Friday, November 18, 2005

Change of Possession

From Cox and Forkum 15/11/05 .....

Iran ships 10,000 rockets to Hezbullah

From Jerusalem Post Nov. 17, 2005 23:59 By ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON ...

Iran has supplied Hezbullah with more than 10,000 short-range rockets and most of the weapons are deployed in southern Lebanon within reach of Israel, an Israeli diplomat said Thursday.

The rockets, some of which were provided by Syria, have a range of up to 110 kilometers, said Jeremy Issacharoff, the new deputy Israeli ambassador to Washington, at a conference on Iran sponsored The Israel Project, a nongovernment advocacy group.
'In Israeli terms, that range can be a heavyweight,' Issacharoff said.
Iran is the leading supporter of terror groups in the world, he said.

Besides backing Hezbullah, a Lebanese group that has fought a cross-border conflict with Israel, Iran is supporting Palestinian terror groups, the Israeli diplomat said.
And he said Israel takes seriously a recent call by Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel be "wiped off the map."

At the State Department, spokesman Adam Ereli said Thursday the United States expects the world to speak with one voice at next week's meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in opposition to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

"We have reports, or the IAEA has confirmed, that Iran has resumed conversion of uranium into hexafluoride," Ereli said. "This is an unwelcome move, one that we view with concern....

..."The people of Iran need to be convinced that Iran's nuclear program is costing them development and jobs," Sherman said. But Sherman said he doubted the UN Security Council would impose political and economic sanctions .... China, for one, would veto any such resolution, partly to protect its oil interests in Iran, Sherman said. ...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

War on the horizon

From Ynet News, Opinion, by Ofer Shelah (11.16.05, 11:56) ...

Mark your calendars (January / February 2006): Israel, Hamas on a collision course

While Israelis occupy themselves with the coming election campaign and the never-ending discussion about "just what is Yitzhak Rabin's legacy," preparations are being completed for the next round of Israel-Palestinian any Israeli with eyes in his head, it is clear: If there is no real change ..... the explosion is sure to come. We even know the date....

Latest killing
Monday, Amjad Hanawi, described as the "leader of Hamas in Nablus," was killed. ...despite promises of retribution, Hamas is unlikely to respond to this event, just as it has refrained from responding in most previous instances. The reason has nothing to do...with the (very high) ability of the IDF and Shin Bet to carry out targeted killings. Rather, it has to do with something entirely different.

Maintaining quiet
Hamas is a highly-disciplined organization.... Until the Palestinians hold parliamentary elections in less than two months, Hamas will continue to battle for legitimacy and will avoid action that would re-ignite the conflict.

Israel, predictably, reads this interest - which, more than anything, was responsible for the calm that reigned during the disengagement – as license to kill....

Unlearned lessons
... The result of all this is clear: In January, save for some sort of miracle, Hamas is expected to do very well in the elections. Afterwards, the organization will try to realize its power, and if it encounters opposition it will try to realize the retribution it has been promising for months.
If so, then the path to conflict is clearly defined and smoothly paved.

The truly amazing thing in all this is that every Israeli and Palestinian knows this, but we all continue along the path, as if we have no choice.

Rice Secures Rafah Package Stripped of Adequate Counter-Terror Safeguards

From a DEBKAfile Special Analysis November 15, 2005, 1:28 PM (GMT+02:00) ...

The White House ordered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to stay over in Jerusalem until the deal for the Gaza Strip’s international crossings was in the bag....The breakthrough was announced after she met defense minister Shaul Mofaz Tuesday morning...after Israel backed down from virtually all its demands for security safeguards against terrorist incursions.

DEBKAfile’s political sources analyze some of the agreement’s salient features.

The Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt will reopen on November 25 as a Palestinian-Egyptian facility with a European presence. Video images will be transferred to a control center at the Kerem Shalom crossing which is on Israeli soil. It will be manned by Israelis and Palestinians with a European presence.

Israel will not be entitled to demand that suspected terrorists be kept out or detained. The Palestinians will only be required to report on the arrivals of VIPs, diplomats and humanitarian cases – no one else. Mofaz lauded this as “another stage in Egypt’s involvement.” He made no reference to the failure of Egyptian border police’s failure to secure the Philadelphi border enclave against the massive smuggling of arms and terrorists since the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

As for the crossings from Gaza into Israel, Israel surrendered the prerogative to shut down them down to secure personnel against terror alerts, although these facilities are notoriously prime terrorist targets. Jerusalem has undertaken to first notify the US embassy in Tel Aviv and back up its “request” with specific information, thus parting with its intelligence secrets. It must then wait for permission from Washington – or its refusal - to the closure.
Effective preventive action may well be held up by this delay.
By surrendering this point, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon relinquished a key element of Israel’s sovereign right to self-defense and agreed to hamstring its own army’s freedom to combat terror. The presence of Palestinian customs inspectors at Kerem Shalom makes an additional inroad on Israeli sovereignty.

From Dec. 15 to January 15, “secured Palestinian convoys” will start rolling across southern Israel from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank – trucks for goods and buses for people – unrestricted by Israel. The Palestinians want their own forces to secure the trucks. All that has been settled is that the Americans and Europeans will determine the procedures for their passage through Israeli territory.

There is no sign of the Sharon government standing up to Washington’s demands on that point either, so it is more than likely that Palestinian “forces” will be let loose on a wide swathe of southern Israel to escort 150 trucks a day bound for Hebron, Ramallah, Jenin and Nablus.
The provisions for the Rafah crossing will also be applied to Gaza’s deep sea port construction of which begins without delay. Israel has therefore forfeited control and oversight over incoming goods and people to Gaza by sea as well as overland.

All Israel’s security agencies protest Condi Rice accord

DEBKAfile Exclusive: All of Israel’s security branches sent strong written protests to Sharon against the new Gaza crossings deal as exposing Israel to grave terrorist peril.
November 15, 2005, 11:35 PM (GMT+02:00)

US secretary Rice forced the accord through in a diplomatic blitz Tuesday Nov. 15
The protests came from the top levels of Israel’s armed forces, the Shin Beit and all other intelligence services and the police. Rarely before have so many expressions of alarm been rushed to the head of government by all of top security agencies.

By this extreme step -
1. Each of the branches submitted separate warnings to prime minister Ariel Sharon and defense minister Shaul Mofaz. They were alerted to the grave hazards in store when the crossings are reopened later this month and the rest of the accord goes into effect, shorn as they have been of appropriate security controls.

2. Each branch placed its reservations in writing to clearly record where responsibility lies for the worst possible contingencies.

DEBKAfile’s security sources report gloomy forecasts from all the leading officials responsible for Israeli national security and the war on terror. The accord signed Tuesday caught them in the middle of constructing a new security system designed to safeguard the country after Israeli troops were pulled out of the Gaza Strip. The new accord threatens to push this system aside. Israel is divested of the means of keeping terrorists from making free use of the crossings which reopen Nov. 25 and the Palestinian convoys driving from Gaza to the West Bank and back from Dec. 15.

There is no longer any barrier to Palestinian terrorists bringing shoulder-launched anti-air missiles any time to the point from which they can turn Israel’s international airport into a disaster zone and paralyze international air traffic to and from the country.
Our sources reveal that the prime minister’s office made sure the six-page accord left by Rice was not translated into Hebrew. Israeli television and radio audiences were therefore not exposed to its contents.

Israel is denied any veto power over the arrival of terrorists from Sinai to Gaza or from Gaza to the West Bank in both directions. A wanted terrorist can simply board a bus in Gaza and commute to Hebron or Ramallah without restraint. Israel officials may not stop and search it the vehicle, albeit on Israeli soil, let alone make an arrest. They can only gnash their teeth in frustration.

Equally freedom of control is promised the merchandise and container trucks. The
American and European inspectors at the Gaza-Israeli crossings will not allow the Israeli officers free rein to effectively search them for hazardous freights lest the 150-per-day quota be slowed. The Palestinians will thus be quite free to move as many terrorists and as much water material and explosives as they like between the Gaza and the West Bank.

Therefore, when Israeli security leaders saw with dread the collapse of their painfully wrought war on terror – a NATO military mission arrived in Israel as Rice left to study Israel’s tactics and techniques – circles close to Palestinian minister Mohammed Dahlan in Ramallah were crowing with delight. They praised Condoleezza Rice for helping them break down Israel’s regime of crossings and barriers. At last, they said, we can enjoy full freedom of movement.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Anglican Archbishop says, 'Spiritually, we are all Semites'

From Ruth Gledhill, The Times Religion Correspondent, Tuesday, 08 November 2005...

'Spiritually, we are all Semites,' the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said yesterday. Dr Williams was quoting Pope Pius XI. In response to a question at the end of a lecture on Europe's Christian heritage, he said that some of the 'demonic forces' that were thought to have been defeated 60 years ago were once more raging destructively across the European landscape. He said: 'It is a curse and an unmitigated evil in our presence. I feel that many of the demons that some thought had been laid to rest long ago are raging across our landscape. We need, as Christians, to return to that wonderful dictum of Pope Pius 11th: 'Spiritually, we are all Semites'. He was saying that in the thirties and it needs saying again.'

Later, when I phoned him for a comment, the Bishop of St Albans, the Right Rev Christopher Herbert, who chairs the Council of Christians and Jews, endorsed what the Archbishop said, adding that the 'scourge' of anti-Semitism must be addressed.

Dr Williams was addressing an audience of more than 200 academics, politicians and other opinion-formers in an open lecture at the European Policy Centre in Brussels. ... It was in the questions afterwards that he spoke of anti-Semitism.

His lecture came a few days after his address at St Paul's in London during the service to commemorate the victims of the London July 7 bombings. In his sermon, he mentioned a number of groups but neglected to name the Jews as among the victims of terrorism today. This omission was hastily corrected by him the following day when he aplogised unreservedly, but it had already been picked up and noted by members of the Jewish community.

The Jewish community is particularly sensitive at the moment to any perceived slight, with good reason. The Anglican Church is of particular concern. Divestment from Israel has long been on the agenda of some groups on the left, particularly in the wake of a recent Anglican report from the US urging this development, a report which was shockingly anti-Israel in tone. The report was endorsed by the recent Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, although with the divestment recommendation slightly toned down. Only one cleric, Dr John Moses, Dean of St Paul's, had the courage or even the wit to see why it was important to abstain from supporting such a report, produced by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network.

In going down this path, the Anglican Church would be following the lead of the Presbyterian Church in the US, which has already adopted a divestment strategy, although has notably failed as yet actually to divest even a single cent. Divestment is not officially on the General Synod agenda next week, although it will be a matter of discussion behind the scenes. Bishop Herbert is organising a fringe meeting with speakers from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a rabbi. In spite of strong lobbying, the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group also rejected calls for it to sell its shares in Caterpillar, which supplies bulldozers used in clearance projects in Israel. Further, a new group has been formed, Anglicans for Israel, which is proving ardent and effective in its advocacy for the Jewish homeland, one of the few democracies in the Middle East, the others being Lebanon and Egypt (and of course, soon, Iraq).

Nevertheless, concerns remain and the issue of the Anglican Church's approach to Israel is at present being addressed in a series of lectures by Manchester academic and historian, Irene Lancaster. ...
In Irene's latest lecture, at the Bowden Synagogue in Manchester today, Tuesday 8 Nov, she will call for more education on the Bible and Jewish history for both the Anglican and Jewish communities, for greater input into clergy training by Jewish experts and for proper dialogue between both sides, not just 'tea parties in Golders Green'.

She will also demand exposure of anti-Semitism wherever it occurs, whether of commission or omission. She will conclude, 'We face a hard struggle as the Jewish community makes up only 0.5 per cent of the UK population and is falling. There has been a large Jewish emigration, particularly since January, to Israel. Jews don't tend to complain, but to vote with their feet.' She is critical of some in the leadership of her own community as 'too clubbable and biddable', a stance she believes invites contempt, if indeed it is that, from institutions such as the BBC, some Anglicans and universities. She apportions blame on both sides: 'Remember Rabbi Tarfon, a contemporary of Jesus, in Pirke Avot: 'You may not be able to complete the work, but it is not up to you to desist from it.'

Dr Lancaster has, by her own admission, become an irritant to many, in particular to the BBC, who she is relentless in taking to task whenever she detects any hint of an anti-Israel bias. Nevertheless, leaving the Beeb out of it for the moment, there is strong substance to Dr Lancaster's concerns. And she is by no means alone in voicing them. In a recent lecture the polemicist Melanie Phillips also delivered a devastating analysis of the resurgence of anti-Semitism. Just from where I sit, at my desk in Wapping, I encounter evidence of it with alarming regularity. There is the rising incidence of anti-Semitic attacks as recorded by the Community Security Trust, the increasing anti-Israel rhetoric from too many sections of society, the repulsive green-ink letters and upper-cased emails I receive whenever I address this subject. Just take the Rachel Corrie production at the Royal Court. Rachel died when she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer, a Caterpillar in fact. Undoubtedly this was a terrible tragedy, but why no mobilisation of public sentiment for all the Jewish Rachels killed by Palestinian suicide bombers? Then there is the seeming acceptability of publishing a poem in a book for distribution to British schools in which a young schoolboy empathises with how Hitler felt when ordering Jews into the gas chambers. Julie Burchill highlights some of the problems with this poem here.

As Bishop Herbert said to me yesterday: 'We have been here before and we do not want it to result in what happened before.' Incredible though it seems, at least to me, the world's oldest hatred is still with us. As the established church in this country, the Church of England is in a strong position to help eradicate it. The Archbishop of Canterbury is in the strongest position of all but we all have a role to play. To paraphrase Rabbi Tarfon, however slight the impact of our endeavours, it is incumbent on us all to fight it this ever-recurrent evil and to bring a halt to it before it is too late.

Posted by Ruth Gledhill on Tuesday, 08 November 2005 at 11:17 AM in Books, Current Affairs, Religion, Weblogs

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Labor: Leaving gov't is 'done deal'

From Jerusalem Post Nov. 13, 2005 13:13 Updated Nov. 13, 2005 23:35 By JPOST.COM STAFF .. . .

Most Labor ministers said Sunday morning that the party's departure from the government was a 'done deal' but noted that the official decision to leave the government should be taken by party institutions. Some said that the path that Peretz adopted was too impulsive, and added that parting from the Likud should be done in 'good spirits'.

The announcement came three days after Amir Peretz was chosen as head of the Labor Party, and amid growing tensions between Peretz and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which hit a new high Sunday morning as Likud members lambasted the union leader, who in turn threatened to move up his deadline for breaking apart the government.

Peretz's promise to pull his party out of the coalition was part of his pre-election platform.
The initial argument began when Sharon, having discussed the possibility of meeting with Peretz as early as Sunday, decided to postpone the meeting until Thursday. In response, Peretz threatened on Saturday night to topple Sharon's government as early as Wednesday by voting for a proposal submitted by MK Yitzhak Levy (National Union) to disband the Knesset and go to elections.

"If the meeting with Sharon does not take place at the beginning of the week, we will have to topple the government already on Wednesday," Peretz told Channel 2. . . .The initial response from the Sharon camp was mild, and even mildly apologetic, as Sharon's associates responded that Sharon genuinely does not have time to meet with Peretz until Thursday because of the large number of world leaders who came to Israel for the ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the Rabin assassination.

. . .Peretz blamed Sharon for the break in the communications between the newly-elected Labor head and the prime minister, saying that he had called the prime minister 22 times on Saturday without receiving an answer. In response, an unnamed Sharon source said that "a person who makes 22 phone calls to the same number within an hour-and-a-half must have a psychological infirmity."

A Likud source said that Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon tried to contact Peretz, but that the labor leader refused to speak with him and insisted that he would speak only with Sharon.
Likud loyalists did not hesitate to characterize Peretz as a populist union leader who was unused to the niceties of national office. Associates of the prime minister said that "Peretz has to learn that this isn't the Histadrut, and he can't use threats to get his way," a statement reiterated by MK Ronnie Bar-On, a seasoned Sharon supporter within the fractured Likud Party. Bar-On added that Peretz had never ceased to pound on tables and shout into megaphones. "It is possible that within the Labor Party, they decided to return to a small workers organization, in light of events over the weekend," Bar-On said.

In response, Peretz's associates issued a statement accusing Sharon of trying to "pull off political tricks aimed at preventing Labor from voting on Wednesday on pushing forward the elections." .....

US urges revival of peace process

From The Australian:From correspondents in Jerusalem November 14, 2005 ---

VISITING US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Israel and the Palestinians to make new efforts to revive the peace process still bogged down after Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip.

On the fourth leg of a regional tour, Rice arrived in Israel late on Sunday as Palestinian officials appealed for the swift reopening of the Gaza-Egypt border, which has remained closed since Israel left Gaza on September 12.

Addressing a conference in Jerusalem, Rice said peace was a 'realistic' possibility if both sides took their responsibilities seriously. 'If Palestinians fight terrorism and lawless violence, and advance democratic reform, and if Israel takes no actions to pre-judge a final settlement and works to improve the daily lives of the Palestinian people, the possibility of peace is both hopeful and realistic,' she said. The United States has been pressing the Palestinians to crack down on anti-Israeli violence but Ms Rice signalled she also expected gestures from the Jewish state.

Washington's top diplomat also hammered home the message that dismantling the "terror infrastructure" was critical to peace efforts, while warning the Palestinian Authority against allowing the radical Hamas movement to participate in the forthcoming elections. "Dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism is essential to peace because in the final analysis, no democratic government can tolerate armed parties with one foot in the realm of politics and one foot in the camp of terrorism," Ms Rice said.

... Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that with the elections only two months away, the Palestinian leadership was facing a "critical period" which would determine the future of its relationship with Israel. "The coming period is critical for the Palestinian Authority," he warned. "It has to choose if it will take a path of peace and dialogue, or if it will choose a path of extremist terror, which permits the existence of terror organisations and allows their participation in the political system before they lay down their arms." It would not be possible for Israel to accept a situation in which "terror organisations will not give up their weapons and will even gain legitimacy for their existence under the umbrella of a democratic system," he said. January's elections will be the first time Hamas, which has been behind the majority of suicide bombings during the five-year Palestinian uprising, has consented to participate in parliamentary politics.

On Monday, Ms Rice will hold talks with Sharon before attending a state ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the murder of premier Yitzhak Rabin. She is then expected in Ramallah for talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. Talks were expected to focus on the stalled negotiations on reopening the Rafah terminal on the Gaza-Egypt border, officials on both sides said. In what appeared to be an allusion to the stalled Rafah talks, Mr Sharon said he hoped to see "positive agreements" emerging in the coming days.

. . .Washington has put pressure on Israel to conclude an agreement on arrangements at Rafah as quickly as possible in a bid to ignite Palestinian economic life, otherwise in deep malaise.
International special envoy James Wolfensohn, who has been spearheading talks on the dispute, believes "the next 72 hours are critical" to his mission to see the Rafah terminal reopened, a member of his entourage said.