WE WISH ALL OUR READERS A HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND GOD’S BLESSING FOR THE NEW YEAR.
THE FALLACY OF THE ’1967 BORDERS’ – NO SUCH BORDERS EVER EXISTED. • The Palestinian leadership is fixated on attempting to press foreign governments and the UN to recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state within the "1967 borders." Indeed, this campaign appeared to have some initial successes in December 2010 when both Argentina and Brazil decided to recognize a Palestinian state within what they described as the "1967 borders." • But such borders do not exist and have no basis in history, law, or fact. The only line that ever existed was the 1949 armistice demarcation line, based on the ceasefire lines of the Israeli and Arab armies pending agreement on permanent peace. The 1949 armistice agreements specifically stated that such lines have no political or legal significance and do not prejudice future negotiations on boundaries. • UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 acknowledged the need for negotiation of secure and recognized boundaries. Prominent jurists and UN delegates, including from Brazil and Jordan, acknowledged that the previous lines cannot be considered as international boundaries. • The series of agreements between the PLO and Israel (1993-1999) reaffirm the intention and commitment of the parties to negotiate permanent borders. During all phases of negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians, there was never any determination as to a border based on the 1967 lines. • The PLO leadership solemnly undertook that all issues of permanent status would be resolved only through negotiations between the parties. The 2003 "Road Map" further reiterated the need for negotiations on final borders. Alan Baker is former Legal Adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador of Israel to Canada. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
YOU TUBE REMOVES PALESTINIAN MEDIA WATCH CHANNEL. A video channel operated by Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which features videos of Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israelis, was removed by YouTube Sunday for repeatedly airing hate speech, following complaints by YouTube users. PMW Director Itamar Marcus said the video "that got us closed down, for example, showed a farewell video made by a Hamas terrorist, in which he called on Palestinians to drink the blood of Jews. But we're not the ones who produced it, it was broadcast first on Hamas TV in Gaza." A few months ago, efforts were made to shut down the YouTube presence of MEMRI, the institute that provides the English-speaking world with insight into the Mideast media. PMW's violation appears to be that it was posting "hate material." However, like MEMRI, that material was not shared for the purpose of incitement, but to expose and counter the spread of hate. Any argument that uses free speech to prevent the exposure of hate speech is deeply flawed. PMW is not promoting hate speech but exposing it in order to bring about its elimination. The people who are promoting hatred and violence of the vilest kind are the Palestinians in the videos. In response to criticism and outrage, YouTube reactivated the Palestinian Media Watch account on Monday (Jerusalem Post).
DIE DIFFAMILERUNGSKAMPAGNE GEGEN ISRAEL – FRAGEN UND ANTWORTEN (3. Teil). Die Delegitimierung richtet ihr Augenmerk auf Aktivitäten von NGOs, Graswurzelbewegungen, Universitäten und der breiteren Öffentlichkeit. Die Kampagne missbraucht internationale Institutionen, um Israel zu attackieren, und versucht neue gesetzliche Grundlagen zu schaffen, die gegen Israel eingesetzt werden können. Es wurden bereits Versuche unternommen, israelische Regierungs- und Militärbeamte in westlichen Staaten fälschlicherweise der Kriegsverbrechen anzuklagen. Um ihre Ziele zu erreichen, tarnt die Delegitimierungskampagne ihre Aktivitäten als legitime Kritik, wobei Moral, Menschenrechte und Gesetze verdreht werden. Die Delegitimierung ist ein politischer, wirtschaftlicher, kultureller und ideologischer Krieg gegen Israel. Sie zeichnet sich durch eine unverhältnismäßige und obsessive Konzentration auf Israel aus. Die Kampagne ist gegen die Meinungsfreiheit und den offenen Diskurs und versucht, den akademischen Austausch und die Wirtschaftsbeziehungen zu zerstören. Israel ist der einzige Staat, dessen Legitimität in Frage gestellt und angegriffen wird; der sich mit einer Debatte nicht nur über seine Grenzen, sondern über seine Existenz als solche konfrontiert sieht. Die nationalstaatliche Legitimität anderer Staaten, wie etwa solcher in Afrika und Asien, die entlang von Kolonialmächten willkürlich gezogenen Grenzen gegründet wurden, wird nicht angezweifelt – und dies, obwohl Israel der einzige Staat ist, dessen Existenzrecht sowohl von den Vereinten Nationen als auch ihrem Vorgänger, dem Völkerbund, anerkannt wurde. Es ist reine Heuchelei, wenn diejenigen, die das Recht des jüdischen Volkes auf Selbstbestimmung im Staat Israel in Frage stellen, gleichzeitig oftmals das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Palästinenser in Form eines palästinensischen Staates unterstützen (Außenministerium des Staates Israel, November 2010).
ILLUMINATING THE POSSIBILITIES. Earlier this month Israel struggled to extinguish a forest fire that engulfed the Carmel region of the Lower Galilee, claiming 42 lives. A country that has prevailed through successive wars and terrorist attacks, Israel had never before confronted such a devastating natural disaster. And we could not overcome it alone. A self-reliant people who are renowned as first responders to disasters abroad, we are accustomed to offering rather than requesting aid. And yet, as the Carmel fire spread, Prime Minister Netanyahu did not stand on pride. "We live in a global world," he explained. "We give and receive help, and it's not shameful to ask." For Israelis, who sometimes feel isolated in the world and misunderstood, the international outpouring of goodwill and common humanity aroused by the fire response gave us the rare opportunity to feel part of a caring global community. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (DAILY ALERT - Los Angeles Times)
CAN ISRAEL TURN ENEMIES INTO PEACEMAKERS? The State of Israel was built not by whiners but by Jews for whom no miracle was impossible - whether that meant defending against an Arab invasion or turning a desert into lush fields of agriculture. This can-do attitude has been the life force behind Israel's military success as well as its economic and cultural renaissance. There is one area, however, where Israel's can-do attitude has been a big failure, and that is in making peace with the Palestinians. With making peace, it's far from clear whether Israel has a product the Palestinians want to buy. Israel has been under enormous pressure over the years, internally and externally, to "do something" to bring peace. Israel has been too embarrassed to admit that "we can't solve this one," that the parties are too far apart, that peace, no matter how desirable, is simply not in the cards at the moment. What if there is nothing Israel can offer the Palestinians to get them to accept and deliver a durable peace with a Jewish state? What if the truth is that Israel can evacuate 300,000 Jews from the West Bank tomorrow and give up half of Jerusalem and that this would still not bring peace - and might even bring more war? The Palestinian demand for a "right of return" is a deal-killer. So is a return to nondefensible borders, and so is the presence of a terrorist state in Gaza. The fact that peace is immensely desirable has nothing to do with the reality that it is immensely unobtainable. If anything, the more Israel has shown its desire, the more the price has gone up. The Palestinians have said "no" to every peace offer Israel has ever put on the table. The status quo may be untenable, but a fake peace process makes it even worse. Israel should fess up that it doesn't have the power to turn enemies into peacemakers. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
THE PALESTINIANS ARE THE REAL OBSTACLE TO PEACE. Unfortunately, what stands between the Palestinians and eventual statehood is their insincerity when it comes to real peace. Israel has repeatedly proposed the independence that the Palestinians ostensibly desire. But instead of concluding a deal with Israel, they have demonstrated a total unwillingness to compromise, often favoring terrorism. Is it any wonder Israelis find it ever more difficult to trust the Palestinians? We do not yet have two states for two peoples because the Palestinians refuse to accept that there even exists a Jewish nation that lays legitimate claim to its land. They reject the entire premise of a state for the Jewish people - not only beyond the pre-1967 lines but even within the 1948 boundaries. Israel remains committed to the cause of peace. We have no desire to govern the affairs of another people. But our acceptance of a viable Palestinian state awaits a similar Palestinian acceptance of the rights of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator, recently wrote that such a step would require a modification of the Palestinian narrative. He's absolutely right. Until this happens, there can be no chance for peace. Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon, a former IDF Chief of Staff, is Israel's Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs. (Foreign Policy)
"INCLUDE JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB LANDS IN TALKS. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is leading a push to include Jewish refugees in discussions with the U.S. about the refugee issue, saying, "It is vitally important to return this issue to the international agenda. It is a matter of justice, closure and righting a wrong." Ayalon, whose father came to Israel after being forced out of Algeria, said this issue has "a practical as well as a moral aspect. The demands from the two sides are asymmetrical, the Palestinians talk of rights and justice [for Palestinian refugees], yet the rights and justice of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands have been ignored and suppressed for too long." In an article Ayalon wrote in September entitled "I Am a Refugee," he said that while 750,000 Arabs fled or left Mandatory Palestine, there were 900,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands. (Jerusalem Post)
STUXNET WORM STILL OUT OF CONTROL AT IRAN’S NUCLEAR SITES, EXPERTS SAY. American and European cybersecurity experts say their websites, which deal with the computer worm known as Stuxnet, continue to be swamped with traffic from Iran, an indication that the worm continues to infect the computers at Iran's nuclear sites. Examination of the worm shows it was a cybermissile equipped with a warhead that targeted and took over the controls of the centrifuge systems at Iran's uranium processing center in Natanz, and it had a second warhead that targeted the massive turbine at the nuclear reactor in Bashehr. Eric Byres, a computer expert who has studied the worm, said efforts to get the two nuclear plants to function normally have failed. The worm targeted only the two nuclear sites and did no damage to the thousands of other computers it infiltrated. Ralph Langner, the German expert who was among the first to raise alarms about Stuxnet, said, "The Iranians don't have the depth of knowledge to handle the worm or understand its complexity," raising the possibility that they may never succeed in eliminating it. (DAILY ALERT – Fox News)
SEN. LIEBERMAN ON SETTLEMENT FREEZE: ‘Sen. Lieberman on Settlement Freeze: "WHEN YOU ARE IN A HOLE, STOP DIGGING. Asked why the Obama administration finally gave up its effort to induce Israel to offer up a 90-day settlement freeze, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said, "There are smart people in this administration and they realized they were in a bad position." He observed that when you are in a hole, the first thing is "to stop digging." He said that focusing on a settlement freeze "was a mistake," putting both Israelis and Palestinians in a position in which they could not give in. He recalled that past administrations never demanded a settlement freeze while they conducted far-reaching talks. (Washington Post)
A Three-State Solution? - Chuck Freilich Israel's preeminent demand has been for an "end to conflict", i.e., to be able to live in security, without further demands, once an agreement has been reached. Hamas, however, will do everything it can to derail an agreement, including attacks on Israel and attempts to delegitimize and topple the PA. If Gaza is not part of the agreement, the conflict will not end. Talks were to initially focus on the supposedly easier issue of territory which, if resolved, would inherently resolve the settlement issue. In reality, territory is one of the difficult issues. Under the 2000 "Clinton parameters," Arafat rejected an offer of 98-99% of the West Bank. In 2007 Abbas, the purported pragmatist, rejected Olmert's offer of 100% (including a 3.5% land swap). Is there reason to believe that anything has changed? Rightly or not, the U.S. is perceived in the Arab world today as weak, preoccupied with its domestic problems, lacking in the determination and resources necessary to address the major issues facing the region, such as Iran and Iraq, let alone the intractable peace process. Major progress is unlikely as long as this perception persists. Rather than an imminent two-state-solution, the reality is that a de-facto three-state solution is evolving (Israel, West Bank and Gaza). The ongoing focus on settlements obscures the truth, that until the PA becomes a functioning, united entity, a final breakthrough is not feasible. The writer is a senior fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School. (DAILY ALERT - Huffington Post)
BARAK: PALESTINIANS DIDN’T MIND SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION DURING PAST PEACE TALKS. The Palestinians did not have a problem with Israel continuing settlement construction during past peace talks, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said following a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon on Thursday, saying that it was mutual mistrust, not settlement building, which was hindering the current round of direct negotiations. Barak said that, contrary to recent Palestinian claims, settlement building wasn't the real bone of contention between Israel and the PA. "We aren't building any new settlements," he said. "43 years of construction hardly covers 2% of the West Bank." Former Prime Minster "Olmert's government was engaged in profound talks with the Palestinians and [settlement] building then was double what it is today and that didn't seem to be an obstacle," Barak said, adding that when he was premier during negotiations with former PA chief Yasser Arafat, building was "four times what it is today." (Ha'aretz)
GRIM PROSPECTS FOR A PALESTINIAN STATE. Starting with the Israeli handover of West Bank cities and Gaza to the Palestinian Authority in the mid-1990s, the Palestinians, ever-so-slowly and inefficiently, have built pre-state institutions of governance - most recently and competently under the leadership of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. During the past few years Western observers have noted substantial improvements in Palestinian taxation, infrastructure, and economic development, and in the functioning of the (American- and European-trained) security services. Indeed, under Fayyad, the West Bank is a largely peaceful place, with residents even paying traffic tickets, and militants of Hamas and other organizations largely inactive. However, "negotiations" are unlikely to lead to a peace treaty or even a "framework" agreement for a future peace accord due to a set of obstacles that I see as insurmountable, given current political-ideological mindsets. The first is that Palestinian political elites are dead set against partitioning the Land of Israel/Palestine with the Jews. They regard all of Palestine as their patrimony and believe that it will eventually be theirs. They do not want a permanent two-state solution. Hamas, which may represent the majority of the Palestinian people, openly repudiates a two-state solution. The secular Palestinian leadership is more flexible on the tactics. They express a readiness for a two-state solution but envision such an outcome as intermediate and temporary. This is why Fatah's leaders, led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, flatly reject the Clintonian formula of "two states for two peoples" and refuse to recognize the "other" state, Israel, as a "Jewish state." They hope that this "other" state will also, in time, be "Arabized," thus setting the stage for the eventual merger of the two states into one Palestinian Arab-majority state. It is hard to envision any circumstances under which the current Obama-initiated direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks can succeed. Politically, the two contending leaders have little room for manoeuvre and, at least on the Arab side, little will to concede anything. Abbas might sign off on "an end to the conflict" - and most likely be assassinated by Arab extremists in consequence - but a majority of Palestinians, and certainly a large minority of them, would continue the struggle, rendering the agreement no more than a wind-blown piece of paper. (The writer is a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University – DAILY ALERT).
THE ‘ISLAMOPHOBIA’ MYTH. "Is America Islamophobic?" the cover of Time asked in August. The FBI's latest compendium of U.S. hate-crimes data suggests far more plausibly that the answer is no. As Time pointed out, "there are now 1,900 mosques in the U.S., up from about 1,200 in 2001." Even after 9/11, in other words, and even as radical Islamists continue to target Americans, places of worship for Muslims in the U.S. have proliferated. In 2009, there were 1,376 U.S. hate crimes motivated by religious bias. Of those, 9% were committed against Muslims, while 70% were committed against Jews. Year after year, American Jews are far more likely to be the victims of religious hate crime than members of any other group (DAILY ALERT - Boston Globe)
EGYPTIAN EXPERTS SHOOTS DOWN CONSPIRACY THEORY BLAMING ISRAEL FOR SHARK ATTACKS. Mahmoud Hanafy, a professor of marine biology at the Suez Canal University, said it is "sad" that Egyptian national TV helped perpetuate the theory that last week's shark attacks at Sharm el-Sheikh were part of an Israeli conspiracy. On Sunday, Gen. Abdel-Fadeel Shosha, the governor of South Sinai, phoned a TV program to say that it is possible that Israeli intelligence was behind the incidents. Hanafy said the Oceanic White Tip shark, blamed for the attacks, does indeed exist in Egypt's waters. He added, "It is sad that they made a person whose only knowledge of sharks comes from the movie "Jaws" go on national TV to propagate this mumbo-jumbo." (DAILY ALERT - Al-Ahram-Egypt).
THERE ARE NO SETTLERS IN JERUSALEM. In a news article on Nov. 24, the New York Times called Israelis who move into homes legally purchased from Palestinians in Jerusalem "settlers." Today, hundreds of Palestinians are moving legally into homes owned by Jews in Jerusalem. We do not disparage them as "settlers." Rather, we call them "residents" and "neighbors." The notion that some areas of Jerusalem - the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years - should be off-limits to Jews, while the entire city is open to Arabs, is deeply prejudicial. The suggestion that Jews, or any other ethnic group, would be denied residence in an American city would instantly be condemned as racist. Moreover, there are no settlers in Jerusalem, which is sovereign Israeli territory. While The Times often reports on construction in Israel, it reports much less often on the constant incitement against Israel from the Palestinian Authority, including a delegitimization campaign against the State of Israel - the biblical sites, the history and the borders of the country. The writer is spokesman and consul for media at the Consulate General of Israel in New York. (New York Times)
WIKILEAKS: HAS DISCLOSURE OF ARAB VIEWERS ON IRAN’S NUCLEAR PLANS MADE A MILITARY STRIKE MORE LIKELY?The disclosure that virtually every Arab country, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, would favor a military attack, as a last resort, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons could have a discernible effect on the policies of several countries. Israel, of course, has long insisted that the military option be kept on the table. The disclosure that North Korea has delivered missiles to Iran may well frighten European countries into considering the option of military action, if sanctions don't work. It is a mistake to believe that there can be real peace in the Middle East with an Iranian nuclear sword of Damocles hanging over the head of Israel. Even if Israel were to continue the settlement freeze and negotiate borders with the Palestinian Authority, the Iranians could ruin any prospect of permanent peace by unleashing Hizbullah and Hamas - which oppose any peace with Israel - to target Israeli civilians. President Obama understated the threat when he said a nuclear Iran would be "a game changer." It would be a disaster, threatening Middle East peace, putting an end to any hope of nuclear non-proliferation, and engendering the greatest arms race in modern history (DAILY ALERT - Guardian-UK).
WIKILEAKS SHATTERD ACCEPTED DOGMA IN THE MIDDLE EAST. WikiLeaks has shattered the accepted dogma that the main problem in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and if we just stop the settlements, the conflict will be solved and the Middle East will be stable. This was the truth they swore to in the White House and they reported in the Washington Post. The secret documents that WikiLeaks published proved that the world they were talking about was an imaginary world. They revealed that the entire Arab world is currently busy with one problem only - Iran. The cables proved that the West is contaminated by political correctness that cuts it off from the diplomatic reality. The confidential e-mails say there is no chance for the current diplomatic process. There is no chance of signing an Israeli-Palestinian agreement as long as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is living under the menacing shadow of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There is no chance of regional peace as long as the Arab world is living under Tehran's incessant threat. As long as Iran is growing stronger, is seeking nuclear weapons and is terrorizing the Middle East, there is no chance for peace. If Iran develops nuclear weapons, peace will disappear. A nuclear Iran will deal a final blow to the chance of achieving a compromise between Israelis and Arabs. Therefore the dove of peace has to be extremely hawkish toward Iran. The peace-seeker must deal with Iran. (Ha'aretz)
WIKILEAKS: ISRAEL, GULF STATES CONDUCTED SECRET DIPLOMACY. Eli Lake Israel and Persian Gulf states carried out extensive secret diplomacy in recent years to coordinate policy and exchange information on the threat posed by Iran. A March 19, 2009, cable quotes Yacov Hadas, deputy director of Israel's Foreign Ministry, as telling an American diplomat: "The Gulf Arabs believe in Israel's role because of their perception of Israel's close relationship with the U.S., but also due to their sense that they can count on Israel against Iran." Aaron David Miller, who has been a senior Middle East adviser to six secretaries of state, said every Arab country with the exception of Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Libya has had some diplomatic channel to Israel. Israeli diplomats told the Washington Times that Israeli officials have looked to coordinate some aspects of Iran policy with Arab states in private meetings in Europe and on the sidelines of international meetings. Israelis have shared information with Gulf states on weapons and high-tech shipments bound for Iran. (Washington Times)
WIKILEAKS: YOU CAN’T BLAME ISRAEL FOR MISTRUSTING ARABS, SAYS QATARI RULER. Israelis can't be blamed for mistrusting Arabs, Qatar's Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, told U.S. Senator John Kerry on Feb. 23, 2010, as reported by U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Joseph LeBaron. "The Israeli leaders need to represent the people of Israel, who themselves do not trust Arabs. The Emir said this is understandable and 'we can't blame them' because the Israelis have been 'under threat' for a long time." The Emir went on to say, "When you consider that many in the region perceive that Hizbullah drove Israel out of Lebanon and Hamas kicked them...out of Gaza, it is actually surprising that the Israelis still want peace." (Ha'aretz)
NETANYAHU: WIKILEAKS SHOW ARAB STATES SHARE ISRAELI CONCERNS ABOUT IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed hope Monday that U.S. diplomatic cables revealing that several Arab states share his country's concern about Iran's nuclear weapons program could build momentum for tougher international action. "More and more states, governments and leaders in the Middle East and the wider region and the world believe this is the fundamental threat," Netanyahu said. Regional leaders say the "greatest threat is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Netanyahu said. "But in reality, leaders understand that this narrative is bankrupt." (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)
ISLAMIC JIHAD: IF ISRAEL WITHDRAWS TO THE ’67 BORDERS, WE WILL OPERATE FROM THE WEST BAN TO LIBERATE THE REST OF PALESTINE. Abu Ahmad, spokesman of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, said that the resistance groups in Gaza have formed a joint headquarters to fully coordinate their military activity. He explained that, if another war breaks out, the resistance will not restrain itself and its rockets will reach targets beyond Ashdod and Beersheba. He added that the resistance is making serious efforts to transfer its expertise to the West Bank, and that if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, the resistance will operate from the West Bank to free the rest of Palestine. (DAILY ALERT - MEMRI)
WESTERN WALL FEUD HEIGHTENS ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN TENSIONS. The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday strongly denounced a Palestinian Authority paper that denies any Jewish connection to the Western Wall, the iconic holy site and place of Jewish worship in the Old City of Jerusalem, describing the report as "reprehensible and scandalous." The episode appeared to signal a worsening atmosphere after a two-month hiatus in peace talks. Netanyahu's statement referred to a long article that appeared in Arabic on Monday on the Information Ministry Web site of the Western-backed Palestinian government, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank. The Western Wall is a remnant of the retaining wall of a plateau revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, the site where their ancient temples once stood. The Palestinian paper denying any Jewish historical connection with the site was written by Al-Mutawakel Taha, an Information Ministry official. In it, he stated that "the Al Buraq Wall is the western wall of Al Aksa, which the Zionist occupation falsely claims ownership of and calls the Wailing Wall or Kotel." Palestinian officials have often denied claims of Jewish heritage in Jerusalem. Netanyahu said the Western Wall "has been the Jewish people's most sacred place for almost 2,000 years, since the destruction of the Second Temple." He added that the Palestinian Authority's denial of a Jewish link "calls into serious question its intentions of reaching a peace agreement, the foundations of which are coexistence and mutual recognition." Netanyahu called on the authority's leaders to disavow the document. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)
180,000 PALESTINIANS TREATED IN ISRAELI HOSPITALS LAST YEAR. "Up until September 2000, a Ramallah resident could have taken his car and driven to Ichilov Hospital [in Israel]," Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon told a conference on humanitarian medicine on Nov. 22 in Jerusalem. "From September 2000 we've been in a state of terror. Hundreds were killed, Jews and Palestinians alike." But today, he says, stability has been restored. Dr. Tawfik Nasr, Director of the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem and coordinator of all hospitals in east Jerusalem, described the example of patients coming from Gaza to be treated in Jerusalem, sometimes over a period of three to four months. They are housed in a special hotel on the Mount of Olives. Dalia Basa, medical coordinator of the Israeli Civil Administration, reported that last year 180,000 Palestinians entered Israel to receive treatment (Israel Defense Forces).
EXPERT: ISRAEL CAN’T RELY ON TURKEY OR NATO FOR ITS DEFENSE. Given the Turkish government's animosity toward Israel, the Israeli government would be foolish to think a missile defense system in Turkey would defend it from an Iran attack, according to American foreign policy expert Ariel Cohen from The Heritage Foundation in Washington. Cohen countered arguments that the NATO missile defense system is being constructed to protect Israel from an Iranian attack. Israel has its own missile defense system against potential missile attacks, Cohen said. Furthermore, Iran does not need to use Turkish airspace to hit Israel, he added. "Obama has spent tremendous political capital by coming to Turkey in the early days of his administration, to highlight Turkey as a model of a democratic Muslim state. But...this image no longer applies. Turkey has wasted its goodwill in Washington. Many in the U.S. are disappointed," he said. (DAILY ALERT - Hurriyet Daily News-Turkey)
ISRAEL’S CRITICS ARE AFRAID OF DEMOCRACY. • Israel's Knesset vote to require a referendum to ratify any peace deal that involved the surrender of Jerusalem or the Golan Heights is being slammed in the Arab world as well as by other foes of the Jewish state. • Any Israeli government that chose to sign an agreement that called for the re-division of Jerusalem or handing the strategic Golan Heights back to Syria would be strengthened by the knowledge that their decisions would have to be ratified by the people. A referendum would give any peace deal the seal of democratic approval that it must have to succeed. • But what most of those who have commented about this measure don't mention is that so long as the political culture of the Palestinians regards the acceptance of a Jewish state as anathema no matter where its borders might be drawn or who controls Jerusalem, then any discussion of a referendum to ratify a peace deal is more science fiction than political science. • After 17 years of fruitless concessions made in the name of peace, most Israelis have understandably grown cynical about a process that has proved to be an exchange of land for terror, not peace. If Abbas wants to change their minds, all he has to do is be willing to make peace and demonstrate to Israel's people that he means it. Israeli democracy would be the best guarantee of a two-state solution, if only he were prepared to act as if he actually wanted one. (DAILY ALERT)
GAZANS SHOCKED AT HOWMANY NEIGHBOURS, CO-WORKERS, OFFICIALS ARE SPYING FOR ISRAEL. After a Hamas campaign to uncover and uproot the network of collaborators with Israel, Gazans were astounded not only by the number or arrests, but by who was arrested. Prominent figures in society, including many doctors, were among those caught in the sweep, and the hunt for spies continues. The number of those arrested is in the high hundreds. Gazans say the revelation of the network's reach is eroding trust between neighbors, coworkers - even family members. "People start to be afraid of each other. We don't talk openly with each other, and we suspect each other," says Alaa Fouad, an anesthesiologist at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Many of those accused of collaborating are tortured, and Issam Younis, director of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, says confessions extracted by coercion or torture are common. An intelligence source said many of those arrested belonged to Fatah (DAILY ALERT - Christian Science Monitor)
ISRAEL PROTESTS TO UN OVER PALESTINIAN PHOSPHOROUS ATTACK. Israeli UN Ambassador Meron Ruben filed an official complaint on Saturday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon following Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza. Starting on 18 November 2010, "a barrage of rockets and mortars were fired at Israeli towns and civilians from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. These attacks included the launch of a long-range rocket at the Israeli town of Ofakim, causing damage to property and livestock, which was followed by a barrage of seven mortars - some of which apparently contained white phosphorus - that were fired into the area around the city of Ashkelon and into the Eshkol region in the south. In addition, two Kassam rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into the Merhavim region in southern Israel." "These incidents are only the latest in a series of attacks carried out by Hamas and other terrorist organizations, which have launched some 8,800 rockets from Gaza against Israeli towns since 2001....These attacks reflect the continued buildup of arms and munitions by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. These latest incidents - a clear violation of international law - demonstrate the acute security threats facing Israel on a daily basis." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
U.S. STATEMENT ON EAST JERUSALEM HARD TO COME BY. The U.S. would set a policy precedent if it made a clear statement that excluded Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem from any settlement freeze, former American ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer said Thursday. It would represent the first time Washington had clearly stated its policy with respect to east Jerusalem, Kurtzer said. And therefore, he indicated, it was highly unlikely that a clear written commitment would be made. In the 1990s, the U.S. vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions condemning east Jerusalem construction. But at the same time, the U.S. has often chastised Israel for building in east Jerusalem. Israel's right to continue to build in east Jerusalem has become a critical component of the incentives package now under discussion that the Obama administration wants to exchange for a 90-day freeze on new settlement construction. (Jerusalem Post)
THE IDF IN THE SECOND INTIFADA. Four main lessons can be learned from the IDF's conduct during the Second Intifada: • The first is the need for flexibility. The IDF was required to make fast adjustments from a situation in which the main challenge was civil demonstrations, to a situation in which the chief threat was terrorism. The chief of staff from 2002-2005, Moshe Ya'alon, was in the habit of holding a brainstorming session every two weeks which greatly helped to identify changes over the course of that period. • The second lesson underscores the importance of intelligence. In fact, the intelligence was excellent. It was based on an established infrastructure of human intelligence and on a real improvement in eavesdropping technologies (SIGINT) and visual intelligence (VISINT), especially from unmanned aerial vehicles. Brigade commanders on the ground were exposed to sensitive intelligence material, and the results were not long in coming. • Third is control of the territory. When weighing how to act against terrorism that is well entrenched in a built-up area, if there is good intelligence, then there are many operational advantages to operating in the area. If the intelligence is not good, then the presence of forces in the built-up area only makes easy targets for the terrorist elements. • The fourth lesson concerns the relationship with the political echelon. In this type of fighting, every large military action has diplomatic significance, and every diplomatic action has a direct influence on the military's room to maneuver and its freedom of action. When the generals order an action, they must pay attention to the diplomatic significance as well. Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland is a senior research associate at INSS. (DAILY ALERT)
WHAT THE PA BUYS WITH AMERICAN MONEY. • Two weeks ago, a Palestinian from Bethlehem was arrested by the U.S.-financed and trained Palestinian Authority security forces, charged with "carrying out commercial transactions with residents of a hostile state." His crime was purchasing wood products from an Israeli community located beyond the 1949 armistice lines. • His arrest is part of U.S.-supported Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's project to ban all economic contact between Palestinians and Jews who live and work beyond the 1949 armistice lines. Fayyad's measures come on top of previously enacted PA measures like imposing the death penalty on Palestinians who sell land to Jews. • According to the Congressional Research Service, the PA is the largest recipient of foreign assistance in the world. According to Bloomberg, it received $1.2 billion in 2009 and will receive $1.8 billion by the end of the year. • Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is expected to become the chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee in the next Congress, responded to an announced expansion of U.S. aid to the PA: "It is deeply disturbing that the administration is continuing to bail out the Palestinian leadership when they continue to fail to meet their commitments, under international agreements and requirements outlined in U.S. law, including dismantling the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, combating corruption, stopping anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement and recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state." • It is impossible to prevent U.S. budgetary assistance to the PA from financing Hamas. Each month Fayyad transfers funds to Hamas-controlled Gaza to pay the salaries of PA employees there, in contravention of U.S. and international law which prohibits assistance to areas controlled by terrorists. (Jerusalem Post)
AN INTRICATE PLOT UNLEASHED IN MUMBAI, A NEW THREAT TO THE WEST. Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley set up shop in Mumbai in September 2006 to begin undercover reconnaissance for a sophisticated attack that would take two years to plan. He had spent three years refining his clandestine skills in the terrorist training camps of the Pakistani Lashkar-i-Taiba militant group. Lashkar escalated its war on the West with a 2008 attack on Mumbai that targeted Americans, Europeans and Jews as well as Indians. In December 2007, Headley's estranged fourth wife, a Moroccan, told officials at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad that she believed he was a terrorist. She made references to training and suicide bombings and described his frequent travel to Mumbai, U.S. law enforcement officials say. Headley's mentor, Sajid Mir, oversaw the Mumbai attack. Indian intelligence officers were able to intercept and record nearly 300 calls. Mir's voice dominated the conversations. The Jewish center known as the Chabad House was attacked about an hour after the assault began. The gunmen shot Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his pregnant wife, Rivka, 28, as well as two visiting rabbis from New York, Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum and Ben-Zion Chroman. Two female hostages were still alive at Chabad House: Yocheved Orpaz, an Israeli grandmother, and Norma Rabinovich, a Mexican tourist. Mir told a gunman to hand Rabinovich the phone. He ordered her to propose a prisoner exchange to Israeli diplomats. Hours later, Mir gave the order to kill her. A gunman named Akasha sounded reluctant. Mir turned icy when he learned the two women were still alive. He demanded: "Have you done the job or not?" Akasha executed the women as Mir listened, according to the transcript. The gunfire echoed over the phone. (DAILY ALERT - ProPublica-Washington Post)
HAMAS ROCKETS CAN REACH TEL AVIV. A senior Israeli intelligence official warned Sunday that Hamas in Gaza has rockets that can travel 80 km. (50 miles), which would put Tel Aviv, home to some two million people, within range of its launchers. The official blamed Egypt, saying it was not doing enough to stem smuggling through the Sinai desert to Gaza. "In many places we can show photos of Egyptian soldiers located less than 20 meters from the opening of a tunnel, and the tunnel is operating under his eyes, under his control, and nobody is doing anything about it." "Egypt can stop all this smuggling of weapons within 24 hours if they want to do it," he said. He added that Israeli intelligence believes the long-range goal of Hamas is to destroy Israel and to establish an Islamic "caliphate," not only in the Middle East but in Europe as well. (DAILY ALERT)
NETANYAHU: IF PEACE DEAL IS POSSIBLE, IT CAN BE REACHED IN A YEAR. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday: "I want to see those [peace] negotiations resumed. And frankly, what I have in mind is not merely to achieve a peace between us and the Palestinians, but a broader peace with most or all of the Arab states. Now, that is a game changer because we'd have political benefits for all of us, [since] everybody understands we have a common adversary in Iran." "As we've recognized the Palestinian state, will they recognize the Jewish state? Will we end the conflict? Because we don't want a Palestinian state to be a state which continues the conflict....And in our part of the world, the only peace that holds is a peace you can defend." "I said that we should take the coming year and try to fashion this historic peace agreement, and people said, well, how can you finish it in a year? And I said you can finish it in a year - if there's a deal out there, you'll finish it in a year. And if there's not a deal out there, then more time will not change it." (DAILY ALERT - CNBC-Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
BRITISH LIBERAL DEMOCRATS IN AMAZING TURNAROUND ON ISRAEL. Israel has a new friend in Great Britain. Hitherto the most anti-Israeli political party in the country, the Liberal Democrats appear to have performed a volte face with Nick Clegg - the party's leader and Deputy Prime Minister to David Cameron - saying that his party had got it wrong on Israel. ""I'm not certain that we have always made ourselves clearly heard on this, so let me say it again now: Israel's right to thrive in peace and security is non-negotiable for Liberal Democrats," Britain's Jewish Chronicle quoted Clegg as saying. "No other country so continually has its right to exist called into question as does Israel, and that is intolerable....There can be no solution to the problems of the Middle East that does not include a full and proper recognition of Israel by all parties to the conflict." The writer is director for international affairs at the Henry Jackson Society in London (Daily Alert)
NETANYAHU LAUDS CLOSE U.S.-ISRAEL COOPERATION. Prime Minister Netanyahu told Fox Business Channel in an interview on Wednesday: "I think there is fundamental misunderstanding about the close nature between Israel and the United States. It is so close and it's something that is mirrored by all leaders and by all governments, whether in the United States or in Israel....We have had security cooperation in the last year that people don't know about but I think has surpassed all previous levels." "The outgoing Congress was friendly to Israel. The incoming Congress is friendly to Israel. I think basically that's a constant in the relationship between Israel and the United States." "The only way you're going to conclude a successful peace negotiation is if you actually engage in it. And I'm disappointed with the fact that the Palestinian Authority has found ways not to negotiate. to seek a detour, to somehow go to the UN or go to the Security Council, or go elsewhere in avoiding the critical negotiation that we have to engage in." (Fox Business Channel-Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
WHAT DO THE RESIDENTS OF HAR HOMA SAY? In less than a decade, Har Homa (officially Homat Shmuel - "Samuel's wall") has 20,000 residents, wide streets, modern infrastructure, and plans to build another 2,000 housing units. The neighborhood was set up in the face of strong Palestinian and international protests during Benjamin Netanyahu's first term as prime minister. Attorney Herzl Yechezkel, one of the first residents of the new neighborhood, has been the head of its residents' committee since its inception. "I remember the fight that accompanied the birth of the neighborhood....Then everyone threatened that there would be a third world war. The bottom line was that [Faisal] al-Husseini made some noise and some headlines but when we started to actually build, the whole world was quiet." - "It's our right to build up Jerusalem...the capital of the Jewish people....The demands of the world are hallucinatory. It's as if I were to say: Don't build in Washington." (Ha'aretz)
WHY DO PALESTINIANS ATTACK ISRAELI DOCTORS AND AMBULANCES. Lately, there have been a number of incidents where Arabs hurled stones at Israeli ambulances in Jerusalem and other parts of the country, often when they arrive at an Arab neighborhood to help Arabs. Last week, two Israeli ambulances that rushed to an Arab village in Jerusalem were attacked by local youths, causing much damage to the vehicles. In a separate incident last month, dozens of Arabs hurled stones at paramedics who came to treat a man seriously injured in a car accident near the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm. Israeli hospitals have always been full of Arab patients, who often praise the doctors and nurses for offering them the best treatment. Even Arabs from neighboring countries seek treatment in Israeli hospitals. This is why it is hard to understand why any Arab would ever consider attacking Israeli medical staff. How do such attacks help the Palestinian cause or any Arab or Islamic cause? (DAILY ALERT - Hudson Institute New York)
WEST BANK TERRORIST LIST DWINDLES. For the first time since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, not a single security suspect is being sought by Israel in the northern West Bank. In the southern West Bank, there are only a few names on the wanted list, a reflection of both the improved security situation in the West Bank and the increasing cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces. The last fatal suicide bombing emanating from the northern West Bank occurred in April 2006, committed by Islamic Jihad in Jenin. In the last year, several major terrorist attacks have been carried out in the West Bank, but Israel located the perpetrators, Fatah members from Nablus and Hamas members from the Hebron area, and killed them. Among the few wanted figures still at large are Hamas members operating in Hebron (Ha'aretz).
PA INDICTS, JAILS PALESTINIAN MERCHANT FOR BUYING FROM JEWISH SETTLEMENT. In the first case of its kind, a Palestinian merchant from Bethlehem has been indicted for violating a Palestinian Authority call to boycott goods made in settlements. He has been charged with "carrying out commercial transactions with residents of a hostile state," the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency reported. The man, who is being held in a PA prison, was caught trying to bring in wood products manufactured in a settlement, said Amin Abu Akil, director of the Customs Authority in the Bethlehem area. A PA magistrate's court remanded the suspect into custody until the end of proceedings. (Jerusalem Post)
WHAT EUROPE DOES BEST. In recent weeks the EU's representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, rushed to the region from Washington to shore up the floundering peace talks following criticism that she failed to raise the international profile of the recently launched European External Action Service - a new mechanism designed to give the EU a stronger voice. If current U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell can't keep the Palestinians and Israelis talking, then it seems inconceivable that there is anything the EU can bring to the table that will. So what should Europe do? Recently Marc Otte, the EU's special representative for Middle East peace, looked forward to the day that the EU would be "a full player" in the politics of the conflict. But the EU should stop measuring its success in contributing to peace in terms of its ability to score political points over the U.S., or gain a political role commensurate with its economic weight. When a Palestinian state is finally established, the EU will play a crucial role in doing what it has done best in Europe over the past half century - promoting consensus and economic cooperation among former enemies in the interests of regional prosperity and long-term stability. Europe, Israel and the Palestinians would all be well served if the EU fully acknowledged the importance of this role, not as a pretext for political influence, but as an end in itself. The writer is director of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London. (Jerusalem Post)
OBAMA MUSTN’T FORCE A FINAL DEAL. • The real game begins now: establishing a viable Palestinian state within a year. Why? Because the American president believes establishing a Palestinian state would placate the Arab Muslim world, which he wishes to appease. • In a certain sense, the president's resolve is to be commended. It's good to have a world leader trying to save the two-state solution. But in another sense Obama's determination is dangerous. If Obama tries to impose an end to the conflict prematurely, he will upset the stability, encourage violence and leave chaos in his wake. • Obama, even after losses at home, has enough power to coerce Israel. But Obama does not have enough power to turn the fake into real. He cannot topple Hamas, revoke the demand for return, and turn a Palestine into a peace-loving state. So if he insists on forcing the issue, all hell will break loose. (Ha'aretz).
ISRAELI AIRPORT GIVES RARE GLIMPSE INTO SECURITY Airport security around the world isn't good enough, an Israeli airport official said Tuesday while showing international experts Israel's near-legendary methods as a possible solution. Nahum Liss of the Israel Airports Authority said, "In the U.S., profiling is a bad word," but he defended the practice, saying it is done by "intelligent, motivated" university students who served in Israel's military and can identify passengers who could pose a potential risk. Routine security procedures start far away from the terminal. Before even entering the airport, all cars are stopped for a security check by armed guards. Cameras scan license plates to match them with a database of suspicious vehicles. The airport's main terminal is equipped with 700 closed-circuit cameras and is fortified against explosions. The large glass wall at the front and even the trash cans inside are bombproof (DAILY ALERT - AP)
ISRAEL URGES UN NOT TO BUILD PALESTINIAN SCHOOL NEXT TO HAMAS ARMY BASE. Israel's Defense Ministry is pleading with the UN agency UNRWA not to build a new school for Palestinian children next to a Hamas military installation in southern Gaza. While the ministry says it fully supports building new schools, to build a school adjacent to a Hamas military installation would be "shocking and highly irresponsible." In the past, Hamas has cynically placed its bomb laboratories next to schools in the knowledge that Israel will then be extremely reluctant to target them, even during wartime. As a consequence, children are regularly maimed when Hamas explosives accidentally explode while the group is preparing bombs and missiles. In the latest of several such incidents, in Rafah five children and two women were injured after a device in a Hamas weapons laboratory adjacent to a school accidentally exploded. (Daily Alert - Hudson Institute New York
UNESCO DECLARES CAVE OF PATRIARCHS, RACHEL’S TOMB AS PALESTINIAN MOSQUES. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday issued a statement condemning the UNESCO decision last week to define the historical sites of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem as Palestinian. "The attempt to detach the people of Israel from its heritage is absurd. If the places where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish nation are buried - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Leah and Rachel - some 4,000 years ago are not part of the Jewish heritage, then what is?" "The State of Israel, in contrast to its neighbors, will continue to preserve freedom of religion at these sites and preserve them for future generations." The UNESCO board voted 44 to 1, with 12 abstentions, to declare Rachel's Tomb, which it referred to as the "Bilal bin Rabah Mosque," as "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories." Israel says Muslims had also traditionally referred to Rachel's Tomb in Arabic as "Qubat Rachel," and the claim that it was a mosque was coined by Palestinians for political reasons only following Arab riots in 1996. (DAILY ALERT -AP-DPA-Ha'aretz)
NETANYAHU: DIRECT TALKS ARE ONLY PATH TO TRUE MIDEAST PEACE. Direct peace talks are the only path to achieve genuine Middle East peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Thursday, hours after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians were considering a unilateral declaration of statehood. Netanyahu said Israel expected the "Palestinians to live up to their obligations by holding serious direct negotiations, without malice and without preconditions." "Any attempt to bypass direct talks by appealing to international bodies will do nothing to advance the true peace process." The two peoples could achieve "a secure and stable peace solely through direct negotiations, a path I hope we shall return to in full force soon." UN diplomats, responding to Abbas' threat of a unilateral declaration, said earlier this week that such a move would represent a severe strategic error on Abbas' side, calling Palestinian hopes of a possible U.S. abandonment of its traditional support of Israel in the UN Security Council a "wild dream." "U.S. support of Israel is part of its DNA," a senior diplomat said. (Ha'aretz)
JORDAN SLAMS UN OFFICIAL FOR URGING PALESTINIAN REFUGEES TO RESETTLE IN ARAB STATES. Jordan has condemned remarks by a UN official saying Palestinian refugees must not be deluded about their right to return and that Arab countries must resettle them. Wajih Azaizeh, who directs Jordan's Palestinian Affairs Department, on Thursday called remarks by Andrew Whitley, the N.Y. director of UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, "irresponsible." Speaking at a National Council for U.S.-Arab Relations conference last week, Whitley said: "If one doesn't start a discussion soon with the refugees for them to consider what their own future might be - for them to start debating their own role in the societies where they are rather than being left in a state of limbo where they are helpless, but preserve rather the cruel illusions that perhaps they will return one day to their homes - then we are storing up trouble for ourselves." "We recognize, as I think most do, although it's not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent," he said, adding that "It's not a politically palatable issue, it's not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it's a known contour to the issue." (DAILY ALERT - Jordan Times-AP-Ha'aretz)
THE PALESTINIAN UNILATERIAL THREAT (PART 1). • Since the U.S. (President Bill Clinton), the EU, Egypt (President Hosni Mubarak), Jordan (the late King Hussein) and others are signatories as witnesses to the Interim Agreement, they may not act to recognize such a unilaterally declared Palestinian state. Voiding the Oslo Accords would bring about a legal vacuum that could result in considerable chaos which none of the interested parties, the PA especially, would want. • Similarly, the UN Security Council would be faced with a genuine dilemma if asked to adopt a resolution declaring a Palestinian state within the "1967 borders." The very basis for all the peace treaties and other agreements between Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinians and Israel are the 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242 and the 1973 Resolution 338. These resolutions do not refer to "1967 borders." In fact, there are no such borders, but armistice and cease-fire lines that have never been acknowledged to be borders. • The Palestinian threat to organize an emergency UN General Assembly session to adopt a "uniting for peace" resolution in the event that the Security Council fails to oblige, shows either ignorance of or contempt for the UN system. Any such resolution would doubtless be adopted by an automatic majority, but being a General Assembly resolution, would have no legal significance other than to bolster the Palestinian ego and add another futile resolution to the long list of futile UN resolutions. The writer served as legal adviser of the Foreign Ministry and ambassador to Canada, and was actively involved in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab states. (Jerusalem Post)
THE PALESTINIAN UNILATERIAL THREAT (PART 1). • We now seem to be witnessing an old/new development in the Palestinian negotiating technique, in the form of daily threats by negotiators. These threats are: to unilaterally declare a state (Prime Minister Salam Fayyad) or to declare the Oslo Accords void (Muhammad Shatayeh). • This is not the first time in the present negotiating phase that the Palestinians have tried to use the "negotiating technique" of threats. At the recent Sharm e-Sheikh conference, PA President Abbas and chief negotiator Erekat threatened to walk out if Prime Minister Netanyahu did not renew the settlement freeze. Now, with talks deadlocked practically before they had a chance to begin, we are witnessing this new spate of threats to act independently, through enlisting the UN Security Council, the Americans and Europeans in an attempt to bypass Israel and impose a settlement based on the "1967 borders." • There are several legal and practical flaws in these threats. Any unilateral declaration of a state outside the agreed-upon negotiating process would undermine the Oslo Accords and the legal basis for the existence of the PA. It would also be a violation of Article 31 of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, grounds for voiding the agreement, and would open the door to potential Israeli unilateral action vis-a-vis the status of the territory (Jerusalem Post).
ARE SETTLEMENTS REALLY THE MAJOR OBSTACLE TO PEACE? For nearly two decades, the Palestinian Authority conducted peace talks with Israel while construction in the Jewish settlements was continuing. Until two years ago, Abbas was negotiating with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, while the settlements were being expanded. Some Palestinians say that the settlements became a major issue only when the U.S. and other Western governments started demanding a freeze of settlement construction. Palestinian leaders can't afford a situation where Presidents Obama and Sarkozy appear to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians. If the settlements were really the major obstacle to peace, how come peace did not prevail when Israel destroyed all the settlements in Gaza and evicted more than 8,000 Jews from there? The major obstacle to peace is Iran and radical Muslims who want to destroy Israel, and not make peace with it. They are also threatening to kill any moderate Arab or Muslim who seeks to make peace with Israel. (DAILY ALERT - Hudson Institute New York)
ISRAEL SLAMS STATEMENT ON MIDEAST, SINGLING OUT ARCHBISHOP Catholic bishops from the Middle East concluded a conference in Rome, Italy, with a call for the international community, especially the UN, to work "to put an end to the occupation" of Palestinian territories. Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, who leads the Greek Melkite Church in the U.S., said Saturday: "We Christians cannot speak of the 'promised land' as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people....This promise was nullified by Christ." On Sunday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said: "We are especially appalled at the language used by Archbishop Bustros during his press conference....We call on the Vatican to distant themselves from Archbishop Boutros' comments which are a libel against the Jewish people and the State of Israel and should not be construed as the Vatican's official position." "These outrageous comments should not cast a shadow over the important relationship between the Vatican, the State of Israel and the Jewish people," he added. (CNN)
RIGHT TO EXIST NON-NEGOTIABLE. There is little doubt that Israel is the Jewish homeland. The UN established it that way, and the international community recognizes it as such. Why ask Palestinians, who dislike that fact, to restate the obvious? Yet the intensity of the Palestinians' rejection of the idea has uncovered such a fundamental challenge to the "two-state solution'' that I am now persuaded that true, lasting peace may never come unless Palestinians and other Arabs openly accept Israel as a Jewish nation. Jewish nation, of course, does not mean special rights for Jews or second-class status for non-Jews. Israel is a democratic country whose laws clearly spell out equality for all citizens. As long as Palestinians continue denying the ancient connection between Jews and the Land of Israel, as long as they reject the Jewish people's right to a state, any peace agreement will be written in sand. (DAILY ALERT - Miami Herald)
NEW ELECTRONIC ID SYSTEM USING HANDPRINTS EASES IDF CHECKPOINT CONTROL. The Israel Defense Forces have found a way to minimize friction between soldiers and the Palestinians with a "soldier-free" checkpoint entry procedure. Soldiers will soon be replaced by electronic terminals checking the Palestinians by handprints, which will shorten the time spent at checkpoints and create a "more pleasant atmosphere." The new system, which greatly resembles the biometric passport control system at Ben-Gurion Airport, "speaks" Arabic with the users. Central Command chief Avi Mizrahi recently approved the installation of 12 electronic control terminals in checkpoints around the "green line" as early as next year. (Ynet News)
EGYPT’S CHRISTIANS FED TO MUSLIM ‘LIONS’ (DAILY ALERT - Hudson Institute New York) A prominent Egyptian, Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, ex-secretary general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, appeared on Al Jazeera on Sep. 15, and accused Egypt's Coptic Christian minority of "stocking arms and ammunition in their churches and monasteries" - arms imported from Israel, no less, as "Israel is in the heart of the Coptic Cause" - and "preparing to wage war against Muslims." To make matters worse, Islamist leaders began to circulate baseless rumors that the Church and Pope Shenouda III "kidnap" Coptic women, who willingly convert to Islam, and torture and re-indoctrinate them back to Christianity. Since last month there have been at least ten mass demonstrations in Egypt condemning the Copts, who make up 12% of the population. The government not only has not prevented or dispersed the increasingly rabid demonstrations, but Egyptian security actually facilitates, and sometimes participates, in them. As history teaches, whenever a majority group casts all its woes onto a minority group, tragedy often follows.
ISRAEL PUSHES PALESTINIANS TO ACKNOWLEDGE ITS JEWISH CHARACTER. Israel's recent push to be recognized as a "Jewish" state is actually a new twist on an old struggle. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state in its declaration of independence. U.S. Presidents Obama and George W. Bush have embraced the term, which was used in the 1947 UN resolution calling for the establishment of two states, one Jewish and the other Palestinian Arab. "The demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state isn't a tactic or ploy, but something deeply important," said Yoram Meital, chairman of Ben-Gurion University's Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy. "It's really the basis for everything else." Beginning in 2007, some Israelis began insisting that the PLO's recognition of Israel's "right to exist" was not enough and that some sort of endorsement of a "Jewish state" was necessary. The adjustment stemmed from growing Israeli concerns that Palestinians still might one day try to wrest control of the country through the expanding Arab Israeli minority - already one-fifth of Israel's citizenry - and the possible influx of Palestinian refugees. Israelis worried that, in light of the shifting demographics and the country's democratic ideals, they'd left a giant loophole that could allow Palestinians to one day turn Israel into an Arab-dominated country. Because Palestinians want their own state in the West Bank, it was seen as a kind of political double-dipping. (DAILY ALERT - Los Angeles Times)
ISRAEL’S NEW OATH OF ALLEGIANCE. The idea that mandating an oath of allegiance for new citizens is a sign of Israeli fascism is part of the delegitimization campaign against Israel. It fits so well with media blather about the decline of Israeli democracy that critics have conveniently ignored the fact that such oaths are normal fare in every major Western democracy. The U.S. oath of allegiance for new citizens requires new Americans to "absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty"; promise to "support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic"; promise to "bear arms" and "perform noncombatant" service at the direction of the U.S. government; and swear in the name of God Almighty himself, all of which makes swearing an oath of allegiance to the democratic Jewish State of Israel seem like pretty weak stuff. (DAILY ALERT - Tablet)
PA MAY ASK UN TO REGOGNIZE STATE WITHIN ’67 BORDERS. The Palestinian Authority announced on Saturday that it was studying the possibility of asking the UN General Assembly and Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. In response, an Israeli government official said that "there is no substitute for direct talks" between the parties and signing an agreement on a final-status solution. The Palestinians often make threats to avoid direct talks with Israel, he said. "We see this as a way to apply pressure to the international community." The official speculated that the PA is looking to avoid negotiations because in its current political situation, it cannot show the flexibility that is needed for direct negotiations. (Jerusalem Post)
WHY THE DEMAND TO RECOGNIZE ISRAEL AS A JEWISH STATE IS LEGITIMATE. The demand to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is a legitimate one. That is why we came here. The supreme goal of Zionism is that in the Land of Israel the people of Israel will have a national home. Those who don't believe in the right of the Jewish people to a national home are racists. This is the heart of the conflict. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict stems from the fact that for a century, the Jewish national movement and the Palestinian national movement refused to recognize each other. In 1993, Israel recognized the Palestinian people and its rights. But to this day the Palestinians have not recognized the Jewish people and its rights. For true peace to prevail, there must be peace between the Arab Palestinian nation-state and the Jewish Israeli nation-state. (Ha'aretz)
THE PEACE PROCESS IS BACK: PREPARE FOR WAR. Just as life seemed to be returning to normal in the West Bank and Gaza and Israelis and Palestinians were for the first time in many years beginning to talk about security and economic cooperation, the U.S. administration stepped in to demand that the "peace process" be resumed. Now that Israelis and Palestinians are being forced to discuss sensitive issues that each side would have preferred to avoid at this stage, their officials have stepped up rhetorical attacks on each other. It would have been better had Obama and Clinton waited a little longer with the peace talks and, in the meantime, encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to continue with their efforts to calm the situation. The harder the U.S. pushes, the closer the two sides move toward another confrontation. (DAILY ALERT - Hudson Institute New York)
THE MAYOR’S VISION FOR JERUSALEM (PART 7). In Silwan there are 41 Arab-owned buildings and one Jewish-owned building - Beit Yonatan - over four stories high. To demonstrate equality before the law, we must treat all of the buildings over four stories high the same. My recommendation is to shave all of the buildings that are over four stories, and not single out only the Jewish-owned building for government intervention. To go after one building is discriminatory and my recommendation to the government is to deal with all residents exactly the same, whether they be Jewish or non-Jewish. I would be interested to hear what Mayor Bloomberg would do if somebody built an illegal structure in the middle of Central Park or anywhere else in New York. The Jewish population in Jerusalem is punished if it does not obey the law, and justifiably so. But sometimes I hear the world say that the Jewish population has to obey the law while the Arab population does not. There are extreme cases in which people building illegally damage the public interest of the population that lives in the area, or damage the municipal interest in encouraging tourism, for example, and in these cases we have to make sure that the law is obeyed. Over the last decade there were 100 demolitions of illegal buildings a year in Jerusalem: 40 were Jewish-owned and 60 were Arab-owned. This is in spite of the fact that there are many thousands of illegal Arab structures and much fewer illegal Jewish structures. The bottom line is to uphold the law, while at the same time providing proper planning for all of these areas. The courts should get involved only in the serious cases that cannot be fixed by re-planning. In addition, when people build houses, the government charges them extra to help pay for the infrastructure to the house and around the neighborhood - sewers and roads and sidewalks. This is standard procedure throughout the world. But what happens when a whole neighborhood is built illegally? Nobody ever collected the money to develop the neighborhood. It is even more challenging because if I want to develop Silwan and I take the money from other municipal funds, the residents of other neighborhoods will go to the Supreme Court and challenge this, saying they already paid their share for infrastructure. The challenges are a little more complicated than people think, but we are going to make it happen and it starts with proper planning. After the 2009 war in Gaza, the world collected $4 billion to help build the infrastructure of Gaza. I suggest they chip in $1 billion, and we will make sure the money goes directly to investment in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to improve their quality of life. * * * Nir Barkat, who served as a Jerusalem city councilman since 2003, won election as Jerusalem's mayor in 2008. He was one of the founders of the IVN venture capital network which invests in social initiatives throughout Jerusalem. In 1988 he co-founded the high-tech firm BRM and has served as chairman of numerous companies. This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on his presentation at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem on May 20, 2010.
FIXING FORTY YEARS OF NEGLECT (PART 5) There is a misconception that most of the building is on the Jewish side of Jerusalem and most of the demolishing is on the Arab side. The reality is that Jews usually do not build illegally, which is why the price of housing on the Jewish western side of the city is very high. People aren't building illegal houses because they respect the law. Unfortunately, in many cases, the mentality of the Arabs is to first build illegally and then apply, or not apply, for a building license. The reality is that it becomes very difficult to serve the Arab population in such a situation. This is the result of forty years of neglect, where the planning process was not fully functioning and municipal services were not fully available. The reality is that a lot of buildings were built totally illegally in areas where they should never have been allowed. Today there are about 20,000 illegal buildings in the Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem. The challenge is to fix this. We are doing a pilot project in the area of Silwan - a small Arab neighborhood that consists of 659 buildings, only six, or one percent, of which have permits. Silwan is situated on a hill zoned for buildings up to two stories high, and 50 percent of the structures there are over two stories. We are faced with three options. The first is to continue ignoring the situation and thus further enable illegal building. But the municipality cannot properly serve any neighborhood the size of Silwan that was never planned. Another alternative would be to deal with the 99 percent of the buildings that are illegal, but that doesn't make any sense either. So what we have done is to re-plan the neighborhood and allow up to four stories. We are also busy working on the infrastructure, to improve the roads, the areas for schools, and to add lots of kindergartens and other municipal services. By re-planning the whole neighborhood, we are trying to address the management of this neighborhood in a professional manner for the benefit of the residents.
THE MAYORS VISION FOR JERUSALEM. (PART 4) We are now concentrating on implementing the master plan for Jerusalem which has been developed over the past decade under the administrations of former Mayors Olmert, Lupoliansky, and myself. The master plan has been publicly discussed for five years in the local and district planning committees, and now practically everyone is working according to this plan, although it is not yet official. The plan includes expansion of residential areas in Jerusalem, including the natural expansion of existing neighborhoods. We intend to expand Gilo and Ramat Shlomo and other Jewish neighborhoods, as well as Arab neighborhoods such as Issawiya and A-Tur, in order to take care of the needs of all the different sectors in Jerusalem. Two of the challenges I face are to come up with clear policies and transparency. I have opened up all of the committee meetings in the municipality to the public, so that today anybody can sit in on every committee, except for the security committee. I have also shared the city's development plans with different administrations - the American, the British, and whoever else is interested. I told the American administration that I hope nobody is actually expecting that a building freeze will happen in Jerusalem or that a freeze should be only for the Jewish population. This would be illegal in Israel and unconstitutional in most democratic countries around the world. When the municipality approves a building permit, by law we are not allowed to ask if the resident is Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, and I believe that is exactly the status in the United States. In the next twenty years, with an expected population growth of 200,000, we anticipate a need for 50,000 apartments - one-third for the Arab population and two-thirds for the Jewish population. We will do everything we can to make this happen. Jerusalem must stay united. There is not one example in the world of a divided city that ever worked. We have to upgrade the quality of life for all residents, and we must keep Jerusalem undivided. For two thousand years, Jerusalem did not enjoy the degree of freedom of religion that it has had since it was reunited 43 years ago. As a matter of fact, when Jerusalem was in Jordanian hands, synagogues and churches were desecrated or destroyed. Today, every religion manages its own sites. It is a strategy and a deeply-held belief within the municipality and the Israeli government that we must enable people to practice their faith in their own way in the city of Jerusalem. The only limited religion in Jerusalem is Judaism, where by law Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount.
THE MAYOR’S VISION FOR JERUSALEM (PART 3) MAKING A WALL-TO-WALL COALITION WORK. Let me share some of the methodology of how I work in the city of Jerusalem. We have a council of 31 members and in the first month I formed a coalition that included 30 members, which was unprecedented. In a way Jerusalem is a microcosm of what is happening in the country, and I believe that forming relationships between the leadership of the ultra-Orthodox community and the secular, and sitting together on practically every problem that arises, brings solutions to the problems. Not everyone is always happy with the decisions we make, but the methodology of sitting together and focusing on the common denominator works. The way I manage the municipality is not political but through professional management, where we share thoughts and bring professional solutions in the same way as when I managed in the business world. After a year as mayor, I can tell you that this does work. DEVELOPING A UNIQUE CITY. Because Jerusalem is a 3,000-year-old city, we have patches upon patches of history about which we have to be very considerate. There are over 3,000 buildings designated for preservation in the city of Jerusalem. At the moment we do not have the correct ratio between business and residential areas, and there is a large gap in terms of buildings for public needs, such as schools, synagogues, and community centers. In the past, in western Jerusalem, too many building permits were issued to change areas designated for hotels and commerce into residential projects, whereas in eastern Jerusalem, too many neighborhoods were built illegally at a rate with which the municipality and the government could not keep up. When new neighborhoods were built illegally, this created a huge gap in infrastructure, including roads, public buildings, and public land. The average income of Jews in Jerusalem is about $16,000 a year. In the center of Israel, this figure is approaching $30,000 a year. The average income for Arabs in Jerusalem is about $4,000 a year, but in the West Bank it is less than $1,000 a year. When a young Jewish graduate from Hebrew University sees that the job market is not strong in the city, he migrates out of Jerusalem. However, when the Arabs in the West Bank see that the job market in Jerusalem is so much better than where they live, this encourages Arab migration into Jerusalem.
THE MAYOR’S VISION FOR JERUSALEM (PART 2) I AM A JERUSALEMITE. I am a Jerusalemite who spent fifteen years in the high-tech sector, taking Israeli companies and ideas into the global marketplace. I retired seven years ago, and since then have been working for a shekel a year promoting and developing the city of Jerusalem. Two thousand years ago there was already over a thousand years of Jewish history in Jerusalem. Two-thirds of the Old Testament happened here. Everywhere you put a shovel in the ground in Jerusalem you will find Jewish roots going back two and three thousand years. Jerusalem has a population of 800,000 people today, which will grow to a million people twenty years from now. The current population ratio is one-third Muslim, two-thirds Jewish, and two percent Christian. We anticipate that growth will be proportional to the current ratio, and all municipal planning is derived from that assumption. While Jerusalem is the heart and soul of the Jewish people and the capital of Israel, it is also important for over 3.4 billion Christians and Muslims throughout the world. A POTENTIONAL FOR TEN MILLION TOURISTS A YEAR. The vision I have for the city is to return Jerusalem to the role it played two and three thousand years ago as a world center - a destination for pilgrims and believers throughout the world. I meet people on my travels who say in an apologetic way that they have not yet been to Jerusalem, that it is a place they would like to visit at least once in their lifetime. Our vision is to develop Jerusalem so it can fulfill that role - to develop tourism, to be a cultural center, and to exploit the spiritual potential of the Holy City. While Jerusalem hosts just over two million tourists a year, my goal is to reach ten million a decade from now. Paris, London, Rome, and New York have over 40 million tourists a year. By increasing the number of tourists that visit the city, we will gain on a number of fronts. First, we will gain ten million ambassadors. People who come to the City of David excavations or the Western Wall tunnels, or who travel to the holy sites, whether they be Christians, Muslims, or Jews, if they come with an open mind, they will understand the power of the city of Jerusalem. Many people have the Bible in their homes, where Jerusalem is mentioned many times. Ten million tourists a year is the equivalent of 140,000 new jobs for the city, and this is relevant for both the Jewish and the Arab populations. It is one of the ways to get Jerusalem out of its poverty. It is an economic incentive that can unite many people around a common vision. Exploiting the potential of the city is also a good way to fight emigration. We have learned that when people have good jobs, they will stay in the city, enabling stability. There is room for everyone in Jerusalem - Arabs, Jews, ultra-Orthodox, and secular - and we have to develop the city in a way that will enable the different populations to stay and enjoy the power of the city.
THE MAYOR’S VISION FOR JERUSALEM (PART 1) • Jerusalem has a population of 800,000 people today, which will grow to a million people twenty years from now. The current population ratio is one-third Muslim, two-thirds Jewish, and two percent Christian. In the next twenty years, we anticipate a need for 50,000 apartments - one-third for the Arab population and two-thirds for the Jewish population. • The vision I have for the city is to return Jerusalem to the role it played two and three thousand years ago as a world center - a destination for pilgrims and believers throughout the world. I meet people on my travels who say in an apologetic way that they have not yet been to Jerusalem, that it is a place they would like to visit at least once in their lifetime. • Our vision is to develop Jerusalem so it can fulfill that role - to develop tourism, to be a cultural center, and to exploit the spiritual potential of the Holy City. My goal is to reach ten million tourists a year a decade from now. • I told the American administration that I hope nobody is actually expecting that a building freeze will happen in Jerusalem or that a freeze should be only for the Jewish population. This would be illegal in Israel and unconstitutional in most democratic countries around the world. Jerusalem must stay united. There is not one example in the world of a divided city that ever worked. We have to upgrade the quality of life for all residents, and we must keep Jerusalem undivided.
RISKS AND ADVANTAGES IN U.S. EFFORT IN MIDEAST. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu's senior cabinet ministers convened in Jerusalem but did not even take up a package of security guarantees being offered by the U.S. in return for Israel's extending a freeze on the construction of settlements in the West Bank by 60 days, officials said. The Palestinians, meanwhile, rejected a U.S. proposal that they keep negotiating without an extension in return for an American offer to formally endorse a Palestinian state based on the borders of Israel before the 1967 Middle East war. The question some are asking is whether President Obama is risking too much too soon - and for too little. Martin S. Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel and a negotiator in the Clinton administration, said, "We have to be careful not to pay with strategic coin for mere tactical breathing room." "The original sin was putting so much emphasis on settlements, an issue we couldn't resolve," said Robert Malley, the Middle East and North Africa program director for the International Crisis Group. "We've spent the last year trying to undo the damage of that step." "We recognize that to get the parties over this hump we have to offer something of value to each side," said State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley. "In return, we need a commitment from the parties to remain in the negotiations long enough to reach an agreement. We don't want to go through this again." (New York Times)
DO PALESTINIANS WANT A STATE ALONGSIDE ISRAEL? A 2009 poll shows that 71% of Palestinians deem it essential that their state comprise all of Israel and the territories. (Only 17% of Israelis deem it essentially that their state control all that land.) From the Palestinian perspective, Israel is a colonial state that was suddenly dropped on their head as a result of European crimes. Most Palestinians seem to think, like Helen Thomas said, that the fair solution is for the Jews to go back to Europe. From this perspective, Palestinian political tactics are not an endless series of blunders but a perfectly rational strategy of alternating guerrilla or terrorist attacks on Israel with ceaseless political pressure designed to make Israelis, like the Crusaders, unwilling to pay the price of defending their state over however many decades or centuries it takes. If it became clear that the Palestinians' primary goal was to create a homeland living peacefully next to a Jewish state, the Israeli political spectrum would shift back toward a more dovish government. (DAILY ALERT - New Republic)
METHODIST PREACHER TO SUE CHURCH OVER ANTI-ISRAEL-BIAS. Methodist preacher David Hallam, 62, of Birmingham, England, a former Labour MEP, has accused his own church of wasting funds to pursue a vendetta against Israel. "What I object to is money which I am putting on the collection plate on a Sunday being used to fund a political campaign against the Jewish state. This is both discriminatory and a misuse of a charity's funds." "The Methodist Church seems to think it has a God-given right to tell Jews how to run their affairs. It is very disturbing we are getting involved in a territory where we don't have any members or churches." Paul Diamond, a barrister with expertise in human rights, will argue that a Methodist resolution passed in the summer which called for a boycott of some Israeli goods is in breach of European human rights law and an EU directive on racism. By singling out Israel, rather than other countries with often worse human rights records, Diamond will claim the church is being deliberately prejudiced against the Jewish state. (Telegraph-UK)
MYTHS ABOUT MIDDLE EAST PEACE. Even if the settlement issue were resolved today, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would still confront another galactic challenge: a crisis within the Palestinian national movement, with two authorities governing two discreet areas with two different security services, two different patrons and two different visions of the Palestinian future. The upshot of the battle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is that without a monopoly over the forces of violence in Palestinian society - without one authority to silence the guns and rockets - no agreement can be implemented. The idea that the U.S. can pummel a close ally, Israel, into accepting a deal that undermines its security or political interests is flat-out wrong. The Middle East is littered with the failed schemes of great powers that tried to impose their will on small tribes. The writer has advised several U.S. secretaries of state on the Middle East peace process. (Washington Post)
The Obama Draft Letter to Israel: Why Netanyahu Is Unwilling to Extend the Freeze - Prime Minister Netanyahu has put forward three arguments defending his unwillingness to extend the moratorium, relating to the issues of reciprocity, consistency, and relevance. First, he says the original U.S. idea to halt settlement activity in 2009 required reciprocal actions from Arab states, which were not forthcoming. Second, the Palestinians did not initially deem the moratorium as significant, wasting nine out of the moratorium's ten months by not opening direct talks. In Netanyahu's view, why would a matter originally deemed insignificant become suddenly indispensable? Finally, he argues that the focus on settlements is excessive, since the parties will be dealing with the far larger issue of reaching the contours of an overall territorial solution within the next year. Beyond these arguments, it is also clear that Netanyahu fears losing elements of his coalition over the moratorium issue. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
PALESTINIANS BUILDING JEWISH SETTLEMENTS. Hundreds of labourers flooded West Bank settlements on Monday with the end of the settlement construction freeze. One Palestinian resident of the Jerusalem area said, "At the end of the day both sides need to make a living, and although we are rivals, the need to put food on the table overrides everything else. I have no problem building settlements; I have been doing it for twenty years." "We want genuine and just peace, just like everyone else, but peace without income is worthless," he added. "I don't care if the settlements stay here. The most important thing is for us to live in peace, what's wrong with that? We don't believe the boycott on settlement goods will last. The workers cannot survive another extended period of just sitting at home without doing anything, which has been the case now for almost a year." "They [Palestinian workers] are being threatened with five years in prison if they work for us after January 1," said Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council. "The real coexistence, after all, happens here, and the Palestinian Authority is trying to sabotage this. I am the one who wants peace and they just want war. This is the difference between us." Goldstein said that the start of construction in the settlement of Neve Daniel was celebrated with a joint barbeque which included 80 Palestinian construction workers and 40 Jews. (Ynet News)
ISRAEL: SETTLEMENT FREEZE ISSUE ’JUST AN EXCUSE’ FOR ABBAS. • Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday in New York that discussion of West Bank settlement construction "is just an excuse" for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to quit budding peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. "For nine months the Palestinians claimed that the [settlement construction] freeze is a ploy, and now they have turned it into a lynchpin," he said. • After Abbas announced he is awaiting the upcoming meeting of the Arab League on Oct. 4 to decide on whether to continue talks with Israel, Lieberman asserted, "If the Arab League is seeking challenges to deal with, there are many in the Arab world. Hundreds of people are killed each week in terrorist attacks, and poverty and despair cry out to the heavens....Instead of solving these problems, the leaders of the Arab League prefer to run away from them, and blame Israel for all their internal problems. Instead of dialogue, they prefer to incite the masses against the Jews." (YNET)
NETANYAHU VERSUCHT ZU ÜBERZEUGEN. Netanjahu sprach gestern telefonisch mit führenden Politikern in der ganzen Welt, um sie davon zu überzeugen, dass Israel ein nationales Recht habe überall zu bauen, Judäa und Samaria sind nicht „Palästinenserland“ wie es in den Medien immer heißt, sondern die Heimat des jüdischen Volkes, wo man all jene Orte findet, die in der Bibel vorkommen. So hat z.B. die jüdische Siedlung Ariel heute 20.000 Einwohner und eine Universität mit 12.000 Studenten. Israels Oppositionsführerin Zippi Livni sagte, dass die Aufhebung des Baustopps eine nationale Einheitsregierung mit ihr und Netanjahu unmöglich mache (Israel Heute)
GAZA’S TROUBLED TUNNEL TRADE SWINGS INTO REVERSE. Business has become so bad for Gaza's smugglers since Israel relaxed its blockade that some tunnel traders have turned into underground exporters. After Israel eased the blockade, over-priced clandestine imports from Egypt lost their allure as cheaper goods brought in through Israeli border crossings became available. Many smugglers went out of business. Easing the blockade has also led to a collapse of unofficial tax revenues which Hamas earned from the tunnel trade. Abu Khail, a Gaza tunneler, reckons 15 to 20 tunnels are now shipping to Egypt. "We're exporting raw materials like aluminum, copper, scrap metal, plus eggs, ducks and chickens," said one worker. (DAILY ALERT - Reuters)
OBAMA DEMANDS MORE THAN ISRAEL CAN GIVE. The arena of the Obama administration's incompetence is the issue of West Bank settlements. This is something of a misnomer since some settlements are indistinguishable parts of Jerusalem. Even in the Middle East, common sense can play a role. The Jerusalem-area settlements are not going to be abandoned by Israel. Settlements are how Zionists settled Israel - and the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria are the heart of biblical Israel. Given the highly emotional nature of the settlement issue, it made no sense for the administration - actually, President Obama himself - to promote an absolute moratorium on construction as the prerequisite for peace talks. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu complied, under extreme pressure, but only to a 10-month moratorium. For Netanyahu, this was a major concession. He heads a coalition that takes settlements very seriously. Netanyahu had a choice: accede to Obama's terms and have his government collapse, or end the moratorium. On Sunday, with the 10 months up, he chose the latter. From the very start, the president has taken a very hard line against settlements, refusing to distinguish between an apartment in Jerusalem and a hilltop encampment deep in the West Bank. He also seems not to understand their religious, cultural or historical importance to some Jews. The Obama approach has been counterproductive. Obama has to husband his credibility. He foolishly demanded something Israel could not yet give. It was bad diplomacy. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ABUSES HUMAN RIGHTS. The recently released UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report ostensibly investigating the events that surrounded the interception of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara in May is a modern blood-libel, and another nail in the coffin of the council's credibility. The UNHRC has two sole functions: to defend serial human-rights abusing nations from reproach, and to revile and attack Israel. Only 20 of the 47 nations on the UNHRC are considered "free" by Freedom House, an independent NGO which monitors human rights and political freedoms. This means the majority do not allow basic freedoms for their own people, let alone concern themselves with global human rights. The UNHRC has condemned Israel 33 times out of its 40 country-specific condemnations, while the UNHRC expresses only "deep concern" over Sudan and praises its cooperation. In addition, the UNHRC adopted a unique decision to discuss human rights violations committed by Israel in all of the council's meetings. The writer is Israel's deputy foreign minister. (Jerusalem Post)
BILL CLINTON’S COMMENTS ON RUSSION IMMIGRANTS IN ISRAEL DRAW CRITICISM. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton suggested on Tuesday that Russian immigrants in Israel pose an obstacle to a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. "An increasing number of the young people in the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest-core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem. It's a different Israel. Sixteen percent of Israelis speak Russian," he said. Clinton recalled a 2000 conversation he had with then-Israeli Cabinet Minister and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky in which he asked why Sharansky could not support the Camp David peace proposal he helped broker. Sharansky's response, according to Clinton, was, "I can't vote for this, I'm Russian....I come from one of the biggest countries in the world to one of the smallest. You want me to cut it in half. No, thank you." In Israel, reaction to Bill Clinton's remarks has been extremely critical. Sharansky denied ever making such comments to Clinton and added, "I am particularly disappointed by the president's casual use of inappropriate stereotypes about Israelis, dividing their views on peace based on ethnic origins." Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman noted that Clinton "forgot who turned down his far-reaching offer which demanded painful concessions from Israel's side. It was, in fact, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat." (CNN)
PA'S FAYYAD WALKS OUT OF MEETING, REFUSES TO ENDORSE ‘TWO STATES FOR TWO PEOPLE’ Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad angrily left a meeting in New York on Tuesday after Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon insisted the meeting summary refer to "two states for two peoples" rather than just "two states." "If the Palestinians are not willing to talk about two states for two peoples, let alone a Jewish state for Israel, then there's nothing to talk about," Ayalon said. "And also, I said if the Palestinians mean, at the end of the process, to have one Palestinian state and one bi-national state, this will not happen." "I was very surprised that there was apparently no acceptance of the idea of two states for two peoples." (Jerusalem Post)
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OLDER GAZANS RECALL ISRAELIS. Gaza Palestinian Sobhi Hamami, 61, fondly recalls the 23 years he worked on an Israeli kibbutz, where he learned Hebrew, swam in the pool with Israeli friends and celebrated holidays with his Jewish boss. Older people remember when jobs in Tel Aviv and contact with Israelis were a short drive away. Israel says the current travel ban will remain to keep out would-be attackers until Gaza is ruled by a government that doesn't seek Israel's destruction or consider Israeli civilians legitimate targets. Hamas rejects those conditions (DAILY ALERT)
EXPERTS: NO LEGAL BASIS FOR PALESTINIAN ‘RIGHT OF RETURN’. "International law does not recognize the right of the Palestinian refugees and their descendents to return to their homes," according to a new position paper by prominent jurists Prof. Ruth Gavison and Prof. Yaffa Zilbershatz. "Any recognition of this right may tie Israel's hands and lead to mass lawsuits that will effectively mean the end of the Jewish state," they wrote. Israel "must not be tempted to recognize the right of return even as a symbolic gesture." Recognizing the right of return "may perpetuate the conflict." "The international community's position that it is preferable to fully settle disputes [rather] than to recognize refugees' right of return [is] supported by a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The court debated the right of the Greek refugees who were expelled from northern Cyprus in 1974, and five months ago it ruled that due to the time that has passed, it would be wrong to rectify the situation by allowing them to return to their homes and expelling those who currently live in the area." (Ynet News)
AT THE CROSSROADS TO PEACE AND WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST. Rarely have the lines in the Middle East's sands been drawn so distinctly. Arrayed on one side is the peace-seeking camp that opposes militant extremism and favours direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. On the other are the organizations, many of them surrogates for Iran that work to undermine moderate governments and violently impede any effort for peace. Much will depend on the Palestinian Authority's willingness to enter direct talks as well as on the steadfastness of pro-Western governments, in the region and beyond, to stand up to Iran and its proxies. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the United States. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR GAZA RADICALISM?- • British ambassador to Israel Tom Phillips claimed in a recent interview that Israel's sanctions' regime in Gaza "was breeding radicalism." The message is that the problem is completely due to "us." The other side has no history, no worldview, no ideology, and no goals. • Let's recall that the U.S. actually urged, and Israel accepted, Hamas participation in Palestinian elections, even though the group did not accept the Oslo Accords, recognize Israel, or cease using terrorism. When Hamas won the elections, neither the U.S. nor Israel tried to intervene or reverse the results. • There was a border industrial area that provided jobs for Gazans from Israeli companies until Hamas attacked it. Finally, near the end of 2008, Hamas tore up the ceasefire and launched a massive rocket attack on Israel. • This is not a picture of Gazans being driven to radicalism, it is a story of how a radical policy forced Israel to react. • Phillips' line that it is Israel's policy which is creating "another generation of people that are not going to feel that friendly about Israel" is ludicrous in light of this reality. The writer (Barry Rubin) is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya (Jerusalem Post).
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY MUST CONDEMN ATTACKS ON ISRAEL. In the wake of recent attacks on Israel from Lebanon in the north and Gaza and Sinai in the south, Prime Minister Netanyahu issued the following statement Wednesday: • For years many in the international community have remained silent when rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians, and when unprovoked attacks have been launched against our soldiers. • Expressions of outrage have largely been reserved for Israel's response to those attacks. • Firing missiles on civilians is a war crime, and unprovoked attacks on soldiers are blatant acts of aggression. • Israel expects the international community to condemn such attacks in the strongest possible terms. • All those in the international community committed to peace should support Israel's right to defend itself against those who attack the innocent and seek to destroy peace (Prime Minister's Office).
ROCKET ATTACKS ON ISRAEL AND JORDAN HIGHLIGHT HOW HAMAS COULD USE SINAI. With the rise of Hamas in Gaza, concern is growing in Israel that the Palestinian Islamist movement - an offshoot of Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood - is seeking to expand its militant infrastructure into Sinai. "The farther from Cairo, the weaker the central authority is. They are having great difficulties with the Bedouin,'' says Ronen Bergman, a security commentator for the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot. "If Hamas is able to deepen its cooperation with the Bedouin, and create bases in Sinai for recruitment, we're talking about a new ballgame." (Christian Science Monitor)
THE PALESTINIANS, ALONE. • It has long been conventional wisdom that the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a prerequisite to peace and stability in the Middle East. What, then, are we to make of a recent survey for Al Arabiya television finding that a staggering 71% of the Arabic respondents have no interest in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks? • The truth is that while the "Palestine question" has long been central to inter-Arab politics, Arab states have shown far less concern for the well-being of the Palestinians than for their own interests. For example, it was common knowledge that the May 1948 pan-Arab invasion of the nascent state of Israel was more a scramble for Palestinian territory than a fight for Palestinian national rights. • As the first secretary-general of the Arab League, Abdel Rahman Azzam, admitted to a British reporter, the goal of King Abdullah of Transjordan "was to swallow up the central hill regions of Palestine, with access to the Mediterranean at Gaza. The Egyptians would get the Negev. Galilee would go to Syria, except that the coastal part as far as Acre would be added to Lebanon." • From 1948 to 1967, when Egypt and Jordan ruled the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, the Arab states failed to put these populations on the road to statehood. They also showed little interest in protecting their human rights or even in improving their quality of life - which is part of the reason why 120,000 West Bank Palestinians moved to the East Bank of the Jordan River and about 300,000 others emigrated abroad. The writer, a professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London, is the author, most recently, of Palestine Betrayed. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)
THE COLONIALIST ORIGINS OF THE ARAB STATES. The argument claiming that Israel has colonialist roots due to its connection with the British Mandate is ironic, as most Arab countries owe their establishment to conquest and control by the European powers. Prior to the First World War, countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan did not exist at all and were merely provinces of the Ottoman Empire. They became states only as a result of European intervention. Such, for example, was the case of Iraq and Jordan, where the British transferred rule to the Hashemite royal house. Saudi Arabia and the small Gulf states arose as a result of special agreements that their leaders signed with British India between the years 1880 and 1916, incorporating British recognition for the legitimacy of rule by Arab families over places that subsequently became the states of Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. A similar agreement between Britain and the Al-Saud family in 1915 laid the groundwork for the rise of Saudi Arabia in 1932. During Israel's War of Independence, the Arab states benefited directly from arms, training, and even manpower from the colonialist powers. In the initial stages, the Arab Legion attacked Jerusalem with the assistance of British officers. Royal Air Force planes defended the Egyptian skies over Sinai and in 1949 aerial incidents were recorded between Israeli and British aircraft. To say that Israel is a result of colonialism is to ignore the history of the Middle East in the 20th century. It also disregards the fact that Israel constituted an anti-colonialist entity that helped remove the British and French Empires from the Middle East. (DAILY ALERT - Yisrael Hayom-Hebrew, 30July2010)
NO ‘LINKAGE’ OF ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN DISPUTE TO OTHER REGIONAL CONFLICTS. Why is it that Israeli apartment construction in east Jerusalem, and not, say, the mass killing of Muslims in Sudan, stirs the hearts of the Arab world? One would have been hard-pressed to find much substantive coverage of that genocide in the Arab media, which is busy directing the attention of Arabs to the many small ways in which "crusader Zionists" and their American allies oppress Muslims. The reason for the double standard can probably be found in the fact that the perpetrators of the Sudanese genocide were themselves Muslim (and Arab), and their victims black. But the stunted maturity of Arabs' political culture does not excuse Western acceptance of their hyperbole. Let the Arab and Muslim world show some anger at the vast array of human rights abuses committed by their own and against their own before we accept their mawkish claims of indignation on behalf of the Palestinians at face value. It is one thing to say that the Palestinian people deserve a state. It is another thing entirely to say that their lack of having one is in any way responsible for bombings in Bali or Baghdad. To do so buys into the propaganda of the most vicious and reactionary forces in the Middle East, who cynically exploit the Palestinians for their own ends. There's no real reason to believe that Arab attitudes toward the U.S. would change were it to forge a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, a deal which, given the present state of Palestinian politics, would not last long. Let the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolve itself on its own terms, if it is ever to be resolved, and let us not force upon the parties a solution that neither of them are willing to accept and that will only prove to be a prelude to the next phase of the Islamist struggle. The writer is a contributing editor for the New Republic. (DAILY ALERT - World Affairs Journal)
EGYPTIAN JOURNALIST: “A SENSE OF ABSOLUTE PROSPERITY PREVAILS IN GAZA. "Returning [to Gaza] three weeks ago, I found it almost unrecognizable....I would have expected a change for the worse, considering the blockade - but the opposite was the case; it seemed as if it had emerged from the blockade," journalist Ashraf Abu Al-Houl wrote in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram on July 18. "A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza's coast. Further, the sight of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me. Merchandise is sold more cheaply than in Egypt." "The reality proves that the siege was broken even before...the Freedom Flotilla in late May; everything already was coming into the Gaza Strip from Egypt. If this weren't the case, businessmen would not have been able to build so many resorts" (Daily Alert - MEMRI)
THE COP ON THE BANKS OF THE NILE. Where Anwar Sadat openly embraced the distant American power, flaunted his American connections, and savoured the attention of the American media, Hosni Mubarak has had an arm's length relationship with his American patrons. There was no need, he understood, to tempt the fates and to further inflame the anti-Western and anti-colonial inheritance of his countrymen. Mubarak was at one with the vast majority of Egyptians in his acceptance of peace with Israel. He hadn't made that peace. But Egypt was done with pan-Arab wars against Israel. Mubarak rules by emergency decrees and has suffocated the country's political life, reducing the political landscape to something barren that he has been comfortable with: the authoritarian state on one side, the Muslim Brotherhood on the other. No democratic, secular opposition was allowed to sprout. In time, Islamists from Egypt, survivors of its prisons, would make their way to the global jihad. They hadn't been able to topple the Mubarak regime, so they struck at lands and powers beyond. But the country has stagnated. The crowded country now is an unhappy, bitter place. Grant Mubarak his due: He has not dispatched his countrymen on needless wars. He has kept the peace, he has been the cop on the beat. The writer, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (Wall Street Journal)
LEAKS ON CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN AFGHANISTAN COULD LEAD TO GOLDSTONE-STYLE PROSECUTIONS AGAINST BRITAIN, U.S. The release of thousands of secret official files about coalition operations in Afghanistan reveals the accidental killings by British soldiers of hundreds of innocent civilians - revellers at wedding parties, kids in school buses, ordinary people going about their daily business who tragically found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. • When Britain allowed the Arab dictatorships to push a report through the UN specifically designed to criminalize the Israeli military's attempts to deal with terrorists hiding behind a civilian population in Gaza, it simultaneously set a precedent for all countries, including itself. • Now it has been revealed - via official documents - that British soldiers have been involved in exactly the same kind of operations against exactly the same kind of terror groups using exactly the same tactics and resulting in exactly the same kind of outcomes in terms of the loss of civilian lives. The writer is director of international affairs at the Henry Jackson Society in London. (Jerusalem Post)
ISRAEL BOYCOTT CALL BACKFIRES. A call to boycott Israeli-made Ahava products in a Maryland beauty supply store backfired last week when pro-Israel activists countered by purchasing the shop's entire Ahava inventory. When the pro-Palestinian group Sabeel DC organized a boycott call at Ulta in Silver Spring last Saturday, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington sent out an action alert urging supporters to visit the store and buy Ahava. "They cleaned the shelves out. It was the best Ahava sales weekend the store has ever seen," said Arielle Farber, director of Israel and international affairs for the council. (Jerusalem Post)
FOR ISRAEL, A TWO-STATE PROPOSAL STARTS WITH SECURITY. • The world remained silent as Israel endured hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombers, stabbings, drive-by shootings, and kidnappings. No censure or demands for a cease-fire impeded Hizbullah in the north and Hamas from the south as they rained thousands of missiles on almost 40% of the Israeli population. Yet every Israeli effort at self-defense is treated as aggression. • Israelis have observed that every effort to make peace breeds new aggression. They have realized, with understandable bitterness, that every defensive military operation that leaves the aggressor still in control of the attack base results only in the enemy being better prepared the next time. • If Hamas takes over the West Bank, as it did Gaza, then it and other al-Qaeda-type groups will have access to the overlooks of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. • The last time Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received control of an area - namely Gaza in 2005 - PLO forces ran away and left it to Hamas (DAILY ALERT - U.S. News)
INTERNATIONAL BODIES JOIN FORCES TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM AND HOLOCAUST DENIAL. An agreement was signed Wednesday in Jerusalem that boosts the strength of the forces in the global arena fighting against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. The cooperation agreement is between the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), an operative branch of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This year, Israel was chosen for the first time to head the ITF, which was founded ten years ago at the initiative of the Swedish government. Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said the agreement will give an enormous boost to the fight against the delegitimization of Israel and anti-Semitism in the world, bringing into cooperation the 27-member ITF and the 57-member ODIHR. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
IDF MORALITY IN THE GAZA OPERATION. • A report presented by Israel to the UN this week in response to accusations of "war crimes" in Gaza raised by the Goldstone Report clarifies the ethical dilemmas faced by the State of Israel in its fight against terrorism and the high moral standards of the IDF's rules of engagement. • On January 3, 2009, a number of Palestinian civilians were killed by an IDF missile that struck near the entrance to the Al-Maqadmah mosque. An IDF investigation found that the missile strike had been directed at two terrorists observed firing Kassam rockets at Israeli cities. A number of factors combined to cause these unfortunate fatalities. o There was a "ticking bomb" element. The two Kassam operatives had to be neutralized before they could launch more rockets at Israeli civilians. o IDF commanders who authorized the attack did not know that the building, which had no minaret, was a mosque. Furthermore, the Israeli command did not know that a door that led into the mosque was open. It was shrapnel from the missile that killed civilians located inside. o Finally, two IDF officers selected a more powerful missile than was authorized because the missile that had been approved was not immediately available and, with time running out, no Palestinian civilians could be seen in the area. Nevertheless, the officers were punished for their choice. • Hamas launches rockets from inside densely populated civilian areas, intentionally and cynically using Gaza's residents as human shields. Israel is faced with difficult, split-second choices in response. America, Britain, Germany and other Western countries with forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan behave no differently and often with fewer moral scruples (Jerusalem Post).
WHY ARE THE PALESTINIANS OPPOSED TO ENDING THE OCCUPATION? The dual-headed Palestinian regime in Ramallah (Fatah) and in Gaza (Hamas) has totally rejected Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman's proposal to recruit the European Union to build power stations to supply electricity, desalination stations, and sewage treatment plants for Gaza. Sami Abu Zuheiri, a Hamas spokesperson, explained that "although Gaza was liberated in practice from the military and settlement presence, it is still from a legal and practical standpoint under occupation." He argued that Israel, "the occupying country," must continue to provide for Gaza's needs. The Hamas position exemplifies one of the major absurdities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas, which took pride in liberating Gaza from the Israeli occupation via Jihad, is struggling with all its might to preserve the "Israeli occupation" and obligate Israel to continue transferring supplies to an entity that avowedly declares that it will liberate all of Palestine, liquidate the State of Israel, and kill and expel its Jewish inhabitants. Why are the Palestinians still adamant in their opposition to receiving total independence on at least part of Palestinian territory? Because the Palestinian leadership has not renounced the idea of liberating Palestine in its entirety. The objective of both the PA and the Hamas government is identical, namely, keeping the lava of the refugee problem at full boil, as this constitutes the key to the ultimate objective of the historic Palestinian odyssey - the liquidation of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Global Law Forum)
TURKEY IN CYPRUS VS. ISRAEL IN GAZA. This week marks the anniversary of Turkey's invasion of Cyprus. Is Israel in Gaza really worse than Turkey in Cyprus? A comparison finds this hardly to be so. The Turkish occupation of 37% of Cyprus amounted to a "forced ethnic cleansing," according to William Mallinson in a just-published monograph from the University of Minnesota. In contrast, if one wishes to accuse the Israeli authorities of ethnic cleansing in Gaza, it was against their own people, the Jews, in 2005. The Turkish government has sponsored what Mallinson calls "a systematic policy of colonization" on formerly Greek lands in northern Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots in 1973 totalled about 120,000 persons; since then, more than 160,000 citizens of the Republic of Turkey have been settled in their lands. At the same time, not a single Israeli community remains in Gaza. And then there is the ghost town of Famagusta, where Turkish actions parallel those of Syria under the thuggish Assads. After the Turkish air force bombed the Cypriot port city, Turkish forces moved in to seize it, thereby prompting the entire Greek population (fearing a massacre) to flee. Turkish troops immediately fenced off the central part of the town, called Varosha, and prohibited anyone from living there (Jerusalem Post).
PREVENTING THE NEXT LEBANON WAR. • Israel recently embarked on an extraordinary form of deterrence against the possibility of a second Hizbullah war. Instead of engaging in a pre-emptive military strike, the Israeli military launched a public relations offensive. It publicized highly detailed intelligence maps and aerial photographs depicting exactly where Hizbullah constructs and maintains missile and rocket caches, as well as command centers. • These maps show that Hizbullah's bases are located in villages in southern Lebanon near the Israeli border, in very close proximity to schools and hospitals. Its weapons are aimed at Israeli cities and civilian targets. If these missiles were to be launched, Israel would be required to defend its population by destroying the missile emplacements and depots. Because of its deliberate placement of these weapons, Hizbullah is condemning Shiite villages to destruction. • Israel is offering the governments of Syria, Lebanon and their Arab supporters, as well as world policy-makers, an opportunity to protect Arab lives instead of blaming Israel after the fact for what can be prevented. The writer is president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development (DAILY ALERT)
THE LEGAL BASIS OF ISRAEL’S NAVAL BLOCKADE OF GAZA. • The relations between Israel and Hamas are in the nature of armed conflict. Nowadays no formal declaration of war is needed. Hence the rules of the laws of armed conflict apply. This means that Israel may control shipping headed for Gaza - even when the vessels are still on the high seas. • The rules of naval warfare have not been fully codified in a treaty and are in the nature of binding customary rules. They can be found in the relevant manuals of Western armies (in particular the U.S. and Britain) and in the San Remo Manual prepared by a group of experts. • In order to be legal, a blockade has to be declared and announced, effective, non-discriminatory, and has to permit the passage of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population. In addition, the San Remo Manual of 1994 includes two conditions: first, the state which applies the blockade may decide where and when and through which port the assistance should reach the coast. In addition, the state may require that a neutral organization on the coast should verify who is the recipient of the assistance. In Gaza, for instance, does it reach the civilians or Hamas? • A ship that clearly intends to breach the blockade may be stopped already when it is still on the high seas. Stopping the flotilla heading for Gaza in international waters 100 kilometres from Israel was not illegal; in time of armed conflict, ships intending to breach the blockade may be searched even on the high seas. • Israel is within its rights and is in full compliance with international law because it has fulfilled all of the above-mentioned conditions for a lawful blockade. E.g., in January 2009 Israel notified the relevant authorities of its intention to establish a blockade of the Gaza coast. The writer is Professor Emeritus of International Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Fellow of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs (Daily Alert)
REINVENTING THE WHEEL IN THE MIDDLE EAST. Just days after President Obama called for direct talks to begin between Israelis and Palestinians, PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday appeared to reject the idea, saying it would be "pointless and futile" unless the two sides first reach agreement on the parameters of the talks. For many outside observers, that sounds like arguing about the size of the table. Why not start talks immediately, without preconditions, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants to do? After all, everyone knows what needs to be discussed. The difficulty ahead is best illustrated by comparing the situation today with the last time serious talks were launched, at Annapolis in late 2007. Then, Abbas and Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister at the time, had already spent months meeting with each other and building an atmosphere of trust. Lower-level Israeli and Palestinian officials had also met repeatedly and were prepared for real talks. The two sides actually discussed some of the most sensitive issues between them. Even then, they did not reach a deal. Yet, despite special envoy George Mitchell's repeated trips to the region, that level of trust does not exist between Netanyahu and Abbas. That is the missing ingredient. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)
CONFRONTING HISTORY’S LONGEST HATRED. The last aging survivors of Auschwitz see everywhere evidence that virulent Jew-hatred did not die with Hitler. There's a campaign to scrap International Holocaust Memorial Day (Jan. 27) and merge it with a commemoration for victims of communism. When an Israeli medical team raced half way around the world to save over 1,000 earthquake victims, a YouTube video warned Haitians the real purpose of the field hospital was to steal their body parts. Meanwhile, the Turkish blockbuster film "Valley of Wolves" depicts the Iraq War as a conspiracy by Israelis and Americans to harvest organs of Iraqi women and children. Imagine the implications of a UK jury's recent decision - with the encouragement of the judge - to acquit five defendants who proudly admitted sabotaging a factory filling a military equipment order from Israel. Or in Montreal, where a local Muslim group sought volunteers to compile lists of Jewish university faculty members with any links to Israel. How did the UN respond to the genocidal rants of the Iranian President? By inviting him to keynote the UN Human Rights Summit in Geneva. The writer is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)
HIZBULLAH FINDS NEW ANTI-ISRAEL CAUSE IN NATURAL GAS DISCOVERY. The discovery of a gigantic natural-gas reservoir less than 100 miles off Israel's coast could be the pretext for the next Middle East war. Only days after Israel announced its gas discovery, Hizbullah claimed that the deposit extends into Lebanese waters and that it would not allow Israel to "loot" Lebanese gas resources. As the eastern Mediterranean becomes home to drilling rigs, pipelines and other infrastructure related to Israel's gas operation, Hizbullah could find multiple soft targets to attack. Because an American gas drilling company, Noble Energy, owns 40% of the gas venture, American citizens operating the rigs could be in harm's way. To minimize the risk of future resource war in the Mediterranean, the U.S. should help Israel establish the legal basis for its activities within its economic waters while highlighting the frivolousness of Lebanon's claims. A broad international consensus on Israel's right to drill for oil and gas in its waters would deny Hizbullah any legitimate ground to provoke conflict at sea. The writer is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. (Washington Times)
GAZANS LOCKED IN DISPAIR AND PLAGUED BY DISUNITY. As if the Palestinian people did not have enough trouble, they have not one government but two, the Fatah-dominated one in the West Bank city of Ramallah and the Hamas one in Gaza. The antagonism between them offers a depth of rivalry and rage that shows no sign of abating. In Gaza City, a stage was set up for a rally protesting the electricity shortage and speakers shook nearby windows with the anthems of Hamas. Boys in military camouflage goose-stepped. Young men carried posters of a man with vampire teeth biting into a bloodied baby. The vampire was not Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister. It was Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. "We stand today in this furious night to express our intense anger toward this damned policy by the illegitimate so-called Fayyad government," Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, shouted. There is a paradox at work in Gaza: while Hamas has no competition for power, it also has a surprisingly small following. Dozens of interviews with all sorts of people found few willing to praise their government or that of its competitor. "They're both liars," Waleed Hassouna, a baker in Gaza City, said in a very common comment. Ask Gazans how to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the answer is mostly a reflexive call to drive Israel out. Yet while most here view Israel as the enemy, they want trade ties and to work there. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)
NETANYAHU: “WE CAN MAKE PEACE WITH THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told "Fox News Sunday": "I don't think we can make peace with an organization that seeks our destruction. That's Hamas. But I think we can make peace with the Palestinian Authority." "We should stay focused on the real problem in the Middle East. It's not Israel. It's these dictatorships that are developing nuclear weapons with the specific goal of wiping Israel away." "There's only been one time that Iran actually stopped the [nuclear] program and that was when it feared U.S. military action....The president's position that all options are on the table might actually have the only real effect on Iran, if they think it's true." "We had a conversation in this meeting in Washington the other day [with President Obama]. And a good chunk of it - I'd say about half of it - was devoted to a detailed discussion of Israel's security problems: the problem that when we vacate territory, Iran and its proxy terrorists walk in with rockets....[The President] understands that we need to have a solution for it...so that we can couple security with peace, because that's the only peace that will endure, peace based on security." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
PRESBYTERIANS: END ISRAEL AID OVER SETTLEMENTS. Presbyterian leaders Friday in Minneapolis approved by an 82% vote a report that included a call to end U.S. aid to Israel unless the country stops settlement expansion. The 172-page report details the church's approach to issues in the Middle East. The Anti-Defamation League said the report managed to "avoid a rupture with Jewish people, but bias against Israel continues." The Simon Wiesenthal Center said the report "takes definite sides in a complex struggle." In 2004, the church's general assembly voted to authorize "phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel." That stance has since been softened, and this year delegates voted down an amendment that would have put divestment back on the table. "There are many longtime friends in the Jewish community who believe this report misstates Jewish theology and misquotes the Jewish voice," said the Rev. Susan Zencka. "We have come to a position of Palestine good, Israel bad. Life is not that simple." (DAILY ALERT - AP)
ISRAEL: A NORMAL COUNTRY. • Israel is a Western democracy and a normal country. Nonetheless, Israel has faced abnormal circumstances since its inception. In fact, Israel is the only Western democracy whose existence has been questioned by force, and whose legitimacy is still being questioned independently of its actions. • Attempts to question Israel's basic legitimacy as a Jewish state in the Middle East are unacceptable to people who support liberal democratic values. The State of Israel was founded in the wake of UN Resolution 181, passed in 1947. It also arose out of an unbroken Jewish connection to the land that stretches back thousands of years. Israel does not derive its legitimacy, as some claim, from sympathy over the Holocaust. Instead, it derives legitimacy from international law and from the same right to self-determination claimed by all nations. • We must never forget that Israel is on our side in the battle against Islamism and terror. Israel stands on the front line of that fight as a bulwark of Judeo-Christian values. The belief that the democratic world can sacrifice Israel in order to placate Islamism is profoundly wrong and dangerous. Appeasement failed in the 1930s and it will fail today. This statement was signed by Jose Maria Aznar, former prime minister of Spain; David Trimble, former first minister of Northern Ireland; John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN; Alejandro Toledo, former president of Peru; Marcello Pera, former president of the Italian Senate; Andrew Roberts, a British historian; Fiamma Nirenstein, vice-president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies; George Weigel, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Robert F. Agostinelli, managing director of the Rhone Group, and Carlo Bustelo, former minister of industry in Spain, as part of the Friends of Israel Initiative. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)
TOP HAMAS PRISONER OUTLINES PLAN FOR FUTURE WAR ON ISRAEL. A secret 200-page document titled Resistance-A View from the Inside, drafted by Mohammed Arman, a senior Hamas man jailed in Israel, was smuggled out of prison and distributed among senior Hamas leaders in order to prepare the ground for the "next phase" of Hamas' war against Israel. Arman was among Hamas' most active West Bank commanders until his 2002 arrest and his book is written as a practical guide for field activists. The plan calls for rocket fire from the West Bank. "Our enemy fears death more than anyone else...this prompts it to constantly consider abandoning the areas where rockets land." It devotes great attention to the role of Arab Israelis in the Palestinian struggle, with an emphasis on Jerusalem Arabs. It notes that securing the release of Palestinian prisoners via abductions is at the top of Hamas' agenda and stresses that Gilad Shalit is an "insufficient" bargaining chip for the Palestinians: "One abduction operation isn't enough." Arman, who refers to himself as "the engineer behind the Hebrew University operation," has been sentenced to 36 life terms over his role in the university terror attack, among others. His first book, Death Engineers, which was also smuggled out of prison, was used by Hamas as a technical guide for carrying out murderous terror attacks (Ynet News).
DETERRING HIZBULLAH, PREPARING THE WORLD FOR THE NEXT WAR. The IDF's decision to declassify photos of Hizbullah positions in southern Lebanon carries an element of risk. Hizbullah will see that the IDF knows where its positions are. However, the declassification of the intelligence sends a clear message to Hizbullah that the IDF knows what it is doing and where its military installations are located. Also, the chances that Hizbullah will move its assets are deemed slim. "There is too much to move," one senior officer explained. "The world needs to understand that Hizbullah is deliberately positioning its military positions inside civilian centres, and that this strategy has consequences," a top IDF officer said. The IDF has said in the past that it will respond disproportionately to a new Hizbullah attack, and that each of the 160 villages in southern Lebanon containing Hizbullah positions will be targeted. (Jerusalem Post)
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN TURKEY WORSE THAN GAZA. Turkey was the most prominent country in the recent flotilla, but according to a number of indicators, the humanitarian situation in Turkey is worse than it is in Gaza. Infant mortality in Gaza is 17.7 per thousand; in Turkey it is 24.8. Life expectancy in Gaza is 73.7, whereas in Turkey it is 72.2. Most of the world's inhabitants are - according to objective data - in a worse situation than the residents of Gaza. This includes those who live in Turkey under Erdogan's rule. Even by other indicators, such as personal computer use or Internet access, the situation of the residents of Gaza is much better than most of the world's inhabitants. Two years ago, a British politician claimed that life expectancy in Glasgow East was much lower than in Gaza. The claim caused an uproar. Britain's Channel 4 carried out a scrupulous check and found the claim to be true. Thus, it is a little strange that humanitarian aid comes from people whose situation is worse. It is Turkey that needs the help. American aid per capita to Gaza is 7.5 times higher than aid per capita to Haiti, though by any possible indicator, the residents of Gaza are incomparably better off than the residents of Haiti. What is true is that, thanks to the "brutal" occupation, the Palestinians in Gaza are better off than most of their brethren in neighbouring countries. (DAILY ALERT - Maariv-Hebrew)
ISRAEL PREPARES FOR NEXT WAR WITH HIZBULLAH. Four years after the Second Lebanon War, the Israeli army is training intensively in combat tactics suited to Hizbullah's extensive system of bunkers and emplacements in southern Lebanon. The Israeli training site is saturated with false explosive devices and camouflaged emplacements. Success in the next round will require both combing through and taking control of terrain - to whatever extent that time allows - and striking at essential targets of Hizbullah and the Lebanon government. As part of the lessons it learned from the 2006 war, Hizbullah moved its "center of gravity" from nature reserves in open areas to compounds in the heart of villages and forests. Hizbullah assumes that by fighting from within populated areas, it will wear down Israel, which will be apprehensive about killing civilians. Israel, which appears to enjoy high-quality intelligence on events in Lebanon, is collecting information about these "urban reserves" as well. At the same time, the Dahiya doctrine has also been developed, by which the IDF has threatened to respond to rocket fire originating from Shi'ite villages by unleashing a vast destructive operation - as it did against the Dahiya Shi'ite quarter in Beirut in 2006. The Israeli threats and the scars of the war, which Hizbullah feels far more acutely than it would ever publicly admit, are apparently still able to preserve the status quo in the north and thereby avert another war (Ha'aretz).
APPEAL TO PRESBYTERIANS ON ISRAEL: ’FIRST, DO NO HARM. On July 3, the biannual General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) convenes in Minneapolis. American Jews do not regularly weigh in on deliberations of the Presbyterian Church. However, its Middle East Study Committee report embraces a Palestinian document demonizing Israel. It minimizes the roots of the Jewish people in Israel, as well as Israelis' painful sacrifices for peace, while magnifying Palestinians' suffering, but not their responsibilities and perpetuation of violence. What emerges is a caricature whereby Israel does no right, but its adversaries are seen as doing little wrong. The report sanitizes terrorism as "resistance" to occupation, when the practitioners of terror label Israel's very existence as "occupation" to be destroyed. Peace cannot be accomplished by aiming boycotts or divestment at businesses engaged with Israel and not those operating in the most oppressive regimes around the globe. Peace certainly cannot be accomplished by suggesting that the world's only Jewish state - but not dozens of countries whose symbols are associated with majority religions such as Christianity or Islam - is inherently racist on account of this unique identity. Israel remains the region's only democracy, the sole Middle Eastern country whose Christian population has grown, and the country whose successive leaders have accepted a two-state solution and taken extraordinary humanitarian steps despite acute friction. The writer is Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs, B'nai B'rith International. (Washington Post)
THE RISKS OF FOREIGN PEACEKEEPING FORCES IN THE WEST BANK. UNIFIL in Lebanon has never caught any Hizbullah terrorists. When Hizbullah moved its artillery positions to within 50 meters of a UN position and then fired on Israeli targets, UNIFIL did nothing. But if Israel employed counter-fire against the very same Hizbullah artillery, then the UN Division for Peacekeeping Operations would issue a formal diplomatic complaint. It would be a serious mistake to believe that Israeli requirements for verifying complete Palestinian demilitarization could be guaranteed by international forces operating in the West Bank. (DAILY ALERT - Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
ISRAEL’S FOES EMBRACE NEW TACTICS. Hamas and Hizbullah, groups that have long battled Israel with violent tactics, have begun to embrace civil disobedience, protest marches, lawsuits and boycotts - tactics they once dismissed. "When we use violence, we help Israel win international support," said Aziz Dweik, a Hamas leader in the West Bank. "The Gaza flotilla has done more for Gaza than 10,000 rockets." Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on supporters to participate in the next flotilla bound for Gaza. Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of the Hizbullah politburo in Beirut, said it was the first time Nasrallah had publicly embraced such tactics against Israel. "We saw that this kind of resistance has driven the Israelis into a big plight," he said. A senior Israeli foreign ministry official said Israel recognizes "changes in the tactical thinking of Hamas and other resistance movements." The official said the groups are no less committed to Israel's destruction, but have simply concluded they are more likely to defeat Israel by encouraging its international isolation instead of through military force. "People who are provoking violence are using peaceful protest as a cover," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)
MICHAEL OREN: ISRAEL REMAINS A STRATEGIC ASSET FOR THE U.S. In an interview published on Friday, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren stressed, "Our security relationship with the U.S. is very important for the U.S., not just for us. We provide security benefits that the U.S. can't get from any other country in the world, whether in intelligence sharing, weapons development or just the mere fact that Israel has a sizable army that is highly trained, highly motivated, highly disciplined and under the authority of a democratically elected government that can field that army in a matter of 12 hours. Think about that. What other country in the Middle East can remotely do that - remotely. There is no substitute for Israel in the American security universe - nothing." Oren dismissed as "nonsense" the so-called "realist" foreign policy camp in the U.S. which argues that Israel is a strategic liability for America. "What are they going to do, build a strategic alliance with Syria, with Kuwait - where is the benefit? There are people in Washington who say this, there are think tank people who say it, but I have never heard anyone in the administration remotely intimate it." (Jerusalem Post)
WHY DEPORT A FRIEND TO MIDDLE EAST PEACE? Gonen ben Itzhak Gonen ben Itzhak is an Israeli, the son of a retired Israel Defense Forces general who was in charge of defeating the first intifada some 20 years ago. Mosab Hassan Yousef is a Palestinian, the son of a founder of Hamas whose father was one of the leaders of that intifada. As detailed in the book Son of Hamas, we became partners in the fight against terrorism; Mosab became an undercover agent for the Shin Bet, Israel's security service; Gonen became his Shin Bet handler. In the nine years we worked together, the two of us, once sworn enemies, embraced mutual recognition. As we worked together to prevent the deaths of hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians, the two of us became friends. We were shocked when, in 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security opposed his request for political asylum, all the more so when it threatened to deport Mosab in the name of protecting American security. If this decision is upheld, it will signal to the world that America does not stand by those who sacrifice to oppose terrorism. (Washington Post)
GAZA-EGYPT TUNNEL INDUSTRY SLOWS Abu Ahmad, who supervises three tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, says the smuggling tunnel industry has seen a sharp drop both in imports and profits following Israel's decision to allow in certain previously banned products. He said the tunnel industry also saw a sharp drop after Egypt completed construction of its underground wall, under U.S. pressure. As a result, between 80 to 100 tunnels are operational, down from previous estimates of 2,000. The number of tunnel workers has dropped significantly as well, from 25,000 to 3,000. (DAILY ALERT - Maan News-PA)
THE DANGER OF AN ISLAMIZED GAZA. In Gaza, severe violations of personal freedom and repression of civil society groups that defend that freedom appear to be sharply on the rise. The Hamas government is consolidating its social control by upping its efforts to "Islamize" Gaza. A notorious example is the expanded role of Gaza's "morality police." Couples walking down the street are routinely stopped, separated and questioned by plainclothes officers asking whether they're married. "You basically have to carry a copy of your marriage license on you at all times, or risk being humiliated," one young couple told us. The writer is a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch. (DAILY ALERT - Los Angeles Times)
HIZBULLAH PLAYING A DIRTY GAME OVER GAZA BLOKADE (by Con Coughlin. My contacts in Lebanon tell me that senior Hizbullah officials have discussed using explosives to blow up one of the Lebanon flotilla ships en route to Gaza and blame the incident on Israel (Telegraph-UK).
U.S. Says Upcoming Gaza Flotilla Is "Not Responsible" The State Department is urging Lebanon and organizers of an upcoming aid flotilla to Gaza to deliver the supplies over land to avoid confrontation with Israel's military. "As we continue to make clear to involved parties, mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by member states and groups that want to do so," the State Department said in a statement Wednesday. "Direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate, nor responsible, and certainly not effective." "We, along with our partners in the [Mideast] Quartet, urge all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza." (Washington Times)
THE WORLD’S DEADLY OBSESSION WITH ISRAEL. Israel is treated differently than other nations. If Britain, for example, had stopped an IRA-supporting flotilla from reaching Northern Ireland, the condemnation and attention would not be at the same level. The focus and disproportionate criticism on Israel is as old as the state itself. In the years following its rebirth in 1948, the small state of Israel faced regular deadly raids from marauding groups sponsored by Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. When Israel responded to protect its citizens, condemnations from the UN followed. Even the U.S. often told Israel that it expected it not to retaliate. Last month 600 people were killed in Darfur according to the UN. Yet nine deaths in the flotilla incident is considered more newsworthy - and more worthy of demonstrations and condemnations. Now that's disproportionate. (Forbes)
THE GAZA FLOTILLA’S SILVER LINING. While recognizing the serious negative aspects of the flotilla incident, some dimensions from Israel's point of view are quite positive. First, the international community, led by the American administration, has granted almost full recognition to Israel's fundamental right to prevent the supply of weapons to Hamas in Gaza. A second positive result was in the U.S.-Israel relationship. During the course of UN discussions on the flotilla, the American administration made it clear it would not lend a hand to a sweeping assault on Israel's standing or its legitimate right to defend itself and investigate its own actions. Beyond this, the events have emphasized the "common destiny" shared by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which is greatly interested in preventing the strengthening of Hamas in Gaza. (DAILY ALERT - Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
IN GAZA, HAMAS IS STILL THE OBSTACLE. There remains an immutable obstacle to any lasting relief to the Gaza predicament. It is not Israel. It is Hamas. Israel is justified in maintaining the security blockade, on the highly legitimate ground of excluding materiel for warfare, including dual-use construction supplies that could strengthen Hamas. Israel cannot afford to relax its guard against a group that is dedicated to wiping it off the map. Hamas has established a terrorist state let, which harbours a range of extreme Islamist factions and is a client of theocratic Iran. Efforts to push for a fundamental change in policy toward Gaza will be hampered by the immutable obstacle that is Hamas, as will any hope of eventual coexistence between Israel and the people of Gaza. (DAILY ALERT - Globe and Mail-Canada)
BLAIR: NO NEED FOR AID FLOTILLAS. Anyone thinking of organizing an aid flotilla for Gaza should instead utilize the legitimate existing land crossings, where Israel is now lifting restrictions on civilian goods, Quartet envoy Tony Blair said on Monday. "Where I divide from some others in the international community is that I think that Israel has got a genuine security concern that it is entitled to meet," he said. "The fact that Israel says, 'Look, we're not going to allow things into the [Gaza] seaport, but you can bring them to Ashdod, and we can check them, and then they can come on to Gaza,' I think that is a reasonable position." (Jerusalem Post)
ISRAEL TO FOLLOW INTERNATIONAL STANDARD TO BLOCK DUAL-USE TECHNOLOGY TO GAZA. The list of prohibited items for Gaza will be based on the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international export regime signed by 40 countries that monitors the export of dual-use technology that can be used for both civilian and military purposes. Defence officials estimated that the prohibited list may include various metals and fertilizers, out of fears that Hamas will use these items to construct weapons. A defence official told Ynet, "Even today there is no shortage in Gaza, not in food or in medicine. For Israel, there was never any intention to harm the civilian population, which Hamas unfortunately is doing. We are hopeful that everything entering Gaza will reach its destination, which is the Palestinian population, and will not become a tool in the hands of Hamas as has happened in the past." (Ynet News)
REAL CHANGE IS UP TO THE PEOPLE OF GAZA. There is something missing in the burst of international pressure on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza. Sure, it makes sense to ease the plight of Palestinians, but the most important element of the problem is that Gaza is currently governed by Hamas, an entity that has made the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews its officially enshrined goal. We never hear that it is completely within Hamas' power to bring an end to the crisis. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, prepared to work with the Palestinian Authority there to build the economy. Instead, Hamas rockets started flying. When Hamas won elections in 2006, the world stood ready to help Hamas govern, if it agreed to minimal standards of civilized behaviour. The conditions were that it accepts Israel's right to exist, give up terrorism and abide by agreements approved by other legitimate Palestinian representatives. Hamas refused. A truly normal life for Gazans is not up to Israel or Egypt. It's up to Hamas and the people of Gaza. (DAILY ALERT - Miami Herald)
WHY DO THE PEACE ACTIVISTS IGNORE THE VIOLENCE OF HAMAS? Gaza, where the flotilla boats were headed, is under the control of the terrorist grouping Hamas which has been responsible for pounding Israeli towns (and Israeli civilians) with increasingly sophisticated missiles for years. It was to protect Israeli families from Hamas suicide bombers that Israel began erecting its security fence in 2002. In 2005 Israel (in the interests of peace) moved out of Gaza. The thanks it got were even more rockets (often supplied by Iran) raining down on its civilian population courtesy of Hamas, which charmingly declares itself dedicated to wiping the Israeli people off the face of the earth. Israel, understandably, has insisted on monitoring what materials go into Gaza and, thus, what (potentially lethal) materials Hamas could have access to. All of us in the West live in countries which maintain a similar right to ensure the safety of their own civilian populations. Most countries have reasons why they would not be confident to leave this role up to the international community. Israel has at least six million extra reasons. (DAILY ALERT - Belfast Telegraph-UK)
GAZA CEMENT REBUILDING HAMAS’ MILITARY INFRASTRUCTURE. Cement is a vital commodity needed in Gaza for civilian needs. However, reliable intelligence indicates that Hamas makes extensive use of cement to rebuild its military infrastructure damaged last year in the Gaza operation and to create new military infrastructure. Hamas is using cement for outposts, training compounds, and storage sites; defensive and offensive tunnels; and rocket launch sites lined with concrete. In recent months (based, among other things, on aerial photographs), there has been a considerable increase in the use of cement by Hamas military forces in Gaza. Its overall strategy gives priority to military infrastructure over the needs of the population. Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mash'al said in Damascus on Nov. 12, 2009, that most of Hamas' efforts in Gaza are targeted towards military preparations. Hamas receives the cement imported to Gaza as part of the aid delivered by international organizations or international aid convoys (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre – DAILY ALERT)
LAWMAKERS SEEK TO BAR FLOTILLA ACTIVISTS FROM U.S. Several members of Congress have called on the State Department to investigate any passengers aboard the Gaza-bound aid flotilla trying to enter the U.S. A group of people affiliated with the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, known as IHH, who were aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, is planning a U.S. speaking tour in the coming weeks. "The IHH, the flotilla's sponsoring organization, has long been known for its affiliations with terrorist organizations, including Hamas and al-Qaeda," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). "It is the responsibility of our government to ensure that terrorists, and those who support terrorist activities, not be allowed to enter the United States." He was joined by Reps. Eliot Engel, Carolyn Maloney, Anthony Weiner and Charles Rangel, all Democrats from New York, at a news conference organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. More than 23,000 people have signed a JCRC of New York petition calling for an investigation of the flotilla passengers. Rep. Weiner said, "Our existing laws are clear and we ought to follow them - anyone that aids and abets terrorism cannot be issued a visa." Rep. Engel said, "The United States must stand with Israel as it seeks to carry out legitimate acts of self-defence." Those aboard the flotilla "should be condemned by the world as supporters of the Hamas terrorist organization, not celebrated as humanitarian activists." (DAILY ALERT - JTA)
WHY IS FAYYAD BURNING ISRAELI PRODUCTS? • Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was photographed tossing Israeli products into a large bonfire, an act that involves more than a small degree of incitement against a country with whom, so he claims, he wishes to establish peaceful and neighbourly relations. • The PA government has been running an aggressive campaign over recent months against products that originate in industrial areas beyond the "green line." The boycott is a political act, by which the PA wishes to compete with Hamas for public support, and does so using Hamas tools of incitement and provocation. • The economies of Israel and the PA are highly interlinked and will remain so even when an arrangement is reached based on the principle of two states for two peoples. • Some 25,000 Palestinians employed in Israeli factories beyond the "green line" have no other alternative employment. If their government succeeds in destabilizing their employers, they will be left with no income. • Particularly now, as proximity talks develop, one might expect the Palestinians to make efforts to calm things down, to strengthen relations between the two nations and not to be dragged into a campaign of incitement (Jerusalem Post).
THE FLOTILLA DEBATE IS SURREAL. • Consider a co-incident on May 31, the day activists assaulted Israeli troops as they boarded the Mavi Marmara, prompting the Israelis to shoot and kill nine of them. In Lahor, Pakistan, that same day, gunmen stormed into a hospital, where they shot and killed 12 badly wounded patients lying in their beds. Those victims were survivors of murderous attacks on two mosques a few days earlier, when 93 worshipers were killed. One hundred and five people shot and killed in a hospital and two mosques, but Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said almost nothing about the dead Pakistanis. • The current debate is surreal. The week before the aid-flotilla incident, international discussion centered on North Korea and its attack on a South Korean naval vessel. A torpedo sank the ship, killing 46 sailors. The UN Security Council dropped the North Korea matter to take up a resolution condemning Israel first. • At the same time, all of the blame for the sad state of affairs in Gaza falls on Israel, even though Egypt usually keeps its gates to Gaza tightly locked, too. Imagine for a moment that the activists had decided to storm Egypt's gates to Gaza instead and, when Egyptian troops tried to stop the aid caravan, activists assaulted the soldiers with iron rods and knives. If the Egyptians shot and killed nine people in the ensuing melee, do you think the UN Security Council would be dropping everything right now to rush through a resolution condemning Egypt? Certainly not. • I wonder how many of the Free Gaza Movement's members have interviewed the leaders of Hamas, as I have - many times. "From our ideological point of view, it is not allowed to recognize that Israel controls one square meter of historic Palestine," Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, told me. Without even a hint of irony or jest, Ismail Abu Shanab, suggested: "There are a lot of open areas in the United States that could absorb the Jews." • "We want to break the siege of Gaza," the Free Gaza Movement says. In the process, do they want to "free" the leaders of Hamas? Last week, these leaders made their position clear. They fired four missiles into Israel, toward Ashkelon and Sderot (DAILY ALERT - (San Francisco Chronicle)
WHEN WILL THE WEST LEARN ARAB PSYCHOLOGY? As we now know, video footage has proven that the Gaza flotilla jihadists initiated the violence against Israeli soldiers. However, what matters to Islamist crisis seekers is that the news for several days all over the world blames Israel as a bloodthirsty rogue nation that inflicted an unjustified massacre on peaceful, unarmed humanitarians. Muslim street demonstrations are staged for Western audiences. Western culture is extremely moved by this big Islamist show - the cries, the tears, the pleading, the yelling, the covert threats and, above all, the mass mania. Over nothing, hoards of people in the Middle East can be easily incited to go into a fit of rage and run into the streets seeking vengeance against a Christian or a Jew who supposedly dishonoured Islam. When will the West learn Arab psychology? Whenever West Bank and Gaza news becomes secondary or is overshadowed by more pressing issues such as the economy, oil leaks, and perhaps more urgent human suffering around the world, Islamists immediately get in gear to create a crisis. In their mind, nothing should be more urgent than destroying Israel. Muslims know exactly what they should do to stop the blockade against Gaza. First, they should be sincere with themselves that they want peace with Israel and adopt a live and let live view. After that, major players in the region such as Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, etc. must pressure Hamas to end the barrage of missiles against Israel and link their financial support to Palestinian willingness to accomplish peace with Israel. (DAILY ALERT - FrontPageMagazine)
ISRAEL’S DILEMMA. The Palestinians now ruling Gaza (not to mention many of the "peace activists" seeking to break the Israeli blockade by sending the convoy) resolutely and fiercely oppose the two-state solution. The "right of return" of the descendants of Palestinians who fled Israel during the War of Independence remains the key demand of many Palestinians who believe that the violence must continue until they go "home." Israel cannot satisfy these Palestinians and their allies without committing national suicide. This is the essential point at issue and it has been for sixty years. A critical mass of Palestinians still wants to return to pre-1948 Israel; the Israelis won't allow it. The world of the 1940s was full of refugee problems of this kind. Roughly 12 million Germans were expelled from Poland and Czechoslovakia. Huge numbers of Hindus and Muslims fled or were expelled across the partition line between India and Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of Jews fled or were expelled from the Arab world in response to mob violence and other threats following the establishment of Israel. In no case have the refugees gone home; in every case but the Palestinian situation, the refugees found new homes for themselves and became integrated into new societies and built new lives. The world thinks Israel has a duty to make the Palestinians happy enough to make peace with concessions, but the concessions that Israel can reasonably make do not and cannot command enough support among Palestinian refugees to bring the conflict to a close. (DAILY ALERT - American Interest)
U.S.: HAMAS RESPONSIBLE FOR GAZA SITUATION. State Department Spokesman Philip J. Crowley said Wednesday: "We have offered Hamas a spot at the table many, many times if Hamas will agree to very straightforward conditions - recognize Israel, recognize existing agreements, and give up violence against Israel. Those are not complex demands." "There are two stories here. There's a compelling and urgent humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And there is a growing economy and a relatively stable situation that is improving every day in the West Bank. What is the difference between those two? It's not the difference of Palestinians who live in the West Bank and...in Gaza. It is the nature of the government that is currently ruling in the West Bank and was part of a unified government until Hamas changed the situation on the ground in Gaza. So let's put the responsibility where it clearly lies. It is Hamas' unwillingness to come to the table, to be a constructive force, to meet the international community or the Quartet's clear, straightforward conditions and play a constructive role in the region. That opportunity is available to Hamas. But because Hamas chooses, rather than serving the needs of its people, to fire rockets at Israel, that's the reason why you have the current situation in Gaza." (from DAILY ALERT - State Department)
WHAT ABOUT HAMAS’ SIEGE OF GAZA? As Israeli naval commandos raided the flotilla convoy that was on its way to Gaza, Hamas security officers stormed the offices of five non-governmental organizations, confiscated equipment and documents, and ordered them closed indefinitely. Ever since it seized control over Gaza in 2007, Hamas has imposed a reign of terror on the local population in general and its critics in particular. Hamas has brought nothing to the Palestinians in Gaza other than death and disaster. Hamas' recent decision to ban municipal elections in Gaza is yet another violation of the basic rights of its constituents. Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested by Hamas security forces for daring to speak out against tyranny and intimidation in Gaza. Over the past three years, dozens of Fatah officials and members have either been thrown into prison or killed. Under Hamas, Gaza is being transformed into a fundamentalist Islamic entity resembling the regimes of the Ayatollahs in Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Those who seek confrontation with Israel in the sea are only emboldening Hamas and helping it tighten its grip on the people of Gaza. (DAILY ALERT - Hudson Institute-New York)
ABANDONING THE GAZA BLOCKADE WOULD HAND A VICTORY TO ISRAEL’S ENEMIES. • The Gaza blockade is entirely the fault of Hamas and the Palestinians who support it. The brutal terrorist outfit rained missiles indiscriminately down on Israel for years (talk about collective punishment). Israel finally launched a strike to stop the attacks and was, predictably, denounced as an aggressor by the usual suspects. • This is a terrible moment to consider abandoning the blockade because it would rightly be seen as giving the organizers and supporters of this seaborne propaganda stunt a victory. • It would signal that America can be conned. It would reward Turkey's outrageous insult to us and to Israel, a long-time friend of Turkey. It would undermine Egypt and other Arab governments (including Fatah) that don't want Iran's clients in Hamas strengthened. • And it would signal that Iran is the most important power in the Middle East. (DAILY ALERT - Los Angeles Times)
U.S. GROUPS REACT TO GAZA FLOTILLA VIOLENCE. "Many countries have had naval blockades," said Malcolm Hoenlein, president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "Few are more justified than Israel facing a terrorist organization [Hamas]...and denying them access to the missiles." The thousands of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas show that the threat is a real one, Hoenlein said. "Do you know how many ships have smuggled arms into Gaza under the guise of humanitarian aid, under all sorts of subterfuges: fishing boats, commercial vehicles? There is a long track record and history of the smuggling that goes in by sea." Israel, said Hoenlein, told members of the flotilla that it would allow the aid into Gaza but simply wanted to inspect it first and send it through the Israeli port city of Ashdod. "If the y were really interested in getting humanitarian aid into Gaza, why didn't they simply go into Ashdod port, unload onto trucks, ride with the trucks into Gaza? Because that's not what their interest was." (CNN)
JEWISH GROUPS WANT STRONGER U.S. DEFENCE OF ISRAEL. Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director, said this week: "The U.S. should reiterate its support and understanding for Israel, that as a sovereign and democratic nation it has the right to act on behalf of its national security and express its confidence that Israel can conduct its own investigation into the matter without the intrusion of international bodies." "Was there a better way to do this? That's all interesting, but that's not what this is about," he said. "There is bloodshed all over the world, there are people killing people all over the world in deliberate hatred, and nobody is calling for investigations. At the very least the USA should stand with Israel." The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said: "It would have be en preferable if the UN and Obama administration had blocked any action implying criticism of Israel for defending itself....Nonetheless, intervention by the United States prevented passage of a Security Council resolution condemning Israel. The administration continues to express its confidence in Israel's ability to conduct its own investigation of the incident despite calls for an international inquiry." (DAILY ALERT - JTA)
SEN. LIEBERMAN DEFENDS ISRAEL OVER FLOTILLA RAID. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Thursday that Israel was exercising its right to self-defence when Israeli soldiers boarded a Gaza-bound aid flotilla earlier in the week. "We should be very clear about who is responsible for the unfortunate loss of life in the attempt to break the blockade in Gaza," Lieberman said. "Hamas and its allies are the responsible parties for the recent violence and the continued difficulties for the people of Gaza. Israel exercised her legitimate right of self-defense." Lieberman argued that the blockade exists because Hamas has continued to fire rockets on Israel even after Israel withdrew from Gaza. He called the ships "a clear provocation" that was not "an effort to improve the lives of the people of Gaza but rather an attempt to score political propaganda points." (DAILY ALERT - RTTNews< /I>)
THREE SLAIN FLOTILLA FATALITIES ’DREAMED OF MARTYRDOM’ Media reports in Ankara on Wednesday revealed that three of the Turkish citizens killed during the raid declared their wish to become martyrs. In an interview with the Turkish newspaper Haber, the family members of Ali Khaider Benginin, 39, said Benginin told his family before leaving for the sail: "I am going to be a shahid (martyr); I dreamt I will become a shahid - I saw in a dream that I will be killed." Another Turkish citizen, Ali Akhbar Iritilmis, 55, was active in the IHH organization which led the naval convoy to Gaza. "He was devoted to this activity, and always dreamt about becoming a shahid," said a close friend. A Dutch report claimed a Dutch activist arrested by the IDF is suspected of being a senior Hamas operative. (Ynet News)
FLOTILLA AID REFUSED BY HAMAS. Hamas officials on Wednesday refused to allow into Gaza 21 truckloads of humanitarian aid that had been offloaded from the flotilla ships docked at Ashdod port. A senior official from the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said Wednesday that the trucks were waiting to go into Gaza at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, pending approval from Hamas. "Hamas has refused to allow those trucks to go in, and if the aid is so urgent, my question is, why are they not allowing it into Gaza?" (Jerusalem Post)
FLOTILLA’S AIM WAS TO OPEN SEA CORRIDOR FOR HAMAS. Ely Karmon, a senior security analyst at the Institute for Counterterrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, said Tuesday that "the real force behind" the flotilla was "several Hamas front organizations and especially the Turkish IHH, a radical Islamic organization close to the Muslim Brotherhood. IHH supports Hamas materially and its strategy of armed struggle, and [was] outlawed by Israel in 2008." The flotilla's aim was to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, thereby enabling Hamas to import long-range missiles, as Hizbullah has been doing in recent years in Lebanon, Karmon said. "Israel cannot permit itself to have a Hizbullah-like entity on its southern border, 60 km. from its heavily populated central region." (Jerusalem Post)
RECIPE FOR A NEW BLOOD LIBEL (BY STAN GOODENOUGH). I love watching Israel being exonerated. It has happened time and again over the years: Israel's enemies falsely level blood libels against the Jews, the reflexively anti-Israel news media snatches and runs - exhilarated - with the story, spreading the perverted version of events far and wide. Sooner or later their "reporting" is shown to be inaccurate if not downright false, and Israel is absolved. Not that this makes much difference to those who hate Zion(ism) - of course. But it is music to the ears and eyes of those who love Israel. The attempt Monday morning by Israel's navy to enforce its blockade of the Gaza Strip terrorist mini-state is just the latest example. There is no telling what distortions you may have heard, but let me lay out how it was. Days ago two organizations - the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH) - the latter known to have ties with internationally-recognized terrorist organizations - began making announcing their intention to sail a flotilla of boats towards Gaza in an attempt to breach the Israeli government's blockade of the Strip. Israel, which banned all maritime traffic to Gaza in an effort to limit the quantity of weapons being shipped into the Hamas stronghold (from which thousands of rockets have been fired upon Israeli civilian population centers) made it clear it would not permit the ships to reach Gaza. The government of Turkey - an erstwhile ally of Israel's that has become increasingly antagonistic towards the Jewish state in recent months, while moving deeper into the orbit of Ahmadinejad's Iran - stepped into the developing fray, warning Israel not to try and stop the boats. Emboldened by this, the "activists" sailed to Cyprus and prepared for the final leg of their voyage to Gaza. Israel, making every effort to avoid a confrontation - short of backing down - invited the demonstrators to sail into Ashdod and have their humanitarian supplies shipped overland to Gaza from there. Israel's officials outlined in detail the exact course of action they would follow (which they did) to foil the flotilla's purposes. The "peaceniks" rejected the offer and paid the warning no heed. And on Sunday evening set course for Gaza. This was Israel's response: Naval ships intercepted the flotilla and Israeli commandos, armed with paintball rifles (!) and wearing side arms strictly for self-defense, slid to the deck of the largest ship - the Mavi Marmara. Their purpose: to tell the protesters one last time that they would not be allowed into Gaza. A few minutes later a reporter for Turkish television was heard screaming into his camera: "These savages are killing people here, please help!" The news flashed around the globe. That is to say, an uninformed and misinformed version of what was happening flew from network to network. The headlines and reporting, condemnations and outrage voiced on the morning of May 31, 2010 were predictable. Israel had attacked a sailing flotilla of peace activists who were simply seeking to take humanitarian aid to the "suffering" people of the Gaza Strip. IDF soldiers had opened fire indiscriminately on the unresisting protesters, killing up to 19 of them. The Israelis had "dropped from a helicopter onto the deck of a Turkish ship [and] immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians." Israel had deliberately "targeted innocent civilians," claimed trouble-making Turkey's foreign ministry, warning of "irreparable consequences" to the two countries' relations. Israel had committed "a massacre," cried PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas, while his mouthpiece, Sa'eb Erekat, pronounced Israel guilty of "another war crime." For good measure the PA/PLO immediately declared three days of mourning for those killed. Screamed the BBC: "Death as Israel storms aid ship." CNN: "Israeli commandos killed at least 10 people in pre-dawn raids on a flotilla of six ships carrying aid for the Palestinian territory of Gaza..." The network also gave a platform to Gaza-based Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri who said: "The Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla is an ugly crime and against international law and this reflects the nature of the criminal Israeli occupation." Deceived (willingly?) by these hysterical headlines, officials like Catherine Ashton, the European Union's high representative for foreign affairs, and senior UN figures Robert Serry and Filippo Grandi laid the blame for the whole affair at Israel's door and demanded Israel immediately lift the blockade of Gaza. The new British Foreign minister John Haig also called on Israel to open all the crossings for free flow of aid into Gaza. Deputy United Nations chief Oscar Fernandez-Taranco said the deaths could have been avoided if only Israel had lifted its blockade. Needless to say, the fact that the deaths could have been avoided if the "activists" had kept their noses out of Israel's affairs never entered the man's head. Sky News' Dominic Waghorn said Israel had "handed an enormous PR victory to the Hamas." Waghorn is oblivious, it seems, to the fact that it is his and other international journalists' skewed coverage of what occurred that was providing that very PR victory for their Arab friends. What really happened? Israel has plenty of footage revealing the truth. The "peace-loving" protesters tried to lynch the Israeli soldiers. As each paintball-armed soldier reached the deck he was leaped upon by iron-bar wielding, chair-smashing, knife-stabbing and even gun-firing "activists." Some soldiers were beaten senseless. One was dropped headfirst onto a lower deck, sustaining serious injuries. Another was stabbed, his pistol was grabbed from him and used to fire at the Israelis. Stun grenades and firebombs were thrown at the soldiers. When they eventually opened fire, it was only to defend themselves, and we still do not know how many of those killed were killed by the soldiers or by the terrorists (because that's what they were) who were trying to shoot the IDF men. This is the real story. But don't hold your breath waiting for the currently convening emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to find in Israel's favor. When it comes to the state of the hated Jews, the truth rarely finds traction in the court of international opinion. Thanks largely to the media, many millions of people are primed and ready to believe the worst about the actions of Israel's Jews. For them it's a case of: why let the facts get in the way of a convenient and expedient story that further feeds their prejudices and satisfies their twisted desires. They'll eat their spit.
IDF SOLDIER DESCRIBES ATTACK BY MOB. "Each soldier who descended was taken by three or four men and they simply exploded, beating him up. They lynched us. They had metal clubs, knives, slingshots, glass bottles....At one point there was also live fire." "I was among the last to descend, and I saw that the group was dispersed, everyone in his own corner surrounded by 3 or 4 men, I saw a soldier on the floor with two men beating him. I peeled them off of him and they came at me and began beating me with the clubs. That's how I broke my arm. At that moment I had no weapon in my hands, like everyone else who descended on the cables empty-handed. My paintball gun was behind me." "They came and attacked me, I brought them down to the floor, I took a few steps back, I took out my paintball gun, they came at me, and I s hot at their legs. One of the clubs destroyed my paint gun." "From the opening of the corridor, they were shooting at us the entire time with live fire....We did not come with the weapons we usually have, we came for something entirely different." (Israel Defence Forces)
LAW EXPERT: IDF ACTION IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS LEGAL Hebrew University international law expert Dr. Robbie Sabel discussed the legality of the IDF action in international waters. He explained that a state, in time of conflict, can impose an embargo, and while it cannot carry out embargo activities in the territorial waters of a third party, it can carry out embargo activities in international waters. Within this framework it is legal to detain a civilian vessel trying to break an embargo, and if in the course of detaining the vessel, force is used against the forces carrying out the detention, then that force has every right to act in self-defence. Sabel noted that there is a long history of embargo activities in international waters. (DAILY ALERT - (IMRA)
YES, ISRAEL’S A DEMOCRACY. The Jewish state of Israel is a diverse nation that has absorbed people from more than 140 countries. Among its population are about 1.5 million Arabs, including Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, who in a May 23 Times interview lashed out at Israel, using inflammatory words like "racist" and "fascist." As is his style, Tibi failed to back up his white-hot rhetoric with hard facts. In 1947, Arab leaders rejected a UN resolution to form an Arab state alongside a Jewish one. This caused the displacement of some 600,000 Palestinian refugees. From that point forward, Arab nations have denied these Palestinians and their descendants’ citizenship and basic civil rights, including the right to own property, get an education or take out loans - rights held by Israeli Arabs. Arab Israelis, who make up about 20% of the nation's population, enjoy equal rights, government representation and protection in Israel. They live freely in all parts of Israel, can use all public facilities, attend Israel's top universities and are contributing members of society. By no means is Israel the epitome of perfection, but we do aspire for equality for all our citizens. According to the Abraham Fund Initiative, since Israel's establishment in 1948, the number of schools in the Arab Israeli school system increased by more than fifteen fold; Hebrew schools grew by only five times. The number of classes offered in the Arab Israeli system increased more than seventeen fold, and since 1961 the literacy rate of Arab Israelis jumped from 49.6% to 90%, a clear indication of the educational opportunities offered to all our citizens. Arabic is an official language in Israel (alongside Hebrew). Arab Israelis are citizens with full voting rights and can serve as elected members of the Knesset, as lawmaker Tibi does. Tibi served as Yasser Arafat's adviser on Israeli affairs while simultaneously serving as a member of the Knesset. Tibi knows that no Arab country would afford him the freedoms that the Jewish state does. The writer is the consul general of Israel in Los Angeles. (DAILY ALERT - Los Angeles Times)
JUST ANOTHER DRILL – BUT NEXT TIME IT COULD BE THE REAL THING. The ominous wail of air raid sirens along the beach front and busy boulevards of Tel Aviv was met with a strange mixture of dread and apathy this week. Israelis knew that their security services were practicing countering potential missile strikes in the event of another war. Next time - and many Israelis believe that it is just a question of time - the barrages of rockets will come from Iran, Lebanon and Gaza, and could number in their tens of thousands. Across Israel's cities, men in nuclear-chemical-biological rubber suits could be seen rushing to imaginary impact sites as police hoisted dummies on to stretchers and oversaw potential evacuations of urban zones. During the 2006 war some 300,000 Israelis fled the rockets landing in the north. This time, officials practiced accommodating large numbers of Tel Aviv refugees in Jewish settlements inside the West Bank, which are expected to be spared the onslaught. (DAILY ALERT - Times-UK)
ISRAELI HUMANITARIAN AID TO GAZA DESPITE HAMAS ATTACKS. Despite attacks by Hamas, Israel maintains an ongoing corridor for the transfer of humanitarian supplies to Gaza which is used by internationally recognized organizations including the UN and the Red Cross. There is no food shortage in Gaza. Pictures in local newspapers show local markets aplenty with fruit, vegetables, cheese, spices, bread and meat. In 2009 alone, 10,544 patients and their companions left Gaza for medical treatment in Israel. While the import of cement and iron has been restricted since these are used by Hamas to cast rockets and bunkers, monitored imports of cement, iron, and building supplies are regularly coordinated with international parties. While over 70% of Gaza's electricity comes from Israel, since January there has been deterioration in the sup ply of electricity within Gaza since the Hamas regime is unwilling to purchase fuel to run the Gaza City power station. The U.S., Israel, Canada, and the EU have frozen funds to the Palestinian Hamas government since 2006, recognizing it as a terror organization. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
YEMEN AL-QAEDA TRAINING GAZA GROUPS TO ATTACK ISRAEL. The Yemen-based arm of al-Qaeda recently sent its members in Gaza a training manual with instructions for building a light aircraft powered by a car engine to launch explosives against targets in Israel. Documents sent to Ha'aretz by a group of Shi'ite separatists in Yemen that opposes al-Qaeda points to regular, direct contact between al-Qaeda in Yemen and supporters in Gaza, some of whom are active in Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad, which has carried out terror attacks against resorts in Sinai. According to one report, Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad had already purchased 25 Grad rockets and concealed them in greenhouses in Sinai and Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
ISRAEL IMPLEMENTS GOODWILL GESTURES, PALESTINIANS SEEN AS NOT SERIOUS ABOUT TALKS. Top IDF officers on Sunday updated their Palestinian counterparts on the Israeli government's decision to implement a series of goodwill gestures aimed at easing restrictions on the Palestinians in the West Bank including the lifting of 60 roadblocks and opening roads and crossings. Israeli tour guides will also be permitted to take groups into Bethlehem and Jericho. Israeli officials, meanwhile, expressed irritation on Sunday at what one described as the Palestinians' "endless chatter" about the content of the indirect talks. "The way the Palestinians are talking publicly raises questions about how serious they are taking the talks," one official said. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told EU ambassadors on Sunday that while Israel entered the talks with a true desire to reach a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians, there was a sense that the Palestinians were just going through the motions, hoping the indirect talks would fail so there would be no need for direct negotiations. What the Palestinians really wanted was for the international community to impose a solution. (Jerusalem Post)
REPORT: HEIGHTENED ACTIVITY ON LEBANESE BORDER. A former IDF intelligence officer told Ha'aretz that lately he and other Galilee farmers have seen plainclothes Hizbullah personnel travelling along the border and photographing Israeli positions. They are sometimes accompanied by individuals who do not appear to be Lebanese, as well as interpreters, who appear to be Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers and who have by now integrated into every command level in Hizbullah. (Ha'aretz)
VICE PREMIER VOWS TO END BUILDING FREEZE IN THE FALL. Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon vowed on Thursday that construction will resume in the West Bank when the moratorium on housing starts expires on Sept. 26. "We will renew building after the moratorium ends," he said. "We do not want to rule our neighbours. But we will not evacuate settlements. We will not move Jews. We will not sacrifice Jews from any place in Israel." He added that the government would reject any situation in which Jews are forbidden to live in certain areas of the country, while Arabs can live anywhere in Israel. "The settlements have never been a stumbling block to peace. The absence of that peace is for reasons that are not connected to us," Ya'alon said. "Our neighbours do not recognize the right of Jews to their land. They do not recognize the right of Israel to exist as a national homeland for th e Jewish people." It was this refusal that had been a stumbling block to peace since the dawn of Zionism, he said. (Jerusalem Post)
OBAMA REASSURES JEWISH LAWMAKERS ON ’OBAMA PEACE PLAN’ During a meeting Tuesday between President Obama and Jewish members of Congress, Obama sought to quell concerns that he would impose a peace plan on Israel without the country's consent, two attendees said. Jewish members, led by New York's Eliot Engel and Connecticut's Joe Lieberman, pressed Obama on their impression that he is putting more pressure on Israel than on the Palestinian side in peace talks, and asked about recent calls on Obama to jumpstart the process with an "Obama plan." "I cannot impose a settlement," Obama said. "Israel is a sovereign nation and the notion that I would or could do that is simply wrong." Obama told the group that the rift between the U.S. and Israel has been overstated and stressed that the American commitment to Israel's military superiority is unabated. (DAILY ALERT - Politico)
THE NEW LEBANON BATTLEFIELD. Hizbullah is growing stronger every day, in terms of the number of fighters, quantity of missiles, and capabilities. The M-600 missiles supplied by Syria to Hizbullah are not just another item in its arsenal. It is a much more accurate and effective weapon, with the ability to hit IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv in the next war should it wish to do so. In 2006, it did not possess this ability. In the next war, Hizbullah will have the option of firing dozens of accurate missiles simultaneously from dozens of launch sites across Lebanon - while directing them at one specific target. The Scud missiles which Hizbullah reportedly received from Syria are meant for a specific objective. If they are Scud D type, this is apparently a threat on Israel's nuclear reactor in Dimona. Its war will focus on firing rockets and missiles deep into Israel, over time. Hizbullah (as well as Hamas) is rapidly digging fortifications underground - bunkers, headquarters, control centres, and passageways between them. In the Second Lebanon War, the Air Force destroyed Hizbullah's long-range missiles within 35 minutes. Meanwhile, 50% of the rockets fired from short- and mid-range rocket launchers were destroyed before they were used, while the rest were destroyed immediately after the first attack. Hizbullah maintains an army of less than 20,000 men. The increase it aspires for, to at least 40,000 men, requires compromise on manpower quality. However, advanced weapons systems require strict maintenance and high technological capabilities. (Ynet News)
REPORT: EGYPT FREEZING CONTACTS WITH HAMAS. Cairo has decided to cut all contact with heads of the Hamas movement, both in the Palestinian territories and abroad, the Egyptian newspaper al-Mesryoon reported Monday. According to a senior official, the decision was in response to "the organized media campaign that Hamas officials are waging against Egyptian figures, by defaming them in Arab satellite television stations and in Arab media." The tension between Hamas and Egypt is rooted in Egypt's refusal to open the Rafah crossing to Gaza, its construction of a steel fence on the Gaza border, and its war against smuggling tunnels. Last Wednesday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Egypt of torturing 30 Palestinian detainees in its custody. Last week, a Palestinian fisherman was killed when his boat collided with an Egyptian naval vessel in Egypt's territorial waters. Gazans said Egyptian sailors beat the fisherman to death. (Ynet News)
ISRAEL: TRUE RECONCILIATION NEEDED, NOT JUST TWO-STATE SOLUTION. The goal of the diplomatic process should be a historic reconciliation between Jews and Arabs, and not just a two-state solution, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Sunday. He said framing the upcoming discussions as trying to get to a two-state solution was to define the problem in too narrow a fashion. "For this to be a lasting peace," Ayalon said, "what was needed was reconciliation based on co-existence." Ayalon said that Israel would agree to a Palestinian state if this was the way the road had to go to lead to a historic reconciliation, but could not agree to a Palestinian state that would infringe on vital Israeli interests and not result in the longed-for historic agreement. "We want peace, and understand it will entail two states," Ayalon said. "But we can't be fatigued or impatient. We can’t work under a time limit." Ayalon pointed out that in the 17 years since the Oslo process began in 1993, all Israeli parties have moved a long distance toward accepting the idea of a Palestinian state. By comparison, he said, "the Palestinians have not moved an inch." (Jerusalem Post)
IDF EMPLOYS NEW THERMAL CAMERA FOR BORDER SURVEILLANCE. The IDF Central Command has begun deploying the Magna thermal camera system. "It is a warning system that provides intelligence coverage over a specific area and provides a warning response to an intrusion," says Maj. Oshri Itach. The Magna combines thermal cameras and regular cameras, and can scan an area over a range of several miles. Once the system absorbs suspicious vibrations, it transfers the data to a collection system in an operations room. "The moment that our enemies understand that they can not pass through certain areas even when there is no fence, we will have reached our goal," explained Lt. Lior Ovadia. (DAILY ALERT - BaMahane-Israel Defence Forces)
ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO THE DIMONA REACTOR. • According to foreign reports, the nuclear reactor at Dimona built in the early 1960s is not there for peaceful purposes. Why should Israel be permitted that which is prohibited to other states? • Why has the international community agreed that it should exist inside a cloud of ambiguity? Because the international community of the second half of the 20th century was moral. It remembered that for more than a millennium the Jewish people was the persecuted "Other" of Europe, and that between 1940 and 1945 a third of its number were murdered, and even Roosevelt and Churchill didn't lift a finger to save the one million Jews who could still have been rescued in 1944. • The international community could see that the Jewish state was surrounded by a sea of enmity. It also understood that precisely because the nuclear reactor was not for peaceful purposes, it would ensure peace. It is Dimona that stabilizes the Middle East. • Israel did not boast or behave ostentatiously, or in any way misuse the capability that was attributed to it. Even in difficult circumstances, it acted with deliberation and composure. It never unsheathed the sword that those foreign reports describe as a terrible one. • If the international community of the 21st century tries to force fashionable norms on the Dimona reactor, it will cause a disaster to itself. History will not forgive anyone who undermines the order that is based on Dimona, or anyone who tries to crack the glass that protects the Jewish state from those who want to do away with it. (Ha'aretz)
ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO THE DIMONA REACTOR. • According to foreign reports, the nuclear reactor at Dimona built in the early 1960s is not there for peaceful purposes. Why should Israel be permitted that which is prohibited to other states? • Why has the international community agreed that it should exist inside a cloud of ambiguity? Because the international community of the second half of the 20th century was moral. It remembered that for more than a millennium the Jewish people was the persecuted "Other" of Europe, and that between 1940 and 1945 a third of its number were murdered, and even Roosevelt and Churchill didn't lift a finger to save the one million Jews who could still have been rescued in 1944. • The international community could see that the Jewish state was surrounded by a sea of enmity. It also understood that precisely because the nuclear reactor was not for peaceful purposes, it would ensure peace. It is Dimona that stabilizes the Middle East. • Israel did not boast or behave ostentatiously, or in any way misuse the capability that was attributed to it. Even in difficult circumstances, it acted with deliberation and composure. It never unsheathed the sword that those foreign reports describe as a terrible one. • If the international community of the 21st century tries to force fashionable norms on the Dimona reactor, it will cause a disaster to itself. History will not forgive anyone who undermines the order that is based on Dimona, or anyone who tries to crack the glass that protects the Jewish state from those who want to do away with it. (Ha'aretz)
A GREAT DAY FOR ISRAEL. Israeli governments have sought to join the OECD for 20 years at least. Three years ago, the organization embarked on negotiations to bring Israel in as a member, scrutinizing the Israeli economy in dozens of meetings by dozens of OECD committees. Israel's membership in OECD indicates that the developed world recognizes that we are an industrial, advanced country; a democratic and competitive state that shares the basic values of the wealthy West. For a state with a population of a mere 7.5 million, and which so many would like to destroy, full membership in OECD is an act with deep national and international significance. (Ynet News)
HIZBULLAH PREPARES FOR THE NEXT WAR. Recent conversations with Hizbullah fighters reveal an organization at the peak of its military powers, with an army of well-trained, disciplined and highly motivated combatants wielding advanced weaponry, cultivating new tactics and brimming with confidence. "The next war is coming, 100%, but we don't know when," says Ali, a Hizbullah fighter. "We have big plans for it. God willing, you will see the end of Israel." Since the end of its latest bout with the Israeli military in 2006, Hizbullah has built new defensive lines and firing positions, its fighters say, in the hills flanking the Bekaa Valley and along the rugged, mountainous spine running up the middle of southern Lebanon. Reports over the past year suggest that Hizbullah has received advanced Russian shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, and some fighters have been trained in Syria on larger truck-mounted missile systems. U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources say Hizbullah has also augmented its arsenal with larger, longer-range rockets with guidance capabilities. Many analysts believe that in the event of another war, Hizbullah plans to strike strategic targets deep inside Israel. The group is believed to have acquired Syrian-manufactured M-600 guided rockets. Its guidance system allows Hizbullah to target Israel's Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv from hidden bases in the northern Bekaa Valley. (TIME)
NEW ISRAELI TECHNOLOGY MAKES TANKS DISAPPEAR. Eltics Ltd., an Israeli start-up that develops electronic warfare systems, says it has developed a system that can make tanks, armoured personnel carriers, helicopter gunships and even naval vessels invisible to night vision systems and heat-seeking missiles. The Black Fox Active Adaptive IR Stealth System, revealed for the first time on Sunday by Israeli TV Channel 10, photographs the surroundings, analyzes the area's thermal signature, and then screens the exact same signature, enabling the weapons platforms to disappear. (Daily Alert)
VICE PREMIER SHALOM: PA ALREADY FUNCTIONING LIKE STATE. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are doomed to hit a brick wall because no Palestinian leader will accept anything less than what Yasser Arafat rejected at Camp David ten years ago, and no Jewish prime minister will offer anything more, Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom said Thursday in an interview. At the same time, Shalom said he was in favour of the U.S.-backed indirect talks because they may bring about a greater understanding between the sides. "It is good that we are talking," he said. "I am in favour of talking." Shalom said that for all intents and purposes, the PA was already functioning like a de facto state. "True, they don't have borders," he said, "but we also don't have borders." According to Shalom, the focus of the current talks should be on economic projects, development of industrial areas, and joint projects in the spheres of electricity, sewage, water and infrastructure. Likewise, he said, the talks should focus on increasing freedom of movement in the West Bank through lifting roadblocks, and ways the Palestinians could fight terrorism and increase security. (Jerusalem Post)
GAZANS CUT THROUGH EGYPT’S BORDER BARRIER. Mohammed, a Gazan tunnel digger, says the new underground Egyptian barrier aimed at stopping smuggling is a "joke." "We just cut through it using high-powered oxygen-fueled blow torches." The Egyptian government began constructing the barrier along the Gaza-Egypt border last year at a cost of millions of dollars. "We pay around a $1,000 for a man with an oxygen-fueled cutter to come and break through it. It takes up to three weeks to cut through, but we get there in the end," he says of the 5-10 cm. thick steel barrier. The BBC spoke to one man in Gaza employed to cut through the barrier who said he could cut a meter-square hole through it in less than a day. (BBC News)
YA’ALON: FOR THE ARABS, TEL AVIV OG HAIFA ARE ALSO SETTLEMENTS. The Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state - and not the settlers - is the stumbling block to peace, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday. From the Arab perspective, he said, the occupation did not start in 1967 with the Six-Day War, but in 1948 with the War of Independence - and even before that, when Jews first began immigrating to Israel to build a national homeland. For the Arabs, Tel Aviv and Haifa are also settlements or places under occupation, he said. Ya'alon also said that Israel was not willing to engage in a diplomatic process in which it would trade land for terror. (Jerusalem Post)
WHEN ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE TALKS RESUME, ISRAEL PLANS TO HIGHLIGHT INCITEMENT. When U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resume this month, Israel is planning to highlight claims of demonization of Israel and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian leaders. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said that progress on incitement would be a "crucial'' issue in peace negotiations."This is a very high priority for us,'' he said. "It's a Palestinian obligation in the framework of the peace process. It's a litmus test as to the seriousness of the Palestinian side as to their readiness to peace and reconciliation.'' (Christian Science Monitor)
STUDY: ’PEACE HOPELESS UNTIL CULTURE OF HONOURING TERRORISTS END. The Palestinian Authority's policy of naming schools, summer camps, sporting events, streets and ceremonies after terrorists fundamentally undermines the chance for peace, states a new report by Palestinian Media Watch entitled, "From Terrorists to Role Models: The Institutionalization of Incitement," released Monday. The report calls on the Palestinian leadership to convince their people that terror is wrong at all times, and concludes that peace will not have a chance until terrorists are ostracized as immoral outcasts, not immortalized as heroes and role models. (Jerusalem Post)
ISRAEL DEVELOPS DEVICE TO SEE THROUGH WALLS The Israeli company Camero has developed a device that will greatly help soldiers and law enforcement officials. The sensor device, about the size of a laptop computer, uses electromagnetic pulses and enables security forces to know where people are located in a room in real time before having to enter it. Six months ago a girl was kidnapped in a foreign country by kidnappers who demanded ransom. The local police utilized the device to see where the abductors were located. While three kidnappers were in another room of the house, one of them was keeping guard on the girl in the same room. When he left to go to the bathroom, the police broke in and saved the girl. Israel Defence Forces)
CLINTON: ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF IS NOT NEGOTIABLE. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the American Jewish Committee Thursday: "President Obama noted recently that there has been some of what he called 'noise and distortion' about this administration's approach in the Middle East. Over the past month, we have attempted to remove any ambiguity. The president and this administration have repeatedly reaffirmed our commitment to Israel's security in word and in deed." "We have spoken out forcefully about the grave dangers of Syria's transfer of weapons to Hizbullah. We condemn this in the strongest possible terms and have expressed our concerns directly to the Syrian government. Transferring weapons to these terrorists - especially longer-range missiles - would pose a serious threat to the security of Israel....We do not accept such provocative and destabilizing behaviour - nor should the international community." "Regional peace must begin with the recognition by every party that the United States will always stand behind Israel's security and, as President Obama put it recently, 'no wedge will be driven between us. Now, we will have our differences, but when we do, we will work to resolve them as close allies.' Israel's right to exist, and to defend itself, is not negotiable. And no lasting peace will be possible unless that fact is accepted. But similarly, Palestinians must have a state of their own. They must be able to travel, conduct business, govern themselves, and enjoy the dignity of a sovereign people. There can be no equivocating on this either....We know we cannot and will not impose a solution. It is up to the parties themselves." (DAILY ALERT - State Department)
REPORT: OBAMA TO CALL WORLD SUMMIT IF MIDEAST PEACE TALKS FAIL. President Barack Obama has told several European leaders that if Israeli-Palestinian talks remain stalemated into September or October, he will convene an international summit on achieving Mideast peace, senior Israeli officials told Ha'aretz on Thursday. The conference would be run by the Quartet, and would address core issues such as borders, security arrangements, Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem. Obama is determined to exert his influence to establish a Palestinian state, the officials said. They said Obama could postpone the summit, or the unveiling of his own peace plan, until after the Congressional elections in November. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday in Amman, "We want our state to be declared under an international agreement. If this could not happen, the Arabs will go to the U N Security Council to get recognition of Palestinian statehood." (Ha'aretz)
WHY GATES ROLLED OUT THE RED CARPET FOR EHUD BARAK. When Defence Secretary Robert Gates hosted visiting Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak this week, the Obama administration appeared to be pulling out all the stops in lavishing honour and warm attention on the visiting Israeli official, who has come to Washington numerous times in the past few months without so much grand ceremony. The administration seems to be making a concerted effort to put to rest any impression that the top U.S. military brass was in any way questioning the value of the U.S.-Israeli military and strategic relationship. The White House is engaged in an aggressive public relations and outreach effort to the Hill and Jewish groups to assure them of its commitment to Israel's security. (DAILY ALERT - Politico)
JERUSALEM MAYOR DENIES HOUSING CONSTRUCTION FREEZE. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Tuesday denied any formal or informal freeze in Jewish housing construction in the eastern part of the city and that reports of a de facto halt to building Jewish homes there were wrong. He also said he could not accept Palestinian control of any portion of the city, likening such a move to putting a "Trojan horse" into the middle of a predominantly Jewish community. "There is no freeze," the mayor said during a visit to Washington. "It's not true." He added that he foresees the city's population growing from 800,000 to 1 million in 10 years, keeping a 65-35% ratio between Jewish and Arab residents. He said that the current slowdown was the result of Israeli shock at being "slapped in the face" by the U.S. "It takes some time to recover from such an attac k from a friend like the U.S. administration," Barkat said, adding that local and district commissions that oversee housing approvals had begun to meet after a brief hiatus. (AP-Washington Post)
Obama's Jerusalem Stonewall - Mortimer Zuckerman Mr. Obama has undermined Israel's confidence in U.S. support. He uses the term "settlements" to describe massive neighbourhoods that are home to tens of thousands of Jews. It certainly sends signals to the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority followed the president's lead and refused to proceed with planned talks until Israel stops all so-called settlement activities, including in East Jerusalem. President Obama's attitude toward Jerusalem betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the history of the city. After Israel was recognized as a new state in 1948, it was immediately attacked by the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The attacks were repelled, but the Jordanians conquered East Jerusalem and separated it from its western half. In 19 67, the Arab armies again sought to destroy Israel, but it prevailed in the famous Six-Day War and reconquered East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. Under Jordanian rule, from 1948 to 1967, dozens of synagogues were destroyed or vandalized. The ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was desecrated, its tombstones used for the construction of roads and Jordanian army latrines. The rights of Christians as well as Jews were abused, with some churches converted into mosques. Since Israel reunited Jerusalem in 1967, it has faithfully protected the rights and security of Christians, Muslims and Jews. Christians now control the Ten Stations of the Cross; Muslims control the Dome of the Rock. Yet the Palestinians often stone Jewish civilians praying at the Western Wall below. Freedom of religion in Jerusalem should not be compromised by American policy. (Wall Street Journal)
THE PALESTINE PEACE DISTRACTION. President Obama recently said it was a "vital national security interest of the United States" to resolve the Middle East conflict. To be sure, peace between Israelis and Palestinians would be of real value. But it is easy to exaggerate how central the Israel-Palestinian issue is and how much the U.S. pays for the current state of affairs. The emergence of a Palestinian state would not affect the power struggles in Iraq or have any effect on Afghanistan. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians would not weaken Iran's nuclear aspirations. The Palestinian impasse did nothing to dissuade Arab governments from working with the U.S. to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in the Gulf War when they determined it was in their interest to do so. Similarly, an absence of diplomatic progress would not preclude collaboration against an aggressive Iran. Nor would al-Qaeda's radical terrorist agenda be satisfied by Palestinian statehood. What is more, any Palestinian state would materialize only amidst compromise. There will be no return to the 1967 borders and there will be nothing more than a token right of return for Palestinians to Israel. Terrorists would see this as a sell-out, and they would target not just Israel but those Palestinians and Arab states who made peace with it. Those urging President Obama to announce a peace plan are doing him and the cause of peace no favour. Announcing a comprehensive plan now - one that is all but certain to fail - risks discrediting good ideas, breeding frustration in the Arab world, and diluting America's reputation for getting things done. The writer is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. (Wall Street Journal)
OBAMA NOT STRONG ENOUGH ON ISRAEL, VOTERS SAY. American voters disapprove by 44 to 35% of the way the President is handling the situation between Israel and the Palestinians, according to a Quinnipiac University poll taken April 14-19 and released Thursday. Jewish voters, generally supportive of Obama on other issues, turn 67 to 28% thumbs down on his handling of Israel and the Palestinians. American voters say 57 to 13% that their sympathies lie with Israel, and say 66 to 19% that the President should be a strong supporter of Israel. But voters say 42 to 34% that Obama is not a strong supporter of Israel. (DAILY ALERT - (Quinnipiac University)
GAZA-WEST BANK SPLIT LOOKS INCREASINGLY PERMANENT. Four years after the Hamas victory in elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, and three years since the Hamas coup in Gaza, the split in the Palestinian national movement has an increasing look of permanence. There is now no process underway toward ending the Palestinian political divide. Parallel to the rise of Hamas in Gaza, and its ongoing popularity in the West Bank, Fatah is in a process of severe decline. It failed to reform following its election defeat in 2006 and remains riven by factionalism and corruption. The key Palestinian leader in the West Bank today is Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Fayyad is not a Fatah member, and is in effect an appointee of the West. His gradualist approach is quite alien to Palestinian political culture, despite the undoubted improvements this approach has brought to daily life in the West Bank. It is widely believed that without the security forces trained by Gen. Keith Dayton, which keep Fayyad in place, and more importantly without the continued activities of the IDF in the West Bank, the area would fall to Hamas. Both the Gaza and West Bank governments are dependent for their economic survival on foreign assistance. Half of the Fayyad government's annual $2.8 billion budget consists of direct foreign aid. The Hamas authorities announced a budget of $540 million, of which $480 million is to come from outside (Iran). The Gaza enclave gives Iran an effective veto over any attempt to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Both Palestinian governments are able to continue to exist because of the interests of rival outside powers that they do so. The split in the Palestinian national movement is thus likely to continue for as long as this regional reality exists. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
ISRAEL OFFERS NEW MEASURES TO PROMOTE PEACE TALKS BUT WON’T FREEZE CONSTRUCTION IN JERUSALEM. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed to the White House this weekend his rejection of a U.S. call for a total Israeli construction freeze in East Jerusalem. At the same time, U.S. officials involved in the diplomacy noted that the Israeli prime minister agreed to take nearly a dozen measures that could underpin new peace talks, including the release of Palestinian prisoners, easing the flow of goods into Gaza, and the removal of more roadblocks in the West Bank. Israel also said it would expand the area of responsibility for Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, and agreed to discuss the issues of borders and the status of Jerusalem in any new round of negotiations with the Palestinians, either directly or through a U.S. mediator. U.S. officials also said Israel was willing to stop construction in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo for two years. A plan to build more housing in the neighbourhood had sparked a diplomatic crisis between the two allies. (Wall Street Journal)
THE FALSE RELIGION OF MIDEAST PEACE AND WHY I’M NO LONGER A BELIEVER. I can't tell you how many times in the past 20 years, as an intelligence analyst, policy planner, and negotiator, I wrote memos to Very Important People arguing the centrality of the Arab-Israeli issue and why the U.S. needed to fix it. Today, I couldn't write those same memos or anything like them with a clear conscience or a straight face. The notion that there's a single or simple fix to protecting U.S. interests, let alone that Arab-Israeli peace would, like some magic potion, make it all better, is just flat wrong. In a broken, angry region with so many problems, it stretches the bounds of credulity to the breaking point to argue that settling the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most critical issue, or that its resolution would somehow guarantee Middle East stability. A brilliant, empathetic president has made America the focal point of action and responsibility for the Arab-Israeli issue at a time when the country may be least able to do much about it. The painful truth is that faith in America's capacity to fix the Arab-Israeli issue has always been overrated. It's certainly no coincidence that every breakthrough from the Egypt-Israel treaty to the Oslo accords to the Israel-Jordan peace agreement came initially as a consequence of secret meetings about which the U.S. was the last to know. The writer, an advisor on the Middle East to Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre. (DAILY ALERT - Foreign Policy)
WIESEL: JERUSALEM IS ABOVE POLITICS. Amid tensions between the U.S. administration and Israel over construction in Jerusalem, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel on Friday published a full page ad in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal titled: "For Jerusalem." In the ad, Wiesel wrote: "Jerusalem is the heart of our heart and the soul of our soul." "Jerusalem is above politics," Wiesel wrote. "It is mentioned more than 600 times in Bible - and not a single time in the Quran....Its presence in Jewish history is overwhelming." He added, "Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims may all worship at their shrines....And contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims are allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city." He wondered, "Why tackle the most complex and sensitive problem prematurely? Why not first take steps which will allow the Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security?" (Ynet News)
NETANYAHU ON MEMORIAL DAY: PEACE WILL COME ONLY IF ISRAEL REMAINS STRONG. Speaking at the Memorial Ceremony for Fallen Soldiers at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Twice we have paid the heavy cost of liberating the siege on Jerusalem - first, during the War of Independence, and again, when the city was bombarded during the Six-Day War....Jerusalem, which until that time had been a divided and weakened city, became once again a city full of life, creativity and renewal." "Not one day has passed without us reaching out to our neighbors in peace. Not even one day, and we still reach out to those of our neighbors that desire peace. Over the years, we have learned that the olive branches of peace will only be attained if we are strong and are willing to defend our country as did those who have fallen here. It was not out of a lust for battle that they charged this destination and other hills, but out of faith in the justness of the cause of defending the one and only country of the Jewish people....They all believed in the right of the Jewish people to live in peace and security in the land of their forefathers." (Prime Minister's Office)
ISRAEL: ARAB WORLD MUST SHOW COMMITMENT TO PEACE PROCESS. The Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, told the Security Council Wednesday: "In the pursuit of peace in the Middle East, all parties must realize that they have not only rights, but obligations as well. The Palestinians and the wider Arab world must show, in both word and deed, that they, too, are committed to the peace process." "They must take tangible steps to combat terrorism, to put an end to incitement, to engage in direct negotiations, and to begin a process of normalizatio n with Israel. Israel is hopeful that the proximity talks will serve as a stepping stone towards the resumption of direct, bilateral peace negotiations. Only through such negotiations can we hope to reach a comprehensive peace agreement. Yet the success of such talks - and their transition into direct negotiations - depend upon all in the region to take confidence-building steps." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
BRITISH BAN OF ISRAELI AD IRKS JERUSALEM MAYOR. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat Thursday branded as shameful a British decision to ban an Israeli advertisement that listed holy sites in east Jerusalem as part of a tourism itinerary in Israel. The advertisement, which the Israel Government Tourist Office placed in British newspapers, included a photo of Judaism's Western Wall with Islam's Dome of the Rock. Calling the Western Wall "the heart and soul of the Jewish people and the State of Israel," Barkat said Britain's Advertising Standards Authority had made a "shameful accusation showing a complete ignorance of history." (Reuters-Washington Post)
PA, HAMAS TRADE BARBS OVER GAZA POWER BLACKOUT. As Gaza experienced a wide-scale blackout on Saturday, the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center accused PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of responsibility, charging that Fatah was "stealing sums of money donated by the EU for fuel shipments." Ghassan al-Khatib, spokesman for the Fayyad government, said the PA pays approximately 90% of Gaza's electricity bills and that Hamas did not want to contribute to paying for fuel shipments. "There are between 70,000 to 80,000 employees whose salaries are paid for by the PA; 20,000 take their salaries from UNRWA, while Hamas pays the salaries of 50,000 employees. Are these people unemployed? Why don't they pay their electricity bills?" al-Khatib asked. (DAILY ALERT - Maan News)
STUDY: ANTI-SEMITISM IN EUROPE HIT NEW HIGH IN 2009. The worldwide increase in anti-Semitic attacks following Israel's 2009 incursion into Gaza hit the UK and France the hardest, according to the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University. In 2009, the UK saw 374 manifestations of violence against Jews compared to 112 in 2008. France was second, with 195 violent attacks compared to 50 in 2008. The total number of anti-Semitic incidents was 1,129 in 2009, compared to 559 in 2008. The institute recorded 566 incidents of vandalism targeting Jewish property. There were 41 instances of armed assaults against Jews because of their religion, and 34 arson attacks. (Ha'aretz)
POLISH PRESIDENT KACZYNSKI WAS FRIEND OF JEWISH PEOPLE. Israeli leaders joined in extending condolences to the government and people of Poland as well as to the families of the victims of the plane crash that took the lives of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and other senior dignitaries and military personnel. Prime Minister Netanyahu called Kaczynski "a Polish patriot, a great friend of Israel and a leader who did much for his people and to further world peace and prosperity." Kaczynski was an ardent promoter of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, for which he gave the land when he was mayor of Warsaw. (Jerusalem Post)
HOLOCAUST MARTYR’S AND HEROES’ REMEMBRANCE DAY - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last year I visited the Wannsee Villa in Berlin where I saw the original invitation for the meeting of high-level Nazi officials to decide on the destruction of the Jewish people. In an elegant villa on the shore of a pastoral lake, over breakfast and glasses of cognac, 15 men sat and decided how to destroy our people. Yet the people of Israel re-established its country, gathered its exiles, built its army, settled its homeland and reunited its capital, Jerusalem. The State of Israel was born out of the ruins and the ashes, and today it impresses the entire world with the force of its creativity and innovation, and with its free and democratic society. The historic failure of the free societies when faced with the Nazi animal was that they did not stand up against it in time, while there was still a chance to stop it. We are today again witnesses to hatred of the Jews expressed by organizations and regimes associated with radical Islam, headed by Iran and its proxies. In the face of these repeated statements to wipe the Jewish state off the face of the Earth, in the best case we hear a weak protest which is also fading away. The world continues on as usual and there are even those who direct their criticism at Israel. The world gradually accepts Iran's statements of destruction against Israel and we still do not see the necessary international determination to stop Iran from arming itself. If we learned anything from the lessons of the Holocaust it is that we must not remain silent and be deterred in the face of evil. I call on all enlightened countries to rise up and forcefully and firmly condemn Iran's destructive intentions and to act with genuine determination to stop it from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Prime Minister's Office)
A PREMATURE ‘TWO STATE’ SOLUTION. There is no reason to believe that Palestinian security forces are ready to operate effectively on their own - though Abbas cannot be expected to acknowledge that. Nor are other Palestinian institutions mature. Establish a Palestinian state without first establishing the rule of law, guarantees of basic human rights, a relatively clean and efficient civil service, and an end to terrorist incitement in media and mosques, and the result almost surely will be a failed state. Then what? Send American troops in to stop Hamas, al-Qaeda or Iranian-backed militias from taking over? Ask the Israelis to do the job? Consider beginning with this small step: a referendum. Ask the Palestinians flat out: Are you prepared to accept a two-state solution? Are you willing to co-exist with a Jewish neighbour? Are you open to compromises in the interest of peace? Or would you rather continue the conflict as long as necessary to defeat the Israelis? Based on the results, determine what can be achieved and what cannot, at least for now. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies. (DAILY ALERT - Scripps-Howard)
U.S.: "HOLD PALESTINIAN LEADERS ACCOUNTABLE FOR INCITEMENT " State Department Assistant Press Secretary Philip Crowley said Thursday: "We are disturbed by comments of Palestinian Authority officials regarding reconstruction and refurbishing of Jewish sites in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. Remarks by the Palestinian ministry of information denying Jewish heritage in and links to Jerusalem undermine the trust and confidence needed for substantive and productive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We also strongly condemn the glorification of terrorists; honouring terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians either by official statements or by the dedication of public places hurts peace efforts and must end. We will continue to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for incitement." (State Department)
U.S. SHOULD NOT GIVE PALESTINIANS A FREE PASS. Public rebukes of Israel by the U.S. administration form a dangerous and shocking pattern. The U.S. made an end to all settlement activity, including in Jerusalem, a condition for peace talks to begin. But it hasn't put similar conditions on the Palestinians regarding something as deadly as Palestinian incitement of hatred - in the Palestinian press, on the airwaves, and in Friday sermons. There seems to be an asymmetrical series of expectations in the administration's demands on Israel; Israelis should do the heavy lifting, while the Palestinians are often given a free pass. The White House, for instance, hasn't demanded that the Palestinians shut down the deadly al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the terrorist wing of Fatah, as it was required to do after the 1993 Oslo Accords. Fatah last year re-endorsed armed struggle against the Jewish state. Dennis Glick and Daniel Mariaschin are, respectively, the president and executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International. (JTA)
ISRAEL ‘NOT READY TO PAY FOR THE PLEASURE OF TALKING WITH THE PALESTINIANS. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel's Russian-language radio on Tuesday: "We are ready for any negotiations - either direct or through mediators. But still, we believe that direct negotiations are the only real alternative for reaching an agreement. The refusal of direct negotiations would be indicative of the actual intentions of our counterparts. And again, why should we pay an additional price for the pleasure of negotiating with the Palestinians through a mediator? They're conditioning their willingness to talk through the Americans on a lot of requirements. I'm not ready to pay for the pleasure of talking with them." Q: What do you think about the latest statements of Salam Fayyad, who is actually threatening to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state? Lieberman: "Lots of agreements and obligations have emerged since the Oslo accords, and we [the current government] abide by them all, though we were not responsible for the Oslo accords. A unilateral decision by the Palestinian authorities to announce their independence would release us from all of our obligations. Then, we can respond by unilateral decisions of our own, such as extending our sovereignty over settlement blocs in the West Bank, construction in the E-1 zone [adjacent to Jerusalem], and so forth." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
TOTGESAGTER JUNGE AUS GAZA KEHRTE NACH HAUSE ZURÜCK. Der 15-jährige Muhammed Farmawi ist wohlbehalten zu seinen Eltern zurückgekehrt. Der Jugendliche aus dem Gazastreifen war zum Märtyrer erklärt worden, nachdem Palästinenser berichtet hatten, dass der Junge von israelischen Truppen erschossen worden sei. Dies hatte eine Nachrichtenagentur unter Berufung auf angebliche medizinische Quellen bestätigt. Tatsächlich war der Junge durch einen Tunnel nach Ägypten gelangt. Dort war er von Grenzpolizisten entdeckt worden. Er landete für mehrere Tage in einem ägyptischen Gefängnis. (Israel Heute)
PALESTINIAN TEEN CONFIRMED BY GAZA HEALTH MINISTRY AS ’KILLED BY THE IDF’ RETURNS HOME ALIVE Muhammad al-Faramawi, 15, was said to have been killed in clashes on Tuesday near Rafah in Gaza, but Israel denied involvement. He returned home on Friday after having been arrested by Egyptian security forces for trying to sneak into Egypt via smuggler tunnels. Dr. Muawiya Hassanein of Gaza's health ministry announced on Tuesday that Faramawi had been killed. He said the boy had been left "bleeding for hours" before a medical team was allowed to collect his body. (BBC News)
REDISCOVERING THE NATURE OF PALESTINIAN REJECTIONISM. The Obama administration has evidently failed to internalize that a succession of ever-more generous peace offers from Prime ministers Rabin, Barak, Sharon and Olmert were rebuffed by a Palestinian leadership that has yet to acknowledge Israel's legitimacy, much less begin to explain to its own people the imperative for compromise. Israel's prime ministers, including Netanyahu, have made plain their desire for the creation in the West Bank and Gaza of a Palestinian society more interested in its own political and economic stability than the destruction of the Zionist entity, and for a Palestinian state established in a climate of genuine reconciliation and wider Arab normalization. Given the history of Palestinian rejection, the Israeli public is deeply sceptical about the chances of negotiations yielding the desired results. Since the Oslo Accords of 1993, 17 years of efforts under three presidents and six prime ministers have led nowhere. While Netanyahu's government is already doing more than previous governments to help PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad toward West Bank stability and institution-building, we have yet to see signs of a more profound Palestinian shift - toward true recognition of the Jewish state. That shift, so long overdue, is the key component of any viable peace effort. The sooner the U.S. utilizes its unique capacity to galvanize the necessary pressure, on the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, the better. (Jerusalem Post)
WHO FROZE THE MIDEAST PEACE PROCESS? It is the Palestinians, not Israel, who have refused to return to negotiations. Unfortunately, the Obama administration gave the Palestinians an excuse not to come to the table by making settlements the central issue. In fact, over the years there have been negotiations despite the settlement issue. Had the Palestinians accepted Israel's generous offers under two prime ministers for a Palestinian state, the issue of settlements would have been resolved. The Obama administration has gone off track not only in its excessive focus on settlements and its overreaction to Israel's faux pas in announcing new construction while the vice president was in Israel, but also by suggesting that Israel is harming American interests in the region. This is a misguided and counterproductive view. Ultimately, America's interests in the region will rise or fall on its willingness to support its true friends there and its ability to distinguish between moderates who want peace and rejectionists who want to undermine it. There is no doubt that Israel is a true ally and peacemaker. The writer is National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. (New York Times)
OBAMA’S COUNTERPRODUCTIVE SETTLEMENTS ULTIMATUM. If, 17 years ago, U.S. President Bill Clinton or Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had insisted that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin freeze all settlement construction, including in Jerusalem, before Arafat would sit down with Rabin, there would have been no Oslo agreements. Rabin said, "I explained to the president of the United States that I wouldn't forbid Jews from building privately in the area of Judea and Samaria....I am sorry that within united Jerusalem construction is not more massive." The same year as the famous handshake on the White House lawn, 1993, the Rabin government completed the construction of more than 6,000 units in the Pisgat Zeev neighbourhood of east Jerusalem. On Sept. 13, 1993, the Oslo peace accord was signed - by the same Mahmoud Abbas who refuses to sit down today.< BR> The U.S. has never liked Israeli construction in east Jerusalem, but until Obama, no U.S. president had made its cancelation a precondition for negotiations, and until Obama, Palestinian leaders including Abbas did not make it a precondition either. This is the same Abbas who negotiated with seven previous Israeli Prime ministers - Shamir, Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu (in his first term), Barak, Sharon, and Olmert - without the precondition that he now demands of Netanyahu. Netanyahu is doing something that every past Israeli prime minister has done, but Obama is doing something that past American leaders considered unwise. The writer served for 23 years as foreign-policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. (Foreign Policy) – DAILY ALERT.
Fatah to Intensify "Popular Struggle" Against Israel - Ali Waked Senior Fatah officials have called to intensify the "popular struggle" against Israel. "All options are on the table," senior PA official Jibril Rajoub said Tuesday. Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud al-Alul said Fatah, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, plans to escalate its activity against Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the West Bank barrier, as well as against what he called Israel's attempt to "Judaize" Jerusalem, this in accordance with the decisions reached at Fatah's sixth annual congress last year. The threat is apparently linked to Sunday's arrest of Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki during a demonstration near Bethlehem. Nabil Shaath, another Fatah Committee member, said Fatah has decided that it must be at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle. "You've seen Fatah's leaders in Bilin and Bethl ehem; their presence will be felt everywhere." (Ynet News)
OBAMA: JERUSALEM DISPUTE ’A DISAGREEMENT AMONG FRIENDS’. In an interview Tuesday on the "Today" show, President Obama said that despite recent ill will over the issue of east Jerusalem, the U.S. and Israel remain firm allies. "I think the underlying relationship is solid as a rock. So my commitment, my personal commitment, to Israel's security is unwavering, and I think that there is broad bipartisan consensus on that. This is a disagreement among friends about how to move forward," he said. "I think Prime Minister Netanyahu intellectually understands that he has got to take some bold steps. I think politically he feels it. But it's not just on the Israeli side. I've been very clear that the Palestinians have to take steps." (DAILY ALERT - MSNBC)
ISRAEL FEARS OBAMA HEADING FOR IMPOSED MIDEAST SETTLEMENT. President Obama's demands during his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu last Tuesday point to an intention to impose a permanent settlement on Israel and the Palestinians in less than two years, political sources in Jerusalem say. Israeli officials view the demands that Obama made at the White House as the tip of the iceberg under which lies a dramatic change in U.S. policy toward Israel. Of ten demands posed by Obama, four deal with Jerusalem: opening a Palestinian commercial interests office in east Jerusalem, an end to the razing of structures in Palestinian neighbourhoods in the capital, stopping construction in Jewish neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem, and not building in the neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo. The fact that the White House and State Department have been in contact with Israel's European allies, first and foremost Germany is seen as part of an effort to isolate Israel and put enormous political pressure on it. (Ha'aretz)
HOW SHOULD THE U.S. TREAT ISRAEL? Israel is an ally and shares our commitment to democracy and entrepreneurship, and it should be treated as such. Treating the positions of the two parties as equal in value when one demands a return of many thousands of compatriots who have never set foot in the country while asserting that no Jews may live in Palestine has not succeeded in 50 years and will not do so now. Peace is far more likely there if we announce that the Palestinians are on their own than by continuing to encourage them in thinking that we will do their bargaining for them. The writer, a former U.S. senator and Washington state attorney general, served on the 9/11 Commission. (Washington Post)
ISRAEL REJECTS U.S. DEMANDS ON BUILDING IN EAST JERUSALEM. The discord between the U.S. and Israel over Jewish building in East Jerusalem deepened Tuesday with Israeli officials rejecting demands by Washington and expressing anger over the public upbraiding of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the Obama administration. Since Israel annexed East Jerusalem, Israeli officials say, a request to scrap Jewish building projects there is both legally unfeasible and a betrayal of the mandate of the current government, elected on a platform of keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. Israeli officials say the Obama administration misread the situation, and that stopping building in Jerusalem was never an option. "We must tell the American government that there are things we can do and things we cannot do," said Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassado r to the UN, who was reflecting the current government's thinking. "Freezing building in east Jerusalem is one of those things we cannot do." (New York Times)
ISRAEL SAYS IT WILL STILL BUILD IN JERUSALEM. Israel insisted Friday it would not change its policy of building homes in east Jerusalem. "Israeli construction policy in Jerusalem has remained the same for 42 years and isn't changing," a written statement from Netanyahu's spokesman, Nir Hefez, said. Hefez said Netanyahu and Obama had reached a "list of understandings" in the talks Wednesday, although some disagreements remained. He said they had an understanding "based on the principle that on the one hand construction policy in Jerusalem doesn't change, and on the other, Israel is ready to take steps to move the diplomatic process." Later Hefez clarified that he had not meant to say Washington had agreed to Israel building in east Jerusalem, but to stress Israel's own policy on the issue. Netanyahu's office said he would Friday "present to the forum of seven (ministers) the progress on a list of issues in the diplomatic contacts he held in the United States in order to make progress in the peace process." "There is no deadline," a cabinet spokesman told Israel Radio. (Reuters-New York Times)
PARTISAN ELEMENTS ’DISTORTED’ JERUSALEM CONSTRUCTION ANNOUNCEMENT. Jerusalem city hall characterized the latest reports on construction at the Shepherd Hot el compound as "distorted," saying they were meant to stir a provocation during the prime minister's visit in Washington. "The plan was approved in July 2009 at the local committee. Its approval was published in the media back then. The fees were paid by the land owners only on March 15 of this year, and the approval was granted automatically after that," the official response said. Sources closely affiliated with the construction project also said that the latest permit is merely technical. "The permit for the Shepherd Hotel was granted more than six months ago. Regrettably, radical leftist elements chose to present the matter as if the plan was approved today. These same elements were seeking to sabotage the prime minister's visit in Washington," one source said. Meanwhile, Jerusalem city hall announced Tuesday the promotion of a comprehensive plan for east Jerusalem. The initiative will include an increase in the commercial and hotel zone s in the area, as well as the addition of another 100 housing units earmarked for Arabs. (Ynet News)
NETANYAHU TELLS WASHINGTON: JERUSALEM IS NO SETTLEMENT (2nd part). • "Leaders who truly want peace should sit down face-to-face. Of course, the United States can help the parties solve their problems but it cannot solve the problems for the parties. Peace cannot be imposed from the outside. It can only come through direct negotiations in which we develop mutual trust." • "Israel must make sure that what happened in Lebanon and Gaza doesn't happen again in the West Bank....Experience has shown that only an Israeli presence on the ground can prevent weapons smuggling. This is why a peace agreement with the Palestinians must include an Israeli presence on the eastern border of a future Palestinian state." • "For decades, Israel served as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism. Today it is helping America stem the tide of militant Islam....Our soldiers and your soldiers fight against fanatic enemies that loathe our common values. In the eyes of these fanatics...you are the Great Satan and we are the Little Satan....Militant Islam does not hate the West because of Israel. It hates Israel because of the West - because it sees Israel as an outpost of freedom and democracy that prevents them from overrunning the Middle East. That is why when Israel stands against its enemies, it stands against America's enemies." (Prime Minister's Office)
NETANYAHU TELLS WASHINGTON: JERUSALEM IS NO SETTLEMENT (1.part). • "Iran's brazen bid to develop nuclear weapons is first and foremost a threat to Israel, but it is also a grave threat to the region and to the world. Israel expects the international community to act swiftly and decisively to thwart this danger. But we will always reserve the right to self-defence." • "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital....Today, nearly a quarter of a million Jews, almost half the city's Jewish population, live in neighbourhoods that are just beyond the 1949 armistice lines....They are an integral and inextricable part of modern Jerusalem. Everyone knows that these neighbourhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement. Therefore, building in them in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution." • "While we cherish our homeland, we also recognize that Palestinians live there as well. We don't want to govern them. We don't want to rule them. We want them as neighbours, living in security, dignity and peace. Yet Israel is unjustly accused of not wanting peace with the Palestinians. Nothing could be further from the truth....From day one; we called on the Palestinian Authority to begin peace negotiations without delay. I make that same call today. President Abbas, come and negotiate peace." (Prime Minister's Office)
JERUSALEM WILL NOT RETURN TO THE PRE-1967 BORDERS. Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Jewish nation. Despite its most sacred Jewish status, the State of Israel has transformed the Temple Mount in Jerusalem into a place of religious freedom. Nonetheless, there is a faction of radical Muslims today that is inciting violence at the Mount in an attempt to create an atmosphere of conflict in the city and in the entire region. To make matters worse, these rioters are supported by the Palestinian Authority. The world must clearly understand that Jerusalem will not return to the pre-1967 borders. This is a clear and important strategic policy in the heart of consensus in Israel. Before negotiations surrounding Jerusalem are even conceived, the level of trust between Israel and the Palestinians must soar to new heights. Such trust will occur only after the issues of Gaza, the West Bank, the settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley are resolved. The absolute sole route toward a lasting agreement is direct bilateral negotiations. The writer, a Kadima MK, is a former head of the Israel Security Agency and a former minister of public security. (Jerusalem Post)
Ten Workers Saw Their Friend Die - Tovah Lazaroff Thai worker Mane Singauephon had come to the small community of Netiv Ha'asara more than three years ago to support his wife and child back home. He was killed when a rocket fell through the roof of a greenhouse where he worked on the border with Gaza. A paramedic said he had been hit in his head, back and left arm. Yair Farjun, head of the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, said, "Ten workers witnessed the death of their friend" and had "experienced a terrible trauma. Social workers spoke to them on an individual and group basis through a translator." In the past decade, rockets have battered this farming community, founded in 1982 by evacuees from Sinai. Before the IDF went into Gaza in January 2009, rockets hit daily in the area of the moshav, sometimes several times a day. (Jerusalem Post)
OBAMA ON ISRAEL: OBAMA ON ISRAEL: FRIENDS CAN DISAGREE. President Barack Obama is rejecting talk that U.S.-Israel relations are in a meltdown. Asked in a Fox News interview Wednesday whether the falling out amounted to a "crisis," Obama said flatly, "No." "Israel's one of our closest allies and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away. But friends are going to disagree sometimes," the president said. "There is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward....[On Tuesday], when there were riots by the Palestinians against a synagogue that had been reopened, we condemned them in the same way because what we need right now is both sides to recognize that it is in their interests to move this peace process forward." (- DAILY ALERT - Politico)
ISRAEL REJECTS U.S. DEMANDS ON BUILDING IN EAST JERUSALEM. The discord between the U.S. and Israel over Jewish building in East Jerusalem deepened Tuesday with Israeli officials rejecting demands by Washington and expressing anger over the public upbraiding of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the Obama administration. Since Israel annexed East Jerusalem, Israeli officials say, a request to scrap Jewish building projects there is both legally unfeasible and a betrayal of the mandate of the current government, elected on a platform of keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. Israeli officials say the Obama administration misread the situation, and that stopping building in Jerusalem was never an option. "We must tell the American government that there are things we can do and things we cannot do," said Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassado r to the UN, who was reflecting the current government's thinking. "Freezing building in east Jerusalem is one of those things we cannot do." (New York Times)
PALESTINIANS’ DESTRUCTIVE VENERATION OF TERRORISTS. What can you say about a 19-year-old woman who participates in a terrorist attack in which 38 people, 13 of them children, are killed in cold blood? The answer, if the woman is Palestinian and the dead are Israelis, is heroine or martyr - and if she is Dalal Mughrabi, you name a school and a camp after her, and last week, a square in the West Bank town of El Bireh. If the term "confidence-building measure" is employed, what confidence can Israelis have in a people and their leaders who honour the 1978 murder of innocents, particularly children? To my knowledge, there is no square in Israel named for the mass murderers of civilians. Palestinian society, in contrast, honours all sorts of terrorists. The veneration of terrorists says something unsettling about Palestinian society. The adulation of Dalal Mughrabi and other terrorists is bound to give your average Israeli parent a certain pause: Is this the state we want next to us? The determination in the West not to hold Palestinians morally accountable for terrorism - as well as their commonplace anti-Semitism - is a repugnant form of neo-colonial mentality in which, once again, the Palestinians are being patronized. I dare say the Brits would have reacted differently if a square in Belfast had been named for some IRA terrorist. (Washington Post)
OBAMA’S TURN AGAINST ISRAEL. On a visit to Israel last week, Vice President Joe Biden condemned an announcement by a mid-level Israeli official that the government had approved a planning stage - the fourth out of seven required - for the construction of 1,600 housing units in north Jerusalem. Assuming final approval, no ground will be broken on the project for at least three years. But neither that nor repeated apologies from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prevented Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - at what White House sources ostentatiously said was the personal direction of President Obama - from calling the announcement "an insult to the United States." White House political chief David Axelrod got in his licks on NBC's Meet the Press, lambasting Israel for what he described as "an affront." It's difficult to see why the Administration has chosen this occasion to spark a full-blown diplomatic crisis with its most reliable Middle Eastern ally. Israeli anxieties about America's role as an honest broker in any diplomacy won't be assuaged by the Administration's neuralgia over this particular housing project, which falls within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries. If the Obama Administration opts to transform itself, as the Europeans have, into another set of lawyers for the Palestinians, it will find Israeli concessions increasingly hard to come by. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)
EU PARLIAMENT URGES HAMAS TO IMMEDIATELY RELEASE KIDNAPPED ISRAELI SOLDIER. The European Parliament on Thursday urged Hamas to "immediately" release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was kidnapped on Israeli soil near Gaza on 25 June 2006. MEPs meeting in Strasbourg also called upon Hamas to grant Sgt. Shalit rights and privileges pursuant to the Geneva Convention. Amendments to the resolution aimed at introducing a reference to Palestinian prisoners in Israel were rejected. The resolution urges Hamas "to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Sergeant Shalit without delay." (European Jewish Press) "This young man lives in a cave, with no visiting rights, no doctor, no lawyer, no mail, no trial, (and) no Geneva Convention (of human rights)," said Belgian liberal MEP Frederique Ries. (DAILY ALERT - Expatica-France)
U.S. SAYS IT BELIEVES MIDEAST TALKS STILL ON. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley cast doubt over comments by Arab League chief Amr Moussa on Wednesday saying that Mahmoud Abbas had decided to scrap indirect Mideast peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians following Israel's announcement of new construction in Jerusalem. "I don't think that that report that's been circulating for the last 24 hours is accurate," Crowley said. "As far as I know, we are still moving forward. We have not heard from the Palestinians that they have pulled out....George Mitchell is planning to be in the region next week for further discussions on these issues. We remain committed to the process that is underway." (DAILY ALERT - Reuters)
IN HEBRON, RENOVATION OF HOLY SITE SETS OFF STRIFE. The Tomb of the Patriarchs - a site revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians as the burial place of their common forefather, Abraham - needed bathrooms and a new roof over an outdoor prayer area. To the spokesman for Hebron's Jewish community, that should not have been grounds for international scandal. "In any normal country, people would take a site like that and turn it into a nationally recognized monument," David Wilder said. Demonstrators threw rocks in Hebron last week after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that Israel would spend $100 million rehabilitating 150 "national heritage" sites, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. Most of Hebron is a bustling, modern Arab city filled with honking taxis, vendors and shops - a thriving hub of West Bank comme rce. (Washington Post)
ISRAEL TO START FORMALLY MONITORING PA INCITEMENT. Israel is to begin officially monitoring incitement in the Palestinian Authority and will periodically issue a report on it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of Military Intelligence's research department, will serve as government coordinator for incitement in the PA. "We will set parameters by which to measure the level of incitement," Netanyahu told the committee. "People must know exactly what is happening on this issue, because for a peace agreement, education toward peace and acceptance of Israel are needed." Building a "culture of peace...should not wait until the day a state comes into being," a senior Israeli government official said. The "incitement index" will be produced by monitoring broadcasts in the official PA media, statements and actions by senior PA officials and textbooks. (Ha'aretz)
EXPERTS SKEPTICAL OF INDIRECT PEACE TALKS. U.S. special envoy George Mitchell announced Monday that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to indirect talks, though he acknowledged that the structure and scope of the talks had not yet been agreed upon. "It's hardly a cause for celebration that after 17 years of direct official talks we are regressing to proximity talks," said Yossi Alpher, former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. "Israelis and Palestinians aren't ready for direct talks; their positions are too far apart," said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. mediator and ambassador to Israel and Egypt, said it's "not understandable why we would now have them sit in separate rooms a nd move between them." (Washington Post)
THE HIDDEN AGENDA BEHIND ‘ISRAEL APARTHEID WEEK’. What underlies the Israel Apartheid Week campaign is a highly politicized interpretation of Israel's history in which the Jewish people are viewed as a colonialist movement that recently came from Europe to usurp lands from the indigenous Palestinian population, rather than the authentic claimants to sovereignty in their historical homeland. Prof. Moshe Gil of Tel Aviv University wrote in his 900-page monumental work, A History of Palestine: 634-1099, that as late as the seventh century, Jews still had a massive presence in most parts of what had been their sovereign territory up until the Roman invasion. Some suggest that the Jews were still the majority. According to Gil, on the eve of the Muslim conquests, the Jewish presence in the land was nearly 2,000 years old. Moreover, there was a constant effort of Jews to return to their land in the centuries that followed, despite the dangers. By the 1860s the Jews, in fact, re-established their majority in Jerusalem, well before the arrival of the British Empire. When the League of Nations decided to recognize the Jewish claim to a national home in 1922, it specifically recognized the pre-existing right of the Jewish people to what was to become British Mandatory Palestine. Israel Apartheid Week is a hypocritical initiative that ignores the apartheid practiced by the Palestinians themselves, who make the sale of land to Jews punishable by death. (Jerusalem Post)
IDF UNVEILS GAZA BORDER DEFENSE SYSTEM. The IDF on Tuesday released footage of the tracking system deployed along the Gaza border in order to thwart terror attacks. The system, dubbed "spot and strike," is operated by the IDF's Field Intelligence Corps. The footage shows how the system targets a Palestinian terrorist who was involved in an attempted attack that took place in December 2009. "The system proves most effective when we're dealing with real-time events that require immediate response," said Brig.-Gen. Eli Polak. The IDF found a ladder, ropes and explosives in the documented incident, indicating that the terrorists were planning to climb over the security fence in order to carry out an attack. (Ynet News)
TALKS WITH PALESTINIANS WON’T START WHERE THEY LEFT OFF. The indirect "proximity talks" between Israel and the Palestinians likely to begin next week will not pick up where the discussions between then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas broke off in late 2008, the Jerusalem Post has learned. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the Palestinian demand that the talks begin from the point where they ended with Olmert. Olmert offered the Palestinians nearly 94% of the West Bank, a land swap to compensate for most of the rest, an arrangement on Jerusalem, and the return of a small number of refugees into Israel as a "humanitarian gesture." Abbas rejected the offer, telling the Washington Post in May that the gaps were "too wide." The proximity talks will not immediately focus on borders, another Palestinian demand, with Israel saying there can be no credible discussion of borders without first knowing what security arrangements will be in place. Netanyahu told the cabinet Thursday, "We welcome the start of talks, even if they are proximity talks. In the end, our goal is to try and reach a peace agreement with our Palestinian neighbours via direct talks, but we have always said that we do not necessarily insist on this format....If this is what is necessary to start the process - Israel is ready." (Jerusalem Post)
ISRAEL’S HISTORIC ROOTS ARE REAL. Palestinian protests against the restoration of Jewish heritage sites are part of a campaign of delegitimization against Israel. The inclusion in Israel's heritage restoration project of two of the most sacred Jewish sites, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb, has sparked riots and led supposedly moderate Palestinian leaders to burst forth with disturbingly inflammatory rhetoric, with the U.S. State Department and the UN secretary general both reprimanding Israel for the decision as well. This latest uproar is another example of the general Palestinian unwillingness to accept and acknowledge the deep-seated historical roots of the Jewish people in the region. The Cave of the Patriarchs is mentioned in the Bible and has been a focus of Jewish pilgrimage for more than 3,000 years as the burial place of the people's three forefathers. The refurbishment of two shrines central to Jewish history in no way threatens Palestinian political ambitions. What it does do is present an obstacle to those who wish to erase Jewish history in the region. (DAILY ALERT - Guardian-UK)
DEMOGRAPHY, GEOPOLITICS, AND THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL’S CAPITAL: JERUSALEM’S PROPOSED MASTER PLAN • The aspiration to create and preserve a stable Jewish majority in the unified capital of the State of Israel has been the dream of the Jewish people over many generations. • Yet, the Jewish majority in Jerusalem is declining due to the mass migration of the Jewish population from Jerusalem, together with the migration of an additional Arab population into Jerusalem. • According to the proposed master plan for the city, the planned inventory of Jewish housing does not meet expected needs for 2020, while the planned inventory of Arab housing will suffice until at least 2030. • Lands earmarked on paper for expanding Jewish neighbourhoods are Arab-owned, have unregistered ownership, and a minority are Jewish-owned. In the current political and diplomatic reality, it is not plausible that the state will expropriate land as it did in the past. • Furthermore, the proposed master plan will create urban contiguity between eastern Jerusalem neighbourhoods and Palestinian neighbourhoods outside the city, reinforcing the Palestinian demand to recognize the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem as a single political entity. • The demographic struggle for a Jewish majority in Jerusalem should be waged with an emphasis on staunching the emigration of Jews from the city. The steps required include building tens of thousands of housing units. (Global Law Forum-Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs)
ISRAEL HAS ITS FAULTS, BUT APARTHEID ISN’T ONE OF THEM. Google "Israel and apartheid" and you will see that the two are linked in cyberspace. Yet the Israel of today and the South Africa of yesterday have almost nothing in common. Israeli Arabs, about one-fifth of the country, have the same civil and political rights as do Israeli Jews. Arabs sit in the Knesset. Whatever this is - and it looks suspiciously like a liberal democracy - it cannot be apartheid. The West Bank is a different matter, but it is not part of Israel proper, and under every conceivable peace plan almost all of it will become a Palestinian state. Yet Israel's critics continue to hurl the apartheid epithet when they ought to know that it is a calumny. Interestingly, they do not use it for Saudi Arabia, which maintains as perfect a system of gender apartheid as can be imagined, or elsewhere in the Arab world, where Palestinians sometimes have fewer rights than they do in Israel. (Washington Post)
THE EUROPEAN LOBBY IN ISRAEL. Between 2002 and 2008, the European Parliament's European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) granted a total of $14 million to various Israeli NGOs. $5.5 million was directed specifically to causes for Palestinians, while a further $7 million went specifically to programs that benefit Israeli Arabs. Even when the EIDHR funded programs for women, it did so only for programs for Bedouin or Israeli Arab women. Not one cent was directed toward any of the diverse Jewish communities in Israel: Ethiopians, Russians, Yemenites, Persians or Jews from the Caucasus. Around $73,000 was directed towards former IDF soldiers to get them to provide testimony that might lead to a process whereby European courts might put soldiers or their officers on trial for war crimes. In addition, in its November 2009 report "Trojan Horse: The Impact of European Government Funding for Israeli NGOs," NGO Monitor illustrated that individual European embassies in Israel and other EU projects give lavishly to Israeli NGOs, sometimes even making up the majority of their budgets. In fact "foreign-funded local NGOs are responsible for a significant portion of the petitions brought before the Israeli High Court of Justice," says the report. The EU has created an internal lobby within Israel to get Israel to bend to its will. (Jerusalem Post)
ADVENTURES OF THE GREEN PRINCE "I wish I were in Gaza now," says Mosab Hassan Yousef by phone from California. "I would put on an army uniform and join Israel's special forces in order to liberate Gilad Shalit. If I were there, I could help. We wasted so many years with investigations and arrests to capture the very terrorists that they now want to release in return for Shalit. That must not be done." For more than a decade, Yousef, son of a Hamas leader in the West Bank, was an agent of the Israel Security Agency (ISA) and was known as the "Green Prince." His book, Son of Hamas, will be published next Tuesday. Yousef was a member of the Hamas students' organization at Birzeit University in the West Bank and was sent to prison after buying a gun in 1996. "I was in jail with Hamas people, with senior figures in the organization who ran an apparatus called Majad, a kind of internal security body of Hamas aimed at uncovering Israeli agents. They tortured prisoners, most of them from Hamas, whom they suspected of collaboration." "My job was to write down the confessions and testimonies. As the sheikh's son, I was trusted. It was there that I lost my faith in Hamas. They killed people for no reason. While everyone was warning me about the ISA, for the first time in my life I saw Hamas people torturing their comrades, members of their nation, with exceptional cruelty." "My handlers [in the ISA], for their part, respected me and treated me very well and even helped me with my studies. I was stunned by their behaviour. They did not want to take action against the Palestinians as such, only against the extremists. I looked at these people, whom in the past I had so much wanted to kill, and discovered that everything I knew about them was incorrect." (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)
THE DECISIVE FACTOR. It's easy to come up with weighty arguments against an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear project. Yet the decisive factor will be the extent to which the memory of the Holocaust beats in the hearts and minds of every person in this country, not as distant history, but rather as something that could happen again tomorrow. The factor that will tilt the balance is the same one that prompted Prime Minister Begin to bomb the Iraqi reactor, and the same one that prompted the bombing of the Syrian reactor. Should Israel receive information that Iran is close enough, too close, to a nuclear bomb, and should all efforts to thwart this prospect fail, any Israeli prime minister will be taking one decision only. The way to prevent the bombing is not through pressure on Israel. It won't make a difference. Rather, the only way is to impose effective sanctions on Iran, so that Tehran realizes that it is precisely the continuation of the nuclear project that threatens the regime's stability and very existence. (Ynet News)
PA Still Stealing "Hundreds of Millions" Donor countries have yet to respond to revelations by former Palestinian intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh that some of Mahmoud Abbas' close aides had siphoned off to private bank accounts hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for financial aid to the Palestinians. "Don't the Americans, Europeans and Arabs care about their money that is being stolen? If they continue to turn a blind eye to the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas will eventually take over the West Bank the same way they took the Gaza Strip," he says. A former PA minister convinced Abbas and Arafat to give him about $5 million of international aid so that he could purchase land in Jerusalem "before Je ws lay their hands on them." Shabaneh's investigations showed that the minister deposited most of the money in his private bank account and built a huge, luxurious villa on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Shabaneh also discovered that a former PA finance minister had deposited $8 million in his private bank account. Shabaneh is now "wanted" by the PA on charges of "collaboration with the Israeli enemy" (DAILY ALERT - Hudson Institute New York).
FRENCH RECOGNITION OF PALESTINIAN STATE WILL HURT PEACE. A French proposal to recognize a Palestinian state even before any agreement is reached with Israel is likely to stiffen the position of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and push off dire ct negotiations between the sides even further, Israeli officials said on Sunday. Senior Israeli government officials said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position is that diplomatic matters will only move forward through direct negotiations with the Palestinians, and that the Palestinians will be reticent to both enter into negotiations and to make concessions if they believe that the international community will give them what they want regardless of what they do. Anything that strengthens the impression that someone from the outside will "deliver" Israel is counterproductive, one official said. (Jerusalem Post)
ARCHAEOLOGIST FINDS JERUSALEM WALL MATCHING BIBLICAL STORY. A team of Israeli archaeologists has announced the discovery of a massive wall they say dates to the 10th century BCE in Jerusalem's Ophel Park on the slope between the Temple Mount and the village of Silwan. The dig director, Dr. Eilat Mazar, dates the wall according to potshards found nearby to the period of King Solomon and the major period of construction in Jerusalem in the First Temple period, as described in the Bible. The dig is a joint project by the Hebrew University, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Along with the wall, which is 10 meters high and 70 meters long, other structures were found, including a monumental gatehouse and a tower. "This is the first time a structure has been found that could conform to descriptions of King Solomon's construction in Jerusalem ," Mazar says. (Ha'aretz)
ISRAEL UNVEILS NEW DRONE FLEET THAT CAN REACH IRAN. Israel's air force on Sunday introduced a fleet of huge pilotless planes with a wingspan the size of Boeing 737 passenger jets that can fly as far as Iran. "The Heron TP is a technological and operational breakthrough," said Brig. Gen. Amikam Norkin, commander of the base that will operate the drones. During NATO's aerial onslaught against Serbia in 1999, Serbian forces quickly shot down 42 U.S. drones. "We are aware of the dangers such an aircraft can meet in the battlefield, and we do whatever we can to protect it," said air force Lt. Col. Eyal. Israeli companies are considered world leaders in drone technology and now export unmanned aircraft to a number of armies that have used them in Iraq and Afghanistan (DAILY ALERT - AP-ABC News).
RECOGNITION FOR JEWS DISPLACED FROM ARAB COUNTRIES. Jews who migrated to Israel left property everywhere from North Africa to the Persian Gulf. Some research estimates that about $1 billion worth of personal and community assets were left behind by 850,000 Jews who forfeited all when they left their old countries for the new one. Israeli legislation to protect the rights of Jewish migrants from Arab countries and supported by the government proposes that Israel secure the right of these Jews' to compensation within the framework of the peace process. Supporters say these Jews are every bit as refugees as the Palestinians displaced with Israel's establishment and should be an equally important issue in the peace process. (DAILY ALERT - Los Angeles Times)
DUBAI HIT WAS NOT A BOTCHED JOB. Irrespective of who carried out the assassination of senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, the operation was meticulously planned and successfully executed, and despite a surprisingly impressive investigation by Dubai police, the hit cannot be considered a botched job. Mabhouh oversaw the smuggling of Iranian long-range rockets into Gaza, enabling Hamas to threaten the Tel Aviv region, home to more than three million Israelis. In a video made two weeks before his death and broadcast on Al-Jazeera earlier this month, Mabhouh said he had kidnapped and murdered two IDF soldiers, Ilan Sa'adon and Avi Sasportas, in 1989. Mabhouh said he had disguised himself as an Orthodox Jew during the attack. (Jerusalem Post)
KUWAITI NEWSPAPER FINED OVER PRO-ISRAEL ADVERT The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan was fined $10,400 for printing a pro-Israeli advertisement justifying the Jewish state's war in Gaza last year, Al-Jarida newspaper reported on Monday. The fine was slapped on the daily for allowing the printing of an advertisement sponsored by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League in the International Herald Tribune, which it prints and distributes locally in the Gulf emirate. Al-Watan's lawyer, Rashid al-Radaan, explained that the IHT goes directly to press without being checked and that the paper had issued an apology to its readers. (DAILY ALERT - AFP)
NETANYAHU LOBBIES RUSSIANS FOR ANCIENT HEBREW TEXTS. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Medvedev on Monday discussed Israel's desire to retrieve the Guenzberg collection of ancient Jewish manuscripts. The collection includes 14,000 books (some published in the 14th century) and more than 2,000 Hebrew manuscripts. Following the death of Baron David Guenzberg in 1910, Zionist activists arranged for its relocation to prestate Israel. In May 1917, the Russians agreed to sell the collection to the Jewish National and University Library for half a million rubles. But after the money had already been paid by Russian Zionists and the collection was packaged and ready for shipment, World War I erupted, delaying the shipment. After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the newly installed Soviet authorities expropriated the collection. (Ha'aretz)
"PA USING OUR MONEY TO SMEAR US. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee that the Palestinian Authority is sponsoring worldwide campaigns to delegitimize Israel, campaigns that were partially financed by "the funds that we transfer to the Palestinians." "The majority of claims against senior IDF officers worldwide are funded and initiated by the PA," he said. The Palestinians begin every conversation with international sources by saying they do not believe in the honesty of Israel's stated intentions, he said. "I do not honestly believe theirs in light of their initiatives for boycotts on Israeli goods, as well as the litigations. We need to check, as a society, whether we are willing to accept conditions such as these - that on one hand, they will hold negotiations with us, while on the other hand the y devote a significant amount of their resources to opposing us....It cannot be that we cooperate with the Palestinians on security and economic issues, and they continue to file claims against us and to incite against us." (Jerusalem Post)
SWIFT CHANGE TO BRITISH UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION LAW IN DOUBT. A swift change to the law promised by ministers to prevent Israeli politicians and generals being arrested when they visit Britain is in doubt. A Cabinet split over timing threatens to postpone any alteration of the rules until after the election, The Times has learned, even though ministers assured Israel that it was a priority. Ministers promised to act after a magistrate in London issued a warrant for the arrest last year of Tzipi Livni, the Israeli opposition leader, for alleged war crimes in Gaza when she was foreign minister. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, is privately warning against remaking the law in haste. A further complication is that 119 MPs, most Labour, have signed a Commons motion against any change. Yigal Palmor, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "If Israeli dignitaries cannot travel unhindered to Britain, than they will not travel. Automatically the political dialogue between the two countries will be reduced. This is not something that London or Jerusalem wants." (Times-UK)
PLANNED MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE IN JERUSALEM NOT BUILT ON ANCIENT CEMETERY. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has rejected demands by Palestinian and international human rights groups that its construction of a planned Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem be halted due to claims that the proposed location is the site of a historic Muslim cemetery. The center released a statement Wednesday stating that "the Museum of Tolerance project is not being built on the Mamilla Cemetery." "It is being built on Jerusalem's former municipal car park, where every day for nearly half a century, thousands of Muslims, Christians and Jews parked their cars without any protest whatsoever from the Muslim community," Rabbi Marvin Hier, the centre's dean and founder, said. "Telephone cables, electrical lines, drainage and sewage lines were laid deep into the ground in the early 1960s, again without any protest." "We also want to emphasize that the Israel Antiquities Authority has confirmed that there are no bones or remains on the site." The Israel Supreme Court considered the legal arguments for nearly four years, finally giving the go-ahead for the project in 2009. (Jerusalem Post)
NEW U.S. AMBASSADOR FACES A SYRIA STUCK IN ITS WAYS. The Obama administration named a new ambassador to Syria shortly before this Sunday's fifth anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The previous U.S. ambassador was recalled after that killing, not to be replaced until now. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon at the time of the Hariri assassination, is a man greatly disliked in Damascus. Feltman, who witnessed Syrian violence in Lebanon from up close, will be an influential sceptic at the State Department. Syria still enjoys little goodwill at the State Department or in Congress. Its ambassador to the U.S., Imad Mustapha, is mistrusted in Washington and may soon be sent home. On the Palestinian front, Syria supports Hamas at a time when the Obama administration is trying to restart negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. The Syrians want control of the Palestinian card, especially the means to torpedo agreements with which they are unhappy, as leverage in their own track with Israel. (DAILY ALERT - The National-UAE)
RUSSIA SAYS WEST’S FEARS OVER IRAN ARE ‘VALID’. Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's presidential security council and a close ally of Prime Minister Putin, said Tuesday there was a "limit" to how much diplomacy could be used to solve the crisis over Iran's nuclear program. He said: "The actions it is taking, including when it began enriching low-enriched uranium to 20%, raise doubts in other countries and those doubts are quite valid." He added: "Political-diplomatic methods are important for a resolution, but there is a limit to everything." (Financial Times-UK)
AL-QAEDA A WOUNDED BUT DANGEROUS ENEMY. Top U.S. counterterrorism officials say al-Qaeda's ability to wage mass-casualty terrorism has been undercut by relentless U.S. attacks on the network's leadership, finances and training camps. But even in its weakened state, the group has shifted tactics to focus on small-scale operations that are far harder to detect and disrupt, analysts say. "Al-Qaeda's leadership is accelerating efforts that were probably in place anyway," said Andy Johnson, former staff director of the Senate intelligence committee. In the past year, the "good guys have been scoring the points," killing key al-Qaeda leaders and disrupting multiple plots. But pressure on al-Qaeda in Iraq and Pakistan has forced terrorist operatives to flee to new havens, such as Yemen, an d step up the search for weaknesses in Western defences. (Washington Post)
HIZBULLAH IS NOT THE IRA. One analogy that has gained currency in recent years is the comparison between Islamist groups and the Irish Republican Army. The point of the comparison is to show that as the IRA was purportedly co-opted through dialogue, the same method can be applied to other armed organizations as well. Hence, the argument runs, only such a peaceful process, and not military coercion, will lead to any given group's decision to abandon violence, and ultimately to disarm and integrate into democratic politics. Engagement is further facilitated by distinguishing a group's "military wing" from its ostensibly more moderate or pragmatic "political wing." But that's not how Hizbullah works. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times last spring, Hizbullah's deputy secretary genera l, Naim Qassem, dismissed the supposed dichotomy outright. "All political, social and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership," he said. "The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions." To make the case that engagement in peaceful dialogue is what leads to moderation and disarmament is to distort the historical record regarding the IRA as well. The British did not bring the IRA "in from the cold" through peaceful talks with its "political wing." Rather they forced them to the table. It was not the Brits but the IRA that initiated talks when its armed struggle had reached a stalemate. The writer is a research fellow with the Centre for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies. (Now Lebanon)
INTERNATIONAL DONATIONS FUEL PA’S ‘ECONOMIC MIRACLE’ • Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been crowned "the Palestinian Ben-Gurion." However, the absurdity inherent in his statements regarding "Palestinian independence within two years" is clear to anyone familiar with the Palestinian economy. The Palestinians barely produce anything. Most of their GDP comes from government expenditures by the PA itself. • The Palestinians receive immense sums donated by the world. Tax collection is almost unheard of, aside from the taxes collected by the Israeli government, which provides the PA with roughly $120 million monthly, comprising about 40% of the PA's budget. • The situation is even more extreme in Gaza, where the PA spends 57% of its budget. Fayyad hands over salaries and allowances to 150,000 people, yet tens of thousands of them don't work, while others receive two salaries: one from Fayyad and another from Hamas. • About two years ago, the World Bank demanded that Fayyad not only cut down PA salaries (no results thus far), but also that he minimize the second-highest PA budget clause: Payments aimed at covering electricity and water bills which PA residents refuse to pay (the accumulated electricity debt of Gaza residents stands at $2.7 billion). This constitutes about 8% of the PA's budget. • Two years ago, Fayyad attempted to force PA residents to present proof of payment on their electricity bills before receiving government allowances. The PA's "public service sector" immediately embarked on a warning strike, and Fayyad backed down. • A few months ago, Hamas stopped handing over to the Palestinian fuel authority the sums of money collected from Gaza residents who do pay for electricity. This was the reason for the latest fuel crisis in Gaza. (Ynet News)
THE GOLDSTONE HUSTLE. The UN General Assembly resumes its hearings on Friday on allegations that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza last winter. The Goldstone report ginned up a narrative claiming that Israel's true aim wasn't to end Hamas' daily barrage of rockets at civilians, but was instead part of a grand strategy to beat Gazans into submission. Israel has always been the enemy's first target in the War on Terror. From plane hijackings to suicide bombings, every terrorist tactic was created and perfected by anti-Israel terrorists before migrating to American and European shores. Similarly, the Palestinian terrorists' use of Palestinian civilians' suffering to enrage world opinion was quickly copied in other theatres of war. If Goldstone's tactics succeed, future imitators will surely build cases for "war crimes" in Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen. The U.S. should protect Israel in this case as if it were protecting itself - because it is. (New York Post)
EGYPT COPTIC CHRISTIANS: A BAROMETER OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE. As Egypt becomes more Islamic, there is no surer measure of its transforming identity than its treatment of its Coptic Christian minority, which comprises about 10% of the country's 80 million citizens. No community can claim to be more native or authentically "Egyptian" than the Arabic-speaking Copts, whose culture dates back to antiquity. Although Egypt's constitution provides for equal rights without regard to religion, discrimination against its Christian community - through both acts of omission and commission - persists. Intolerance of non-Muslim minorities is the best barometer of a society increasingly conscious of its Muslim identity, as Egypt is today. In November, a report by Christian Solidarity International and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights documented 25 cases of alleged forced conversion to Islam. Last May, the Egyptian government pointlessly slaughtered thousands of pigs belonging to the Coptic Christian minority because of fears relating to swine flu. Six Coptic teenage worshipers were gunned down as they left midnight mass on January 7, Coptic Christmas, in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. Every so often, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition Islamist movement, seeks to bar Copts from senior army, police and government positions, on the grounds that they represent a fifth column. The writer is a fellow at the Hudson Institute. (Ha'aretz)
THE GOOD OLD DAYS BEFORE PEACE. Many Jews and Arabs really miss the good old days before the Middle East peace process began - before Arafat and the PLO were brought to the West Bank and Gaza after the signing of the Oslo Accords. In the days before the peace process began, anyone living in the West Bank and Gaza could drive to any place inside Israel. Suicide and car bombings were unheard of. Not a single rocket was fired into Israel. About 200,000 Palestinians used to work in Israel on a daily basis. There was no security fence and no wall in the West Bank. There were no armed militias like Fatah's Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Battalions roaming the streets of Palestinian communities. Thousands of Palestinian merchants used to converge on Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities almost every day to do business. Thousands of Palestinian families would be seen enjoying their time at Israeli beaches, public parks and restaurants. (DAILY ALERT - Hudson Institute New York)
FINALLY, SOME PALESTINIAN RESPONSIBILITY. • The participation of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad Tuesday at the 2010 Herzliya Conference points to the possibility of a deeper cultural change among the Palestinians. • The Palestinian national movement has been characterized from its early days by a maddening culture of irresponsibility. As far as they were concerned, their circumstances were never the outcome of their decisions, actions or conduct. It was always someone else's fault - the UK, the UN, the Arab countries, and of course above all, the Zionists and their occupation. No matter the issue, the finger was permanently pointed outward. The Palestinians conducted themselves as eternal teenagers, incapable of moving past blaming others toward shaping their own lives. • But it just might be that recently, below the radar, a revolutionary change is underway. For several years now, several players under the sound leadership of General Dayton, Tony Blair and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, were working together to build a Palestinian state from the ground up. Fayyad graduated from the University of Texas rather than Israeli jails, and it is Fayyad and his colleagues who have taken the matter of municipal taxes and sewage seriously and have approached the building of a state with determination and energy. • The more this process moves forward and succeeds, the more the cultural change accelerates and deepens. A dour bureaucrat is leading a revolutionary cultural change of fostering responsibility among Palestinians. • This change is leaving Israelis, who have long grown accustomed to Palestinians who do nothing but blame the world for their circumstances all the while wasting numerous opportunities, wondering, confused and many - hopeful. Dr. Einat Wilf, a Senior Fellow with the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, entered the Knesset on Jan. 10, 2010, for the Labor party. (Jerusalem Post)
ISRAEL IS BOTH KEEN AND ABLE TO HOLD ITSELF TO ACCOUNT. Unlike many of its neighbours, Israel has a strong domestic desire to hold itself to account. In addition, condemnatory megaphone diplomacy does not work. For an example of such ineffective megaphone diplomacy, consider Judge Richard Goldstone's report on the Gaza conflict for the UN, released last September. Both dangerously and unreasonably, Judge Goldstone implied equivalence between the indiscriminate rocket fire with which Hamas bombarded Israel and the steps that Israel subsequently took to defend itself. Faced with the Goldstone report's provocative bias, a country might be expected to slam down the shutters and turn away. Instead, the Middle East's only functioning democracy quietly continued to conduct its own investigation into the conflict, which it has now submitted to the UN. Those who cry "war crime" and seek to paint Israel as a pariah do diplomacy itself a disservice. Israel is not a rogue state. It is an accountable, democratic, transparent nation, and fighting to remain one amid challenges that few other nations ever have to face. (DAILY ALERT - Times-UK)
UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION: WILL THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT EVER ACT? Legislation to prevent magistrates issuing arrest warrants for high-profile foreign visitors accused of war crimes has been delayed because it is still awaiting a decision from Prime Minister Gordon Brown. At the same time, Downing Street sources said Justice Secretary Jack Straw is still dragging his feet over the issue. Straw is known to be highly sensitive to the views of his Muslim constituents in Blackburn and is close to the Muslim Council of Britain, which opposes a change to the law. Shadow Middle East minister David Lidington said, "It is very clear to me that this issue is doing serious damage to relations with Israel. This needs to be resolved. If we hope to play a part in the Middle East peace process, senior Israelis need to know they can travel freely in the UK." Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced his intention to change the law on "universal jurisdiction" late last year, but according to a highly placed source, the Justice Secretary is "pulling every trick in the book" to frustrate moves to deal with it. The source said: "Every time a deal seems close to being done, Jack finds another 'obstacle.' He is the block. Without him this would have been dealt with weeks ago." (DAILY ALERT - Jewish Chronicle-UK)
PALESTINIANS DON’T WANT SERIOUS TALKS. The Palestinians engaged in talks with all Israeli governments since the Oslo Accords. Arafat conducted intensive negotiations with Netanyahu during his first term in office. However, since Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel's prime minister for the second time last April, the Palestinian leadership is coming up with constant excuses to avoid significant dialogue with Israel. Those who carefully read the full Obama interview with TIME realize that he has lost patience with the Palestinians' elusive conduct. Officials around Obama have spoken harshly: They charged that the Palestinians humiliated the president and screwed up his policy. The Palestinians do not wish to negotiate with Netanyahu because they perceive him as a practical politician seeking practical solutions. Palestinian leaders did not mind talks with former Prime Minister Olmert because they knew he had no mandate to finalize any deal, and certainly not a "final-status agreement" which the talks focused on. In fact, they liked the futile talks and arguments. Yet when the possibility of a practical agreement first came up and they had to respond to it, they left the talks and did not return. A very senior Palestinian figure says in closed-door sessions: "The current situation serves us well. Palestine is growing, the security situation is decent, Hamas is under siege in Gaza, and global public opinion endorses us and opposes the occupation. There is no rush for us....We have no incentive for entering talks with an Israeli prime minister who wants to get down to business." (Ynet News)
PRIME-TIME BBC DOCUMENTARY ON JERUSALEM: AN ANATOMY OF BIAS AND DISTORTION. On Jan. 18, the BBC's documentary program "Panorama" was devoted to Jerusalem. Rarely will you get a clearer insight into the flagrant institutional bias inside the world's most powerful media outlet than this. The slipperiness of the tactics employed, the unabashed censorship of vital historical context, and the blatant pursuit of a political agenda constituted a lesson in the techniques of modern day propaganda. We are told of, and shown, instances of Palestinians being thrown out of homes they have "lived in for generations." This is stated as fact by the narrator. When the counter argument is made that the land they have lived on was stolen from Jews in the first place, this was offered as me re opinion. Welcome to the world of the BBC and to yet another illustration of the slippery path to the delegitimization of the world's only Jewish state. (DAILY ALERT - robinshepherdonline.com)
THESE PALESTINIANS AREN’T HAPPY ABOUT ISRAEL SETTLEMENT FREEZE. Normally, about half of Jalazon's able-bodied men are employed in construction in nearby Jewish settlements. But since Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Obama, announced the settlement building freeze in October, much of the work has disappeared. While, theoretically, the 10-month freeze on building in Israeli settlements in the West Bank was supposed to benefit the Palestinian cause, in the short-term, thousands of Palestinians who work in construction are feeling the pinch. "Work in the settlements has decreased dramatically in the last few months - it's nothing like it was before. But our lives haven't changed for the better and the leaders aren't any closer to peace, so what 's the point?" says Walid Mustafa, a father of seven who says he's lucky to find work one day a month. "The settlement freeze has only brought more poverty," complains Abdel Aziz Othman. (Christian Science Monitor)
WE ARE STILL IN THE SHADOW OF THE HOLOCAUST. • This Wednesday we remember the greatest crime ever inflicted by man against his fellow man. Holocaust Memorial Day allows us to reflect on the bleakest chapter in the history of the 20th century. And there is a special urgency in the call to remember this year, of all years - because the shadow of the Holocaust continues to fall over the world today. • Mass murder is still deployed as a political tool by tyrants. Racism is returning to the streets of Europe. And anti-Semitism is creeping back into the corridors of power. The extremism of the British fascists of the BNP is mirrored in the equally toxic ideology of anti-Semitic groups such as Islam4Uk and Hizb-ut Tahrir. • The history of the Holocaust is the history of a society which blamed the Jews for its miseries, sought to push them to the margins and then sought, literally, to make them vanish from sight. In our time we can see the same trends returning. The calls for boycotts of Jewish thinkers at Israeli universities, the rise in anti-Semitic incidents on our streets, the inflamed rhetoric of vilification which culminates in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call to wipe Israel off the map, are all connected. • Now it is Jewish identity expressed through the right of Israel to self-determination which is the focus of anti-Semitism. Many of Israel's enemies now risk repeating one of the greatest errors of history by infusing anti-Semitism with a new and toxic vibrancy. As the chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, has pointed out, what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. • History teaches us many lessons, if we are willing to pay attention. And one of the most profound is that the best guide to the health of a society has always been how secure its Jewish community feels. Throughout history the freest societies have been those in which Jewish people have felt safest. And over the ages the surest sign that a country is moving away from liberalism has been a growing prejudice towards the Jewish community. • It is because that lesson of history is so important that Holocaust Memorial Day is so crucial. The resurgence of anti-Semitism requires us all to unite against this most poisonous of prejudices. (DAILY ALERT - Telegraph-UK)
FOR SOME, ISRAEL CAN DO NO RIGHT. • Critics complain that Israel should not be sending medical assistance to such a faraway place as Haiti. Instead it should be sending it to nearby Gaza. They fail to note the difference between Haiti and Gaza. Haiti is not at war with Israel. Haiti has not pledged itself to Israel's destruction. Haiti has not fired 8,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. Gaza, on the other hand, has a popularly elected government that has done and continues to do all of the above. • Moreover, there is no comparison between the tens of thousands of Haitians who have died from a natural disaster, and the people of Gaza who suffer far less from what is, essentially, a self-inflicted wound. • Nor do the perennial enemies of Israel emphasize the comparison between tiny and resource-poor Israel, and the resource-rich Arab and Muslim nations. While Israel digs deeply into its treasury and manpower to send medical assistance a quarter of the way around the world, Arab and Muslim nations are generally missing when it comes to relief efforts. Israel is sending more aid per capita than any country in the world. • Israel will be extremely generous to the people of Gaza if and when they stop supporting attacks on Israeli civilians, stop making martyrs of their suicide murderers, and stop encouraging their children to don suicide vests. The peace dividend the Palestinian people will reap from making peace with Israel is incalculable. (DAILY ALERT - Huffington Post)
ISRAEL TO THE RESCUE. • While other countries dithered, countries both nearer and far better resourced, Israel utilized the experience born of its previous earthquake rescue missions - to Turkey, Greece, Armenia and Mexico - and got down to business in Haiti. Our "light unto the nations" Haitian relief effort encapsulated much of what is best about our country. It demonstrated our heartfelt desire to come to the assistance of others in the time of their greatest need, with no desire or expectation of reward. • The Israeli mission to Haiti also underlined our capacity to think and act fast and effectively - to pull together and surmount obstacles at a time of crisis. While relief teams from more than two dozen countries were running into all kinds of logistical difficulties, the Israeli teams, quietly, efficiently, and with a minimum of fuss, somehow circumvented or cleared all the obstacles, and went to work. • There is one thing that our Haiti rescue outreach made emphatically clear, and that the Palestinians might want to ponder: If you're in trouble and you're not trying to kill us, there's no one like the Israelis to help you out. The writer is Editor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Post.
THE ROLE OF THE JEWS IN ITALIAN SOCIETY. Under the Berlusconi government, Israel's position in Italy is radically different from that in many other European countries. Berlusconi and his followers are pro-Israeli and say so clearly, including in EU forums. During the Gaza war there were anti-Israel demonstrations in several Italian cities. However, one of the most impressive pro-Israel demonstrations in Europe took place in Rome on Jan. 14, 2009. More than a hundred parliamentarians from different parties participated. This and other external developments have fostered a sudden re-emergence of Italian Jewry. It has made Italian Jews again proud of their identity. (DAILY ALERT - Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
PROPORTIONALITY IN MODERN ASYMMETRICAL WARS. • The concept of proportionality permits military personnel to kill innocent civilians, provided that the intended targets of the operation are enemy forces and not civilians. • In October 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia, over one thousand civilians are believed to have been killed by American fire. In its air campaign against Serbia in 1999, NATO adopted a policy of zero risk to its soldiers. Pilots flew at a relatively high altitude and the number of civilian deaths was around 500. In Fallujah, Iraq, in April 2004, U.S. forces employed vast quantities of fire power in an urban setting known to house civilians, in order to protect the lives of American soldiers. • As the uses of force in Somalia, Kosovo, and Iraq show, Western armies are very concerned about protecting the lives of their soldiers, and to that end are willing to risk many civilian lives. They also find acceptable the notion that civilian lives can be forfeited in order to attain important military goals. • Proportionality cannot be detached from the question of responsibility: which side created the situation in which civilians find themselves? • Israel's Gaza operation clearly shows that Israeli commanders successfully followed the requirements of the administrative model of the principle of proportionality. The IDF required commanders to take humanitarian law into account in the planning stages of the operation. Legal advisors were involved in the planning of many operations and provided advice regarding specific targets. The right questions were asked, checks were made, and the incidental damage to civilians was on the whole limited. (DAILY ALERT - Global Law Forum)
BASHING ISRAEL FOR SAVING HAITIANS. I'd like to say a word of honour and thanks and, yes, pride for the Israelis, paramedics, physicians, nurses, midwives, and medical imaging technicians, who went to Haiti to save lives. They went there to save limbs from gangrene and amputation, stanch internal bleeding, relieve crushing pain. To deliver babies. To risk their lives, using jackhammers and hydraulics and their hands to make crawl spaces under tons of concrete and silt, going in themselves to pull children and adults to safety. For all the time that they've been working, however, people far away have been enraged by news reports of the Israeli rescue mission. The work of the Israeli medical team has become a kind of Rorschach for how people view Israel and Israelis. Most of the comment is supportive. But for a shocking number, the bottom m line is simple: Israel, and Israelis, can do no right. The contention is that Israel sent aid to Haiti on purely cynical motives, harnessing public relations to divert attention from the Goldstone Report and other crises. The implication is that Israel, and Israelis, are constitutionally incapable of doing good for its own sake. It is nothing short of racism to maintain that Israelis can do no right. (Ha'aretz)
EGYPT: ISRAELI MOSSAD DELAYED IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM. Without Mossad director Meir Dagan, the Iranian nuclear program would have been successfully completed years ago, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram claimed in an op-ed on Saturday. "Over the past seven years, he has worked in silence, away from the media....He has dealt painful blows to the Iranian nuclear program." The op-ed stressed that while the Mossad under Dagan's leadership achieved many bold victories against Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it never took responsibility for its operations, but wisely chose to wait for the other side to declare that they had taken place. (Jerusalem Post)
ISRAELI FIELD HOSPITAL ONLY FACILITY TO PERFORM COMPLEX SURGERY. On Monday, U.S. media praised the assistance in Haiti provided by Israel, and one reporter even sent a letter of thanks to Israeli representatives in New York. CNN reported that Israel's field hospital is the one facility equipped with all that is required for surgical operations. Doctors from various aid missions are sending patients requiring surgery to Israel's hospital, particularly those whose condition is critical. Other field hospitals contain no more than stretcher beds and medical teams who administer first aid, and they are not prepared for complex surgery. ABC reported that the U.S. had sent staff for a field hospital, but they had still not received the instruments required for surgery. (Ynet News)
HUCKABEE PRAISES US AID TO HAITI, WORLD IGNORES ISRAEL’S. Mike Huckabee, past and likely future candidate for president of the United States, has praised American efforts in and for Haiti, and lashed out at critics and enemies of the United States who stand by and do nothing. The former Arkansas governor's remarks brought out in bold relief how Israel’s disproportionate aid to Haiti is ignored by the world. Speaking on his Fox News television program, Huckabee noted that “once again, in the face of a horrible human tragedy, it’s Americans who show up first, do the most, and expect the least in return.” “When it comes to a time of human tragedy,” Huckabee continued, “it’s the United States that will export its most precious commodity – its generosity. Within hours of the horrific earthquake that hit Haiti, Americans were pouring record donations into the relief efforts… The U.S. military dispatched ships, planes and thousands of personnel… American relief workers lined up to go to Haiti and risked death and disease to help people they don’t even know.” “I realize that other countries are helping and providing resources – but the next time some pipsqueak punk politician like [Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez or Iran’s nut job of a president Mahmoud Medinajad [si whines about how evil we are, we ought to tell them to put up or shut up.” “… When the earthquake struck, American went to Haiti. As for our critics, they can go to hell.” As for Israel’s relief efforts to Haiti, they include the following: A field hospital, the only hospital in operation, with 40 doctors, 25 nurses, paramedics, a pharmacy, a children's ward, a radiology department, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, two operating rooms, a surgical department, an internal department and a maternity ward. The hospital can treat approximately 500 patients each day, and in addition will perform preliminary surgeries. A search-and-rescue team, which has rescued about five people from under the rubble. 220 personnel in total Dozens of truckloads of medical and logistical equipment Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, one of the richest countries in the world, has sent a message of condolence to Haitian President René Préval. Some Arab countries have “pledged” help, such as $1 million pledged from both Kuwait and Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates says it will “shortly” send a plane with humanitarian assistance. Qatar, with the third largest gas reserves and the second highest GDP per capita in the world, has dispatched 50 metric tons of aid to the hundreds of thousands of homeless and injured Haitians. Latest reports are that the IDF Medical Corps have treated some 200 injured people in Haiti, performed ten life-saving surgeries and saved the lives of 140 others. On Sunday night, a resident of Port-au-Prince gave birth to a boy at the Israeli field hospital. In appreciation and gratitude, his mother decided to name her new son “Israel” in honour of the country that helped her.
IRAQ ERASING HEBREW INSCRIPTIONS FROM EZEKIEL’S TOMB. For centuries Jews, Christians and Muslims came to Al-Kifl, a small town south of Baghdad, to visit the tomb of the Prophet Ezekiel and pray. The Al-Kifl shrine has a distinctive Jewish character, namely the Hebrew inscriptions and the Torah Ark. The vast majority of Iraq's Jewish community left some 60 years ago, but Shi'ites took good care of the holy site - until now. Recently the Iraqi news agency Ur reported that a huge mosque will be built on top of the grave by Iraq's Antiquities and Heritage Authority, while Hebrew inscriptions and ornaments are being removed from the site, all as part of renovations. Prof. Shmuel Moreh of Hebrew University confirmed the report. "I first heard the news of tomb desecration from a friend of mine who is a German scholar. After visiting the site he called me and said that some Hebrew inscriptions on the grave were covered by plaster and that a mosque is planned to be built on top of the tomb." "Someone must intervene before it's too late," Moreh warned (Jerusalem Post).
FOCUS ON WEST BANK, NOT NEGOTIATING. Elliott Abrams, who served as a senior Middle East adviser in the George W. Bush administration, says, "What we have been seeing from Senator Mitchell are 'trial balloons,' such as, 'let's have proximity talks instead of direct negotiations.'" "Proximity talks would be the Palestinians and Israelis in different hotels or different rooms in the same hotel and the Americans would shuttle back and forth. What is ridiculous about that is that these people have been negotiating face to face for twenty years, so to go back to proximity talks is a real admission of failure." "The tragedy here is that this focus on the negotiating table has led the United States to continue, as we did in the Bush administration, to put much too much emphasis on negotiations and too little emphasis on the actual daily work of building a Palestinian state in the West Bank." "Both the Palestinians and Israel will ultimately decide that their relations with the United States are important enough to sit at the table together, but that's not a formula for successful negotiations; that's just a formula for keeping the United States off your back....Our pressure on them, while it leads them to the table, does not lead them to successful negotiations if they're not ready." (DAILY ALERT - Council on Foreign Relations)
MANY MORE THAN SIX MILLION JEWS KILLED IN HOLOCAUST. Father Patrick Desbois believes that many more than six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, and he can prove it. Since 2004, Desbois has worked systematically to document and map the sites of Jewish mass killings by Nazi mobile killing units, or Einsatzgruppen, in Eastern Europe. He has uncovered upwards of 700 previously unknown Jewish mass graves where at least 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews are buried, and last year turned his attention to Belarus. "If you look only at the German archives, you'll find five to six times less than what we found," he told a gathering in New York City on Tuesday hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. (Jerusalem Post)
BLAMING ISRAEL FIRST. No military in the history of warfare has made greater efforts in the face of grave national security threats to avoid the use of force or has tried harder, when obliged to fight, to protect non-combatants than the Israel Defence Forces. No military has investigated itself as rigorously as the IDF. No courts have done more to hold their military accountable than Israel's. It is therefore a bitter irony that no country's military, judiciary, and democracy have been the target of greater vilification for alleged human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity than Israel's. By pervasively insinuating that Israel is no better than, and in some respects worse than, the terrorists it battles, the Goldstone Report hands Islamic extremists another propaganda victory. The writer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. (Daily Alert - Weekly Standard)
ISRAELI ROBOTS REMAKE BATTLEFIELD Sixty years of near-constant war, a low tolerance for enduring casualties in conflict, and its high-tech industry have made Israel one of the world's leading innovators of military robotics. "The Israelis do it differently, not because they're more clever than we are, but because they live in a tough neighbourhood and need to respond fast to operational issues," says U.S. Army Lt.-Col. (ret.) Thomas Tate, who now oversees defence cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. Among recently deployed Israeli technologies is the Guardium unmanned ground vehicle, deployed along the Gaza and Lebanese borders to patrol for infiltrators. The Guardium is essentially an armoured off-road golf cart with a suite of optical sensors and surveillance gear. Within the next year, Israeli engineers expect to deploy the voice-commanded, six-wheeled Rex robot, capable of carrying 550 pounds of gear alongside advancing infantry. After bomb-laden fishing boats tried to take out an Israeli Navy frigate off the coast of Gaza in 2002, Israel designed the Protector SV, an unmanned, heavily armed speedboat. Military analysts say unmanned fighting vehicles will minimize the advantages of guerrilla opponents who display increased willingness to sacrifice their lives in order to inflict casualties on the enemy (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal).
IDF MAY TAKE OVER PHILADELPHI CORRIDOR ALONG EGYPT-GAZA BORDER IN FUTURE CONFLICT. The IDF has drawn up plans for the possibility that in a future conflict with Hamas it will be ordered by the government to take over the Philadelphi Corridor in southern Gaza, which is lined with hundreds of weapons smuggling tunnels, defence officials said on Sunday. Such an operation would be designed to prevent Hamas from rearming following the conflict. The IDF believes that since the Gaza operation ended in mid-January 2009, Hamas has significantly boosted its military capabilities and has obtained long-range rockets, mostly from Iran. In addition, Hamas is believed to have obtained advanced, mostly Russian-made anti-tank missiles and shoulder-to-air missiles. On Sunday, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yom-Tov Samia, the former head of the IDF Southern Command, told Army Radio, "We are facing another round in Gaza....I am very sceptical about the chance that Hamas will suddenly surrender or change its way without first suffering a far more serious blow than it did during the Gaza operation." The blow, he said, would be "more focused with long-range results including the conquering of territory that Hamas will understand it lost as a result of its provocations. We need to create a situation which reduces its oxygen supply." (Jerusalem Post)
ISRAEL AGREES TO PAY UN 10.5 MILLION DOLLARS FOR GAZA WAR DAMAGE. Israel agreed to pay the UN $10.5 million in compensation for damage to UN property and for the life of a UN driver during Israel's war last winter in Gaza, according to two UN officials. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak discussed the payments by phone this week, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky. Israel has said that the damage to UN property was a result of collateral damage, claiming Gazan militants were fighting near the properties. Though Israel blames Hamas for the destruction of the UN properties, it is seeking to improve ties with the UN. (DAILY ALERT / Wall Street Journal)
ISRAEL TO WHITE HOUSE: STOP ANTI-ISRAEL PALESTINIAN INCITEMENT. The Prime Minister's Office issued a complaint to the White House several days ago lamenting ongoing incitement against Israel by Palestinian leaders. In the complaint, senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office urged their American counterparts to demand that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas cease to glorify the memory of terrorists who murdered Israelis. The complaint noted recent incidents beginning with a ceremony in Ramallah at which Abbas inaugurated a town square named in honour of Dalal Mougrabi, a female terrorist responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis aboard a bus in 1978. The PA also failed to condemn the recent terror attack in which Rabbi Meir Chai was killed in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank two weeks ago by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades operatives, the armed wing of Abbas' Fatah party. Later, senior PA officials visited the homes of those who carried out the attack after they had been killed by the Israel Defence Forces. (Ha'aretz)
ISRAELIS MAKE PILGRIMAGE TO RABBI’S TOMB IN EGYPT. Hundreds of Israelis came to Egypt earlier this week for an annual pilgrimage to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in Egypt's Nile Delta, airport officials said. Last year, Egypt denied the pilgrims entry because the anniversary fell during Israel's offensive on Gaza and there were concerns about their security and public protests. In past years, Egypt limited the number of pilgrims visiting the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira near the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. But Israeli newspapers reported that President Hosni Mubarak accepted a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visited Egypt last week to allow unlimited numbers. "There are more coming in the next few days, hundreds, probably thousands," said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Cairo airport officials say about 290 Israelis had arrived and police imposed tight security at the airport and on the main highway to Alexandria, where they will spend few days before the commemoration of the anniversary of the rabbi's death on Tuesday and Wednesday. Abuhatzeira, who was a son to a chief rabbi of Morocco, was revered by some Jews as a mystic renowned for his piety and for performing miracles. The elderly rabbi was making his way from his native Morocco to the Holy Land in 1879 when he fell ill and died in the Egyptian city of Damanhour near Alexandria. Israeli Consul General in Alexandria Hassan Ka'abia said at least 500-600 Israelis have applied for visas to come. He said others are coming from Europe, especially France. Since Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, Jewish devotees, mostly of Moroccan origin, have been flocking to the site for a ceremony at his tomb. But Egypt has limited the numbers of pilgrims. In 2001, a Court in Alexandria ruled to ban the ceremony after complaints by opposing groups. Some residents claim the shrine is not the tomb of a Jew. Egypt guards the stone tomb, which stands in a small chamber, and allows visitors only for the January anniversary of Abuhatzeira's death. The tomb is a vestige of Egypt's once-prosperous Jewish community. Jews in Egypt go back to the time before Moses. And by the founding of Israel in 1948, they numbered about 80,000 people. But the Arab-Israeli wars, and the resentment and expulsions that they engendered, have reduced Egypt's Jews to about 60 people, living in Alexandria and Cairo, according to the Israeli embassy (Jerusalem Post).
EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS (part one). Here's a line you wouldn't have heard during many church sermons in the last, say, 2,000 years: "Father, we thank you for the Jews." Or: "We thank you for the fact that they're the Chosen People throughout history." Yet, as surprising as such sentiments would have been to earlier generations, they've become commonplace in recent decades among tens of millions of American evangelicals - Christians for whom support of Jews and Israel has become not just a question of politics and morality, but a religious obligation. The lines quoted above, for example, are spoken by the faithful in Waiting for Armageddon, a documentary opening Friday at the Cinema Village in New York's East Village that follows evangelicals both to churches around the country and on a study tour of Israel. Articulate, informed and above all passionate, the film's Christian subjects offer insight into their 50-million-member community, ranging from its beliefs about divine prophecy and Jewish history, to the role those views could have on peace efforts in the Middle East. "We felt that this was really an important topic, something that was escaping a large part of the population," says Franco Sacchi, one of the film's directors and producers. "They seemed not to be aware of this phenomenon of Christian passion for the End of Times and Israel." For at least a subset of Israelis, the phenomenon is already familiar: Waiting for Armageddon notes that American evangelicals donate tens of millions of dollars to the country annually, and shows a clip of then-prime minister Ehud Olmert giving thanks via satellite to a large conference of Christians. Evangelicals, the film notes, have for years been among Israel's most dependable visitors, propping up the country's tourism industry during the second intifada, as well as in other periods of distress. AT THE same time, as some of the interviewees make clear, that support comes attached to a very specific set of political ideas - ideas that could limit Israel's room for maneuver in foreign affairs, for example, and others that might strike many Jews as theologically problematic. "With Orthodox Judaism, deep down inside," says Roy Sanders, the director of Christian Friends of Israel, "there's no love, there's no hope. There's no future." Instead, many evangelicals believe, Jews will convert to Christianity or die - a development they expect to coincide with the beginning of Armageddon. (Jerusalem Post)
ISRAEL’S ECONOMY GREW IN 2009 AGAINST ALL EXPECTATIONS. Israel's economy grew in 2009 against all expectations, and in contrast to other developed economies in the world. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported Thursday that in 2009, Israel's economy grew 0.5%, in contrast to an OECD average of negative 3.5%. (DAILY ALERT - Globes)
WHAT ISRAEL CAN TEACH US ABOUT AIRPORT SECURITY. • While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, the experts keep asking: How can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deals with far greater terror threats with far less inconvenience? "It is mind-boggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago," said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. • Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that? • The first layer of security that greets travellers is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked: How are you? Where are you coming from? "Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said. • Armed guards outside the terminal observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. Inside the terminal, as you approach the airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer asks additional questions. "The whole time, they are looking into your eyes - which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not," said Sela. At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a special area. • Five security layers down, you now arrive at the body and hand-luggage check. "But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said. "First, it's fast - there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes....They just look at you...and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys." • Sela maintains that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would not have gotten past Ben-Gurion's behavioural profilers. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit - technology, training...but you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security." (DAILY ALERT - Toronto Star)
DOZENS OF TERROR INFILTRATIONS BY GAZANS FOILED IN 2009. Dozens of attempts by Palestinian terror groups from Gaza to infiltrate Israel via the porous Egyptian border were thwarted throughout 2009, the Israel Security Agency revealed on Wednesday in its annual report. The Gaza terrorists crossed into Sinai and then tried to enter Israel armed with explosives or weaponry. A majority of the infiltration attempts across the Egyptian border were made by Palestinian terrorists affiliated with groups in Gaza aligned with al-Qaeda and global Jihad. (Jerusalem Post)
WHY ABBAS DOES NOT WANT TO RESUME PEACE TALKS. The leaders of the Palestinian Authority have reached the conclusion that, under the current circumstances, it would be a waste of time to return to the negotiating table with Israel. They are convinced that the only way to get anything is by rallying pressure from the international community against Israel. It is for this reason that representatives of the Palestinians have been negotiating with the Europeans and Americans about the peace process - not with Israel. They believe that Israel is more isolated than ever in the international arena, particularly in light of the UN's Gaza War report, the "Goldstone Report." The Palestinian leadership has chosen to confront Israel in the international arena, and not at the negotiating table. Yet by negotiating with Abbas and his government, Western governments are, in fact, keeping the Palestinians from resuming peace talks with Israel. (DAILY ALERT - Hudson Institute New York)
EGYPT’S GAZA WALL MONTHS FROM COMPLETION. An underground wall that Egypt is building along its border with Gaza will significantly stem Palestinian arms smuggling when it is completed, an Israeli military officer said on Wednesday. However, the officer said it may be months before it is finished. "The wall definitely has the potential to make things difficult, though it (smuggling) won't stop hermetically," an Israeli military officer said. "There has certainly been an effect already. It's driving Hamas crazy." Citing an Egyptian intelligence source, Israel's Yediot Ahronot said the wall would run as deep as 30 meters and would be rigged with sensors and pressurized hoses to flood tunnels with seawater. (Reuters)
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Updated: 09. februar 2011 15:07:14.