Israel Resource Review 8th December, 2006


IDF Intelligence Testimony : 'Calm' Gives Terror Organization Leaders No Fear Of Harm

The director of the investigative department of the IDF's Intelligence Branch, Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidetz,told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the calm allows the leaders of the Palestinian organizations' military wings to meet with no fear that we will harm them.

The high-ranking officer said that Hamas had an interest in the calm. "The pressures we applied have not harmed the strengthening of Hamas or smuggling to the Gaza Strip. Hamas is seeking to create a separation between a unity government in the Palestinian Authority, rocket fire and the case of Gilad Shalit. They have not been under pressure to establish a unity government because they have proof that those who persist can succeed in the same manner."

Brig. Gen. Baidetz also said: "Hamas has spotted weak points in Israel. It watches television and reads newspapers. The Sderot effect resulted from the Kassam rocket fire."

The IDF Intelligence Branch official also reported that Israel hasnoticed cracks in the economic boycott and that money is being smuggled into the Gaza Strip, including the transfer of USD 30 million from Kuwait. He said that the arms smuggling to the Gaza Strip is continuing and that the deployment of Palestinian troops disrupted the system somewhat, but not significantly.

Regarding Judea and Samaria, Brig. Gen. Baidetz said that the terrorist groups are constantly arranging suicide attacks in Israel. He added that because of the cease-fire, the main center of terrorist activity has moved to Judea and Samaria. "They try to perpetrate terror attacks all the time. They prepare car bombs. There was also an intention to establish a laboratory to manufacture high trajectory fire weapons, but our troops discovered it," he said. He remarked that the terrorist organizations have managed to smuggle between 70 and 80 long-range rockets capable of reaching up to 20 kilometers into the Gaza Strip.

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Shmuel (Sammy) Bar-Lev: Syria's recognition of Turkish sovereignty in Alexandretta precedent for Golan
Dr. Aaron Lerner December 8, 2006

Dr. Aaron Lerner December 8, 2006

Shmuel (Sammy) Bar-Lev, chairman of the Katzrin local council, suggested this morning in a live interview on Israel Radio that Syria reach peace with Israel as it did with Turkey - with the Syrians foregoing the Golan as they did Alexandtretta.

An item from the archive on this matter follows:

========== Turkey singing a new tune By Yoav Stern Haaretz 9 January 2005

Ankara, interested in improving relations between Israel and its neighbors, speaks of a `new atmosphere' in the region.

The question asked by Channel 2's analyst for Arab affairs, Ehud Ya'ari, brought a satisfied smile to the face of Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom at the joint press conference held last Tuesday in Jerusalem with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

Ya'ari asked the most interesting question at the press conference, which touched on the territorial conflict between Syria and Turkey. "Can Syria's recognition last month of full Turkish sovereignty over the Hatay province be seen as a precedent for the case of the Golan Heights?" Ya'ari asked.

Everyone waited suspensefully for an answer from Gul, who immediately perceived a trap. He answered with diplomatic finesse, without batting an eyelid: "The two cases are not similar, there is no territorial disagreement between Turkey and Syria, and in the second case, the United Nations determined that the territory is occupied."

The question illustrates the way in which Turkey's relations with Syria resemble Israeli-Syrian relations. On the territorial level, there is a long-standing conflict between the two countries, which was finally resolved last month, away from the eyes of the media. The conflict involved a region known as the Hatay province in Turkey and Alexandretta in Syria. Conquered in 1938 by the Turkish army, the Turks view it as an inseparable part of their country. The Syrians view it as a part of their homeland that was torn away with the consent of the French during the Mandate period, before the Syrians achieved independence. The Syrians point to the Arab residents of the region to bolster their claim.

Ever since Syrian independence in 1946, the area has been a source of constant tension. Until last month.

Turkey and Syria spent a year and a half preparing a free-trade agreement between the two countries. Two Syrian prime ministers and the president - Mohammed Mustafa Mero, Naji al-Otari and Bashar Assad - visited Ankara. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a return visit last month and finally signed an agreement in Damascus.

"We are not talking about two states that have a vital need to break down customs barriers, because they are not commercial superpowers," explained a journalist who accompanied Gul's delegation. "The importance of the agreement derives from a marginal clause written into it, which defines the countries' borders."

Syrians `serious' about peace

The clause in question, which states that the two countries recognize the border between them - i.e., that the disputed territory is on the Turkish side - is regarded as an important achievement for the Turks. The step is part of a rapprochement between the countries, after the lowest point in their relations in 1998, when the Turks amassed troops near the Syrian border because Syria had assisted the Kurdish PKK organization.

In an interview with the Israeli press upon his arrival in Israel last Monday, Gul said he believes that peace signals to Israel from Damascus are serious and not a result of American pressure. "The Syrians are serious; they want to jump on the bandwagon of the regional peace process," he explained again and again. "But I cannot tell you what message I will convey to your senior officials behind closed doors."

The truth is that Gul arrived in Israel without any substantial messages up his sleeve. Israel's suggestion that Syria make a humanitarian gesture and return the body of Eli Cohen (an Israeli spy, tried and executed in Syria in 1965), or provide information, if any exists, about missing soldier Guy Hever (whom some believe to be in Syria), fell on deaf ears in Syria, and Gul had only general messages to convey.

It is no coincidence that the media is preoccupied with Syria when it comes to Israel-Turkey relations. This triangle is particularly interesting and is influenced by the bilateral relations between the parties. The Turks are interested in improving relations between Israel and its neighbors and continuously offer their services as mediators. They have done so several times in the past, in relation to the Palestinian peace track, and also with the Syrians. "Both sides trust us and we are on friendly terms with them. Why not take advantage of that?" Gul said amiably. But the truth is that if nothing is new at the moment on the Syrian track, and if Israel has little need of mediation on the Palestinian track (unless such mediators are also signing checks), then what is Gul doing here on this visit?

Relations on a new plane

The new keyword in the region is atmosphere. There is a "new atmosphere" following Yasser Arafat's death, and this is what is causing movement. The new rapprochement between Turkey and Israel is also a result of the new atmosphere; without it the same old chill would have continued to characterize the ties between the two countries. It should not be forgotten that, until last summer, Erdogan had accused Israel of carrying out "state terror" against the Palestinians because of the military operations in Rafah and the policy of assassinations. The Turks, with a somewhat intricate diplomatic maneuver, brought their ambassador back to Ankara for consultations, which lasted several days.

Since then, a relative quiet has prevailed, until recently. New tunes are now being heard and some predict that Erdogan may visit Israel in March, but only if a diplomatic achievement is in the bag. "He is a man with tremendous honor, like an Ottoman ruler," the Turkish correspondent said. "He won't come without an advancement in the peace process and some kind of Turkish involvement."

Dr. Alon Liel, former director general of the Foreign Ministry, met Gul on several occasions during his visit. "Pay careful attention to his public statements," Liel said. "Gul constantly speaks about the new atmosphere, but less about many other things that tie the two countries together."

The reason is that the Turkish government is interested in placing relations with Israel onto a different plane. "In the past, Israel and Turkey were isolated in the region and leaned on one another," said the correspondent from the Gul's delegation. "Therefore, they created a strategic alliance. The Justice and Development [Party] government wanted to disturb this equation." Today, relations depend much more on what is going on in the region and primarily on Israel's relations with the Palestinians.

Justice and Development is Erdogan's ruling party, which was elected in November 2002 with a broad majority. Its Islamic background and the natural tendency of Turkey's religious Muslim residents to favor the Palestinians, has caused the party to take a hard-line policy toward Israel. "The Turks are watching with one eye what is happening along the axis of their bilateral relations with Israel and are keeping the other eye on regional developments. The two issues are not disconnected as they once were," Liel said.

The question is what will happen to the relations between the countries on the political and economic level if "the new atmosphere" in the region takes a turn for the worse.

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Security Guarantees for Israel from the US - Remember the Sinai, 50 Years Ago
David Bedein

The Baker report, mandates that Israel . . . "Return the Golan to Syria, with US security guarantees to Israel"

Exactly fifty years ago, Israel took the Sinai in a defensive war, with firm US security guarantees to Israelif Egypt would ever turn belligerent. And what happened in 1967 after Egypt molbilized its forcesin the Sinai and closed the straits of Tiran and laid siege to Elat? Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban arrived at the White House and the US State Department could not find the guarantees.

No further comment necessary.

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