|Israel Resource Review
||13th November, 2007
Confronting the Bush Administration with Palestinian reality
The Bush administration has determined that – in order to serve its perceived goals in the Middle East – a Fatah-led Palestinian state should be established in Judea and Samaria. To that end, the US State Department is now promoting a conference at the Naval Academy in Annapolis MD on November 26 and 27 that will set the tone for serious peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
At present, discussions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are taking place to establish a document that will provide points of agreement between the two sides prior to the conference.
At present, the demands of PA president Abbas are maximalist, while the Israeli government is stretching itself to make concessions. There is talk of Israeli withdrawal to the 1947 armistice lines, with withdrawal, at a minimum, from some part of eastern Jerusalem, and a corridor to be established between Judea and Samaria and Gaza.
The US – which advocates Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem – is predicating its policy on the notion that Fatah is a 'moderate' entity that can be relied upon; it is willfully ignorant of all the evidence to the contrary:
· That Mahmoud Abbas was a deputy of Arafat, participated in terrorist supporting activities, and continues Arafat policies to this day.
· That Farouk Qaddoumi, who currently controls the Fatah Central Committee, totally rejects any concepts of peace with Israel, and seeks even greater control within the Fatah.
· That Abbas, as PA president, has been in league with and fostered support for terrorist entities such as Hamas. The culmination of a long Fatah history of cooperation with Hamas was the Fatah-Hamas unity government which Abbas forged last February. While that government disintegrated, there is solid evidence of a rapprochement being established now. Abbas never stops speaking about a negotiated Palestinian state that will include Hamas dominated Gaza.
· That the Fatah charter to this day calls for the destruction of Israel via armed resistance, and that the PLO covenant calling for Israel's destruction was never actually amended or changed, despite the pretense that it had been.
· That after the Bush Administration supplied arms, ammunition and intelligence to Fatah this past year, under the specious premise that it would fight Hamas, as Fatah surrendered its entire American arsenal in Gaza to Hamas in June, when Hamas formally assumed the reigns of power in Gaza.
· That the PA, even under the Abbas aegis, pumps out incitement in its textbooks and via its media – that is unabashedly anti-Jewish, while denying the legitimacy of Israel and praising a Jihad holy war against Israel
· That Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which the US Justice Department determined in 2002 was a terrorist organization, remains an integral part of the Fatah. Members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades openly express loyalty to Abbas as their leader while Abbas protects this group, even incorporating its members into PA security forces.
The efforts to bring about a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria in reality serve to undermine the security of Israel (and also Jordan) and bring further instability to the entire area, including Iraq. Support for the terrorist-allied Fatah gives comfort to radical fiercely anti-Zionist and anti-American forces in the region; as was clearly the case when Israel left Gaza two years ago, which enabled terrorists to establish a
Unchallenged terror state. Any pullout from Judea and Samaria would provide terrorists with control of further territory from which to operate. This is not in the best interests of Israel nor of the United States. .
Approach to stopping the Bush policy
Because of the immediacy of the conference and the damage that may be done if a Palestinian state is established , a speedy response is necessary.
The key is the provision of first rate information on the terrorist reality of Fatah and the dangers of the establishment of a Palestinian state with the PA at its helm.
In order to provide the necessary critical information, it is vital to provide a series of cutting-edge briefings in the US and Israel that would draw upon the expertise of academics, security experts and journalists who are Arabic-speaking and proficient in the issues involved.
These briefings should be held on Capitol Hill, the National Press Club in DC, and in Annapolis at the time of the planned Middle East summit.:
Members of the US Congress on both sides of the aisle have expressed criticism of the Bush administration's continuing coddling of Abbas. Congresspersons are more likely to respond with vigorous opposition to the Bush policies if they have solid, cutting-edge information on the issues. As appropriate, members of the press and major US policy makers should be included in such briefings.
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Incisive Commentary from Arlene Kushner
Posting: November 11, 2007
I am in a holding pattern on personal matters. I cannot apologize for putting first things first -- for what matters more than attending to family when a new life is imminent? -- and yet I'm mindful that I do not have the time now that I routinely allot to these postings. That time will be reinstated in due course . . .
I was not going to post tonight , but felt compelled by certain news items to do so. What occurs to me, however, as I post, is that from day to day the situation vis-a-vis Annapolis changes radically, so that if I wait a day what I have to report becomes changed.
Two things move me now . The first is now that Sec. of State Rice has promised the Syrians that return of the Golan Heights will be put on the table at Annapolis if they attend. This news has come via Army Radio, which reports that head of Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin, informed the Cabinet of this situation today. I don't know what the response of ministers present was or if some already knew of this.
This news is good for raising blood pressure several points. My immediate response: Who does she imagine she thinks she is? The Golan, which has been annexed by Israel, is ours; it affects not only our national rights but our security. She has no right to promise anything.
And so, good people in the US , if you agree with me, please let President Bush hear about this:
President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Phone : 202-456-1111 Fax: 202-456-2461
Then, on our side of the Atlantic , there's Minister Eli Yishai, of Shas. Shas should be pulling out of the coalition as I write. But instead Yishai says if he pulls out at all it will be after Annapolis, because he wants to see how things go, first. He doesn't expect Olmert will make any significant commitments. And if Olmert signs on the dotted line in a way that does commit us? Then what good does pulling out do, after the deed is done? Both Shas and Yisrael Beitenu have to pull out to make the government fall. And of the two parties, Shas is holding back more.
And so, for Israeli citizens I offer contact information for Yishai. Best, of course, is getting religious Sephardim, who constitute the basis of the Shas party, to contact him.
phones: 02-640-8406 or 640-8407 Fax: 02-6662909
aides: David 050-624-0932; Shlomo 050-624-0933 firstname.lastname@example.org
Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu) has demanded of Olmert that he hold a special meeting of the Cabinet to discuss Annapolis before it takes place .
Said Lieberman: "We are cheating ourselves. It's clear that the Palestinians can't provide the goods - that is the estimation of established sources. The minute we leave Judea and Samaria, it will only be left for Hamas to decide to take over."
Additionally, he said, ""There's nothing written in the Road Map which says the Palestinians are to fight terrorism only in Judea and Samaria. Abbas can't fight in Gaza and already said he won't aid a civil war . "
And then there's this:
According to Arutz Sheva , Olmert intends to demand that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state in the upcoming joint declaration. And according to YNet the Palestinians have said point blank that they will not do so. Of course they won't. They intend to destroy us as a Jewish state.
But if it comes as no surprise to me that they won't declare our right to exist as a Jewish state, it occurs to me that many -- believing still in Abbas's "moderation" -- may be quite surprised. If so, important learning for them .
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat stated yesterday that there hasn't been any agreement on the document beyond a preamble and that many disagreements remain. A main bone of contention remains the issue of who gets to decide when there has been compliance with a stipulation of the Road Map . The PA is saying Israel backed off from the idea of an oversight committee with the US deciding. Israel says there was never such an agreement.
Meanwhile Israel had indicated that in negotiations the PA had agreed to dismantle terror groups, but PA Information Minister, Riad Malki, in an interview on an American Arabic language radio show, denied that this is so.
Over 100 investigators from the National Fraud and Investigation Unit have conducted simultaneous raids in 20 different government office sites to seize evidence related to the corruption charges against Olmert. The intention was to collect all relevant data -- from the Jerusalem Municipality, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, etc. -- at one time. If only something would actually come of this.
Yesterday Abbas unveiled a 1.75 million dollar mausoleum for Arafat in Ramallah. Isn't that sweet? Abbas -- who is playing on Arafat's memory -- said that the PA would be continuing in the vision of Arafat, who worked towards a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. It is surrounded by water, and has a segment of railway beneath the tomb, in order to signify its temporary status: the stated goal is to re-bury Arafat in Jerusalem. G-d forbid.
Posting: November 8, 2007
That hiatus of which I have spoken is likely about to begin.
Here I provide the briefest of postings to offer hope on several fronts:
-- There is severe squabbling between members of the PA negotiating team -- Abed Rabbo, who is backed by PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, and Saeb Erekat, who is backed by President Mahmoud Abbas. This severely hampers their ability to function.
-- A recently released joint document of Shin Bet, the Mossad and military intelligence states that "even if understandings are reached in Annapolis, the chances of implementing them in the field are almost zero."
Mahmoud Abbas is seen as a powerless leader, who even has difficulty controlling car thieves and drug dealers in his own territory. "There is a total disconnection between the leadership and the Palestinian people, and the PA has no security apparatus capable of implementing agreements. The existing [security] forces are totally corrupt."
The bad part of this report is indication that Abbas might be willing to accept a compromise of 100,000 refugees to enter Israel over 10 years -- Heaven forbid.
-- National Union has announced a public campaign to help bring the gov't down.
Much more in due course.
Posting: November 6, 2007
"Where to Begin?"
It's a struggle and I admit it freely: dealing with the realities we must face. But I'm trying and want to do my best to convey those realities.
Today was not the best of days. All of a sudden there was all of this glowing sense of moving forward with the conference, where just a day earlier the impression lent was one of stalemate and failure to reach agreements. This new attitude could likely be traced to two things: Hype being put out by Rice and her staff to give the impression of progress, and "progress" resulting from the extreme pressure being put on Israel by Rice.
These are some of the items that made news today:
-- A member of Rice's staff said that they were going ahead and the conference would likely be November 26. That's still not official, and invitations haven't gone out. But it gives a semblance of movement.
-- Word came out that Rice was going to be providing a bridging agreement to try to reconcile the differences between the two parties, for the pre-conference document they're working on. Just yesterday I had read (and reported here) that she wouldn't be doing this.
-- Defense Minister Barak made a statement about how many sacrifices we were prepared to make for peace and indicated that "now is not the time" for a Gaza operation. Gee, it might interfere with "peace."
As if all of this weren't enough , we also have statements made by Tzipi Livni at the meeting of foreign ministers (mostly of the EU) that she is attending.
Yesterday I had praised her , saying that at least she had some red lines, which is more than can be said about Olmert. And it seemed to me that in her insistence on Israeli security being more important than a Palestinian state, she was bucking Rice.
She still spoke about the primacy of Israeli security, but she also said this:
"We have proven in the past that we extend our hand in peace. We have proven this in negotiations, and in the Disengagement - which we did not have to do - as well as in the negotiations today. The Palestinian Authority is divided, Gaza is ruled by terrorism, and we could have waited until the first stage of the Road Map [an end to terrorism] is implemented.
" . . . we have removed settlements. I myself made a decision [as part of the Sharon government - ed.] to uproot thousands of people from their homes [in Gush Katif and northern Shomron]. Not one Israeli soldier is stationed today in Gaza, yet Israel is attacked daily.
"People are justifiably presenting major question marks: 'Is this the right time for talks, when our nursery children are under fire from Gaza? Is it the right time to talk when the other side is so weak and ineffectual?'
"This dialogue is taking place with the understanding that implementation of any agreement will be contingent on our security needs . . . The way to the establishment of a Palestinian state is dependent upon our ability to transmit the key of self-rule to a responsible element that will be able to control things and promise that there will not be a terrorist state alongside us."
"Both the Israeli and Palestinian publics have to understand that there is something here that is bigger than both of us. Both have to understand that there is a need to compromise.
"We are not trying to evade discussions on the most sensitive core issues. It is clear to us that the day after Annapolis, we will have to have significant talks, and that these must be accompanied by practical steps in the field."
What is this woman talking about? She presents the arguments for not proceeding and then says we "must" proceed? How does one protect Israeli security when negotiating with a weak and ineffectual partner? It feels demented and dangerous to me.
Silly me . . . Since she spoke about Israeli security being most important, I had the impression yesterday that she was going to demand that stage one be fulfilled at the start, which would have been in direct conflict with what Rice was promoting and would have caused stalemate. I was wrong. She's going along with the Rice vision while giving lip service to security.
So how much trouble are we in? A great deal, undoubtedly. Yesterday one reader accused me of being naive in my optimism, which I must say, is always qualified and tempered with harsh realities. Never have I suggested we're home free.
I consulted with a number of people today , people who have contact with those on the inside. And I asked the questions regarding what our situation is. There is no one answer. But there is certainly a sense conveyed by some of these people that maybe we're going to be OK. As one person put it: "I have confidence in the Arabs," which means they won't accept what we offer, and will sabotage the process. There are as yet many unknowns. Including the fact that Hamas has vowed to undermine the process -- which, incidentally, puts Abbas on the defensive and makes it even less possible for him to do any compromising.
There are a host of complicated issues connected to what we may be facing in short order. And here I will only touch upon them briefly.
At most what will happen at Annapolis is that Olmert will sign on to the acknowledgment in principle that there will be a Palestinian state. Bad enough, but it does not yet constitute the formation of that state. And there are those arguing that we essentially agreed to this when we accepted the Road Map (with 14 objections).
One of the issues is the question of how binding, legally, his signature is -- according both to international and national law. Binding to a considerable degree -- depending in part on what Israeli law says about ratification. To further complicate matters there is the question of how binding our commitment remains if the other side reneges on their commitments (which inevitably they will, as they have a perfect record on this score). There is room for intense legal debate on these matters.
In theory, at the end of the conference , negotiations in earnest are supposed to begin -- and presumably, according to intentions of the negotiators -- will touch upon all core issues. The matter of a time limit for these discussions (presumably the end of Bush's term), which Israel opposes, is still being debated. G-d forbid we should come to this stage.
And most significantly , there is the matter of the first stage of the Road Map, which requires dismantlement of terrorism and cessation of incitement -- if and how and when it would be enforced.
We're going to have to take one step at a time here and watch it all closely.
My hopes, in the face of all of this , rest in part with my knowledge of how many forces are at work planning to weaken the government politically and bring it down.
Khaled Abu Toameh had a significant piece in today's Jerusalem Post. I have been describing the delayed deployment of 300 PA security forces in Nablus and the claim by the PA that this demonstrates both the beginning of their fulfillment of obligations under the Road Map and their ability to assume security matters for a state.
In fact, it demonstrates neither. What Abu Toameh revealed is that people in Nablus are saying the security forces walk around the city and stand on rooftops, but haven't taken on any gunmen who cause violence and unrest in the city.
Just in time for Rice's visit early this week , these security forces laid siege to the nearby Balata refugee camp, which is run by armed militia over which the PA has had no control. These days were now over, announced the PA -- now their security forces would enter everywhere.
But then gunmen inside the camp shot at the PA forces, driving them back. This in and of itself illustrates Abbas's weakness and the inability of his forces to maintain control. But there is more.
Abu Toameh reported that an officer with the security forces said that "he and his men had not received clear instructions to crack down on the gunmen, especially those belonging to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. 'No one told us that our mission was to disarm or arrest members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.'"
Abbas is a master of the art of seeming to do what is expected of him, while in fact doing nothing of the sort. He wants the US to think he's cracking down, but knows that if he were to do so in actuality, he would be labeled a pawn of the US. And so his instructions are to avoid confrontation.
The outrage occurs when people believe Abbas is really doing what he is supposed to do. And when the State Department advances news about the progress being made.
Abu Toameh's article can be found at:
Posting: November 5, 2007
The traditional wish when there is news regarding someone having a baby is "b'sha'a tova." Literally, "at a good hour," it is a wish that all should be well in its time. The "sha'a tova" for my newest grandchild-to-be will -- with G-d's help -- surely come soon; but in spite of the signs of a day ago, it has not yet arrived. False alarm. I have returned to my computer until whenever.
And while I am back , I get to monitor all of the goings-on concerning the return of Rice to our area and the big push towards Annapolis.
I was encouraged by a statement Rice made to journalists on the plane with her as she flew from Turkey to Israel Saturday night:
"I absolutely don't expect there will be agreement on a document."
Additionally reassuring was an invitation -- little noted in the news except by Arutz Sheva -- that the White House extended to Chief Rabbis Yonah Metzger and Shlomo Amar, and Chief Rabbi of Haifa and Chairman of the Chief Rabbinate Communications Committee Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv Cohen to discuss the Temple Mount.
According to the article , Bush is trying to assess Israel's red lines and the possibility of Israel's relinquishing the Temple Mount to the Arabs. If he is serous in hearing what these rabbis, in particular Rabbi Cohen, have to say, he's going to get a dose of reality and a stronger sense of the impossibility of what his secretary of state is trying to pull off.
As of yesterday, according to reports , Rice agreed in her meeting with Olmert that the US would not advance its own formula for the Annapolis declaration. Could it be that she is actually going to leave it to the parties?
YNet quoted a "senior Palestinian source" as saying that it was likely that Abbas would call off the conference if Rice doesn't come up with a "reasonable formula" for the conference, something that has not yet been achieved.
But does this mean all is sweetness and light? Most assuredly no. There is the usual portion of infuriating statements and demands, including Rice's admonition that we must "think boldly."
Along with the statement by the PA source that it would be better to call off the conference than go without good chance of achievement, comes this:
"However, if we do have to participate, we expect the US and the Quartet to pressure Israel heavily, so as not to allow the summit to hurt Abbas's image or become a weapon in the Palestinian opposition's hands."
That's what it's about? Not hurting Abbas's image? This is a piece of the myth, still promulgated by Rice, that Abbas is moderate and strengthening him helps keep the radicals at bay.
In line with that myth is this statement made by Rice at a press conference here in Jerusalem yesterday: "But I think everybody understands who is responsible for the violence now and it's coming out of Gaza and it's not controlled by the Palestinian Authority."
I most vociferously disagree. The violence is coming out of Gaza because we're not in there (which we should be). There would be violence aplenty coming out of Judea and Samaria if the IDF weren't on top of the situation. Not only is the PA incapable of controlling the violence (read terrorism) on its own, some of the terrorists are directly linked to Fatah.
Meeting with Rice in Ramallah, Abbas made the infuriating and ludicrous statement that the PA has already fulfilled 90% of its obligations under the Road Map, and that now it was Israel's turn to "do its part."
The very beginning of the Road Map stipulates that:
"Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel's right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel."
Which 90% did Abbas have in mind?
Then there is a statement Rice made here in Jerusalem at a press conference yesterday, that it represents a "breakthrough" that we're now willing to discuss the third stage of the Road Map -- the establishment of a Palestinian state -- before stage one, which requires the PA to dismantle terrorism. Previously, she explained, matters got stalemated at stage one. Oh, she says, of course eventually we'll have to deal with the terrorism, but how constructive that we've been able to move beyond that stalemate.
A nod to Aaron Lerner of IMRA for calling attention to this. I, of course, agree with Aaron when he writes that we shouldn't count on Rice eventually dealing with terrorism once the establishment of a Palestinian state is in process:
"When the time comes for a photo-op creation of a sovereign Palestinian state but the Palestinians haven't complied she can either look into the cameras and say how pleased she is to have received a report that the PA has fulfilled its Road Map obligations or proclaim once again what a swell guy Mahmoud Abbas is and explain that he will only really have the power to comply when he actually has a sovereign state."
This is a very dangerous turn of events that I've been reporting on for some months. All part of the international failure to hold the Palestinians' feet to the fire.
While we're on the subject of Rice in Jerusalem, I must mention the thousands who turned out yesterday evening to rally against Annapolis. The demonstration began outside the US Consulate in western Jerusalem, with demonstrators marching to the King David Hotel, where Rice, Olmert and Blair were meeting.
This was organized on short notice but reflects some of the fury of people here.
A word about Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni , who has not been one of my favorite people. Until recently my impression has been that her agenda in giving away our country was not so different from that of Olmert, and that she was far more dangerous because more popular. Now my sense of what she's about has shifted. As I've indicated before, Olmert has no red lines, but it seems that she does. I was recently assured of this by someone who is enough on the inside to have knowledge of these matters. Those red lines may not be the same as mine (or yours), but she has limits with regard to negotiating.
Now Livni has come out with a statement that "progress on the establishment of a Palestinian state is conditional upon Israel's security. This is the current bone of contention between us and the Palestinians in crafting a joint declaration for Annapolis."
Elsewhere she observed that "They [the Palestinians] need to understand that the implementation of future understandings would be carried out only according to the phases of the road map - the meaning is security for Israel first and then the establishment of a Palestinian state. No one wants to see the creation of another terror state in the region."
If she really holds fast to this -- and she does head the Israeli negotiating teams -- everything will indeed stalemate.
Her statement here flies in the face of the Rice position I've described above, which sanctions looking the other way for the moment with regard to PA dismantling of terror.
Livni is also adamantly against establishment of a timetable for negotiations for fear of creating unrealistic expectations that will lead to violence.
She will be bringing these messages to a foreign ministers' conference in Lisbon this week.
And Olmert? He is said to be taking under consideration the release of prisoners requested by Fayyad; Fayyad asked that 2,000 be released and there is certainly no promise of this. In all, over the last few months, fewer than 350 have been let go. Once again we confront the ugly issue of letting out prisoners with blood on their hands
Speaking at the left wing Saban conference yesterday, Olmert said that all issues would be on the table at Annapolis. A seriously worrisome statement. This means Jerusalem, too. In spite of the protests of ministers within his own government and a demand by a majority of the Knesset that Jerusalem stay united.
Also dangerous is a demand by the Palestinians that Israel permit PA institutions to function in eastern Jerusalem. They claim the right to do this in accordance with a letter from Shimon Peres, then foreign minister, which was attached to Oslo documents. But these institutions -- most notably Orient House -- which were shut down in 2001, had exceeded what was permitted to them under Oslo: they were functioning politically as a PA embassy in Jerusalem, meeting dignitaries there from other nations. The claim now is that we have an obligation under the Road Map to re-open these places. Another one of those "confidence building" measures, you see.
But that's not the way Israeli gov't saw it when the 14 reservations to the Road Map (to which I will return) were drafted.
The danger is that once the PA gets a foot hold in eastern Jerusalem it becomes a de facto capital of a Palestinian state, with the particulars to be ironed out later. That's where it was all headed when Orient House was closed.
The Shin Bet, which is putting forth an analysis of the situation, is particularly wary of this tactic and warns that once the PA is established in eastern Jerusalem, there will be an expectation on their part that all of the Old City, including the Kotel and the Temple Mount, are theirs.
In the months after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped last year, the IDF made a number of forays into Gaza, entering the strip with relative ease. That situation has now shifted, as Hamas militia, trained by Hezbollah and the Iranians, is building resistance along the border, constructing bunkers and mortar positions. Hamas's army has organized into areas, with a coordinated network of observation posts and forces that include riflemen and anti-tank units. Recent forays by the IDF across the border, which are now more difficult, are now done in part to prevent the digging of tunnels under the border or setting up mortar positions.
One more argument for a major operation into Gaza before it gets even worse than it is.
According to the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar, Hezbollah has just held its largest military drill ever, in southern Lebanon. Spanning three days, and incorporating thousands of fighters -- including infantry guerillas, anti-tank missile units, anti-aircraft missile units, the engineering unit and the units of rocket launchers -- it was intended by Nasrallah to send a message of deterrence to Israel.
But get this: UNIFIL "was amazed by the covert action of Hezbollah, which was able to keep the drill under wraps right up to its start."
Those guys in UNIFIL are really monitoring the area carefully!
Posting: November 3, 2007
Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
There will be a short -- unscheduled -- hiatus in these postings in the next week or so, for the best of reasons: I will care for the other children when my daughter-in-law delivers.
In the meantime . . .
Today, according to the Jerusalem Post , PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad demanded (demanded? not requested?) that the Americans push Israel to come up with a document that would stand up to the Palestinian people's "expectations."
Of course, in order to really meet those expectations we'd have to agree to cease existing, but never mind. The reality here -- which is not being addressed -- is that no one within the PA has ever told the people that if they want peace they have to compromise. They have been consistently led to believe that they have a right to it all and ultimately will get it.
Fayyad -- who is seen as the most "moderate" -- wants a deadline to negotiations and "bold moves" from Israel before the conference, including the release of another 2,000 prisoners. This is to restore the people's confidence in the process, you see.
Fayyad and others in the PA are making a big deal out of the deployment of security personnel in Nablus (Shechem). This is happening months after they were supposed to do it and they are reportedly only deploying 300 men, not the 500 first agreed upon. This is supposed to demonstrate their readiness for a state and their good faith in fighting terrorism. But there seem to be some differences of opinion on what's going on.
The PA says this is the first step towards transferring security control of Nablus to them, and after Nablus, the other cities. Israel, which has zero confidence in the PA ability to manage security, says this is supposed to be for maintaining law and order in the streets during the day only; Israel will continue to oversee security.
According to a Lebanese newspaper, Al-Akhbar , this morning, the US has given sanction for us to do a major operation in Gaza. This approval came, says the paper, after Israeli intelligence on arms and money smuggling into Gaza was shared with the Americans. This puts my back up: We need US permission to defend ourselves? That fear of acting on our own behalf is part of our problem.
But as things stand, if the US does give the OK for this, it means it's more likely to happen. And yet -- and yet! -- the Israeli government is still reluctant to move ahead because it might complicate matters with the upcoming conference.
Incredible! To work towards a peace that is not going to materialize, we have to refrain from defending ourselves?
There are reports from the Post's very credible Khaled Abu Toameh that "scores" of men who used to serve with Fatah in Gaza, but have lost their jobs, have now joined Army of Islam, an al-Qaida affiliated group. Army of Islam is one of the groups associated with the Shalit kidnapping. The leader of this group, one Abu Muhammad al-Ansari, is a former PA preventive security officer. He is part of the Dughmush clan, whose members have been responsible for several kidnappings, including that of BBC reporter Alan Johnston. A top Hamas official calls him a "dangerous" man.
Additionally, according to Abu Toameh , Al Aksa in Gaza is claiming credit for firing 20 Kassams from Gaza recently. This, they say, it part of a military campaign in which hundreds of rockets will be launched into Israel, giving residents of Sderot the choice of leaving or dying.
And we delay on the operation into Gaza?
Abbas met in Ramallah on Friday with three members of Hamas located in Judea and Samaria -- Faraj Rumaneh, Hussein Abu Quaik and Nasser a-Din al-Shaar -- and prayed with them. The PA is playing this down, saying it was not an official meeting and didn't mean anything.
Rumaneh and Abu Quaik had last week attempted to distance themselves from comments made by Hamas members in Gaza saying they would be taking over Judea and Samaria soon.
Now, according to Abbas's advisor Ahmed Abdel Rahman these men met with Abbas to express their "rejection" of the statements made. "The members expressed their commitment to the legitimacy and the authority of Abbas . . . "
I don't believe that's quite how it was.
According to Abu Quaik, "Everybody in Hamas knew about this. This will contribute to strengthening our relationship, and lay the basis for national unity, God willing."
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Abbas "had no problem" with Hamas as a movement, but only with those in Gaza "who deviated from the right path in carrying out a coup."
Please, note this well: No problem with Hamas as a movement. It's when Hamas causes trouble for him that Abbas objects, not because Hamas is for violent destruction of Israel. If there were no other evidence that Abbas is not moderate, this alone would suffice.
The Guardian reported on Friday that Saudi Arabia says it will not attend the Annapolis conference unless there is significant agreement in advance on the core issues.
Posting: November 1, 2007
"Good News & Bad"
I begin by providing the link to an article of mine on Rice and Carter that just went up on Front Page Magazine today:
This is one time when I ask, please, that it be distributed broadly. A lot of people still don't know about Carter.
Perhaps the best news I heard today was that Condoleezza Rice, who is arriving here on Saturday night, has now said she will not be bringing invitations to the conference. This is after an earlier statement that she would be. A sure sign that things are not moving smoothly.
The US isn't even sure yet if Saudi Arabia will come.
Also on the plus side is the statement by Israeli head negotiator, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, that there would be no timetable on negotiations. This is in face of the insistence by her counterpart, Ahmed Qurei, that there had to be a deadline for finalizing negotiations.
On the other hand, there are matters that are thoroughly infuriating. Enraging, actually. Seems "US officials" are letting Israel know that we are expected to remove "illegal" settlements before the conference. Actually the message was that Washington had invested a lot of political capital in the process and the parties were now expected to deliver. You like that? The US is eager to see Israel provide an appearance of "giving."
As the Road Map is presumably the way we're supposed to be going to be going in negotiations, Barak and Fayyad -- joined by Gen. Dayton -- will be meeting to see how phase I of this plan can be implemented. It is with an eye to this that the settlements are being mentioned.
The Palestinians are saying they've made good progress recently in disarming some "operatives." This is supposed to qualify as their commitment to phase I, which actually calls for "an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere."
However, complain the Palestinians, "Israel has done little so far." Thus the Americans are expecting us to take down some settlements, presumably in line with Phase I as well.
At any rate, a representative of the prime minister's office says there certainly isn't time to do any dismantlement before the conference. The simple fact is that if the government attempts to do this, there will be a considerable outcry and resistance.
I've alluded to this before: "illegal" settlement is a political term as much as a legal one; the situation is far more complicated than the term would imply, with all settlements having some legal sanction but some missing a part of their documentation.
Now Defense Minister Barak has indicated that no settlements would be dismantled before next year, as there were currently on-going negotiations with settlers. In some instances, there is the hope that settlers will leave voluntarily. However, it was also announced that "the ministry has began a series of meetings with the settlers' leaders, in an effort to reach a joint solution as to the outposts' status." What does this mean? Some of the so-called illegal settlements may be legalized.
Also heartening was the signing by 53 members of the Knesset of a petition calling on the government "to honor the 'right of purchase' of Jews in the city of the Patriarchs, and to allow Jewish settlement in those homes and lands which were purchased for their 'full price.'"
This is a significant step towards securing rights for Jews in Hebron, who are harassed by government actions.
As the petition states:
"Hebron is the city of the Forefathers of the Jewish people, the commencement of the monarchy, where Jewish settlement is anchored both by ancient historic privilege, and also by government decisions and recent international agreements. Mass visits of hundreds of thousands annually prove that the Jewish people vote with their feet in favor of a continued
Jewish presence in Hebron. Therefore, there is no justification for the state of Israel to prevent Jews from actualizing their 'right to purchase' of those properties which were legally purchased for their 'full price.'"
Amen and amen. Could it be that our people are now -- in the face of horrendous risks -- beginning to wake up to the fact of Jewish rights?
I hope to follow with more on this soon.
Giving expression to Jewish rights , as well, is a landmark court case:
Acting as a group, represented by Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center, 150 Israeli citizens, have initiated an unprecedented criminal prosecution of the Wakf leaders in Jerusalem. Filed today in Jerusalem District Court by means of a seldom utilized section of the criminal code, the indictment charges that the Wakf has engaged in the deliberate destruction of ancient Jewish relics on the Temple Mount.
The Wakf has brought in heavy equipment for purposes of "renovations" on the Mount, and Israeli archeologists have discovered trashed Jewish artifacts in the earth that was discarded. (I recently wrote about this.)
If convicted, the Wakf officials would serve years in prison.
The IDF has uncovered seven tunnels in southern Gaza used for smuggling weapons. As always with these discoveries, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Nine Kassams hit Sderot today.
Posting: October 31, 2007
The big news yesterday was that PM Olmert informed the nation that he has prostate cancer. It's at an early stage, is expected to be easily treatable, and won't interfere with his responsibilities.
He was applauded in many circles for his forthrightness, and it is said that this will have a salutary effect on his political situation -- people will see him more positively and he will be cut slack with regard to his investigations for corruption.
From the perspective of those of us who are uneasy about what Olmert intends with Annapolis, this is not the way we want to see things evolving. If he is to become more respected and be cut slack, it should only be because he's doing the right thing for our nation. And of that there is no indication.
While he continues to say he will not agree to negotiating final terms before the conference or setting a timetable, there is vast unease about what he will agree to in principle with regard to a two-state solution. A great deal of analysis is circulating that anticipates one maneuver or another that he will pull -- such as getting us so focused on Jerusalem that we forget to notice that he's going to give away Judea, Samaria and ultimately the Golan.
I will not speak to details of what Olmert intends to pull off. I don't know those details. What I do know is that I don't trust him and certainly have no confidence in his commitment to the heritage of our nation. For him, according to reports from all who know him, giving it away is easy. In fact, just today someone knowledgeable told me, "He has no red lines."
Thus the intentions of the various members of the coalition, who have it in their power to bring down the government, become critically important -- as does the question of what they can be convinced by a distressed electorate to do. Time is short, a growing number of people both here and in the US are aware of the need to act, and there can be no delay.
The possibility remains very real that we will be saved from ourselves by our enemies.
On Sunday, a Kuwaiti paper quoted Abbas as saying there are many disagreements over final status.
As of yesterday, according to Maan, a Palestinian news agency, Abbas was still saying he won't make any concessions, while Ahmed Qurei, chief negotiator for the Palestinians, was quite categorical at a news conference with the EU's external affairs commissioner: "The Israeli prime minister has stated that he will not accept a timetable, and we say we will not accept negotiations without a timetable."
Meanwhile, Azam el-Ahmad, head of the Fatah faction in the Palestinian parliament, was even clearer, telling Israel Radio that negotiations had reached a dead end. "There has not been an agreement on any issue," he said, indicating that there would be no conference if the situation didn't change.
According to an Israel Radio report , one of the sources of disagreement is the issue of who gets to determine when there has been compliance with stage I of the Road Map.
When Israel originally accept the US plan for peace called the Road Map it was with conditions, which were attached. The US promised to take them under consideration but not necessarily to accept them. But, at least in theory, our acceptance of the plan is predicated on these conditions -- which almost no one pays attention to now.
They are certainly relevant to issues such as that of how compliance is determined. For example: (condition #2) "Full performance will be a condition for progress between phases and for progress within phases. The first condition for progress will be the complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement."
Instead of full performance, the Palestinians are pushing more for a "We're moving along so let's dispense with this and get to the next stage" approach. "Moving along"? Oh, maybe they will have closed down a charity that was a front for Hamas, which proves they're fighting terror.
Does this strike you as facetious? It's really not.
In spite of the dire "warnings" by Palestinians that failure at Annapolis would mean violence worse than what took place in 2000, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, doesn't think so. Violence will increase, he conceded in testimony to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, but it won't be as bad, never mind worse.
"In my estimation," he said, "the Palestinians are exhausted. There isn't the energy in the public and there also isn't the leadership right now that could spur such resistance."
Were the IDF to pull out of Judea and Samaria , this would "pose a great security threat for Israel."
A senior Hamas leader, Nizar Rayyan , said earlier this week that Hamas is poised to take over Judea and Samaria and will soon be praying in the Mukata compound in Ramallah.
I've already written about the incomprehensible plans of the Bush government to give the PA an additional $435 million, which would include $150 million in direct cash transfers to the PA.
According to State Department officials this is geared to showing the Palestinians what perks can come their way if they renounce terrorism. Does State really think it's that simple?
They claim the aid request is to meet "a critical and immediate need to support a new Palestinian Authority (PA) government that both the U.S. and Israel view as a true ally for peace." Exactly what "new" Palestinian Authority government were they thinking of?
Congressional figures are saying, however , that this will not be allocated unless something significant happens in Annapolis.
Meron Benvenisti, a historian, writer and a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, espouses a very liberal political stance. He is someone who, at one time, would have dearly loved to see part of Jerusalem go to the Palestinians. However, he has now said, in an Israel Television interview, that the mix of Jewish and Arab neighborhoods that has developed since 1967 makes it impossible to simply divide the city between Israel and the Palestinians. "In this city the egg has been so scrambled that it cannot be restored. This talk may be good for the Americans or for internal Israeli debate, but on the ground, take a look and see, how can you do it? You can't."
So, who's listening?
From the perspective of many of the 250,000 Jerusalem Arabs, it will be a good thing if the city cannot be divided; they fear losing health benefits, job opportunities and a good deal more if they find themselves under the jurisdiction of the PA.
Jamil Sanduqa, head of the popular committee that governs the Shuafat neighborhood (which is within Jerusalem municipal limits and has been cited by Ramon, Lieberman and others as a neighborhood that would be relinquished) explained to a Washington Times correspondent: "If they put a border here, we'll move to Haifa and Tel Aviv. You'll have 50,000 people who live here leaving East Jerusalem in minutes."
There's been a bit of a stalemate with regard to our cutting back on energy supplies to Gaza. Attorney General Mazuz has put a hold on it in order to do an assessment to be sure everything is in order. He says he wants to be certain the measure could be implemented without violating the prime minister's promise last week "not to cause a humanitarian crisis" in the Gaza Strip. This sounds more than a little strange to me on a couple of counts. Defense officials insist this will proceed shortly.
More important, Barak is saying that the ground operation into Gaza is coming closer. Ten mortar shells and two Kassams were fired from Gaza yesterday.
A bill -- proposed by MK Zevulon Orlev (NRP) -- banning Israelis who visited enemy states without permission from running in Knesset elections has passed its first reading in the Knesset. We need this to be the law of the land.
Posting: October 28, 2007
It's hardly been a secret to those of us who care about Israel that Sec. of State Rice conducts herself in ways that are severely detrimental to Israel's security and wellbeing. We've known that she hasn't a clue as to what Arab mentality is or what can be achieved; she has made statements that demonstrate a very tenuous grasp of reality.
But now she has surpassed herself. This past week she consulted with former president Jimmy Carter about how to handle the negotiations. Carter! A bald-faced enemy of Israel.
This seems to me to move beyond the limits of what is remotely excusable. For Rice has to know what Carter's views are with regard to Israel.
Rice's position must be weakened , as her legitimate qualifications to do the tasks she has set out for herself -- to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and manage the Annapolis conference -- are questioned.
Once again, I call on all of you who are US citizens and enraged at Rice's action to participate here. The first thing to be done is to contact President Bush in order to express your concern about his reliance upon her in the sensitive matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- explaining why you are upset (information follows below). Ask him to monitor her or rein her in. Suggest that her judgment is so bad that now is not the time to hold the conference.
Calling the White House Comment Line or faxing is the most effective way to make contact! Use your own words, please.
President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
White House Comment line: 202-456-1111 TTY/TDD Comment line: 202-456-6213
Fax 202-456-2461 email@example.com
The next thing to be done -- and this is important -- is to make a very public issue of this at every opportunity: write letters to the editor, do talkbacks on the Internet, speak to people, call in to talk shows, post on blogs. In other words, make noise: Rice is not fair. Rice has poor judgment. Rice cannot be trusted. Ask how Annapolis can proceed with such a person at its helm. Those of you who are activists in the US -- pick this up and run with it, please.
Below you have a very brief summary of Carter's more egregious attitudes and actions. If you wish more detail, do not hesitate to contact me.
-- In 1990, Carter drafted the strategy and wording for a generic speech that Arafat would give. He advised him to present himself as a peacemaker victimized by Israeli belligerence.
-- In 1996, he headed a delegation that monitored elections in the PA, which he pronounced "open" and "fair," which was something of a joke as Arafat had no real electoral opponents.
-- Over a period of many years , it has been documented that the Carter Center has been funded primarily by Arabs, such as the Saudi royal family. Most significantly, he has received support from the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow Up, located in the United Arab Emirates. Carter has publicly praised Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, now deceased, for whom the center was named, as a "personal friend." The Zayed Center, however, is so immersed in anti-Semitism and radical Islamo-Fascist attitudes that when it presented the Harvard Divinity School with a substantial gift to endow a chair in Islamic studies, Harvard returned the money. But Carter has never disavowed his connection with the center or leveled criticism at it.
-- Most recently Carter has written a book , Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, that is thoroughly biased and virulently anti-Israel. Kenneth Stein, Carter's long-time associate, quit the Carter Center because he didn't wish to be associated with this book. Wrote Stein:
"[Carter] does what no non-fiction author should ever do: He allows ideology or opinion to get in the way of facts…the narrative aims its attack toward Israel, Israeli politicians, and Israel's supporters. It contains egregious errors of both commission and omission. To suit his desired ends, he manipulates information, redefines facts, and exaggerates conclusions.
"…Carter's grievance list against Israel is long… Carter believes that if the U.S. government reduces or stops its support for Israel, then the Jewish state will be weakened and become more malleable in negotiations…"
Please, share this as broadly as possible. And feel free to copy this portion of my posting, with attribution to me, to send separately to others.
A great deal is going on with regard to the proposed cut back in the amount of electricity and gas to be supplied by Israel to Gaza.
It truly seems that one intention on the part of the Israeli government in doing this is to move slowly towards what is being called total disengagement: the day when Israel will no longer be responsible for providing the people of Gaza with any of its energy.
But there are also other motivations at work . Ostensibly, one is to create a situation in which the terrorists fire fewer rockets, presumably because pressure will be put upon them by the populace. But an article in Haaretz last Friday suggests that just the opposite is what's going on: It is expected that the terrorists will escalate their attacks in response to the cut offs, which will make it easier for Israel to justify finally moving in on the ground.
That ground action is considered inevitable . For disengaging from the responsibility to supply Gaza with energy, even if it does motivate few Kassam attacks, does not take out the trained Hamas army that is preparing to attack, or remove the arsenal of weapons that is stored there and constantly being augmented.
According to the Haaretz article, this war will be a prolonged and dirty war: The IDF will use artillery bombardment before sending in the ground troops. Chief of Staff Ashkenazi says he will support this operation only if the IDF is permitted sufficient time to do arrests and gather intelligence.
We're going to hear about it from the international community, big time! Now we're talking about cutting back some of the electricity to Gaza for 15 minute intervals (with care to be taken so that hospitals are not affected) and already there's a hullabaloo, and we are charged with promoting a humanitarian crisis, which is not the case.
The major cut will be in gasoline fuel , which will be reduced from 450,000 liters a week to 300,000 liters; this means inconveniencing people who will have less use of their private cars. Diesel fuel will only be cut a small amount -- from 1.4 to 1.25 million liters per week -- so that there is no emergency with ambulances, garbage trucks and the like.
None of these cutbacks has actually started yet , as the final approval has not been given; it is anticipated that this will come in days -- and even then it would be some days thereafter until the populace felt the change.
And yet, today a senior Palestinian official said that fuel has been cut by 40% - 50%. "This is a serious warning to the people of the Gaza Strip. Their lives are now in danger," bemoaned Ahmed Ali, deputy director of Gaza's Petroleum Authority. These guys never miss an opportunity to make us look bad, even if truth must be stretched.
While the Palestinians were bemoaning their fate, European Union officials involved with overseeing the Gaza power plant (because they do funding) reported that the full amount of fuel was delivered there today.
Tip of the iceberg. This is what we're dealing with: Arab citizens of Israel are not drafted into the IDF -- there is no notion of their fighting against other Arabs and it is understood that this would be problematic on several levels. However there has now been a government initiative put forward for Arab Israeli youth to do an alternative national service. This is altogether appropriate.
Last year over 500 Arab youth served . But the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee of Israeli Arabs is working hard to dissuade young Arabs from serving the Israeli nation. Never mind that they get to vote in Israel and are eligible for health care, and welfare benefits and ultimately pension benefits. No service to Israel. Bragged the Committee's CEO, perhaps thousands would have volunteered to serve if they hadn't intervened.
Worse yet, Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka (Balad), is voicing a vigorous protest against the government initiative. He resents the attempt to "Israelisize" Arab youths and says that "Anyone who does national service will become a leper and Arab society will throw him up from its midst."
You have the picture? An Arab who is not only an Israeli citizen but a member of the Knesset objects to efforts to incorporate Israeli Arab youth within productive Israeli society, providing them with an opportunity to serve their nation in a manner that parallels the responsibilities of Jewish youth (i.e., makes them more equal). Better we should let them stay outside. But, if they had been forced to stay outside, we would have been vilified for that.
And there's more from Israeli Arab members of the Knesset. Responding to proposals from Avigdor Lieberman, MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List) has declared that "There can be no peace agreement without the dismantlement of settlements and the removal of settlers . . . The borders must be the 1967 lines, including east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine."
Do you find yourself wondering , as I do, what he's doing in the Knesset when he's clearly on the other side? Tibi, you should know, used to advise Arafat. Ours is a strange society, altogether too politically correct and too tolerant for my taste. A loyalty to Israel first ought be the bottom line minimum requirement for members of its Knesset.
"Lieberman should calm down. There won't be a deal if there is no essential change in Israel's stance toward the Arab peace initiative," said Jamal Zahalka (Balad).
I cannot help but wonder if what really bothers these Israeli Arabs is Lieberman's proposal for a population exchange. I consider this a non-starter as you cannot move populations from one sovereignty to the other without their consent. And the supreme irony is that the very people who foment trouble here and are not loyal to us, have absolutely no desire to be under Palestinian Authority sovereignty instead. It's much much better in Israel.
Today Lieberman told Army Radio that his party won't remain in the government if "there will be significant negotiations on the core subjects." This makes me nervous, as it's also a hedge. What does this mean? That Olmert can discuss Jerusalem a little bit, but not significantly?
Since nonsense seems to be fairly ubiquitous , let me end with this: According to Khaled Abu Toameh in the Post, the PA is planning to fire 30,000 people from the PA security forces. in Judea and Samaria. This is ostensibly a move to tighten the forces, but officials are warning that 30,000 unemployed people will cause unrest, rebellion against Fatah, and a movement of loyalty to Hamas.
Why should such a mass firing be necessary? Are you ready? According to Oslo, the PA was to have a force of 30,000, but they have 80,000 on their payroll. This is in good part of legacy from Arafat's time. Explained one Palestinian:
"Arafat wanted to provide jobs for as many Palestinians as possible, so he recruited as many people as possible to the dozen or so security forces. The international community was anyway paying the salaries of the members of the security forces. [Are you paying attention here?] This way Arafat managed to provide an income for tens of thousands of families."
This, clearly, is a lesson in how the PA has abused international funds. But the above source has one particular wrong. There was nothing altruistic about Arafat. He was buying people, that was his style. The more on the PA payroll, the more loyal to him.
The kicker here is that about half of the people on the PA security forces payroll have no assigned jobs and never report for work.
Now, ask yourself, how, in the face of this, the Americans can think it's a good idea to give the PA $400 million dollars.
Posting: October 26, 2007
Before I proceed with news , I want to add two other people in the US who should be contacted.
I have learned that a "pro-peace" group is generating a grass roots campaign to "congratulate" the State of Israel for being flexible in negotiations. Their communication is going to the Israel ambassador in Washington and the Israel Consul General in NY.
It behooves us to let these representatives of Israel know that not everyone in the US thinks that what Israel is doing is wonderful. Especially is this the case since Natan Sharansky on his One Jerusalem website is saying that the ambassador and the consul general are getting NO protests about what Israel is doing.
So hang in there with me, guys, please! Take the time to send two more messages and, again, get this word out to absolutely everyone you can reach on this.
The message this time:
Jerusalem is an eternal Jewish heritage and should not be divided under any circumstances. You protest the idea that Jerusalem might be on the table at Annapolis.
Negotiations with the PA will NOT lead to peace but to the establishment of a terrorist state at the border of a weakened Israel. You therefore protest the Olmert government's willingness to negotiate with the PA and to make concessions. This will serve neither the US nor Israel well.
Ambassador Sallai Meridor
phone 202-364-5590 fax 202-364-5560
Consul General Asaf Shariv
phone 212-499-5450 fax 212-499-5455
To all of you who are cooperating with me during this difficult time, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I cannot emphasize enough how much numbers count and what power is in your hands collectively.
(I give permission to anyone who wishes to share this request for action to copy the above from the full posting that follows, and to put it out separately, with attribution to me.)
Here we have it: what I was writing about the other day. The former mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri, now claims that there never was a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount, and that the Kotel (Western Wall) was really part of a mosque. "There is not a single stone with any relation at all to the history of the Hebrews."
How does he know this? "Because Allah is fair, he would not agree to make Al-Aksa if there were a temple there for others beforehand." Does this mean that if we prove to him that there was a Temple there he would advocate removing the Dome of the Rock and the mosque because that would be fair?
Most significantly, he was asked if the Muslims would permit Jews to pray at the Kotel if they had control of the area. His answer is not unexpected:
"It is not the Temple Mount, you must say Al-Aksa . And no Jews have the right to pray at the mosque. It was always only a mosque - all 144 dunams, the entire area. No Jewish prayer. If the Jews want real peace, they must not do anything to try to pray on Al-Aksa. Everyone knows that." If we Jews want "peace," in other words, we need to totally acquiesce.
And this is what the world needs to know. The ONLY way to ensure fairness for all religions -- with their access to their sites guaranteed -- is if Israel is in control.
Olmert is meeting with Abbas again today , but has been trying to reduce expectations about what will happen in Annapolis. In an address yesterday, he said:
"If all goes well, hopefully, we will meet in Annapolis . [But] Annapolis is not made to be the event for the declaration of peace."
For the first time there is the hint that maybe it won't happen.
The situation with Gaza is growing ever more tense and this mitigates against chances of the conference at Annapolis taking place, never mind leading to anything of significance.
In response to the escalation of Kassam attacks , Defense Minister Barak this week approved the idea of imposing sanctions on Gaza via cutbacks in electrical service provided by Israel. Other officials refer to a process of slowing reducing the dependence of the people of Gaza on Israel sources of electricity and gas in order to "complete the disengagement." This follows the official designation of Gaza some weeks ago as "hostile territory." This is where that announcement was headed.
It has been a ludicrous situation that has not been dealt with adequately. The "disengagement" was no disengagement since we have remained responsible for services to Gaza, even as they have been lobbing rockets at us. Let them generate their own electricity or get it from Egypt. Let them acquire gas from other sources as well. If they are the enemy, we cannot carry them.
The plan is to shut down one of the electrical power lines connecting Israel to Gaza for 15 minutes after every rocket attack, and then gradually to lengthen this time to two hours, and in addition, to reduce the amount of gas allowed into Gaza from Israel. (I note here that a good part of Gaza's electrical power comes from Israel, but not all of it -- they do have generators and power stations.) Ultimately the goal is to cut off services entirely, but this is considered to be well down the road.
Already the international cry regarding the human crisis that we are creating has begun. Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer responded by saying: "Should we tell them to continue firing rockets at the same power station that provides them with electricity and continue to bomb the water system that provides them with water?"
This is considered a non-violent response to the Kassam attacks, in lieu of a military operation -- which ultimately, of course, would also be criticized for killing civilians.
Saeb Erekat, who is on the PA negotiating team , said that this decision is "particularly provocative given that Palestinians and Israelis are meeting to negotiate an agreement on the core issues for ending the conflict between them." Well . . . OK.
Information related to Israel's hit on a site in Syria continues to flow. Most recently comes something from independent sources: David Albright, a former UN nuclear inspector and now head of the Institute for Science and International Security, in Washington, and ISIS researcher Paul Brannan. They have put out a report revealing that commercial satellite images taken six months ago show construction in eastern Syria that resembles the early stages of a small, North Korean-model nuclear reactor. However, at that point construction had not progressed sufficiently to identify this with certainty.
For the first time since the ceasefire following the Lebanon war last year, the Lebanese have fired upon a Israel airforce jets doing low level surveillance in Lebanese air space -- seeking evidence of smuggling of weapons and equipment from Syria to Hezbollah and documenting the Hezbollah buildup.
The chief liaison officer for UNIFIL has protested that:
"The flyovers harm the credibility of UNIFIL, the credibility of the LAF and the credibility of the state of Lebanon. Every flyover creates new Hezbollah militants and new sympathy for Hezbollah since it shows and demonstrates that UNIFIL and the LAF are not powerful and able to stop them."
Hey! If the Lebanese army and UNIFIL were fulfilling their mandates and blocking the strengthening of Hezbollah, Israel action would not be necessary.
Just day ago, Der Spiegel in Germany , writing about the unnamed German negotiator involved with the issue, reported that Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, the prisoners taken by Hezbollah 16 months ago, are dead. I confess first, to not being surprised if this should be the case. There has been no confirmation of their condition or sign of life. And yet, I felt confused about what the presumed preliminary negotiation with Hezbollah that was supposed to lead to securing these prisoners was all about if Hezbollah knows they are dead.
They reportedly want back a very vile murderer , Samir Kuntar (who should rot in prison for ever and a day). Was Hezbollah hoping we'd release their prisoners first?
Israel 's continuing position, and properly, for lack of evidence, is that we don't know if they are alive or not. And so a process to try to bring them home will continue in case.
Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, US Coordinator for the Palestinians, has become more pessimistic about the Palestinians ability to manage security. That's what happens to these special envoys -- they come filled with notions of "fixing" the situation and then run into a stone wall.
Now he says he does not believe the PA is capable of managing security for their cities.
I reported recently on the fact that Israel had given permission to the Palestinians to manage security in Nablus (Shechem) during the day but that they could not put together the contingent of 500 officers.
Now the PA is saying they expect to be ready soon . What is more, they are suggesting that Dayton has led them to believe that from Nablus their control will branch out to a state, which does not quite reconcile with what Dayton is saying elsewhere, does it?
Posting: October 25, 2007
"Time for Action"
As these are serious times , action in the US is called for. And so I ask each of you who is a US citizen to help.
Below you will find a short list of the aides to key influential members of Congress with contact information. It is always most productive to contact the aides; a fax or phone call is most effective; e-mail if that is what is possible for you.
The message is simple:
"Mahmoud Abbas is not a partner for peace ; he has terrorist associations. Pushing negotiations is counterproductive to US interests and goals.
"Please, work to stop all pressure on Israel to negotiate and make concessions; the US needs a strong Israel in the Middle East.
"Please also work to block further appropriations to the PA, as some of this money will inevitably fund terrorism, which is what the US is supposed to be fighting."
Change the wording a bit to personalize the message. In each instance ask that the message be conveyed to the appropriate Congressperson (or Congresspersons).
Please! Try to do several of these names, and if possible all of them. They all need to hear from us. This is democracy in action and the power is in your hands.
Also, please distribute this information as widely as you can -- on your lists, to family and friends. Numbers count and we need large numbers now.
Alan is the senior professional Majority staff member for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs . He doesn't work with one Congressperson, but rather with the committee. Ask that he convey your message to all Democrats on the Committee.
phone 202-225-6735 fax 202-226-3581 firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN GARY ACKERMAN , Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Asia, of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
phone 202-225-2601 fax 202-225-1589 email@example.com
Professional Staff Member, Minority Staff, for House Committee on Foreign Affairs,
Works with CONGRESSWOMAN ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN , ranking member of the committee (was chair before the elections) and a good friend to Israel. Ask that he convey the message to all Republican members of the Committee and especially to Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen.
phone 202-226-8467 fax 202-226-7269 firstname.lastname@example.org
ELISE KENDARIAN ARONSON
Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN JIM SAXTON , who has opposed Oslo on Capitol Hill and been a staunch friend.
phone 202-225-4765 fax (202) 225-0778 email@example.com
Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN ELIOT ENGEL , who is on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Asia and a good friend to Israel.
phone 202-225-2464 fax (202) 225-5513 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief of Staff to CONGRESSMAN TRENT FRANKS , a Congressman with growing influence, who is a solid friend and has taken on the issue of the inciteful PA school books.
phone 202-225-4567 fax 202-225-6328 email@example.com
Legislative Assistant to CONGRESSMAN HENRY WAXMAN , who has powerful influence on matters of foreign policy and speaks out for integrity in government.
phone 202-225-3976 fax 202-225-4099 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief of Staff for CONGRESSMAN MARK KIRK , who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which has considerable power, and co-chairs a Republican caucus group, thus having contact with others.
phone 202-225-4835 fax 202-225-0837 email@example.com
Staff director for CONGRESSMAN BRAD SHERMAN , Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.
phone 202-225-5911 fax 202-225-5879 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posting: October 23, 2007
"The Battle is on"
The battle is over Jerusalem , and -- do not delude yourself -- it has been going on for some time already. But now it's intensifying.
The genesis of the mess we find ourselves in is the "goodwill" gesture of Moshe Dayan in 1967. For 19 years we Jews were not able to come near the Kotel (then referred to as the Wailing Wall) or the Temple Mount (Har Habayit), our most sacred site, because Jordan controlled the area and made it Judenrein. During the Six Day War we took the Old City of Jerusalem, along with all of eastern Jerusalem. We could have REALLY taken it, as the Jordanians did when it was in their hands -- we could have banished all Arabs from Jerusalem and taken complete control of everything. I'm told the Arabs expected us to do this, for they have an all-or-nothing, winner-take-all approach.
But this was not our approach . And so we allowed Arabs to live in eastern Jerusalem. And, more significantly, Dayan called in the officials of the Muslim Wakf, the Muslim Trust, and told them that we would share: The Kotel was ours, and, as they have structures holy to Islam -- Dome of the Rock and Al Aksa Mosque -- on the Temple Mount (which contains the remains of our Temples beneath), the day to day management of the Mount would be theirs, while we retained control of security.
Dayan didn't perceive precisely whom he was dealing with. What happened is that Israel gave the Arabs a foothold on our most sacred site, and they've grabbed more and more over time in terms of presuming they can do what they wish -- that is, in terms of demonstrating their "rights" and their absolute control.
The riots that set off the second Intifada in 2000 were not spontaneous, they were choreographed. But the trigger that was used, the excuse for the rioting, was the visit to the Mount of Ariel Sharon. It was "offensive" to them. But . . . excuse me!
What has happened, along with the outrageous demands made by the Arabs, and the attempts to control everything, has been a craven failure on the part of the Israeli government to respond immediately and consistently to these actions. There's enough trouble as it is -- who needs more riots? It's easier to look the other way and let things happen, rather than to protest, intervene, protect our rights and our heritage and make clear who is in charge. A grievous mistake that weakens our position.
It should be noted that the Israeli Antiquities Association , which is an official body, often acquiesces to what the Wakf does or fails to sufficiently monitor what is going on with regard to the Mount, although such monitoring falls within its mandate. Much of the necessary work is attempted by private groups such as the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount (CPDATM); archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar is a key activist in this group.
Beyond the essential issue of who is in charge , there are two concerns: One is damage to archeological treasures; the other is an attempt by the Wakf to destroy or remove pieces of Jewish history so as it eradicate the evidence of our ancient presence there.
And this is where we now find ourselves.
In 1999, the Wakf did a very major and illegal excavation into the Mount at an area called Solomon's Stables, where they wanted to construct a huge mosque. In the course of their construction, using heavy equipment, they excavated many tons of soil that contained Jewish archeological remains. This -- 100 trucks' worth -- was dumped in the Kidron Valley where the Arabs assumed it would be abandoned. It was a private -- not government -- archeological venture that raised the money to begin sifting through the debris. Archeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay, under the auspices of Bar Ilan University, moved the debris to a new, safe and protected site. The sifting, which is still on-going, has yielded some excellent archeological finds that would otherwise have been lost; the Ir David Foundation is now involved as well.
Recently, the Arabs began digging a north-south trench on the Temple Mount. This trench, dug with heavy equipment, is between one meter (1.1 yards) and half a meter deep at different points and runs some 400 meters across the Mount. It is apparently being done with Israel Antiquities sanction but the private watchdog group says this is insufficient and precious remains are being damaged and destroyed. They say, at a minimum, that a salvage excavation was necessary to make sure nothing underneath would be damaged.
In the last several days, there have been a number of things that have taken place with regard to this trench.
-- Israel Antiquities archeologists at the site say that the trench has exposed traces -- artifacts -- of the First Temple period.
-- The Director of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem says these claims regarding the First Temple are baseless, and just being made to try to establish a Jewish link to the area.
-- Most significantly, the Knesset State Control Committee, under the chairmanship of MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP), convened to discuss the issue of destruction of artifacts on the Mount.
But the director-general of the Wakf, Adnan al-Husseini, decided to ignore an invitation to attend the meeting, saying, "The Wakf does not acknowledge Israel's authority in Jerusalem or the Temple Mount…the Wakf boycotts Israeli politicians all the time . . . . This is an Islamic issue that the Muslims should decide upon." He let it be known that he would not attend any formal meeting on the digging on the Mount.
Seems to me the gauntlet has been thrown down and must be picked up quickly.
The Committee has now asked the state controller to compile a report on the archeological excavations being done on the Mount by the Wakf. Said Orlev: "We cannot ignore the fact that the Wakf does not recognize the Knesset and its committees. Its members are carrying out excavations at the Temple Mount, which is a very sensitive, special site."
And one last challenge regarding Jerusalem to be mentioned here:
The Jerusalem municipality is in the course of constructing a light rail for the city. Arutz Sheva reports that the PA is about to launch a lawsuit in French courts against a French company involved in the construction. The PA claims that the rail is being built in part on "Palestinian" land, i.e., beyond the Green Line. "The light rail system is a means for expanding the Israeli settlement on Jerusalem."
It's only going to get worse , and we had best be strong.
Return to other issues tomorrow. In the meantime, let me ask that you visit the site below and sign the petition to keep Jerusalem united.
Posting: October 22, 2007
Patently ridiculous. Ludicrous. That's the situation with the PA, and this is whom we are supposed to be dealing with.
I wrote yesterday about the plot to assassinate Olmert when he went into Jericho in August, about the arrests made by the PA of those planning the attack and their subsequent release and then re-arrest. It was PA prime minister Salaam Fayyad who addressed this publicly, saying they had been re-arrested. In fact, Fayyad told Knesset Speak Dalia Itzik that, "we are studying the incident and plan to do our best in order to restore the order in the region. We will draw all our lessons from the incident."
I indicated in my original report that those arrested were members of the PA security forces -- Fatah, I should add, to clarify. I have subsequently learned that they were not only in the PA security forces, they were supposed to have been helping to guard Olmert's convoy. Makes sense. Who do you recruit for such a mission? The men who will be close to the convoy.
But after all of this, what do we have? Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdul Rahman declaring that "This is a false story meant to undermine the efforts of the Fatah movement and President Mahmoud Abbas to reach a just peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
"I call on all media outlets to disregard the false Israeli version, because there are clear political Israeli interests behind this falsification."
Come on, guys. This is transparent and you're making yourselves look ridiculous.
I will add here that the Shin Bet is now blocking any trips of Israeli officials into areas in which the PA has (or is supposed to have) security control. Our inability to rely on the PA forces is about as clear as it could be. While I tell the above light-heartedly, there are very serious implications.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said that this incident was a "classic example of the Palestinian Authority's 'so-called' policy of fighting terror."
It has been observed by analysts that there is reason why this information -- which is weeks old -- was released now. It serves to put the PA on the defense in negotiations.
And there's yet more on the PA.
According to Khaled Abu Toameh today in the Post, the Bush administration is exerting heavy pressure on Abbas to appoint Muhammad Dahlan as his deputy.
Well . . . if the matter of how the PA officials responded to the planned assassination is ridiculous, this is patently more so. But there's nothing remotely funny here.
Dahlan is broadly viewed as a "reformer" and someone who has the potential strength to pull things together, where Abbas is slipping.
But Dahlan is a terrorist. He was arrested by Israel for terrorist activities 11 times in the 1980s. The CIA has a recording of him giving the orders to bomb an Israeli school bus in Kfar Darom, on November 18, 2000 -- an attack in which two adults were killed and several children wounded, including three siblings who each lost part of a leg. Israeli Intelligence is in possession of documents proving his direct involvement in all stages of the foiled Karine-A gunboat operation of 2002. And his name is associated with a bomb factory.
The US cannot do better than this in its attempts to strengthen Abbas? It's both pathetic and shameful, in my opinion.
Abbas is resisting, according to the report; the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masriyoon says that Dahlan has been inciting Fatah in Judea and Samaria against Abbas.
And to make matters even more complicated , relates Abu Toameh, Abbas and Fayyad are in the midst of a crisis. It's so bad that when Rice was here, she had to meet separately with each.
Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon has written an analytic piece for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs about a little discussed but potentially significant subject -- the purchase by Israel of natural gas from off shore reserves in Gaza's coastal waters, discovered in 2000.
It was the British corporate giant British Gas that found the reserves and has since gone into partnership both with the PA and private Palestinian owned contracting companies. The goal is to develop the reserves and sell Israel, which has need of additional energy sources, massive quantities of gas. The thought was that the revenues (up to a billion dollars) for the Palestinians would jump start their economy. This was Tony Blair's idea.
However, says Yaalon, the problems are considerable and actually constitute a security risk for Israel in several respects:
Money secured by the PA , rather than jump starting their economy, would likely go at least in part to further fund terrorism. Thus Israel would in effect be funding terrorists intent on acting against her.
Military actions begin to be judged in commercial terms. Yaalon suggests that the reluctance of the Olmert government to do a major operation in Gaza may be in part because of concern about not upsetting this transaction.
Ultimately, because Hamas controls Gaza , it would become involved. The British, in particular, invested as they are in this venture, are likely to go easier on Hamas and talk about the possibility of negotiating with them. Hamas would be less isolated.
Israeli dependency for energy on a corporate group that involves the PA is likely a poor move. There is a risk of terrorists using the gas line as leverage against Israel, threatening to cut off gas or doing so.
Other groups such as al-Qaeda may be motivated to attack the drilling installations, even though they are planned to be submerged well under sea level.
As soon as the reserves were found in 2000 , British Gas and its Palestinian partners approached Israel about buying the gas -- then British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged this on Israel. However, both Prime Minister Sharon and Mossad head Meir Dagan were opposed because of security issues.
It is Olmert who has revived interest in a deal with British Gas and pushed for a final understanding. Yet one more reason to question Olmert's judgment and his intentions.
Yaalon suggests that focus on this deal may have deflected Israeli exploration of other potential sources for natural gas. There is the possibility that there are sufficient gas reserves off the coast of Haifa for Israel's needs.
Writes Yaalon: "The latest indications are that the BG Group, with the full backing of the British government, intends to finalize a multi-year agreement with Israel before the end of 2007.
"The dangers inherent in Israel's potential purchase of British Gas from the marine reserves off Gaza require an immediate, comprehensive, interagency security assessment by the IDF, Israeli Security Agency, Mossad, and other organs."
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Olmert's Strategy For Annapolis Summit Revealed
10/29/2007 By: David Bedein , The Philadelphia Bulletin
Jerusalem - On Sunday, October 28th, 2007, following the weekly Israel government cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert dispatched cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel and his official spokesman Yaakov Galanati to brief the press about the steps that will lead to the Annapolis Middle East Summit on November 26.
Mr. Olmert's spokespeople emphasized that the Israeli government did not expect to reach any agreement with the Palestinians at the summit and that that the "only thing that would happen there would be declarations," adding that "Israel will announce its recognition of a Palestinian Arab national state alongside an Israeli Jewish national state, with Israel formally accepting the road map."
That road map was presented in May 2003 by then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and then-White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to Israel and the Palestinians and adopted by the Israeli cabinet under then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
As a reminder, the Israeli government had added to its acceptance of the road map a statement that "in the first phase of the plan and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, Al-Aksa Brigades and other apparatuses) and their infrastructure; collection of all illegal weapons and their transfer to a third party for the sake of being removed from the area and destroyed; cessation of weapons smuggling and weapons production inside the Palestinian Authority; activation of the full prevention apparatus and cessation of incitement. . . . There will be no progress to the second phase without the fulfillment of all above-mentioned conditions relating to the war against terror."
These conditions are missing in Mr. Olmert's acceptance of the road map. In other words, the Olmert administration plans to use the Annapolis Middle East Summit to announce to the world that it will recognize an independent, sovereign and armed foreign nation state without a prerequisite that the Palestinian leadership dismantle terrorist organizations.
The Bulletin asked specifically if the Israeli government would demand that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would be required to dismantle the Al Aksa Brigades of the Fatah organization.
The answer was that the Israeli government had not taken a stand on that subject.
The Bulletin also asked Mr. Olmert's cabinet secretary if the Israeli government would ask that Mr. Abbas order the cancellation of the Palestinian educational curriculum that is based on Israel's destruction.
The answer was that the Israeli government had not taken a stand on that subject.
The precedent of Israel allowing a terror entity in its midst is exemplified by the situation in Gaza, where Israel now allows an Arab terrorist organization that rules Gaza to shell the entire southern region of Israel every day with only a tepid military response.
The Bulletin asked Mr. Olmert's cabinet secretary what the response of the government was to this week's shelling of Sderot and the Western Negev from Gaza.
His answer: "It was not discussed."
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