Israel Resource Review 9th June, 2008


Incisive Insight into the News in Israel
Arlene Kushner
Senior Research Policy Analyst, Center For Near East Policy Research Ltd

"The Blessing"

Here in Israel, we have just completed the holiday of Shavuot, which -- marking the receiving of the Torah at Sinai -- is the culmination of the Exodus from Egypt celebrated at Pesach. (Outside of Israel, the holiday extends for yet another day.)

It is customary on this holiday to study all night long. And the blessing is this: After dinner with friends last night, we had a discussion as to where each of us had chosen to go for shiurim -- study sessions. The marvel is that there are so many places to choose from within an easy walk. And then, once out on the street, at midnight and beyond, we encountered many others walking here and there to places of learning. Truly a blessing, that this should be the situation here in Jerusalem.


I now enter a period of several days away from my computer. This is likely the last posting for some two weeks. Should there be an occurrence of significance, I will try my best (bli neder, as it is said: "without an oath") to post.


The most likely occurrence of significance to take place before I return to regular postings is a military operation in Gaza. But, if multiple reports are true, how shamefully it is shaping up. Not an earnest effort to take down Hamas, but some nonsensical effort to teach Hamas a lesson. This is reported to be the plan shared now by Barak and Olmert. The clamoring for action in Gaza is strong, but they are inclined for a variety of reasons to go with a ceasefire. So, they will do a "medium strength" action to take Hamas down a peg or two and not let them gloat that they had it all their way. Then a pull-out and a ceasefire that is coupled with release of Shalit. (This is not my idea, but the government's, I assure you.)

No guarantee that things will actually play out this way , but it is, for me, embarrassing to even describe this plan. It seems as if they are telling Hamas in advance: Don't get too upset, guys, because we won't hit too hard, and when we're done you can have that ceasefire. Even if this is their plan, why speak of it at all?

The political ramifications here are enormous . I hasten to note that Abbas is very much opposed to a major action in Gaza, which he fears would backfire on him.

It must be noted, as well, that there is nothing spelled out regarding a cessation of arms smuggling.

But the IDF is ready, and awaiting the go-ahead from the political echelon. Decisions reportedly to be made within days. Reportedly.


Then, too, there is the wonderful news that Rice is due back here shortly. Presumably to assess the progress of the "peace process."


Regarding that process, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei announced recently that the parties have begun drafting a document. This, however, does not mean agreement (apparently there is no agreement yet on any of the core issues), but rather that the position of each side if being committed to writing for the first time. Qurei is also saying that the parties have agreed that all issues must be resolved -- there can be no partial agreement, such as borders but no decision on Jerusalem. But, says Qurei, all of the issues are being discussed.

Olmert's office is playing down the significance of this preliminary document. And, indeed, Qurei has said it would take a miracle to reach an agreement by the end of the year.


Members of the opposition are stating clearly that if an agreement is reached, they will not honor it when a new government is formed. I myself have some questions about this, because the legality is complicated, but apparently there is precedent.


61% of Israelis think Olmert should resign.

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Report: Iran Moves Assets Out Of Europe
David Bedein

Jerusalem - Iran has suddenly withdrawn $75 billion of assets from Europe, anticipating threatened European Union sanctions over Tehran's alleged nuclear ambitions, the credible news Web site reports.

Iran's refusal to suspend nuclear-enrichment activities, a process that can create fuel for power plants or material for nuclear weapons, has drawn three rounds of U.N. sanctions since 2006.

President Bush and other NATO leaders had threatened Iran with punitive measures if it presses on with the enrichment of uranium. On Saturday, Iran again ruled out suspending uranium enrichment despite an offer from six world powers to help the nation develop a civilian nuclear program if it ends activities the United States and others suspect are designed to produce weapons.

The offer - agreed to last month by the United States, Britain, Russia, China, Germany and France - is a revised version of one rejected by Tehran two years ago.

EU diplomats have said the bloc is preparing to freeze European-based funds and assets of Iran's biggest bank, the state-owned Bank Melli, but was waiting for Tehran's responded to the new offer.

"Part of Iran's assets in European banks have been converted to gold and shares, and another part has been transferred to Asian banks," said Mohsen Talaie, Iran's deputy foreign minister in charge of economic affairs, the Iranian news weekly Shahrvand-e Emrouz reported, and that the withdrawals were ordered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran is making windfall gains from record global oil prices and said in April its foreign exchange reserves stood at more than $80 billion.

Western countries suspect Iran hopes to manufacture nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its discrete program is purely aimed at generating energy.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

This Piece Ran in the Philadelphia Bulletin on June 18th, 2008.

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