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Friday, July 27, 2007

More news about Syrian power and water shortages

[Mewnews, July 27] Our correspondent in Syria has provided more details concerning the shortages of electricity, cooking gas and water in Syria. He notes that there are 3.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, straining resources. Owing to the drought, there is not enough water getting to the  Assad dam on the Furat (Euphrates) river to run the generator turbines. Additionally, electricity stations are in need of repair and nobody seems to care. Elecrticity is cut 7 hours a day. The Assi river (Orontes) which arises in Lebanon and provides water for Hims and Hama has run dry because of low winter rain and snow precipitation.

He notes that water is available only from 8 AM to 2 PM, and remarks "We have 2
automatic washing machines but the city water pressure became low, so we have problems."
Cooking gas bottle replacements have not been made for the last month.
He concludes: "Imagine my situation when there is no electricity and temperature is
over 30."

It is remarkable that nobody seems to have reported these shortages.
Ami Isseroff

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Report: Shortages in Syria are Serious

[Mewnews, July 27 ] A Syrian friend writes:
In Syria now there are literally severe shortages in electricity, drinking water, and cooking gas.

All the Syrian people are suffering.
Some of the shortages may be related to the harvest shortfall, caused by a severe drought.
However, the shortage of fuel may be related to problems in the Syrian and Iranian oil industries. Syria has to export as much as possible, to help pay for the MiG-31 jets and other goodies it has purchased from Russia.
Help is on the way however, to allow Mr. Assad to continue to spend money on his arsenal. The UN agency IFAD will spend $120 million on aid projects in Syria this year.  A $58 million project will correct water shortages in northern provinces, of which $20 million will be an IFAD loand and $17 million will be an OPEC loan. That will free up some badly needed cash to finance guerrilla operations in Iraq and buy all that nice Russian military equipment. Money, as James Baker III famously remarked, is fungible.
The Marshall plan was a fine idea, but it was begun in Germany after the war was won, not during the war.
Ami Isseroff  

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Peace loving Palestinian neighbors? Not yet

According to a PEW Research Center Poll released Tuesday, July 24,  admiration for suicide bombings and terror has cooled in most of the Arab world. However in one or two places terror groups and suicide bombings remain popular.
Notably, in the Palestinian territories, it seems that 41% believe that suicide bombings against civilians are often justified in defense of Islam, and and an additional 29% believe they are sometimes justified. Only 6% replied that they are never justified. This finding is all the more noteworthy in that Palestinian territories stand out in their responses from every other Muslim country surveyed. The second highest rating for suicide bombings was given in Mali, where 21% said they are often justified, and 18% said they are sometimes justified. Even in Mali, fully 36% said that suicide bombings are never justified.
It is instructive to compare these responses with those of Jordanians. The majority of Jordanians are Palestinian Arabs, and a large number live in refugee camps which supposedly breed despair. Yet only 6% said suicide bombings are often justified, 17% said they are sometimes justified, and 42% said they  are never justified.
In Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, only 3% said that such bombings are often justified, 7% responded that they are sometimes justified, and 77% said they are never justified.  
The question asked was:
Question: Some people think that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Do you personally feel that this kind of violence is often justified, sometimes justified, rarely justified or never justified?

In the same poll, it was found that 76% of Palestinians have a very favorable (41%)  or somewhat favorable view (35%)  of Hezbollah - highest among the countries polled by far. Hamas got only 27% and 35% respectively, which was far below its rating in Bangladesh - 45% very favorable, 37% favorable.

Ami Isseroff


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Palestinians -Gotterdammerung or just plain Damned?

As Ronny Shaked tells us in Ynet, Palestinian national movement faces deep crisis over Fatah-Hamas rift . Perhaps there is not much here that you didn't know, but it is worth pondering. Does the Hamas/Fateh split mean the end of the Palestinian dream, or does it mean the end of the peace process only? Is it an opportunity for Israel and the West or is it just a trap? Is it a justification for Israel to hold on to remaining territories in the West Bank, or a warning that if the occupation continues, the West Bank will fall into the hands of the Hamas, and perhaps the "East Bank" (Jordan) as well?
Anti-Zionist critics have already perversely ascribed the split to Israel of course. In the Middle ages, there was a school of thought that ascribed every evil event to the Jew, including and especially plagues and war. In the Middle East there is a school of thought that attributes every evil event to Israel. It is Israel's fault in the following ways: First, Israel supposedly "encouraged" the Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO. So Israel is at fault for helping the Hamas, they claim. Then Israel persecuted the poor Hamas by killing the nice Mr. Achmed Yassin, and the very nice Mr. Rantissi, wich made the Hamas people very desperate. Until then they were great humanitarians.
Then Israel did not give enough concessions to Mr. Abbas. Israel had the strange idea that if it would give arms to Mr. Abbas, they would end up in the hands of the Fateh, and the even stranger idea that if it made too many concessions to the Fateh, and withdrew from parts of the territories. Hamas would take over Palestinian society.  Then Israel refused to negotiate its surrender with the Hamas or to recognize the Hamas government, for the trivial nitpicking reason that the Hamas want to wipe out Israel.  No matter that Hamas have declared repeatedly that they will never make peace with Israel. Israel must make peace with Israel, and it is clear to anti-Zionists that all Israeli complaints that there is no peace partner are simply excuses to occupy the territories and fill them with all those Jewish religious fanatics from Brooklyn. The occupation, they tell us, is what caused the rise of the Hamas, notwithstanding the fact that the Hamas came to power only after Israel had ended the occupation in Gaza.
The Hamas-Fateh split was probably inevitable from the day that Yasser Arafat died. In any case, as Hamas always vowed that they would never recognize Israel, the split had to come sooner or later if the Fateh/PLO were serious about negotiating peace with Israel.
Here is the text of Ronny Shaked's very interesting report.

Wakseh – this is the new political term prevalent on the Palestinian street.

Following the Nakba (the 1948 defeat and the State of Israel's establishment) and the Naksa (the 1967 defeat,) the Palestinian split and the disconnection from the Gaza Strip are being referred to as "Wakseh". The word means humiliation, ruin, and collapse as a result of self-inflicted damage.

The term expresses the great downfall of the Palestinian national movement and Palestine's division into two ideological camps – the national camp and the Islamic camp.

The latest term, Wakseh, joins a series of political terms that have been etched into the collective Palestinian conscience and memory. In the Arab tradition, Wakseh is worse than Naksa because it is not caused by an external enemy, but rather, constitutes a self-inflicted wound that is almost akin to suicide.

In national terms, the Wakseh has brought Palestinians to one of the worst low points in their history. The Palestinian national movement has regressed 50 years to the reality of 1948-1967. It is back to a period of Palestinian geographical dispersal in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian diaspora in Arab countries, an era of national disintegration and focus on a daily struggle for personal survival.


'Catastrophic situation'

This time the split is ideological: The Hamas movement aspires to unite the West Bank and Gaza under the banner of Islam, while Fatah wants them united under the banner of democracy. This unification will apparently have to wait for many years.

The Wakseh has left the Palestinian street depressed and hopeless. Public life has collapsed and the average Palestinian is occupied with personal survival.

The Fatah movement, which started disintegrating following Arafat's death, has collapsed and shattered. Its leaders are still members of the "old Tunisian guard" – Mahmoud Abbas and his group. The changing of the guard between generations has skipped over the Palestinians. The transitional generation is tired and broken. The Fatah young guard no longer exists.

"We are facing a catastrophic situation," says Kadura Fares, who can still be referred to as one of the leaders of Fatah's transitional generation. Marwan Barghouti has turned into a savior and messiah, yet even if he is released from prison it is highly doubtful whether he would be able to heal the Palestinian rift.

Abbas, who is counting the days to the end of his term in office, did not appoint a successor but continues to talk about an agreement and a diplomatic solution, as if nothing happened to the Palestinians.

He keeps repeating the usual mantras: An independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the right of return, and removal of the settlements. In practice, he is no more than the ruler of the Muqata, the government compound in Ramallah.

'Days of mourning'

Abbas' government is replete with ministers of tourism, transportation, agriculture, and other important ministries. Yet everything is virtual. The Palestinians in the Territories refer to the Salem Fayyad government as the "government of salaries."

Indeed, the Palestinian Treasury has enough money to pay salaries for many months to come. The Western world, which views radical Islam as the enemy, blindly follows Abbas' declarations and continues to hand over large sums of money. Abbas sends the money to Gaza and helps stabilize the Hamas rule there.

Muhammad from Jabaliya doesn't care who pays his salary – Abbas or Haniyeh, Israel or Iran. For him, the important thing is that the money arrives and enables him to buy food for his children.

Meanwhile, the Hamas rule in Gaza is stabilizing, partly thanks to the money Israel has transferred to Abbas, who proceeded to transfer it to more than 100,000 Gazans in the form of monthly salaries.

Hamas is conducting itself very wisely. Law and order prevails, there are no weapons on the streets besides the ones held by government forces, and no clan disputes. Even the market stalls at Palestine Square have been removed, and traffic is flowing.

The introduction of Islam by the regime is being undertaken at a slow pace, but consistently and with determination. Hamas has no shortage of money either, and it pads the pockets of its new supporters with welfare and aid funds.

Gaza residents have become used to Hamas and do not miss the corrupt Fatah officials. More than any other nation, the Palestinians are able to quickly adapt to changing situations.

One of the leaders of the transitional generation of what is left of Fatah, who asked to remain anonymous, told us with great sadness and pain: "The Wakseh took us back 50 years. National hope has been lost. Those are days of mourning."


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Nukes for Arabs: The French are at it again

How nice that Libyan dicator Muammar Gaddafi (Qadaffi, Kaddafi etc.) agreed to release some Palestinian and Bulgarian doctors accused of giving people AIDS, instead of killing them. A great diplomatic achievement for which France is taking the credit. Vive La France. Vive Sarkozy and his much-touted Jewish ancestry.
Un moment s'il vou plait!  Before you start cheering, please look at the fine print. There are  a number of flies in this fine wine. According to AFP:
He [Sarkozy] and his wife, however, were accused in the European press of stealing the credit after EU negotiator Benita Ferrero-Waldner had done much of the hard bargaining.
Well OK, that's not too bad. AFP continues however:
Britain's Times newspaper pointed out that the release of the medics was likely to lead to "lucrative contracts for French companies with the oil-rich African state."
We can live with that. Who doesn't want to make some money, after all. But the real story is here:
France and Libya on Wednesday inked a deal on the building of a nuclear reactor for water desalination during talks between Libyan leader Muammer Qaddafi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a day after the release of six foreign medics.
Sarkozy had touted his visit of less than 24 hours as a "political trip" to help Libya's reintegration into the international community after decades of sanctions and isolation.
Soon after his late afternoon arrival in Tripoli, Sarkozy and his delegation including French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner were accorded an official welcome at Qaddafi's Bab Azizia palace.
It seems that the good will of Colonel/President Daffy Qaddafi was purchased at a price. After the US did all that good work to stop Libya's nuclear project, M. Sarkozy and M. Kouchner, those darling part Jews who were so widely touted as future friends of Israel, are going to build a "desalination" reactor for the Libyans, presumably not too different from the one the French built for Mr. Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
M. Qaddafi, to be sure, is known throughout the Middle East as an extremist psychopath. Consider please for a moment, what it must mean to earn such a reputation in the Middle East. Compared to Qaddafi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a sober and conservative international statesman, and Saddam Hussein was a realist and benefactor of humanity. Here is just a bit of what Wikipedia tells us about France's new ally:
Throughout the 1970s, his regime was implicated in subversion and terrorist activities in both Arab and non-Arab countries. By the mid-1980s, he was widely regarded in the West as the principal financier of international terrorism. Reportedly, Gaddafi was a major financier of the "Black September Movement" which perpetrated the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, and was accused by the United States of being responsible for direct control of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 200, of whom a substantial number were U.S. servicemen. He is also said to have paid "Carlos the Jackal" to kidnap and then release a number of the Saudi Arabian and Iranian oil ministers.
In 1984 British police constable Yvonne Fletcher was shot outside the Libyan Embassy in London while policing an anti-Gaddafi demonstration. A burst of machine-gun fire from within the building was suspected of killing her, but Libyan diplomats asserted their diplomatic immunity and were repatriated. The incident led to the breaking-off of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Libya for over a decade.
They say however, that he has reformed in his old age.
The French of course, did this in style and with the greatest finesse and good humor, as might be expected of the French:
Asked if the deals had been linked to the release of the the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian-born doctor, Gueant [aide to Sarkozy] replied, "No, not at all."
Remember when all the Zionists were praising M. Sarkozy? I wrote then: Sarkozy will disappoint Israel  and  Sarkozy is not a panacea for Israel . I would rather have been wrong. Quel dommage! mais c'est la vie.      
Cela n'importe rien. It doesn't matter. Israeli F-16s can easily reach Libya, especially if the reactor will be located near the sea. Perhaps M. Sarkozy intends to prepare target practice for the Israeli Air Force.
Ami Isseroff

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Rebuld the Jewish Temple?

On Tisha B'av (ninth day of the month of Av) the traditional commemoration of the destruction of the temple, Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg asks, Should Jews build the Third Temple?. As there are a number of Jews, and many more Christian Zionists who would support this project, the question bears discussion. His answer is "no."

I have to agree, but for different reasons. He points out that each of the temples lasted only a relatively brief time before being variously looted or destroyed. Curiously, he doesn't mention the temple built upon the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile, only the temple of Solomon and the rebuilding done by Herod. The second temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was a great national rallying point, and served as the symbol of the Maccabee revolt.

The Muslims would of course object to building a temple in place of the mosques, but perhaps this could be overcome by building a temple on the Ophel, which was probably the actual site of the first temple.

The big problems with rebuilding a temple are that Israelis do not want to live in a theocracy, do not want to engage in animal sacrifice, and do not want to support everyone named Cohen and Levy as temple acolytes and priests. I am not a vegetarian, but God might be.

Perhaps it would be OK to erect a modest structure on the Ophel, to symbolize the return of the Jewish people to our national home. That, after all, would be the real importance of the temple in a Zionist context. Instead of paying to subsidize Cohens and Levites, worshippers could voluntarily donate money to charity.

Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Poll shows Kadima could stay alive with Tzippi Livni

If Israel held elections today, with Ehud Olmert heading Kadima, the incumbent party would get 7 seats, while the Likud would get 32 seats in the Knesset. This might look like a big swing to the right among Israeli voters, but that doesn't seem to be quite true. If dovish Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni were at the head of Kadima, it would supposedly get 23 seats, while the Likud would just nose it out with 24. Kadima headed by Livni wins back 4 seats from Labor, 8 from the Likud and 3 from the disappointing pensioners party, and takes a seat from Yisrael Beiteinu as well. The power of this dovish candidate to attract right wing voters seems to be explained by an "anybody but Olmert" movement.
On the other hand, polls are one thing, and elections are often something else entirely. Shimon Peres was famous for winning all the polls and losing all the elections, while Ehud Barak seemed to lose all the polls and win all the elections. When push comes to shove, and there are actual elections, both Bibi Nethanyahu and Ehud Barak are sure to remind everyone of the consequences of having a Prime Minister who has no experience in defense and security matters. Barak is not going to let people forget that he is Israel's most decorated soldier and Nethanyahu won't let people forget his brother Yonni, killed in Entebbe, or his own army service.
Ami Isseroff

Poll:  Kadima with Olmert 7 with Livni 23
Dr. Aaron Lerner     Date: 26 July 2007

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 518 adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) carried out by Shvakim Panorama for Israel Radio's Hakol Diburim (It's All Talk) on 24 July 2007

Election results if elections held today - expressed in mandate  The actual mandates in the current Knesset are in [brackets]

07 --- [29] Kadima headed by Olmert
--- 23 [29] Kadima headed by Livni
32 24 [12] Likud
25 21 [19] Labor
10 10 [12] Shas
10 09 [11] Yisrael Beiteinu
07 07 [09] Nat'l Union/NRP
07 07 [06] Yahadut Hatorah
05 05 [05] Meretz
04 04 [--]Gaydamak Party [Social Justice Party]
03 00 [07] Retirees
10 10 [10] Arab parties
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

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Divesting from Iran and Sudan

A lot more work will be needed to get US  pension funds, and even Jewish organizations, to divest from Iran and Suda, according to a report in the Forward:  

Three states have passed legislation that should move their pension funds out of companies that do business with Iran, but legislation in most states has either failed or was not yet introduced. On the federal level, Congress is still far from making a decision on bills supporting divestment. Among the most notable slow movers, though, have been the Jewish communal organizations, which are struggling with the financial and technical difficulties of rearranging investment portfolios.

"Your money or your life," said the bandit.

"Take my life. I need my money for my old age," said Moe.

Ami Isseroff


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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Zionism: I'm from Brooklyn, you wanna make something of it?

As an ex Brooklynite (though non-native) and Zionist, I am often amused and annoyed by the racist stereotype image of Zionists as right-wing religious fanatics from Brooklyn, so I have written a bit about Zionists & Brooklyn as well as examining the definition of Zionism and the question of whether or not anti-Zionism is racism, and whether or not it matters. Two articles that examined that question of what Zionism is, and what Zionism is not focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Zionism cannot define itself based only on what critics of Zionism say - there is more to Zionism then arguing about the occupation. Read about it at Zionists & Brooklyn.
Ami Isseroff


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Increased Aliya (immigration) from France to Israel

The relatively small French Jewish community has contributed over 4,000 new immigrants to Israel in the past eighteen months. Six hundred of these French Jews are arriving in Israel today. Another 3,000 are expected to come by the end of the year. This is a far higher proportion than the 3,200  immigrants expected to arrive from the United States in 2007, as there are, on paper, over five million Jews in the United States, and only about half a million Jews in France. Like the American Jewish population, the population of French Jews has remained relatively constant, due to low birth rates and assimilation through intermarriage.
The Aliya flights were organized by the francophone aliya organization, Ami, along with the Jewish Agency. It seems that in each area, the Jewish Agency alone cannot do the job of recruiting aliya, and must have "helper" organizations such as Ami, Nativ and Nefesh beNefesh.
The French aliya is urban. The largest number of French olim, nearly 7,500 since 1989, live in Jerusalem, followed by Netanya with 4,900, Ashdod with 4,200 and Tel Aviv with 2,000.
As might be expected, the arrival of the immigrants was put in doubt by a general strike threat, but the immigrants arrived on schedule after the strike was postponed for 24 hours.
Ami Isseroff


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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Haleh Esfandiari- "True Confessions" from Iran

If your mother was jailed by the Mullah's of Iran, you would be upset too. in My Mother's Interrogators Haleh Bakhash complains about the regime of the Mullahs. Don't wait until it is your mother, or you, in an Iranian jail. Bakhash writes:
It was obvious from the words she used that much of what my mother said was scripted. Some of the phrases that she and two other prisoners -- Tajbakhsh and a man arrested last year who has since been released -- are shown saying echo statements that Iran's Intelligence Ministry has issued to describe their cases. Her statements, to me, sounded wooden -- unnatural and coerced. But did she say anything incriminating? Certainly not.
What Iran's security authorities, in their infinite wisdom, are presenting to the world and to their domestic audience is a doctored "interview" in which dishonest cutting and splicing unconvincingly attempt to make the most ordinary statement appear to be part of a great "conspiracy," a harbinger of massive subversion.
What did you expect? Didn't we sit through the same movies in the 1930s with the Soviet trials of "left deviationists" and "right deviationists" and their "confessions"? In reality, everyone know what such regimes, with their forced confessions and staged trials are like. But most of the time we ignore it, because it is expedient not to think about it, not to contemplate the fate of victims of such regimes, and not to think about what we are not doing to stop them. Mexico thinks Iran is just fine, and concluded some nice economic deals with them. So does Mr. Chavez. Are you making money from Iran? Isn't everyone? Isn't it time to do something about it??
Ami Isseroff


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Monday, July 23, 2007

The causes of draft dodging in Israel

According to Ynet, High schools are to help fight draft-dodging. They will check up on students who claim they are socially unfit for the army, by noseying around their high school records. They might get some more warm bodies, but there is something really wrong in Israel when the government has to force people to do army service. Can you think of some reasons why young people just might not be motivated to do army service? Would you like to put your life in the hands of Ehud Olmert? I wouldn't. Would you want to do army service knowing that Yeshiva students are exempt? Is the IDF going to investigate whether every single Yeshiva student is really a genius of Talmudic law, fluent in Aramaic and a religious paragon worthy of sainthood, or is even attending an actual Yeshiva?
Ami Isseroff

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Does the left hate Israel?

Richard Baehr makes many valid points and offers valuable insights in Why Does the Left hate Israel. However, like many American Thinker articles, it is prone to dangerous generalizations that are a indicative of lack of thought, rather than thought. Perhaps "American Thinker" is an oxymoron.
For example, "the left" is not monolithic. There are leftists who do not hate Israel. There are contrariwise, also people like Pat Buchanan, who cannot be imagined to be a "leftist" by anyone, but hates Israel and apparently doesn't have much use for people of the Mosaic persuasion (AKA Jews).
Additionally, Baehr seems to engage in some shaky logic, including circular reasoning. For example, Baehr offers us this tidbit in conclusion:
The evidence I believe is clear today that Israel faces far greater threats from the left than the right. The left is reflexively anti-Israel and has established important beachheads in significant American institutions -- academia, the media, and the  old line Protestant 'high' churches, as well as in the very seats of government power in many Western European countries, and their intelligentsia. It is not surprising that Israel seems unable to get a fair shake from college professors, the BBC, Reuters, NPR, or liberal churches. Being anti-Israel has become part of their religion.
This sounds like the fellow who believed the communists are tring to sap our vital bodily fluids. Does Baehr really believe that all of the above hate Israel and all are leftists? If all college professors hate Israel, then why has there been such a vocal protest against the initiative to Boycott Israel? If all the "liberal churches" hate Israel, then why did the Presbyterians and UCC reverse their anti-Israel resolutions? Are all college professors "leftists?" Is Reuters news service "leftist?" Baehr asks if why the left hates Israel, without checking first to what extent it is true that the left hates Israel. More than that, the above conclusion seems to imply that according to Baehr, anyone who hates Israel is a leftist. What is Baehr's evidence for example, that Reuters news service has been infiltrated by the international Bolshevik conspiracy, other than the fact that some of their articles were unfair to Israel? If they had a "creative" Arab photographer who liked drawing smoke over Beirut, does that make Reuters "leftist?"
Ami Isseroff


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Blair's Mission and the Hamas

Tony the ex-tiger Blair had an important and perhaps do-able mission: strengthening Palestinian (PNA) institutions and helping the Palestinians turn into a state. Instead, he may be abandoning that mission in favor of the more attractive one of squaring the circle. Apparently, Blair wants to have a hand meddling in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. He got a taste of what that will be like today, when the Hamas declared that they would be willing to negotiate with him, but not with Israel.
Perhaps the quartet should appoint someone else who will work with the PNA to build Palestinian institutions. Someone has to do it.
Ami Isseroff


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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Another canard bites the dust: Iran-Syria pact is probably fiction

According to Ha'aretz , Iran has denied a  reported accord with Syria on military and nuclear aid. The report, that had appeared in London  Asharq Al-Awsat, had expatiated on a billion dollars in aid that Syria was to get from Iran, in return for not holding peace talks with Israel. The aid would supposedly purchase a huge list of military supplies from Russia: 400 Russian tanks, 18 MIG-31 fighter jets, and more, which cost much more than a billion dollars. Experts had expressed skepticism. Now the report has been denied.
"Such reports are media propaganda for targeting the excellent ties between Iran and Syria," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini said.
Minister of Strategic Threats Avigdor Lieberman reacted to the report by calling for the establishment of an emergency national unity government. Now he will need to find a different excuse.
Ami Isseroff

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