Israel Resource Review 13th September, 2007


Contents:

Commentary from Arlene Kushner
Arlene Kushner
http://www.arlenefromisrael.info/


Posting: September 12, 2007

"There it is!"

Olmert and company exposed with their intentions out front for all to see.

We are not to "play into the hands of Hamas" by going into Gaza, you see. As an official of the government has now explained:

"We are in a very complicated diplomatic climate. If we go into Gaza in a large-scale operation, the November summit will definitely be canceled."

One might ask, first, why? If we are purportedly making peace with Abbas in Judea and Samaria, why can't we fight Hamas in Gaza?

What sort of conference is this that would not permit us the self-defense that any nation has a right to? We are to be bound and trapped by that conference.

More importantly, what sort of government would cooperate with this? What sort of government do we have, that makes movement towards an illusory peace with a terrorist entity that would push us into an indefensible position more important than action that protects Israelis from injury and death???

This last, of course, is rhetorical. The answer is obvious. A corrupt and immoral government that should be dispensed with forthwith.

~~~~~~~~~~

Last night was going to be my last posting and yet I could not let this pass, so obscene is it.

As Rosh Hashana does approach, all other commentary will have to follow the holiday.

In the meantime, I hold on to that gratitude I spoke of yesterday. Maybe there will be a response from inside the government at this, finally. Maybe the people of Israel will decide they've had enough.

If you are not only angry, but also want to act constructively with regard to what's happening, let me hear from you.

Shana Tova.

~~~~~~~~~~ Posting: September 11, 2007

"Gratitude"

On this, the last posting before Rosh Hashana , I want to begin with the positive, and keep that positive in mind throughout.

Isi Leibler, who is chair of the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and very clear-eyed regarding all we face, has written an upbeat essay, "Toward a year of renewal."

Says Leibler:

"There is no denying that 5767 was another awful year. But as we usher in the new year on Wednesday evening, let us restrain our masochistic inclinations and - without detracting from the very real threats confronting us - end the prevailing atmosphere of gloom and doom . . .

"Despite daily predictions of an impending war, our position today is unquestionably better than in the years immediately following the Oslo catastrophe . . .

"In time, the Hamas putsch in Gaza may even prove to have been a blessing in disguise. After all, 'moderate' Fatah terrorists murdered far more Israelis than did Hamas. The difference was that duplicitous Fatah leaders - including Mahmoud Abbas - paid lip service to 'peace' while continuing to sanctify terror. In contrast, Hamas explicitly proclaims its objective of destroying Israel. In doing so, it deprives apologists for the Palestinians from promoting moral equivalence, babbling about cycles of violence, and obfuscating the distinctions between victims and killers.

" . . . we still remain under the cloud of the disastrous Second Lebanon War. But we must remind ourselves that the failures were due to our inept leaders, not the people, who displayed extraordinary courage and determination . . .

"Corruption did indeed reach obscene levels. But the tide has unquestionably turned . . .

"The ongoing presence of failed political leaders is Israel's Achilles heel. But their days are numbered . . .

"On Rosh Hashana it is incumbent to remind ourselves that despite all our problems, we remain the most fortunate and blessed Jewish generation in over 2,000 years of exile and persecution, and that Israel still stands out as the greatest success story of our century past . . . .

"There was never a period in Jewish history when we did not face adversaries. Yet we always triumphed."

Let it be so in the year ahead. Amen and amen.

~~~~~~~~~~

In the wee hours of last night, a Kassam rocket was launched that landed in the Zikim military base just north of Gaza; 67 soldiers who were scheduled to complete basic training just hours later were wounded when their unfortified tent took a direct hit. One soldier lost his leg.

Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas called it "a victory from God."

~~~~~~~~~~

In spite of this attack, the government still has not declared intention to launch a major operation in Gaza. Among the reasons given are the ones we've heard before: there is still tension in the north and the holidays are coming.

And then there was this one: "It would be problematic to carry out a major operation now of all times, as a reaction to the attack on IDF soldiers after all, there were civilians wounded in the past as well. We should not create a situation where it appears that the army is only defending its soldiers."

But from many officials, inside and outside the government, there is great anger at this holding back.

Said Eli Yishai, head of Shas, which is in the coalition: "The hourglass has long since run out, a red line has been crossed, . . . This is not the time for empty gestures and this is not the time to attend an international conference."

From MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) : "Instead of embracing Abbas and freeing murderers, the government should be fulfilling its duty to defend the citizens of the State of Israel and ordering a ground operation in Gaza . . . we must not sit back and wait for the next tragedy to strike."

~~~~~~~~~~

Our excuse for a foreign minister , Tzipi Livni, in meeting with the foreign minister of France today, explained that "We need to use other means, not only military ones, in the Gaza Strip. But we need to say the truth, that other means will not stop the Kassams."

Now, if you understand this, you are a lot more savvy than I.

~~~~~~~~~~

The last day of the counter-terrorism conference in Herzliya was today, and many there spoke about the need to act in Gaza. Said Uzi Landau, a former minister of internal security, who resigned from Sharon's government over the "disengagement":

"We were promised that once we leave Gaza, if any more rockets came our way, Gaza would shake, and the world would understand."

~~~~~~~~~~

Ma'an, a Palestinian news agency, is reporting that Olmert and Abbas have agreed on principles to bring to the conference. Allegedly the document, which hasn't been signed, includes Jerusalem as the capital of two states, withdrawal from the West Bank and dismantling of settlements.

As much as I don't trust Olmert and realize we have to stay alert for all possibilities, I also note that there are a lot of stories flying from the Palestinian side that are generated to put additional pressure on us and create a certain atmosphere. There is no confirmation of this Ma'an report.

Our government says that "no agreement or draft has been written, and when one will exist it would be brought to the government for approval."

Israel Radio yesterday reported that the meeting between Olmert and Abbas was tense because Olmert refused to draw up, ahead of the conference, a detailed timeframe for the resolution of the conflict .

~~~~~~~~~~

According to an (unnamed) IDF officer , most of the roadblocks in Judea and Samaria have already been dismantled, with the ones that remain critical for security. Most dismantled months ago and this is the first we hear about it? Most dismantled and the Palestinians complaining about how they have no freedom of movement? Most dismantled and IDF officials are routinely cited as saying the checkpoints must not come down? Is this so? Is anything what it seems to be?

Israel Radio cited this officer as saying that those Al Aksa terrorists who had been granted "amnesty" are still being monitored. Many, he said, have ceased their terrorist activities, even if most of them have not actually surrendered their weapons. Now, the deal was that they were required to surrender their weapons, and we're watching them and see that they haven't and we don't protest? And has it occurred to this officer -- or his superiors -- that perhaps they may have temporarily ceased their terror activity precisely because they know they're being watched?

This same officer also noted that the PA is not targeting Hamas terrorists in Judea and Samaria, as Israel has asked them to do. Instead, they are going after things like camps and charities affiliated with Hamas, giving the impression that they are doing something.

~~~~~~~~~~

I have now picked up three different versions of what Israel was doing in Syria and have no confirmation on any. It seems rather likely at this point that we're not looking at a fluke or a routine sortie to take photos. This may have been a major military operation, and, if so, one that increases our deterrence in a definitive way. Perhaps more to follow.

~~~~~~~~~~

Perhaps in the weeks ahead those who have their heads on straight will have had enough of Olmert and Livni and Ramon. Perhaps the government's reluctance to take necessary action in Gaza in the face of injury to our people, coupled with its dangerous eagerness to participate in a conference that will seek to push us to the '67 lines, will bring people to act at last. The comments by Yishai about our not attending the conference are encouraging, as is a statement by him I read about not staying in the government if there are withdrawals planned.

We need Yishai to pull his party out of the coalition and Avigdor Lieberman, his. At a minimum. Perhaps it is coming at long last.

We must pray for this with all of our hearts , and work towards this with all of our beings.

"There was never a period in Jewish history when we did not face adversaries. Yet we always triumphed."

~~~~~~~~~~ Posting: September 10, 2007

"Dose of Realism"

This Wednesday evening begins Rosh Hashana . And so there will be a hiatus in these postings. To all I wish a year of peace and fulfillment.

For Israel I pray for leaders with the wisdom to understand their responsibility to protect the land and the people, and to treat our heritage with reverence.

This year begins a Shmita or Sabbatical year here in Israel, which entails a sense of increased holiness concerning the land and its produce, and requires a series of stipulations in its observance.

~~~~~~~~~~

Barry Rubin's latest column, "Influence in the Mideast," is an eye-opener that provides important information and perspective.

Iran held a meeting of Palestinians recently , he tells us. Hamas was there, of course, and Islamic Jihad. But also Farouk Kaddoumi. Who is Farouk Kaddoumi? A big man in Fatah and the PLO. Never accepted Oslo. I've been writing about him recently with regard to his control of the Fatah Central Committee.

"What was Kaddoumi doing in Teheran? Well, he has long been an ally of Syria which is Teheran's closest ally. But there is something else going on here which is of historic importance and which shows the difference between reality and what is said in the Western media or governments. Not Egypt, not Saudi Arabia, but Iran is now the mediator between Hamas and Fatah." (emphasis added)

" . . . Perhaps you thought the United States is now Fatah's sponsor and good buddy. Well, Fatah is an equal-opportunity embezzler. "

Yea, says Rubin, keep talking to Fatah , but "a strong dose of cynicism and some tough bargaining is needed."

The problem is that Americans keep thinking that Middle Easterners will act like Americans: "The White House strategy is: We'll be good to moderates so they'll work with us against the bad guys."

"But the American method is up against the Iranian method. Iran employs the appeal of intoxicating revolutionary rhetoric, a seductive use of Islam . . . a cathartic orgy of hatred, an appeal to macho heroism, money into one's pocket . . . direct provision of social services to supporters . . . ".

"Policy must be tough, cynical, and involve equal trade-offs, rather than proofs of good will or flattery designed to win friends . . . flattering Mahmoud Abbas, showering money and arms on Fatah, and thinking one can turn the West Bank into a showcase of economic progress isn't going to work. Nor will persuading the Arab world that America and Europe care about the Palestinians, want to give them a state, and don't like Israel.

"A reasonable strategy requires showing how unprofitable it is to be an enemy . . . It means not having to apologize but getting those who ignore your interests to apologize to you. It requires taking into account regional realities rather than sentimentalizing them into morality plays. It includes not expecting to solve neatly problems which have no solution."

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1188392574992&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

~~~~~~~~~~

To confirm Rubin's description of Fatah as double-dealing, we have this news as well:

Abbas is due to go to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia tomorrow, where he will tell King Abdullah that he still backs the unity government -- the power sharing deal between Hamas and Fatah brokered in Mecca last February -- as a way out of current tensions in the Palestinian areas. All he requires is that Hamas return to the situation before they took over Gaza (something Hamas has already partially offered to do).

This according to a statement made yesterday by the Palestinian ambassador to Riyadh, Jamal al-Shobaki (which hasn't show up broadly in liberal media that is pushing the image of Fatah as a peace partner).

This is the same Abbas, of course , who is supposed to be working on a peace deal with Israel. He is playing both sides at the same time. I keep praying his hand will be fully exposed, as he joins forces with Hamas again, before Olmert is committed to something disastrous.

~~~~~~~~~~

And, indeed, Olmert and Abbas met today to advance that "peace process." This time they were joined by PM Fayyad.

At the end of the meeting they put out a bland joint statement: "Both leaders wish to contribute to the success of the upcoming international conference."

With regard to a document spelling out "principles" or final issues, it's clear that nothing was accomplished. Even before today's meeting, Olmert's spokesperson warned that there should be only modest expectations about what was likely to be accomplished, and in recent days there has also been a proviso that all issues may not be resolved before the conference.

It indeed seems that, in spite of Olmert's eagerness to give away a great deal, what he offers falls short of what Abbas is demanding, which is just about everything.

One Israeli official explained that "What we are seeing is a difference of approaches. We want to focus on the steps the Palestinians need to take to be able to govern, which will be a step toward statehood. They want to talk about the state, and jump over all the issues pertaining to governing."

This makes it difficult to draft a document to take to the conference, for sure.

But, more, this is a huge and critical issue. What sort of seriousness is there on the Palestinian side if they want a "state" before they are prepared to govern? And what does this say about US policy, if there is scant attention paid to the Palestinian ability to govern, as the "process" is hurried along?

And what does it say about us, that we would be involved in a "negotiation" that is so one-sided? Unless Abbas WANTS peace enough to make some concessions to get it, it is all pointless.

Olmert and Abbas said (saying is easy) that they are both committed to the two-state solution and will appoint teams to further the process.

~~~~~~~~~~

As to the "good will" gestures that Israel is constantly being asked to make, there was discussion, of course.

There is, first, the question of more prisoners to be released for Ramadan. There had been talk of 100 to be released and it had at one point been expected that Olmert would announce this at today's meeting. But he did not. What he did, in essence, was agree to take the request for prisoner release under advisement -- he would bring the request to the Cabinet. There was no mention of a specific number of prisoners.

Then, naturally, there was the perennial request for "easing the restrictions" on the movement of the Palestinians, otherwise known as taking down checkpoints. To this Olmert responded that the Ministry of Defense was working on a plan.

Perhaps he was alluding to Barak's plan for mobile checkpoints, ostensibly to be put into use some time in the future. But the fact is that the IDF and the Shin Bet are both adamantly opposed to removing roadblocks, which save Israeli lives.

Please note here: The IDF and Shin Bet are making the saving of Israeli lives the priority. Olmert is putting concessions to the PA (and to the US) first.

Finally, Fayyad made a request for aid to Palestinian prisoners (aid?), so that they might be provided with food, drink and cigarettes. This is stomach-turning. Clearly we feed people who are in our prisoners. What Fayyad is alluding to is a little something extra, I am assuming to compensate for what the PA is not in an economic position to provide, as it once did. Does it tear your heart out, as it does mine, that these people who are in prison for maliced acts against us, have to do without "extras"? I will not look kindly upon this if Olmert, who has at this point just said he would consider the request, ultimately honors it.

~~~~~~~~~~

Several members of the Cabinet have expressed opposition to releasing more prisoners to strengthen Abbas, and some six have already indicated they will vote against it. Said Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu), "It's the Palestinians' turn to make goodwill gestures." He further suggested prisoners not even be permitted visits from their families until the Red Cross is allowed to see Shalit. Eli Yishai, head of Shas, indicated his party's disapproval of this gesture, and Shaul Mofaz spoke about the instability of the PA.

MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud -- not a minister) also commented that, "the ease with which [Olmert] releases terrorists hinders Israel's war on terror and may put our citizens' security in jeopardy. No other country battling cruel terror against its citizens would be so hasty in releasing terrorists."

~~~~~~~~~~

MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) today expressed concern over the continuing meetings between Olmert and Abbas, observing that, "The government will give everything, while endangering the state, and will not receive a thing."

Steinitz is particularly concerned about the fact that Olmert, who once pledged himself to a united Jerusalem, is now ready to divide the city, which would bring an Iranian presence into our very heart.

He maintains that Olmert is making all of these concessions because "he is willing to do everything" to stay in power. As painful as it is to confront what this indicates regarding the morals (or total lack thereof) of our prime minister, Steinitz has it right. He says that Olmert is courting the left with his actions, in the expectation that they will support him.

And guess what? Barak has just announced that even though he had originally said he was going to pull out of the coalition, he sees that Olmert is working towards a "peace process," so Labor will stay in the government.

~~~~~~~~~~

What I'd like to know is what Steinitz, and others like him who understand the realities here, are doing to stop Olmert before it's too late. I don't accept that nothing can be done.

Members of Olmert's coalition who really know better have a particular responsibility to the situation. If Lieberman pulled Yisrael Beitenu and Yishai pulled Shas from the coalition, it would collapse. Included here as well are former members of Likud -- Shaul Mofaz prime among them -- who bolted to Kadima with Sharon and should now come to their senses and leave.

All of these people have a great deal to answer for, as they allow the madness of Olmert's government to persist.

~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday I alluded to a report about a daring IDF capture of a Hamas leader in Gaza who was connected to Shalit's kidnapping. The IDF had denied the report.

Today I read that Public Security Minister Dichter has said that this person we didn't capture could supply information and might be a bargaining chip for getting Shalit.

OK. There are surely solid reasons for the denial . But the report as I read it -- with entry into Hamas territory of our soldiers, dressed as Hamas soldiers, who grabbed this guy, after his car had to stop because "an old man with a cane" happened to collapse in front of it -- was inspiring.

This is good for Israeli deterrence, projecting the sort of courage, careful planning and derring-do for which the IDF was long known: You fool with us and, rest assured, we'll catch up with you.

May we make good use of this man we didn't capture . If he exists and turns out to be valuable.

~~~~~~~~~~

It does seem that the incident with Syria will not lead to war, whatever bellicose statements may be coming from Syria.

There are some analysts who are drawing a parallel between this incident and the possible capture of the Hamas official, described above: Without commenting on anything publicly, we let it be known that they should be on their guard because we were able to slip into their air space and out again. Don't know. Too much is obscure. And the fact that EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana has told Al Hayat that Olmert assures him IDF forces on the Golan will now be reduced makes this less likely.

Turkey is still not happy, still waiting for a response from Israel about the fuel tanks allegedly dropped by us at the Turkish border. But Turkey is not going to go to war with us.

~~~~~~~~~~ Posting: September 9, 2007

"Trouble"

It's difficult to know where to begin.

In my last report I indicated that matters had cooled just slightly with regard to Syria and our alleged invasion of their airspace. But now that seems to not be the case after all. Yesterday, the Syrian Vice President, Farouk al-Shara, while in Italy, provided an interview for La Republica, in which he indicated that "the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. Results are forthcoming." Today there have been unconfirmed rumors of a partial mobilization of reserves in Syria, which, if true, may or may not be connected to the incident with the planes.

Meanwhile, Turkey is making inquiries of Israel with regard to fuel tanks dropped at its border with Syria. These, presumably, would be what the Syrians referred to as "munitions," but the tanks bear no Israeli identity. And while there has been inquiry, there has been no formal protest by Turkey.

And so, this all gets curiouser and curiouser . No information is forthcoming from the government, which refuses to acknowledge or deny that Israeli planes were in Syrian airspace. The only breach in the silence was from Israeli Minister Ghaleb Majadle, minister of culture and sports, who told an Arab newspaper in Nazareth on Friday that Israeli planes enter Syrian all space all of the time and this would not start a war. (He was then advised to refrain from further comment.)

Did Israel do something risky? Was this something routine that the Syrians are using to foment tensions or justify attack? Have no answers.

~~~~~~~~~~

As to what hit the news at the end of last week regarding the offer made by Ramon to Fayyad: It makes no sense with regard to the rights and the security of Israel, and is nothing short of obscene. On every issue except "return of refugees" -- which no government here could accede to -- the government seems to be caving.

Remember that famous (or infamous) letter given by Bush to Sharon before the "disengagement"? Sharon kept insisting that Bush was guaranteeing our right to retain major settlement blocs. There were those of us who didn't believe it. We were correct. The push from the US is to get us to accede to a plan that pushes us back to the Green Line. And so, because the government is making a bid to retain 3% - 8% of the land beyond the Green Line, where some major settlements are (with other major settlements projected to be dismantled), the government -- according to what Ramon proposed -- would also offer land WITHIN the Green Line to the Palestinians to compensate. As if we have no right to anything beyond the Green Line.

The Green Line was a temporary armistice line never intended to be permanent. In fact, the armistice agreement signed with Jordan in 1949 specifically says that the armistice line is not to prejudice subsequent talks on final borders.

Additionally, Resolution 242 in 1967 indicated that there should be withdrawal from lands taken, but not from ALL lands taken. The understanding was that we had a right to secure borders and that the Green Line (which Abba Eban called the "Auschwitz Border") was not a secure border for us.

World opinion not withstanding, Judea and Samaria is NOT Palestinian land. It is land that has no legally defined ownership -- unclaimed land from the period of the Mandate. And, it should be noted, Israel's claim to this land -- because of the Mandate and because it was taken by Israel in a defensive war -- is stronger than the Palestinian claim.

And yet, our government is playing along. The US wants to make the so-called "moderate" Arab states happy, and this is what is being demanded.

~~~~~~~~~~

With this, it should be noted (for the millionth time, and I'll note it for the billionth time if necessary) that the Palestinians don't have their act together. They are a terrorist entity without a civil infrastructure. Thus, even if (and I don't buy that "if") the Palestinians were entitled to a state, they wouldn't be entitled to it now. No government in its right mind accedes power to a terrorist entity at its border that is sworn to destroy it.

I'm speaking about Fatah here. Their charter calls for Israel's destruction.

This is without considering Hamas strength in Judea and Samaria -- with its 80,000 guns and plans to take over.

And yet our government, which is NOT in its right mind, is offering the PA territory and ultimately establishment of what would be a terrorist state.

There is a very dangerous game being played here. Olmert and company are alluding to this offer as only a "political horizon" -- offered in order to motivate the Palestinians to moderate and get their act together. Ostensibly, unless the PA came through on its part of the deal, we would have no obligations. Sounds good, but it is not realistic. It has been shown again and again that the world cuts the Palestinians slack. Once we commit to something, we would be pushed into giving it, even if Fatah didn't get its act together. Take a look at the Oslo process if you doubt this: Arafat never came through on any commitment and we kept doing more and more.

We are being warned by some very savvy analysts that we're going to be walking into a serious trap when we attend that conference.

Olmert and Ramon have already shown they themselves don't take seriously the need for the PA to deliver before receiving anything from us. Ramon has offered that "good faith" gesture. He says as soon as a deal is signed -- BEFORE the PA has delivered on anything -- we'll turn over three Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem to them. Does it get any crazier? To divide Jerusalem and put terrorists in charge of part of our city? To give it to a weak/terrorist-affiliated Abbas, who might be co-opted by Hamas?

~~~~~~~~~~

On this subject, I provide a link to an article "We've been warned," by Elyakim Haetzni, an attorney and former MK living in Kiryat Arba. It needs to be read.

http://www.israelforum.com/blog_article.php?aid=955845

~~~~~~~~~~

There is a major anti-terrorism conference in Herzliya at present. Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, in remarks at the conference opening last night, said:

"Now is not the time to discuss a permanent agreement with the Palestinians. After the [Hamas takeover] in Gaza, it's inappropriate to talk of a permanent agreement. The basic precondition for talks on a permanent agreement is a partner in these talks whom we know is solidly grounded.

"There isn't a chance to have a comprehensive permanent agreement under the existing conditions and anyone who thinks it's the way to go needs to open their eyes and stop dreaming."

When asked about what steps he thinks should be taken to strengthen Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he responded that "we don't need to think about how to mold them. We need to think of how to mold ourselves."

Well, mazel tov!

Dichter told the Post that the PA is surviving in Judea and Samaria because of IDF actions there. If the PA turns a blind eye to terrorist activities, he concluded, they could lose Judea and Samaria as they lost Gaza.

But, at the end of the day, Dichter is part of Kadima, and so, in spite of the clear-eyed vision he has on much of this issue, he slips at the end. When asked about Olmert-Abbas talks, which continue in spite of all he has described, he explained: "What is happening now is not a final status agreement but rather a temporary agreement. It is conditioned on processes that need to be carried out in the West Bank."

And I'm saying not to buy this: A so-called "temporary agreement" spells trouble. Once we commit, we'll be seen as tied into certain arrangements.

~~~~~~~~~~

And here's the trap: According to the Post, "PA Prime Minister Fayyad has just made a statement that the conference in November must produce an 'explicit agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian state,' as well as a binding timetable and international guarantees for the completion of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement."

Get us to agree to certain things , tie us to a "binding" timetable (binding = binding on us, not dependent on PA actions), and get international commitments so that there is plenty of pressure on us to follow through.

~~~~~~~~~~

Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa in Italy (most certainly for the same conference that brought the Syrian Vice President there) has, according to YNet, made a statement regarding the peace negotiations and the November conference. Everything can be on the table, he says, but the evacuation by Israel of the settlements must come first, i.e., before negotiations on the other issues in November.

If this is accurate, then it occurs to me that it creates what may be the necessary stumbling block. Even Olmert's government cannot evacuate the settlements by November. This has happened before: Israel offers concessions that are enormous, but they turn out to not be enough for the Arabs, who want it all. And, expecting to get it all, they get nothing.

~~~~~~~~~~

Abbas is due here in Jerusalem tomorrow to meet with Olmert again. Abbas associates say he will raise the issues of Jerusalem, refugees and borders. Olmert's spokeswoman said the "political horizon" would be discussed, along with economic and security issues. This is comes ahead of a planned visit by Condoleezza Rice, who is due here next week.

At the end of September the Quartet is to meet in Washington with members of the Arab League.

~~~~~~~~~~

Reports surfaced last week from Palestinian sources that members of the IDF working inside Gaza and disguised as Arabs captured Muhawesh al-Kadi, a senior Hamas terrorist directly involved with the Shalit kidnapping. Reportedly, they were then picked up by an IDF helicopter.

The IDF has denied the story.

~~~~~~~~~~

Last Thursday, the IDF and Shin Bet (Israeli Security) caught terrorists trying to smuggle a car bomb and several suicide bombers into Israel at the Kissufim crossing in central Gaza. Security forces intercepted the car, and blew it up, killing the seven terrorists who were inside.

Today, a Palestinian youth was caught at the Beit Iba checkpoint, near Nablus (Shechem), with three pipe bombs that were going to be used in a terror attack in Tel Aviv.

Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet is reporting that terror groups in Judea and Samaria are increasing their attempts to carry out terror attacks.

~~~~~~~~~~ Posting: September 7, 2007

"Syria and Gaza"

There was heightened tension in the north yesterday, as Syria claimed that Israeli planes had entered Syrian airspace, breaking the sound barrier and "dropping ammunition" in desert areas; there was no claim that Israel used ammunition; Syria said that its planes "confronted" the IDF planes.

Israel had no comment, but there was a feeling that with this incident, whatever it entailed, we were being brought closer to war.

Today Syria is saying that this won't bring war and that the planes had probably come to take photos. (In which case they wouldn't have been breaking sound barriers, would they have?)

So things are still tense, but not to the degree that was the case yesterday.

~~~~~~~~~~

The IDF has announced that it has everything in place and is ready for a major operation into Gaza; the forces have practiced. But at present there's no decision on the part of the Security Cabinet or Olmert to go ahead.

Haaretz says that Chief of Staff Ashkenazi is opposed to going ahead because of tensions along the border with Syria. A major operation in Gaza would require calling up reserves, and the holiday season is before us. According to this article, senior military sources said "Israel's position might change if a large number of casualties resulted from the Kassam fire."

The response to this by Aaron Lerner of IMRA seems a harsh indictment but is on the mark: "The IDF could act now before the Palestinians succeed in murdering a lot of Israeli civilians but that would require inconveniencing Israelis who would have to be called up to do reserve duty during the holiday season. So instead of taking the initiative - with the advantages associated with taking the initiative - it is better to give the Palestinians the opportunity to murder many Israeli civilians first."

We've seen this before. Jews have to die before a major action takes place: it provides a sort of "rationale" for attacking.

The major action is coming -- even Barak says so now. The question is when. Waiting brings with it several risks. A pre-emptive action would not only potentially save lives, it would stop the development and smuggling of increasingly sophisticated weaponry. The longer we wait the greater their capacity to hit targets inside of Israel, and tougher the battle will be when it comes.

~~~~~~~~~~

Haim Ramon. He was convicted recently of sexual impropriety, but not "moral turpitude.' Sorry I cannot explain precisely what this means, but being exonerated of "moral turpitude" permitted him to rejoin the government after his conviction. And what do you know? Olmert, our fine upstanding prime minister, appointed him as vice premier. Not only that, he made the point of saying he did so because Ramon was his friend, and now the world knows that Ehud Olmert doesn't forget his friends. Maybe not, but Olmert forgets a lot of other things, like how to protect our nation.

All of this is by way of a very angry introduction to news about what Ramon -- who clearly was appointed as Olmert's flunky -- has apparently now done.

According to YNet , Ramon has met with PA Prime Minister Fayyad to hammer out principles to be brought to that Bush-inspired international conference in November. It is said that he is offering:

"an Israeli withdrawal from nearly all of the West Bank, including the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, as part of a final peace deal . . . the border between Israel and the future Palestinian state [would] roughly follow the route of the separation fence leaving major Israeli settlement blocs and between 3 and 8 percent of the West Bank in Israel's hands.

"This means that Ariel and Maale Adumin [would] stay within Israeli area, while settlements like Karnei Shomron, Beit El, Ofra, the haredi of town Tel Zion and many other communities [would] be evacuated and their territory handed over to the Palestinians. (Parts of Gush Etzion would be turned over.)

"In return, Israel would cede the same amount of land [as that retained for settlement past the Green Line] inside Israel to the Palestinians." What is more, there might be a corridor between Gaza and Judea and Samaria.

"East Jerusalem [would] be divided among the two states and holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City [would] be under the control of the various religions and no national flags will be flown.

"The agreement [would] . . . require both sides to immediately implement stage A of the . . . road map: The Palestinians will disarm all armed groups in their territory, while Israel will withdraw its forces from the Palestinian towns and evacuate all illegal outposts."

What is more, according to YNet, "In his talks with the Palestinians, Ramon pledged that immediately after the agreement is signed, Israel would hand over to the Palestinian three eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, as [a] goodwill gesture."

Perhaps this most of all -- the suggestion of immediately compromising of Jerusalem -- makes my blood boil. A goodwill gesture??!!

~~~~~~~~~~

As I've said before, it's a long way from this sort of talk to a "done deal," and I continue to believe that deal will never come about. Palestinian Information Minister Riad Malki has denied that Ramon has even met with Fayyad or any other official. You see, the agreement doesn't permit any "refugees" into Israel and so is something the Palestinians cannot sign off on and get support for among the people.

And if there were even the remotest insistence on compliance, it would kill the deal because the Palestinians are never going to disarm armed groups in Judea and Samaria. Didn't we just learn that Hamas has 80,000 hidden weapons there??

But this is dangerous none-the-less. And sickening. That someone purporting to represent Israel should SUGGEST turning area over to the Palestinians when there are 80,000 weapons hidden by our enemies defies comprehension. Even someone who believes in principle that some day there should be a Palestinian state should know better. The lawyers reading this will forgive me, because I may be using the term improperly from a legal perspective, but for me, this represents morale turpitude of the worst sort. I see the hand of Bush and Rice here, big time.

I will follow this closely and make further analytical comments after Shabbat.

~~~~~~~~~~

As Rosh Hashana approaches, I would like to share with you a link to a site for a non-profit organization called Standing Together, which provides morale support to our soldiers. You can arrange through them to send a Shana Tova card to a soldier at: http://stogether.org/cards.html or learn more about the organization at http://www.stogether.org.

As I've demonstrated with stories in the past, they represent some of Israel's very finest. And letting Israel's soldiers know you care helps them keep their morale strong. Pass this information along, please. They are delighted to hear from people outside of Israel.

~~~~~~~~~~ Posting: September 4, 2007

"Folly"

Every time I assume that things are about as foolish as they can get, they become more so. Consider:

It was reported yesterday that Israel plans to file a complaint to the UN about the frequent Kassam attacks. Apparently Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman is going to speak to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and ask him to intervene to prevent these attacks.

The news release did not explain how Gillerman anticipates that Ban would be able to do this.

Remember UNSC Resolution 1701? That was the Olmert government's "diplomatic resolution" to the war in Lebanon last year, proudly supported by our foreign minister in lieu of the strongest possible military action against Hezbollah. The thousands of international troops put in place by this resolution have not impeded Hezbollah from re-building its arsenal. Yet we go to the UN again?

~~~~~~~~~~

And there's more. Last night Foreign Minister Tzipni Livni, speaking about "the peace process" at a Kadima event, explained that negotiations with Abbas would not reduce the Kassams. Said she (emphasis added): "I am a big believer in dialogue between us and the Palestinians. I'm a big believer in dialogue with a group that it is possible to conduct a dialogue with. That group does not control all of the PA territories."

How to read this? Abbas may be powerless, may be able to deliver on nothing. But hey! he's the only one in town who will have talks with us, so let's go for it.

~~~~~~~~~~

Here's more on just how powerless Abbas is:

The IDF has now determined that there are some 80,000 illegal weapons in the hands of terrorists in Judea and Samaria. Eighty-thousand. After all the talk of Abbas's security forces gathering up weapons or getting people to surrender them. These are being kept in homes or in hidden caches.

Defense officials now say Hamas is as strong as Fatah in Judea and Samaria and could pose a genuine threat to Abbas. Good morning everyone!

"They have weapons and explosives and , more importantly, they are highly motivated."

Right now they are in a "waiting" period , while they work on uniting small cells, with central hubs in Jenin and Nablus. Hamas tried to establish a force in Judea and Samaria like the Executive Force in Gaza, but was stopped by the IDF (and according to al Quds al Arabi in London, on one occasion also by Fatah). And so the Hamas focus turned to infiltrating the PA security forces.

The IDF Central Command is convinced that within months Hamas will try to take over PA security forces and institutions.

~~~~~~~~~~

The fear is that when a Hamas coup is attempted, Fatah people will collapse just as they did in Gaza, where they had four times as many men as Hamas.

This fear of a Fatah collapse has prompted our defense officials to oppose the Dayton plan for establishing five Fatah battalions in Judea and Samaria and giving them more weapons.

"It is not about manpower," one official said, "but about motivating the Fatah forces to want to fight and defend the PA."

Well, there's a sense of relief that at least our defense establishment has it right with regard to the Dayton plan.

But then there's this , which, unfortunately, in my opinion, qualifies as major foolishness: As an IDF official explains, "The security forces need to feel that they have a reason to fight. They need to feel like they have a better life to look forward to. Otherwise, they will not pose a challenge to Hamas."

To this end, the IDF is working with Abbas to find ways to motivate his men. So, for example, we may be easing travel restrictions in the coming weeks. But doing things like allowing them to travel more freely is not likely to motivate Fatah security forces. Not really. Abbas and his cronies are deeply hated by the people, with good reason. They are incredibly corrupt, stealing from the people and blocking opportunities for genuine economic advancement. Additionally, they have failed to establish and maintain a civil society; there is no sense of justice under the law.

I wrote recently about how Abbas is afraid to travel to Palestinian cities for fear of assassination. Are his security forces going to give him their best, even putting their lives on the line for him?

~~~~~~~~~~

The IDF doesn't address this, because it's a political and not a military issue, but Olmert and Livni's goal of providing a "political horizon" -- showing what the people can get in the future if they renounce terrorism -- is part of the same rationale. And just as foolish, for several reasons.

First, there is no evidence that what most of the Palestinian people want is a "two state solution" with a viable Israel at their border and cessation of all hostilities. What they want, in the main, is our destruction. (Plans for a two-state solution are seen as a stage toward weakening us.) Many in Israel and the West are either ignorant of, or choose to ignore, the fact that the Fatah charter calls for Israel's destruction via violent resistance. Nor do those promoting "peace" deal realistically with the continuing incitement that exists in the PA, especially in textbooks that have taught a generation now to venerate "jihad." They have no intention of surrendering their "terrorist option" in exchange for what we offer.

Then there are further problems. No "political horizon" that we would offer meets even the minimal (stage one) demands of the Palestinians -- which include control of Jerusalem and return of the "refugees." And so, whatever we propose seems unfair and grudging to them -- we (the interlopers and occupiers) are seen to be taking too much for ourselves and expecting them to settle for too little. They do not perceive the need for real give and take with mutual concessions.

As well, there is this: A Palestinian state that is much like the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority does not offer the people hope for a good life. The same problems would exist -- corruption, lack of a civil society, etc.

Very few of the people who push the idea that we should make advance concessions to the Palestinians -- imagining that we can thus motivate them to genuine moderation -- are willing to confront the cold, hard truth: we don't have a negotiating partner and a Palestinian state would be a huge mistake. The Palestinians do not have their act together. We cannot "motivate" them to get it together, we cannot "fix" them from the outside.

Then, too, it is extremely unwise to raise expectations prematurely. It is, in fact, dangerous. For the Palestinians will have been given some promise that we will be making certain concessions. They won't genuinely moderate and dismantle terrorist infrastructure. And yet -- losing sight of their responsibility to the situation -- they will begin to feel enormous frustration if what was "promised" in that "political horizon" (say, for example, absolute control of the Temple Mount) is not immediately forthcoming. Frustration will lead to anger. Increasingly they will resort to terrorism to get us to back down. We've seen this before.

And most dangerous of all, this : Once we've committed to certain concessions on paper, with the proviso that the Palestinians have to do their part before we can fulfill our promises, we are in a sense committed. The world cuts the Palestinians slack and ultimately we would be expected to move ahead at some level anyway.

(Of course, if Hamas successfully co-opts Fatah in Judea and Samaria, the entire scenario likely shifts.)

~~~~~~~~~~

Please see Hillel Halkin's article in the NY Sun, "Summit of Weaklings," which addresses issues I raise here.

"The Olmert government," says Halkin, "is walking, with eyes wide open, into a potential diplomatic trap.

" . . . For a country that has been an independent state in the Middle East for 50 years, Israel still acts like a European tourist in an Arab souk [market]. Do that and the local merchants will always fleece you."

http://www.nysun.com/article/61851

~~~~~~~~~~

I mentioned the other day that Abbas has assigned the Jerusalem portfolio to one Adnan Husseini, which certainly indicates that Abbas expects Jerusalem to be on the table in negotiations with Olmert.

One of Husseini's first tasks, it has been reported, is to convince Israel to re-open Orient House and other Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem. Orient House -- owned by the prestigious Husseini family to which Adnan belongs -- served as an unofficial PLO mission/headquarters following Oslo; it rings all sorts of bells for many of us because it was used blatantly for meetings that were illegal under Oslo. PM Binyamin Netanyahu had it shut down in 2001.

Jerusalem's mayor, Uri Lupolianski , has now voiced his opposition to opening of Orient House, saying that it will harm the legitimacy of Israeli sovereignty in the city.

That is Abbas's intention, is it not?

~~~~~~~~~~

Defense Minister Barak is looking into the idea of mobile checkpoints in Judea and Samaria to replace some of the stationary ones. This, he indicates, would provide on-going security while allowing the Palestinians greater mobility. This plan cannot be put into place, however, until a sufficient number of troops are trained to use this new method.

~~~~~~~~~~

Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has approved plans for purchasing sophisticated new equipment for ground, air and navy forces. This equipment will include new Merkava Tanks and sophisticated APCs (armored personnel carriers). The Air Force will acquire F-35 aircraft, a multi-role stealth strike fighter, and the Navy new military boats.

~~~~~~~~~~

According to a website of the armed branch of Hamas, Hamas is insisting on 1,000 prisoners who are serving long sentences, to be released in three stages, in return for Shalit. Israel is said to be objecting both to some of the names and the timing of the releases.

~~~~~~~~~~

It has been discovered that Islamic Jihad is responsible for the barrage of rockets hitting Sderot and the surrounding area. An emergency security situation has been called for the region for a period of 48 hours. There is talk of specifically targeting Islamic Jihad people, and possibly of doing some cut-off of water and electricity into Gaza.

The IDF is saying that it is inevitable that a major action will have to be instituted, and now opposition head Binyamin Netanyahu is calling for the same.

~~~~~~~~~~ Posting: September 3, 2007

"Those Outposts"

The issue of dismantlement of outposts that are being variously termed "unauthorized" and "illegal" has garnered considerable attention at present for several reasons.

A ministerial committee on unauthorized outposts is looking into the legality of some 100 outposts and says it hopes to complete its work within three months -- just in time (surprise!) for the Bush-initiated international conference on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This committee is being chaired by Olmert flunky Vice Premier Haim Ramon. Ramon says it is not within the jurisdiction of his committee to decide what gets dismantled, but rather that this should be decided by Olmert and/or Barak.

There is talk of Defense Minister Barak giving an order before very long with regard to dismantlement of some 26 outposts.

The move to remove outposts is predicated on a promise that was given to the US gov't by the Sharon gov't in 2004. There was a letter from Dov Weisglass, chief Sharon aide, to Condoleezza Rice, who was then National Security Advisor, regarding the removal of unauthorized outposts. But the definition of "unauthorized" was not provided and is far more complicated than most people realize.

Do not imagine, please, that there are some settlements that "have permission" to exist, and others that flatly do not. The setting up of settlements is a bureaucratic process that is extremely complicated. Multiple authorizations are required -- likely involving (I am providing general examples only here) proof of land ownership, permission from the water authority and agreement from the electrical authority, construction of a road to the site by the proper agency, permission from the housing authority to bring in concrete trucks, etc. etc. All settlements have followed these procedures, and even those that are now deemed thoroughly "legal" went through this process one step at a time.

The overwhelming majority of outposts considered to be potentially "unauthorized" have at least some documents and some authorization from agencies within the Israeli government! The decision to label a new settlement as "unauthorized" is as much political as it is legal. This has been explained to me by a top-flight Israeli lawyer. It would be just as possible to determine that the land is legally owned by the Jews involved and that a number of authorizations are already in place, and to thus decide that the settlement should be deemed "kosher" and permitted to proceed, as to say that such and such a piece of paper is not in place and so the venture is "unauthorized."

MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu), who is also a member of the committee, argues that that body and not either Olmert or Barak should have the final say on what gets evacuated. Reflecting what I've explained here, he said, "You have to understand, it's impossible to establish any outposts without some kinds of state help."

Pushing for agreements with the settlers, he insisted, "This is not the time for internal disagreements and struggles. He considers the forced evacuation of up to 7,000 settlers to be "mission impossible" and charges those who are promoting this with seeking to garner political gain.

Why is there movement towards dismantlement now? Because the US is pressuring Olmert, who aims to please. The American gov't is declaring itself happy that at least some attention is being given to the matter. Once the political echelon gives the OK on this some weeks down the road, it is anticipated that action might follow within weeks thereafter.

~~~~~~~~~~

What for me is sickening is this: The army is drawing up final plans, and awaiting orders to proceed. One high level army official said they are anticipating "extreme violence."

This is what we need now, right? Jew against Jew again. Thousands of soldiers being trained and dispatched to pull Jews out of their homes, when those Jews don't want to go. I've raised the issue before with regard to Hevron and it applies here as well -- just as it applied to Gush Katif. This is not the job of the army. It demoralizes our troops. The IDF is supposed to defend Jews, not take them on.

Yet the IDF, which is being prepared for this, is not being utilized by Olmert as it should be to defend our people (see below). Our prime minister's priorities are shameful.

I note here that in most democracies in the world -- or perhaps all other democracies, but I hesitate to be so absolute -- it is illegal to use the army in an action against the civilian population; this sort of action is reserved for police. The reason -- totally aside from concerns about demoralizing troops who need to be strong for defense -- is concern about the possibilities of a coup. The army only defends the nation, nothing else.

~~~~~~~~~~

About the failure of Olmert to use the IDF with strength where it should be used: We are looking at Sderot.

School started in this Negev city bordering Gaza yesterday. It started with considerable angst being expressed by parents about the safety of their children being sent to school.

Yesterday two Kassam were fired from Gaza. Today, seven Kassams were shot towards Sderot. The children found themselves under fire. One alarm went off while the children were on their way to school and they had to scurry to get to shelters; they began their day in hysterics. One rocket landed near a day care center; 12 toddlers and babies -- some terrified to the point of shock -- had to be evacuated.

Now parents, who are furious at not having their children protected, have decided to keep them home. Batya Katar, head of the Sderot Parents Association, said all 2,500 of the town's students would be taken out of school.

~~~~~~~~~~

What should Olmert be doing?

Above and beyond anything else, he should be giving the order for the major operation in Gaza that the Southern Command of the IDF has trained for and is itching to do. What sort of head of government allows attack on the nation's civilian population -- on its children!! -- without declaring war?

What was done? Well, 200 soldiers were dispatched when school began, to accompany students to school. And attack helicopters hovered all day, while the IDF struck at some launchers.

Intoned Olmert: "We will not put up with this attack. The IDF has been instructed to destroy all launchers and target anyone involved in the attacks."

Not enough.

Olmert even had the nerve to refer to large sums of money spent on fortification of the schools. The reality is that the High Court -- in response to a parents' petition -- had ordered the State to fortify the nine schools in Sderot, but only four have been fortified in total (with lower grades protected in all). The government has requested and received a 21 day extension to respond to the order. Said Olmert: "This is a government decision and we will not fortify ourselves senseless." Senseless?

~~~~~~~~~~

I would like to return here to the issue of the up-coming international conference and its prospects for forging a Palestinian state. Some rumors have us on the edge establishing that state.

However Olmert is attempting to play down expectations . In the course of comments about Sderot, he also said that his meetings with Abbas have been "very interesting and meaningful," but that they were not ready to put anything into writing yet. He wasn't sure if they would be able to draft a document before November, "but we will try."

This, of course, flies in the face of the claims, leaked from the Palestinian side, that a deal had already been drafted on paper.

Abbas is also indicating that there is no written agreement yet -- or at least no agreement that encompasses all issues. At a press conference yesterday, he said, "We are concerned that November 15 will come - if this will indeed be the date for this international conference - without arriving at a specific agreement on all the issues, and that this meeting will be described as a failure."

But Abbas -- whose goal is not playing down expectations but rather pushing things along -- carried it one step further: "We need a framework agreement with a timeline for implementation."

In his dreams, a timeline for implementation , when he cannot deliver on anything. My take here is that he's in an enormous rush to sign a done deal before he is taken down by Hamas. He has no time. And he's quite worried.

~~~~~~~~~~

To illustrate precisely how "iffy" prospects of an agreement on peace are, I offer the following:

An article in Haaretz today indicates that Olmert's attempts to establish an agreement on principles before the conference are generating discontent within Olmert's own Kadima party.

"According to party sources , a number of MKs and ministers have raised concern that Olmert is proceeding without sufficient backing inside Kadima, which they warn may pose a threat to the party's future.

"Among the Kadima MKs and ministers who have expressed concern, mostly over press reports on developments in the Olmert-Abbas talks, are MK Marina Solodkin, MK David Tal, MK Otniel Schneller, MK Ze'ev Elkin, MK Shaim Hermesh, and Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter."

One unnamed Kadima source said , "This could be dynamite inside the party and bring about divisions. This could be just like after the disengagement for Likud. The implication for the Prime Minister leading along a path that does not go through his party can be disastrous. He needs to take into account that there is opposition inside Kadima. We are not Meretz [a very left wing party]."

In addition to this, Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu), who is part of the coalition, has expressed his party's objections to the talks.

~~~~~~~~~~

According to a Palestinian news agency , PA (Fatah) Preventive Security officers in Judea and Samaria say they have abducted members of Hamas who have confessed that they have a revolutionary plan: "The leaders of Hamas want to transfer the 'Black Power' experience from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank." I.e., they want to take over PA areas of Judea and Samaria.

It is not for nothing that Abbas feels he has no time to spare.

Meanwhile, Hamas has denied this (of course), saying Fatah tortured their men to extract these false confessions.

~~~~~~~~~~

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WHO GAVE THE ISRAELI ARMY THE ORDER TO DEFILE A SYNAGOGUE AND TO DESTROY AN ENTIRE NEIGHORHOOD?
David Bedein


Imagine, if you would, if the Israeli army had destroyed a mosque and an entire neighborhood after expelling two Arab families whom the IDF had determined to be squatters. There would be an international uproar.

It will now be instructive to see what will transpire following the Israeli army's destruction of a synagogue, following eviction of two Jewish families whom the IDF had defined as "squatters"

The background is well known: . When the Jewish community of Hebron was renewed during the 1980's, leaders of the Jewish community made an effort to return Jewish property to the Jewish community. The market place once again became a thriving Jewish community

Yet the newly renewed Hebron Jewish market place community was not without its tragedies. A two year old girl, Shalhevet Pass, was killed by a Palestinian sharpshooter from a nearby hill, and the community was named for Shalhevet. Their the synagogue and study hall were also named in her memory.

However, the Peace Now movement, acting with a legal team financed with funds received from the Norwegian, Finnish, British and German governments, brought a legal action to demand that the Jewish community of the renewed Shalhevet neighborhood be removed,. since this Jewish community had no direct connection with the Jewish community that had dwelled there before 1929*.

While the Israel Hgh Court of Justice deliberated on the PEACE NOW litigation, families in the Shalhevet community were asked to leave eighteen months ago, while court proceedings continued. The Israel army commander told the families that they would be permitted to return to their homes in "reasonable amount of time"

After eighteen months passed, some of the families became impatient.

Two families moved back into their homes in the Shalhevet neighborhood. On August 7th, 2007, when the two Jewish families would not leave, the Israel Ministry of Defense ordered the Israeli army to move in 3,000 troops to facilitate the forced evacuation of the two families.

After a four hour struggle, during which hundreds of Jewish demonstrators tried to block the Israeli army from moving out the two families, the IDF indeed removed the two families. Their removal was reported. What was not reported was that the IDF also dispatched a demolition squad to destroy the Shalhevet community and the Shalhevet synagogue. When this reporter visited the Shalhevet neighborhood in Hebron the day after the evacuation of these two families, all of the electricity wires and all the water pipes had been removed from all of the homes and from the synagogue. The synagogue was defiled completely and emptied of its tables, prayer stalls and holy ark.

For the past month, the Bulletin has been asking the Israeli army a simple question: Under what authority did the Israeli army destroy the Shalhevet neighborhood and the Shalhevet synagogue?. The answer that the Bulletin received from the Israeli army spokesperson's office was the entire neighborhood was "occupied by squatters", including the synagogue. However, that is not what the Israeli court had determined and that was not what had been written in the "order of the day" given to the Israeli army, which was only to remove two families who had been defined by the Israeli army as squatters, despite the fact that they had simply returned to the homes that they had lived in for three years. Each of these families had eight children.

Meanwhile, both Israeli law and international law protect the sanctity of places of worship, and that would prohibit the Israeli army from destroying a place of study and worship.

Meanwhile, defiling a place of worship is defined by the law in Israel as a felony, which carries a seven year jail sentence with it

An event was held on Monday night in honor of Israeli soldiers who would not take part in the destruction of the Shalhevet neighborhood and the Shalhevet synagogue.

Under Israeli military law, a soldier is allowed to refuse an order if his conscience has determined that the order given to the soldier is an illegal order.

According to Professor Nahum Rackover,. Israel's former Deputy Attorney General, an individual has a legal obligation to disobey an obviously illegal order.

Conducting a taped interview with Prof. Rackover at his home two years ago, Rackover referred to a section of the Israeli Military Code (no.125, enacted in 1955) which states that " IDF Soldiers have no obligation to fulfill a command that is obviously illegal". Rackover noted that Israeli military courts have repeatedly placed individual responsibility on soldiers who failed to act accordingly (The most famous case was the 1957 incident in which IDF troops were convicted of following an illegal order to fire on a busload of workers from Cfar Kassam during a curfew at the time of the Suez campaign was cited as the most well known example in this regard. Every IDF soldier who participated in the incident was convicted of following what constituted an "illegal order").

At the event in honor of Israeli soldiers who refused the orders to destroy the Shalhevet neighborhood and synagogue, an Israeli lawyer from Haifa, Attorney Aviad Visoli, announced that he had filed a suit against the Israeli army and Israel Ministry of Defense, to demand that the Israeli commanders who oversaw the destruction of the Shalhevet synagogue be prosecuted to the full extent of the law Visoli filed his case on Tuesday, the day before the Jewish New Year.

*The marketplace in the Old Jewish Quarter of Hebron was built in the ruins of vandalized Jewish homes that were destroyed during the 1929 Arab pogrom against the Hebron Jewish community an attack which caused the entire Jewish community of Hebron to leave Hebron, until a Jewish community returned to the city of Hebron in 1970. The Jordanians, who assumed control over Hebron after the British left Palestine in 1948, treated the Jewish owned property, including the market place, as "confiscated enemy property" and allowed the ruins of the Jewish community of Hebron to be used as a market place, which also meant that animals were permitted to graze in the ruins of the ancient synagogues, Jewish seminaries and Jewish cemeteries that had also been vandalized

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