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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Peretz's misplaced priorities

Defense Minister Amir Comrade Peretz told the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday that the Feckless Fwench Commanders of UNIFIL have warned that they will be 'forced' to shoot at Israeli jets flying reconaissance missions over Lebanon if the flights continue. On Sunday, Brigadier-General Yossi Beyditz, head of the Research Department in the IDF Directorate of Military Intelligence told the cabinet that the IDF has unequivocal proof that the Syrian government is involved in smuggling arms to Hezbullah in violation of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 1701. (Although I first reported this six weeks ago, this was the first time it was officially acknowledged by the Israeli government). I have to believe that the 'unequivocal proof' is in the form of pictures taken from those reconaissance flights.

Peretz also said that Israel plans to inform the joint committee of representatives of UNIFIL, the Israel Defense Forces and the Lebanese Army that unless the arms transfers are stopped, Israel will be forced to take independent action.

But that's not Peretz's real priority. His real priority is the 'illegal settlements' or the 'outposts' as they are also known. According to MK Ran Cohen (Meretz), Peretz plans to move against at least some of the 'outposts' within two weeks, after talks with revenant leaders in the hopes of getting them to leave 'peacefully.' Can you say 'Amona'?

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the revenant leaders would be happy to talk to Peretz to try to convince him to leave the 'outposts' in place. Arutz Sheva reports that Peretz claims that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had raised the issue with him during her most recent visit to Jerusalem. “The matter of evacuating illegal outposts has not lost importance on the public’s agenda,” Peretz assured the Defense and Foreign Affairs committee members, “but was given a long rest during the war in Lebanon.

Peretz may have a new opponent to evacuating the 'illegal outposts': Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. On Saturday night, I reported that Olmert is furious with Peretz over his focus on the 'outposts.' Olmert is trying to negotiate with Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party to join the coalition and Lieberman has made leaving the outposts in place a condition of his entry. One of Olmert's aids said that Peretz's focus on the 'outposts' is "a case of transparent and obvious political spin." And since Olmert must sign any evacuation order, I would not look for any 'outposts' to be evacuated so long as Olmert is still negotiating with Lieberman.


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