Friday, November 25, 2005

U.K. slams Israel over settlements

from Ynetnews (11.25.05, 08:46) ...

In report compiled by U.K. consulate in Israel, presented before EU committee, Britain slams Israel for illegal construction in east Jerusalem, accuses country of sabotaging peace process with Palestinians....

Straw. 'Israel sabotaged peace process'
Photo: CNN

Israel is guilty of breaking international laws, advocating membership in extremist groups, and sabotaging the peace process with the Palestinians by continuing construction in eastern Jerusalem, according to a confidential report compiled by the British consulate in
Jerusalem and presented before the EU.

In the harsh report, which was published Friday by British newspaper The Guardian, the U.K. Foreign Ministry Foreign Ministry levels accusations against Israel and charges that the Jewish state is attempting to interfere with peace negotiations and works intensively to prevent eastern Jerusalem from becoming the future Palestinian capital.

Presented by the British Foreign Minister Jack Sraw before an EU committee, the report reveals the U.K.'s estimates and standing regarding Israel. The committee has, in light of the report, expressed objection to Israel's moves, but postponed taking any concrete steps on the issue following pressures exerted by Israel's ally Italy. The report's authors claim in their account that Israel is illegally constructing settlements in the east Jerusalem area, in order to prevent any future transfer of the territory to Palestinian hands. The report brings the example of the construction of thousands of housing units in the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement, aimed at appending the community to Jerusalem, according to the report.

If this is accomplished, the West Bank will be divided into two separate geographical parts.
Once the Israeli construction in the city is completed, eastern Jerusalem will be disconnected from neighboring Palestinian towns such as Ramallah and Bethlehem, which will have severe repercussions on the Palestinians' lives, the report states.

'Israel violated international law'
The report further attacks Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government, and claims that eastern Jerusalem is higher on the PM's priority list than peace with the Palestinians. Israel's actions in Jerusalem were taken in violation of international law and the principles of the Road Map peace plan, the report claims. The British diplomats also state in the report they believe that the government's moves have encouraged the capital's residents to join extremist groups.
Remarking on the country's close supervision of roadblocks on highways leading in and out of Jerusalem, the British writers claim these are intended to restrain the growth of the Palestinian population in the city.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in response to the report, that "Israel believes that Jerusalem should remain its unified capital. However, it is aware that the issue will be brought to discussion with the Palestinians in the final stages of the peace talks.

Bad week for Hizbullah

Analysis from Jerusalem Post Nov. 25, 2005 0:39 Updated Nov. 25, 2005 9:20 By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN ...

It was condemned by the United Nations, dozens of its fighters were killed or wounded in a botched assault on Galilee, a chance to nab an Israeli hostage slipped through its fingers and a local spy was captured. All in all it was a bad week for Hizbullah... it suffered one of its most significant military defeats in its history of daring clashes with the IDF.

Military sources said that Hizbullah had been planning Monday's assault for months with the aim of a highly visible victory - either killing many Israeli soldiers or more likely kidnapping them and parading them in Beirut. For this purpose it ...struck at 20 IDF outposts nearly simultaneously with scores of mortar shells and anti-tank rounds.

The result? A few wounded Israeli soldiers. ...Seven Hizbullah fighters dead and dozens wounded.... It abandoned all of its border outposts in southern Lebanon, and the IDF...destroyed 13 of them, including its brigade-level headquarters, military sources said.

...What was Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah thinking he could gain by launching this attack? "They wanted to show there was still Israeli aggression that requires defense on the border and that they were the defenders of the border. They wanted to quash talk of disarming them," said Lt.-Col. (res.) Moshe Marzuk, a former head of the Lebanon desk in IDF intelligence.

"But ...Not only did the UN Security Council condemn them for starting the attack, but so did Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora," said Marzuk, a researcher at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

...Military sources note there is increasing support in Lebanon to take on Hizbullah's armed militia. They noted that Saniora has asked the Europeans to help him strengthen his army to face Hizbullah....

This Sabbath: Most Jews Ever in Hevron

Arutz Sheva - Israel National News: 11:17 Nov 25, '05 / 23 Cheshvan 5766 By Ezra HaLevi ...

The Jewish community in Hevron is expecting more guests this Sabbath than any previous Sabbath in the history of the renewed Jewish presence in the City of the Patriarchs.

Thousands descend upon Hevron each year on the Sabbath corresponding with Parshat Chayei Sarah, the Torah portion dealing with Abraham's purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs as a burial-place for his beloved wife Sarah.

Abraham was offered the cave at no charge by the local Hittite population in Hevron 3,000 years ago, but insisted on paying for it to ensure that the ownership of the property would not be contested in future generations. According to Moshe Ben-Zimra, a Hevron resident busy with logistical preparations for the coming Sabbath, there has been an unprecedented interest in attending this year's Shabbat Hevron. "I estimate that that this Sabbath in Hevron will be the largest ever known since the time of Abraham," he said. Visitors will be housed in school dormitories and in every room of families' homes in the adjacent city of Kiryat Arba."

Families can be heard on the streets discussing how many people they are hosting for Shabbat – usually around 15 or twenty," Kiryat Arba resident Michael Pollack told Arutz-7. "The stores are all packed and Shabbat supplies are on sale in a show of appreciation to the visitors. Tents are also popping up all around town."The Egged bus company is providing extended service to Hevron from both Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva throughout Friday and against after the Sabbath ends Saturday evening.All areas of the Tomb of the Patriarchs will be open to Jewish worshippers during the course of the Sabbath. Usually, the Hall of Isaac and Rebecca is used as a mosque by local Arabs, but it is open to Jews seven days a year....

Nazareth man indicted for Hizbullah ties

From Jerusalem Post Nov. 24, 2005 12:16 Updated Nov. 24, 2005 19:45 By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH ...

A 38-year-old Israeli Arab from the Galilee who admitted to being recruited by a Hizbullah operative in Uganda to compile intelligence information on the movement of security forces, was indicted in the Nazareth Magistrates court on Thursday.... He confessed to investigators that he had been instructed to purchase a restaurant in the Haifa area together with a Jewish partner, and take advantage of the venue to befriend members of the security forces and glean information from them on IDF movements, bases and planned operations against the Hizbullah. In order to ensure the plan would succeed, Hizbullah was willing to provide him funds to the tune of $1million.

...According to details released by the Shin Bet on Thursday, the suspect traveled to South Africa to visit his relatives in July. There he met up with his brother in law identified as Mustafa Ibrahim, who lives in Dubai. The latter told the suspect that he wanted to introduce him to Hizbullah operatives located in Uganda and that they would travel together under the guise of businessmen.

Once there, they met up with a Hizbullah operative identified as Abu Mohammed, who asked the suspect, because of his knowledge of Hebrew, to supply Hizbullah with intelligence information. Abu Mohammed also asked the suspect if he had any acquaintances who serve in the Israeli security forces and advised him to take advantage of his contacts to glean information from them.

....Security officials said that since the IDF withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Hizbullah has intensified its efforts to recruit Israeli Arabs. Since the outbreak of the Al Aksa intifada in September 2000, security forces have uncovered 14 incidents involving Israeli Arabs and Hizbullah operatives from southern Lebanon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Political Bombshell: Sharon quits Likud

from Ynetnews -: "Sharon: Staying in Likud waste of time" . . . .

In press conference Monday evening, Sharon says he decided to leave Likud, give Israelis hope. Staying in Likud means "waste of time, political struggles," he says
Attila Somfalvi

. . . In a press conference Monday evening, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he decided to leave the Likud .. .noting that staying in the ruling party would have been a "waste of time."

"After great difficulties I decided to leave the Likud today," Sharon said. "The Likud in its current constellation cannot lead Israel to its national goals. I set up the Likud in order to serve a national idea and give hope to the people of Israel. Unfortunately, this is no longer there (in the Likud)."

. ..Turning his attention to Vice Premier Shimon Peres, Sharon said: “I don’t know if he wishes to remain in the political life. I’m not sure, but I know he still has some very interesting plans.”

Addressing the possibility of Peres joining his party, the prime minister added: “For some reason I have a feeling he’s a bit tired of the political life…but in my view he still has the ability to contribute.”

13 Likud MKs join Sharon
Earlier, Sharon succeeded in recruiting 13 other Likud Knesset members to his new party, National Responsibility, thereby qualifying for extra campaign funding as a ‘breakaway faction.’

In order to qualify as a breakaway faction, the new party needed at least a third of the Likud’s 40 Knesset members.

. ..Members in the alliance so far include ministers Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Meir Sheetrit, Gideon Ezra, and Abraham Hirchson, and Members of Knesset Omri Sharon, Marina Solodkin, Zeev Boim, Jacob Edery, Ronnie Bar-On, Majalli Whbee, Eli Aflalo, and Ruhama Avraham.

Along with Ariel Sharon the team amounts to 14 parliamentarians who have been asked to sign letters of resignation from the Likud and fill in membership forms for the new party, “National Responsibility” in a sign of allegiance to their old-new boss.

Inbal Gavriely, who was believed to having decided to follow Sharon, reportedly opted to stay in Likud when aides fell short of promising her a ministerial portfolio in case the new faction wins the elections. Ruhama Avraham is being considered for the Interior Ministry, while Eli Aflalo is considered for the Trade, Industry and Labor Minister.

Earlier Monday, the new faction held its first meeting in Sharon’s Jerusalem office, after the PM officially announced his resignation from Likud in a letter to the party’s Central Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi.

'A new path'
Sharon told his new faction members that "I am happy that you are here. We are embarking on a new path and we must prepare for the future." In the Prime Minister’s Office aides were sufficiently upbeat to speak of a good atmosphere during the meeting, with MKs praising Sharon’s decision as appropriate in light of the paralysis caused to his government by Likud rebels opposed to the disengagement from Gaza.

Sharon told his new followers that a meeting of the faction will be held once a week, allowing members to express their views on how the new alliance should move forward. Sharon outlined the broad lines of his agenda in the meeting, vowing to follow the Road Map plan for peace and continue the war on Palestinian terror. “I do not envisage another disengagement in the near future,” said Sharon.. . .

Ilan Marciano contributed to the report

Israel residents of the north ordered into bomb shelters

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Nov. 21, 2005 0:16 Updated Nov. 21, 2005 19:44 - "Hizbullah shelling, gunfights rock northeast" Israel By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN . . .

Following an afternoon of escalating violence along the northeastern border between Israel and Lebanon, residents of the north from the Mediterranean to Mount Hermon were ordered into bomb shelters Monday evening for the first time in years.

This latest announcement followed mortar and Katyusha barrages against the northern Galilee towns of Kiryat Shmona and Metulla during which one house in Metulla was directly hit by a Katyusha. While family members were in the house at the time, no injuries were reported. Extensive damage was caused to the building.

Until that point, the heavy mortar barrages launched Monday by Hizbullah against Israel had been confined to the more sparsely populated sector of Mount Dov, to the east. Residents of kibbutzim along the border had already been ordered into shelters an hour earlier. In response to the latest shelling, IAF aircraft bombed a building used by Hizbullah as a headquarters in southern Lebanon, as well as a number of roads.

Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, speaking from his headquarters in Tel-Aviv, said the Hizbullah attack on the northeastern border throughout the afternoon was a coordinated combination gunfire, mortar fire and kidnap attempt. "Syrian and Iranian interests are behind this event. Their interest is to escalate the situation in the north to alleviate the pressure off Syria," Mofaz said.

. . . .Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim, speaking on Channel 1 TV, reiterated Mofaz's analysis that Hizbullah's actions were aimed at releasing pressure from Syria - which is implicated in the assassination of former Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri. He said that the battle with Hizbullah has spread to the entire northern front.

Earlier Monday, soldiers killed four Hizbullah terrorists who were trying to infiltrate Israel ... (and). . .prevented two attempts by terrorists to kidnap soldiers at army positions along the border. Eleven soldiers were reported wounded in Monday's events, with two reported to be in serious condition.

. . .Earlier in the afternoon, the guerrillas fired on five Israeli positions in the Sheba Farms.
In retaliation, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at suspected guerrilla hideouts about 500 meters from the Lebanese-Israeli border, Lebanese security officials in south Lebanon said.

. ..Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened an urgent situation assessment with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and top IDF brass on Sunday night to discuss the troubling Hizbullah behavior. The situation with Syria and Lebanon was also discussed, government sources said. According to the sources, Hizbullah has been detected taking unusual steps near Mount Dov, which intelligence officers here interpret as preparations by the Iranian-backed group to stage a "quality attack," like kidnapping soldiers.

Shortly after the meeting, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz issued a public warning to Lebanon to take responsibility for its country. . . ."Hizbullah is scrambling things up on the northern border at this moment. Hizbullah understands that it is playing with fire, but this is because the firefighters in Lebanon aren't working. These firefighters are the government of Lebanon and no one else." Halutz also said that Syria was aiding Hizbullah both directly by arming them and indirectly by "synchronizing" their actions.

AP contributed to this report.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Iran will block IAEA

From Jerusalem Post Nov. 20, 2005 16:03 Updated Nov. 20, 2005 16:14 By ASSOCIATED PRESS TEHERAN, Iran ...

The Iranian Parliament approved a bill on Sunday that requires the government to block intrusive inspections of Iran's facilities if the UN nuclear agency refers the Iranian program to the UN Security Council.

Of 197 lawmakers present, 183 voted in favor of the bill. The session was broadcast live on state-run radio, four days in advance of an International Atomic Energy Agency board meeting to consider referring Teheran the council for possible sanctions.

..."If Iran's nuclear file is referred or reported to the UN Security Council, the government will be required to cancel all voluntary measures it has taken and implement all scientific, research and executive programs to enable the rights of the nation under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty," lawmaker Kazem Jalali quoted the bill as saying.

Canceling voluntary measures means Iran will stop allowing intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and would resume uranium enrichment.
Iran resumed uranium reprocessing activities at its Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility in August, a step before enrichment, but had said it preferred a negotiated solution to begin uranium enrichment. Under the additional protocol to the treaty, Iran has been allowing IAEA inspectors to carry out short-notice inspections of its nuclear facilities. Iran has signed the protocol but never ratified it.

The 35-member IAEA board of governors meets on Thursday, and in a preparatory report, the UN agency found that Iran received the detailed designs from the network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program. His network supplied Libya with information for its now-dismantled nuclear weapons program that included an engineer's drawing of an atomic bomb. The document given to Iran in 1987 showed how to cast "enriched, natural and depleted uranium metal into hemispherical forms," said the confidential IAEA report.

...The US and Europeans want Iran to permanently halt uranium enrichment, a technology that gives Iran the capacity to produce materials for a nuclear bomb if it decides to.
Iran says the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty allows it to pursue a nuclear program for peaceful purposes, and that it will never give up the right to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel.

The Likud Faces the Amir Peretz Challenge

(An opinion piece) from Arutz Sheva - Israel National News: 20:44 Nov 16, '05 / 14 Cheshvan 5766 By Hillel Fendel ....

With the Likud preparing for new elections and the threat posed by Amir Peretz, Likud member and journalist Moshe Ifregan analyzes the significance of Peretz's win and how the party should respond.

'The Likud most definitely feels threatened by Peretz,' Ifregan told Arutz-7's Ariel Kahane this week, 'but what is more significant is the fact that Peretz's win has caused a tremendous shake-up, the ramifications of which can barely even be grasped.'

'For one thing,' Ifregan marveled, 'Ariel Sharon has lost his 'Archimedes Point' in Israeli politics, namely, [ex-Labor Party leader] Shimon Peres. Ever since Sharon was first elected almost five years ago, Peres always gave him political backing, to the point where Sharon never really had any opposition. Sharon was able to feel that he could essentially act alone, with no real threat against him.

Ifregan did not need to repeat the well-known fact that Peres, as leader of the Labor Party, had long been pushing to join a unity government with the Likud, and that once such a unity government was formed, resisted all efforts to dissolve it. Peretz, on the other hand, was outspokenly in favor of quitting the Likud government, and said before the election that this would be the first thing he would do. Yesterday, in fact, the Labor ministers accepted his position, voting unanimously to resign from the government at a time of Peretz's choosing.

New elections are being considered in early March 2006, or possibly in May."But Peretz has not only won," Ifregan continued, "he has also taken away Sharon's left-wing option for a [centrist] government. The feeling is that Sharon is facing a large vacuum. What choice does he have? Even if Sharon wins the primaries in the Likud, with whom will he form a government - with extreme left-wing Peretz? Or with the right-wing that he has already lost? Either option is bad for him." "I'm telling you," Ifregan said, "this victory by Peretz has had astonishing results. The feeling is that in one second, Sharon has lost everything. He is no longer king, but just a regular politician. This has not yet been absorbed by the political establishment. Sharon, in my opinion, never had a real strategy - he was merely an 'etrog' [precious Sukkot holiday fruit], protected by the media - but now he has lost even this, because the left-wing will no longer protect him. This is a dynamic process, with many ramifications still to be revealed.""True, there is a measure of unity now in Labor, as well as some election fever adrenaline.

But the Likud has many options: Peretz can be quickly made into mince-meat in the coming campaign, because he is vulnerable from all angles. He has no national experience, he can be portrayed as one who oppresses the economy with all his nationwide strikes, he is a Peace Now extreme left-winger, etc. The ball is in the Likud's court, and if it reacts correctly, it can win easily.""We have to absorb the fact that the Likud's electoral power is no longer from the right-wing. Even now, after the disengagement, the Likud still receives 35-37 seats in all the polls. The Likud's power is in the center, or what can be called the 'soft right' - those who bought the disengagement. They won't vote for the National Union. As soon as the Likud solves its internal problems, and comes up with a general policy that most of the MKs and ministers can agree with, it will be able to boast of its economic policies, and the Likud will win."s able to feel that he could essentially act alone, with no real threat against him.'