Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Olmert's message today should be ...

From JPost editorial, May. 22, 2006 ...

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [met] for several hours Tuesday with US President George W. Bush.... The summit, which was expected to be Olmert's chance to pitch his "convergence" or "realignment" plan to a skeptical friend, seems to have shifted focus toward the threat from Iran.

...Iran should top the discussion, and Olmert himself has done a good job shifting his own attention in that direction. It was Olmert, after all, who told CNN on Sunday that Iran's nuclear program was "months, not years" away from achieving a critical level of self-sufficiency.

The US, during the pre-summit jockeying, also suggested that Israel take into account the views of Jordan and Egypt, particularly the Hashemite kingdom, regarding his West Bank pullout plan. This too is good advice, and was also quickly absorbed by Olmert, who began to stress that he intended to move forward with the understanding of the US, Europe, Jordan, and Egypt.

After years of facing pressure to withdraw from territory, Israel seems to be in the strange position of being urged not to withdraw too precipitously. Though Jordan and Egypt share the general international objection to Israel attempting to define borders unilaterally, they also seem to be concerned that the intended withdrawal would strengthen Hamas and radical Islamists in the region.

Israeli prime ministers became used to going to Washington to discuss a narrowly circumscribed agenda centered on settlements, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and security arrangements. Today it is impossible to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian situation as if it were separate from the threat from Iran, Iran's support for Palestinian and Hizbullah aggression against Israel, and the general Islamist threat in the region.

What we are seeing here is a different form of convergence: that of the Arab-Israeli conflict with the struggle to defeat the wider jihad against the West. Israel should have been talking about this convergence for some time, rather than waiting until events made it unavoidable, but it is not too late to adjust.

The truth is that Israel, for all our awareness of the scourge of terrorism, remains a bastion of pre-9/11 thinking. It is the US, not Israel, that after 9/11 realized that peace and stability could not be pursued in a region in which dictatorships were carefully preserved in the name of "stability," and the quests for peace and freedom were disconnected. It was George Bush, not Ariel Sharon, who in June 2002 linked Palestinian statehood to democratization among Palestinians, including the removal of Yasser Arafat, rather than solely to Israeli concessions.

Even now, however, Israelis have not learned to speak of the conflict in regional terms and link it to the Islamists' attempt to spark a global jihad. Though our leaders routinely point out that Iran is not just a threat to Israel, they never take the next logical step: saying that the Arab quest to destroy Israel remains the first and most virulent manifestation of the wider Islamist war against the West.

Olmert's speech on Wednesday to the US Congress provides a perfect opportunity, at the dawn of a new Israeli government, to belatedly begin to change the way Israel speaks about its situation to the world.

Olmert should, of course, convey the deep desire of our people for peace. But he should also speak about the fundamental reason there is no peace: the Arab refusal to abandon the dream of destroying Israel. The prime minister should explain that this desire not only pre-dated our presence in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza - the war's supposed cause - but the founding of the state.

He should explain that, like the threat from Iran, the jihad to destroy the Jewish state is not just our problem, but the world's. He should point out that not only was the terrorism against Jews and Israel a harbinger of 9/11 and other attacks since, but the goal of destroying Israel is a subset of the Islamist goal of subjugating the entire West.

Finally, he should suggest that neither Israel nor the West can ultimately be successful against this jihad unless both prevail, and that we need to unite against a common global threat.

If an Israeli leader cannot be expected to say this, then who will?

Iran test fires Shihab-3 missile

From Ynet News, 23/5/06, by Hanan Greenberg ...

According to reports, test seen as partial success; it is unknown what problems took place during test of missile, which can reach 1,300 kilometers, but Iranians trying to increase range

Several hours before the meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US President George W. Bush at the White House, in which they were expected to discuss the Iranian threat, Iran test fired the Shihab-3 missile.

The first test of the missile took place a number of years ago. ...The range of the missile of this model reaches 1,300 kilometers (806 miles), but according to reports that have come out of Iran in recent months, improvements on the missile have been carried out with the aim that it reach 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles). It is fair to assume that the timing of the new test firing was preplanned for the Olmert-Bush summit.

... The Iranians' continued development of the missiles, including the Shihab-4 (which has a range over 2,000 kilometers), is already in advanced development stages, and points to a continuation of the Iranian phenomenon of developing long-range missiles alongside the nuclear program, and forming a threat to all of Europe in a number of years.

Major General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, the former IDF intelligence chief, warned last week that the Iranians will possess long-range missiles of 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles), "and all of Europe will be covered" as a result.

The defense community is closely following the Iranian experiments, alongside its monitoring of all that is linked to the nuclear development. Ballistic missiles experiments are thought to be the less worrying aspects for senior defense officials, while the assumption that the Iranians will have a nuclear ability by 2009 is seen as the real threat.

The defense establishment believes that the Iranians will overcome all obstacles in the development of ballistic missile developments compatible with nuclear warheads. "The important issue is the future Iranian nuclear ability, rather than one particular missile or another. Everyone's eyes are fixed on the international community and the steps it will take against Iran on this issue," a defense source said.

...Iran is high on the agenda for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on his current first visit to Washington....

Reuters contributed to the report

Bush: PM's plan an important step to peace

From Ynet News, 23/5/06, by Ronny Sofer ...

In first White House meeting with new Israeli prime minister, US president praises Olmert's convergence plan but stops short of a full endorsement, saying negotiated agreement 'best serves Israelis, Palestinians'

Bush and Olmert during press conference (Photo: Reuters)

WASHINGTON - In a joint press conference with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, US President George W. Bush on Tuesday conveyed the message that the convergence plan can only be implemented through negotiations.

Bush praised Olmert's convergence plan for a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, saying it could be "an important step toward the peace we both support." But Bush, in the first White House meeting with the new Israeli leader, stopped short of a full endorsement, saying a negotiated agreement "best serves Israelis and Palestinians and the cause of peace."

Bush also urged Israel to reach out to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as an alternative to dealing with the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority. Abbas "speaks out for peace and negotiations," Bush said. "Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, must abandon terror, must accept all previous agreements," Bush added. "No country can be expected to make peace with those who deny its right to exist, and who use terror to attack its population."

Olmert said he extended his hand to Abbas, and hopes "he will take the necessary steps which he committed to in order to move forward."

But he said the rise of Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and regards terrorism as a legitimate tool, "severely undermines the possibility of of promoting a genuine peace process." Olmert said that if Hamas abandons its refusal to recognize Israel and its embrace of violence, "they will find us a willing partner in peace." But he said Israel would not enter an agreement with any party that refuses to recognize its right to exist. "We cannot wait indefinitely for the Palestinians to change," he said.

Bush called Olmert's ideas "bold," saying that while any final peace agreement must be the product of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, "the prime minister's ideas could be an important step toward the peace we both support." "I am encouraged by his constructive efforts to find ways to move the peace process forward," he said.

Olmert on Iran: This is the moment of truth
The two officials also extensively discussed the Iranian issue, and at the end of the meeting Bush made it clear that he prefers a diplomatic solution for the problem. "We determined that the Iranian regime must not obtain nuclear weapons," he said.

Olmert warned: "This is a moment of truth. It is still not too late to prevent this from happening."

Earlier Tuesday, Olmert met with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld . During their conference, Olmert defined Hizbullah and Hamas as envoys of the Iranian government, which calls for the destruction of Israel.
The two discussed the way in which the Israeli government was dealing with the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, which it defines as a terror regime.

Although the prime minister hoped to recruit support in America for his convergence plan, he has been concerned by the cold reception the US appears to be giving the plan to unilaterally withdraw from areas in the West Bank. The US has only asked to be elucidated on the plan’s basic foundations, and is cautiously withholding its endorsement of the plan.

On Monday night, Olmert met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and explicated the convergence plan to her, answering her numerous questions on the matter.

Yitzhak Benhorin and AP contributed to the report

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The newest Palestinian 'crisis'

From Jewish World Review May 22, 2006 /24 Iyar, 5766, by Caroline B. Glick ...

You have to give them credit. The Palestinians outdid themselves this week. In the framework of the maelstrom over the presumed financial crisis of the Hamas-led PA, the supposedly "moderate" Fatah organization, led by supposedly "moderate" PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, decided to threaten America and Europe.

In a leaflet published by Fatah's Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Gaza, the group announced, "We won't remain idle in the face of the siege imposed on the Palestinian people by Israel, the US and other countries ... We will strike at the economic and civilian interests of these countries, here and abroad." On Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, the announcement was greeted by many with contempt and anger....

Since 1994, the PA has always been supposedly on the brink of a financial and humanitarian catastrophe. But what is interesting about the current financial crisis is Abbas's behavior. In a departure from his normal diffidence, this week Fatah leader Abbas did not try to soften the impression that his underlings sought to make on the West. Rather, he strengthened it.
In a speech before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Abbas warned that if the EU did not renew its underwriting of the PA's budget "there will be an explosion of anger, and this would lead to a chaotic situation of which we cannot foresee the results." Translated into regular English, Abbas told his European audience: "Your money or your life."

Yet even as he was directly blackmailing the Europeans, Abbas didn't forget his manners. Like a professional, and in a style that befits Yasser Arafat's deputy of some 40 years, Abbas provided his victims with the opportunity to feel good about giving in to his threats. If you give me your protection money, he said, you will be able to wrap yourselves in the robes of the saviors of the poor, popular Palestinian people by preventing a "humanitarian disaster."

And so, from the editorial board of Ha'aretz to the continental press, all the enlightened humanitarians now express their deep concern for the fate of the PA's 165,000 employees who have not received salaries for nearly two whole months. Human rights organizations from the UN to Amnesty International have expressed their deep-seated fears for the fate of the poor Palestinians who haven't been paid.

The thing of it is that for all of their shrieks and whines, there has never been a group of more self-sufficient people on the verge of a humanitarian disaster than the Palestinians. They're swimming in money.... Since its establishment in 1994, the PA has received more aid per capita than any other group of people in the world has ever received — more than the victims of genocide in Sudan or Rwanda, more that the victims of the tsunami in Asia, more than the Iraqis or the Afghans — more than anyone.

As the researcher Arlene Kushner pointed out in an article published this week by Ynet those miserable unpaid PA employees include some 4,000 Palestinian terrorists who Abbas placed on the PA payroll. Terrorists sitting in Israeli prisons get $4 million a month. Several million more go to paying the families of dead terrorists. Kushner quoted former PA and Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan admitting that of the $10 billion in international aid that the Palestinians have received over the past 12 years, some $5 billion has gone missing.

Abbas, who politely warns against "explosions," himself controls up to $1b. that he prefers not to use to save his people from that "humanitarian disaster" he's so bent out of shape about. As Kushner reminds us, in 2002, Salam Fayyad, who then served as the PA's finance minister, set up the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) in an attempt to prevent Arafat from absconding with all the PA's money. At least $700 million should still be deposited in the PIF which had been valued at $1 billion in recent months.

Abbas, who bemoans the poor Palestinian doctors and teachers that have not received their March salaries, decided last summer — against the expressed warnings of the International Monetary Fund — to give significant pay increases to the PA's employees. Civil servants were given raises of some 15-20 percent and militia members were given raises of 30%-40%.

Kushner notes that at the time of Arafat's death in November 2004, his grieving widow Suha refused to unplug his respirator until Abbas and the PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei agreed to her demands for a significant cut of her husband's personal wealth which was assessed at some $3.1 billion Apparently it hasn't occurred to anyone that Arafat might have liked to use that money to avert a "humanitarian disaster" among his beloved people.

EVEN WITHOUT Kushner's data, the Palestinians themselves demonstrated this week their contempt for the West and its "humanitarians" who concern themselves with the Palestinians' dire financial straits. On Wednesday, the PA deployed its newest 3,000-man militia. The militia, comprised mainly of Hamas terror operatives and operatives from the Popular Resistance Committees made up of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah terrorists, made its first appearance in Gaza. Its troops were all decked out in new uniforms and shiny rifles.

Perhaps all 3,000 are volunteers. Perhaps the men paid for their own uniforms and weapons. If there are Palestinian patients dying because their hospitals can't afford to maintain dialysis equipment, maybe the PA should be asking the new Hamas militia for a loan or a contribution.
If the deployment of its newest army weren't enough to send a clear signal of its sentiments to its deeply concerned donors, the Hamas-led PA appointed Popular Resistance Committees commander Jamal Abu Samadana to command the new force. Samadana also commanded the terror attack against US Embassy personnel in Gaza in October 2003.

While the Palestinians' supporters in Europe and Israel still refuse to acknowledge what the Palestinians are clearly signaling with their newest armed force, Arafat's former paymaster Fuad Shubaki, now in Israeli custody, openly admits that under Arafat the PA siphoned off millions of dollars from the tax revenues that Israel transferred to it and millions more in international assistance to fund terrorist cells and operations.

These Israeli leftists and Europeans unabashedly describe themselves as humanitarians and urge the payment of salaries of people whose job it is to kill them. For their part, the Palestinians couldn't be any clearer. As a spokesman for Fatah's Abu Rish brigades (also commanded by Abu Samadana) put it this week, if the money doesn't start flowing again, the Palestinians will open a "new intifada," which will be a "merciless intifada that will destroy everything."

PERHAPS THE most distinguishing group characteristic of the Palestinians is the fact that no matter what they do or say, they never have to pay a price for the choices they make. In spite of their blackmail, threats and corruption, their war for the annihilation of Israel, and perhaps above all, their mocking contempt for the collective honor of Israel and the West, the Palestinians' victims line up to support them in their "just struggle against the illegal Zionist occupation."

This fact was made breathtakingly clear at the end of April when, in a move that can be likened to a metaphorical rape of the concept of "international law," Amnesty International published a statement defining as a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention the US, Israeli and EU decision to abide by their laws (and international law forbidding aid to terror organizations) and end assistance to the Hamas-led PA. Not surprisingly, Amnesty cited no clause in the Convention that supports the preposterous claim that the contracting parties to the convention are obligated — or even permitted — to fund terrorist organizations. What is notable here is that Amnesty has determined a new standard that claims that taking steps to force the PA to be responsible for its actions is an offense against the law of nations.

Not to be outdone by Amnesty, the EU is fervently brainstorming to find a way to finance the Hamas-led PA's budget in spite of the fact that its own laws prohibit financing Hamas. In the wake of Abbas's "explosion" speech, the EU's External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said, "We are well aware of the urgency of the situation in the Palestinian territories. We have to get the parameters right and then we have to get the donors and the partners to accept what we will set up." For its part, what most concerns the World Bank these days is that the US and Israel might place sanctions on companies or agencies that continue to do business with the PA. Because of this, the bank is demanding that Israel and the US provide "explicit assurances" that they will not impose sanctions on such companies or agencies.

In truth, as far as Israel is concerned the World Bank and the EU have little to worry about. In the aftermath of last week's meeting of the so-called Quartet, where it was agreed that the EU would formulate a way to bypass European and US laws prohibiting the transfer of monies to Hamas, both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced varying degrees of willingness to resume tax revenue transfers to the PA in some form of "humanitarian assistance," to the PA.

Although on Sunday the government did not vote to resume such financial transfers that amount to some $50 million per month, members of Congress have reported that Israeli officials were encouraging them to water down their draft legislation that will place a total ban on direct and indirect assistance to the PA. These Israeli government officials maintain that Israel is interested in the transfer of "humanitarian aid," in the hopes of averting that much feared "humanitarian disaster."

Many members of Congress and senators who have received such entreaties from Israeli officials and been urged to support Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to withdraw from Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem are puzzled by what they view as an Israeli attempt to finance and surrender to Hamas. In a lecture last week in New York sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America, former IDF chief of general staff Lt.'Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon explained that Israel suffers from a weak national leadership. In his words, "We don't need Chamberlains, we need Churchills." Ya'alon further explained that Israelis had been manipulated by Palestinian lies that have caused us "to ignore reality."

As the members of Congress listen to Olmert address them next Wednesday; and as they vote on the proposed ban on aid to the Hamas-led PA, they would do well to keep Ya'alon's message in mind and not fall into the same trap.

Noam Chomsky applauds jihad

From Ynetnews, 18/5/06, by Sever Plocker ...

MIT professor's support for Hizbullah is sign of worrying trend

One could approach Massachusetts Institute of Technology Profesor Noam Chomsky's show of support this week for Hizbullah as a passing curiosity, or as yet one more piece of psychiatric evidence of this old Jew's dimming mind that has contributed so much to linguistic research has been swept away by his outrageous political opinions.

But it is also possible to see the praises Prof. Chomsky lavished on Iran's Lebanese proxy ... as one expression ... of a worrying and dangerous push gaining a foothold amongst Western intellectuals: An acceptance of radical Islam, and the view of such groups as legitimate liberation movements.

Liberation from what, you ask? The answer is clear: From the onus of colonialism, and American-Israeli oppression.

Leader of the pack
Prof. Chomsky, as is his wont, is a leader of the pack, but the pack is clearly following in his footsteps. Last week, the British Lecturers Association NATFHE considered a proposal to boycott Israeli universities, yet took pains to recognize Hamas as the legitimate, recognized, democratically-elected representative of the Palestinian people.

The influential journal "New York Review of Books" has published a long screed by Jewish businessman Henry Siegman entitled " Hamas: The Last Chance for Peace? ....

...Prof. Chomsky's visit to Hizbullah did, however, make one crucial point clear: According to [his style of] new Euro-American thinking, we had better get used to living with Hizbullah and Hamas and Ahmadinejad. The moral ground has already been prepared for a historic reconciliation with jihadic Islam. At least from this perspective, Israel is now living on borrowed time.