Friday, March 27, 2009

Israel's Long Arm?

From CBS News, March 25, 2009, by Dan Raviv, CBS News correspondent in Washington:

...CBS News national security correspondent David Martin has been told that Israeli aircraft carried out [an airstrike in Sudan this past January, said to have been "in a desert area northwest of Port Sudan city, near Mount al-Sha’anoon," according to; in which 39 people riding in 17 trucks were reportedly killed].

Israeli intelligence is said to have discovered that weapons were being trucked through Sudan, heading north toward Egypt, whereupon they would cross the Sinai Desert and be smuggled into Hamas-held territory in Gaza.

[Sudan has become one of the favorite smuggling routes for Iranian intelligence, with arms from Revolutionary Guard bases going through Sudan to Egypt, and then reaching Gaza via the Sinai desert and the underground tunnels at the Philadelphi Route.]

In January, the U.S. signed an agreement with Israel that calls for an international effort to stop arms smuggling into Gaza.

...The first government official in Sudan to talk about [the attack] was the state minister for highways, Mabrouk Mubarak Saleem, who said: "A major power bombed small trucks carrying arms – burning all of them. It killed Sudanese, Eritreans, and Ethiopians and injured others."

...If Israeli airplanes carried out the attack in Sudan, it would suggest that there is a shadow war against Hamas and its weapons sources that is wider than the Israeli or U.S. government has revealed.

Olmert's Palestinian Failures

From BESA Center Perspectives Papers No. 74, March 26, 2009, by Efraim Inbar*:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Ehud Olmert lurched from unilateralism to final status negotiations to military conflict with the Palestinians, and failed in all three tracks. His failure in dealing effectively with Hamas in Gaza is the most strategically ominous. As Olmert departs, he bequeaths to his successors the need to deal with Hamas in Gaza and to grope for alternative ways to address the perennial Palestinian question in the West Bank. He did not move Israel further ahead on either front.

Follow the link to read the full paper.

*Efraim Inbar is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.

Jewish blood libels

From The Jerusalem Post, March 26, 2009, by by Isi Leibler:

...To defame a nation by falsely presenting its soldiers as wanton murderers would be considered treasonable in most countries. For Israelis to defame their own youngsters when their nation is at war and battling false international accusations of war crimes - is simply unconscionable. They are promoting outright blood libels against their own people.

A handful of unnamed soldiers in a discussion at a mechina (pre-military college) made unsubstantiated allegations concerning two isolated acts of indiscriminate killing and vandalism perpetrated against Palestinian civilians. Upon further examination it transpired that one of the two raconteurs was relying on rumors and had not even served in Gaza. Nobody verified the allegations or attempted to consider the acts in the context of threats such as suicide bombers. The IDF was denied the names of the individuals making the claim and was not even granted advance notice to investigate and respond to the allegations. Which begs the question as to why the informants failed to report the alleged malpractices in the first instance.

The accusers did not merely allege that their comrades were indulging in barbaric Cossack-like rampages. They implied that such behavior was the byproduct of the ravings of fanatical rabbis who had goaded them to initiate killing sprees. They said the message was that goyim - gentiles - had invaded our sacred land and had to be expelled for interfering with our conquest of Eretz Yisrael. The anonymous informants depicted an atmosphere of religious hysteria in which IDF rabbis "anointed us with oil and stuck holy books into our hands." They sent us "booklets filled with Psalms....we could have filled the room with the Psalms they sent." They claimed that the war was effectively portrayed as a religious passion.

THESE REPORTS cast aspersions on all religious Zionist soldiers and officers who are represented in IDF combat units in far greater numbers than their proportion of the population. They display patriotism, love of country and are frequently held up as role models of dedication and self-sacrifice.

For three consecutive days these unsubstantiated accusations against religious soldiers and chaplains were headlined and given front page prominence by Haaretz, the Israeli daily newspaper whose editorial policy and columnists like Gidon Levy and Amira Hass have continuously been demonizing their own country. Few would deny that over the past years Haaretz, notably its English Internet edition - has more effectively damaged Israel's image in the West than all the Arab anti-Israeli propaganda combined. Depicting our soldiers as religious fanatics brainwashed by rabbis has chilling parallels to the anti-Semitic incitement of the Middle Ages promoted by converts who turned on their own people. Such libels emanating from Israel during the anti-Semitic tsunami now enveloping the world fall on receptive ears. The entire global media - including even those who occasionally try to be more evenhanded - carried blazing front page headlines highlighting these unsubstantiated accusations as evidence of war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict.

EVEN IF THESE STORIES contained an element of truth (and there are no grounds to assume that), to depict them as the norm is like using Jack the Ripper to besmirch the British as a nation of cutthroat barbarians...

...As the final casualty tally emerged we learned that, contrary to the figures presented by Hamas, in fact 800 terrorists and 300 civilians were killed. That relatively so few civilians were killed in such grim urban warfare is truly a tribute to the IDF. To now accuse it of war crimes is to turn the world upside down.

In a campaign involving tens of thousands of soldiers, one inevitably encounters aberrations. But any Israeli soldier found guilty of violating the army's strict ethical standards will, as in the past, be brought to justice.

THERE IS ANOTHER crucial element to all this. The coordinator of these discussions was anything but an innocent bystander. The pre-military academy in which these "exposures" were aired is headed by one Danny Zamir, who upon providing the IDF with the so-called testimony refused to identify the informants by name. Nor did he wait for the authorities to ascertain the veracity of the charges, but rushed to release his "scoop" to his friends in Haaretz.

Mr. Zamir has a record. As a parachute company commander in 1990, he was tried and sentenced for 28 days in prison for refusing to stand guard over people whom he called "right-wingers" at a ceremony bringing Torah scrolls to Joseph's tomb in Nablus, then under IDF supervision.

In 2004 Zamir published a crie de coeur relating to his refusal to obey military orders, in the process of which he attacked the IDF and denied that Israel was a democratic state. This appeared in a book titled Refusenik: Israel's Soldiers of Conscience, which carried an endorsement by the icon of anti-Israeli academics, Noam Chomsky.

This begs the question: How could the IDF endorse a major pre-military academy headed by a post-Zionist radical, convicted to a jail sentence for having refused to obey military orders? It would certainly be inconceivable for a radical religious Zionist who had rejected orders to be appointed head of a religious pre-military academy.

Setting aside the damage done to the reputation of the nation at a time when every anti-Semite is salivating to find opportunities to demonize the Jewish state, the fact that Danny Zamir is permitted to continue retaining his present role surely borders on the insane. Likewise, for a purportedly serious daily newspaper like Haaretz to report such unsubstantiated accusations in order to promote a political agenda is mind boggling.

Who needs enemies when we have Jews in Israel exploiting freedom of expression to disseminate unsubstantiated and false allegations of immorality as a means to defame the nation and provide fodder for anti-Semites, Israel bashers and all who seek to harm if not destroy us? Even worse, promoting such falsehoods may create a climate among our soldiers in which they incur major casualties by hesitating to implement defensive measures to protect themselves against enemies renowned for hiding behind children and sending forth their women as suicide bombers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Alternative Human Rights Summit in Geneva

From the Summit web site:

On April 19, 2009, one day before the international community gathers in Geneva to address racism, intolerance and persecution in the High-Level Segment of the UN Durban Review Conference (DRC) ["Durban 2"], a coalition of human rights, anti-racism and pro-democracy activists will assemble to place the most pressing situations on the world agenda.

The civil society conference will be hosted at the Centre International de Conférences Genève, adjacent to the Palais des Nations UN compound. Organized by an international coalition of human rights NGOs, this will be a parallel event to the DRC, in support of its aims of promoting universal human rights through the eradication of discrimination, intolerance and persecution.

Invited Speakers include:
  • Vaclav Havel
  • The Dalai Lama
  • Elie Wiesel
  • Bo Kyi, Burmese dissident, winner of 2008 Human Rights Defender Award of Human Rights Watch
  • Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister and President of the Faith Foundation
  • Koffi Annan, former United Nations General Secretary
  • Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Egyptian dissident
  • Yoani Sanchez, Cuban blogger
  • Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident
  • Mia Farrow, film star and Darfur activist
  • MP Irwin Cotler, counsel for the oppressed & former Canadian Justice Minister
  • Raphael Glucksmann, Etudes Sans Frontieres, Activist for Chechnya
  • Dissidents and human rights activists from many other countries of concern.

Themes will include: 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; racism and genocide; democracy and authoritarianism; women’s rights; the state of freedom in the world; the universality of human rights and its opponents; terrorism and human rights; and much more. Because of pressures for the DRC Outcome Document to add provisions on “defamation of religion,” discussion on the protection of freedom of speech will also be timely.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

UN "expert" biased

From The Australian, March 25, 2009:

THE US yesterday said UN expert Richard Falk was "biased" in calling for an investigation of Israel's January offensive in the Gaza Strip on the grounds it could be construed as a war crime.

"We've expressed our concern many times about the special rapporteur's views on dealing with that question," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said. "We've found the rapporteur's views to be anything but fair. We find them to be biased. We've made that very clear."

In a report presented yesterday at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, Mr Falk, the UN expert on the Palestinian territories, called for a probe to assess if the Israeli forces could differentiate between civilian and military targets in Gaza. "If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful, and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law," Mr Falk said in the report....

Israel government spokesman Mark Regev last night slammed the report as "one-sided''. "Unfortunately, this is a further example of the very one-sided, unbalanced and unfair attitude of the Human Rights Council,'' Mr Regev said. "This sort of report does the service of human rights no good whatsoever. It's a politicisation of human rights.''

...The UN also cited alleged abuses by Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza. Ms Coomaraswamy said the group had been unwilling to investigate the charges made.

She said the abuses were "just a few examples of the hundreds of incidents that have been documented and verified" by the nine UN officials allowed into the territory after the war ended in late January. "Violations were reported on a daily basis, too numerous to list," she said.

Occupation Shmoccupation ...

From The Spectator, Melanie Phillips Blog, Sunday, 15th March 2009:

From Egypt, further evidence that the Islamist hatred of the Jews is not caused by Israel’s behaviour or even its existence. It’s caused by... hatred of the Jews. Here, Egyptian cleric Muhammad Hussein Ya’qoub raves:

If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them. Absolutely not. The Jews are infidels – not because I say so, and not because they are killing Muslims, but because Allah said: 'The Jews say that Uzair is the son of Allah, and the Christians say that Christ is the son of Allah. These are the words from their mouths. They imitate the sayings of the disbelievers before. May Allah fight them. How deluded they are.’ It is Allah who said that they are infidels.

Your belief regarding the Jews should be, first, that they are infidels, and second, that they are enemies. They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing. Allah said: 'You shall find the strongest men in enmity to the disbelievers [sic] to be the Jews and the polytheists.' Third, you must believe that the Jews will never stop fighting and killing us. They [fight] not for the sake of land and security, as they claim, but for the sake of their religion: 'And they will not cease fighting you until they turn you back you’re your religion, if they can.'

This is it. We must believe that our fighting with the Jews is eternal, and it will not end until the final battle – and this is the fourth point. You must believe that we will fight, defeat, and annihilate them, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth.

Egypt, let us not forget, is a ‘moderate’ Arab state that has a peace agreement with Israel. It is nevertheless a major source of barking-mad Jewish demonisation in the Arab world. Here is Egyptian Cleric Salama Abd Al-Qawi warning Muslims against the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – the notorious Czarist forged claim that the Jews covertly rule the world -- and many US companies :

They [the Jews]began conspiring to annihilate the Islamic and Arab nation, to plunder its resources, and to destroy its youth. Regretfully, the plots they hatched are being implemented today in detail. One of their conspiracies, which stemmed from their black hatred, was to gain control over the entire global economy, bringing the world under their thumb. So they founded huge companies, which, like spiders, send their webs all over the world. The main goal of these companies was to erase Islamic identity.

... Many basic products, which may be found in many Muslim households, like the Ariel, Tide, and Persil laundry detergents, are made by Zionist companies. The Coca Cola and Pepsi companies and all their products – Seven Up, Miranda, Fania, and all these products, all the carbonated beverages, with very few exceptions that don't bear mention... Almost all the carbonated beverages are Zionist-American products.

[...] Some restaurants, I'm sad to say, are teeming with Muslim youth, and their safes are full of the money of Muslims... McDonalds is Jewish-Zionist, Kentucky Fried Chicken is Jewish-Zionist, Little Caesar, Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, Burger
King... By the way, all these products, which I have mentioned... In addition, there is a new type of coffee these days... All these are pure Zionist products, especially what is known as Starbucks, the well-known coffee. It is Zionist.

Ah yes, Starbucks: home of the Zionist genocidal apartheid bean. In January, Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi brought viewers of al Nas TV urgent news about the Starbucks logo:

...... The girl on the Starbucks logo is Queen Esther...the queen of the Jews in Persia...

[see this previous posting - SL]

...however, the female figure in the Starbucks logo ... has two fish tails. This is a clue that she is not Esther, queen of the Jews in Persia. She is instead a twin-tailed siren of Greek mythology. This is because the company is apparently named in part after Starbuck, Captain Ahab’s first mate in the book Moby Dick.

What we are up against within the Islamic world is quite simply a wholesale negation of reason; nothing less.

Valerie O'Neil, a Starbucks spokeswoman, said that the logo is an image of a "twin-tailed siren" (the siren of Greek mythology).The logo has been significantly streamlined over the years. In the first version, which gave the impression of an authentic 15th century European woodcut, the Starbucks siren was topless and had a fully visible double fish tail. The image also had a rough visual texture. In the second version, which was used from 1987-92, her breasts were covered by her flowing hair, but her navel was still visible, and the fish tail was cropped slightly. In the current version, used since 1992, her navel and breasts are not visible at all, and only vestiges remain of the fish tails. The original "woodcut" logo can still be seen on the Starbucks store in Seattle's Pike Place Market, and on both the House Blend and Decaf House Blend packaging.

At the beginning of September 2006 and then again in early 2008, Starbucks temporarily reintroduced its original brown logo on paper hot drink cups. Starbucks has stated that this was done to show the company's heritage from the Pacific Northwest and to celebrate 35 years of business. The vintage logo sparked some controversy due in part to the siren's bare breasts, but the temporary switch garnered little attention from the media. Starbucks had drawn similar criticism when they reintroduced the vintage logo in 2006.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Barak, Netanyahu agreement emerges

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Mar. 23, 2009, by Gil Hoffman and jpost staff:

Defense Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak and Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu met early Tuesday morning and came to an agreement on a number of issues, narrowing the gap of differences which would prevent Labor from joining a Likud-led coalition.

According to Army Radio, Netanyahu promised that his government would honor all previous international agreements - including those made with the Palestinian Authority. Further, the Likud leader promised that his coalition would work towards a peace agreement with the Palestinian people, and in the region as a whole, Army Radio reported.

Barak, the report went on, insisted that he be included in every forum where a diplomatic or security decision was being made. Netanyahu agreed to this demand, as well as the Labor leader's insistence that illegal outposts and settlement construction be restricted or dismantled according to the law.

The negotiating team Barak appointed met overnight in an effort to reach a draft agreement that could be presented at the convention. Members of the Labor team complained throughout the day that the Likud was unwilling to compromise on key issues, but both sides expressed confidence that the deal would be finalized in time for the parley.

The deal is expected to give Labor five portfolios, two deputy ministers and a Knesset committee chairmanship. The guidelines will not use the phrase "two states for two peoples" but will make clear that past agreements with the Palestinians will be respected and that there will be a diplomatic process with the Palestinians and Syria that Barak would help lead.

Labor's team also asked for the right to vote their conscience against Israel Beiteinu's proposals for a loyalty oath for citizens, and to be consulted on reforms to the justice system.

Shortly after the announcement, senior Labor MK Isaac Herzog said he decided that he would express his support that the party join the coalition during a party convention to be held later on Tuesday.

"The agreement allows us to have important and dramatic influence on the way the country will be run for the next few years, and Labor will have significant involvement in implementing what it believes in: on welfare, economic, and security issues in the face of the challenges that the country is facing," Herzog said.

"It was a very difficult decision for me, and I'm aware of all of its meaning, and yet out of a feeling of responsibility, I believe that the political reality does not leave me any choice but to adopt the agreement and support it," he continued.

"I intend to respect any decision made by the convention and will work to prevent any split in the party that has been my political home my entire life," Herzog said.

The 1,478 convention delegates of the divided Labor Party will come together Tuesday afternoon at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds to discuss the agreement reached earlier in the day, and to decide whether to join Netanyahu's national-unity government or try to bring it down from the opposition.

Supporters and opponents of joining the government both expressed confidence on Monday that they would emerge victorious in the secret ballot vote, the results of which will be available as early as 8 p.m.

Three speakers from each side will try to persuade the delegates, led by Barak on one side and Labor secretary-general Eitan Cabel on the other...

Monitoring Seditious Israeli Academics

From the "About Us" page on Israel Academia Monitor, by Dana Barnett, Director:

Who are we? What is Israel Academia Monitor?...

Lately, increasing attention has been focused on the activities of tenured extremists at universities in Israel. Israeli university campuses may be more politicized and contain larger numbers of extremists than universities in other democratic countries, people working to support the enemies of their own country during a time of war. Israeli universities are increasingly serving as bases for open seditious activism by a large number of faculty members, who serve as fig leaves for those attacking Israel and opposing it very existence, serving as the "Israelis critical of their own country" who supposedly clear the enemies of Israel of any suspicion that they operate out of ulterior motives. These Israeli academics justify anti-Israel terrorism, denounce Zionism as a form of racism, and denounce Israel as a supposed fascist country

To expose these extremists, Israel Academia Monitor monitors abuses of academic freedom and politicalization of Israeli campuses by radicals who collaborate with anti-Semites and bashers of Israel from around the world. The purpose of Israel Academia Monitor is to bring to light abuses of academic freedom in Israel, including on-campus indoctrination in political extremism. It is modeled in part on the highly successful "Campus Watch" in the USA.

... Among the many rogues featured on the Israel Academia Monitor web site are Oren Yiftachel from Ben-Gurion University, denouncing Israel repeatedly as an apartheid state, Neve Gordon, also from BGU, declaring that Israel is becoming fascist and is a terrorist state worse than the Hamas, Moshe Zimmerman from the Hebrew University comparing the Torah to Mein Kampf, Tanya Reinhart and Paul Wexler from Tel Aviv University calling for a worldwide boycott of Israeli universities, Ran HaCohen from Tel Aviv University endorsing Hizbullah attacks on Israel, and many, many more.

IAM documents the Israeli university faculty members who promote mutiny and insurrection by soldiers, who collaborate with anti-Semites and enemies of Israel, who sign petitions defaming Israel and Jews, and who support lawlessness and terror....

[I have added a permanent link to Israel Academia Monitor in the "Jewish World Links" on the right-hand side of the page - SL]

Monday, March 23, 2009

Khatami is just as rigid as the rest

From the Sydney Morning Herald, March 23 2009, by Colin Rubenstein*:

.... the issue is ... whether Khatami can be seen as a "reformer" and "moderate" seeking a genuine "dialogue of civilisations". The answer rests in Khatami's record rather than his rhetoric.

... Khatami left office in 2005 having accomplished relatively little reform: pro-democracy protests were brutally suppressed under his watch, and newspapers and journals were banned. He advocated the death penalty for homosexuals, continued the punishment of stoning for adulterers, opposed women's rights, and repressed minority religious and ethnic groups, such as the Baha'i.

Unsurprisingly, Khatami also believes firmly in the supremacy of clerics over Iran's political system - a bedrock principle of the theocratic regime...

...Khatami's foreign policy fell squarely within the regime's consensus: pursuing nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists and decrying the United States, the West and Israel.

Iran's covert illegal efforts to enrich uranium were exposed in 2002, during Khatami's presidency. Its nuclear program actually advanced under him - partly because he used his moderate image as a smokescreen to deflect attention from continuing nuclear activities. As a one of his former spokesmen bragged recently, "We had one overt policy, which was one of negotiation and confidence building, and a covert policy, which was continuation of the activities."
Iran remained the largest state sponsor of terrorism during Khatami's presidency, including its efforts - which Khatami supported - to fund and arm the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. Khatami himself said that "we love Hezbollah", and referred to it as "a shining sun that illuminates and warms the hearts of all Muslims and supporters of freedom in the world".

Despite his prominent calls for a "dialogue of civilisations" between Iran and the West, Khatami was prepared to go only so far. While he wanted a dialogue with the US at the people-to-people level, he repeatedly rebuffed US attempts for a government-to-government dialogue. But as the Iranian people are among the most pro-American in the Middle East, rapprochement between the two governments was the more important dialogue.

Khatami's call for dialogue does not even extend to the people level if they are Israelis. At a conference in Kazakhstan in 2007, he reportedly refused to speak to Israeli reporters, telling them to "go to hell!", and skipped a subsequent panel discussion because an Israeli was also to speak.

His views on Israel - which mirror those of the current regime - further undermine his credibility in calling for a dialogue among peoples and faiths. He has reportedly called Israel "an old, incurable wound on the body of Islam, a wound that really possesses demonic, stinking, contagious blood". And on another occasion, he said: "If we abide by human laws, we should mobilise the whole Islamic world for a sharp confrontation with the Zionist regime. If we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilise to kill."

He defended Iran's opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by arguing that Israel is a "racist, terrorist, and expansionist regime". He said: "We hope that the roots of problems in the region and the world [ie, Israel] will be destroyed."

This is not just Khatami being critical of Israeli policies or supporting the Palestinians. He is clearly calling for Israel's destruction, in much the same way that Ahmadinejad calls for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

...His record shows there is no substantive difference between Khatami and Ahmadinejad or the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Calls for a "dialogue of civilisations" sound appealing, but one must question how one can have a constructive dialogue with someone who holds such extreme positions that are so widely deplored.

*Colin Rubenstein is executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and taught Middle East politics at Monash University.

Hamas, Hizbullah can't be trusted

From Ynet News 16/3/09, by Roee Nahmias:

...Both Hamas and Hizbullah will continue to seek Israel's destruction and must not be granted any legitimacy, top security official Amos Gilad said Monday.

Speaking at a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center, the head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau said ... both Hamas and Hizbullah are "entities with an incredibly radical worldview, but they're flexible in terms of timetable. For them, there is no such thing as defeat or surrender."

"If they sustain a blow, as happened in Operation Cast Lead for example, they may accept a temporary agreement. However, in terms of their value system, they can always violate such deal the moment they feel strong enough," he said.

..."They are capable of agreeing to a 30-year ceasefire and violating it after 30 days," he said. "Those who think that such agreements can serve as a basis for negotiation are wrong. We should never be tempted into strategic negotiations with Hamas."

'No chance for peace deals'
Turning his attention to the recent British willingness to engage in dialogue with Hizbullah, Gilad said: "I see elements in the Western world that are considering dialogue with these groups in an attempt to convince them, but it won't make a difference. It's possible to reach agreements with them, but we should never think this will lead to peace treaties."

Replying to Ynet's question about whether Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah's latest speech, where he hinted of willingness to engage in talks with the US, constituted a change in policy, Gilad replied: "Hamas and Hizbullah are open to any kind of dialogue. Legitimacy is very important to them. If the Western world is willing to recognize them, they will of course accept that, and this is what Nasrallah meant. However, they will not change their ways, and Israel will always be a target for elimination in their eyes." ...

Shas signs coalition deal with Likud Labour?

Ffrom THE JERUSALEM POST, Mar. 23, 2009, by Gil Hoffman:

Shas became the second party to join Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu's government Sunday night, Army Radio reported just after midnight.

According to the report, Shas chairman Eli Yishai will take the Interior Ministry portfolio as part of the agreement.

The deal also guarantees the Shas the Construction and Housing, and Religious Services portfolios. The party gave up its attempt to appoint a minister for haredi education and instead will receive a minister-without-portfolio in the Prime Minister's Office.

Netanyahu now has a coalition of 53 MKs in hand from Likud, Israel Beiteinu and Shas. Coalition talks will continue on Monday with Labor, United Torah Judaism and Habayit Hayehudi.

The party will also have a deputy minister in the Finance Ministry.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lashed out during a cabinet meeting at the possible political alliance between Netanyahu and Labor chairman Ehud Barak...The Likud expressed outrage at Olmert for interfering with Netanyahu's efforts to form a national-unity government with Labor by the April 5 deadline ..."Olmert's hatred for Barak has made him go insane," a senior Likud source said. "He cares more about preventing Barak from remaining defense minister than about what is good for the country, which is a national-unity government as soon as possible."

Barak's office accused Olmert of a "pathetic attempt to harm the defense minister in any way possible and at any price" and called on Olmert to "leave quietly." Sources close to Barak also expressed anger at Olmert for trying to persuade Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog not to support Labor joining the government. Herzog's office confirmed a report by Channel 1's Ayala Hasson that Olmert had spoken to the minister outside the cabinet meeting and told him not to back Barak's effort to bring Labor into Netanyahu's government.

Herzog, who is Barak's No. 2 in Labor, remains undecided, and his decision is key ahead of Tuesday's decisive party convention. In a lengthy meeting with Barak on Sunday, Herzog told him that since February's election, he had leaned toward entering the opposition. He issued a series of demands on socioeconomic and diplomatic issues and requested in-depth answers in the coalition agreement that Labor and Likud would draft. Herzog's associates would not reveal any of the conditions, but stressed that they had nothing to do with cabinet portfolios. They denied a Channel 10 report that he had asked for Labor's second-best portfolio.

The report said that to satisfy Herzog, the Labor portion of the former Labor and Social Affairs portfolio could be returned to his present portfolio from its current home in the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.

Barak appointed a coalition negotiating team on Sunday composed of Histadrut chief Ofer Eini, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon and attorney Alon Gellert, who served as chief legal adviser to the Prime Minister's Office under Barak. Barak met with the team on Sunday night and briefed them about agreements he had already reached with Netanyahu in their recent closed conversations.

The team is expected to meet with the Likud's negotiators on Monday morning...