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Saturday, September 27, 2008
According to Reform Party Syria, the bombing in Syria was an accident and not an actual terror attack. It is possible however, that the bombing really targetted the Palestinian branch of the Syrian Mukhabarat, which is not well beloved of Palestinians for obvious reasons.
Reform Party of Syria
Freedom - Democracy - Peace
Car Bombing in Damascus Was an Accident
September 27, 2008 //RPS Staff// - As information seeps from the effects of today's bombing in Damascus, RPS has learned that the cause of the explosion was a small pick-up truck exiting from the garage of the Palestine branch located about 2kms from the sacred shrine of Sit Zaynab on al-Muthalak al-Jounoubi Road.
The Palestine Branch of the Syrian Mukhabarat where the explosion occurred is headed by none other than Gen. Suleiman Dayoub, a follower of Assef Shawkat who was head of the Military Intelligence in Syria. The Military Intelligence is responsible for rigging suicide cars later to be sent to Iraq or Lebanon.
RPS also learned that most of those killed are not civilians, as has been portrayed by the Syrian authorities, but rather internal security men who were in proximity of the explosion.
The target in question is a low-level, low-security target for any attempt by terrorists to take action against. Many more important and less guarded targets exist inside Syria that would have made a larger impact, if attacked, than a garage depot for a security apparatus. This leads RPS to question the veracity of the Syrian authorities when they claim the bombing was an act of terror against the Syrian regime.
© Copyrights Reform Party of Syria (Project Syria, Inc.) 2001-2008 | All Rights Reserved
Paul McCartney's appearance in Israel despite terror threats is hailed by Tunisian Ftouh Souhail as a triumph of music over terrorism.
The concert given by McCartney in Israel is certain to be inscribed in history. In the weeks since his announcement of his arrival in Israel, McCartney was threatened with being the target of a suicide attack, in order to force him to abandon the project.
Omar Bakri, an Islamist preacher exiled to Lebanon, confirmed that McCartney's decision to take part in festivities honoring Israel's sixtieth anniversary turned him into an enemy of all Muslims. According to some sources, the singer was shocked, but refused to back down See Daily express: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/61355/We-ll-kill-Sir-Paul-if-he-plays-Israel.
McCartney did well to refuse to be influenced by these threats. McCartney is a fortuitously gifted artist, but he is also extremely courageous.
A man of courage and principles who stands firm .... That is so rare in the West! Paul McCartney reassured his fans in the Jewish state that he would give the concert as scheduled in Tel Aviv: this is a promise kept.
The campaign to delegitimize Israel and the pressure on the former Beatle to cancel his concert was quite strong. Mr. McCartney deserves to be lauded for his courage. "I was approached by various groups and political bodies who asked me not to come here," he told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. "I refused."
Citizen of the world
Note: The item below was received by e-mail. The English translation is copyright 2008 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel.com.
La musique triomphe sur le terrorisme
Par Ftouh Souhail
Le concert événement de la légende vivante des Beatles, qui vient de s'achever à Tel Aviv ce jeudi 25 septembre est voué à rester dans l'histoire. Depuis des semaines de l'annonce de sa venue en Israël Paul McCartney a été menacé d'être la cible d'un attentat-suicide à moins qu'il abandonne son projet de concert en Israël.
Omar Bakri [ndlr : prédicateur islamiste de Londres, exilé au Liban] a affirmé que la décision du chanteur de prendre part aux festivités du 60e anniversaire faisait de lui un ennemi pour tous les musulmans. Selon certaines sources, le chanteur a été choqué, mais a refusé de se laisser intimider. Voir le (Daily Express) :
Paul McCartney a fait très bien de ne pas se laisser influencer par les menaces. C'est en Israël que l'on se sent le plus en sécurité. Paul Mac Cartney est un artiste génialement doué mais aussi extrêmement courageux.
Un homme de courage et de principes qui se tient debout.... C'est tellement rare en Occident ! Paul McCartney a rassuré ses fans de l'Etat juif qu'il donnerait le concert prévu à Tel-Aviv : voilà une promesse tenue.
La campagne visant à délégitimer Israël et la pression sur l'ex-Beatle pour qu'il annule son concert était si forte. M. McCartney mérite des applaudissements pour son courage. « J'ai été approché par différents groupes et organes politiques qui m'ont demandé de ne pas venir ici », a-t-il dit au quotidien israélien Yedioth Ahronoth. « J'ai refusé ».
Le prêcheur de haine Omar Bakri avait considéré que « Paul McCartney est l'ennemi de tous les musulmans » Le concert de l'ex-Beatle a attiré l'ire d'anti-sionistes parce qu'il était donné durant les célébrations entourant le 60e anniversaire de l'Etat juif.
L'opinion selon laquelle il n'y a pas matière à célébrer la renaissance d'Israël, qui gagné l'ensemble des médias importants de gauche et les universités, n'a pas influencé la décision de McCartney de se rendre en Israël.
Heureusement, d'ailleurs que M. McCartney ne semble pas s'informer auprès de
Une accusation commune veut qu'Israël soit un État d'apartheid. En vérité, M. McCartney a donné son concert dans le seul pays au Moyen-Orient où des Juifs, des chrétiens et des musulmans, des hommes et des femmes, peuvent se retrouver ensemble en toute liberté pour écouter de la musique.
Ftouh Souhail, Tunis
Citoyen du Monde
According to the headline, 17 were killed. According to the text, "at least 14 were injured." Evidently the bomb was intended for the security instillation at the airport and misfired.
Vehicle rigged with 200 kg of explosives explodes near airport, at intersection leading to shrine popular with Shi'ite pilgrims from Iran, Lebanon; circumstances still unclear
Published: 09.27.08, 10:48 / Israel News
17 people were killed Saturday morning when a car bomb exploded near a security installation on the airport road in Damascus. The blast occurred at an intersection leading to the Sit Zeinab shrine, popular with Shi'ite pilgrims from Iran and Lebanon.
According to television reports, the car was rigged with at least 200 kg of explosives, and at least 14 people were injured. The reports also said that "investigations by the Terrorism Combating Unit are under way to identify the attackers."
They added that Syrian security forces have closed off the perimeter, and are currently working to discern the circumstances of the blast.
Witnesses said some industrial buildings about 100 meters away had shattered windows and the remains of the destroyed car were strewn on the highway.
In contrast to similar cases that took place in the country, the Syrian media has been broadcasting updated reports on the explosion and the number of the resulting casualties.
Syria has been rocked by a series of assassinations in the past months, most recently that of Hisham el-Badni, secretary to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas' political leader.
According to sources affiliated with the Syrian opposition el-Badni, who resides in Damascus, was dragged from his car in the middle of the day and shot dead.
The incident was first made public by the Reform Party of Syria, an opposition group whose members operate mostly in the United States.
The party claimed the assassination was a message from the Syrian government to Hamas, to warn the group against its continuing cooperation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Nasrallah: Palestine belongs to Palestinians from sea to river
Speaking in Beirut in honor of al-Quds Day, Hizbullah secretary-general says, 'No one has the authority to concede a grain of earth, wall or stone of the holy land'; adds his organization will continue resistance against Israel. 'Today more can be done than ever before,' he notes
Published: 09.26.08, 21:50 / Israel News
No place for Israel in the Middle East? "Jerusalem and Palestine, from the sea to the river, belong to the Palestinian people, the Arabs and the Muslims, and no one has the authority to concede a grain of earth, wall or stone from the holy land," Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said Friday evening.
Speaking in Beirut in honor of al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day, an Iranian-declared observance, Nasrallah added, "Its stones, olives and figs are sacred, and no one has the right to give it up. This land must belong to its owners, and it will return, God willing.
"This day comes to stress a number of primary significations to the Muslims, so that the nation feels the intensity of the humiliation of past decades, when its holy places were occupied by racist Zionist hands.
"This is the greatest humiliation of this nation. The second message is to stress the historic, religious and legitimate responsibility of the Muslim nation towards Jerusalem, Palestine and the Palestinian people."
He warned Israel not to attack Lebanon. "I have always said that the way of the resistance is not a classic war. We are ready to help the resistance of the Palestinian people. But those who attack Lebanon we shall face them.
"(Defense Minister) Ehud Barak spoke in the past about five divisions which would invade Lebanon, and today he talks about eight. Okay, he may have made new calculations. But you should know that your eight divisions will be destroyed on our territory by our fighters. If Israel makes this mistake The enemy and the friend know these things are promises from the Arab victory periods and are not taken from the times of past defeats."
The Hizbullah leader went on to attack the United States and Britain. "We do not deny the influence of the Zionist lobby in the world, but Israel does not control the US. It is an entity created by the British. Israel is the product of the US and Britain aimed at tearing the region apart. It is the arrowhead of this inspiration.
"We understand this. Our holy lands will not be liberated through talks with the West. The way to return the lands and liberate the Palestinian people is through desire, resistance and self-sacrifice in the region the same resistance which succeeded in imposing itself on this entity."
'Weapons from black market to Lebanese army'
Nasrallah also blamed elements in the Arab world for not acting against Israel. "Unfortunately, there were those among the Arabs who took advantage of the conflict within the Palestinian people to wash their hands off the Palestinian issue. If the Arab nation does what is needed, the liberation of Jerusalem will be possible, maybe even soon."
The Hizbullah leader went on to speak about the military armament in Lebanon. "Following the reports in Lebanon that Israel objects to the US equipping the Lebanese army with a number of arm systems, can we maintain the sovereignty of Lebanon and its people this way? Must we really wait for permission from the US and Israel to equip our national army and give it all it needs to carry out its secret missions? This is unthinkable.
"As for the resistance, they were angered by it because it did not need anyone's permission to arm itself, and thus this weapon is one of the reasons for power."
He turned to Lebanon's new unity government: "We need the unity government to make a brave decision that we do not need anyone's permission and we will equip our army. We will establish a special cabinet of ministers, and in this framework the state will purchase weapons, even in the black market, as the resistance does.
"If we wait for the United State's permission, we might receive trucks, weak armored personnel carriers, etc, but we will never get weapons which will allow us to face the Zionist enemy. A national force is not built through an external entity, but through national determination."
'Israel the enemy of Islam'
Nasrallah added that Israel was the enemy of all Islamic states. "Israel is not only the enemy of the Palestinian people, but also of Lebanon, all the Arab people and all the Muslim nations. Israel is a cancerous tumor, as Imam Khomeini said.
"Today, as in the past, we stress that the only way to return the land and overcome the difficulties is through the way of resistance by the Palestinians, the Lebanese and the rest of the region's nations. It's still possible, but today more can be done that ever before."
The Hizbullah leader said the Muslims must achieve their dream, even if it interrupts Israel's vision.
"Today the time of the Zionists' dreams has passed and the time of our dreams has begun. Today we don't just dream, we implement our dreams. After the year 2000 and following the historic victory in southern Lebanon, the al-Aqsa Intifada broke out. It was a historic golden opportunity to realize these hopes. Unfortunately, the entire Islamic nation did not stand by the Palestinians, who were forced to sacrifice victims."
As for dreams, Nasrallah went on to say that "while some people were busy with the internal crisis in Lebanon, there were people in the resistance who did not sleep at night since the end of the war led by the shahid Imad Mugniyah, and they are still working to realize the dream."
Addressing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's resignation, Nasrallah said, "Olmert, although he naturally should have stepped down following the Winograd Commission, remained in his seat thanks to vigorous American involvement.
"The post-war Israel is facing a leadership crisis. One of the most important developments was that Olmert admitted that the Greater Israel dream has come to an end, after (opposition leader Benjamin) Netanyahu admitted in the past that Zionism is facing a crisis.
"Out of all these things, the public's lack of faith in this entity and its future is the most important. Polls released in Israel recently say two-thirds of the public believe they are living in an area where they feel insecure."
Nasrallah spoke during the al-Aqsa Day events, a tradition launched in Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini which calls for "Jerusalem's liberation and is marked on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan.
The Beirut event was attended by representatives of the Lebanese president and army commander, the parliament speaker, diplomats and other supporters. It was held in the Sayyed Al-Shuhada Mosque, Hizbullah's main mosque in the Dahiya quarter.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Bakri has the nerve to call his film "art" - It is certainly a work of fiction, artfully done.
IDF seeks libel lawsuit against 'Jenin, Jenin' filmmakers
By Yuval Azoulay and Nirit Anderman, Haaretz Correspondents
The military advocate general, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit, has asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to order the opening of legal proceedings against actor and director Mohammed Bakri, who made the film "Jenin, Jenin." Mandelblit wants Mazuz to investigate a suspicion of libel on the part of Bakri, whose film critically depicts the Israel Defense Forces' Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and attributes war crimes to IDF soldiers.
Bakri responded on Wednesday with utter surprise. "I don't understand what they want from my life," he told Haaretz.
In April, 2002, in the wake of the IDF invasion of the Jenin refugee camp, Bakri made his documentary. Initially the film was banned from commercial screening in Israel because of claims that it included lies and distortions intended to present the IDF in a negative light, but the High Court of Justice approved its screening following a petition from Bakri.
Last June, a civil suit was concluded in which five reserve soldiers sued Bakri for libel on the grounds that the film harmed their reputation, and demanded compensation of more than NIS 2 million. The Petah Tikva District Court rejected the suit, ruling that indeed there is a degree of libel against IDF soldiers in Bakri's film, but since this is directed at an entire group, individuals in that group do not have the right to file suit. The court further ruled that without this barrier, Bakri would be considered as having committed libel because he did not release the movie in all innocence, and failed to prove that what was said in the film was wholly true.
Representatives of the front-line soldiers who participated in the IDF
operation in Jenin and representatives of bereaved families applied recently to the military authorities, asking for their help in the battle against the film, prompting Mandelblit's request that the attorney general initiates criminal proceedings against Bakri.
Bakri, who is currently in Spain as a guest of the San Sebastian Film
Festival, sharply attacked the military advocate general, saying: "It is a shame and a disgrace for the people of Israel that there is a military advocate general like him. They have no shame this word simply doesn't appear in their lexicon. I'm the one who ends up hurt here, and no one else. I should sue this state."
According to Bakri, "This is the difference between me and the military advocate general: He is busy with murdering people and I am busy with art."
As we might expect, Israel has been conducting a secret war against the Iranian nuclear development project. There's less to this story than meets the eye, for obvious reasons.
Last update - 07:36 26/09/2008
Mossad chief fights Iran nuclear program his own way
By Aluf Benn
Every Thursday, Mossad chief Meir Dagan and a few of his staff members report to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office in the old Defense Ministry building in the Kirya in Tel Aviv, to present an operation for approval or report on one that has taken place. Olmert loves these moments more than any others in his job. He wants to know the details, to see the faces of the soldiers before the operation. He usually approves Dagan's proposals.
Over the past two years Dagan has become the most important security official close to the prime minister. His evaluations on the Second Lebanon War and the Mossad's cumulative achievements vis-a-vis Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have strengthened his status and led Olmert to approve more and more daring missions.
During Sunday's cabinet meeting, in which Olmert announced his resignation, he said: "I believe the processes the government of Israel has enacted under my leadership in various areas, those that can be told and those that cannot, will yet receive their proper place in the history of the State of Israel."
Olmert did not go into detail, but over the past year, in September 2007 the nuclear facility Syria was building was bombed; Hezbollah attributes to Israel the assassination of a senior leader, Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus in February; the foreign press reported the blowing up of a chemical weapons factory in Syria, in which dozens of Iranian and Syrian technicians were killed; an Iranian Revolutionary Guards convoy delivering weapons to Hezbollah was blown up near Tehran. No one claimed responsibility for these actions.
In June, Olmert announced to the cabinet that Dagan's tenure would be extended by another, seventh year, telling the ministers "there is no doubt that the work of the Mossad has taken off" thanks to Dagan.
The Mossad's main thrust under Dagan has been to thwart Iran's nuclear plans. According to several sources, Israel managed by diplomatic pressure to obtain a delay of as much as a decade in Iran's attaining nuclear capability, even if it has not been stopped.
"We are being accused in the media of exaggerating warnings and ultimatums," sources in the intelligence community have said. "For years we have been saying that Iran is moving toward a nuclear bomb, and it hasn't happened. The reason the evaluation has not come true is because of the pressure brought to bear on Iran."
In the last year of Sharon's term, the defense establishment presented a list of necessary equipment and organizational aspects to confront the Iranian threat. This included sophisticated deterrents and protection of sensitive facilities, with huge price tags. "Forget it," Dagan reportedly said. "Let me deal with Iran my way. I promise to give you deterrents in time."
Over the past year a number of reports of malfunctions have emerged regarding the Iranian nuclear project. Among them: An Iranian general who defected, Ali-Reza Asgari, had been involved in leading his country's contacts with Hezbollah; an Iranian dealer in sophisticated communications equipment was charged with spying for Israel and sentenced to death; his sons, engineers who helped build the Iranian centrifuges, were fielded as double agents for the CIA.
"Thwarting" involves psychological warfare, leaks to the international media and diplomatic moves to embarrass the Iranians and enlist Western countries against it. In one case, the Iranians destroyed a facility near Tehran they were using to develop nuclear weapons, and covered it with a soccer field after its existence was leaked to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Dagan is in charge of this work as part of the mandate he received from Sharon, with the cooperation of the Foreign Ministry and the Atomic Energy Commission (and at certain points the Strategic Affairs Ministry headed by former minister Avigdor Lieberman).
Creativity and daring
Some of those who warn most vociferously against the Iranian threat, including former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh and Defense Ministry security department chief Amos Gilad, are full of praise for Dagan. Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who recommended Dagan's appointment to Sharon, said he restored the Mossad to being "Israel's long operational arm, with the ability to go anywhere and do anything it wanted."
Sneh has called Dagan a man of "exceptional operational imagination and daring."
President Shimon Peres, who knows the Mossad from the day it was born, says Dagan "brought the Mossad back to its days of glory." The army has some criticism, especially Military Intelligence, for what appears to be the unjust reaping of credit by the Mossad for successful operations. But even Dagan's adversaries are said to acknowledge his creativity and daring.
The Mossad's budget and human resources have grown by dozens of percents during Dagan's tenure. He presents his operations in Knesset sub-committee on the secret services, which approves his funding, as if he were the CEO of a cellphone company showing the board how many new subscribers he has enlisted.
The Mossad's work is more complex than ever before. When Europe was the arena and the PLO the adversary, things were easier. The Iranian focus has changed the organization's activity, and stricter supervision at airports and border crossings since 9/11 have made it more difficult to create convincing covers for its operatives.
Dagan has strengthened ties with parallel services in the U.S. in the struggle against Iran and the global jihad. That did not come easily. On Dagan's first visit to Washington as head of the Mossad, he explained to his hosts the need for diplomatic isolations and economic sanctions, and above all, secret operations. The Americans' response was cool.
Last week, CIA chief Michael Hayden had warm words for the role played by an unnamed foreign intelligence agency that he said initially identified a structure at Al-Kibar as a nuclear reactor similar to one in North Korea. He likened the cooperation to "working together on a complex equation over a long period."
Dagan came to the Mossad from the outside six years ago, and found the organization's veterans suspicious of him. News stories from his early years are full of reports of dismissals of senior people and anger among the old-timers. Dagan's predecessor, Ephraim Halevi, was more of a diplomat, who avoided daring operations. Especially after two serious mishaps - the failed assassination of Khaled Meshal in Jordan and an attempt to bug the Iranian Embassy in Cyprus - and in response to the demand to rehabilitate the agency, Halevi began work to thwart the Iranian threat, which Dagan made a major focus.
Sharon knew Dagan from their days together fighting terror in Gaza. Dagan won a medal for jumping on a wanted man and wrestling away a grenade after the man had pulled the pin. The fighters in his unit disguised themselves as Palestinians, booby-trapped grenades belonging to the Popular Front, and gained a reputation in the Israel Defense Forces as merciless assassins.
The big chance
Citizen Dagan is said to love classical music, jeep trips, smoking a pipe and nature. He has been heard to joke about the fact that he is a vegetarian despite his particular operational expertise. He served for a few years as head of the counterterrorism unit in the Prime Minister's Office, and tried his hand as a security consultant.
He stayed in contact with Sharon, and served as his campaign headquarters chief on election day in 2001. After Sharon's election, Dagan was enlisted to head a special body to fight the funding of terrorism, and a year-and-a-half later he was appointed head of the Mossad. Yossi Sarid opposed what he said was an appointment that smacked of the political advancement of a personal associate, but senior Labor party officials Sneh and Ben-Eliezer were in favor of their old friend's appointment.
Sharon was said to appreciate Dagan's operational capabilities, but less so his diplomatic acumen.
Olmert's entry into power was Dagan's big chance. Olmert did not have the military background of his predecessor, and Dagan's expertise could come to the fore. Olmert used to say that nothing preoccupied him more than the Iranian threat.
Dagan's biggest step forward came as a result of his Lebanon experience. The Winograd Committee that investigated the 2006 war cited his evaluations, which were far more accurate than the IDF's. Four months before the war, in a cabinet discussion over Hezbollah's attempts to kidnap soldiers, Dagan and Gilad warned that a conflict that developed would not end without a ground operation. The day Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were abducted, on July 12, 2006, Dagan began to insist that a military response would engender a long conflict, in which the home front would suffer, and an air operation would not be enough to decide the outcome.
Dagan is now at the peak of his power. Premier-designate Tzipi Livni, a former junior officer in the Mossad, receives continual updates from him as foreign minister. But she has no experience of approving special operations. It will be intersting to see if she continues the line of approving Dagan's daring operations, or will step back and sleep on things before making her decisions.
Minister of Justice Daniel Friedmann managed to ram through dangerous proposed legislation that would effectively eliminate constitutional law in Israel, by destroying the balance of power between legislative and judicial branches. Under Friedmann's proposed legislation, the Knesset (parliament) could override any Supreme Court decision by an absolute majority vote of 61 members.
The proposed legislation would appease the demands of right wing legislators who are dissatisfied with court decisions that favor religious freedom and rights for Arab citizens, and restrict the right of security services to use torture and other methods.
Meretz and the Labor Party are trying to use their leverage as potential coalition partners with Kadima Party party head Livni to eliminate Friedmann.
Last update - 12:05 26/09/2008
Meretz to Livni: Friedmann must go or no deal
By Mazal Mualem
Meretz will insist on Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's removal from office in return for its entering a coalition agreement with Kadima, party seniors Thursday decided ahead of the start of talks with Kadima's newly-elected leader, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
The party's demand was made a day after Labor said it would join the coalition only if Friedmann's reforms are halted. Labor leader, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, said Thursday that his party did not recognize "Friedmann's initiatives to change the Basic Law, reforms or bills."
Meretz faction leader MK Zahava Gal-On, who will carry out coalition negotiations together with party chairman, MK Haim Oron, said Thursday: "Meretz will not resign itself to freezing Friedmann's initiatives like Labor. To put an end to this age of Friedmannism and protect the Supreme Court, we must not reappoint Friedmann to the position of Justice Minister."
Friedmann is not the only obstacle facing Livni en route to forming a new coalition government. Another bone of contention between Labor and Meretz, and Livni, is the issue of amendments to the budget. Livni yesterday met with Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer and heard about the international financial crisis. Fischer told Livni that renegotiating the budget at such a time would be irresponsible.
During their negotiations with Kadima, Meretz will also insist on the continuation of talks with Palestinians over a final settlement agreement, and stopping construction in the West Bank settlements.
In the Labor camp, officials Thursday voted in favor of holding talks over entering the coalition and demanding an assurance from Livni that the Knesset will not be dispersed before the end of its term.
"I have no interest in a short-lived government that will stay together for only a few months, or for a faltering coalition of 60 MKs," Barak said yesterday. "We're not afraid of elections."
Last update - 12:14 26/09/2008
Egypt trying to use Shalit as pawn in Palestinian reconciliation
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
Last week Ofer Dekel, the Israeli official charged with negotiating the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, visited Cairo to be briefed by Egyptian officials on their proposal for a prisoner exchange with Hamas.
Thursday, a ministerial committee headed by Vice Premier Haim Ramon agreed to draw up a new list of 450 Palestinian prisoners that Israel would be willing to release in the exchange. The new list will include 250 of the approximately 350 prisoners whose inclusion in the deal Hamas has demanded.
Ostensibly, differences between Hamas and Israel on this issue have never been smaller. However, Egypt's insistence on a broader package deal, whose details were published in the daily Maariv Thursday, may yet thwart the exchange.
Egypt wants to combine Shalit's release, for which Israel would pay by freeing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, with an agreement between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah over the formation of a new coalition government. Egypt's plan would require Hamas to relinquish sole control of the Gaza Strip and agree to allow a peacekeeping force comprised of Arab soldiers to be stationed there, while Israel would have to allow the border crossings into Gaza to reopen. Thus Egypt's proposal would turn Shalit into a pawn in talks aimed at reaching an internal Palestinian reconciliation whose chances of success are slim.
Egyptian officials are certain that Hamas would be willing to relinquish its control over Gaza and form a coalition with Fatah if the price were not too high, and that it would then agree to a deal for Shalit's release. But Cairo may have misjudged the change that the Hamas leadership has undergone in the past months, which greatly diminishes the chances of forming a coalition government.
The group's overseas leadership, headed by Khaled Meshal, has been losing control, while the power held by the Islamic group's young activists in Gaza has grown. Members of the group's military wing have infiltrated its "politburo" in Gaza and have seized authority from senior officials who were considered to be relative pragmatists. Officials like Razi Hamed and Ahmed Yousef have been sidelined. Nowadays, Hamas officials are more likely to march to the tune of the military wing, which instigated the violent takeover of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in June 2007.
New members of Hamas' leadership who are not part of the military wing are also far from providing a moderating influence. Nizar Riyan, for instance, has seen his power increase because of his extremism and his hatred for the PA leadership in the West Bank.
In sum, it is difficult to imagine the radicals in Hamas giving up their complete control of Gaza in order to create a coalition government.
The military wing is also morphing. It is no longer a hierarchal entity headed by a "chief of staff," Ahmed al-Jabari. Instead, it has fragmented into sectors whose commanders govern like little emirs. These commanders have the authority to forge alliances, political and military, in order to solidify Hamas' control of the Strip and reduce friction with other military groups. However, some of them have used their increased autonomy to make alliances with organizations like al-Qaida, the Army of Islam and the People's Army.
Last week, Hamas killed seven members of the Army of Islam, but it has refrained from confiscating the weapons of factions identified with al-Qaida. So long as these factions do not threaten Hamas, they are allowed to keep their weapons and train their forces.
Last update - 13:00 26/09/2008
Despite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech Tuesday where he railed against "Zionist murderers," a group of Jews had dinner with the Iranian President Thursday in New York.
The Jews were part of a larger group of some 200 people of various faiths including Mennonites, and Zoroastrians who said they wanted to promote peace by meeting such a prominent foe of the United States.
Outside the Manhattan hotel near the United Nations where the dinner took place, protesters held up placards such as "No feast with the beast" and likening Ahmadinejad to Hitler.
On Tuesday the Iranian leader launched a blistering attack on Israel in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, dwelling on what he described as Zionist control of international finance.
President Shimon Peres has said the Iranian president's address was reminiscent of one the most notorious anti-Semitic tracts in history.
"This is the first time in the history of the United Nations that the head of a state is appearing openly and publicly with the ugly and dark accusations of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,'" Peres said after Ahmadinejad's speech.
Ahmadinejad rejected accusations he was anti-Semitic, saying his criticism was aimed at the "Zionist regime" for its oppression of the Palestinians rather than at Jews.
"As soon as anyone objects to the behavior of the Zionist regime, they're accused of being anti-Semitic, whereas the Jewish people are not Zionists," Ahmadinejad said. "Zionism is a political party that has nothing to do with Jewish people."
The Iranian leader gave a lengthy discourse on the need for religion in both private and public life, and the decline of morality in countries where politicians reject religion.
He also dwelled on the woes of the Palestinians and efforts by "selfish powers" to dominate the world and frustrate Iran's peaceful nuclear ambitions at the event billed as a discussion on religion's role in eliminating poverty, injustice and war.
"A lot of it was very challenging," said Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb who was also a speaker. She said that while Ahmadinejad had not denied the Holocaust in his speech, he had minimized it in the way he spoke about World War Two.
Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be wiped off the map. His government held a conference in 2006 questioning the fact that Nazis used gas chambers to kill 6 million Jews in World War Two.
"Our world views are rather different. But unless we ... dialogue face to face, how will we create any kind of understanding?" Gottlieb told Reuters, adding that she chose to attend because "peace is better than war."
Arli Klassen, executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee, introduced the discussion by saying armed conflict would solve nothing and dialogue was essential, especially with those whose views were most different.
"We are deeply concerned when your statements about the Holocaust minimize or diminish its impact on our world today, and on Jewish people today," she told Ahmadinejad. "We ask you to change the way you speak about the Holocaust."
She asked him to avoid rhetoric that "is heard as a threat to destroy the state of Israel," to allow religious freedom in Iran and to be transparent about Iran's nuclear program.
Harriett Jane Olson, a representative of the United Methodist Church, said she wished Ahmadinejad had talked about practical issues such as the treatment of women and children in Iran rather than focusing on abstract theological points.
Rohinton Dadina, a Zoroastrian priest who said a prayer at the dinner, said if Ahmadinejad's views were changed even one percent by what he heard, it was worth holding such events
Last update - 11:56 26/09/2008
Israel and Azerbaijan close multi-million dollar arms deal
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent
Israel and Azerbaijan have closed a weapons deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to agreements signed by the Defense Ministry and the government of Azerbaijan, which borders on Iran, Israel will sell the southern Caucasus state ammunition, mortars and radio equipment.
Predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan has increasingly been caught in a tug-of-war for influence between its large southern neighbor, and the secular, democratic West.
Rumblings of Shi'ite political Islam have been particularly noticeable in the more conservative regions that border Iran, and the secular government has displayed concern over Iranian influence.
An number of Israeli firms were involved in the various deal. Soltam will sell mortars and ammunition to Azerbaijan, Israel Military Industries will sell the country rocket artillery and Tadiran Communications will sell it radio equipment.
Israeli companies have also recently signed deals worth tens of millions of dollars with Kazakhstan, a neighbor of Azerbaijan's.
Minister of National Infrastructures and former defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer has visited Azerbaijan in the past, and has said that the country can serve as a source of oil and gas for Israel.
The interesting thing about this interview translated by MEMRI is that Dahlan admits what others refuse to admit, that the Palestinian Authority and Fatah instigated and planned the violence, and that it was a "mistake." If it had been spontaneous, as some insist, it would be absurd to say it was a "mistake." Nonetheless, Palestinian advocates continue to maintain, even after documents were found showing that Arafat had signed off on salary chits of terrorists and the Palestinian Authority paid for suicide bombs, that the violence was not the work of Fatah and the Palesitnian authority.
The London daily Al-Hayat recently published a series of interviews with Muhammad Dahlan, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and of Fatah's Revolutionary Council.(1) In the interviews, Dahlan said that the Al-Aqsa Intifada had done the Palestinians more harm than good. Speaking about Hamas, he called its leader Khaled Mash'al a "gang leader." He harshly criticized the organization'
The Camp David Negotiations Failed over the Jerusalem Issue
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Last update - 19:07 25/09/2008
Israel ambassador to UN: General Assembly chief is an Israel hater
By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent
Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Gabriela Shalev on Thursday called the President of the UN General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann an "Israel hater" for having hugged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a vocal enemy of Israel.
Brockmann has incurred the wrath of the Israeli delegation before, when in his first speech as the president of the international body he said that "the greatest case failure of the United Nations is the lack of a Palestinian state."
Shalev voiced her outrage in an interview on Thursday, condemning Brockmann's gesture at the end of Ahmadinejad's address at the opening of the 63rd General Assembly on Tuesday, which was aggressive and anti-Israel.
Brockmann, a 75-year-old Catholic priest, was scheduled to dine alongside Ahmadinejad in a meal marking the end the Ramadan fast, organized by five American religious groups.
The director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Abraham H. Foxman, called the event "a perversion of the search for peace and an appalling betrayal of religious values." Foxman has also asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to publicly condemn the anti-Semitic content of the Iranian leader's address.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used anti-Semitic slogans to characterize "Zionists" as acquisitive and invasive in his U.N. speech. Neither that, nor his denial of the Holocaust, prevented anti-Zionist rabid rabbis of the Neturei Karta medieval fanatic Jews from meeting with Ahmadinejad and praising him.
Neturei Karta: Ahmadinejad wants peace
Fringe ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist group meets with Iranian president following his controversial UN speech. Delegation's Rabbi Weiss: 'We know he is not an enemy to the Jews, he has a Jewish community in his country that he honors, defends and supports'
Published: 09.25.08, 13:08 / Israel News
After his virulently an anti-Zionist speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday drew reactions the world over, a group of Neturei Karta rabbis met in Manhattan on Wednesday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Neturei Karta is a fringe ultra-Orthodox group formally created in 1935, that opposes Zionism and calls for the dismantling of the State of Israel on the grounds that they believe Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah.
During the meeting members of the delegation presented the Iranian president with a $700 silver trophy as a sign of friendship.
Rabbi Yisroel David Weiss, who took part in the meeting, told Ynet the encounter was "very successful" and was conducted in a warm and friendly environment.
Not against Jews, against Zionists
Rabbi Weiss said the delegation thanked Ahmadinejad for his positive treatment of Iran's Jewish community.
"We know he is not an enemy to the Jews, he has a Jewish community in his country that he honors, defends and supports."
The rabbis added that Ahmadinejad "is not against the Jews, but against the Zionist regime."
The difference between Zionism and Judaism was discussed in the meeting as well.
Explaining the common thread between Neturei Karta and Ahmadinejad, Rabbi Weiss said, "The Iranian President understands the difference and understands that not everyone bears the Zionist outlook.
"Not everyone wants to see the destruction of Judaism and participate in the Zionist infidelity but rather solely to pray and hope for the end of the State of Israel," he said.
According to the rabbi, the Iranian president does not deny the Jewish Holocaust, but rather resists what he calls Zionist invasion and occupation of the land of Israel and the suffering caused to the Palestinians. "The Zionists use the Holocaust as an excuse for their crimes," said Weiss.
According to him, there are also Jews who are loyal to the Torah and against Zionism for its denial of God.
"Ahmadinejad, like us, understands the difference between Judaism and Zionism," claimed Rabbi Weiss who emphasized that the Iranian president is not looking for ways to bomb Israel.
"It is the complete opposite; he wants peace and not to destroy the Jewish nation, that's what he explained to us. He is against the difficulties generated by the Zionist nation against the Palestinians," he said.
The Neturei Karta representative responded to President Shimon Peres' comments, "Throughout the generations, God told us that the Torah is our protection.
"Due to the Zionist leadership's denial of the Torah and diversion from its path, the warnings written in it are being ignored. This is likely to bring the Jewish nation to catastrophic outcomes as we see today and this is what we are fighting against," said Rabbi Weiss.
In his UN speech, the Iranian dictator Ahmadinejad blamed "Zionism" for the world monetary crisis and the Georgia crisis, as well as "Palestine." He predicted the demise of the United States and of Israel. "Zionists," he claims, are "acquisitive and invasive." Excerpts:
President Ahmadinejad`s Speech Addressing the U.N. General Assembly (Full Text)
The full text of Iran`s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad`s speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 23, 2008.
In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful
"All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe, and peace and blessing be upon our Master and Prophet, Mohammad, and his pure household, and his noble companions."
"Oh God, hasten the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers
and those who attest to his rightfulness."
I am grateful to the Almighty for granting me another opportunity to be present in this world Assembly.
In the last three years, I have talked to you about great hopes in the bright future of human society, and some solutions for achieving sustainable peace and expanding love, compassion, and cooperation. I have also talked about unjust systems governing the world; pressures exerted by some powers seeking to trample the rights of other nations, oppression imposed on the majority of the global community, especially on the people of Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Africa, Latin America, and Asia; about challenges we are faced with, such as efforts to shatter the sanctity of families, destroy cultures, humiliate lofty values, neglect commitments, expand the shadow of threats, as well as about the arms race and the unfairness and inability of the systems governing world affairs in reforming the status quo.
With the occurrence of various new developments, the debility of existing mechanisms has been revealed even more. However, at the same time, an encouraging trend, which has originated in the thoughts and beliefs of peoples, has blossomed and become stronger. Posed against the despairs caused by the new developments, this trend has ignited the ray of hope for a brilliant, desirable and beautiful future in the hearts of men.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today I would like to talk to you about the main reasons behind the conditions ruling the world and the means to tackle them. Of course, you are already aware of what I am talking about, but I think it is necessary to remind ourselves.
It seems that the roots of problems lie in the way one views and perceives the world and humankind, as well as in the important issues of freedom, obeisance to God, and justice. The world, humankind, freedom and obeisance to God, and justice, have been of utmost importance to humans throughout history.
1. The World:
God Almighty purposefully created the world. This world is the bedrock for the evolution and growth of a creature called man, and the laws governing the world and all other creatures are at the service of man's quest for loftiness. The world should provide the needed opportunities for the fulfillment of the purpose behind man's creation. No phenomenon, creature, or indeed anything has been created in vain. Together they all pave the ground for the flourishing of mankind in a complex and purposeful system, and they are, each, one of the signs of God Almighty. All are His creations and He is the sole creator and ruler of the world. All existence including power, knowledge and wealth come from Him.
God created the world for humans and humans for Himself. He created humans from mud and in the soil, but He did not want them to remain in the soil and with animal instincts. He kindled the light of guidance in their souls and asked them to rise from the soil to the heavens and to Him with the help of wisdom, prophets and perfect men.
The world will ultimately disappear, but God has created man for eternity and has made them a manifestation of Himself. Creativity, mercifulness, kindness, knowledge, wisdom, zeal, concealment of sins, splendor, justice, bounteousness, generosity, greatness, love, glory, dignity, forgiveness, insight, kingship and all other goodness and beauty are attributes of God.
God has not created humans for aggression, bloodshed, rancor, selfishness and destruction. He made humans His vicegerents on earth and has asked them to, on the one hand, make earth prosper by using their God-given potentials and to prepare the ground for the growth of divine attributes in all humans, and to provide all with a life full of beauty, amity, freedom, justice and goodness; and on the other hand in pursuance of this path, to prepare for a prosperous, everlasting life endowed by God's mercy.
God has obligated humans to live divinely and socially, for it is only through social life and interactions with others that divine attributes may emerge.
3. Obeisance to God:
God Almighty has tied their perfection and true freedom of humans to their devotion and obedience to Himself. True freedom and obedience to God are in balance and in fact are two sides of the same coin.
Obeisance to God means confessing to monotheism and obeying His commands, and to be free from ungodly worship.
Obeisance to God means the acceptance of the absolute truth, the absolute light, and the absolute beauty.
Obeisance to God means abandoning selfishness and animal instincts, power-seeking and aggression, surrendering to righteousness, justice, love, and perfection.
And in this way, humans can achieve their true freedom and flourish, they can grow and manifest divine attributes, have affection for others, stand up for justice, and fear no power or threat, and defend the oppressed. In such an environment, one's freedom will not impinge on any others'. Contention and conflict are characteristic of materialistic freedom and animal instinct. The essence of all divine religions and obeisance to God and true freedom is disassociating from oppressors and instead obeying and worshiping God, for:
- God is omniscient and knows all that is revealed or kept secret, and He is kind and merciful.
- All creatures are humble before Him and resign to His will.
- God is alive and is the Creator of the universe and all life.
- God loves His creatures and desires nothing but goodness, blessings, and perfection for them, and is against bullying, injustice, selfishness and domination.
Justice is the foundation of the creation of humankind and the whole universe. Justice is tantamount to placing every phenomenon in its own place, and providing humans with opportunities to actualize all their divine capabilities. Without it, the order of the universe will collapse and the opportunity for perfection will fade away. Without justice, it would be impossible for human society to taste real peace, beauty, joy and happiness. Justice is the main pillar of social life and without it, social life cannot continue or grow.
Humans need to know God in order to realize a prosperous society in this world as well as to strive for a beautiful eternal life, and to this end they first have to know themselves and strive for loftiness in themselves and their societies. However:
- as long as the world is construed as closed, limited and aimless,
- as long as eternal life is considered imaginary and illusory and afterlife and the Judgment Day as well as reward and punishment are thought of as fictional and unreal,
- as long as morals and commitment to them are called backwardness, and immorality, lies, deceit and selfishness are considered desirable, and humans are limited to a materialistic life in this world,
- as long as attempts are made to replace obedience to God and following His prophets and true freedom with servitude to materialistic tendencies and animal instincts and servitude to oppressing human beings, and contention reaches its pinnacle,
- as long as the aggressors, because of their financial, political and propaganda powers, not only escape punishment but even claim righteousness,
- and as long wars are started and nations are enslaved in order to win votes in elections,
not only will the problems of the global community remain unsolved, but they will be increasingly exacerbated.
Friends and Colleagues,
Let's look at the situation of the world today:
Iraq was attacked under the false pretext of uncovering weapons of mass destruction and overthrowing a dictator. The dictator is toppled and WMDs are not uncovered. A democratic government is established by the votes of the people but, after 6 years, the occupiers are still there. They insist on imposing colonial agreements on the people of Iraq by keeping them under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Millions of people have been killed or displaced, and the occupiers, without a sense of shame, are still seeking to solidify their position in the political geography of the region and to dominate oil resources.
They have no respect for the people of Iraq and disregard any dignity, rights or status for them. The UN is not capable enough to solve the problems and to remove aggression, occupation and imposition.
In Palestine, 60 years of carnage and invasion is still ongoing at the hands of some criminal and occupying Zionists. They have forged a regime through collecting people from various parts of the world and bringing them to other people's land by displacing, detaining, and killing the true owners of that land. With advance notice, they invade, assassinate, and maintain food and medicine blockades, while some hegemonic and bullying powers support them. The Security Council cannot do anything and sometimes, under pressure from a few bullying powers, even paves the way for supporting these Zionist murderers. It is natural that some UN resolutions that have addressed the plight of the Palestinian people have been relegated to the archives unnoticed.
In Afghanistan, production of narcotics has multiplied since the presence of NATO forces. Domestic conflicts continue. Terrorism is spreading. And innocent people are bombarded on a daily basis in streets, markets, schools and wedding ceremonies. The people of Afghanistan are the victims of the willingness of NATO member states to dominate the regions surrounding India, China, and South Asia. The Security Council cannot do anything about it because some of these NATO members also happen to be the major decision makers in the Security Council.
In Africa, efforts are made to reestablish the relationships of the colonial era. By starting civil wars in large countries including Sudan, disintegration of those countries is planned in order to serve the interests of some corrupt powers. In case there is a national resistance, the leaders of the resistance are put under pressure by legal mechanisms created by the very same powers.
In Latin America, people find their security, national interests and cultures to be seriously endangered by the menacing shadow of alien domineering governments, and even by the embassies of some empires.
The lives, properties and rights of the people of Georgia and Ossetia and Abkhazia are victims of the tendencies and provocations of NATO and certain western powers, and the underhanded actions of the Zionists.
The never-ending arms race and the proliferation and stockpiling of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and the threats to use them, and the establishment of missile defense systems, have made the situation unstable.
With regard to Iran's peaceful nuclear program, despite the inalienable right of all nations including the Iranian nation, in producing nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes, and despite such facts as the transparency of all Iranian activities and our country's full cooperation with the inspectors of the IAEA and the Agency's repeated confirmation of the fact that Iran's activities are peaceful, a few bullying powers have sought to put hurdles in the way of the peaceful nuclear activities of the Iranian nation by exerting political and economic pressures against Iran, and also through threatening and pressuring the IAEA. These are the same powers that produce new generations of lethal nuclear arms and possess stockpiles of nuclear weapons that no international organization is monitoring; and, the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were perpetrated by one of them.
Indeed, they are not against weapons, but they oppose other nations' progress, and tend to monopolize technologies and to use those monopolies in order to impose their will on other nations. But it is very natural that the great Iranian people, with their trust in God, and with determination and steadfastness and with the support of its friends, will resist the bullying and has defended and will continue to defend its rights. The Iranian nation is for dialogue. But it has not accepted and will not accept illegal demands. The time has come for the IAEA to present a clear report to the international community on its monitoring of the disarmament of these nuclear powers and their nuclear activities, and for a disarmament committee to be established by independent states to monitor the disarmament of these nuclear powers.
The theories of development that are in line with the hegemonic system and not in accordance with the true needs of humankind and human societies, have turned into repetitive and bland tools for assimilation of economies, expanding hegemonic domination, destroying the environment and destroying the social solidarity of nations. There is no end in sight to this. Poverty, hunger and deprivation are hurting more than one billion of the world's population and have dashed their hopes for a decent life.
The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support.
This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes and occupations and the threats of the Zionist network against their will.
Friends and Colleagues,
All these are due to the manner in which the immoral and the powerful view the world, humankind, freedom, obeisance to God, and justice.
The thoughts and deeds of those who think they are superior to others and consider others as second-class and inferior; who intend to remain out of the divine circle, to be the absolute slaves of their materialistic and selfish desires, who intend to expand their aggressive and domineering natures, constitute the roots of today's problems in human societies. They are the great hindrances to the actualization of material and spiritual prosperity and to security, peace and brotherhood among nations. I explicitly state that the Iranian people and the overwhelming majority of peoples and governments are against those deeds and perspectives of the world- domineering powers. Establishment of justice requires people who have achieved moderation and justice inside themselves, and have restrained their domineering attitudes and actualized their attributes of self-sacrifice and are at the service of humanity. The complete and full-scale manifestation of such characteristics can happen only under the rule of the righteous and perfect human being who is obedient to God and who is promised by the divine Prophets.
Of course with the grace of God Almighty a hopeful trend is flourishing in the heart and soul of human societies. The universal eagerness for justice, purity, and love for others, monotheism and the quest for perfection is clearly and increasingly on the rise. A universal resistance against the acquisitiveness, aggression and selfishness of the bullying powers is being formed. Today, the bullying powers' thoughts, practices and strategies are rejected by nations and governments, and all are seeking to establish new human relations based on justice with a view to attain prosperity, perfection, security, and sustainable welfare. This is the very auspicious phenomenon that all the traditions of creation and the ruling laws of the universe emphasize and support.
Today, the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse, and there is no way for it to get out of the cesspool created by itself and its supporters. The Islamic Republic of Iran, while fully respecting the resistance of the oppressed people of Palestine and expressing its all-out support for it, submits its humane solution based on a free referendum in Palestine for determining and establishing the type of state in the entire Palestinian lands to the distinguished Secretary General of the UN.
American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road, and its next rulers must limit their interference to their own borders. Today, the thought of hegemony quickly becomes a demerit.
And now a few words with the expansionist governments ruling global relations:
Be aware that living with obedience to God and carrying out His orders, compassion for people and striving for the fulfillment of justice is to your advantage too. I invite you to return to the path of God, the Prophets and to the path of the people of the world and to the truth and justice.
The only route to salvation is a divine straight path. Otherwise, God's hand of power will emerge from the sleeve of oppressed nations and will make your life difficult, and will put an end to your hegemony.
Let's love the people of the world and respect their rights. Rectify past behavior. This will benefit you and the human community. The Iranian people are prepared, along with other nations, to help you be rescued from your current situation and to establish peace and prosperity.
Fortuitously, opportunities are accessible. With the grace of God Almighty, the existing pillars of the oppressive system are crumbling. Great developments in favor of humankind as well as its true and real rights are on the way. A golden and brilliant future is awaiting mankind.
A global community filled with justice, friendship, brotherhood and welfare is at hand, as I have elaborated. A community which will tread the path of beauty and love under the rule of the righteous and perfect human being, the One promised by all divine prophets and the One who is the true lover of humanity. A community that will be devoid of any fear, despair and privation. Such a community will soon be ours. The community promised by the great divine Prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ and Mohammad (PBUH) is about to materialize.
Let us, hand in hand, expand the thought of resistance against evil and the minority of those who are ill-wishers. Let's support goodness and the majority of people who are good and the embodiment of absolute good that is the Imam of Time, The Promised One who will come accompanied by Jesus Christ, and accordingly design and implement the just and humanistic mechanisms for regulating the constructive relationships between nations and governments.
Oh great Almighty, deliver the savior of nations and put an end to the sufferings of mankind and bring forth justice, beauty, and love.
Let's have a proper share in the establishment of that illuminated and promised divine age.
An interesting insight, despite the undoubtedly partisan views:
Democrats give Ahmadinejad reason to smile
Sep. 24, 2008
Abraham Katsman and Kory Bardash , THE JERUSALEM POST
A JPost.com exclusive blog
Some friendly advice to our Obama-supporting friends: When your interests are aligned with those of Iran's President and Hitler-wannabe Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it's time for some re-assessment of priorities.
Democrat activists this week gave Ahmadinejad a huge gift by sabotaging a major bipartisan anti-Iran rally. More important to them than Iran, apparently, was the opportunity to marginalize popular Republican vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin.
In a nutshell, here is what happened: The rally was organized by wide coalition of mostly Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the respected non-partisan umbrella group that is the closest thing the American Jewish community has to single and unified voice. They assembled an impressive protest of the presence of Ahmadinejad at the United Nations, to sound the alarm over his nuclear weapons program, and to urge world leaders gathered this week in New York to act strongly-and soon-to prevent a nuclear Iran that would threaten America, Israel and the world.
The organizers secured a number of high-profile speakers, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, recent Democrat presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton and Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. It is not yet clear whether Clinton was coordinating with Democrat strategists, but when she found out Palin was also invited, she bailed out. Too bad-having America's two highest profile female politicians together on the same stage condemning the misogynistic (among its many attributes) Iranian regime would have been a powerful image.
Following Clinton's lead, two of the sponsoring organizations-led by left-wing Democrat activists-demanded that Palin be barred from speaking lest the rally be a "partisan" event. The organizers pleaded with both Joe Biden and Barack Obama to speak, but both declined. Although Congressman Robert Wexler, a prominent Obama surrogate, was available to speak, the Democrats (including members of Congress) relentlessly pushed to have the Palin invitation rescinded.
Their argument was part naked pretext and part veiled threat: that maintaining the invitation just might prompt the IRS to investigate all sponsoring organizations' non-partisan tax-exempt status-an interesting understanding of "partisan" considering the invitations to Clinton, Obama, Biden and Wexler. (Perhaps this gives a clue how an IRS run by Obama lieutenants might treat political opponents). In an effort to maintain an appearance of Jewish unity against the evil of Iran, the organizers were forced to cave; Palin was given the boot. Game over. The Democrats won.
And so did Ahmadinejad. This had the makings of rally with impact. Besides being a tremendous show of bipartisan unity opposing Iranian aggression, the massive media attention paid to Palin's appearances would have brought the Iranian danger to the forefront of American consciousness. The rally was also attended by Iranian dissidents, human rights activists, gays, Christians, Jews and Iraqis, all of whom suffer at the hands of the mullahs' regime. Their under-reported causes could have used the publicity boost. Deflating the event by removing its star power did all these groups a huge disservice. We're sure Ahmadinejad cannot believe his good fortune. Thank you, Democrats!
Don't the Democrats vainly claim to be the party of the powerless and the voice of the voiceless? Fighters for human rights and protectors of liberty? They shouldn't flatter themselves. How did they help those causes this week? By strong-arm tactics, stifling dissent and sacrificing their "principles" for some perceived marginal political gain? Aren't those the sorts of things they're supposed to be protesting against? Perhaps they should tell us which principles they won't trample in order to gain fleeting political advantage.
In all likelihood, by getting their way and silencing Palin, the Democrats won only a Pyrrhic victory. This political gamesmanship is not going to sit well with most Jewish and pro-Israel voters-including Democrats and Independents-who take the Iranian threat seriously. The same day as the rally, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that Iran could be hiding certain nuclear activities, and estimated that Iran could go nuclear in just six months. And this past Sunday, no longer content to merely "wipe Israel off the map,"Ahmadinejad presided over a military parade with banners reading "Israel should be eliminated from the universe." (Those must be some powerful nukes.)
Palin's non-speech, the text of which was released to the press (and is well worth reading), pulled no punches. She pointed out that Iran's radical Islamic government, committed to going nuclear, is already the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, is culpable in the deaths of hundreds of Americans in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and soldiers in Iraq, has murdered countless opponents, has persecuted its own Jews and murdered Jews as far away as Argentina, is fixated on anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and terrorizes its own people. She even quoted Hillary Clinton to make a bipartisan argument for stronger sanctions. Would it have been so unbearable to give her words national attention?
Democrats and Obama-supporters, please ask yourselves: was it really so important to begrudge any forum to Palin that you'd sacrifice a golden opportunity to raise the profile of Iran's increasingly imminent threat to world security? What, exactly, are your priorities?
By contrast, in matters of national security and international action, John McCain has constantly put aside partisanship. Earlier this year, he joined with Obama and Clinton issuing a united statement on ending the genocide in Darfur even though it's an issue on which Democrats have been more vocal.
When presciently advocating the then-unpopular "surge" of American troops in Iraq even though it jeopardized his presidential campaign, he famously said "I'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war." Can the Democrats say the same thing? By sacrificing unified leverage over the greatest security threat we now face in order to spitefully diminish and delegitimize an opposing candidate, we may have our answer.
Obama's talk of post-partisanship and "reaching across the aisle" looks increasingly divorced from reality. If his operatives can't even bring themselves to join Republicans in something with such wide bipartisan support and national security implications as preventing the nuclearization of Iran, just where is that supposed post-partisanship going to appear? Do they not agree that the enemy is Ahmadinejad, not the GOP?
There is something very wrong with a party that insists on sitting down with Ahmadinejad without preconditions, but refuses to share a stage with the Republican Party candidate for Vice President of the United States of America.
Kory Bardash is the co-chairman of Republicans Abroad Israel; Abraham Katsman is counsel to RAI
I can add to Tamar Sternthal's description of B'tselem "statitistcs." In one case, they issued a press release claiming that Israeli settlements control 40% of the land in the West Bank. Examination of their detailed report showed that this "40%" consisted of lines on a map where nothing was built or fenced in, and that about half of this area was in desert regions.
Betselem has written over and over about house demolitions and "ethnic cleansing" in Jerusalem. Yet the proportion of Arabs in Jerusalem grows each year. Jerusalem municipality claimed that a few hundred houses were destroyed for building that threatened public safety, all or most of them were uninhabited housing starts, and an equal number were destroyed in West and East Jerusalem. Betselem had no choice but to confirm the statistics of the Jerusalem municipality, which were correct.
Human rights group B'Tselem's statistics are far from being trustworthy
Published: 09.24.08, 19:42 / Israel Opinion
On Jan. 17, 2002 Abdul Salaam Sadek Hassouneh of Nablus burst into a bat mitzvah celebration at a Hadera reception hall, shooting dead six and injuring 35 before Israeli security forces ended the bloodbath by killing him.
But Hassouneh has another, lesser known claim to notoriety. He was the first of several Palestinian terrorists killed while attacking Israelis to appear that year in B'Tselem's list of "Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli security forces." He was followed by numerous other so-called Palestinian "civilians" in 2002, including Omar Mahmoud Abu Rub and Yusef Muhammad Abu Rub, killed by border police gunfire after they murdered six Israeli civilians in Beit She'an. Both attacks were claimed by Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.
In the wake of CAMERA's criticism of this grossly deceptive practice, B'Tselem revamped its methodology for tracking Palestinian casualties of the intifada. In more recent years, the self-described human rights organization has dropped the "civilian" label as pertaining to Palestinians and describes most - but not all - Palestinians fatalities as either "killed when participating in hostilities" or "did not participate in hostilities when killed."
Nevertheless, the organization's current detailed data on all Palestinians killed by Israelis since Sept. 29, 2000 - cited widely by Western news organizations - are no less problematic for a number of reasons. Most importantly, B'Tselem's research is as shoddy and unreliable as ever.
Take for instance, the case of 11-year-old Muhammad Ali Abu al-Wafa, killed Dec. 31, 2007 in Khan Younis. B'Tselem lists him as one of those killed by Israeli security forces, although he actually died in Hamas-Fatah clashes, a fact undisputed by Palestinian sources such as the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and Ma'an News Agency.
Even more shocking, perhaps, is that B'Tselem continues to blame Israeli security forces for the Sept. 30, 2000 death of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura, despite the fact that a number of independent investigations have definitively ruled out that possibility.
And, as it turns out, B'Tselem's newer system distinguishing between those who were and were not participating in hostilities when killed is no more trustworthy than its earlier false identification of "civilians." Thus, B'Tselem reports that Muhammad Zaki Jum'ah al-Najar, killed Nov. 20, 2007 in Khan Younis, "did not participate in hostilities when killed." Yet, Hamas' English website boasts that "today, al-Qassam Brigades mourn the death of the mujahim (fighter): Mohammed Zaki al Najjar. The mujahid was martyred during a clash with the Zionist occupation forces. . . "
Terrorists' affiliations ignored
An examination of this year's data is just as disheartening. B'Tselem carries an unusually brief listing for Fahmi Abd al-Jawad Hussein a-Darduk, 15, of Nablus, killed May 19, 2008 "by gunfire." B'Tselem does not specify that he was "killed while participating in hostilities" even though he was carrying explosives and ignored soldiers orders to stop and raise his hands at a checkpoint when he was killed.
Another serious flaw in B'Tselem's current data is that terrorists' affiliations are virtually always ignored. Thus, one would have no idea that Bilal Hamuda Muhammad Saleh, supposedly "killed while sleeping in a car" April 17, 2008 was the head of Islamic Jihad in Qabatiya, or that Muhammad Shhadeh Abed Shhadeh (a-Ta'amari), killed March 12, 2008 in the Tulkarm district, headed Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem.
Making this omission yet more deceptive, B'Tselem's end-of-the-year press release on Palestinian casualties specifically claims that the organization has tallied civilian Palestinian casualties. For instance, the press release from Dec. 31, 2007 misleads, stating that in 2007 Israeli security forces killed 373 Palestinians and that "about 35 percent of those killed were
civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities when killed."
Yet, Islamic Jihad leaders from Bethlehem or Qabatiya, even if they weren't murdering anyone at the moment they were killed, are no more civilians than the man who shot dead six people celebrating at a bat mitzvah.
Unfortunately, journalists are time-strapped, and most are unlikely to look past B'Tselem's user-friendly press release to discover the inconsistencies and blatant falsehoods that stand behind it.
This leaves yet one more casualty of the conflict - the truth.
Tamar Sternthal is director of the Israel office of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle
East Reporting in America), www.camera.org .
Monday, September 22, 2008
Last update - 00:32 23/09/2008
Thousands attend anti-Iran rally organized by Jewish groups in New York
By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel joined thousands of protesters in New York Monday to condemn Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's planned address to the United Nations General Assembly, which opens Tuesday.
Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and former minister Natan Sharansky also spoke at the gathering, organized by a coalition of American Jewish groups.
Wiesel said "We urge all the UN delegations across the street to leave the hall when [Ahmadinejad] appears on the stage."
"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, go home and stay there, we don't want you here. America doesn't want you here. Nobody wants you," Wiesel called out.
The event sparked further controversy over the weekend when Republican vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin's appearance in the anti-Iran rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was cancelled in a flap between protest organizers and Hillary Clinton, who had also been scheduled to speak.
Clinton aides were quoted as saying that they had been "blindsided" by the decision to invite Palin, which they called a partisan move. In the ensuing controversy, Clinton withdrew her participation, and Palin's invitation was rescinded.
Last update - 01:01 23/09/2008
Labor lays out demands for joining Livni coalition
By Mazal Mualem, Barak Ravid and Shahar Ilan, Haaretz Correspondents
The Labor Party will demand that all Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's reforms be scrapped as a condition for staying in a Tzipi Livni government, and any change in the court system would be done by consent, senior Labor sources say.
But if Livni agrees there will be no need to replace Friedmann "because he will resign on his own accord," a source said.
Labor and Kadima are expected to begin coalition talks in the next few days, following President Shimon Peres' formal invitation to Foreign Minister Livni to form a government. Labor will also demand that the state budget be amended.
The tension between Livni and Labor chief Ehud Barak seemed to have eased
somewhat Monday. The two met privately in Livni's Tel Aviv office. Livni's aides will try to set another meeting with Barak Tuesday.
Livni's people say she is willing to make only minor budget changes and that if she agrees to Labor's excessive demands, other coalition partners will lengthen their wish lists.
If Livni succeeds in recruiting the required majority of 61 MKs, she will become Israel's first female prime minister since 1974.
Even before Peres gave her the official title of prime minister-designate Monday evening, Livni was conducting intensive talks with party leaders over their terms to join a coalition.
In the minute-long ceremony at the President's Residence, Livni, dressedformally in black and sitting in an armchair across from Peres, did notcomment on policy issues.
Livni told reporters afterward: "These are not normal days for Israel. There are great diplomatic and economic challenges facing it." She appealed to the parties in Ehud Olmert's government to continue under her leadership, and to other parties to join, including the right-wing Likud party, led by ex-premier Benjamin Netanyahu.
"The first priority that is right for Israel is a government that will serve to the end of the current term, in late 2010," she said.
Netanyahu has rejected the idea of a broad national unity government with Livni, preferring elections.
"Reports that Livni is ready to reopen coalition agreements and the budget show that she is already flip-flopping. Clearly she is afraid to go to general elections and is attempting to deny the people the possibility to choose its leadership," Likud whip MK Gideon Sa'ar said.
Only Meretz and the Pensioners Party recommended to Peres to charge Livni with forming the government, bringing the total of MKs recommending Livni to 38.
The ultra-Orthodox Shas party remained silent Monday after Livni and Barak's talks. The right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union parties joined Likud in recommending general elections. The Arab parties, Justice for Pensioners and United Torah Judaism refrained from any recommendation.
If Livni fails to set up a coalition that can win parliamentary approval, Israel would hold an election within 90 days.
If Friedmann resigns, Vice Premier Haim Ramon may go with him. Ramon has been helping Friedmann advance his reforms in recent months, including setting up an inquiry committee over telephone bugging in the Ramon affair, in which Ramon was found guilty of having forcibly kissed a female employee.
Ramon has also helped Friedmann try to limit the power of the High Court of Justice and split the attorney general's authorities.
Barak recently blasted Friedmann's initiatives, saying his suggestion to set up a committee to probe the phone tapping "reeks of political interests of one minister and severely damages the justice system."
Pressure from Hillary Clinton, or the Democratic party or the J-Street lobby or someone caused the cancellation of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's appearance in the rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza protesting the appearance of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN.
Here is the text of the speech that was not delivered:
I am honored to be with you and with leaders from across this great country - leaders from different faiths and political parties united in a single voice of outrage.
Tomorrow, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will come to New York - to the heart of what he calls the Great Satan - and speak freely in this, a country whose demise he has called for.
Ahmadinejad may choose his words carefully, but underneath all of the rhetoric is an agenda that threatens all who seek a safer and freer world. We gather here today to highlight the Iranian dictator's intentions and to call for action to thwart him.
He must be stopped.
The world must awake to the threat this man poses to all of us. Ahmadinejad denies that the Holocaust ever took place. He dreams of being an agent in a "Final Solution" - the elimination of the Jewish people. He has called Israel a "stinking corpse" that is "on its way to annihilation."
Such talk cannot be dismissed as the ravings of a madman -not when Iran just this summer tested long-range Shahab-3 missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv, not when the Iranian nuclear program is nearing completion, and not when Iran sponsors terrorists that threaten and kill innocent people around the world.
The Iranian government wants nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is running at least 3,800 centrifuges and that its uranium enrichment capacity is rapidly improving. According to news reports, U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Iranians may have enough nuclear material to produce a bomb within a year.
The world has condemned these activities. The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend its illegal nuclear enrichment activities. It has levied three rounds of sanctions. How has Ahmadinejad responded? With the declaration that the "Iranian nation would not retreat one iota" from its nuclear program.
So, what should we do about this growing threat? First, we must succeed in Iraq. If we fail there, it will jeopardize the democracy the Iraqis have worked so hard to build, and empower the extremists in neighboring Iran. Iran has armed and trained terrorists who have killed our soldiers in Iraq, and it is Iran that would benefit from an American defeat in Iraq.
If we retreat without leaving a stable Iraq, Iran's nuclear ambitions will be bolstered. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons ? they could share them tomorrow with the terrorists they finance, arm, and train today. Iranian nuclear weapons would set off a dangerous regional nuclear arms race that would make all of us less safe.
But Iran is not only a regional threat; it threatens the entire world. It is the no. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. It sponsors the world's most vicious terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah. Together, Iran and its terrorists are responsible for the deaths of Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, and in Iraq today. They have murdered Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, and other Muslims who have resisted Iran's desire to dominate the region. They have persecuted countless people simply because they are Jewish.
Iran is responsible for attacks not only on Israelis, but on Jews living as far away as Argentina. Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are part of Iran's official ideology and murder is part of its official policy. Not even Iranian citizens are safe from their government's threat to those who want to live, work, and worship in peace. Politically-motivated abductions, torture, death by stoning, flogging, and amputations are just some of its state-sanctioned punishments.
It is said that the measure of a country is the treatment of its most vulnerable citizens. By that standard, the Iranian government is both oppressive and barbaric. Under Ahmadinejad's rule, Iranian women are some of the most vulnerable citizens.
If an Iranian woman shows too much hair in public, she risks being beaten or killed. If she walks down a public street in clothing that violates the state dress code, she could be arrested.
But in the face of this harsh regime, the Iranian women have shown courage. Despite threats to their lives and their families, Iranian women have sought better treatment through the "One Million Signatures Campaign Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws." The authorities have reacted with predictable barbarism. Last year, women's rights activist Delaram Ali was sentenced to 20 lashes and 10 months in prison for committing the crime of "propaganda against the system." After international protests, the judiciary reduced her sentence to "only" 10 lashes and 36 months in prison and then temporarily suspended her sentence. She still faces the threat of imprisonment.
Earlier this year, Senator Clinton said that "Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is in the forefront of that" effort. Senator Clinton argued that part of our response must include stronger sanctions, including the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization. John McCain and I could not agree more.
Senator Clinton understands the nature of this threat and what we must do to confront it. This is an issue that should unite all Americans. Iran should not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Period. And in a single voice, we must be loud enough for the whole world to hear: Stop Iran!
Only by working together, across national, religious, and political differences, can we alter this regime's dangerous behavior. Iran has many vulnerabilities, including a regime weakened by sanctions and a population eager to embrace opportunities with the West. We must increase economic pressure to change Iran's behavior.
Tomorrow, Ahmadinejad will come to New York. On our soil, he will exercise the right of freedom of speech - a right he denies his own people. He will share his hateful agenda with the world. Our task is to focus the world on what can be done to stop him.
We must rally the world to press for truly tough sanctions at the U.N. or with our allies if Iran's allies continue to block action in the U.N. We must start with restrictions on Iran's refined petroleum imports. We must reduce our dependency on foreign oil to weaken Iran's economic influence.
We must target the regime's assets abroad; bank accounts, investments, and trading partners.
President Ahmadinejad should be held accountable for inciting genocide, a crime under international law.
We must sanction Iran's Central Bank and the Revolutionary Guard Corps -which no one should doubt is a terrorist organization. Together, we can stop Iran's nuclear program.
Senator McCain has made a solemn commitment that I strongly endorse: Never again will we risk another Holocaust. And this is not a wish, a request, or a plea to Israel's enemies. This is a promise that the United States and Israel will honor, against any enemy who cares to test us. It is John McCain's promise and it is my promise.
15 hurt in vehicle terror attack in Jerusalem By Jonathan Lis and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent and The Associated Press
Israel's rescue services on Monday evening said 15 people had been hurt in an attack at a busy Jerusalem intersection.
All the victims sustained minor to moderate injuries.
The rescue service said a driver drove his car into a group of people at the intersection. The driver was shot and killed.
Channel 10 News reported that the perpetrator was driving a black BMW.
Police said armed civilians killed the driver. He was not immediately identified, but the wording of the police statement indicated it was believed he was a Palestinian.
The intersection is situated near Jerusalem's Old City.
In recent months, Palestinians who lived in Jerusalem carried out two attacks within three weeks of each other using heavy construction machinery, killing three people and wounding many others.
This article introduces a new, totally extraneous and dangerous consideration into petroleum finances. The price of oil should depend on supply and demand. The "break even" point should depend on the cost of extraction, which in the worst case might be about $20 a barrel in the USA or Russia, and is around a dollar a barrel in the Gulf states.
However, the OPEC countries and Arab IMF personnel have made a different calculation entirely. Some gulf states have used unrealistically high oil prices to fuel development. Now the reckoning is based not on the extraction price and fair profit, but on how much oil must cost in order to pay for the development without requiring loans or higher taxes. For most countries, there is still a huge safety margin. Saudi Arabia will still have a budget surplus if oil falls to $50 a barrel, others need less. Nobody even questions why development cannot be funded by bonds or loans as it is funded everywhere else, or what terrible tragedy might befall Saudi princes if they gave a bit more of their wealth to the budget and spent a bit less in casinos.
But the most interesting case is Iran. Iran spends a fortune on developing nuclear weapons, and has not done much petroleum exploration. The result is that it must keep the price of oil over $90 a barrel or over $110 in order to pay for its nuclear toys. We can expect that it will contrive to find ways to do so.
Saudi needs oil above $ 49 to avoid deficit; Qatar break-even $ 24: IMF
Gulf Times - 21 September, 2008
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, will need crude prices to remain above $ 49 a barrel to avoid a fiscal deficit, a senior International Monetary Fund official has said.
"If it goes below that level we would start seeing a fiscal account deficit," Mohsin Khan, director of Middle East and central Asia at the IMF, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Oil prices have fallen drastically in the past two month, shedding over $ 50 in value since they hit $ 147 a barrel in July, raising concerns over the continued strength of Persian Gulf Arab economies.
Saudi Arabia, the Middle East largest economy, depends on oil and gas sales for 90% of its export income.
"Saudi Arabia's break-even price is the highest among the Gulf Co-operation Council Countries because they are spending on a lot of projects right now, and oil money is used to fund these projects," he said. Further declines in oil prices could tip the region's economies over the edge as they continue to spend heavily on infrastructure projects.
According to Middle East Economic Digest, Gulf states are spending about $ 2.3tn on projects.
Other Gulf states with smaller populations and lower government spending like the UAE are able to run a fiscal surplus as long as oil prices are
above $ 23 a barrel.
"The UAE will have a fiscal balance at an oil price of $ 23, if it goes below they would run a deficit. For Qatar, the break-even price is $ 24 a barrel," Khan said. Kuwait's break-even price is $ 33 a barrel, he added.
The figures, to be published in the IMF's next regional outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia, also show that other countries in the region are already running a fiscal deficit with current oil price levels.
"Iran's break-even price is $ 90 a barrel, and that is a big issue in Iran right now," Khan said.
"If prices dip below $ 90 a barrel, and we have seen it touch $ 89 earlier this week, then they would have to tighten their public expenditure policy, and probably cut subsidies, which would be an issue for the government there - the public would not be content," he said.
Iraq has the highest break-even price in the region, according to the IMF figures. The war-torn country needs prices above $ 110 a barrel to balance its books.
"They are almost starting from scratch, so it's normal... it won't be normal if the break-even point is lower because that would mean no work is being done," he said.
Algeria, whose minister is acting as the president of the Organisation Of Petroleum Exporting Countries this year, will be able to balance its budget with oil above $ 56 a barrel, Khan said.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Last update - 01:38 22/09/2008
Livni offers Barak 'full partnership' in new gov't
By Yossi Verter, Mazal Mualem, and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents
Aides to newly elected Kadima chief Tzipi Livni said on Sunday that her late-night meeting with Labor chairman Ehud Barak was "good." The two met just hours after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert submitted his resignation to President Shimon Peres.
Barak and Livni spoke for an hour-and-a-half, and are expected to meet again after Peres officially taps Livni for the task of forming the next coalition.
If Barak agrees to join a government under her leadership, he will be made "a full partner," Livni said in private conversations on Sunday.
Livni, who is expected to be handed the task of forming a new government by President Shimon Peres on Monday, told associates that despite her sometimes strained relations with the Labor leader in the past, she believes they should set aside their differences for the sake of the country. "After all, Barak is someone who cares about the nation's welfare," one associate quoted her as saying, a few hours before she and Barak began a late-night negotiating session.
Livni and her aides said they did not know whether Barak would agree to join a government with her as prime minister, but they did not think the Labor leader was in any hurry to hold new elections.
Regarding the terms under which a new coalition government will be formed, Livni's aides said she is willing to drop her previous demand that the core elements of the existing coalition agreement be preserved. Rather, they said, she is now willing to reach a new agreement with Barak.
However, they refused to discuss whether she would agree to remove Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann from office. Labor has consistently opposed the judicial reforms proposed by Friedmann, which have drawn much criticism from past and present Supreme Court justices.
The foreign minister said that she would try to form a coalition quickly, and if she reached the conclusion that doing so was impossible, she would dissolve the Knesset and call new elections.
Barak, for his part, is expected to demand that Livni publicly pledge that any government she forms will remain in office for at least a year and a half, and not just for a few months. He will also ask Livni to make changes to the 2009 budget recently approved by the cabinet, even before a coalition agreement is signed.
Meanwhile, Livni is also trying to cope with the political turmoil in her own party ¬ namely, Shaul Mofaz's announcement that he is taking a time-out from public life following his narrow loss to the foreign minister in last week's Kadima leadership primary. Mofaz's acrimonious departure leaves a vacuum in the party, which has already lost many of its founding fathers (former prime minister Ariel Sharon, Peres, Prof. Uriel Reichman), a mere three years after its formation.
Another notable Kadima member who has been considering retirement is Vice Premier Haim Ramon, who is a close personal friend of outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Livni plans to meet with Ramon on Monday and try to convince him not to retire from politics.
Last Friday, Ramon urged Livni not to insist that Olmert resign immediately, telling her it would be better for the party if coalition talks were held while he was still in office. Speaking off the record, other party members said on Sunday that Ramon was right, and Livni is already getting bogged down in the negotiations - a situation they said could have been avoided.
Livni had hoped that, bolstered by a sweeping primary victory, she would be able to form a new coalition easily. Instead, she beat Mofaz by only a few hundred votes, leaving her in a much weaker opening position. Her hope of persuading Olmert to declare himself temporarily incapacitated, which would have automatically made her acting premier for 100 days, also fell through.
Now, therefore, she will need to make budgetary concessions to Labor and Shas to form a new government, while also trying to thwart a deal between Barak and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Olmert submits resignation to Peres
"You must have had a hard day," Peres told Olmert upon his arrival at the President's Residence, as they embraced. The outgoing prime minister responded that he actually felt just fine.
Olmert submitted the terse, two-sentence resignation letter to the president, then read it aloud: "Mr. President, in accordance with the instructions of Article 19 of the Basic Law: The Government, after informing the government that I had planned to do so, I hereby submit to you my resignation from the position of prime minister."
Olmert and Peres conversed for several minutes, then the prime minister left the residence.
Immediately thereafter, Peres read a statement to the assembled media. "I respect the dignified manner in which [Olmert] is transferring authority," he said. "This is not an easy decision, and I am sure it was not a simple thing for him to do."
Peres also thanked the outgoing prime minister "for his service to the nation and state during many years of public activity, as mayor of Jerusalem, government minister and prime minister."
"Israel's security and the well-being of its citizens stood at the center of the prime minister's activity," Peres said.
The president then spoke of his intention to begin meeting immediately with the heads of various Knesset factions in order to set a date for forming a new government.
Peres and Olmert were expected to begin formulating a timetable for Olmert's gradual departure from office, but that process may be delayed as the president is leaving late today for New York, where he will attend the United Nations General Assembly.
"Israel faces serious, complex challenges to its security, economy and society. All of these demand continuity of leadership," Peres said.
"Israel is a strong, democratic country, and the replacement of prime ministers will not compromise its strength, its determination to protect its citizens or its pursuit of peace," he added.
Olmert made the final decision to tender his resignation to Peres only on Sunday morning, ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting.
The outgoing prime minister told ministers that after his resignation, he would do everything possible to help Livni assemble a new government.
After the meeting, Olmert continued with his usual schedule of appointments. He held an hour-long meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and two additional security briefings.
At 6 P.M., he arrived at Livni's office for a meeting which Olmert staffers described as "excellent." He then traveled to the President's Residence to hand in his resignation and spent the evening with his family at home.
Although Livni is now head of Kadima, she does not automatically become prime minister: Peres has to first appoint her to put together a governing coalition, which is expected to do. Livni will then have six weeks to form a new government. Should she fail, new elections will be called for early 2009, a year and a half ahead of schedule.
Olmert's associates said that he intends to serve as head of a caretaker government until an alternative government is formed or elections are held. The sources said that as a caretaker prime minister, Olmert intends to continue pursuing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Should a peace deal be drafted, he would submit its terms for the review of the Knesset and cabinet.
Looks like J-Street has to share the "credit" for saving Ahmadinejad from the rally with some other folks.
Sep 19, 2008 8:10 pm US/Eastern
Iran-trained Shiite Iraqis returning to launch bombings: police
Sat Sep 20, 2:14 PM ET
NASIRIYAH, Iraq (AFP) - Groups of Shiite extremists trained in Iran are returning to Iraq with plans to bomb high-profile targets, the chief of Dhi Qar province's police said Saturday.
Brigadier General Sabah al-Fatlawi told AFP "Special Groups" (Shiite extremists) of around 10 fighters each are returning by crossing the border from Amara, the capital of Shiite Maysan province in the south.
"The Special Groups are returning from Iran after receiving training in using new tactics. We have seized 20 motorcycle bombs in Nasiriyah. Some groups have arrived in Nasiriyah," Fatlawi said, referring to the capital of Dhi Qar, which neighbours Maysan.
The US military claims that Special Groups are cells of Shiite militants who are trained, funded and armed by Iranian-linked groups.
Tehran denies the charges.
"They are crossing the border through Amara," Fatlawi said.
"They intend to target officials in the country and in Nasiriyah," he said adding that local authorities had put in place tight security measures, including banning the use of motorcycles.
Shiite Special Groups have been one of the main perpetrators of violence in Iraq, but a series of military crackdowns in Shiite majority regions of Iraq forced many of the leaders of such groups to flee the country.
Iraqi and US officials claim many of them went to Iran.
Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz briefs cabinet on Iranian threat, Gaza ceasefire, talks concerning Gilad Shalit; says Tehran has third of what it needs to build bomb, UN Security Council failing to apply necessary pressure
Published: 09.21.08, 15:46 / Israel News
Head of the Military Intelligence Research Division, Brigadier-General Yossi Baidatz, warned Sunday that Iran is well underway to building a nuclear bomb.
In his brief to the cabinet, Baidatz said that the international community is not putting enough pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment program.
"Iran is focusing its efforts in enriching uranium and improving the operational capabilities of its centrifuges. It is mastering the necessary technology and now has one-third of what it need to create a bomb.
"In view of the UN Security Council's inability to enforce a fourth round of sanctions, Iran's confidence is increasing and they now believe there is nothing the international community can do to stop them. Time is on Iran's side," he warned.
Tehran, continued Baidatz, is tightening its relations with Hizbullah, Syria and various Palestinian terror groups all in an attempt to position itself as the lead radical force in the Middle East.
"The more moderate Arab states are not united in the wish to act against Iran," he added.
The ties that bind
Baidatz then went on to address the situation on the northern front: "Syria is operating on two contradicting avenues getting closer to the West on the one hand and giving way to new radicalism on the other," he said.
"The recent Damascus summit, attend by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Qatari royalty, helped Syria position itself as a key player in regional processes, without paying any price thus far. Syria is willing to go forwards as far as the talks with Israel are concerned, but they are cautious they're worried that the Turkish avenue will close in light of the recent political developments in Israel."
Syria, he added, "is funneling a great deal of weapons and ammunition to Lebanon, tightening its relations with Iran and fortifying its aerial and ground defenses, with Russia and Iran's assistance. Damascus is trying to play off the recent events in Georgia to get its hands on advanced weapons systems."
As for Hizbullah, Baidatz told the ministers the organization "is not gearing up for a conflict, but it will continue trying to target Israeli aircrafts and using the calm on the northern border to rearm."
On matters relating to the southern front, the head of MI Research said that the relative clam achieved by the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip was holding, despite the fact that the smaller militant groups were trying to target Israelis, mostly in the Sinai Peninsula.
Baidatz concluded his brief by giving the ministers and update on the negotiations held to free kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit: "Hamas' is apparently aiming to toughen its stands on the release a stand rooted in their belief that Shalit in a commodity increasing in value.
"Hamas is in no hurry to see this deal materialize," he added, "which is why it has yet to re-launch the talks with Egyptian officials."
Intelligence brief on lull's hold prompts vice premier to urge ministers to reevaluate current calm. 'Hamas is breaching the agreement, acquiring more missiles and toughening stands on Shalit's release,' he says
Published: 09.21.08, 13:17 / Israel News
Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Sunday that the cabinet must reassess Israel's ceasefire agreement with the militant groups in the Gaza Strip. Ramon spoke after the cabinet was briefed on the matter by the Head of Military Intelligence Research Division, Brigadier-General Yossi Baidatz.
The brief, said Ramon, "revealed that Hamas is breaching the agreement, acquiring more long-range missiles, allowing the occasional fire on Israel and permitting Gaza terror cells to try and carry out attacks on Israelis.
"Furthermore," he added, "it seems that Hamas is toughening its stand on the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. All these new fact mean we have to reevaluate the situation."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak refused to comment on Ramon's demand, but his office said that "the defense minister has made it clear many times that Israel cannot afford to complain about any additional day of calm.
"Weapons smuggling are something we have seen in the past and now we are witnessing what Egypt is doing about it. The ceasefire is observed for the most part and keeping it is an Israeli interest. It's out opportunity to bring Gilad Shalit home."
'Lull in Hamas' best interest'
Baidatz told the ministers that the past three months have seen a relative clam envelop the Gaza Strip, as a noticeable drop has occurred in the number of missile launchings at the Gaza vicinity communities: "It still happens occasionally... We see some of the small militant group fire rockets out of frustration."
The ceasefire, he added, is still in Hamas' best interest: "On the one hand they're disappointed that the Rafah crossing is still closed and that Israel delays the transfer of goods sometimes, but still more goods are being funneled into Gaza.
"Hamas is using this time to carry out different governmental operations, like getting all the clans under control," concluded Baidatz, "but the weapon smugglings are ongoing, as their were before the ceasefire took effect."
Senior Hamas official in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, said Friday that it was Israel which was backing out of the understandings brokered in Shalit's case, and that should it continue to rescind on the points already agreed, Hamas will demand the negotiation begin again, from scratch.
"If Israel wants to start from scratch under new terms, no problem," al-Zahar told the Palestinian Ramatan News Agency on Friday.
"But our terms will also be different than before. Our demands will be much larger than before. If they want a deal, they need to meet our demands," he said.
Yaalon is probably right, as an objective statement of fact, that a military confrontation with Iran is unavoidable. Nobody should be reckless enough though, to think that such a confrontation would be "good for Israel." Every friend of Israel must work to prepare for the worst in every way possible, and at the same time work to try to avoid war if it is at all possible.
Last update - 16:13 21/09/2008
Ex-IDF chief: Israel can't avoid a military confrontation with Iran
Former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon on Sunday said Israel will not be able to avoid a military confrontation with Iran and called on the international community to stand up to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad like they did against Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
"Today, we in the West are facing the same situation, the lack of decisiveness towards a threat that is no less severe than that which Hitler posed in 1939."
Ya'alon's statements came hours after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Sunday to stop any attacker before he can "pull the trigger."
Ahmadinejad also said sanctions intended to isolate the Islamic Republic have not worked, in a speech before a military parade on Sunday.
The United States and its allies are seeking to step up UN sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear plans, which the West says a bid to build nuclear arms. Iran denies this.
There has been persistent speculation Washington or Israel might launch strikes on Iran's nuclear sites, as neither country has ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to end the row.
"If anybody dares to offend the boundaries of the Iranian nation, the Iranian nation's holy land and Iran's legal interests, our armed forces ... will break his hand before he can pull the trigger," Ahmadinejad said.
He was speaking at a parade broadcast live on state television to mark the start of the Iran-Iraq war in September 1980. Hundreds of troops then marched in formation in front of the president's podium.
"Today, Iran is not in a position to show even the smallest flexibility against the bullying of the enemies. History has shown that those who wish ill for Iran will gain nothing but regret," he said.
"The enemies of humanity ... had imagined that by military attack and economic and scientific sanctions they could break down our revolution and our nation," he said, adding that Iran's enemies had "lost hope".
Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, says it wants to master nuclear technology to make electricity so it can preserve more of its vast oil and gas reserves for export.
But its failure to convince world powers of its peaceful intentions has prompted three rounds of limited UN sanctions. ashington is pushing for a fourth, but China and Russia -- two of the five veto-wielding council members -- are reluctant.
Iran has dismissed reports of possible U.S. or Israeli plans to strike Iran, but says it would respond by attacking U.S. interests and Israel if any such assault was made
We hope this rebellion is not someone's idea of "regime change." Jundalla in power would make Mr. Ahmadinejad look like a Quaker pacifist.
Iranian General Killed in Clashes with Rebels
Fars News Agency [Iran] Saturday 20 Sep 2008
TEHRAN (FNA)- Four members of the Iranian security forces, including a general, have been killed in clashes with rebels in southeastern Iran, a police official said on Friday.
"During clashes with armed rebels on Thursday night, Brigadier General Mohammad Sar-Golzaie was killed" in Sistan-Baluchestan province, a local police commander, Salah Asgari, told FNA.
He said the general was killed during mopping up operations in the Nosratabad area northwest of the provincial capital Zahedan.
He said three other soldiers had been killed in fighting in recent days without specifying where. "Several rebels were also killed," he added.
Sistan-Baluchestan has seen a spate of attacks by terrorist group Jundullah (Soldiers of God) in recent years.
The province borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and is a major drug trafficking route.
Over three thousand Iranian police and security forces have been killed in clashes with drug traffickers in southeastern country since the 1978 Islamic Revolution.
Israel politics are getting stranger and stranger. This sentence was once thought to be true:
Strange but true. Barak may have gone too far in his maneuvering. He might find Labor and himself out of office, with the Likud as Kadima Party partner instead.
Last update - 12:47 21/09/2008
Olmert tells cabinet: I'm resigning as prime minister
By Mazal Mualem, Shahar Ilan and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents, and The Associated Press
Israel Radio says Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has told his Cabinet that he will resign.
The report did not say when Olmert would submit his official letter of
resignation to President Shimon Peres, but he is expected to meet with him later Sunday.
The two - who have already spoken several times about the resignation - will consult regarding Olmert's final date in office. However, the final decision may be delayed by Peres' departure on Monday in order to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he is scheduled to stay for a week and to deliver a speech to world leaders.
At the beginning of the meeting, Olmert gave his blessing to new Kadima chief Tzipi Livni, and vowed to "support with all of my strength" in her forming of a coalition government.
Peres has said that, should it be necessary, he will postpone his trip to New York to meet with various Knesset party leaders and discuss the formation of a new government.
Olmert spokesman Mark Regev said he could not confirm the report that the prime minister would submit his official letter of resignation to Peres immediately after the weekly cabinet meeting. The president's office also said it could not confirm that Olmert would officially resign on Sunday.
Last week, Regev told The Associated Press that Olmert would notify the Cabinet on Sunday that he was stepping down. But no precise date for his official resignation was disclosed.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who was elected last week to succeed Olmert as head of the governing Kadima Party, was busy over the weekend lobbying potential partners to join a new coalition under her leadership.
Olmert's associates said Saturday that he intends to serve as head of a caretaker government until an alternative government is formed or until general elections take place.
Divisions emerged within Kadima on Friday regarding when the premier should step down. Vice Premier Haim Ramon said that Livni should ask Olmert to postpone his resignation until she has succeeded in forging a new government.
Livni on Friday called on Olmert to keep his promise to leave office in the aftermath of Wednesday's Kadima primary, saying, "We have a country to run."
Olmert is stepping down amid a number of corruption allegations, after a tenure troubled by Israel's inconclusive 2006 war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas and months of peace talks with the Palestinians that have yielded no breakthroughs.
Even though Livni is now head of Kadima, she does not automatically become prime minister. Peres would have to first appoint her to try to put together a governing coalition - something he is expected to do after Olmert formally resigns. After assigned that task, Livni would have six weeks to form a new government. Should she fail, new elections would be called for early 2009, a year and a half ahead of schedule.
Over the weekend, Livni met with leaders of two small factions outside the coalition, hoping to shore up any government she could put together. Any accords that might emerge from talks with the Palestinians and recently renewed, indirect negotiations with Syria would benefit from broad-based parliamentary backing. The current government controls 67 of parliament's 120 seats.
Neither Kadima nor its coalition partners appear eager for a new election, fearing they would be ousted from power. But the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, which could be key to building a new coalition, has already said it would not join a government willing to share Jerusalem with the Palestinians.
As lead peace negotiator, Livni is committed to discussing all the outstanding issues between Israel and the Palestinians. The fate of Jerusalem, whose eastern sector the Palestinians claim for a future state, is at the core of the conflict.
This is the Israel News and Commentary Weblog of Zionism-Israel Center. Contact: info(at)Zionism-Israel.com
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