Israel Resource Review 26th November, 2008


Contents:

Insight in the News in Israel
Arlene Kushner
Senior Policy Research Analyst, Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/


Posting: November 26, 2008

"So, Nu?"

Last night at an Anglo Likud Forum at which some of the candidates for the Likud list spoke, I heard constitutional lawyer Yosi Fuchs -- founder of Forum for the Land of Israel that did so much to help the people of Gush Katif.

In the course of speaking about various subjects, he commented that he was convinced that Ariel Sharon's total reversal of his previous stance on keeping Gush Katif was connected to legal problems he was having at the time. That is, in promoting the disengagement Sharon moved in accordance with a leftist position, as the prosecutorial and legal system in this country is peopled heavily with individuals who tilt left -- the supposition being that any action against him would be delayed if said people were pleased with his actions.

Now, continued Fuchs, there is reason to believe that something similar is going on with Ehud Olmert, who came out of nationalist tradition and is now embracing stances "to the left of Meretz."

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Today the news carried reports of Olmert's statements on completing his visit with President Bush:

"In principle there is nothing to prevent us from reaching an agreement on the core issues in the near future. I believe it is possible. I believe it is timely. A declaration is needed. I am ready to make it. I hope the other side is."

This is a patently ridiculous as well as outrageous statement. Agreement on the core issues? Between now and February? He's joking. That means agreeing on the division of Jerusalem and on the issue of the refugees, not to mention final borders. I've covered this ground already. The PA is not going along with whatever it might be possible for Olmert to offer. And yet he says this.

Of course, he covered himself, by indicating there wouldn't be any interim declarations, because he was aiming for a full agreement. Which, by the way, is what Abbas has been saying.

But he let it be known that he wasn't going to stop trying to reach that agreement and that he considered that it was within his jurisdiction as a lame duck, transitional prime minister to do so.

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And now? Now we have a statement from Attorney General Menachem Mazuz who told Olmert today that he plans to indict him in the "Rishon Tours" affair, in which it is alleged that the prime minister sent bills to more than one organization for trips made abroad; the excess, said to be over $100,000, went into a special account and was apparently used by Olmert for private travel with his family.

Olmert's attorneys will be given a hearing before the indictment is made.

What I ponder, as do many others, is why it taken so long. This issue has been pending for months.

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Since Mazuz's announcement, MKs from across the political spectrum have been demanding that Olmert suspend himself immediately.

MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) said Olmert "lacks the moral and public virtues that are necessary in order to lead."

MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) declared this:

" . . . a tragic day for the State of Israel. We've reached a new low point. It is wrong for a person accused by the state of criminal charges to continue sitting in prime minister's seat."

MK Aryeh Eldad (NU-NRP) said he was disappointed with how slowly the legal system has been moving.

"The public knows that a criminal is leading Kadima's government . . . [I am] constantly amazed at Olmert's 'chutzpa' - as he continues to give away territories to the Arabs and promises withdrawals while his only mandate is over the attorneys who will represent him during the trial."

MK Michael Eitan (Likud) expressed concern about our foreign policy.

"Olmert should announce he is freezing all negotiations until a new government is elected . . . a transitional government led by a [soon to be] indicted man is a government lacking the legal and moral legitimacy required for leading a nation in political moves with far reaching consequences."

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Is this going to stop Olmert in his brazen tracks at last? His associates say he has already resigned [with the resignation to take effect when a new government is in place after February elections] and that is enough.

Olmert says he has no intention of suspending himself.

But Kadima head Tzipi Livni has been discussing this with party heads and may ask him to suspend himself. He is not doing the Kadima party any good before the election.

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I will note here that Olmert categorically denied that Bush had asked him not to take action in Iran.

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Posting: November 25, 2008

"Lunacy Continued"

The craziness -- some laughable, much deeply malevolent -- simply continues.

Yesterday was "Solidarity with the Palestinian People" day at the UN. Understand, the Palestinian people (such as they may be) are the only ones celebrated by the UN this way. The Kurds, for example, are ignored. This tells us all we need to know about the UN.

Former secretary-general Kofi Annan, marked it as "a day of mourning and a day of grief, and the "inalienable rights of the Palestinian people" were discussed.

"The event is an annual reminder that the UN's real agenda is to delegitimize the birth and the perseverance of the state of Israel," says Anne Bayefsky, editor of Eye on the UN.

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Actually, because of scheduling conflicts, this day of solidarity was marked a few days early. The real day is November 29, which is the day the UN voted the partition of Palestine in 1947. From this followed the official founding of the State of Israel, which -- it might be noted -- was not only founded with UN blessings but also is a full member of the UN today.

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One sees signs of desperation in the words and acts of several players in the area.

There is, for example, PA president Mahmoud Abbas. This past week he placed ads in several Israeli papers -- Hebrew press and The Jerusalem Post -- reaching out to the Israeli populace to tell them that they would benefit greatly from the Saudi "peace plan," which would bring them peace with the members of the Arab League and not just the PA.

The Saudi "peace plan"? That's the plan that says if we agree to terms that guarantee our destruction, the Arabs will be happy to deal with us. It calls for total return to pre-67 lines (including relinquishment of all of eastern Jerusalem and the Golan), release of all prisoners, and return of refugees.

Abbas has already admitted that there will be no peace deal in 2008, and yet he seems to be grasping at straws in his last days in office (see item below).

At a statement made at the UN (for the above mentioned event), he blamed Israel for blocking the peace process by not going along with the Saudi plan. He spoke about the need for this plan so that there would be 'the return of our land," and I never let such occasions pass without mentioning that it isn't their land and never has been and cannot be "returned" to them. Anyone needing elucidation of this point is invited to contact me.

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Abbas, reversing himself, has made another statement of political interest: He says that if there is no real progress in dialogue between Fatah and Hamas by the end of the year, he will go to general elections -- presidential and legislative -- in early 2009.

Well, right now there is no dialogue between Fatah and Hamas, because Hamas boycotted a scheduled meeting in protest against PA arrests of Hamas people in Judea and Samaria. How likely is "real progress" in just a bit over a month?

The Arab League is scheduled to meet in Cairo next week to discuss the Fatah-Hamas conflict. Hamas people are angry because they haven't been invited.

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There are two observations to be made here: With regard to the presidential election, Abbas has now reversed himself. While Hamas has been insisting that he is supposed to leave office in January, he has been claiming that his presidential term runs another year.

The argument arose over the fact that while PA presidential and legislative elections are supposed to run together (at least in theory, every four years), Abbas was elected president in January 2005, a year before the last legislative elections were held, because Arafat had died. Abbas has been saying his term runs until the next legislative elections in 2010. Hamas is saying he has had four years and his term is over.

However, Abbas cannot hold general elections because he doesn't control Gaza and Hamas will not cooperate. All denials to the contrary aside, there are two Palestinian political entities. Abbas's claim consistently has been that a Palestinian state must encompass Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. But if elections are blocked, he is stymied. The scuttlebutt is that in January 2009, Hamas will appoint or elect its own president. It does not see legislative elections (in which it won a majority in 2006) as being called for until 2010, and maintains that Abbas does not have the authority to call for elections without Palestinian Legislative Council approval.

The finger pointing goes on without end: Hamas is saying that Abbas's declaration of intent to hold legislative elections means he wishes to sabotage reconciliation efforts.

So . . . stay tuned.

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As to Hamas, it seems they have now accepted an Israeli offer (you read this correctly) with regard to an extension of the "ceasefire." The deal is that if no rockets are fired for 24 hours, Israel will open crossings. Who is the desperate party here?

According to Hamas sources (which I have not yet seen confirmed by Israeli sources officially), mediation for this deal was done by Egypt after Barak's office contacted Cairo to express readiness to cooperate. And according to Haniyeh, other terror groups are on board with this. But a Kassam and two mortars were launched on Sunday mere hours after Haniyeh's announcement, and another Kassam landed near Ashkelon late yesterday.

Other Hamas sources are saying the "ceasefire," which terminates on December 19, will not be automatically renewed but must be renegotiated (i.e., the renewed quiet is just until the 19th of December). Hamas is looking for increased readiness on Israel's behalf to keep the crossings opened.

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Whatever the outcome with regard to full implementation of opening of the crossings for bringing in of commercial goods, Barak decided that the crossings would be open yesterday for permitting humanitarian aid to get through: food, medicine and fuel.

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Abbas is about to get yet another concession from Israel: Just days ago Olmert promised Abbas to release 250 prisoners for the holiday of al-Adha next month.

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Olmert is in Washington, where he had a final meeting with President Bush. They did the usual routine of praising each other, and lauding the important "peace process."

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According to a report in Time Magazine, relying on Israeli sources, the US has warned Israel not to launch a major operation in Gaza -- which would jeopardize "peace efforts" -- or to attack Iran in the final days of the Bush administration.

Most troublesome, if it is true.

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An item that puzzled me even as I wrote about it the other day has been clarified. This concerns King Abdullah of Jordan, who called in Olmert and Barak the other day and, went the original report, asked them to refrain from a major military operation in Gaza, as this would unsettle his kingdom. I struggled with this, saying it was a complete reversal of the previous Jordanian position -- which was that IDF control of Hamas was a good thing because the Islamic radicalism was what would threaten Jordan. Seems, I surmised, that the king has reversed himself, in essence, to appease Hamas, which might be at Jordan's border one day soon.

Well . . . the clarification is this: King Abdullah was furious that Olmert and Barak reported he was nervous about an operation in Gaza unsettling his kingdom. The reality, it seems, is that he was doing this at the behest of the US. At the same time, Abdullah warned Hamas that if they didn't cool the rocket fire, Israel would invade Gaza.

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Is there greater lunacy than the continuing push to "negotiate peace" with Syria?

Arch Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar was in Syria on Monday, when he was honored by Syrian president Bashar Assad. Said Assad:

"Kuntar was not merely the most senior prisoner in jail, but is also senior among free men and honoraries. His being here with us and his determination to promote Arab rights, despite everything he's been through, has turned him into a symbol of the struggle for freedom across the Arab world and the whole world."

Of course, letting Kuntar go was madness as well. He told Assad that he brought with him the blessings of the great freedom fighters of Hezbollah, and he later assured the Druze of the Golan that they would soon be under Syrian control again.

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Syria is refusing to let the IAEA in for another inspection of the site that Israel took out, which almost certainly was a reactor. Another sign of a peaceful nation with which we can deal, yes?

Right now the US and ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, are at odds over the fact that ElBaradei says Syria has the right to assistance from the UN nuclear agency in developing a reactor for producing power. The US maintains, with solid reason, that this is patently ridiculous given the larger context here.

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An ominous word about Hezbollah. Yesterday Barak announced that Hezbollah now has 42,000 missiles, three times the number it had before the Lebanon War. Some can reach to the south of Israel.

Additionally, head of the research division of Military Intelligence, Yossi Baidatz, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that Hezbollah was attempting to purchase surface-to-air missiles in order to try to bring down Israeli airplanes flying over Lebanon.

This situation has evolved because Livni proudly promoted resolution 1701 (a reason in and of itself to not vote for her!) that put useless UNFIL forces in place in Lebanon instead of letting us finish the job. And, because Syria (with Iranian assistance, of course) has been doing the re-arming.

Unless we get tough, get real, we will be in considerable trouble. We are in considerable trouble that could have been prevented.

Israel has informed the Lebanese government that now that Hezbollah is part of that government and not a renegade terrorist force, Lebanese government infrastructure is a fair target if we are hit.

It should be noted that Hezbollah now claims several villages in northern Israel, saying they don't abide by the Blue Line -- the line the UN established as the Lebanese-Israeli border. There is no end, you see, in dealing with groups such as this. First it was Shaba Farms (which some actually advocated conceding) and now this.

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There are reports that Hezbollah, seeking to avoid a strong Israeli response is not planning to directly avenge the assassination in February of Imad Mughniyeh. Instead, they have paid tens of thousands of dollars to Palestinian terror groups to carry out large scale terror attacks against Israel.

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Israel has consented to the presence of 1,000 Palestinian security forces in Bethlehem before Christmas.

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Gen. James Jones, who is widely expected to become Obama's national security advisor, is touting the idea of NATO forces in Judea and Samaria instead of the IDF -- an admission that the PA cannot handle matters on its own and a very bad idea. More to follow on this in due course.

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Posting: November 24, 2008

"First Things First"

I'm tabling other issues today to discuss what I see as priorities:

First, a return to the issue of Beit HaShalom in Hevron: important because the media's highly politicized distortions in the matter have been considerable.

I have learned that what I reported yesterday -- regarding the fact that the High Court did not say Beit HaShalom MUST be evacuated -- is indeed true. This is from Elyakim Haetzni -- an attorney and former MK, resident in Kiryat Arba -- who is the father of attorney Nadav Haetzni, who is representing the Jewish community of Hevron.

Elyakim's key point, with all of the legalities, is that the police -- who in Judea and Samaria report to the State -- are conducting themselves in a different manner than would be the case if something similar were happening in Tel Aviv.

When there is a charge by an ostensible owner of a building (in this case the Arab who sold the building) that there are squatters in his building, normally, unless the absolute preponderance of evidence is with the ostensible owner (which certainly is not the case here), the police decline to be involved, advising the purported owner to seek legal action or handle it himself. Here, the police have directly insinuated themselves into what is going on.

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A brief sequence of events:

The building was purchased in 2004 by the Jewish community for close to $1 million, via an intermediary, from Palestinian Faiz Rajabi. That intermediary then paid Rajabi to arrange for renovations on the building in preparation for occupancy.

Rajabi, upon discovering -- when they took occupancy just over 18 months ago -- that the new owners of the building were Jews (which put him in a bad place with the PA), denied having sold his building to them. He went to the police. The new owners, however, had not only solid paper documentation, but also a video documenting the sale. When the video was shown to him, he changed his story and admitted he had sold it but said he had then immediately cancelled the transaction. He did not make his case at that point with the police.

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About a year ago, the State reversed itself when high ranking officials for the State Attorney's office decided that some of the papers connected to the sale -- which had been submitted by the new owners -- were forgeries. This is critical, because this is what we read about now: the implication being that the Jewish community presented false papers for a sale that never really occurred. An eviction order was issued.

This is where the story gets really strange. The State Attorney's office declared the papers "confidential" and refused for a period of time to submit them to a handwriting expert on behalf of the Jewish community, even though they had given the papers to the police in the first place.

Finally they permitted Dr. Mordechai Vardi to study the documents. His professional opinion is at the heart of matters here:

Dr. Vardi said the suspected forgeries were "auto-forgeries." That is, the signatures of the seller in question really were his signatures, but changed by him so that he would be able to claim they weren't. Said Vardi: "This is a conspicuous indication of a fictitious forgery. Such is the case before us; the [police] investigators' expert did not seem to realize it." These deliberate forgeries, he said, were committed so there would be an "exit hatch."

What is more, payment was made by the buyers in stages from 2004 to 2005, and in each instance Rajabi issued a receipt. Even the police acknowledged that Rajabi's signatures on the receipts were legitimate. Thus, his argument that he cancelled the deal immediately after signing on to it is demolished -- over the course of a year he accepted payments for his property.

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Given the above, one might think that the matter would have been closed. The fact that is not makes it blatantly clear that we're dealing here with politics and not just law. The government of Israel is not interested in a strengthening community in Hevron, since it would hope ultimately to turn all of Judea over to the PA, including Judaism's second holiest city.

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At present the High Court has turned this issue back over to a local court for final decision. But neither the State nor the Court has been willing to listen to an audio tape -- with Rajabi, who was not coerced, saying that he sold the house -- that the Jewish community recently submitted in evidence.

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I've been asked by people how they can help here, and my response is two-fold. One way of helping is by promulgating the truth -- in discussion, in letters to the editor, etc. The other is by keeping the pressure on the government.

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Forty-nine MKs have now sent a letter to Defense Minister Barak and Public Security Minister Dichter asking them "to avoid evacuating the disputed house in Hebron and to show decency and governmental responsibility . . . . evacuation of the house should be avoided at least until after the elections." "We express a sentiment of deep discrimination and injustice which has overshadowed the Beit Hashalom case from the outset. The obscure refusal of the State Prosecution to reexamine the case, in light of the audio recording the settlers obtained, raises difficult emotions."

Elyakim Haetzni tells me that this letter was accompanied by a statement by Justice Turkel, whom I cited yesterday.

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And then, concerning president-elect Obama: The comments have been coming in with regard to that fact that he's been misjudged and is really pro-Israel. This is said to be so because he has taken Rahm Emanuel on board, and because Al Qaida's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, recently released a tape severely criticizing Obama, which is being offered as evidence that the Arabs are not really pleased with him.

I wish matters were that simple.

I would like to cite here Barry Rubin, who is director of the Global Research in International Affairs, from his latest piece, "Don't flatter your enemies, protect your friends."

"HOW IMPORTANT is popularity? According to the school enthusiastic about President-elect Barack Obama in the United States, it is everything. One journalist explained that al-Qaida is afraid of Obama because, presumably, he will win away Muslims from supporting radical Islamism. It is written in the Washington Post: 'Even among the followers of radical groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, Obama has inspired a sense of change and opportunity.'

"That last statement - intended to imply that even extremists like Obama - is worded with a shocking, though unintentional, ambiguity. It is sure true that Hamas, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and al-Qaida view this 'change' as an 'opportunity.' Unfortunately, they view it as an opportunity for being more aggressive. (emphasis added.)

"Here's how Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami put it, in words typical of the reaction from Iran and these other groups. He sees Obama's slogan of 'change' as a retreat caused by Iran's revolution, which brought down American power, and says the United States is continuing to decline.

"For them, Barack [is] the creator of a more popular America and a figure of weakness. Should there be any doubt that his flexibility will be interpreted as retreat, no matter how well-intentioned he is? (emphasis added)

"THE DEBATE in Washington is far away from the debate in the Middle East. In America's capital, the talk is of how the radicals are more moderate than thought, how they will be won over by Obama's charisma and changed American policies. The disconnect between the region and the rationalizers is frightening.

"There is no policy change in Washington that will appease the radicals. And there are no concessions that will make an American president popular in a meaningful way among Middle Easterners. Even more worrisome, such steps are not going to make moderates feel more secure.

"Here the al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri gets it just right. He tells Obama: 'It appears that you don't know anything about the Muslim world and its history . . . You are neither facing individuals nor organizations, but are facing a jihadi awakening and renaissance which is shaking the pillars of the entire Islamic world; and this is the fact which you and your government and country refuse to recognize and pretend not to see.'" (emphasis added)

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1226404813640&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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November 23, 208

"How About This!"

Ze'ev Jabotinsky -- 1880-1940 -- was a giant in Zionist history, standing for the sort of proud Jewish integrity that kept us strong.

He came out of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century as a journalist, who ultimately achieved much acclaim for his writing. The pogroms of Kishnev spurred him to organize Jewish self-defense units and to participate in the sixth Zionist Congress. He promoted the use of Hebrew and the establishment of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

During WWI, he was instrumental in forming a Jewish Legion. After the war he became a member of the Zionist Executive and a founder of Keren Haysod. Taking issue with the policies of the Zionist Movement, he established the Revisionist Zionist Alliance, which promoted immediate founding of a Jewish state. Within the Revisionist movement developed the Betar youth movement, which taught young people nationalism; the Irgun, the military arm of the movement; and the New Zionist Movement, the political arm. It was the Revisionists who promoted illegal Jewish immigration into Palestine after the British blocked it.

Once Israel was founded, well after Jabotinsky's death, the Revisionist Movement melded into Herut, which was a precursor to today's Likud party.

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Jabotinsky, who has been described as "both a visionary and a warrior," made immeasurable contributions to the Jewish state.

I have thought over the years that he has been much neglected, and I have wondered how many really know about him any more. Thus it gives me pleasure to have this opportunity to write about him.

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And the opportunity? Seems Jabotinsky has a name-sake grandson, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, who, just hours ago, stood with Binyamin Netanyahu at Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv to announce that he would be running in the Likud primary next month.

Netanyahu, elated and excited, said:

"Things have come full circle. It is a privilege for the Likud to have such a man in its ranks."

Replied Jabotinsky:

"I admit I'm excited. It's a privilege to join the movement. The last time Jabotinsky [his grandfather], Begin [Benny's father, Menachem] and Netanyahu [Binyamin's father, Benzion, still alive at 93] served the Jewish public was in World War II, when they tried to save Europe's Jews from annihilation. Today we are a team again and we want to do everything we can to meet the challenges Israel is facing."

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Arutz Sheva cited Jabotinsky as having said in a Yediot Ahronot interview that Oslo made things "500 times worse."

A "Palestinian" state, he said, "would be the base for the international terror of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah with Iranian funding. If they opt for that we will reach a situation in which instead of 1,400 [Jewish] dead there will be 30,000 dead. They will not hesitate to use chemical weapons against us."

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And how about this, as well: Yaakov Turkel, who served as a justice on Israel's High Court for ten years, until 2005, has given an interview to Arutz Sheva in which he says that the High Court did NOT order the eviction of the residents of Beit HaShalom in Hevron. Rather, the court put it in the hands of the State and gave authorities the freedom to decide whether or not to evict -- it said the State May evict.

"When the Defense Minister said he would abide by the Supreme Court ruling ordering the Jews' eviction," Turkel said, "this was very much not to my liking, since there was no such order . . . This misunderstanding has caused the great rift in the religious and right-wing's trust in the Supreme Court."

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The question, I would say, is whether Barak knew full well that he didn't have to proceed with eviction but opted to put the onus on the court.

The article cites Public Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) who said last week:

"The ruling is not a recommendation, and we will implement it exactly as written [saying in 30 days no Jews would be living in the building]. We have no intention of straying from the Supreme Court ruling, which is the law."

Arutz Sheva suggests that Dichter must not have read the ruling.

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I will follow up on this. Justice Turkel puts much of the responsibility for the misunderstanding on the media, which comes as no surprise -- the media is in the main anti-"settler." But why were there no lawyers in the past days who raised this issue? It does change matters.

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As to Hevron, some 20,000 visitors were estimated to have been in the Jewish Quarter of the city over Shabbat because of the Torah portion. Some have remained because of the political situation.

There were a handful of incidents, involving youngsters from the outside, but for the most part things were peaceful.

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There was a report today that officers in the IDF Central Command were worried that when Barak give orders to evacuate Beit HaShalom soldiers and police who live past the Green Line (and figure they may be next) or those with a nationalist orientation may refuse to participate.

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Posting: November 21, 2008

"Touching Various Bases"

Before Shabbat I would like to touch upon a number of subjects, some of which may be re-visited next week.

The International Atomic Energy Agency announced on Wednesday that a search of the site in Syria that Israel had bombed revealed "significant" amounts of uranium particles. The agency is stopping short of saying definitively that the bombed building was a reactor, but evidence is sure pointing in that direction.

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The IAEA has also indicated that Iran may now have enough low grade enriched uranium to build one bomb. While the uranium would have to be further enriched and the delivery system developed, this information is ominous and deeply troubling. According to the Times of London, intelligence sources are saying this makes it more likely that Israel will hit Iran.

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It was revealed on Thursday that Olmert and Barak had paid a secret visit to Amman on Tuesday to speak with King Abdullah, at his invitation, regarding the violence in Gaza. Abdullah says a large scale military operation into Gaza would foment unrest in the region that might unsettle the Hamshemite kingdom.

His position seems to be that the populace of Jordan, which has a Palestinian majority (Abdullah's Hashemites are a minority), would become restive at the prospect of Israeli action against Palestinians in Gaza. This makes the assumption that the Jordanian street identifies with Hamas. But until very recently the perspective was that it was radicalism -- coming from Hamas -- that threatened the king's throne. Growing Hamas influence in Judea and Samaria caused unease in Jordan, which indicated a distinct preference for an IDF presence at its western border. There was a time when the king would have been pleased to see Israel take on Hamas strength.

What has happened is that Jordan -- presumably feeling threatened by prospects of a negotiated Palestinian state at its border run by PA forces unable to restrain Hamas -- decided to shift its position vis-a-vis Hamas. Thus, Jordan reestablished relations with Hamas in August.

And thus, Abdullah was asking Israel's leaders to refrain from military operations in Gaza. In fact, according to the very reliable Khaled Abu Toameh of the Post, Abdullah apparently delivered a message from Hamas saying that it wishes to sustain the ceasefire.

Said King Abdullah, the key to stability in the region is an Israeli-Palestinian peace. This irks me no end -- for the implication here is that Israel would be remiss in defending herself and should "try harder" to achieve that peace. As if we haven't already done more than we should have in that direction.

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Tzipi Livni obliquely referred to this meeting in a statement saying that while we value our relationship with our neighbors, ultimately we must do what is in Israel's best interest. According to Abu Toameh, the king was told at the meeting that there were no plans in the near future to take out Hamas in Gaza, but that more limited military actions were possible.

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Meanwhile, reports are that the newly introduced, US-trained PA security forces in Hevron have arrested 250 Hamas terror suspects. This is said to be a first. What I wait to hear is that these 250 are tried and imprisoned as appropriate. The usual PA practice is to maintain a revolving door in its prisons.

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Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has announced -- most appropriately -- that Israel will not be attending the Durban Review Conference, being called Durban II, which is to be held in Geneva in April. Durban I, which was billed as a UN-sponsored conference to combat racism, degenerated into an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic frenzy. The most scurrilous anti-Semitism came from an NGO forum held in tandem with the conference. This second conference is supposed to review progress made on the issues since that first 2001 conference. Evidence is strong that it's heading in the same direction.

See www.eyeontheUN.org run by Anne Bayefsky for documented information on what is transpiring. On November 8th, Bayefsky reported that the UN preparatory committee for Durban II has released an "outcome document" to be presented at the conference that demonizes Israel and Israel self-determination. What it implies is that Israel is an apartheid racist state that is guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.

What is more, the document thwarts efforts to stop terrorism and attacks freedom of expression.

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In a parallel effort to delegitimize Israel, Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, who won the peace prize in 1976 for her work with Catholics and Protestants in northern Ireland, suggests that the UN should suspect or expel Israel because of the blockade of Gaza.

Why is it that these very self-righteous people never talk about what Hamas is doing to innocents in Israel?

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I've written extensively on the happenings in Hevron with regard to Beit HaShalom, and so I must touch on this. There are reports now of violence in the area, but the IDF is saying this is the work of "outsiders." Leadership in Hevron, which is not violent, is seeking to calm matters.

Additionally, MK Uri Ariel (NU) has asked the Shabbak to investigate whether some of their own operators, servings as provocateurs, may be at work here. Lest you imagine this is far-fetched, I assure you that it is not. It has happened before. When a situation is volatile, there are elements who stir matters up and foment violence to blacken the names of those who are protesting a government position.

It is prudent to reserve judgment here until more is known. The weekend will be tense, as thousands of visitors will be coming to Hevron for Shabbat.

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This related item is interesting: Shimon Peres, who is in England, has, according to Israel National News, told members of the British parliament that the government was willing to give most of Judea and Samaria to the PA, but it would be difficult to dismantle Jewish towns (in which 250,000 Jews live) without causing civil war. Good that he realizes this.

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Hopefully, come February (and elections), the whole issue of an Israeli government ready to give away large swaths of Israel will become moot.

Polls are showing Likud with a substantial lead over Kadima. Depending on the poll, Likud is expected to gain 32-34 seats, with Kadima having 23-26. Labor is way down, with only 8-10 seats. In fact, Meimad has broken with Labor now because it has always received the slot for the 10th seat on a combined list and is now afraid there will be no tenth seat; they will run their own list.

The prediction is that the entire right wing will achieve sufficient seats to comfortably form a coalition. As of yet, however, there is no gain shown in the polls for a combined NU-NRP list.

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Livni is gearing up to come out swinging against Likud as elections draw closer.

Netanyahu (sounding strangely like Peres) has been promoting negotiations with the PA based on economics and not political issues. He claims that he can help the Palestinians succeed economically and only this way can peace follow -- that more of the same negotiations now are doomed to failure. So be it, if this is his focus and not giving away the land.

Netanyahu has come out against division of Jerusalem, as well.

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My information from several quarters is that Uzi Dayan, who was once considerably to the left, has shifted his position to the right. He now sees Oslo has having been a disaster. Dayan has joined Likud.

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Uzi Landau, meanwhile, formerly a member of Likud, is moving in another direction. He left Sharon's cabinet in protest against the disengagement, and now has announced that he is joining Yisrael Beitenu even though he disagrees with some of the positions of party head Avigdor Lieberman. Landau will have the number two slot on the list.

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Iran, Hamas Declare Cyber War On Israel
David Bedein


Declassified Israeli intelligence reports issued this week report that both Iran and Hamas have made a coordinated strategic decision to make extensive use of the Internet to wage their battle for hearts and minds.

Between October 22 and 31, the second annual National Exhibition and Festival of Digital Media was held in Tehran. Hamas and Hezbollah participated, each with its own booth.

According to a report from a Hamas Web site, Hamas' main Palestinian site, Palestine-info, which can be accessed in Arabic, Farsi, Russian, English, French, Urdu and Malay was featured.

Also featured were Hamas' Filastin al-'An, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Aqsa TV, PALDF Forum and Sabiroon Web sites, among others. At the booth it was possible to receive propaganda bulletins, scarves and hats.

At the exhibition, Hamas erected a hall in its booth for discussions with Abu Osama Abd al-Muati, the Hamas representative in Tehran, and attended by Abu Srur, responsible for propaganda dispensed from the Hamas bureau in Tehran, and experts and political commentators.

The discussions revolved around topics linked to the "battle for hearts and minds," with an emphasis on the interface between the Internet and terrorism. Issues discussed included, "the role of digital media in the support of the resistance (i.e., the terrorist organizations)," "Hamas and digital media," "the role of digital media in supporting Al-Aqsa mosque," "the siege of Gaza and the responsibility of the Muslim community of believers."

A ceremony was held at the Hamas booth to inaugurate an organization called the Digital Intifada. The ceremony was covered by the Arab and Iranian media and attended by Abu Osama Abd al-Muati, Hamas' representative in Tehran; Abu Hassan Zuaytar, director of Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV in Tehran; members of Hamas and Hezbollah propaganda teams; and representatives of Iranian groups acting in the Palestinian arena.

An added feature of the exhibition was a booth that featured the "Digital Intifada," organized in conjunction with Hamas involvement. Its objective: to develop Web sites to battle against Israel ("the Zionist entity") and to raid pro-Israeli internet sites.

The new organization offered a prize of $2,000 to anyone who succeeded in hacking into an Israeli site "hostile to the Palestinian people" during the exhibition.

The objective of the hacker competition, according to Abu Srur, head of propaganda for the Hamas bureau of information, is "to prevent the spread of terrorist Zionist opinions." He said that the Zionist organizations were determined to influence world public opinion, especially in the Muslim countries, through websites in various languages, to "minimize the Palestinian problem."

According to the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency, "hacking into Zionist Web sites has become a necessity, which cannot be avoided."

Meanwhile, the director of al-Manar TV in Tehran said in a speech that "the information war is a continuation of conventional warfare ." He said that young Iranians, Palestinians and Lebanese had established "an effective trench in the field of digital communications capable of withstanding a general Zionist attack." The so-called Digital Intifada group announced its objectives: producing computer games about fighting Zionism, coordinating between the forums supporting the Palestinian cause, opening a digital library about the "occupation of Palestine " and establishing battalions of digital resistance fighters to battle the "Zionist entity."

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