Saturday, February 18, 2006

If Israel Gives in to Hamas, World Will Follow

From Israel National News Feb 16, '06 / 18 Shevat 5766 By Hillel Fendel. . .

A leading political scientist says that Israel is continuing past mistakes, paving the way for future hatred and murder by talking with terrorists - even if only on a local level.

Prof. Ephraim Inbar, the head of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University---:"The world is looking at us, and if it sees us beginning to find ways to approve of Hamas, even partially, it will be happy to join in the fun. We have to ensure that the wall of opposition to Hamas stays firm; so far, the countries who are willing to talk with Hamas, such as Russia and Venezuela - and France is also showing some signs of coming towards Hamas - are doing this only in order to flex their muscles against the United States..."

Turkey, as well, hosted Hamas leaders this morning. Foreign Minister Tzippy Livny said she knew of the meeting in advance, and informed her Turkish counterpart that Israel insists that no recognition be shown to Hamas until it abandons its goal of destroying Israel. Turkish officials said they agreed to meet with Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal and other Hamas representatives in order to "inform [them] of what the international community expects from them."

In addition, Jordan announced that it would invite Hamas leaders for a visit next week - the first time they will be allowed into the kingdom since they were banished in 1999.

Prof. Inbar said that Israel is once again repeating a grave mistake that led in the past to catastrophic results: "It should be known that Israel is already talking with Hamas, on the municipal level, with various mayors from the Hamas organization. The mayors are working for their municipal needs, but in the final analysis, they are building in their cities a strong educational infrastructure for the continued fight against Israel. They are building Moslem schools which teach that shahidim [martyrs] who kill Jews are to be admired and emulated.

. . .. It must be made very clear that what we did in the past [in talking with them] is total nonsense and must be stopped.""We must understand once and for all," Prof. Inbar continued, "that all money that reaches the PA frees up its other resources to help terrorism and the families of terrorists. There is no such thing as pure humanitarian aid. In addition, there is no reason to give humanitarian help to those who chose Hamas as their government; it is appropriate for them to suffer..."

Asked if Israel is not bound by its agreements with the Palestinian Authority, Inbar said, "Of course not. They violated their commitments not to act with violence against Israel, and so I don't see any ethical basis for a claim that we are bound to these agreements." He warned against engaging in dialogue with Hamas: "To say that they have to abandon terrorism [is not enough]; this is exactly what we said about the PLO and Fatah 12 years ago, but yet they continued with terrorism throughout... We need not act like an ostrich, but we should rather tell the world exactly where we stand, and tell them the real truth that they might not like to hear - such as, 'There is no solution.' People don't like to hear bad news, but the PA is bad news.""The world has become accustomed to seeing the Palestinians as a suffering nation," the professor said, "but it forgets that this is situation is of their own choice."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Officials ready sanctions on Hamas gov't


Israel is considering labeling the Palestinian Authority an enemy state on the level of Syria, Lebanon and Libya after Hamas takes over the Palestinian Legislative Council on Saturday, according to foreign ministry sources.

The move would be part of efforts to tighten the noose around Hamas, which Israel is seeking to isolate internationally until it renounces violence and recognizes the Jewish state. ...Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on Thursday approved a long list of harsh economic sanctions ranging from a ban on Palestinian workers entering Israel to an immediate halt of money transfers to the PA.

"The swearing-in of the Palestinian parliament on Saturday rings a gong for us," Mofaz told security officials at the meeting on the sanctions. "A Hamas government will mean an authority of terror and murder. Already today Hamas is part of the Axis of Evil that begins in Iran, continues to Syria, Hizbullah and now to the Palestinian Authority....This is a serious threat to Israel."

In addition to slamming the brakes on funding, Mofaz accepted recommendations to turn Gaza's Karni and Erez Crossings into international border terminals. If the recommendation is accepted by Olmert, the Palestinians would no longer be allowed to move merchandise out of Gaza free of charge and would need to pay customs and other taxes. Mofaz also froze plans to build a harbor and airport in Gaza. For the time being, Mofaz ordered the defense establishment to refrain from placing any restrictions on the transfer of humanitarian, electric and water supplies to Gaza.

The measures, which officials said were expected to be approved by Olmert during a high-level meeting on Friday, would go into effect beginning Sunday. The sanction's goal, officials said, was to convince Hamas to meet Israel's conditions for talks - an acceptance of previous agreements with the PA; recognition of Israel's right to exist and the dismantlement of its terror infrastructure. Mofaz appointed Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yosef Mishlav to head up a team which will present weekly recommendations on how to further isolate Hamas.

"As of Saturday, all the rules of the game change," said Haim Ramon, a senior member of Olmert's Kadima party. "What needs to guide us ... is that we will not honor agreements with a terrorist authority led by Hamas." One of those agreements is Israel's annual transfer to the Palestinians of about $600 million in taxes and customs duties it collects on behalf of Palestinian merchants and laborers. The transfers are crucial for the PA and are mostly used to pay the salaries of 140,000 government workers - 40 percent of whom work for the security forces. Honoring the transfer agreement after Hamas takes power makes no sense, Ramon said. "Is it even conceivable that we would collect money and hand it over to the terrorist organization," he asked.

But while some security officials recommended harsher measures such as cutting off the electrical supply to Gaza, Mofaz ordered the defense establishment to hold back for now .... Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Political-Military Bureau argued Thursday that extreme measures like stopping the electrical flow to Gaza could backfire....

Senior security officials who participated in Thursday's meeting with Mofaz including head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Yuval Diskin and head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin asserted that Hamas was still involved in anti-Israel terror activity despite the group's attempts to present itself as terror-free. "Their goal is to mislead the public and to cause fractures among international decision makers while they are busy building up their forces for a violent showdown with the State of Israel," the officials told Mofaz....

Follow this link for the full article

Hamas calls for terror list removal

From the network by AFP correspondents in Damascus, Syria, February 17, 2006 ...

SENIOR Hamas official Mussa Abu Marzuk called today for the United States to remove the Palestinian Islamist movement from its list of terrorist organisations following last month's election victory.

"Hamas was put on the list of terrorist organisations because of its policies which are opposed to those to the United States in the region," said Abu Marzuk, a member of the movement's political bureau. "This is an unjustifiable reason because Hamas has a strong base on the Palestinian street and won a clear victory in the elections" in the Palestinian territories on January 15, he said.

..."Hamas carries out operations in the occupied territories. It has not expanded its operations outside of Palestine," said Abu Marzuk, while noting that he had been jailed in the United States in 1995.

The movement's leaders have rejected calls for the group to disarm before it can form a Palestinian government, saying they won a solid mandate from the Palestinian people and will not accept any preconditions.

Hamas, which maintains an armed wing and calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, has spearheaded a campaign of deadly attacks against the Jewish state.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

War crime suspect admits to his leading fascist role

From The Melbourne Age, By Chris Johnston, February 16, 2006 ...

A MELBOURNE man accused of atrocities against Jews in World War II has admitted for the first time that he was a high-ranking official in the notorious Nazi-linked Arrow Cross party.

Lajos Polgar, 89, of Ferntree Gully, has been placed under "suspicion of genocide" by the Hungarian Government over war crimes against Jews. He is also being investigated by the world's foremost Nazi hunter, the Simon Wiesenthal centre's Efraim Zuroff, who arrived in Melbourne last night.

... last night (Lajos Polgar) told The Age: "Oh yes, I was a leader (of the party). Only for two months, in Budapest." His wife since 1951, Elizabeth, said she met Mr Polgar at the Arrow Cross headquarters in Budapest, known as the "House of Loyalty" or the "House of Fidelity." "He was the chief and I was his secretary," she said.

Dr Zuroff yesterday met Justice Minister Chris Ellison and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock in Canberra to discuss the possible extradition of Polgar and fellow alleged Nazi war criminal Charles Zentai, of Perth.

...Mr Polgar yesterday admitted that Arrow Cross members rounded up and killed Jews in
Budapest in 1944 and 1945. But he said he had nothing to do with it. ".... I never touched a Jew or anybody else. ..... The Jews were not wanted in Hungary. They were taking over. When they come into power and money they are can't help but want to get rid of them....but the biggest problem actually was that the Jews have no real home to send them to. The idea was to put them into ghettoes … where they would be protected. Then after the war they would be sent back to settle peacefully in Palestine. So in a noble sense, I am a Zionist. Zionism wants a home for the Jews."

Dr Zuroff said he found it "interesting" Mr Polgar had a seemingly clean conscience. "But it's not hard to have a clean conscience if you have no conscience. He can vigorously deny anything he wants."

Mark Aarons, author of War Criminals Welcome: Australia, a Sanctuary for Fugitive War Criminals Since 1945, said Mr Polgar's denials of involvement in atrocities were hard to believe. "It's impossible for someone to hold a command position in Arrow Cross and not know what the policies were. It's like someone visiting Auschwitz at the height of the gas chamber operations and saying they saw no evidence of it."


Palestinian groups prepare 'massive new war' against Israel

FROM WorldNetDaily's JERUSALEM BUREAU Posted: February 14, 2006 By Aaron Klein© 2006 ...

...Palestinian terror leaders tell WorldNetDaily (that) recent events here are leading them to launch what they call a third intifada ... against Israel consisting of suicide bombings, rocket attacks against Jewish communities and "a few new surprises in our arsenal."

..."The new intifada is only a question of time and this will be the hardest and the most dangerous one. It's just about timing until the order to blow up a new wave of attacks will be given," Abu Nasser, a senior Al Aqsa Brigades leader from the Balata refugee camp in northern Samaria told WorldNetDaily in an interview.

Israel expecting new wave of terror
In the last 10 days Israeli forces intercepted 12 potential suicide bombers and have stopped several dozen bombings the past few months, prompting fears of "a new and worrisome wave of terror," said Yuval Diskin, head of Israel's Shin Bet security services.

... members of the Islamic Jihad terror group expressed disappointment their organization decided not to run in elections, and have warned they will stop Hamas from imposing a truce.

Last week, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced his Kadima party, leading overwhelmingly in the polls for next month's Israeli elections, will seek to "change Israel's borders" by withdrawing from most of the West Bank. Some security officials told WND they fear terror groups will increase attacks to claim credit for an Israeli West Bank pull-out.
After Israel announced its withdrawal from Gaza, which it carried out this past summer, terror organizations, mostly led by Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees umbrella group, increased attacks in the area, at one point firing an average of seven rockets per week at Gaza's Jewish communities.

Diskin warned that Iran and Syria, currently under mounting international pressure, are streaming large sums of money to Palestinian terror groups to spur on local cells to carry out attacks in hopes of starting regional violence.

...The terror groups themselves say they are planning a new wave of violence against Israelis, which some terror leaders are calling a "third intifada." They detailed for WorldNetDaily how they will carry it out.

...Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal over the weekend said his group might sign a long-term cease fire with Israel, but told reporters he will not ask other Palestinian group to stop attacks.
Abu Nasser told WND the Brigades will not respect any cease fire agreed to by Hamas and will not halt attacks at Hamas' request.

...Since Israel's evacuation of the Gaza Strip this past August, security officials have been warning that the Palestinian terror groups transferred their rocket capabilities to the West Bank, which is within firing range of Israel's international airport and many major Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Israel has confirmed that at least two rockets have been fired in the West Bank so far from the northern Samaria town of Jenin. There is information terror groups in the West Bank, particularly the Al Aqsa Brigades and Islamic Jihad, will step up attacks against the area's Jewish communities ahead of any Israeli withdrawal from the area.

WorldNetDaily caught up with Abu Oudai, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leader responsible for coordinating the organization's rocket network in the West Bank. He warned that his organization is preparing a rocket war against Israel: "We have launched [several] times and with the help of Allah we will launch these rockets regularly. There will be no calm, no cease fire until the occupation leaves our land. I don't need to tell you that the aerial distance from Jenin to Netanya, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities is not big without telling you what are all our plans concerning other parts of the West Bank."

Oudai said his organization and other terror groups have stockpiled Palestinian rockets, including Qassams, which can travel about 2 miles, more primitive Jenin-1 and Jenin-2s, and Arafat-1 and Arafat-2 rockets, some of which can reportedly travel up to 3 miles. He claimed his group is developing a new rocket that will put all of Israel's major cities within firing range.
"The very near future will prove their capacity to kill and destroy and to beat the Israelis in the West Bank exactly like we did with these rockets in the Gaza Strip," Oudai said.

....Abu Abir, spokesman for the Committees, boasted his group transported missiles to the West Bank. "If there is need, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and everywhere in Israel can become our target. Israelis must also know that we have already transferred the knowledge and the technology of producing rockets to the West Bank," Abu Abir told WorldNetDaily....

Islamic Jihad: 'The Israelis should wait for our surprises'
Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for every suicide bombing against Israel since last February's cease fire, including bombings in a Tel Aviv disco and restaurant and a Netanya shopping mall, among others. Al Aqsa leaders told WorldNetDaily they aided the recent bombings. Islamic Jihad also says it fired most of the rockets launched from the Gaza Strip since Israel's August withdrawal.

...WorldNetDaily spoke with Islamic Jihad's northern West Bank leader Abu Khalil, who warned his terror group is planning a terror onslaught to chase Israel from the West Bank and eventually from Jerusalem. "We will launch very soon very painful attacks that will shake the enemy. In fact, this is more the continuation of the (second) intifada because we never said that the intifada has ended. We will never give calm and security to the enemy. This will happen only when Israel will run away from Jerusalem and the West Bank like it did in Gaza," Abu Khalil said.

Abu Khalil, like leaders from the Al Aqsa Brigades, said his group will not respect a Hamas request to halt attacks against Israel. "I don’t believe the brothers in Hamas will ask us to stop.

....Hamas leaders claim they will focus on rebuilding Palestinian society, and have stated they may sign a long term cease fire agreement with Israel.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas chief in Gaza, told WorldNetDaily his group will "rebuild the Palestinian life shattered by corruption in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This is our goal now. To make a better life for the Palestinians." ...He said his group will likely agree to a long-term cease fire with the Jewish state, but said it will not recognize Israel or renounce its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel by "assaulting and killing."

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal this weekend said his group will not stop other Palestinian organizations from carrying out attacks against Israel.

... the Al-Mustaqbal Research Center in Gaza warned that after Israel's Gaza withdrawal Hamas attacks will be focused on West Bank Jewish communities. The Center is reportedly closely aligned with Hamas and, according to Israeli security officials, it espouses Hamas ideology:
"[Hamas will be] transporting warfare technologies such as mortars and rockets from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. These will provide an easy way to bombard Israeli populated areas adjacent to the security fence, and the fence, which is currently under construction, will therefore become useless," stated a recent publication by the Research Center, according to a translation by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at Israel's Center for Special Studies.

... Abu Hani, a leader of the PLFP's "armed wing," the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, told WorldNetDaily his group used the time earned from last year's cease fire to build its arsenal in preparation for a third intifada. "The last months were used for a rest in order to rehabilitate forces. The Palestinian people preserves its right to fight against Israel," Abu Hani said.
He told WorldNetDaily the PFLP is "forced" to launch a new terror war. "... the reality on the ground that dictates a new intifada. There is the fence, there is the building in the Jewish settlements, the daily Israeli penetration into Palestinian cities, villages and camps and of course the killing of our comrades and brothers," Abu Hani says.

...Abu Hani warned, "... The Gaza withdrawal proves unfortunately that force, attacks and rockets is the only language and attitude that the Israelis understand. They do not withdraw unless they are hit by the Palestinian resistance. So if there is a way that has already obliged the Israelis to withdraw, why not to use it again?"

Arabic-English translation services by Ali Waked

Arab Knesset Merger Calls For Islamic Rule, Praises Hamas

From Arutz Sheva 19:19 Feb 15, '06 / 17 Shevat 5766 By Ezra HaLevi. . .

Two Israeli Arab parties have merged ahead of Knesset elections, launching their campaign by calling for Islamic rule in Israel and praising the Hamas terror group.

"Rule on earth, at least in Arab and Muslim land, should be by the Caliph [Islamic ruler and heir to Muhammad's authority –ed.]," chairman of the new merger between the United Arab List and the Ta'al Party Ibrahim Sarsour said Wednesday. "We believe in Islam and in the Caliphate and not in separation between state and religion."

. . . ."There is a hidden hand that acts in a bid to bring the world to a clash of civilizations," Sarsour said, referring to the cartoons of Islam's founder published recently in European newspapers. "I speak of that gang in the White House that tries to force one society's culture on another's. This is a part of a campaign against Islam, a campaign aimed at enlisting support in the West for military action against Iran."

Sarsour praised the Hamas terror group, which he said would lead the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority to "progress and achievements, not catastrophes [the Arabic word for catastrophe – Nakba – is how the Muslim world refers to the Arab defeat in the 1948 War of Independence –ed]."The Arab politician said the overarching goal of the new merger of Arab parties is to prevent the "Israelization" and "Zionization" Arabs of Israel have had to combat.

Specifically, Sarsour said the party would work to increase Arab immigration to the Jewish state and increase relations between Arabs with Israeli citizenship and the PA.MK Ahmed Tibi said that the sentiments outlined by Sarsour represent the wishes of Israeli Arabs and said he did not think he was running against other Arab parties, but against "Zionist parties attempting to win Arab votes."Fellow MK Taleb A-Sana promised that the party would support bills such as those that brought about the withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria and budgets that benefit the Arab public. He did not rule out sitting in a coalition government.

A-Sana, together with Balad Party MK Azmi Bishara were questioned earlier this week by Israel’s Police International Serious Crimes Unit in Petah Tikva regarding their recent trips to enemy states such as Syria and Lebanon, which were taken without receiving permission from the Interior Ministry. While in Syria, A-Sana met with Baath Party officials and members of the Syrian parliament. MK Tibi was investigated for similar infractions last June.


Cox and Forkum's entry to the Holocaust cartoon competition

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hamas good for the Jews

From Ynet News 9/2/06 by Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael ...

Claims on the right and left about Hamas could well turn out to be wrong.

The debate in Israel about whether or not Hamas' victory in last months Palestinian Legislative Council elections will turn out to be positive or negative for the Jews misses the point of the Hamas victory.

Many people (mainly, but not only, on the political "right") feel Hamas' election victory will turn out badly for Israel, because the organization is committed to destroying the Zionist state and was responsible for most of the suicide attacks that defined the four-year suicide intifada. Hamas' successful run to power is assumed to expand that organization's ability to strike Israel.

Others (mainly, but not only on the political "left), feel Hamas' election will force the group to moderate and display some pragmatism now that it carries the responsibility that comes along with power and must provide bread and jobs to its constituency.

Both could turn out to be wrong.

First of all, what the additional power will government bring Hamas? What will it be able to do that it can't already do? One could argue that Hamas will gain expanded operational capability with the use of the PA and its institutions. But it is important to understand that the threat presented by these forces is far less than that presented by suicide bombers.

... Only following a long and painful process did we manage to learn our lesson and begin to build a policy of action that brought about a drastic reduction in the number of suicide attacks in Israel. This policy included extensive diplomatic initiatives, isolating terror commanders (mostly Hamas and Islamic Jihad), re-occupying the West Bank, wide scale arrests and targeted killings of central terror operatives (including Hamas leaders Sheikh Yassin and Dr. Rantissi). All these brought about a Hamas decision to declare a unilateral cease fire – not because they suddenly saw the light of Zionism, but rather because of pressure.

On the other hand… the claim that Hamas could now moderate could also be flawed. It sounds reasonable enough, but the Palestinians have proven time and again that when faced with a choice between radical ideology and pragmatic compromise (starting with the Peel Commission and including the U.N. partition plan), they do not necessarily choose compromise.

Hamas' victory in free elections does not represent a change in the Palestinian position or show that they have moved to the extreme. It only reveals their true feelings.

Israeli right-wingers and leftists alike must understand that this is the will of most Palestinians. We must understand this because we this is an ongoing fight that will continue for many years, and the most dangerous enemy we face is not terrorism (we can beat that), but rather self-deception.

In conclusion, Hamas' victory will not bolster terror because we are the ones who will prevent terror. That has not changed.

It will also not necessarily lead to Hamas' moderation. The organization will remain what it has always been.

The only change that has happened is in our ability to read the enemy. In this context, and perhaps only in this context, the Hamas victory is good for the Jews: No more Palestinians speak in the soft voice of Jacob while using the bloody hands of Esau to carry out terror attacks.

Gen. (mil) Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael is the head of the Security Studies Program at Tel Aviv University

Demographic threat a myth

An opinion from Ynet News 9/2/06 by Yoram Ettinger ....

The Jewish majority west of the Jordan River will remain strong

Here's an earthshaking fact: Now that Israel has pulled out of Gaza, there is a clear, firm Jewish majority in the territory west of the Jordan River. 67 percent, in fact. In contrast to popular notion, this majority is assured to continue well into the future, in light of a shrinking Arab population in Judea and Samaria (1. 8 percent), a rising Jewish population in Israel (2.1 percent), large scale Arab emigration since 1950 and Jewish aliya (immigration to Israel) that began in 1882.

Hamas' victory will spur on Arab emigration (especially amongst PA employees and their families), and growing anti-Semitism in France and the former Soviet Union will spur aliya (Jewish immigration).

False predictions
Israel's demographic establishment is based on predictions released by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics in 1997, according to which there are currently 2.4 million Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria. In reality, there are 1.4 million.

The Bureau claimed there would be a population explosion of some 170 percent in the 14 years between 1990-2004, from 1.5 million people according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics to 3.8 million according to the Palestinians, but not one demographer agreed.

How does one come up a million short? A new American-Israeli study presented at last month's Herzliya Conference by California researcher Bennet Zimmerman proves that the Palestinian predictions bore no semblance to the facts on the ground. For example:

• 325,000 Palestinians who reside abroad are counted in the 1997 statistics, according to the head of the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, February 26, 1998. This is similar to counting the 800,000 Israelis who live in the United States.

• 210,000 Jerusalem Arabs are counted twice – as "green line" Arabs and West Bank residents.

• 300,000 births never actually happened, as we see if we compare the Palestinian's 1997 prediction with subsequent birth records kept by the Palestinian health and education authorities.

• 236,000 Palestinians (total) were supposed to have moved to PA territory between 1997-2003 according to the Palestinian Bureau, but just 74,000 left the PA during that (310,000 difference).

• 105,000 Palestinians received blue Israeli identity cards in 1997, and they continue to be counted twice.

The Palestinian Election Committee says there are 760,000 eligible voters in Judea and Samaria, which points to 1.4 (not 2.4) million total residents. In other words, the ministries of health and education have documented a 70 percent exaggeration in the bureau of statistics prediction that forms the basis for Israel's demographic assessment.

Logical conclusions
How did a million Palestinians "disappear"?
Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt, the Washington-based demography expert that appeared at the Herzliya Conference, praised the study: "The conclusions are logical and overwhelmingly convincing. This study caught the demographers sleeping on guard duty," he said. And so, the demographic establishment ignores the quick drop in natural growth in the third world, the Muslim world (1.9 children per woman in Iran), and the Arab world (2.9 children per woman in Egypt).

. . . . And so it turns out that the demographic knife is not really hanging over our heads. In 1900 Jews constituted just eight percent of the population west of the Jordan, in 1948 it was 48 percent, and today we are 60 percent. Without Gaza, the Jewish majority is stable at 67 percent within the "green line", Judea and Samaria.

Only Palestinian immigration to the West Bank – and from there over the "green line" – will upset the demographic scales. Fateful policy decisions must be based on facts, not on statistics provided by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, and certainly not on superficial assumptions about demography that bear no relation to reality.

Yoram Ettinger is a regular contributor to Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth

Venezuela ready to receive Hamas "with pleasure"

from Feb. 13, 2006 22:05 By ASSOCIATED PRESS, CARACAS, Venezuela. . . .

Venezuela said Monday it will welcome leaders from the Hamas movement "with pleasure" if they visit the country as part of a South American tour following victory in Palestinian elections.

Asked if the Venezuelan government will receive the Islamic militant group, Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel told reporters, "Of course we will. What is the problem?"
"If they come, with pleasure," Rangel said. "They've just won an election."

President Hugo Chavez has said his government will be one of the first to recognize an independent Palestinian state.

Rangel said earlier this month that Hamas was expected to visit Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela as part of a regional tour to celebrate its electoral victory. On Monday, he said he didn't know when Hamas would arrive because the visit was not yet confirmed.

New law tightens Abbas's grip on gov't

From JPost Feb. 13, 2006 16:32 Updated Feb. 13, 2006 20:20 By ASSOCIATED PRESS RAMALLAH, West Bank. . . .

The outgoing Palestinian parliament gave Mahmoud Abbas sweeping new powers Monday, just days before Hamas was to take control of the legislature.

In their final session, lawmakers from Abbas' defeated Fatah Party gave the Palestinian leader the authority to appoint a new constitutional court which would serve as the final arbiter in disputes between him and a Hamas government.

Lawmakers also appointed Fatah loyalists to four key jobs, including the head of the government watchdog group in charge of weeding out official corruption.

Hamas won last month's parliament elections largely on a promise to end years of nepotism, graft and mismanagement by Fatah.

A fuming Hamas termed the 11th-hour legislation "not legitimate" and vowed to overturn it. One of its incoming legislators called the legislation "a bloodless coup."

Hamas would need a two-thirds majority - or 88 of 132 seats in parliament - to change Monday's legislation. It is unclear whether Hamas would muster such a majority. It will control 74 seats in the new parliament, but can also count on support from several independents.
With the new, Hamas-dominated legislature scheduled to convene for the first time on Saturday, the old legislature struck hard in its last session.

Parliament empowered Abbas to appoint a new, nine-judge constitutional court that would have the authority to resolve any dispute between him and the incoming Hamas-dominated parliament or Cabinet. The court could also veto legislation deemed to violate the Palestinians' Basic Law, a forerunner to the Palestinian constitution. Legal expert Issam Abdeen said the new legislation would allow Abbas to "cancel any law approved by the new parliament on the pretext it is unconstitutional."

... .Abbas, who was elected separately last year for a four-year term, is considered a moderate who seeks to resume peace talks with Israel. The strengthening of his powers and weakening of Hamas comes as Israel tries to diplomatically isolate Hamas unless it renounces violence and recognizes the Jewish state.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev declined to comment on the Palestinian parliament's actions.

Nazi-hunter meets his target's children

From The Australian by Paige Taylor February 14, 2006 . . . .

. . .Yesterday, Jerusalem-based historian Efraim Zuroff met three children of accused war criminal Charles Zentai over tea in a riverside cafe in South Perth.

It was the first time the steely, 57-year-old campaigner had faced off with the loved ones of a target -- and he has pursued countless targets during his 25-year career, inspired by the revered Simon Wiesenthal. The atmosphere was tense but civil as Mr Zentai's children Ernie, Gabe and Eva sat across the table from the man who wants to see their 84-year-old father jailed for the murder of Jewish teenager Peter Balazs in Budapest in 1944. After shaking hands with the famed investigator, the children quietly and calmly explained why they were so certain that their father was an innocent man. The widower and great-grandfather is fighting extradition to Hungary, but Dr Zuroff, who triggered proceedings by delivering damning testimonies against the former Hungarian soldier to the Hungarian Government, is adamant he has the right man.

"I can understand why you don't want to believe it," Dr Zuroff told them.
"(Your father's guilt) seems improbable based on his life here (in Australia), it seems improbable based on your life with him, but you don't know what he did during the war and there is plenty of evidence that says it happened. "I have a lot of sympathy for you."

.. . .Ernie claims his father and his two co-accused in the murder of Balazs could have been the victims of a politically-motivated persecution -- which resulted in an arrest warrant being issued for Mr Zentai in 1948 -- because of the testimony they gave against their commanding officer, Major Tarnay, who was jailed for desertion but later joined the ruling Communist Party in Hungary.

. . . .Gabe, a mental health nurse like his father before him, told Dr Zuroff that his father had never once shown any signs that he was anti-Semitic. "The way the Jews have been treated for the past 2000 years is horrible -- if I had seen any evidence or support that he had been killing Jews I wouldn't support him," he said.

Ernie, an entomologist who has devoted much of the past 18 months searching for documents to clear Mr Zentai's name, was candid when he sat down with Dr Zuroff: "We do not have rock hard evidence, but we have found what we think are some significant problems with the prosecution's case against my father."

Dr Zuroff described the meeting as "very sad" but said his opinion had not changed. "The children certainly aren't guilty of anything," he said.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Survey: Disengagement was 'useless'

From JPost Feb. 13, 2006 10:54 Updated Feb. 13, 2006 10:58 By JPOST.COM STAFF ...

The majority of the Israeli public believes that the disengagement from the Gaza Strip was of no practical value, according to a survey conducted by the Geocartographic Institute on behalf of Army Radio.

Most of those who participated in the survey held that the evacuation of settlements in Gush Katif was damaging, or at the very least, was ineffective in the fight against Palestinian terror.

Some 70% of those surveyed replied that the implementation of the disengagement plan did not contribute anything towards peace, while only 20% thought the plan was a stimulus for improved relations with the Arab world.

However, a significant majority believed that the withdrawal from Gaza aided relations with Europe.

....Some 50% of those surveyed categorically denounced any future unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. 18% supported a future disengagement on condition that it created conditions conducive to a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority. 23% said that a unilateral withdrawal was necessary, since the Palestinians were not partners for peace.

Terrorists on the Move

DEBKAfile reportsFebruary 12, 2006, 10:23 PM (GMT+02:00):

Abu Mazen frees second batch of convicted Palestinian terrorists from Jericho lock-up – again without notice
IDF brought up reinforcements Sunday night to surround the town and threw up roadblocks on roads to other parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem.
The first 56 were suddenly released on Palestinian Authority chairman’s orders Thursday Feb. 9. Among them were 26 Islamic Jihad members from northern and central Samaria, who plotted and masterminded suicide bombings in Hadera, Netanya, and Kfar Saba in 2005. Also released were 13 members of the PA General Intelligence Service, loyal to Col. Tewfik Tirawri, and 17 members of the PA Military Police – all of whom participated in terrorist attacks.
Abu Mazen thus renews Yasser Arafat's revolving-door policy for terrorists.

Palestinian infiltrators may have made first large breach in Israel’s West Bank defense wall
Sunday night, Israeli forces discovered a breach in the wall near Kibbutz Bakhan northwest of the West Bank town of Tulkarm and tracks of two men leading across the border into Israel. Large forces spread out with helicopter support to hunt the infiltrators. In the past week, a dozen would-be suicide bombers were intercepted in the West Bank before reaching Israel.

Hamas expects an invitation to Baghdad from Iraqi prime minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari

From a DEBKAfile Exclusive: February 12, 2006, 9:30 PM (GMT+02:00) . . .

Our sources in Baghdad report Hamas leaders are making a point of being received and recognized by an Arab government backed to the hilt and sustained by the US government and army.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are urging Jaafari to invite Hamas leaders as a show of independence.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources note: An invitation from the democratically-elected government in Baghdad to a democratically-elected Palestinian (terrorist) party would place the Washington in a cleft stick, after having initiated both elections. Cooperation between the only two elected Arab regimes would be hard to challenge. On the other hand, since Hamas is listed as a terrorist group in the US and Europe, such cooperation would show the Bush administration as having placed democratic reform in the Middle East ahead of the global war on terror and at its expense.

Israel’s efforts to internationally isolate a Hamas government would not have much chance if Baghdad invited the terror group’s leaders in the wake of a lengthening list of capitals started by Moscow, Ankara, Cairo, Riyadh, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.