Saturday, December 02, 2006
IDF officials claim that despite the supposed cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, weapons smuggling was cotinuing in the Rafah and Philadelphi Corridor areas, Army Radio reported on Friday.
Nevertheless, the Security Cabinet will convene on Sunday to discuss extending the Gaza Strip cease-fire to the West Bank. Security officials are expected to present their findings about the continued weapons smuggling and for the continuation of IDF operations in the West Bank.
A senior security official told Israel Radio that if the IDF ceased its arrest operations, the Palestinian organizations would reestablish the terror cells in short order and would perpetrate terror attacks on Israeli targets. The official's remarks came after two Kassam rockets were fired early Friday morning at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip.
...Meanwhile, violent clashes continued Thursday evening and overnight between IDF forces and Palestinians. An IDF soldier was lightly wounded and an armed Palestinian killed overnight Thursday near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. An armed Palestinian threw a Molotov cocktail at soldiers on duty near the cave, wounding one, and continued to approach the troops after he was ordered to stop. The soldiers opened fire and killed him. A Magen David Adom ambulance evacuated the wounded soldier to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.
Overnight, IDF soldiers arrested 29 Palestinian fugitives throughout the West Bank. All the suspects were detained for interrogation. In addition, soldiers patrolling along the Egyptian border arrested three unarmed infiltrators south of Mount Sagi. The three were taken in for questioning.
On Thursday night, a Palestinian youth was killed and two others wounded by IDF fire in the West Bank village of Kfar Bita, near Nablus, Palestinian sources reported. The youth who was killed was identified as Shadi Nayif, 15, who had been throwing rocks at the troops. According to the report, the IDF was still operating in the village.
The PLO's Executive Committee called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Friday to exercise his powers in order to resolve the political crisis in the Palestinian Authority.
The Committee had apparently referred to the president's authority to dissolve the government. The Committee also called on Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to resign his post, in order to pave the way for the establishment of a national unity government. The Executive Committee held a special meeting to address the dead-end in negotiations over a unity government, and estimates that such a government is not likely to be formed, given the current situation in the PA.
Committee members said that Haniyeh must resign before contacts between Hamas and Fatah are resumed.
'Hamas behind stalled talks' A statement issued by the Committee declared that the failure to establish a unity government stems from obstacles placed by Hamas, which insisted on having the next government affiliated, predominately, with Hamas. "The organization's (Hamas') demands would not allow for a lifting of the economic blockade imposed on the Palestinian Authority, since there is no clear commitment by the organization to recognize previously-signed treaties with Israel and the Arab peace initiative," the statement read.
...Hamas members accuse Fatah of attempting to stage a coup d'etat against the Palestinian government, while Fatah claims that Hamas was refusing to compromise. "We were willing to concede the Foreign and Finance portfolios, as long as people accepted by the international community are appointed to the posts, in order to regain the financial support for the Authority. But Hamas rejected any compromise, and all they did was try stalling for time," a Fatah official charged.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Aide: Abbas to deliver ‘momentous speech’ Hamas, Fatah continue to play blame-game but both sides admit no more hope left for unity gov't. Abbas associates: President is exhausted, may resign soon
After Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Thursday that the efforts to establish a unity government in the Palestinian Authority have reached a deadlock, sources close to him said he may reach a number of far-reaching decisions on the matter in the coming days.
Abbas is expected to convene the representatives of the Palestinian factions and the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee members on Friday to update them on the failing talks with Hamas. The president’s advisor, Saeb Erekat, said Abbas is set to deliver a ‘momentous speech’ that will be broadcast to the entire Palestinian population, during which he will speak of the failed unity government negotiations. Sources close to Abbas said he is exhausted and saddened by the deadlock.
In the past it was said that the president may go as far as using his authority top dissolve the Hamas-controlled government and parliament. “He is refraining from doing so because he does not want to lead the Palestinian street toward confrontation,” one source said. “However, Abbas feels that he must pull the Palestinian carriage from the mud, or else he may consider resigning soon.”
'Hamas wasn't willing to compromise'
The head of the Fatah faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, Azzam el-Ahmed, blamed Hamas for ‘putting political interests before national ones.' “The Rais (Abbas) must use his authority to find a speedy solution to the crisis, because Hamas is only interested in remaining in power; the Palestinian nation’s hunger does not interest them,” he said.
Hamas, on the other hand, blamed el-Ahmed and his fellow Fatah members for ‘planning a coup’ in the Authority and thwarting efforts to establish a unity government. Senior Hamas officials, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, accused Fatah of backing out of understandings already existing between both sides regarding the formation of a unity government and thereby delaying its formation.
A Fatah official told Ynet in response to the allegations that Hamas representatives refused to show any compromise throughout the unity talks, and insisted on keeping the important portfolios for Hamas. "We were willing to yield the foreign affairs and treasury ministries, as long as those positions would be held by figures that will be accepted by the international community, so that financial support to the PA will be resumed.
"But Hamas wasn't willing to compromise; they were just trying to stall so that the calm would ease the pressure on Hamas and give them legitimacy both in the world and within the internal-Palestinian arena. If they really wanted to close a deal, it could have been achieved many months ago, within a few hours."
Thursday, November 30, 2006
GAZA (Reuters) - Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal's latest remarks on conditions for peace in the Middle East did not signal any change in the Islamist group's fundamental refusal to accept the existence of the state of Israel, analysts said.
"Hamas believes the presence of Israel is something that is not permanent ... and it is possible that in the end, it can be contained within a Palestinian state," said Mustafa Assawaf, a Palestinian expert on Islamist groups.
At a Cairo news conference on Saturday, Meshaal challenged the United States and Europe to work in the next six months for Middle East peace based on a withdrawal by Israel to its pre-1967 borders, or face a third Palestinian uprising.....
...Hamas's charter goes further, calling for the creation of a single Islamic state on land that includes present-day Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Meshaal, though based in Damascus, calls the shots for the movement in the Palestinian territories, which means that he signed off on the Hamas-backed ceasefire that went into effect in the Gaza Strip on Sunday.
His call for a return to the frontiers held before the 1967 conflict raised questions over whether he was implying a willingness to accept a Jewish state within those boundaries.
Not so, said Israeli analyst Matti Steinberg.
Hamas maintains that Israel was created on Muslim territory, and its charter forbids it to make concessions over holy land which belongs to Islam, Steinberg said. "Meshaal wants only to reduce the siege. He is not saying peace with Israel, he is saying peace without Israel," he said.
Assawaf too sees Meshaal's offer as a tactical move rather than a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meshaal was offering a long-term truce with Israel that could pave the way for several years of stability in the Middle East in return for a Western push toward creation of a Palestinian state, Assawaf said. "Meshaal wanted to say that accepting Hamas's offer would let the region live in transitional calm, but that this would not come about if the world rejected a Palestinian state in lands Israel occupied in 1967," he said. Looking further ahead, Assawaf predicted that Hamas would never recognize Israel "even if the temptation was world recognition and a (Palestinian) state".
....Emad Gad, senior researcher on Israel at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, believes Hamas will tell its supporters a state limited to the West Bank and Gaza would be only a step toward liberating land inside Israel. "But I think if they accept this solution, it will be the permanent solution," Gad said. "I think they will have this article (calling for Israel's destruction) in their charter for 10 years -- but after that this article will be finished." Mohammed al-Sayed Said, deputy director of the same al-Ahram Center, also believes Hamas could recognize Israel, but only at a later stage and in the framework of peace negotiations. "If we read Palestinian interpretations right, it means Hamas is willing to concede on this issue of recognizing Israel but as part of negotiations so that they get something in return. In a way, it is a negotiating tactic," Said said.
But Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri said: "The two-state solution is not on Hamas's agenda. We are speaking of constant rights for the Palestinians and of temporary solutions." "We will not recognize Israel even if we were offered the world in return," he added....
(Additional reporting by Talal Malik in Cairo)
In a briefing to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Tuesday, Lt.-Gen Dan Halutz reported that the heads of government had scarcely consulted the IDF before accepting the Palestinian offer of a partial truce.
The Palestinians tried to stretch the Gaza Strip ceasefire and apply it to the West Bank, but “we snapped this equation,” Halutz said.
He also reported that the flow of war materiel from Syria to the Lebanese Hizballah continues at full spate.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
In 1995 the Union of Jewish Students...ran a groundbreaking educational project to mark 50 years since the end of the Holocaust....The idea was to learn every day for 50 days - a day for a year- in memory of a person that perished in the Holocaust. Remembering the past to build the future. .... The project was an unprecedented success, and had an incredible effect on many who were involved
....Following this, we launched 60 days for 60 years worldwide on January 25th 2006, 60 years since the liberation of Auschwitz....
The success .... has led to the project being renamed '60 Days for 6 Million'. ....[a]book has been produced with 60 questions and ideas about Judaism by renowned Jewish historians, educators and philosophers from around the world. This powerful book will provide inspirational thoughts on Torah ideas and concepts vital to Jewish life today...
.... This project has the potential to make a real impact on hundreds of thousands of people across the world. It has already generated a huge global interest ....
...Tehran, which disputes that Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis, is to hold a conference next month to allow historians to clarify what its Foreign Ministry not so diplomatically called last night "hidden angles" of the murder of six million people.
...The move came only hours after Mr Ahmadinejad hosted a visit by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, amid calls in the US and Britain to recruit Iran and fellow pariah state Syria to quell the violence in Iraq.
Iran's fiercely anti-Israeli regime supports so-called Holocaust revisionists, such as jailed British historian David Irving, who maintain that the systematic slaughter by the Nazis of mainland Europe's Jews and other groups during World War II was either invented or exaggerated.
...Topics include "anti-Semitism, Nazism and Zionism: collaboration or animosity; the concept of Holocaust and its roots; views of revisionists; (and) denial or admittance of gas chambers".
"The laws against those who deny Holocaust and killing of the Palestinians" will also be discussed.....
Mr Ahmadinejad...has prompted international anger by dismissing the Holocaust as a "myth" used to justify the creation of Israel. ...Iranian officials said ... that Palestinians were the indirect victims of the Nazis' killing of six million Jews during World War II. "Palestinians have been victim of a deceptive history by Zionists," Iranian Culture Minister Hossein Saffar Harandi was quoted as saying by conservative newspaper Kayhan.....
AIR FORCE ONE: The conflict in Iraq had entered a new phase, steeped in sectarian violence, the White House conceded yesterday as US President George W. Bush began a flurry of diplomacy before tonight's crucial summit with embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
From Air Force One, en route to Estonia and a NATO summit in Latvia, Mr Bush spoke yesterday with the leaders of France and Egypt about a wider Middle East peace settlement.
There is growing speculation that the US will seek to convene a regional conference on the future of Iraq, which would involve Saudi Arabia - visited by Vice-President Dick Cheney at the weekend - as well as key states such as Egypt and Jordan, where Mr Bush will meet Mr Maliki tonight.
US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said on board Air Force One: "We're clearly in a new phase, characterised by this increasing sectarian violence. That requires us, obviously, to adapt to that new phase." He did not go into detail.
....Mr Bush will head to Amman, Jordan, for talks overnight and tomorrow with Mr Maliki and King Abdullah of Jordan. Mr Hadley rejected suggestions that Iraq had already spiralled into a civil war and said it was unlikely Mr Bush would address with the Iraqi leader the issue of any US troop withdrawals. "We're not at the point where the President is going to be in a position to lay out a comprehensive plan," Mr Hadley said.
Mr Bush would seek to reassure his Iraqi counterpart that it was still the White House driving policy on Iraq's future. Asked if Syria and Iran would be involved in talks, as former secretary of state James Baker's commission on Iraq is expected to recommend, Mr Hadley suggested it was Iraq that should take the lead in any negotiations with its neighbours.
Mr Baker's Iraq Study Group began two days of intensive behind-closed-doors deliberations yesterday. Addressing the sectarian problem by engaging Iraq's neighbours, notably Iran and Syria, is an idea gaining favour within the 10-member, bipartisan group, which is in the final phase of its eight-month search for a new policy. But the panel was still deeply divided over recommendations going into its meeting.
The group, led by Mr Baker and former Democrat congressman Lee Hamilton, hopes to issue its recommendations before Congress adjourns next month....
A SIMULATION exercise in which Year 11 students played Arabs and Israelis has been dropped by NSW schools after parents complained it was creating racial tension and painted terrorists in a sympathetic light.
An inquiry by a senior Education Department officer found the simulation exercise, devised by Macquarie University's centre for Middle Eastern studies, risked creating disharmony in schools and the community and that there was a "significant risk" of harm to the "welfare and wellbeing of students from particular minorities".
... background notes presented to the students gave positive descriptions of groups such as Hamas's Qassam Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Students were not told the groups are listed terrorist organisations and support for them is an offence under Australian law.
The profile of Hezbollah accurately said that its long-term aims were to rid Palestine of the Jewish population and create an Arab state but no mention was made of its terrorist activities, only philanthropic ones.
A profile of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was presented without mention of his sponsorship of international terrorism. Rather, his goal was listed as trying "to bring the internet to Syria".
Parents complained that students feared being marked down if they did not agree with the dominant anti-Israeli, anti-Western polemic.
The schools simulation is being run by Andrew Vincent, who runs the Macquarie University centre for Middle Eastern studies and was recently criticised in federal parliament for alleged anti-Israel bias. Mr Vincent said he devised the program to help students "work out the passions" of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Asked why the high school simulation was stopped this year, Mr Vincent said: "The allegation was made that we were training terrorists."
He said it was a pity that the simulations were no longer being run at high school and has apparently approached the NSW Education Department to see whether the program might be run next year.
A Jewish education expert who observed an exercise at Killara High School on Sydney's North Shore said some Jewish students sat together for support and were too intimidated to speak as other students voiced anti-Israeli opinions in terms critical of individual students. NSW Jewish Board of Deputies education committee chair Susi Brieger reported that the divisions continued in the playground after the class.
The NSW Deputy Director-General Schools, Trevor Fletcher, said that although the report into the simulation exercise was completed before last year's riots on the Sydney beach of Cronulla, he would be even more concerned about the potential for inter-ethnic tension in the wake of those events.
The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies contacted the NSW Department of Education in June 2004 after it was contacted by parents of students at Killara High School who were participating in the exercise.
In a submission to the Education Department late last year, the Jewish Board of Deputies said the support material provided by Dr Vincent to schools comprised "unsupported and prejudicial partisan opinion without even elementary historical context" and depicted terrorist organisations in "sympathetic terms". The board said that the character profiles of Israeli/Jewish characters were, with one exception, unsympathetic whereas terrorists were depicted favourably and with empathy.
The profile of Hamas said it was founded by the crippled cleric Sheik Ahmed Yassin "who fell victim to a targeted assassination carried out by Israeli helicopter gunships", without mentioning the dozens of suicide-bombing attacks that Yassin had ordered against Israeli civilians. The profile said Hamas supported "a community of schools, mosques, health clinics and even sports leagues".
International lawyer, former university lecturer and expert on the Arab Israeli conflict David Knoll, who was allowed to give a presentation to the students to provide some balance, said: "The students engaged in the simulation exercise without being given even the most basic historical context. If they had at least completed the Year 12 Arab Israeli history module they would have a balanced historical framework for the exercise." According to the board, the material provided by Mr Vincent was not only biased but "riddled with grammatical, syntactical and spelling errors"......
...and from The Australian Editorial, 29/11/06 ....
... a simulation exercise used in a Sydney school presented conflict in the Middle East from a militant Palestinian perspective. As a way of inciting ill-informed anger among young people against one side in an immensely complex conflict, this is a winner. But as an exercise in education, it is hard to imagine anything worse.
Before students can argue about the Middle East they need to learn the 20th-century history of the region. They need to be aware the British ran much of the region between the wars. They need to know the basic facts and dates of the way the Israelis fought for independence, the way the surrounding states sought to destroy Israel and the way ordinary Palestinians are now caught between Islamic terrorists and the Israeli forces. And they need to grasp that the Palestinian cause is now divided between people who want to make the best deal they can with Israel and fanatics who believe they are divinely directed to kill Jews.
In this, as in every other area of study, it is the job of schools to teach the facts and interpretive skills students need to make up their own minds. It is not their job to indoctrinate young people in some sort of party line that suits the political style of the teacher union leaders, who still see the world through the prism of the counter-culture of the 1960s, which blamed the West for all that was wrong in the world.
We are now at a stage where children are being taught an interpretation of the past as if it were fact - the very thing the education apparatchiks always argue they oppose. To portray the European settlers of Australia, or the Israelis for that matter, as invaders, as if the evidence was irrefutable, ensures school students will argue before they have all the evidence.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
JERUSALEM - Israel and the Palestinians pulled back from full-scale war in Gaza on Sunday (Nov. 26), agreeing to a “ceasefire” agreement that officials here say may end up being nothing less than a prelude to full war.
The various heads of Israeli military and domestic intelligence have been warning that Palestinian terrorists are keen to attack in the spring or summer in tandem with Iranian-supported Hizballah units from Lebanon, where Israel fought this summer. Meanwhile, continuing Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel hint at an unstable ceasefire.
....Ten Palestinian Qassam rockets were fired at Israel Sunday morning and several more on Monday —some by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists and some by members of the Fatah organization run by Mahmoud Abbas....
...Many Israelis seem confused about the ceasefire and what it may mean ...“What we are seeing here is ...the beginning of Israeli recognition of Hamas,” observed Alon Ben-David, military correspondent for Israel Television Channel 10......
....Mushir Al-Masri, a spokesman for Hamas declared yesterday that his organization had not promised to stop smuggling or making weapons or building fortifications, and several other organizations said they would not desist as well. “At least four Palestinian groups aligned with the Hamas-led PA said they won’t honor the ceasefire,” observed Steve Rodan, the Arabic-speaking director of Middle East Newsline (http://menewsline.com/). “They include the Popular Resistance Committees, Islamic Jihad, Islamic Army and the Abu Rish Brigades of Fatah.” Rodan noted that PLO Chairman Abbas has himself has said many times that he would “not start a civil war” by trying to disarm Palestinians....
...Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Hanniye of Hamas says it means Israel will stop attacking Palestinian terrorists and their bases in the West Bank, while it does not mean that terrorists must stop weapons smuggling. “We are one people on one land, and Israel must stop its aggression against us,” declared Hanniye, stressing Hamas’s demand that Israel suspend manhunts against Hamas bombers and weapons smugglers in the West Bank, where Israel’s tough policy has virtually eliminated most major Palestinian attacks.
Before the ceasefire, top officials of Israel’s army (IDF) and its Shin Bet counter-terror intelligence agency pushed for a pre-emptive Israeli invasion of Gaza to stop rocket attacks, weapons flow and fortification building by terror groups. But, as in Lebanon this summer, Mr. Olmert pulled back from full combat at the last minute.
“Even though there are still violations of the ceasefire by the Palestinian side, I have instructed our defense officials not to respond, to show restraint, and to give this ceasefire a chance to take full effect,” declared the Israeli prime minister yesterday. ....
....Public confidence in Israel’s leadership is also at record low levels because the public feuding between Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and others has been a constant feature since Israel’s defensive war in Lebanon a few months ago. Indeed, the only other Israeli cabinet minister who wholeheartedly blessed this week’s ceasefire was Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, the primary author of the failed set of historic agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, known as “The Olso Accords.”
... in the Israeli southern border town of Sderot, which has been hit by five to ten Palestinian Qassam rockets a day, inhabitants have been calling for a full military response. As many as a third of the 30,000 residents of the besieged city have left their homes.
For the last two months, polls by newspapers Ma’ariv and Yediot, as well as Israel Television Channels 2 and 10, all show that between 70 to 85 percent of the public feel that neither Prime Minister Olmert nor Defense Peretz is fit for their top leadership positions and that they mishandled the summer’s fighting in Lebanon.
Many other members of the Israeli cabinet say they are not optimistic about the ceasefire’s chances for success, but they have not publicly criticized Olmert because under Israeli law he can fire them from the cabinet.
Internal Security Minister Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet security agency, has been urging a full Israeli takeover of Gaza. Meanwhile, Minister Rafi Eitan, a veteran of the Mossad overseas intelligence agency, said Hamas and Islamic Jihad would probably tempter their attacks for two months while rearming and fortifying.
Yuval Diskin, the current head of the Shin Bet, warned the cabinet two weeks ago that “the situation is a red light situation for terror,” citing the movement into Gaza of 33 tons of high-grade explosives, anti-tank and anti-air-craft missiles and thousands of rounds of ammunition within the last year, since Israel’s major withdrawal.
IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, IDF Intelligence Chief Amos Harel and IDF Southern Commander Yaakov Galant have each warned the Israeli government that the longer it waits to attack Hamas, the greater the civilian casualties and military losses Israel will bear. That is because Hamas and Islamic Jihad are constantly improving the weapons grade of their Qassam rockets which now have more than a 12-kilometer range and whose warheads are now larger and packed with military grade explosives, some supplied directly by Iran.
Israel has pulled back several times from a full strike into Gaza, most recently after an IDF artillery shell accidentally killed an entire family of more than 20—not involved in attacks on Israel—in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. This has forced Israel to go back to using piecemeal high-precision air strikes or snipers. Even so, this has not stopped the rocket attacks, and Israeli field commanders have even tried telephoning or leafleting warnings to neighborhoods where they intend to attack terrorists—something that is exploited by Hamas and Jihad.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunners and smugglers have declared openly that they will use non-combatant Palestinian civilians as human shields to protect their activities.
More than 20 such Arab terrorists were saved from Israeli retribution on Nov 3 when they hid out in the Al-Nasr Mosque in Beit Hanoun and were smuggled out in women’s clothing in a throng of Palestinian women. The move was hailed by PLO Chairman Abbas and PA Prime Minister Ismail Hanniye.
A similar event took place on November 18 in the Jabalya Refugee Camp when a crowd protected the home of terrorist Muhammad Baroud from an Israeli airstrike.
“Palestinians will defend operatives with their bodies and souls. From now on we will be not permit Israel to attack any house belonging to a jihad fighter,” declared Sheik Nizar Rayan on PA official television on November 19.
Sheikh Rayan and other PA and Hamas officials have bragged several times in recent days that they will use human shields and continue to use women and children as bombers and weapons smugglers. And they have carried out their promise several times. For example, a 57-year-old Palestinian woman, wearing an explosive belt underneath her clothes, blew herself up near an Israeli army patrol last week, and she was called a “heroic martyr” label in all the Palestinian media, including the radio and television outlets directly run by PLO and PA Chairman Abbas.
“When Fatah activists heard that a … house was about to be attacked, they rushed there to defend the building with their bodies. In the same way, they will provide a human shield [in the future as well] for buildings [used by] jihad fighters,” delared Salah Abu Warda, a senior Fatah official on PA televison on November 19.
The violent anti-Israel sentiment among Abbas’s own PA police and his own Fatah operatives may be the biggest obstacle to a real Palestinian-Israeli entente.
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Dr. Michael Widlanski is a specialist in Arab politics and communication whose doctorate dealt with the Palestinian broadcast media. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively, at The New York Times, The Cox Newspapers-Atlanta Constitution, and The Jerusalem Post. He has also served as a special advisor to Israeli delegations to peace talks in 1991-1992 and as Strategic Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Public Security, editing secret PLO Archives captured in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Olmert's speech at the grave of David Ben-Gurion in Sde Boker represents the ultimate burial of Israeli determination, and the military and diplomatic triumph of Hamas.
Here we have the prime minister of Israel promising the earth, in more ways than one, to the Palestinian parliament and government, most of whose members belong to a terrorist organization committed by its own charter to the destruction of Israel. And all this after more than a year in which previous agreements and truces have been bloodily breached.
Hamas needs a cease-fire and an Israeli diplomatic initiative for two reasons. First of all, it will shatter what remains of the Western diplomatic boycott of Hamas, and provide legitimacy for the new unity government that will soon be set up under Hamas's direction and influence. A diplomatic initiative with the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority - even if it ultimately crashes on the rocks of terrorism and the demand to destroy Israel, by means of the right of return, like its predecessors - will leave in its wake a fundamental difference: a de facto recognition by Israel, and therefore a de jure recognition by the world, of Hamas as a partner in the international circle, without that group having made any significant and permanent change in its platform or tactics.
The second reason why the hudna appeals to Hamas is its plan to exploit the "opportunity" Olmert has given the Palestinians for a truly important aim - the ongoing strengthening of a Hizbullah-style army in the Gaza Strip, including a continual threat of rocket fire on southern Israel. Hamas heard loud and clear the political and military voices in Israel that called for an urgent military operation, "Defensive Shield 2," in Gaza - an operation that would lead to rooting out the terror infrastructure and wiping out the rocket manufacturers. A cease-fire saves Hamas from this very real danger and allows it latitude for army-building along with politics.
The cease-fire will fizzle out sooner or later, but Hamas will gain from it both on the diplomatic and military fronts.
It is interesting to see that the failure against Hamas in the South is an exact replication of the failure against Hizbullah in the North. In both cases, the IDF tried to win a war with air strikes and artillery fire, while neglecting to take over the territory of the terror organizations.
The limited operations - penetrations of a few kilometers into enemy territory - on which IDF ground forces have been sent in Lebanon and Gaza lacked any strategic purpose and could even be defined as useless wandering. Making Hamas or Hizbullah pay a price is not a substitute for a war meant to cut off the Iranian affiliates that have been established north and south of Israel. Such an approach just sends a message of weakness and hesitation to Syria, Iran, and the rest of the region.
Hamas is in a difficult position, but one that can be salvaged, and therefore has agreed to Olmert's cease-fire. Hizbullah managed not long ago to rebuild its military and political status in Lebanon, and Hamas would love to follow in the footsteps of its big brother to the north.
Israel, on the other hand, has missed a golden opportunity yet again. The brutal attacks on Sderot gave Israel a chance for a second "Defensive Shield," in Gaza, that would have allowed it to regain control of the Philadelphi Corridor and end the intensive militarization of Hamas and the other terror groups. But the weariness permeating Israel's military culture allows its enemies to every mistake possible - and yet to remain alive.
Olmert's Israel has decided, it seems, to give up any military resolve (if only temporarily) against terror, even in the face of unprecedented demands. And so our cities are doomed, and our citizens condemned, to keep living under the growing threat of rocket fire from both the north and the south, until we recover our senses and return to our neglected culture of military resolve.
The writer is a Likud Knesset member and former head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Nablus: Joint paratrooper, Shin Bet force uncovers explosives lab in West Bank city, finds toys with wires hanging from them, apparently slated to be used as deadly explosives...
A joint paratrooper and Shin Bet force uncovered an explosive lab in Nablus Friday night. In the lab, the forces found teddy bears with wires hanging from them, apparently slated to be used as explosive devices.
.... The forces also found in the explosives lab three belts made from cloth, ready to contain explosives, a hollow coat used for hiding explosives, ... light bulbs and light sockets used for activating explosives.... Test tubes, a hollow gas tank, hollow pipes, batteries, 40 liters of hydrogen peroxide ....
Since the beginning of the year, Israel Defense Forces soldiers operating in Nablus hit 41 gunmen who were planning...to hit IDF troops or Israeli citizens. Some 320 wanted terror suspects were arrested in the West Bank city and its surroundings since the beginning of the year, most of them affiliated with Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fatah and Hamas.
At the beginning of the year, another explosives lab was uncovered in the city's casba.
....The defense establishment reported that the terror organizations were working with greater vigor to carry out terror attacks from the city, and in the past months many explosive belts were captured in the area and gunmen were arrested on their way to carry out attacks in Israel.
VICTORIA’S Labor Premier Steve Bracks will take his third oath of office in coming days and as he does so, he will introduce new ALP Upper House MP Khalil Eideh, a dual Syrian-Australian citizen who has sworn his absolute loyalty to the tyrannical dictatorship of Syria.....
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Hamas hardliner Khaled Meshaal’s deposits in Cairo a list of tough, non-negotiable ultimatums for a ceasefire and Palestinian unity
Meshaal’s consent to finally travel to Cairo last week raised some hopes that he had come around to accepting a Palestinian unity government and discussing the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit. He soon dashed those hopes. Our sources learn he has left Cairo leaving behind a list of tough demands and headed for Yemen to lead a secret Hamas conference called to plot the next Palestinian-Israeli war.
These demands are disclosed here by our military sources:
- To procure Shalit’s release, Israeli must free 1,400 jailed Palestinians in three stages, including all Hamas, Fatah and other terrorists, such as Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted to six life sentences for murdering six Israelis. For the first batch of 400 women and minors, the Israeli soldier will be handed to Egypt. After the second batch of 500 (including the murderers) is released, Shalit’s parents and Israeli representatives will be allowed to see him.
- Israel must halt all military operations in the Gaza and West Bank, including preventive detentions.
- For his consent to a Palestinian unity government, the Hamas politburo chief wants a mechanism for opening the Palestinian Liberation Organization umbrella to Hamas membership and appointing him permanent chairman in place of Mahmoud Abbas.
Meshaal will thus acquire total control of the Palestinian movement and its resources worldwide.
- Hamas will retain treasury, interior and foreign affairs in the unity government.
- Within six months, Israel must withdraw to the June 4, 1967 borders and an independent Palestinian state established, else the Palestinians will wage a third intifada.
DEBKAfile’s military sources seriously question the wisdom of prime minister Ehud Olmert’s alacrity in accepting Mahmoud Abbas’ assurance of a missile ceasefire binding on all the terrorist groups. Olmert, foreign minister Tzipi Livni and defense minister Amir Peretz, who decided on acceptance, must have realized that the ceasefire on offer would not hold. First, because Meshaal instructed Hamas to hold out for its extension to the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip; and, second, because Hamas transferred a large quantity of Qassam missiles to the Iran-sponsored Jihad Islami and the Fatah al Aqsa Brigades and other terrorist branches. They were directed to keep the missiles coming and so make a sham of the purported ceasefire declared for 06:00 hours Sunday, Nov. 26.
By precipitately pulling the Israeli units away from their successful counter-missile operations in N. Gaza, the Olmert government made way for the missile crews to return to their firing sites and keep up the barrage against Israeli civilian locations without pause. Thirteen were fired – most exploding in Sderot before 10:00 am Sunday. Their pretext? A number of suspected terrorists was detained in Hebron, West Bank, early Sunday. Olmert responded by urging “restraint” to give the Palestinians another chance.
One of the most pressing pieces of business the US president George W. Bush must tackle in Amman later this week is the demand for an international conference on Iraq which must be dominated by a built-in agenda on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Palestinian leaders, picking up the new tones in Washington, decided to cash in by announcing the cessation of Hamas’ Qassam missile attacks on Israeli civilian locations, starting Sunday, Nov. 26.
Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, loath to relinquish the high diplomatic ground to the Palestinians, promised Monday that after the kidnapped Israeli soldier is released, Israel will free many jailed Palestinians, including long term prisoners, as a confidence-building gesture to prove Israel seeks peace. As soon as a Palestinian unity government is formed, Olmert said, immediate negotiations could start with Mahmoud Abbas on the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state. He allowed the evacuation of some West Bank settlements was possible in return for real peace and Palestinian renunciation of the return of 1948 Palestinian refugees. If such talks are successful, Olmert promised to release frozen Palestinian funds.
Earlier, Ehud Olmert quickly accepted the Palestinian ceasefire - against the advice of the Israeli military. He ordered the curtailment of an effective IDF anti-missile operation and a complete troop withdrawal from the northern Gaza Strip. This left non-Hamas armed factions free to continue firing and arming while Israeli troops were ordered not to interfere.
The ceasefire – like Olmert’s promises - is unlikely to survive long after Bush’s departure from the Middle East. Since Sunday, every Palestinian and Israeli verbal pronouncement has been attuned to the wavelengths of Bush and his secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. She will join him in Amman and lead the effort to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders together. Her mission will be to extract results from these encounters for tempting Arab rulers to lend the United States a helping hand on the Iraq crisis.
... the brain behind this new strategy belongs to Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to three Republican presidents, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George Bush Sr. He is emerging as the live wire behind the latest US foreign policy departures and the pivotal figure behind the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group.
This panel - which submits its final report to Congress on Dec. 10 - recommends an international conference on Iraq attended by leaders from Europe, Russia, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and the main Muslim nations. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Washington sources, such a conference would spend more time on the Palestinian-Israeli issue than on Iraq. The group’s leaders predict that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and other Arab participants will demand “progress on the Israel-Palestinian track” before letting the conference get down to brass tacks on Iraq.
To lay the groundwork, therefore, Washington will have to give the international community free rein to squeeze Israel for far-reaching concessions to the Palestinians - and not only the Palestinians, if Syria is to be engaged.
This would require a diametric reversal of George Bush’s previous warm attitude towards “our friend and ally” Israel, possibly even a reversion to the iciness directed against the Shamir government in the early 1990s by the elder Bush, whom James Baker served as secretary of state and Scowcroft as national security adviser.
Earlier this month, Scowcroft, as chairman of the American-Turkish Friendship League, visited Ankara for an appeal to Turkish leaders to persuade the Syrian ruler Bashar Asad to cooperate on Iraq. His mindset was revealed in an interview he gave the Turkish Daily News of Nov. 9, 2006: “I think we need to embed Iraq in a larger regional solution, and that to me goes back to the Palestinian issue. I think this would put us back on the offensive psychologically and even make Iraq easier to manage.”
Scowcroft then linked this viewpoint to the notion of an international conference, saying: “But I don’t think this will start with some kind of a conference because everyone will come with their preset speeches and everything will freeze again. But I think that there will be some quiet consultations in the region. I believe the Arab states in the region are eager for such a conversation. Israel may not be eager, but Israel is in bad shape right now.”
Scowcroft was therefore the first American strategic thinker to say out loud what DEBKAfile has been reporting since early August, that George Bush and his key advisers have diagnosed Israel as coming out of the Lebanon War weakened and with its strategic situation impaired.
The cards in Washington are therefore stacked against Israel these days. An unfortunate combination has emerged of a president who regards the Jewish state as strategically weak and a brace of key US advisers on the administration’s new Iraqi policy who are drawn from the most anti-Israeli US administrations of the past. The Olmert government, however forthcoming, must brace itself for a period of intensive American pressure to cede ever more assets to curry favor with the Arabs.
...I want to speak this morning about the most serious political struggle facing our country—and in fact—the greatest political struggle facing our generation. And that is the struggle against terrorism and violent extremism.
The ECAJ has made a strong stand on this issue...But I think not enough people in the Australian community realise that the fight against terrorism is our common struggle. Many do not realise that this struggle against violent extremism is a fight to defend the values that we hold dear.
Australians and people of good will around the world value reason, moderation, tolerance and pluralism. We value freedom of speech, religious freedom and freedom from state intimidation.
Against this, terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah exploit the freedoms of our society. The terrorists pervert the tenets of Islam using extreme religious interpretations to justify tactics like killing innocent civilians and suicide bombing. They draw selectively from the writings of Islamists like the Egyptian militant Sayyid Qutb ignoring the authoritative mainstream views of the Islamic world.
....What I’d like Australians to understand is that if we let terrorist values go unchallenged, more and more people, mainly young men, risk being recruited into terrorist causes.
....it will take a concerted campaign from politicians and opinion leaders from all countries to discredit terrorist ideology. We won’t succeed if we are perceived to be weak, or if people think we just don’t care. Silence is not an option; it is a sign of submission.
....The words of Osama Bin Laden, posted on an Islamist website, speak for themselves—and I quote—“death is better than living on this earth with the unbelievers among us.” He goes on to say—and I quote—“fear God, try to please him and do not consult with anyone regarding the killing of those unbelievers.”
....The vast majority of Muslims reject the nihilistic terrorist ideology and condemn their murderous methods. But the terrorist narrative does still seem to strike a chord in many Muslim communities and it does win recruits. This is partly because it masquerades as religious piety – something admired in the Muslim world.
....I’d like to outline three broad ways in which we can challenge the Extremist Islamist world view.
- First, we need to make very plain the bleak results of this extremist ideology in practice.
Incredible as it might seem, Afghanistan under the Taliban is held up as an example of the sort of society the extremists would like to establish.... ...The experience of Afghanistan under the Taliban demonstrates so clearly that a radical and uncompromising approach to society is unworkable. It’s also an indication to Muslims everywhere of what life would be like if the extremists achieve their aims.
- Second,we need to emphasise that there is no conflict between the West and Islam. As I said earlier, this is not a fight against Islam. We need to underline the shared common values and aspirations that Muslims and non-Muslims hold dear. There is more that unites the world’s great religions than sets them apart. ....In our dialogue on common values we must emphasise one very powerful concept ...democracy. .... well developed democratic systems are better able to deliver prosperity, security and personal happiness.
- The third way to counter the extremist narrative is that we need to be aware that a good part of the debate has to be conducted between Muslims...this is not to say that non-Muslims cannot raise their voices with mainstream Muslims in support of the common values I have talked about this morning. Indeed, we have a right and a duty to do so, given the challenge that extremism poses to the values that underwrite all civilised society.
... let's not pretend there are easy steps ahead. The terrorist threat may well last a generation..... We are at a critical point in the Middle East. The Iraqi Government faces many challenges; democracy in Lebanon is in peril; the Middle East Peace Process is stalled without a credible Palestinian negotiating partner since the election of Hamas and a revolutionary state is acquiring advanced nuclear technology.
These are grave but not unsolvable challenges.....
.....I want to finish today by putting our struggle against terrorism and violent extremism in its proper historical context. The inescapable facts are that terrorist ideology is a totalitarian ideology; it is based on a mindset of subjugation and it cannot be negotiated out of existence or accommodated.
You may know that Osama bin Laden reportedly offered the West a truce. But I see the offer of a truce with al Qaeda in the same vein as Hitler’s offer to Lord Halifax. And history tells us what happened with appeasement.
Like Nazism and Soviet Communism, extremist Islamism is simply the latest totalitarian ideology. And like other extremist political ideologies, it must be confronted and defeated. Totalitarian ideology prospers when good people do little to stop it. Good people must be prepared to stand up and defend our shared values.
Good people who challenge extremist ideology can take comfort from the words of the writer Arthur Koestler, writing about the burning of Berlin’s Reichstag in 1933, an event which gave rise to Nazi Germany. Koestler wrote—and I quote—“We said that if you don't quench those flames at once, they will spread all over the world; you thought we were maniacs.”
As a country and as global community we have to muster the courage to confront extremist ideology and rally behind the common values of tolerance, pluralism, moderation, democratic freedom and liberty under the law.
THE Vatican is so anxious about the Pope's safety during his trip to Turkey this week that it has vetoed use of the traditional Popemobile. Instead, Benedict XVI would travel in an armour-plated car, with several similar vehicles used as decoys....
Officials have also drawn up contingency plans for him to wear a bulletproof vest beneath his papal vestments, as Turkish authorities mount a huge security operation including rooftop snipers, special forces, helicopters and navy speedboats.
Before his first visit to a Muslim country, the Pope attempted to defuse further protests yesterday, sending "cordial greetings" of "esteem and sincere friendship" to "the dear Turkish people" ...
... in a conciliatory gesture to Muslims, the Pope had altered his official program to include a visit to the Blue Mosque, or Sultanahmet, in Istanbul.... ...In a reciprocal gesture, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that he would "find time" after all to meet the Pope today at Ankara airport. He insisted that his absence during the Pope's trip because of a NATO summit in Riga was not a "snub". The Pope was "welcome" in Turkey, "but whoever comes here must show respect for the Prophet Mohammed".
The exchanges reflect last-minute efforts on both sides to calm the tensions inflamed by the Pope's Regensburg speech in September, which referred to Islam as "evil" and "violent".
Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the pontifical Council for Christian Unity, one of five cardinals accompanying the Pope, conceded the trip had become a "minefield".
.....Turkish police appealed for restraint at protests, saying they could harm the image of Turkey. But in Istanbul at the weekend, tens of thousands of protesters at a rally denounced the Pope as an enemy of Islam.....
The Times, AP
Monday, November 27, 2006
....We all sincerely wish ... that Israel could afford to simply celebrate that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have agreed on a "cease-fire."
The supposed halt to violence could, indeed, develop into a truly substantive change. What is needed is to address the fundamental context of the fighting. If that does not happen, however - and there are no signs now that this is happening - a cease-fire, even if it held, could in the long run be worse than the status quo.
First, however, the cease-fire is not holding. Not only on Saturday, in the hours before it was to come into effect, but even into Sunday, after it was supposed to be in force, Kassam rockets continued to be fired into Israel. Hamas even took responsibility for these attacks, claiming that Israel had violated the cease-fire by continuing military operations in Judea and Samaria. Israel argues that the cease-fire was only supposed to apply in Gaza.
The reason for such Israeli insistence is clear: On Friday night, an Israeli operation destroyed a bomb factory in Nablus. The IDF not only discovered bomb belts to be used in suicide bombings, but children's toys, such as stuffed animals, that had been rigged with explosives. Under these circumstances, it does not take a clairvoyant to predict that a cease-fire will be used by terrorists to recover from the IDF's military pressure. How can allowing the terrorists a pause to refresh serve the cause of peace? Alone, it cannot. But there is a way that a cease-fire could be part of a more comprehensive policy that does bring down the likelihood of renewed bloodshed.
To stop terrorism, Israel must address both the capabilities and the strategic environment of the terrorists.
....A cease-fire that does not address the need for Egypt to police its border will only exacerbate this problem. Not only will the arms keep flowing in, but Israeli military operations will no longer seek and destroy bomb factories and other elements of the terrorist infrastructure. Terror groups will be able to freely expand their preparatory work for renewed attacks, untroubled by the IDF.
....What is also necessary is to break the international diplomatic cycle that creates an incentive to attack Israel in the first place. This cycle is well known: Palestinians attack, Israel responds, sooner or later Israel mistakenly kills Palestinian civilians, the UN Security Council condemns Israel (with or without a US veto), accomplishing the terrorist's purpose of further isolating us. This blame-the-victim cycle actively rewards terrorism, as Ambassador Dan Gillerman pointed out during the recent debate on a lopsidedly anti-Israel General Assembly resolution.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701 has many problems, among them the lack of monitoring and enforcement of the embargo supposedly imposed on weaponry for Hizbullah, but it does provide the beginnings of a model for breaking the cycle in the Palestinian sphere. It blames Hizbullah for provoking the war with its cross-border attack on July 12, and does, at least in theory, put the onus on Syria to end the arms flow to Hizbullah.
The same onus must be put on Egypt to shut down the smuggling of weaponry into Gaza. Further, instead of leaping into action to condemn Israel, the UN and the Quartet should ensure that the Palestinians pay a steep diplomatic price for initiating attacks against Israel.
A cease-fire that is leveraged to advance these shifts in the strategic environment could be worthwhile. Without such a change in direction, giving the terrorists breathing space to rearm would truly be worse than useless.
Who Are We?
We are Arabs and Moslems who believe…
- We can support Israel and still support the Palestinian people. Supporting one does not cancel support for the other.
- We can support the State of Israel and the Jewish religion and still treasure our Arab and Islamic culture.
- There are many Jews and Israelis who freely express compassion and support for the Palestinians. We Arabs also express reciprocal compassion and support.
The existence of the State of Israel is a fact that we accept.
- Israel is a legitimate state that is not a threat but an asset in the Middle East.
Every major World religion has a center of gravity. Islam has Mecca, and Judaism certainly deserves its presence in Israel and Jerusalem.
- Diversity is a virtue not only in the USA, but would be beneficial around the world. We support a diverse Middle East with protection for human rights, respect and equality under the law to all minorities, including Jews and Christians.
- Palestinians have several options but are deprived from exercising them because of their leadership, the Arab League and surrounding Arab and Moslem countries who have other goals besides seeing Palestinians live in harmony with Israel.
- If Palestinians want democracy they can start practicing it now.
- It will benefit Arabs to end the boycott of Israel.
- We can resolve our conflicts using non-violent means. Sending our young people on suicide/homicide missions as a form of Jihad is a distortion of Islam. We can do better.
- We are appalled by the horrific act of terror against the USA on 9/11/2001.
- It will be better for Arabs when the Arab media ends the incitement and misinformation that result in Arab street rage and violence. We support the Arab media providing coverage of ways that people of all religions are and can live together in harmony.
- We are eager to see major reformation in how Islam is taught and channeled to bring out the best in Moslems and contribute to the uplifting of the human spirit and advancement of civilization.
- We believe in freedom to choose or change one’s Religion.
- We cherish and acknowledge the beauty and contributions of the Middle East culture, but recognize that the Arab/Moslem world is in desperate need of constructive self-criticism and reform.
- We seek dialogue with Israel. We invite you to join us on a path of love.
We are NOT:
We remember with deep sadness and respect the brave Arabs, known and unknown, who were killed or severely punished for promoting peace with Israel; a special thanks to President Anwar Sadat of Egypt who was killed at the hands of Militant and Radical Islamists after he signed the peace treaty with Israel.
We salute and commend Arab and Moslem writers, scholars and speakers, who found the strength, commitment and honesty in their hearts to speak out in support of Israel. We thank you for being the pioneers that you are and for holding such sophisticated and advanced views in the realm of Arab and Moslem thinking. You are inspiring us all.
ARABS AND MOSLEMS WHO WISH TO POST THEIR VIEWS IN SUPPORT OF ISRAEL CAN DO SO BY EMAILING US. WE WILL THEN POST THEM ANONYMOUSLY, IF THEY WISH. Please send all correspondence to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Two more Kassam rockets landed in Israel on Sunday morning, bringing the total number of rockets aimed at Israel since a cease-fire agreement with the Palestinian government went into effect earlier in the day to five.
....The Givati infantry Brigade, which had been conducting anti-Kassam operations, left Gaza early Sunday morning. The IDF was now holding a defensive posture along the Gaza security fence. Southern Command sources added that the IDF would not initiate any offensive action in the Gaza Strip, including a cessation of targeted killings.
....Peretz said, "Any rocket fire at Israel will be considered a breach of the cease-fire and will be dealt with severely," and that, "Israel is interested in calm but not at the cost of harm inflicted on its citizens." The defense minister added that if Abbas and the terror were not able to stop the rocket attacks; Israel would see this as a clear breach of the cease-fire and would take action to protect its citizens.
....The Palestinian offer .... accepted by Israel on Saturday night...was ... to halt operations in Gaza in return for an end to all Palestinian violence, including rocket fire, tunneling and suicide bombers.....