Israel Resource Review 20th November, 2006


Contents:

Commentary: The Baker-Hamilton Report, Syria, and More
Arlene Kushner


Recommendations of the Baker Hamilton Commission on how to proceed in Iraq have not been formally announced as yet, but they have been leaked. A major -- and hugely horrendous -- proposal is that Iran and Syria be "engaged" in negotiations in order to work out an exit strategy for the US from Iraq. This we have known for several days.

But Syria also knows this and is now playing its hand with this proposal in mind. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem began a visit to Iraq today. Reports are that he will be seeing American officials there, and will let it be known that any Syrian cooperation comes with a price. The Sunday Times (London) quotes a Baath official as saying, "Syria will not do anything unless it has secured guarantees from Washington and London that every action Damascus takes to help them will be reciprocated. It will be a step by step scenario: these actions for those actions."

And guess what Assad's "top demand" is? That Washington and London pressure us to give him the Golan Heights.

The Syrians are major purveyors of terrorism and unrest in the Middle East. That they should -- by virtue of American policy -- be able to parlay themselves into a position of demanding something of the US, something that is not in the best interests of Israel, should be of concern to every American, as well as every Israeli.

Should American officials be foolish and shortsighted enough to agree to this demand it would go badly not only for Israel, but for the US, which would be seen by terrorist agencies as totally powerless and thus vulnerable. In the long run this would increase, not decrease terrorism. In fact, what is obvious is that the audacity of Syria in presuming to make such a demand is a result of the perception that has already been fostered that the US is caving. There is only one appropriate response to these Syrians demands, but I'll refrain from using such language here. The Syrians should understand that what they'd get for stopping their involvement in terrorism is that the US would refrain from actions against them. That would be sufficient if they believed in the power of those actions. They don't.

Right now, the bad guys are winning . . .

Unfortunately, I have not an iota of confidence that our present Israeli gov't would tell the Americans where to get off, if pressured to give up the Golan as a favor to the US (to make it easier for the US to pull out of Iraq, no less -- which is not in Israel's best interest).

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On a related note: (Syrian supported) Hezbollah is on the verge of mounting a coup in Lebanon and taking over.

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Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter caused something of a furor at today's Cabinet meeting by stating, " . . . it's about time the government instructs the IDF to present a plan on halting the Kassam fire from Gaza . . . . there was not even one case in which the government instructed the IDF to present a plan aimed at halting, and not reducing, the Kassam fire from Gaza to Israel. Therefore, the IDF did not present the government or the cabinet with such a plan."

Defense Minister Peretz, responding defensively, expressed annoyance at those who give the impression that everything possible is not being done against the Kassams. Said he, "I ordered large-scale operations in Gaza . There is no plan that was presented to me to reduce Kassam fire that was not approved."

But did he pay attention to his own words? He has proved Dichter's point: He approved plans to reduce Kassam fire. The difference between that and truly trying to stop the Kassams is significant.

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Yuval Diskin, head of Shin Bet (Security) also briefed the Cabinet today. As to the PA unity government, which may yet come to be, he said that while it would create a new political reality and gain increased international legitimacy, the Israeli government should not kid itself . . . "when it comes to the pragmatism of the matter, they (Hamas) expect everyone to fall in line with them, that they'll be able to stick to their principles, despite the fact that the political platform - which is still being negotiated - will apparently meet the demands of the Quartet."

Why am I not surprised?

Diskin said that there is no real power confronting Hamas: "Abu-Mazen without the Fatah behind him - it's hollow, an inflated balloon without substance."

Note that he reported, additionally, that, "The Palestinian Authority can afford to survive on its own for at least another six months. They're not in a humanitarian crisis." ~~~~~~~~~~

Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal this morning warned that the United States and Israel would suffer serious losses if the "siege on the Palestinian people" continued [after a unity gov't was formed]. In fact, I read a report that Hamas wants guarantees that economic sanctions would be lifted if they participate in that unity government. Hey, no sense in going to all that trouble for nothing, huh?

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Since there is so much foolish talk of re-starting negotiations via the Road Map, I thought it would be helpful if I shared the very first provisions of that plan, with regard to what is expected of the PA:

a. "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.

a. "Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.

a. "Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption."

In your wildest, your very wildest, dreams, can you imagine these things happening now?

Then, you may ask, how can the Road Map be used as the basis of negotiations? The answer: They want to skip all of this bother and just go straight to the establishment of a Palestinian state. I am not being flip.

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At the GA (General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities) on November 13, in Los Angeles, MK Binyamin Netanyahu gave an absolutely stunning talk. It can be accessed at:

http://www.jerusalemonline.com/ujc.asp

I strongly recommend that you view it and share it with others.

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see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info

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Prime Minister's Advisor Rebukes Noam Bedein's November 17th article, on this website: " Parents cannot understand why Israel's State's Attorney says 'no' to protecting classrooms in Sderot"


November 19th, 2006

David Bedein Bureau Chief, Israel Resource News Agency Beit Agron Int'l Press Center 37 Hillel Street Jerusalem 94581 Israel tel. 02 530 0125 cell. 0547 222 661

DISSONANCE IN THE PM OFFICE

Following receipt of the following letter from Mr. Gal Alon, a special advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel, Israel Resource News Agency began once again to examine the issue of government protection for Sderot's schools and homes.

Alon's statement on behalf of the Israeli Prime Minister that the government is now embarking on a plan to protect all schools (why that will take another four months is hard to understand) contradicts the statement issued only last week by the Israel State Attorney on behalf of the Israel Prime Minister and the Justice Minister before the Israel High Court of Justice, where the representative of the government of Israel argued AGAINST any further protection of the schools.

Given the contradictory positions of Alon and the Israel State Attorney, both of whom act in the name of the prime minister, this reporter went to the press briefing after the Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, November 19th, to determine who was correct.

The question was asked of the Israel Government Cabinet Sec'y, Adv. Yisrael Maimon: Will the Israeli government stand by the statement of the Israel State Attorney and NOT allocate any further funds to protect the schools in Sderot?

The answer from the Israel Cabinet Secretary Maimon was that "the government of Israel does not have any more funds to protect the schools in Sderot".

However, seeing Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal was standing in the hall, Moyal was asked to comment on this comment that the government would not fund any further protection of the schools in Sderot.

Moyal did not look at all concerned, as he aid that he had just emerged from a meeting with Prime Minister Olmert who had assured him that the government would cover all costs involved in protecting the schools.

Who is correct? Maimon or Moyal? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, concerning Alon's comments about protecting other buildings in Sderot, the question posed to Gal Alon in this regard concerned the need for a "secure room" in each home, so that people would be able to "take cover" during a missile attack in their own home.

Such a system has existed for many years in Kiryat Shmoneh.

The fact that more than 1000 families in Sderot have no "secure room" in their home speaks for itself.

It would behoove Mr. Alon to familiarize himself with the situation in Sderot of what it is like to live under missile attack when you have no "secure room" in your home to escape to.

"Do Not Judge Others Until You Have Come Unto Their Place"- Ethics of the Fathers'

:

Dear . . . ,

As this email was distributed to some of my friends in London, and as the facts seem to be forgotten in this debate started with Mr. Bedein's long list of questions, I find it necessary to provide you with some more information.

It should be first noted that my work at the Prime Minister's Office is focused on civilian issues, being part of the Director General's staff.

Therefore, I cannot refer to the ongoing army operations in the Gaza Strip. However, I do hear a lot about the IDF efforts, side by side with the continuing launching of rockets. I think we have already learnt that stopping terror is not a miracle, though some of us are still diverting their energies against the Israeli government, rather than the Palestinian terrorists.

As to the protection of schools and kindergartens - the decision on what to rotect was indeed taken by "Pikud Haoref", who is the professional authority for such matters. They know better than me, at least, what should be done (though you might challenge this assumption as well). As for now, the Israeli government has already spent 75 million shekels in protecting educational institutes, and the majority of the children there are studying in protected places: out of 24 schools, 19 are already protected (including all elementary schools), and the protection of the other 5 will be completed within days. As for the kindergartens, 56 are protected by now and the protection of all others (app. 85) is in progress, expected to be completed by March 2007. You might also want to know that between 2003 to 2006 Sderot and the other villages around Gaza have received 220 million shekels of extra government support through various channels. The Municipality of Sderot receives additional 10 million Shekels a year. Have a look on the relatively low unemployment figures there - due to a large investment in an employment schemes. Does that fall under the definition "abandoning their compatriots so heartlessly", which is "nothing less than criminal"? As citizens of the Jewish State, I would be very careful before using such terms.

Disregarding populist statement, I guess we all understand that there is no 100% protection against rockets, whatever the government does and wherever it invests. The facts are that in four months the protection scheme of the educational institutes was almost completed (therefore, the title "Why won't Israel protect Sderot classrooms" is slightly inaccurate). Having said all that, there are, and there will always be, risks for the children there. If you, or young Noam Bedein, propose to protect all buildings in Sderot, in Ashkelon and in any other place rockets are launched at - that's certainly an interesting argument. We might also need to protect the streets, the roads and the playing yards. All because the terrorists in Gaza continue to launch rockets, defiant in front of the IDF ongoing operations.

After providing some official figures, I would rather not continue this debate through massive email lists, especially after it started as a "na?" request for a comment from a journalist writing a news-agency story . . .

Shavua Tov,

Gal Alon.

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DEFENSE MINISTRY OPPOSED TO FORTIFYING HOUSES AGAINST KASSAM ROCKETS
Uri Yablonka
Correspondent, Maariv


(translation by ISRAEL NEWS TODAY)

The Defense Ministry is opposed to the proposal to fortify all the residential homes exposed to Kassam rocket fire, at a cost of NIS 900 million. The reason is that it would be better to invest the sum in technological measures against rockets.

The proposal to fortify about 8,000 households in the western Negev against rockets arose yesterday in a special discussion headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, which dealt with coping with the Kassam rocket threat. Defense Ministry Director General Gabi Ashkenazi was opposed to the proposal. "If you give me close to a billion shekels, I have better things to do with them than to fortify houses. It would be better to invest in rocket interception systems," said Ashkenazi, referring to the Barak and Nautilus systems, which are intended to intercept various kinds of rockets and missiles.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who raised the possibility of fortifying the houses as one of the alternatives presented in the discussion, commented that the topic should still be examined. He also proposed to install a Red Color alert system against Kassam rockets in the area of Ashkelon. This proposal met with firm opposition on the part of the Prime Minister's Office. Officials from the Prime Minister's Office said that there is no point in placing tens of thousands of Israelis under a regime of entering protected rooms, and clarified that to date, only 12 rockets have fallen within the urban area of Ashkelon. "In my opinion this is a far-reaching move, and a decision on the matter should be made by the government. This is not a topic for a small ministerial forum," said Prime Minister's Office Director General Raanan Dinur, who was running the discussion.

In the discussion it was decided that the state would protect all the elementary school classrooms and preschools within an eight-kilometer range of the Gaza Strip.

Ma'ariv-NRG adds -- Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mahatzri found it difficult last night to remain indifferent to the announcement of Defense Minister Amir Peretz that he accepted the security establishment's proposal to sound the Red Color alert throughout the city Ashkelon as well, to warn against Kassam rockets falling in the area. "We can't fortify the entire country," said Mahatzri, "we have become a roulette country."

A discussion held yesterday in the Prime Minister's Office on the implications of the security situation in the southern communities was attended by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Education Minister Yuli Tamir, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, Interior Minister Roni Baron, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Itzik Cohen, Prime Minister's Office Director General Raanan Dinur, Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mahatzri, the mayor of Sderot, and mayors of the regional councils in the area surrounding Gaza.

In the discussion, Mahatzri said, "the decision should be made by the professional echelon in the security establishment and the government, who has the tools and the knowledge on the subject. However, it should be emphasized that this is a purely cosmetic solution. We can't fortify the entire country."

According to Mahatzri, "the Israeli government must act with determination on behalf of the security of all its citizens, including operations in Gaza. We have become a roulette country-once the roulette wheel stops in Haifa, once in Sderot, once in Ashkelon, and the day is not far off when it will stop in Tel Aviv. The state must provide a real solution for its residents throughout the country." [.]

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