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Saturday, October 20, 2007

IAF strikes "life guards" on their way to carry out a terror attack

IAF strike kills two Islamic Jihad men off Gaza coast
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and News Agencies Last update -
21:48 20/10/2007

Israel Air Force aircraft on Saturday killed two Islamic Jihad men in a missile strike on a fishing boat off the coast of Gaza, the army said.

The militants were apparently on their way to carry out a terror attack.

Body parts washed ashore, but identification was difficult, medics said.

The two men were identified as Islamic Jihad members Nizar Abu Arab, 22, and Raed Shamalakh, 22. Both worked as life guards for the Gaza City municipality. Their clothes and ID cards were found on the beach.

The IDF said Abu Arab was the target of the missile strike.

Several hours after the missile hit, rescue workers with nets and divers were still searching for remains.

Earlier Saturday, IDF troops fired a missile at a group of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip, wounding two of them, Hamas and hospital officials said.

The IDF said that ground troops in the area fired toward three Palestinian gunmen who were approaching the Israel-Gaza fence in the area of Beit Lahiya and identified hitting them.

The army frequently launches air and ground strikes against Palestinians suspected of firing rockets at Israel.

Palestinians fire the rockets into southern Israel on an almost daily basis, disrupting life there, occasionally causing injuries and killing 12 Israelis over the past seven years

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Hamas says US-sponsored Mideast conference won't succeed

The enemies of Middle East peace at work...
"Abbas cannot give the concessions wanted by Israel and Olmert cannot discuss any of the pending substantial issues. The conference will not come up with any tangible results," he said.
Of course Abbas cannot give the consessions wanted by Israel. Hamas should know, since they make sure that Abbas can't make the concessions.

Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST  Oct. 17, 2007
The peace conference called for by US President George W. Bush will not achieve results because the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators cannot discuss substantive issues, an exiled Hamas leader said Wednesday.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, told reporters that recent meetings between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were a "total failure," adding that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is pressing them to come up with a common document to submit to the peace conference.
Rice has been meeting this week with top Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian officials as part of preparations for the conference that will be held in November or December in Annapolis, Maryland.
"Abbas cannot give the concessions wanted by Israel and Olmert cannot discuss any of the pending substantial issues. The conference will not come up with any tangible results," he said.
"There is a complete Israeli rejection of discussing basic issues like Jerusalem and refugees, or even to mention them in one sentence. Olmert cannot submit anything important to the conference because he is popularly weak," Abu Marzouk said.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are trying to write a joint document of principles that would guide future peace talks. Tensions arose earlier in the week when Olmert said such a document is not a prerequisite for the conference.
The Palestinians insist on such a document, even if it contains only a sentence or two about the core issues, such as Jerusalem, borders, Israeli settlements and Palestinian refugees.
Abu Marzouk said: "our choice is to establish an independent state, which is a foremost concern for us, but what is more important is liberation of land and the return of Palestinian refugees."
He indicated that the next National Palestinian Conference, expected early next month in Damascus, would send the message to the world that Abbas does not represent Palestinians.
Abu Marzouk called on Abbas' Fatah group to "launch dialogue with Hamas, resort to logic and not to listen to the US and Israel," adding that Abbas has rejected many Arab mediation to end differences with Hamas.


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Two killed in clashes between Hamas, Fatah-linked Gaza clan

As usual, it is hard to say if it is a clan war or a Hamas-Fatah war, or just letting off steam.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 15:47 20/10/2007    
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press
Two Palestinians were killed Saturday, including a 13-year-old boy, in clashes between Hamas and a Gaza clan allied with the rival Fatah movement, medical officials said.
The 13-year-old, Mohammed Susi, was shot in the head during the gun battles in a Gaza City neighborhood, medical sources said. Up to 20 people were wounded.
Medical staff said the second Palestinian killed was a member of the clan.  

The deaths brought to six the number of people killed in recent days in the fighting between the ruling Hamas and the Khiles clan, defeated during Hamas' takeover of Gaza in June.
Hamas officials said the fighting erupted when clan members fired at a vehicle carrying Hamas fighters who passed nearby.
Residents said the Hilles clan's Shijaiyeh neighborhood in Gaza City turned into a ghost town. Hamas smipers took over rooftops, while clan members blocked roads with rocks and mounds of sand.
Both sides also fired mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades. Electricity was cut in parts of the neighborhood and phone lines were also down.
The clan members have refused to surrender to Hamas security forces up to five of their number who were involved in fighting on Thursday, despite committing to do so.
Local residents said sporadic fighting was continuing in the area between the factions.
The clashes were a sign of ongoing internal tensions, despite Hamas' assertions that it is in full control of Gaza.
The tension between the clan and Hamas erupted earlier this week, when a Khiles member attacked a Hamas policeman and Hamas responded by surrounding the Khiles family complex in Gaza City.
Despite efforts by clan leader Abu Maher to convince Hamas to resolve the dispute without bloodshed, Hamas forces stormed the compound Thursday.
Two Hamas Executive Force members and two civilians were killed in the clashes. 14 Hamas men wee wounded, along with 12 Khiles clan members.

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Iran's Larijani quits

Working for a lunatic is difficult...
Last update - 15:33 20/10/2007    
By The Associated Press
The top negotiator of Iran's controversial nuclear program, Ali Larijani, has resigned, the Iranian government spokesman said Saturday, adding that talks will still continue.
The spokesman, Gholam Hossein Elham, did not give a specific reason for Larijani's resignation other than to say he wanted to focus on other political activities.
"Larijani had resigned repeatedly. Finally, the president accepted his resignation," Elham told reporters.  Advertisement

Elham said Saeed Jalili, a deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs, was to succeed Larijani, whose resignation was effective immediately.
The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the claim, saying its program is for peaceful purposes including generating electricity.
Elham stressed that Iran's nuclear policy would not change because of Larijani's resignation.
"Iran's nuclear policies are stabilized and unchangeable. Managerial change won't bring any changes in [those] policies," Elham said.
The spokesman said a meeting between the nuclear negotiator and the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, scheduled for Tuesday in Rome would still take place.
"Despite Larijani's resignation, meetings ... won't change. Larijani's successor will meet Solana instead," Elham said.
Larijani was considered a trusted figure within Iran's hard-line ruling Islamic establishment who replaced Iran's former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani, who was considered a moderate politician, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005.
However, differences had recently emerged between Larijani and Ahmadinejad and his resignation is seen here as a victory for the hardline president on nuclear policy, giving Ahmadinejad a free hand in dictating his views on Jalili, a little-known diplomat.
Larijani's absence during Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last week further raised eyebrows in Iran's political circles.
Ahmadinejad had appointed Larijani, a former Revolutionary Guards Corps commander and a close ally of Khamenei, as the top negotiator in August 2005 to replace Rowhani. Ahmadinejad had accused Rowhani and his team of technocrats as weak and giving too many concessions to Europeans in nuclear talks.
Before he was appointed, Larijani was the head of Iran's state-run radio and television network and was seen as one of the hard-liners' most effective weapon in curtailing former President Mohammad Khatami's reform program. At the time, Larijani used the official media as a weapon to suppress democratic reforms and prohibited broadcasting information that might have been harmful to hardline clerics.
After Larijani was appointed to the negotiator post, Iran took a more defiant approach to its nuclear program. It resumed uranium enrichment activities leading to its referral to the UN Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2006. Iran's refusal to halt enrichment subsequently prompted a resolution by the Security Council imposing sanctions on Iran in December 2006 and another resolution widening the sanctions in March.
Larijani, in many cases, held a hardline view on the nuclear standoff between Iran and the West. In 2006, he rejected Western economic incentives in return for a suspension of Iran's nuclear activities, saying the "Security Council should not think that they can make us happy with candies."
But Larijani was also considered to be a moderate figure than Ahmadinejad within Iran's hardline camp. He is seen to be more committed to a diplomatic solution over Iran's nuclear program while Ahmadinejad is not seen as favoring talks with the West over Tehran's nuclear activities.
The differences between Larijani and Ahmadinejad were revealed earlier this year when Larijani was upset after the president contradicted him on whether Iran would attend a meeting in Egypt to discuss Iraq. Larijani traveled to Baghdad in May to discuss Iran's conditions to attend the meeting but was upset after a reporter at the Baghdad airport said Ahmadinejad had already confirmed that Iran would attend the meeting.
The meeting in Sharm el-Sheik brought Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki together for a rare encounter.
Iran says capable of firing 11,000 rockets in first minute of attack
Iran is capable of firing 11,000 rockets into enemy bases within the first minute after any possible attack, state-run television quoted a top Revolutionary Guards Corps commander as saying Saturday.
Gen. Mahmoud Chaharbaghi, the missile commander of the Guards, said Iran has identified all enemy positions and was prepared to respond in less than a minute to any possible attack.
"Enemy bases and positions have been identified. ... The Guards ground force will fire 11,000 rockets into identified enemy positions within the first minute of any aggression against the Iranian territory," the television quoted Chaharbaghi as saying.

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Did Israel have a spy in Syria?

Last update - 15:15 20/10/2007    
By Haaretz Service and Reuters
Israel had obtained detailed pictures of a Syrian complex from an apparent mole, which supported an Israeli belief the facility was nuclear and led to an air strike on it last month, ABC News reported on Friday.
Media reports have speculated that the IAF targeted a North Korean nuclear facility in its air strike on Syria last month. Neither Israel nor Syria has confirmed these speculations.
ABC, citing a senior U.S. official, said the person had provided several pictures of the complex from the ground, and Israel showed the images to the CIA. The U.S. spy agency helped pinpoint "drop points" to assist in potential targeting, ABC said.  Advertisement

Israel urged the United States to destroy the complex, but Washington hesitated because no fissionable material was found that would prove the site was nuclear, ABC said.
The network quoted the official as saying the facility was of North Korean design and that Syria must have had "human" help from North Korea.
The White House and the CIA declined to comment on the report, in keeping with a strict U.S. refusal to discuss the issue.
The complex struck by Israel was in a remote area about 100 miles (160 km) from the Iraqi border and along the Euphrates River, ABC said.
It said the official described the pictures as showing a large cylindrical structure, still under construction, with thick reinforced walls. There was also a secondary structure and a pump station with trucks around it.
"It was unmistakable what it was going to be. No doubt in my mind," ABC quoted the official as saying.
The U.S. had begun to consider ways to destroy the complex, such as a special forces raid using helicopters, ABC said. But it said the White House sent word the U.S. would not carry out a raid and urged Israel not to do it either.
Report: Syria dismantling facility targeted by IAF
Syria has begun dismantling the ruins of a site that was bombed by the Israel Air Force on September 6, the Washington Post reported Friday.
According to the report, which quotes senior U.S. officials, this could be an attempt by Syria to avoid an international inspection of the bombed facility.
The Washington Post quoted top U.S. officials as saying that photos taken from the air reveal that that the site had the characteristics of a small but significant nuclear reactor, similar to those found in North Korea.
The dismantling of the facility, a process which appears to be underway, could make it difficult for inspectors to determine the exact nature of the facility, and what Syria's intentions for it had been, the paper reported.
Syria, which possesses a small nuclear reactor for research purposes, has denied allegations that it aims to expand it nuclear program. However, U.S. officials with knowledge of the Israeli strike described the target as a nuclear facility, built with North Korean assistance.
Last week Syria presented to reporters and film crews a facility they claimed was the targeted site, but in fact was a different site, the report continued, in efforts to substantiate its claim that the IAF had struck an empty structure.
While most American officials believe that Syria does in fact have nuclear aspirations, they are divided over the degree of the threat posed by these aspirations. Arms specialists have said with near certainty that Syria would have taken several years to complete the nuclear reactor, and a much longer time to produce significant amounts of plutonium for possible use in a nuclear weapon.
The paper quoted weapons experts as saying that Israel and the U.S. decided not to approach the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency with their concerns over Syria's plans because they feared that the agency's weak response would encourage the country to continue its nuclear work.
Meanwhile, diplomats reported Friday that United Nations experts have been provided with satellite imagery of the facility and are analyzing it for signs that it might have been a secret nuclear site.
One of the diplomats indicated that the photos came from U.S intelligence. Another said the images, which have been studied by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency since being received on Thursday, do not at first examination appear to substantiate reports that the target was a nuclear installation, but emphasized that the images were still being looked at.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Palestinian Authority supports Onevoice effort

Better late than never... It is strange that other reports of this press conference did not note these remarks.
Ami Isseroff

Press Release
President Abbas Affirms OneVoice Mandate
Corresponds with his Platform
Saeb Erekat Explains OneVoice Palestine's Goals Align with President's Vision for Palestinian State
Singer Ilham Al Madfai Denounces False Reports, Emphatically Supports OneVoice
Ramallah – 18/10/2007 – In a press conference today, Dr. Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator and Spokesperson of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, explained that President Mahmoud Abbas asked him to clarify that OneVoice Palestine is a non-governmental organization committed to upholding the vision of President Abbas. Dr. Erekat delivered his remarks in a press briefing on the recent visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East.
"The president would like to say that OneVoice organization is an NGO that has every right to work," said Dr. Erekat.  Erakat explained the organization had sent invitations to a OneVoice Summit under the auspices of the President without receiving an official endorsement, but added that the OneVoice "political program, after Abu Mazen read it, reflects the President's platform and the Palestinian objectives." 
Erakat added, "[President Abbas] would like to reiterate his full support to those NGOs and civil society organizations that work for democracy, a culture of peace, and ending occupation on the basis of a two-state solution."
Dr. Erakat explained that a lot of "misleading information" had been provided about OneVoice.  He said contrary to what was widely spread, "[President Abbas] read the document of OneVoice and this document corresponds with his political program of ending the occupation that began in 1967 by having two states: a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital next to an Israeli state along the 67 borders and solving the issues reserved  to the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, borders, refugees and settlements consistent with  relevance to the security council international resolutions."
Today, renowned Iraqi recording artist, Ilham al Madfai, also re-affirmed his support for OneVoice, contrary to reports circulating that he had pulled out of the October 18th Summit in Jericho. "I have been very clear to all those who have been calling that I regretted not being able to participate in OneVoice Palestine's effort to raise the voice of the Palestinian people for an end to the occupation, and for peace in the region." Mr. Madfai added, "I call upon all boycott groups to stop threatening and intimidating artists and to respect the freedom of all."
Mr. Madfai explained he had received a lot of "threatening phone calls and warnings" from groups opposed to his visit but he cherished the day when all logistical and travel challenges, including procuring visas for al his crew and band, could be resolved to enable him "to sing with the Palestinian people and with the people of the world, a song of peace, justice, dignity, respect, and hope."
OneVoice Palestine is part of a movement of ordinary citizens that now surpasses 600,000 signatories not just in Palestine and the Arab world, but with citizens in solidarity across America, Europe and Israel, who agree on the imperative of ending the conflict and propelling and supporting their Heads of State to immediately commence negotiations, uninterrupted till the conclusion of a two state agreement.  The international movement does not take specific positions on the agreement that the Heads of State must deliver, emphasizing that is a duty of the political representatives, but it does empower citizens to propel and support their Heads of State towards the negotiating table.  In efforts to mobilize the moderate majority in Palestine and Israel, the OneVoice Movement has trained over 3,000 Palestinian and Israeli youth leaders.  Specifically, OneVoice Palestine has trained 1,800 Palestinian youth leaders and has offices in Gaza and Ramallah.
OneVoice Palestine's Honorary Board includes the Chief Islamic Justice, Sheikh Taysir al Tamimi, the son of President Abbas, Yasser Mahmoud Abbas, Dr. Saeb Erakat, and a dozen more Palestinian dignitaries, scholars, and religious leaders.
#      #     #

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Legislating geography: UN knuckling under to Hezbolla demands in Shebaa farms

In the past, the UN has repeatedly mapped and checked Shaba farms and determined conclusively that it was Syrian territory and not Lebanese. Now they are apparently redrawing the maps. It seems it is a purely political issue, to serve the interests of the Hezbollah.
The UN position would appear to have been unequivocal until now:

The United Nations agreed with Israel that the area is not covered by United Nations UN Security Council Resolution 425, which governed the withdrawal from Lebanon, inasmuch as the Farms are not Lebanese territory, and the UN certified Israel's pullout.[3] At the same time the UN noted that its decision was "without prejudice to future border agreements between the Member States concerned," referring to Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.

The UN stated:


"On 15 May 2000, the United Nations received a map, dated 1966, from the Government of Lebanon which reflected the Government's position that these farmlands were located in Lebanon. However, the United Nations is in possession of 10 other maps issued after 1966 by various Lebanese government institutions, including the Ministry of Defense and the army, all of which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic. The United Nations has also examined six maps issued by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, including three maps since 1966, which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic."[33]

In a June 18, 2000 statement, the Security Council noted that Israel and Lebanon had confirmed to the Secretary General, that identification of the withdrawal line was solely the responsibility of the UN and that both sides would respect the line as identified. Moreover, the Security Council took note, "with serious concern," of reports of violations - by Hezbollah[36] - that had occurred since June 16, 2000, and called upon the parties to respect the line drawn by the United Nations.


On a fact-finding visit to the region, Terje Rød-Larsen, the UN special envoy to the Middle East, noted that the 1923 Anglo-French demarcation and the 1949 Armistice line clearly designated the area as Syrian territory.[21]


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in remarks to the press with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Foreign Minister of Spain Josep Pique, Foreign Minister of Russia Igor Ivanov, and European Union Senior Official Javier Solana in Madrid, Spain, on April 10, 2002, said:

"With reference to the disturbances along the Blue Line emanating from Lebanese territory, I call on the Government of Lebanon and all relevant parties to condemn and prevent such violations. The Security Council itself confirmed in June 2000 that Israel had withdrawn from southern Lebanon in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions 425 and 426. Attacks at any point along the Blue Line, including in the Shebaa Farms area in the occupied Golan Heights, are violations of Security Council resolutions. Respect for decisions of the Security Council is the most basic requirement of international legitimacy."


More recently, the January 20, 2005 UN Secretary-General's report on Lebanon stated rather emphatically:

"The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line is not valid in the Shab'a farms area is not compatible with Security Council resolutions. The Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for purposes of confirming Israel's withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978). The Government of Lebanon should heed the Council's repeated calls for the parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety."[37]

The BBC quoted Timur Goskel, a spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) as saying that "no-one disputed that the village of Shebaa itself was in Lebanon, but most of the farms fell into an undefined area that may be either in Lebanon or Syria" and although the UN was not a "boundary marking authority [...] on all maps the UN has been able to find, the farms are seen on the Syrian side [of the border].

*** End Quote ****

But now we read: Israel refuses to open talks with Lebanon over Shaba Farms

What is it about:

Israel has refused a recommendation by a United Nations ambassador to begin negotiations with Lebanon over the disputed Shaba Farms area. According to the envoy, Geir Pedersen, the United Nations is becoming increasingly convinced that Shaba Farms belongs to Lebanon.

During a meeting recently with Amos Gilad, the head of the Political-Military Bureau at the Defense Ministry, Pedersen said that "the UN believes that there is merit in the Lebanese claims of sovereignty over Shaba Farms."

The Norwegian diplomat stressed it would be beneficial if Israel initiated negotiations over this issue.

During his meeting with Gilad, the UN envoy noted that the evidence boosts the Lebanese claims. Pedersen said it may be advisable for Israel to agree to separate negotiations with the government of Lebanon on the Shaba Farms to resolve the issue.
What caused this sudden change? Apparently oil money and international pressure and fear of terrorist blackmail is so great that it can move geographical lines. Faith might not be able to move mountains, but petrodollars and hypocrisy can. Can there be anything left of respect for "international law"??
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Palestinians prefer life in Israel

Headline: Some Palestinians prefer life in Israel

The story speaks for itself:

In East Jerusalem, residents say they would fight a handover to Abbas regime

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

JERUSALEM — After 40 years of living under Israeli occupation, two stints in Israeli prisons and a military checkpoint on the same road as his odds-and-ends shop, one would think Nabil Gheit would be happy to hear an Israeli prime minister contemplate handing over parts of East Jerusalem to Palestinian control.

But the mayor of Ras Hamis, a Palestinian neighbourhood on the eastern fringe of this divided city, says that he can't think of a worse fate for him and his constituents than being handed over to the weak and ineffective Palestinian Authority right now.

"If there was a referendum here, no one would vote to join the Palestinian Authority," Mr. Gheit said, smoking a water pipe as he whiled away the afternoon watching Lebanese music videos. "We will not accept it. There would be another intifada [uprising] to defend ourselves from the PA."

In comments that are likely to stir fierce debate on both sides, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested yesterday that Israel could relinquish several Arab areas on the periphery of East Jerusalem. The idea is likely to please very few, since many Israelis consider Jerusalem indivisible, while few Palestinians would accept a peace deal that didn't include sovereignty over the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam.

Those who live in the neighbourhoods Mr. Olmert spoke of handing over are nonetheless worried that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who is seen as weak and desperate for an achievement after losing control of the Gaza Strip to the Islamist Hamas movement, will accept the offer. They dislike the idea of their neighbourhoods, which are generally more prosperous than other parts of the West Bank, being absorbed into the chaotic Palestinian territories.

Mr. Gheit, with two posters of "the martyr Saddam Hussein" hanging over his cash register, can hardly be called an admirer of the Jewish state. But he says that an already difficult life would get worse if those living in Ras Hamis and the adjoining Shuafat refugee camp were suddenly no longer able to work in Israel, or use its publicly funded health system.

The 53-year-old said he'd be happy to one day live in a properly independent Palestinian state, but not one that looks anything like the corruption-racked and violence-prone areas that are split between the warring Hamas and Fatah factions. "I don't believe in these factions. I only believe in putting bread on the table for my children. I fight only for them. At least in Israel, there's law."

Mr. Gheit said that over the past five years, some 5,000 people have moved into Ras Hamis from other parts of the West Bank, concerned that they would lose their Israeli identification cards if they didn't live within the city limits. There would be a mass exodus into other parts of the city, or other towns in Israel, if it looked likely that Ras Hamis and Shuafat, home to a combined 50,000 people, were about to be declared no longer part of Jerusalem, he said.

Another concern for many in Shuafat is that they would lose access to the al-Aqsa mosque if they were transferred on paper from East Jerusalem to the West Bank. West Bank Palestinians are generally barred from entering the city, even to pray.

In a speech yesterday to Israel's parliament, the Knesset, Mr. Olmert stayed far away from such issues, but made his most explicit comments to date about offering some parts of Jerusalem to Mr. Abbas.

"Was it necessary to annex the Shuafat refugee camp, al-Sawahra, Walajeh and other villages and state that this is also Jerusalem? I must admit, one can ask some legitimate questions on the issue," Mr. Olmert said, referring to the Israeli decision 40 years ago to annex East Jerusalem, including outlying Arab neighbourhoods. The entire city was declared to be Israel's capital, a decision no other country recognizes.

Notably, all three neighbourhoods that Mr. Olmert mentioned are on the farthest outskirts of the city, within the greater municipality of Jerusalem, but outside the eight-metre-high concrete wall that Israel has constructed through the city.

The Israeli government says the barrier was constructed for security purposes; critics say the barrier, which zigzags deep into East Jerusalem and the West Bank, has always been intended to establish a de facto border. Mr. Olmert's suggestion doesn't go as far as previous Israeli leaders have in negotiations with the Palestinians. At the 2000 peace talks in Camp David, Israel's then-prime minister, Ehud Barak, offered almost all of East Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat. The talks collapsed, primarily over the status of the Old City and the holy sites within it.

Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said that Mr. Olmert's offer was an empty one, since he knew it was doomed to be rejected by the Palestinian side, which wants all of East Jerusalem for its capital, including its holy sites.

He said that Mr. Olmert, who is facing three separate criminal investigations into his financial dealings, must make conciliatory gestures toward the Palestinians in order to keep the left-wing Labour Party in his coalition. However, Prof. Inbar said the Prime Minister is too weak to carry through, since he also needs to keep right-wing parties onside.

Mr. Olmert is also under pressure from the United States to make concessions ahead of a peace conference that President George W. Bush is scheduled to host next month. However, hopes are fading fast for the November peace conference and Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that it was likely to be postponed.

Continued (Permanent Link)

The Lebanese state's abandoned role in Hezbollah - Israel exchange of prisoners and bodies!!

The Lebanese state's abandoned role in  Hezbollah - Israel exchange of prisoners and bodies!!
By: Elias Bejjani
LCCC Chairman
October 18/07

Worldwide news agencies published on October 16, 2007 the following Report: (Israel and Hezbollah carried out a prisoner swap on Monday. The Jewish state handed over the bodies of two militants and a prisoner in exchange for the remains of an Israeli man. The exchange of bodies and a prisoner swap took place at the Naqura crossing between Israel and Lebanon," The two Hezbollah fighters were killed during the 34-day war in Lebanon last summer between the Shiite militant group and Israel. The prisoner to be released was believed to be a militant seized during the war. The dead Israeli was an Ethiopian immigrant who drowned in Israel in 2005 and whose body was swept north to the Lebanese coast, where it was recovered by Hezbollah, the source said.
There had been hopes that the prisoner swap would include two Israeli servicemen, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose capture in July 2006 triggered last year's war. An army report released last December said that the two soldiers were wounded, one seriously and another moderately, in the cross-border attack that led to their seizure. Israel is also seeking the return of the bodies of five soldiers which have never been recovered since their deaths during Israel's 1982 onslaught in Lebanon. The Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Sunday that the two Israeli soldiers held by Hezbollah had been handed over to Iran and could be freed in a German-brokered swap. It quoted a source it identified as a high-ranking official in the office of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying the pair had been transferred to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards. The source claimed that the soldiers could be part of an exchange involving Germany, which decided last week to free an Iranian agent jailed for life for the 1992 murder of four Kurdish dissidents.
On January 29, 2004, Israel freed nearly 450 prisoners, most of them Palestinians and Arabs, in exchange for an Israeli businessman, Elhanan Tannenbaum, and the bodies of three soldiers. The exchange was brokered by German intelligence chief Ernst Uhrlau.
As part of the swap, Israel agreed to free Lebanese prisoner Samir Kantar at a later date in return for information on the fate of Arad. The 41-year-old Kantar was handed down jail sentences totaling 542 years by an Israeli court in 1980 for infiltrating a northern seaside resort and killing a scientist and his four-year-old daughter and an Israeli policeman. Hezbollah is also seeking the release of four Iranian diplomats believed to have been handed over to Israel by a Lebanese Christian militia after their capture in 1982. Hezbollah will provide information on Israeli airman Ron Arad, missing for more than 20 years, as part of a swap deal between the Jewish state and the militant party, an Israeli official said on Monday." As part of the exchange deal, Hezbollah will provide Israel with information on Ron Arad," an official told AFP on condition of anonymity).

As a Lebanese Canadian Non Profit organization whose prime objectives are advocacy for human rights, freedoms and democracy, we welcome all genuine human efforts and endeavors that ultimately leads to the release of prisoners or hostages, and to the whereabouts and fate of any those abducted, as well as the retrieval and delivery of soldiers or civilians remains to their families or countries, but at the same time we believe it is extremely essential that those carrying such activities must abide by a set of judicial, human rights, ethical and security standards,  so as not to reward terrorism and encourage terrorists.

The following are our observations and suggestions from the Lebanese Canadian Coordination Council (LCCC) on the exchange of prisoners and bodies between Israel and Hezbollah through Germany's mediation:

1-It was shocking, sad and extremely disappointing to learn that the Lebanese legitimate authorities and on all levels were entirely absent from the exchange process, and more regrettable was the fact that certain free world countries, well known Human Rights countries and peace advocacy bodies have willingly participated in the process without even making the Lebanese government aware of their activities, while dealing with a terrorist organization and giving its atrocities an umbrella of recognition and legitimacy. 

Meanwhile what was actually bizarre and confusing lies in the Laissez Faire condemned position that the Lebanese Government adopted. It did not only be absent and abandon its responsibilities, but even announced its indifference and irresponsibility when its Interior Minister announced publicly: "Our brothers in Hezbollah notified us 24 hours before the exchange process took place".

2-We hold fully responsible for this kind of unacceptable conduct with a terrorist group, all free world countries and  humanitarian - international Organizations who  played any role, direct or indirect in the exchange process without the consent of the legitimate Lebanese authorities in advance. All those involved overtly or covertly have in reality sided and supported the Hezbollah terrorist organization in particular, and the global fundamentalism and terrorism in general. They haves strongly contributed to strengthen the "illegal mini Hezbollah" state that Iran and Syria had erected in Lebanon, on the account of the legitimate Central Lebanese government. They have openly and bluntly infringed the Charter of the United Nations and negated all strategies and efforts tailored to combat global terrorism and fundamentalism. They have explicitly granted their recognition to a terrorist organization (Hezbollah) that is a militant spearhead in Lebanon for the axis of evil countries (Syria and Iran), who fully  sponsor, manipulate , fund and control  its decision making process on all levels and domains.

3-It is worth mentioning that the global war against terrorism and fundamentalism cannot achieve any positive results if the free world countries and all Humanitarian, judicial and international organizations are not united and their activities well defined and abided by. All those involved or concerned in this fight must be committed by all related international obligations, disciplines, laws and ethics,  and most importantly not to succumb to terrorists' threats under any circumstance and not offer its leaders or sponsors any form of legitimacy.

4-We call on the United Nations and all countries that have contributed by any means and on any level in the Hezbollah-Israeli prisoners-bodies exchange process to refrain in future from any such activities and to develop a set of well defined policies and strategies that governs all contacts with terrorist groups.
We call on all of them to limit their future contacts in any similar exchange process with the Lebanese legitimate state.

5- All concerned countries, organizations and individuals in Lebanon, the Middle East, The Arab states and the free world MUST be fully aware that the ongoing conflict in Lebanon is between the legitimate State of Lebanon and the "Mini Hezbollah State" that Iran and Syria had erected inside Lebanon. The conflict does not revolve only on the fate and future of democracy, freedoms and rights in Lebanon, but also on the fate of the Middle East peace process, and all efforts to combat international terrorism. . Accordingly, any endorsement or support  to the "Hezbollah Mini fundamental state", or even any kind of cajoling or appeasement to its  leaders or to the axis of evil two countries (Syria and Iran) is in reality an infringement to all peace efforts and a crime against humanity.

**Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website


Continued (Permanent Link)

Letter Addressed by Damascus Declaration Beirut Chapter To the Jews of the World

Letter Addressed by Damascus Declaration Beirut Chapter To the Jews of the World

Washington DC - October 18, 2007/Damascus DeclarationThe negative prevailing situation in the Middle East in terms of deterioration of peace, security and stability as well as the spread of hatred and animosity among its people is yielding serious repercussions on humanity worldwide.

The concern of the international community in facing terrorist organizations eventually enabled dictatorial regimes to take advantage of terrorist cells notably their creation, preparation and employment within its hegemonic plan for the region and by fiendish, machiavellic means. Indeed, it proceeds on the one hand to extradite some terrorists to countries combating terrorism and on the other hand, it covertly harbors and provides support to such cells by all direct and indirect means, exporting them through its open borders despite of their exposure to the world. For instance, Fateh El Islam Chief Chaker El Absi in addition to Abou Al Qaaqaa, Abou Hurairat "Chehab Kaddour" and Abou Salim Taha are merely a few examples of such use.

Before the advent of absolutist parties and dictatorships, our Arab countries were a perfect model for brotherhood, clemency and coexistence of the three monotheistic religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It used to face domestic and external threats under the banner of defense of the homeland for its citizens. One of the most wonderful expressions of such clemency, brotherhood, coexistence, and concern on making homelands for its citizens was the joint confrontation of French occupation and achieving their great withdrawal from the homeland as well as the fair, effective participation of all creeds in the Syrian Parliament. The attempts of the Syrian dictatorial regime to figure as the vanguard of coexistence between creeds are fictitious and misleading. True coexistence is originally intrinsic in Syrian society.

The advent of the absolutist dictatorial Baasist party to rule under the banners of confrontation of Israeli aggression and occupation was a deceitful cover for usurpation of power by coup d'état, making secret deals and concessions with the Israeli enemy on the homeland and the Syrian people's dignity. Thus, the preservation of such deals and concessions has become a necessity for its survival.

This dictatorial party does not seek true peace and is not making an effort to promote peace.  In fact, it is making use of the instigative revolutionary speech and educating generations on hatred and animosity as a cover for its survival and continuity.

Israeli politicians are committing the biggest mistakes against their people and the peoples in the region with their ongoing antagonism and secret dealings with the corrupt, dynastic, dictatorial Syrian regime and the absence of an upright, national, democratic Syrian opponent having the capacity and legitimacy to urge the international community to implement its resolutions in support of the Arab initiative for peace.

Therefore, we ask the Jews worldwide to adopt an outspoken and explicit stance in order to pressure Israeli politicians and make them stop their ongoing antagonism in the region as well as suspend all forms of covert communications and agreements with the two-faced Syrian regime and its double standard policies.

The security for Israel allegedly provided by such agreements is a short-lived security bearing unforeseeable repercussions for the entire region.

The ordeals of the Jewish people under Nazi oppression and dictatorship should be sufficient motive for not supporting the corrupt dictatorship that creates terrorism and extremism, exports it to regional countries and disseminates hatred among peoples for staying in power.

The Syrian people longs for the recovery of its land and rights, the return of peace and democracy as well as the peaceful coexistence between monotheistic religions, thus in a global framework of total and just peace, security and prosperity in the region.

Respectfully yours,

The Damascus Declaration – Beirut Chapter

2003-2007 - Reform Party of Syria (RPS) except where otherwise noted - all rights reserved.

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Recycled terrrorist arrested

October 18th, 2007

Attributed to "security sources" [Provided by IDF Spokesman's Office]

Now released for publication:
Tanzim Terrorist Killed During Arrest Operation in Nablus

During a security forces arrest operation in Nablus on Monday night 14 wanted terrorists were arrested and one, Basem Hamis Mutztafa Abu-Suria, a wanted Tanzim terrorist, was killed. Basem Suria, 32, also known as "Kadafi", was one of Fadi Kapisha's assistants. Kapisha, a senior wanted terror-operative in Samaria, was killed by IDF forces in 2006.

Recently, Basem Suria established himself as one of the senior leaders of the Tanzim terror organization in Nablus. Basem Suria began his involvement with terror during Kapisha's time and was involved in the execution of dozens of shooting attacks, the detonation of explosive devices at IDF soldiers as well as planning suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. During this period, he developed the skills to make explosive materials and explosive devices and belts, which he also sold to other terrorist organizations in the city of Nablus.

Despite the amnesty agreement, Basem Suria continued his involvement in the terrorist organization and continued to carry hand grenades and a rifle.

In recent months, after he established himself as one of the leaders of the Tanzim organization, Basem Suria operated as a part of joint Hamas and Tanzim cells and even strengthened his ties with the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon.

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Zionist rabbis agree to serve on independent conversion courts

At last, perhaps something will begin to be done about one of the most important, and least discussed, issues in Israeli society.
Last update - 10:46 18/10/2007    
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent

45 rabbis from the national-religious movement have agreed to serve in proposed independent conversion courts that would operate without the recognition of the Chief Rabbinate.
This challenge from within the Orthodox establishment to the Rabbinate's control of the process of converting to Judaism in Israel is a response to a long-standing perception that the rabbinical establishment is in thrall to the ultra-Orthodox tradition of making conversion difficult.
That position ignores the plight of the more than 300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewish according to halakha. If the recommendations of the interministerial committee on conversion to expedite the process are not implemented soon, the rabbis are expected to establish the proposed conversion courts. That would represent another stage in the undermining of religious-Zionist rabbis of the Rabbinate, following struggles over marriage, kashrut and shmita in the past several months.  
The latest steps began about six months ago with a conference of the Joint Conversion Institute, which prepares most prospective converts in civilian and military frameworks. After the head of the institute, Prof. Benjamin Ish-Shalom, announced that the requirements of the religious courts kept many graduates from completing their conversion, 45 rabbis agreed to officiate in religious courts that would convert the graduates, even without recognition from the Rabbinate. Most of the rabbis, the majority of whom who prefer not to be identified, are associated with with Religious Kibbutz Movement and the Tzohar rabbis' organization.
The main obstacle to the initiative will be the Rabbinate's refusal to recognize their conversions, which will prevent the converts from registering for marriage later on. Among the 45 is at least one municipal rabbi who has promised to enable converts in his jurisdiction to register at his city's Religious Council.
The existence of non-Rabbinate Orthodox converts is likely to ignite a struggle on the part of the national-religious public, much of which has already severed its connections to the Rabbinate, and could end up in the High Court of Justice.
One of the rabbis involved in the new initiative is Rabbi Benjamin Lau of Jerusalem's Ramban Synagogue. "I said that not only am I willing to take part in it, but also that I would house a rabbinical court in our synagogue," Lau said. He said that some members of his congregation served as rabbis and rabbinical judges in the United States and have experience with conversion.
"I think there will be no alternative, the Rabbinate is undergoing a process of dissolution. We saw it with the issues of marriage, kashrut and shmita, and conversion is the core of the matter. One of our roles as rabbis is to serve the public and I see this issue as fulfilling our function," Lau said.
Despite several cabinet rulings calling for the institution of an accelerated conversion process to expedite the integration into Israeli society of non-Jewish immigrants, only 2,000 people are converted each year on average. The Joint Conversion Institute was created about 10 years ago, in the wake of a government committee's recommendations, as a combined Orthodox, Conservative and Reform institution for teaching prospective converts. Conversion itself remained in the hands of special conversion courts, whose judges were appointed by the Rabbinate, which also set the conditions for conversion. Most of the judges are under the influence of the Haredi Council of Torah Sages, which opposes large-scale conversion and requires converts, as well as their children and families, to adopt an observant lifestyle.
In many cases these demands delay conversion, even for candidates who have studied for years in preparation for conversion. The strict image of these courts has scared away many would-be converts. According to studies carried out by the army's conversion program, Nativ, about 40 percent of non-Jewish immigrants expressed an interest before they immigrated in converting, while after a one year in Israel the number dropped by at least 20 percent.
Three and a half years ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the creation of a state conversion program that would facilitate the process, but the new arrangement did not change the basic stance of the religious judges. In many communities, the local religious councils and the local rabbis refuse to recognize the conversion certificates presented by immigrants when they come to register for marriage.
Two months ago an interministerial committee headed by Absorption Ministry Director General Erez Halfon submitted a comprehensive report on the issue. It recommended, among other things, appointing to the conversion courts 40 volunteer judges who would not be beholden to the Haredi rabbis and would introduce a willingness to help the converts in their desire to join the Jewish people instead of finding reasons to prevent their conversion. It also called for giving Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar full authority over conversion issues. Amar opposes the idea of the volunteer judges, on the grounds that they will not be rabbis vetted by him and operating in accordance with his directives. Justice Ministry officials, meanwhile, argue that volunteers cannot hold official judicial positions.
Olmert has not yet approved the committee?s recommendations. The heads of the Joint Conversion Institute believe the volunteer initiative will not be implemented. Ish-Shalom refused to comment on the issue, but sources in his institute said that if the problem is not solved during a meeting scheduled for next Tuesday in the Prime Minister's Office, the plan for independent conversion courts will go ahead.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This may be the ultimate self-hating Jew

Last update - 11:44 17/10/2007    
It seems there is no end to the perversity of the human psyche.
The story is below.
Ami Isseroff
By Uri Blau, Haaretz Correspondent
A right-wing Jewish extremist has been disseminating calls for the assassination of leftists and Ashkenazim on Internet sites in Israel and abroad.
One film clip posted on YouTube, for instance, declares: "You are about to view a handful of leftist Ashkenazim that Hitler and Eichmann did not manage to incinerate. Before we begin, please remember: 90 percent of the moderate left are Ashkenazim!! 100 percent of the extreme left are Ashkenazim!!"
Next comes a picture of President Shimon Peres with the caption: "The murderer!" It is followed by pictures of Benjamin Netanyahu, Yossi Beilin and other politicians.  Advertisement

The clip concludes: "Now, after you have seen these unclean Ashkenazim, how degraded the Ashkenazi race is, and what a pity it is that Hitler and Eichmann did not finish off the Ashkenazim, I ask of you: Search for information on Google about Stiven Malik; there 'the document' awaits you."
The document in question is also full of incitement to violence: "If only we, too, could finish what Hitler began by destroying all the Ashkenazim, the descendants of the Jews who betrayed Germany."
Supportive comments have been posted on the Stiven Malik forum on the Israeli portal 2all; the forum has received thousands of visitors in recent month. Malik's anti-Ashkenazi incitement can also be found on the Israeli portals Tapuz and and on sites such as
A Haaretz investigation has concluded that "Malik" is a fictitious name used by a right-wing extremist who was once affiliated with Baruch Marzel's Jewish Front party, but was later expelled from it.
After Haaretz approached the relevant Israeli portals, some of Malik's writings were removed. Tapuz said it had given the material to the police, and Peres's office said it had given it to the Shin Bet security service. YouTube had not responded by press time.

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Syria denies hit to nuclear facility - 'such facilities do not exist in Syria'

That was pretty quick: Headline: Syria denies admission of nuke program

Syria denied on Wednesday reports that its representatives to the United Nations said that a nuclear facility was hit last month by Israeli warplanes, and added that "such facilities do not exist in Syria," state-run news agency said.

Not any more they don't.

Ami Isseroff

Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST  Oct. 17, 2007


Syria denied on Wednesday reports that its representatives to the United Nations said that a nuclear facility was hit last month by Israeli warplanes, and added that "such facilities do not exist in Syria," state-run news agency said.

The Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, quoting a foreign ministry source, said that Syria had made it clear in the past that there are no such facilities in Syria.

On Tuesday, a UN press release sent after a meeting of the First Committee, Disarmament and International Security, in New York quoted Syria's UN ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari, as saying that a nuclear facility was hit.

"Moreover, Israel was the fourth largest exporter of weapons of mass destruction and a violator of other nations' airspace, and it had taken action against nuclear facilities, including the 6 July attack in Syria," the release quoted al-Jaafari as saying. The date given by the release was wrong since the raid occurred two months later.

On Sept. 6, Israeli warplanes carried out an air strike in northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey. The target remains unknown but widespread reports say it may have been a nascent nuclear facility, a claim Syria has denied.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said earlier this month that the target was an "unused military building."

The Syrian news agency on Wednesday said the press release misquoted the Syrian diplomat.

"A Foreign Ministry official source denies reports by some media organizations that the Syrian ambassador in New York, Bashar al-Jaafari, said Israel carried a raid on a nuclear facility," SANA said.

"Such facilities do not exist in Syria and this is what Syria has already explicitly clarified," SANA said.

A transcript of the meeting in New York was not immediately available.

Israeli radio stations, citing unidentified Israeli diplomats, earlier Wednesday had quoted the Syrians as telling the UN meeting that a nuclear target had been struck. However, the Israeli radio reports did not say whether the Israeli diplomats had attended the session or merely had read the UN press release on the meeting.

The UN in New York could not immediately be reached for comment on whether its press release had accurately quoted the Syrian official.

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Israeli bombing in Syria: Somebody admitted something, maybe

Note that it says that according to Israel, Syria has confirmed it, but that Israel has officially confirmed nothing.
Bashar Assad had said that Israel bombed an "unused military building" in the raid. A different Syrian official had said it was an agricultural station. Well anyhow it is true that whatever it was, they won't be using it any more for a while.
Ami Isseroff
Israel: Syria confirms target of IAF strike was a nuclear facility
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service Last update -
11:36 17/10/2007

Syria has confirmed that the target of an IAF raid deep within its borders last month was a nuclear facility, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said Wednesday.

The officials quoted remarks by Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jafari to a meeting of a UN disarmament and arms control committee, as reported by Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General for Strategic Affairs Miriam Ziv, who took part in the meeting.

In her Tuesday night report to Jerusalem, Ziv quoted Jafari as telling the committee: "Israel is the fourth largest exporter of arms in the world, and is violating the airspace of other countries."

"Israel has attacked nuclear installations in the region, including the attack of the sixth of July in Syria," Jafari continued, in an apparent error as to the date of the September 6 air strike.

In an official response, the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the statements, but declined further comment.

If accurate, it would be the first such admission by Damascus, which has denied widespread reports that evidence of nuclear weapons research sparked the September 6 Israeli air strike in northern Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad has maintained that Israel bombed an "unused military building" in the raid.

The report follows a Saturday New York Times account, which said that the attack targeted a partially built nuclear reactor that was years away from completion.

Israeli officials have been largely silent about the affair. The military only recently relaxed censorship to allow Israel-based journalists to report that Israeli aircraft attacked a military target deep inside Syria.

The Times said the nuclear reactor was modeled on one North Korea had used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel. North Korea has denied involvement in any such activities in Syria.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Israel and Palestinians: Tourism and peace

This announcement is a sign that at least breezes of peace are blowing, if not winds. Come and visit - it is always interesting here.
Israel Ministry  Of Tourism 16 October 2007

Israel Minister Of Tourism Aharonovitch And Palestinian Minister Of Tourism And Antiquities Daibes Call On Tourists And Pilgrims From The World Over To Visit Israel And The Palestinian Authority.

After a protracted period during which joint activities between the ministries did not take place, the two ministers met for the first time in order to discuss ways to advance joint tourist endeavors between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In the course of the meeting the two sides concurred that the advancement of tourism to this region is of mutual interest and the joint activities should be expanded between the ministries to include periodic meetings between the ministers. It was decided to renew the activities of the Joint Committee on Tourism, which ceased with the entrance of Hamas to the Palestinian Authority governing body.

Minister Aharonovitch stressed that peace and the security of tourists and citizens are to be foremost priorities in steps undertaken to encourage and develop tourism to this area.

Minister Aharonovitch noted that he will continue to assist Palestinian tourism service providers to advance their commercial activity. The Ministry recently arranged for the issue of Israel entrance permits to 35 Palestinian tourism businessmen and has authorized 42 Palestinian tour guides to guide within Israel. The Israel Minister of Tourism informed Minister Daibes that he is extending the validity of the permits which would otherwise expire at the end of November 2007.

The Israel Ministry of Tourism, which views with utmost importance the efficient operation of the crossing between Israel and the territories of the Palestinian Authority, has established an office at the Bethlehem gateway, which deals with the passage of Palestinian and East Jerusalem tourism service providers and tour groups and tourists. Shortly, the Israel Minister of Tourism will conduct a tour of the Bethlehem crossing/checkpoint to assess the possibility of operating a special lane designated for the passage of tourists only.

Within the next several weeks the joint committee will renew its activities to advance various tourism subjects.

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One Million Voices: Middle East peace and its enemies

An op-ed about the peace virus captures much of the tragic reality of the current "peace" negotiations and has a correct prognosis in many ways. However, being a worshipper in a particular temple of received opinion, the author, Gadi Baltiansky, makes assumptions that are not in evidence.

He writes:

If the summit succeeds, the historical turning point shall come – if the principles of a final-status agreement are formulated, and if negotiations are launched on the details of the core issues. Yet it is very possible that the skeptics and cynics are right. The deal won't be reached and the summit will fail. However, even at such case, we could see a historical turning point --- for the worst.

Even were a deal to be reached, there is no way that Mahmoud Abbas would be able to keep his part of the bargain, as he doesn't control the Palestinian "street" and shows no will to do so.

The peace talks and the peace conference are supposed to be his party and the party of the Fatah, but Abbas can't seem to raise support for them even in the West Bank. They would grant greater legitimacy to the government of Mahmoud Abbas as opposed to his Hamas rivals. On October 18, there was to be a major peace event. It was planned before anyone knew of the November summit, perhaps before The United States policy makers Bush thought of the idea, but its timing was fortuitous. It required months of preparation. The One Million Voices group was to hold simultaneous concerts in Jericho, Tel Aviv and numerous other cities as a public demonstration of the will for peace. Attendees would be called on to sign a declaration demanding of both governments that they negotiate sincerely for peace. The declaration takes no position at all regarding the outcome of the negotiations or the nature of the final status agreement to be negotiated. You can read it and sign it at the One Million Voices Web site. Threats by Palestinian terrorist groups and their groupies against the performers and organizers of the event first caused cancellation of the Jericho event (See Drowning out One Million Voices: The enemies of peace
) and now have caused cancellation of all the events. Danny Lubetzky's One Voice Movement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, often a target of right wing Zionist extremists, was behind the event. The event was cancelled, but the campaign to gather grass roots support for peace in Israel and among Palestinians goes on.

A coalition of terror groupies and peace thugs, ranging from Abunimah and his Electronic Intifada to PACBI - Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to Neta Golan and ISM, smeared the One Million Voices campaign as a Zionist plot to perpetuate "apartheid" - meaning a real two state solution. The event organizers decided that there is no point in holding such events if they are not held both in Israel and Palestine. The terror camp will hold their own event, called "Another voice." At least for that one night, their "voice" will not be the boom of rockets and suicide bombers, but its meaning is the same.

There are many lessons to be learned, for those who would learn. The first is that Abu Mazen is not in control of the West Bank. He is titular head of a lawless society and cannot deliver on any promises of peace, not even in this case, where the event in question was so obviously advantageous to him.

A second lesson is that the political will for peace is absent on the Palestinian side. Baltiansky wrote:

The peace-loving Palestinians – and this is the majority on their side, will argue they have no partner on the Israeli side, and the only horizon they will see is the one of the fence, roadblock, and settlement.
The peace-loving Palestinians were called upon to stand up and be counted. The One Million Voices event was a way of mobilizing "people power" for peace on both sides. But the Palestinian people sat down and shut up instead - both the ordinary people and their leaders. From a BBC article about the canellation of the event we learn:

Leading Palestinians who initially supported the event have since distanced themselves from it.

These Palestinian leaders are not stupid. They understood which way the winds are blowing and what is in the interests of their longevity.
"WARNING: The surgeon general of Palestine has determined that supporting peace is hazardous to your health."

As long as Palestinian society is ruled by bandits -- latter day incarnations of Hajj Amin al Husseini and his gangs and various do-it yourself abu-Gilda's (an infamous Palestinian Arab bandit) -- there is no chance for peace, because there is no political organization that can support peace. The only "peace" conditions acceptable to the peace thugs are conditions that would result in destruction of Israel. They have never been interested in anything else. They make it clear that the "occupation" that has to end is the one that began in 1948, and the "aparheid" that has to end is the "aparheid" that prevents millions of Arabs from coming to live in Israel and destroying Jewish self-determination.

As for US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, she is apparently clueless about the Middle East. She told reporters:

"Frankly it is time for the establishment of a Palestinian state," Ms Rice told reporters in a news conference which she held with the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
If she is serious, then surely she is mad. Mahmoud Abbas cannot control his own back yard in Jericho or Nablus without the help of IDF security. What sort of state could this be? And what sort of peace could it make with Israel, if the Palestinian dark side won't even allow a concert that supports peace negotiations?

As for the Israelis, there will surely be no cause for joy if and when the conference is disastrous failure. Every Israeli must ask themselves if they have done their utmost to ensure the success of these efforts, even if the chances are slim. If it fails, it must not be our fault.

Those who urge Israel not to make "concessions" or to shun the conference are not friends of Zionism and are not promoting the welfare of Israel. We must understand that the peace thugs -- the Jeff Halpers and Neta Golans, the ISM and the Electronic Intifadah and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel are right from their point of view. Peace is a ZIonist plot, that should be opposed by all right-thinking followers of CODOH and Stormfront and other such organizations obsessed with the Jews. What will be on the table at the November conference is the heart of Zionism. The heart of Zionism is not some real estate in the West Bank. The heart of Zionism is the recognition by the Arab world and in particular, the Palestinians, of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. The two state solution would recognize the rights of both peoples to be "a free people in their own land" - the 2000 year old Jewish wish of Hatiqva. This would put all the peace thugs out of business once and for all, and that is why they are working overtime to stop it. Anyone who opposes the peace conference is thus an enemy of the Jewish people, as well as an enemy of the Palestinians.

Ami Isseroff

Labels: , ,

Continued (Permanent Link)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Drama dialogue for peace and coexistence

Kibbutzim are still doing some wonderful things and perpetuating the real spirit of Zionism. It is noteworthy that Peace Child Israel has been doing drama dialogue among Arab and Jewish high school students in Israel for quite a number of years. For some reason, it rarely merits this much attention.

Ami Isseroff


The great equalizer (drama for dialogue and peace)

LEE COHEN, Israel21C , THE JERUSALEM POST  Oct. 11, 2007


'Putting the children on stage together...creates a safe forum where they can interact and break down the barriers between them.' - Edna Calo Livne

The outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000 had a profound effect on Dr. Edna Calo Livne. An Italian immigrant who married a veteran kibbutznik from Kibbutz Sasa in northern Israel, Calo Livne couldn't simply stand on the sidelines as the drama played itself out on national television.

Instead, she took action, launching the Beresheet Lashalom Foundation dedicated to promoting dialogue between diverse groups in the region via one of the most potent channels of communication - the stage. The Arcobaleno-Rainbow Theater comprises young Arabs, Jews, Druze, and Circassian Israelis from different communities in the Galilee. The inspiration for the group came from Calo Livne's doctoral thesis on the plays of Pirandello as a lever for social change.

"The youth from these seemingly opposed cultures can unite around the positive interactions of theater and can put tbhe horrors they have faced into a perspective that fosters understanding and mutual respect," she explains.

"Putting the children on stage together gives them the opportunity to get to know one another as people, creating a safe forum where they can interact and break down the barriers between them," adds Calo Livne, who was a leader of the youth Zionist Movement Hashomer Hatzair and a master of Education in integrating the arts in education.

According to an 18-year-old Muslim performer from the village of Jish, the theater's performance of Beresheet ("In the beginning"), is "a hymn for peace. I can't accept terrorism. I'm glad that I can show, through our performance, that coexistence between Jews and Arabs is possible. We show this with our living presence."

Beresheet begins with all the children wearing masks. As the play continues, all but two of the children remove their masks.

"It's a metaphor for what we are trying to achieve," says Calo Livne. "Through the theater, as with our other activities, we want to get beyond preconceptions and prejudice and get to know the person beneath the mask."

The troupe traveled to northern Italy during the Succot holiday to perform Beresheet in a piazza in front of 100,000 people, as part of an annual bread festival taking place.

"The aim was to create, to collaborate, and to teach their children that good can always prevail," explains Calo Livne. "It's about showing them what they have in common, not what makes them different. Their performances are a dance of hope for freedom."

The focus on creating common understanding is perhaps best summed up by a member of the theater group, 16-year-old Tamar Ben Lulu, from Safed: "With all our differences, in this theater I feel that we are all equal. It's not important in which God we believe, or where we live because we are all human beings. The strong connection between us is convincing me more and more of the fact that it's possible that a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim can walk hand in hand, that religious and secular can speak without offending each other."

WITH ITS focus primarily in Italy and other parts of Europe, the Foundation's message of peace also began reaching a wider audience in Israel via the All for Peace radio station, which has been simultaneously broadcasting from Jerusalem and Ramallah since January 2006.

The station invited the foundation to produce a pilot program in which young people reach out to other youth. For the actors of the Rainbow-Arcobaleno Theater it was a whole new challenge, because now they had to express themselves in words instead of the body language which characterizes their performances.

Their broadcasts have been aired for the last year and a half, and have included segments with young Jewish and Arab rappers, and interviews with a group of young Israeli and Arab peace activists.

"Beresheet LaShalom is all about educating and encouraging a positive spirit, helping children as well as adults to confront the difficulties they face," says Calo Livne, who runs the organization with her husband Yehuda, an educator with 25 years of experience.

Yehuda coaches a soccer team comprised of youth from the Galilee. They recently participated in an international soccer tournament in Udine, Italy for the second time. The event, entitled "Let's Get to Know Each Other," brings children from different cultural backgrounds together through sports. Teams from 10 countries took part in this international event.

When they first founded the organization, the Calo Livnes were focused on helping victims of terror, and they still devote a good portion of their attention in that direction. In August, they took 20 teenagers from the Galilee, Sderot, and Lebanon (children whose parents served in the South Lebanon army and who moved here after Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon) on an eight-day trip to Italy.

The children from Sderot, under daily rocket fire from terrorists in the Gaza Strip, have been deeply affected by the ongoing barrage on their city. "They feel like they have been deserted. It's hard for them to trust," relates Calo Livne. "In the beginning, the children were like ice. It took time until they 'melted'."

They experienced a vastly different reality as they explored the countryside, going sightseeing in Rome, Pompeii, Amalfi, and more. The visit focused on enhancing understanding and knowledge of the area and each other including swimming, playing games, and partaking in music, dance, theater, and art activities. During their stay, the children were also able to interact with the locals, learning the art of parading with medieval flags and riding on horses pulling a variety of carriages.

Through their various efforts, particularly the theater group, Beresheet Lashalom has begun to make an impact in Europe. Well known throughout Italy as the recipient of prestigious peace prizes, Beresheet is intent on showing the human faces and hearts of Israelis of all cultures and religions. According to Calo Livne, the performances and messages leave audiences hopeful, and have helped to change the image of Israel in Italy.

"During this difficult period in world history, there is a will to create a positive message, capable of inspiring hope and fulfilling the dreams of those who knew war, but now aspire to peace."

(Israel21C/ /servlet/Satellite?cid=1191257277890&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull


Continued (Permanent Link)

INSS on United States - Turkey relations

It seems that the solution to the Kurdish/Turkish/US problem is that the US would have to do some real elbow bending on both sides. The Kurds cannot continue conducting terror activities in Turkey. The Turkish government has to give its own Kurdish minority some autonomy at least. Otherwise, we know how the story must end.

Regarding the Armenian genocide issue, the House of Representatives and the Armenians must understand that it is impossible and unwise to legislate history. It would be much more to the point to get Turkey to allow free research and discussion of the genocide issue, and to release all the relevant documentation. A meaningful result would be for Turkey to recognize that the genocide took place. At present there is only a meaningless duel between obnoxious Turkish denials and attempts to shut people up, and futile resolutions that only serve to annoy the Turks. The whole world knows that the Turks killed Armenians and that the authorities did it purposefully. Perhaps the exact number of people murdered is doubtful and can be a subject of debate, but then we are only discussing the extent of the crime.
The article makes one error that is persistent and widespread:
Turkish policy indicates that while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Gül are acting to promote domestic reforms that run counter to the Kemalist legacy (e.g., abolishing the ban on the wearing of religiously-inspired headscarves in universities),
Mustapha Kemal Ataturk's wife wore a headscarf, and the bans on headscarfs are apparently an extension of the Kemalist legacy, not a continuation.

Ami Isseroff

October 14, 2007                                                                      No. 31
Are the U.S. and Turkey on a Collision Course?
Gallia Lindenstrauss
Turkish-American relations currently face two significant challenges.  One has to do with the Turkish inclination to enter northern Iraq in order to deal with Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) fighters operating there.  The other is connected with an upcoming U.S. House of Representatives vote on a resolution to recognize as genocide the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.  Both challenges touch on very sensitive issues for the Turks, who are convinced that the U.S. is insufficiently attentive to their needs and demands. 

         The Turks have threatened to intervene in northern Iraq on several occasions since the fall of Saddam Hussein but they now appear more determined than ever to do so.  In addition to the existing massive buildup near the border, the government has now decided to ask for parliamentary approval to send forces into Iraq. This decision follows the killing of 30 soldiers and civilians by the PKK in the last two weeks, in what are considered unusually severe actions by the PKK.  According to the Turks, the U.S. has consistently failed to act against PKK fighters hiding in the area of Kandil in northern Iraq and does nothing to prevent attacks on Turkey from that region.

            The approval of the resolution by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on October 10 prompted severe condemnation by Turkish leaders and led Turkey to summon its ambassador in the U.S to Ankara for consultations.   President Abdullah Gül accused American politicians of sacrificing big issues for petty games of domestic politics.  Given the Democrat majority in the House, it was expected that the resolution would be approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee despite strong opposition by the Administration.  Nevertheless, its passage has added to Turkish frustration at the state of relations with the U.S., and the expected majority for the resolution in the full House in November promises to contribute to further tensions in relations between the two countries.

            At first glance, there is no substantive connection between the recognition of the Armenian genocide and the situation in northern Iraq.  However, the action by the Foreign Affairs Committee and the expectation of full House approval in November has strengthened the perception of the Turks that they have less to lose in terms of Turkish-U.S. relations if they do act in Iraq.  Given that Turkey is more determined to do so and less likely to heed to American warnings not to intervene, it is possible that the U.S. will decide to minimize the negative consequences of Turkish intervention by providing at least partial cooperation.  The publication of reports about secret plans for such cooperation suggests that the possibility has already been extensively discussed by the two sides, notwithstanding American concerns about stability in the Kurdish-controlled autonomous area in the north of Iraq and about a hostile reaction on the part of the Kurds, who have been the most loyal American allies in Iraq.  Indeed, these concerns suggest that if the Turks do intervene, the Americans may also have to undertake more aggressive actions.  Given American failures in Iraq up till now, it is doubtful whether the Administration can permit another failure in the form of unilateral Turkish intervention seemingly in defiance of the U.S.

            Such intervention would have negative consequences that could by neutralized, at least with respect to Turkish-U.S. relations, if the Americans actually cooperated.  By contrast, Turkey is unwilling to compromise on the Armenian genocide issue and the Administration cannot impose its will on Congress.  It is therefore difficult to see how the damage to bilateral relations of the likely forthcoming Congressional resolution can be limited.

            Turkish policy indicates that while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Gül are acting to promote domestic reforms that run counter to the Kemalist legacy (e.g., abolishing the ban on the wearing of religiously-inspired headscarves in universities), in foreign affairs they act in conformity with the hard-line Turkish tradition.  That is reflected in the intention to intervene militarily in northern Iraq and in the ongoing campaign to confront anyone supporting the Armenian position on the issue of genocide.  It is true, of course, that close ties with the United States are also a traditionally important component of Turkish foreign policy, but it is increasingly difficult today for Turks to reconcile the contradiction between their interests and those of the U.S.  Since the American invasion of Iraq, Turkish public opinion has also become more and more anti-American, and that influences decision makers to adopt uncompromising positions regarding the Kurdish issue and ignore American attitudes.

Although Turkish-American relations appear to be headed toward a crisis, both sides remain aware of the importance of those ties and therefore try to deal with the challenges they face.  For example, the Americans are concerned that Turkey might block a main supply line to Iraq across the Turkish-Iraqi border or prevent U.S. aircraft from operating out of Inçirlik air base.  And while the Turks could act unilaterally in Iraq, cooperating with the United States might enhance international legitimacy for such an action and soften the negative consequences for Turkey's (already poor) chances of being accepted into the European Union; indeed, Turkey would probably prefer that the U.S. itself act aggressively against the PKK so that Turkey would not have to.  But despite the common desire not to harm bilateral strategic relations, there is a clash between Turkish and American interests that may very well further convulse the already complicated reality in Iraq.

Continued (Permanent Link)

Another Voice for terror: ISM trying to drown out OneVoice

"All they are saying, is give terrror a chance." The Palestinian terror groupie organization ISM, with Neta Golan, George Rishmawi and others, has at last shown its hand. Their Palsolidarity Web site carries a cynical announcement that "grass roots activism" caused the cancellation of the One Million Voices concert in Jericho, and that they will instead, (unhindered presumably) hold an "alternative" concert.
ISM is a terrorist-advocate group masquerading as proponents of non-violence. At last however, we have caught them out. The One Million Voices event was not cancelled because of "grass roots activism" but because of terror threats. ISM calls terror threats "grass roots activism" - 9-11 was a big "grass roots activity for them.
ISM are opposed to One Million Voices because they are opposed to any meaningful two state solution. Any solution that allows Israel to be a state of the Jewish People will be branded as "apartheid."
Ami Isseroff

Continued (Permanent Link)

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