospital for treatment.

PCHR is concerned over the continued falling of victims due to the use of arms by armed individuals and groups. This is a continuum of the security chaos plaguing the OPT. the Centre calls upon the PNA, represented by the Attorney-General, to investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.
 
Public Document
**************************************
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8
2824776 - 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip.
E-mail:
pchr@pchrgaza.org, Webpage www pchrgaza.org


Continued (Permanent Link)

Gaza conflict overflows into the West Bank * 19 year old shot at in Nablus

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/gaza-conflict-overflows-into-west-bank.html

Gaza conflict overflows into the West Bank as 6 pro-Hamas Palestinians are
abducted from Nablus
Date: 28 / 01 / 2007  Time:  15:12
www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=19046

Nablus - Ma'an - In the latest development of the deterioration in the Palestinian territories, there were two abduction operations in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, six Palestinians considered to be pro-Hamas were abducted in Nablus, including one of the companions of deputy prime minister, Nasser Eddin Ash Shaer, and a city council member.

Director of education in Nablus confirmed that unidentified men kidnapped at least two council employees and set fire to the second floor of the ministry building.

In a telephone call with Ma'an, the Al Aqsa Brigades, the main military wing of Fatah, announced responsibility for the abduction of five education directorate employees, including Samir Darwazah, the companion of the deputy PM.

In a separate incident, armed men abducted a council member, 44 year old Sheikh Fayadh Al Aghbar, from the Arab Islamic Bank in the city center, Al Aghbar is a Hamas member in the council of the city.

Eyewitnesses said that the abduction occurred after armed men shot intensively into the air minutes before the abduction, it is believed that men from the Hamas movement were responsible for the shooting.

The city of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, has witnessed strong tension between the two factions in the shadow of the continued fighting between the two movements in the Gaza Strip.

The spokesman of the Al Aqsa Brigades said to the Ma'an News Agency via telephone that the brigades "will not release the abducted people unless the Executive Force stops its attacks on Fatah members and the security forces in the [Gaza] Strip."

He threatened that "harsh measures" may be taken against the abducted people, as they represent "the first row" in the Hamas movement. The spokesman did not elaborate on his threats.

In a recent development, the Al Aqsa Brigades have now confirmed that four of the abducted people have been released, two of them in the first hour after the abduction and the other two were released later. They confirmed that only one abductee is still being held, the companion of Ash Shaer, Samir Darwazah.
---
19 year old shot at in Nablus
Date: 28 / 01 / 2007  Time:  12:06   
 
 

Nablus - Ma'an - Armed men shot at Baha'a Hanbali, 19, while he was on his way to An Najah University in the city of Nablus. He was not injured in the attack.
 
Hanbali was attacked several times, allegedly on the suspicion that he is a member of the Hamas-affiliated Executive Force, formed in the West Bank by the ministry of interior.
 
The man is a first year student in An Najah University, and has been threatened many times, and attacked many others.
 
The shooting at Hanbali came some hours after an attempt to abduct lawyer Faris Abu Al Hasan, the head of the international human rights solidarity association in the village of Rujib, east of the city of Nablus.


Continued (Permanent Link)

U.S. may censure Israel for misuse of cluster munitions

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/us-may-censure-israel-for-misuse-of.html

U.S. may censure Israel for misuse of cluster munitions
By The Associated Press Last update - 05:48 28/01/2007
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/818552.html

The U.S. State Department has completed a preliminary report on whether Israel misused American-made cluster bombs in civilian areas of Lebanon.

State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said Saturday the report will be forwarded to Congress on Monday, but declined to disclose the findings, emphasizing that they are preliminary.

We take our obligations under the Arms Control Act seriously, said Cooper. Our forwarding to Congress of a preliminary assessment is an indication of that.

The Israeli government is also taking quite seriously their responsibility in providing information, Cooper said. We are not making a final judgment.

The State Department is required to notify Congress of even preliminary findings of possible violations of the act cited by Cooper.

The New York Times reported on its Internet site Saturday evening that the report will say Israel may have violated agreements with the United States by its use of American-supplied cluster munitions during last year's war in Lebanon.

The paper described disagreement among midlevel officials at the Defense Department and the State Department, with some in both departments arguing that Israel violated U.S. prohibitions on using cluster munitions against population areas. Others in both departments argued that the weapons were used in self-defense to stop Hezbollah rocket attacks and that, at worst, only a technical violation may have occurred.

A congressional investigation found Israel improperly used U.S.-made cluster bombs during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Then-President Ronald Reagan's administration then imposed a six-year ban on further sales of the weapons to Israel.

Such sanctions are largely symbolic, however, since Israel also makes its own cluster munitions.

The United Nations said unexploded cluster bombs - anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area - litter homes, gardens and highways in south Lebanon.

Relief organizations and the UN mine office have reported finding evidence that Israel used three types of U.S.-made cluster bombs during the 34-day war with Hezbollah militants, during which both sides fired rockets into populated areas.

The UN mine office has said it had found hundreds of bomblets of the types made by the United States among unexploded ordnance recovered in nearly 250 locations in southern Lebanon.

Israel's army has said all weapons it uses are legal under international law and their use is in accordance with international standards.

Cluster bombs are typically used against tanks and explode upon impact with steel. In the conflict in Lebanon, the shells were fired into urban and rural areas where Israel thought Hezbollah guerrillas might be hiding. Many hit the ground or pavement and did not explode.

Israel said it was forced to hit civilian targets in Lebanon because Hezbollah fighters were using villages as bases for rocket launchers aimed at Israel. At least 850 Lebanese and 157 Israelis died in the fighting.

The Bush administration repeatedly warned Israel to avoid civilian casualties during the cross-border war, but refrained from direct criticism of Israeli tactics.


Continued (Permanent Link)

New Israeli non-profit group calls for peace talks with Syria

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/new-israeli-non-profit-group-calls-for.html

New Israeli non-profit group calls for peace talks with Syria
By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent Last update - 05:19 28/01/2007
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/818370.html

A new forum calling for peace talks with Syria will meet Sunday evening in
Tel Aviv.

Forum participants will include former chief of staff Amnon Lipkin Shahak, former Shin Bet chief, Ya'akov Perry, former directors at the Foreign Ministry, David Kimche and Alon Liel, as well as authors, academics and intellectuals.

The group, The National Movement for Peace with Syria, will be registered as a non-profit organization in the coming days.

The group was established following recent reports of informal talks between Liel and a Syrian-American, Ibrahim Suleiman, in Switzerland, and Syrian President Bashar Assad's repeated calls for a resumption of peace talks.

The gathering will take place at the Arab-Hebrew Theater in Jaffa and the director of the British peace organization, The Next Century Foundation, William Morris, will report on meetings he recently held with the Syrian political leadership in Damascus and the messages he delivered, on their behalf, to Jerusalem.

A petition that will be published Sunday on behalf of the forum will state that intentional avoidance of reconciliation with Syria will be "an irresponsible gamble with the fate of the State of Israel."

The forum calls on the government to "heed the voices from Damascus," because "the price of peace is a lot smaller than the bitter and destructive cost of wars."

Following a request by MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), the head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tzachi Hanegbi, agreed to invite Liel for a special meeting on the contacts he had with Syrian representatives in early 2004.


Continued (Permanent Link)

More than 970 thousand dollars allocated to Iranian Space Organization

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/01/more-than-970-thousand-dollars.html

More than 970 thousand dollars allocated to Space Organization
www.sokhangoo.net/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=88
[Iranian Government SPOX]

The cabinet allocates more than 970 thousand U.S. dollars to Iran's Space Organization to recover the lack of credits due to satellite project transfer to the organization.

According to the Secretariat of Government Information Council, the budget is allocated for the handling of Mesbah and Zohre satellite projects by Iran's space organization.

The budget comes out of unprecedented credits for the 1385 solar year (2006-2007).

This was announced by the First Vice President on January 24th for execution.


Continued (Permanent Link)


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